Tam Nguyen is an emerging Vietnamese writer and multimedia artist,
based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Daddy and the Pup
Daddy said he cared for you.
With a lack of language,
he followed: because you are sad,
then brought home the Pup,
who lost his mom the moment
he slid out from her womb.
Daddy said the Pup was an orphan;
and that's pitiful, said Daddy.
Daddy told you to give the Pup a name.
You named him after a famous American
art critique to remind yourself that all things
will go ruins when necessary. As the Pup
entered his teen, he grew up so fast
he could collapse into the sun at
any point without you knowing.
The Pup had a worm infection.
Daddy bought him some drugs.
Daddy was happy when the Pup finally
dumped a bit fat shit. Whenever the
Pup made a scene, Daddy would raise
up his arm in the air so high
and the Pup would disarm him in the
softest way you could imagine.
The Pup was the aspirin for Daddy's
anger issue. As the Pup
tippidy-toes, Daddy fends
off as a patriarch. You look
at the Pup with admiration: this
four-legged creature did something you
still couldn't after years of crafting letters.
The Pup would eat anything. Once,
he spat out a shredded cigarette
butt and you could only scare for life.
Anyway, you couldn't imagine what would
become of Daddy again if the Pup
was a picky eater. Daddy and you loved
the Pup. The Pup, like any typical pup,
hated bath time. Mommy was obsessed
with hygiene so the Pup always smelled
nice. Then, the Pup was sick again.
He wouldn't eat anything. Daddy took
the Pup to the vet where he was tied
down to a stretcher and screaming his
head off. You watched as they attached
a needle with a long tube to the side of his
leg. It went on like that for three days.
Last night, the Pup used his last bit of
strength to pull himself up your
lap and laid immobile for a while. You
didn't doubt a thing. The next morning,
Daddy woke you up. Daddy said
the Pup is gone. His face so straight
you realized you can never tell when
Daddy is engulfed with conscience from
when he is not. You stared at the Pup
in his cage: eyes closed; straight, skeleton
legs pointing where you stood, as if condemning;
then at Daddy. The Pup had lost so much
weight in the last few days. You remembered
touching his once soft, bouncy paws,
which then felt like popped air pockets of
a giant bubble wrap. The Pup's dead
pose was oddly symmetric, as if prepared.
Daddy picked up the Pup with his
surmised hands, the Pup remained
stiffened. Daddy said he could have been
dead at the break of dawn and the
breeze kept his shape like that
for hours. You nodded, though it reminds
you of a hunter stuffing dead animals
as trophies. Yes, it does look like that. A Trophy
of the hunter. It will remind you of Daddy.
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