Mope wasn’t always named “Mope.”
Long ago, he was an “André,” fearless puppy of the night, keeper of justice for the barefoot children that played soccer in the alley.
Brought up on chicken and tortilla scraps, with all his shots current, he had a bright future ahead of him.
He would follow Alexis to school everyday, wait for him by the gate, walk him back home, watch him do his homework, and then he would responsibly destroy said homework.
Around eight they would have dinner together, and he would listen in from the corner on how everyone’s day had gone.
Papa Edmund had a new secretary at the bank.
He would take the kids to the beach that summer if they got good grades.
André had never been to the beach.
He’d seen it on T.V. and other dogs had talked to him about it.
He looked forward to romping in the waves and running through freshly built sand castles.
Mama Mayra said the meat had gone up at the butcher’s and fruit never seemed to be in season anymore.
Sister Sylvia said she was trying out for the volleyball team.
Alexis fed André bacon under the table.
Then, religiously every night, they would go play soccer with the neighborhood kids.
The months went by and the weather got warmer and warmer.
The beach vacation became more and more prevalent in the family dinner discussions.
Everyone talked about what they would pack.
Papa Edmund would take a cooler and a barbecue pit.
Mama Mayra would take a picnic basket and wine bottles, sunscreen, and her crochet needles.
Sister Sylvia would take her volleyball, a couple of mystery novels and her new bikini, which her dad had been unaware of until then.
Alexis would take André, a soccer ball, his snorkeling gear and a boogie board.
André would take his favorite bone and cushion.
The last day of school was excruciatingly hot and Alexis brought water for André, who was faithfully waiting outside by the gate in the sun.
When the bell rung, Alexis, Sylvia and André ran home from school and packed their bags while their mother yelled “Don’t forget this! Don’t forget that!” from the living room downstairs.
The a/c had broken the day before and everyone was sweating or panting.
Papa Edmund came home from work and the family gathered around him, welcoming him home with a big bear hug.
“Mayra, we need to talk.”
The couple entered the bedroom and André ran under their bed before they closed the door.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mama Mayra.
Edmund sat down on the bed.
“You look upset. Did something happen?”
Edmund didn’t look straight at her, but mostly looked past her toward an open window. He got up to shut it.
“Edmund, it’s 100 degrees up here! Leave the window open.”
“Stop telling me what to do! There you go again, giving me orders.”
Mayra bit her lips and shook her head.
It had all seemed too good to be true.
She started pacing around the room packing more things into her beach bag.
“We’re not going to beach, god damn it, Mayra! Stop packing!”
“Well I’m not going to stay here. You promised the kids. At least one of us has to keep their word.”
“I lost my job.”
Mayra stopped packing.
She tried to hug her husband, but he just stood up and pushed her away.
Edmund’s cell phone rang. Mayra looked at the caller ID. It was his secretary. Mayra crossed her arms and her face and looked intently at Edmund.
He took the call in the bathroom.
A few hours later, Mayra had packed the station wagon full of as many things as a family relocating could possibly pack in a situation in which they are fully incapable of packing the most important thing of all.
The kids were crying in the back seat and André, confused, put his paw on little Sylvia’s face, alternating licking each child’s cheeks.
They had driven about two miles when Mayra pulled over and said, “You know what? We have nowhere to put that dog.”
The children screamed in resistance.
Engulfed by jealousy, she was willing to get rid of anything that reminded her of any decision her husband had ever taken without consulting her, including bringing home this mutt.
“What are we going to feed him? I don’t even have a job! We have nowhere to live!”
The kids protested in indistinguishable whimpers.
She opened the back door, picked up André, and left him on the side of the road.
She turned red as she realized, walking back to the driver’s seat, the unrighteousness of her vengeful act.
André barked and ran after them for a good three miles, while Alexis stuck his head out the window, shouting that he loved him and he would return for him.
Eventually, André lost sight of the station wagon and he had nowhere else to go but back home.
When he got there, he was thirsty as hell and ready to collapse on his cushion.
Papa Edmund had been hitting the bottle and now he seized the opportunity to take out his rage on someone.
“So you’re the only one who came back? Stupid beast. Where are the rest of them? Are they gone because they can’t stand to see me like this? Because they’ve always known I’m a liar?”
André looked down and rested his head on his paws.
Then, Mr. Edmund did something that André cannot believe to this very day.
He took the bottle and broke it straight into André’s right eye.
The next morning, still hungover, Edmund took André to the pound and said he was a stray he’d found near his house.
André is no longer a puppy.
No one has adopted him because they say all he does is mope in his cage, so the staff there baptized him “Mope.”
He awaits Alexis’s return to this very day.
Mope wasn’t always named “Mope.”