by Cody Shrum
We’re out searching for our lost dog when it really starts pouring. It’s a monsoon and we can’t see shit, our clothes soaked and no umbrellas because you don’t check the weather when you’re holding back barf at the thought of your dog being lost, scared, worse. I’m carrying my shoes now as we search through the next neighborhood, down the lone cul-de-sac in town. Muddy water flushes grass clippings past us, toward the gas station like fresh mint in cocoa.
“Elvis! Elvis Presley where are you?” Kevin yells.
We use Elvis’s full name when he’s done something bad, when we’re worried. Kevin yells those same words over and over, and it should be comforting, but his words transform: the chorus of a song you play one time too many and becomes annoying.
I’ve stopped yelling. We won’t find him. Someone will call our number from his collar, maybe. We’d talked about getting Elvis Presley chipped, but never got around to it.
We’re so far from home now. Several miles, at least. We’d set out from our duplex in one direction without making a plan first. Five blocks back I suggested going home, getting the car. Kevin kept yelling out Elvis Presley! instead.
It’s still raining balls, but above, a clear sky swims, pocked with light. Incredulous. The moon is a bright yellow waning gibbous. The constellations I can’t name are so well defined, the luminous points mapping out shapes someone once ascribed meaning to.
“Maggie,” Kevin says. He’s standing by me now. “You okay?”
His face looks pixelated in the rain. He’s more worried than I am. Elvis Presley is more his dog than mine. He chose him, named him.
“I feel pregnant again,” I say.
“Look up,” I say.
He does and we stare into silence at the rain falling from nothing, rain-pavement and thunder drowning out the echoes of our calls for Elvis Presley.
At some point we’re holding hands but I’m not sure who made that move. The whole thing, searching for Elvis Presley in a torrent, cosmic rain coming from nowhere, the near-serendipity of our hands holding, of physical contact, feels like I’m ripped on peyote.
“Why ‘Elvis Presley?’” I ask. “Don’t you know what happened to that guy?”
“Yeah, but he rocked,” Kevin says. “And rolled.”
“He helped get a lot of people laid,” I say.
“He wasn’t nothin’ but a hound dog.”
I laugh and punch him in the shoulder. As the rain fades away, quick as it came, collar-jangles ring out from up the street. It’s hard to say whether it’s the high-quality air in this affluent neighborhood or the magic storm just now, but the acoustics here are amazing. Elvis Presley comes running from three blocks away and it sounds like he’s mic’d up, reining in music from noise.
Kevin squats down to embrace our Elvis Presley. It’s a scene from a WWII photo of lovers reuniting dramatically, the crowd clapping.
“Elvis Presley, you scared us to death,” he says.
Elvis Presley pants and prances into Kevin’s arms, tail and hips shaking his whole body. I lace my fingers over my soaked belly and smile at my boys.
“Elvis is completely dry,” Kevin says. He scratches Elvis all over, a demonstration.
“Of course he is. Come on, let’s go home,” I say.
Elvis Presley leads the way, trots ahead, face forward, as if we won’t remember what happened here tonight.