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The boy’s tongue is black and his nails are bitten back to bleeding, but he has no cup, no patter; he’s not far from a restaurant’s midden, but he’s not scrabbling for food. He just crouches in the corner and moves in small circles, again and again.

“What’s your name?” says the lady in blue.

Catahoula bark,

sings the boy in a cracking voice,

Catahoula beg,
Catahoula piss
Down the emperor’s leg.

“You’re no cur,” says the lady. “You’re purebred. You’re a found dog now.”

She tilts the boy’s chin up. His eyes are wide and blank, one blue, one brown.