Excerpt from The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping by   Nasdijj, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping

by   Nasdijj

The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping by   Nasdijj X
The Boy and The Dog Are Sleeping by   Nasdijj
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2003, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2004, 352 pages

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"Awee," he said. "A W E E."

For Awee. What are you doing here, and how did you get here, and why do I smell cigarettes on you, and where is your coat?

He does not like what I have written in the book he stole. He frowns.

"I'm here to ask you one more time—pleeeeeeze—and I don't gotta coat. I know boys you worked with."

Yaaaaa. So what?

This is not unusual. There is a pipeline among these kids. The mad ones. Kids who live at the edges of the system. Foster kids. Kids in jail. At the edges of the desert blacktop with their thumb out. Hitchhiking into that yellow twilight at the edge of town. The ones who will not graduate from high school this year.

Adults get rated. You are someone they can tolerate. Or you are someone to be avoided at all costs. Once you have made it to the to be avoided at all costs list, there is no way in hell or shit that you will ever make it back to the tolerated list again. Children are intransigent. These are children fighting for their lives.

"How did you find me?"

"It was in the paper. Do you gots a cigarette?"

The chances of my having a cigarette were not good. He was shivering. "You're freezing, Awee."

"Yes."

I buy him something hot to drink.

I give him my coat.

"They're gonna put me in a foster home if you won't take me," he said. "I will run away. I will. I know how to hitchhike. I hitchhiked here. I don't need nobody. I can take care of myself. I am not no fucking baby."

"It's really dangerous for a boy your age to be out there hitchhiking," I lectured. I have worked with boys who hitchhike in the dark in New Mexico. It's like asking to be raped.

We find bodies of nude boys in ditches. No one knows who they are or where they came from. Strangled and dumped in the desert.

"Please. I know you had a son once. Everyone knows that. You wrote about it. He died. It was in the paper. I read about it. We could do this. You and me. I'm alive. I won't be any trouble. I'll just stay out of your way, okay? But the foster homes are bad. Really bad. They won't let you be on no baseball team in the foster homes, and I just wanna play some baseball is all I want. Do you gots a cigarette?"

Why would anyone sane adopt a child with AIDS?

Because one comes to you. Because you can. Because he needs you. Because he is asking you to adopt him. Because you know about the bureaucratic strings and how to pull them. Because he is going to be one more dead Indian child and not even shit as a statistic. Because he has no coat and he's shivering. Because the two of us are all by ourselves. Because he likes baseball.

Even here, sitting in a bookstore coffee shop drinking hot chocolate with a raggedy kid, I am out of place, out of context, and so alone.

The reservation in the darkness sings the songs of gods to me. The reservation is my home.

Excerpted from The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping by Nasdijj Copyright© 2003 by Nasdijj. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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