Los Sures, Part 32: Up on the Roof

From "Clown" (1968), directed by Richard Balducci

That night Malo came to our room, where Fever and I had bunk beds. He stayed in the doorway and I could not see his face because it was in the dark. He told us with his accent to pray, top pray for Barbie. He said, “Pray for God to make the dog better.”

We were silent. But after Malo disappeared, I began saying the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t think Fever prayed for anything but the Mets.

That night, Malo locked the dog in the bathroom like Papi said he would.

The next morning I was the first to wake up. I went to check the bathroom. There was no one, nothing there. My mother was in the kitchen, washing clothes in the sink, listening to the radio station that played the old music she loved.

“Where’s Barbie?” I said.

“She die,” said Mami, without turning from the sink. “Pobre perro.”

“ . . . Where is she?” I said.

Mami looked to the back window. On our back rooftop. I went closer. There, right outside the window on the roof of the apartment below, I could just see the outline of the body in the bag and the dark parts of her fur and the side of her face. Her teeth stuck out from her black lips. Her head was twisted almost all the way around.

“Why is her head that way?” I said.

“Malo say she probably going around and around and hit her head on the tub.”


“C’mon,” Mami said. “Eat some breakfast.”

A month later, Malo’s wife showed up from Puerto Rico, and she and Malo got an apartment in Brownsville, which I didn’t know where it was. Later, my sister asked Papi and Mami for another dog, and one day Papi brought Evie another poodle mix. She named it Barbie.

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