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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