Find Part 1 here! Or find Rita Monette’s Nikki Landry Swamp Legends books here!
Me and Lydia sat in her tree house and talked about her cat and my dog until I heard Papa driving up the gravel road. I ran to meet him as fast as I could. I took a quick gander into the back of his truck, then followed him inside where mama had lunch on the table. I had some more begging to do.
“I’m heading back to old man Lowry’s first thing in the morning,” Papa said before I could even open my mouth.
“Ain’t that the man you got the dog from?” Mama asked as she set a glass of milk in front of me.
“That old coot sold me a bum dog,” he said.
“A bum dog?” I asked. “What does that mean?”
“Took him out this morning and all he did was lay on the ground,” he said. “Woods full of rabbits and coons, and he just laid there.”
“Maybe he didn’t feel like hunting today,” I said.
“Dog’s no good I tell you.” Papa took a big bite of fried chicken, then continued to talk with his mouth full. “He’s going back tomorrow.”
“No!” I jumped and ran outside and to the cage in the back of Papa’s truck.
Snooper sat crouched in the crate.
I opened the door and reached inside.
The brown and black and white dog licked my hand. Then he scooted toward me and stuck his cold nose to my face.
I giggled. “You’re not a bum dog,” I said. “You’re a good dog. And I’m keeping you.” I put my arms around him and carried him up the pier and to the deck.
“Nikki,” Mama shouted as she opened the screen door to meet me. “Where are you going with that dog?”
“I’m keeping him,” I said.
Papa jumped up and stood next to Mama. “No you’re not. I’m getting my money back for that no-count dog.” He stepped outside, took Snooper from me, then carried him back to the truck.
I ran up behind him and stuck out my lower lip. “His name is Snooper and he ain’t no-count.”
Papa glanced at me, and his wrinkled forehead smoothed out a bit. He chuckled, then his frown came back. “Tadpole, you can’t have the dog and that’s final.” He grabbed my hand and led me back to the house and the table.
I flopped down into the chair, but I wasn’t hungry. I looked sideways at Mama. “What if Mama says I can?”
Papa kept eating.
Mama kept eating too.
I glanced from one to the other for a sign of caving in.
“You can’t have a critter in the house,” she said without looking up. “With the baby on the way and all.”
I blinked. “What baby?”
Papa stopped eating. “A baby?”
“Yes, we should have it by Fall.”
“Is it a boy or a girl?” I asked.
Mama laughed. “We don’t know yet.”
“I hope it’s a girl,” I said. “But why can’t we have a dog and a baby too?”
“This place is too small,” Mama said. “If you do keep him he’ll have to stay outside.”
“I can keep him!” I jumped up and ran for the door.
“I didn’t say you could keep him!” Papa yelled at my back as the screen door slammed behind me.
“That girl,” I heard Papa say.
“She’s of your making,” Mama said.
I carried Snooper to the door and put my nose against the screen. “Can he stay inside until Papa builds him a bigger pen? That cage is way too small.”
“Good grief, Nikki,” Mama said. “You sure are persistent.”
“I am not,” I said. “I took a bath yesterday.”
Papa laughed out loud. “Hard headed, Nikki. Your mama means you are hard headed.”
“Well can he or not?” I asked.
Mama put her head into her hands. “Just until Papa builds him a pen. And only until then. He has to be out by the time the baby comes.”
I opened the door and set Snooper down on the floor. “You’ll be sleeping in my room, Snoop.” I looked up at Papa and Mama. “For awhile anyway.”
I reached into my plate and grabbed a piece of food and handed it to him. He gobbled it up real fast. He must have been starved.
“And no feeding him from the table,” Papa said. “There’s some dog food out in the truck.”
“And you are responsible for any mess he makes, young lady,” Mama said.
“Yes ma’am!” I sat on the floor and put my arms around my new dog. “You won’t even know he’s around.”
That was four years ago.
My baby brother, Jesse, was born in November, and Snooper still sleeps with me. Unless he’s sleeping on the floor, or the deck, or the grass. He just likes to sleep…when he’s not helping me solve legends that is.
Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. She is currently retired and lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, She enjoys participating in festivals and craft shows where she does face and body art, along with selling her books.