Otto slides the key into the lock, turns and pushes open the apartment door, then leads the dog down the hall to the bedroom he shares with his brothers. He hears the video games they’re playing before he pushes open the bedroom door. Both of the nuts are so transfixed battling it out on the latest release of Cyclops Massacre that they don’t notice Otto and the dog come in. This isn’t unusual. Otto is quiet and floats under the radar, avoiding detection and torment.
The dog sits at his side, watching the screen quietly until a gruesome Cyclops appears onscreen and roars, then he starts his quiet growl like he did in the elevator.
Without looking away from the screen at Otto, Peanut says, “Oddo, go growl somewhere else, you’re distracting me from finally taking the Cyclops crown from Walt.”
“Growl as much and as loud as you want, Otto,” Walt says. “Peter, half of winning is staying focused.”
An even bigger Cyclops jumps on screen, causing the dog to bark. Game play stops as both nuts turn to look.
“Whose dog is that?” Walt asks.
“No ones,” Otto says. “Maybe the governments.”
Peanut runs his hand through his hair, imitating some cool guy movie he saw recently. “You stole someone’s dog? That’s pretty low. Even I’d think twice before doing that.”
“I didn’t steal him. I found him.”
“Where?” Walt asks.
“He fell out of the sky.”
Peanut smiles. “Like a Playboy Centerfold falling out of the ceiling?”
“Huh? A what?”
“Never mind him,” Walt says. “Does he have a name?”
“I don’t know.”
Peanut smirks. “Oddo, for a nerd you sure don’t know much.”
Otto pats the dog. “I was on the roof deck reading when…”
Peanut interrupts. “Of course you were, always with a book. That’s handy if you ever run out of tp.”
Otto ignores him. “And this big round thing fell out of the sky and landed a few feet away from me and when it opened up, the dog jumped out.”
Peanut grins. “Like a girl jumping out of a giant birthday cake?”
Walt says, “Peter saw that girl from the eighth floor he likes on the elevator this morning. He’s been saying stuff like that ever since. Does Mom know yet that you’ve been stealing dogs and reading bad scifi?”
“If Mom knew,” Peanut says, “we would’ve heard shouting and the dog wouldn’t have gotten past the front door.”
Walt nods. “Good point.”
Peanut smiles, seeing an opportunity. “What are you going to give us not to tell her?” he says to Otto.
“I don’t have anything you want.”
“That’s true.” Peanut tightens his lips. “It’s not like I want one of your books. How about you do my chores instead? It’s my turn to clean the bathroom.”
“Otto, don’t bother,” Walt says. “You can’t hide a dog from Mom. She’s going to find out. What you need to do is come up with a better cover story than that ‘he fell from the sky’ baloney. If it’s a good tear jerker you might get to hold onto him for a day or two before Dad drives him to the pound.”
“The dog pound, Oddo,” Peanut says. “Where all lost dogs go to become glue.”
Walt shoves Peanut as the dog growls. “Don’t say that in front of the dog.”
“Why? He can’t understand what I’m saying.”
“Dogs know more than you realize,” Walt says with a glance at the dog.
“I read that they’re as smart as an eight year old,” Otto says.
Walt looks at Peanut. “What about being smarter than an emotionally stunted twelve year old?”
Peanut shoves Walt. “I am not stunted. It’s called ADD.”
Walt holds his hand out to the dog to sniff. The dog does and moves closer so Walt can pet him. “His eyes are blue. I’ve never seen blue eyes on a dog. Weird.”
“Let me see,” Peanut says, leaning in. “That’s cool.”
“Hey, do you still have that fake blood from Halloween?” Walt asks Peanut. “We can spray some on him and tell Mom we saved him from a man beating him with a stick in the park.”
Peanut scowls. “What’s this ‘we’ stuff?”
“Come on,” Walt says. “It’ll be fun to have a dog. Even if only for a few days.”
“Mom won’t believe that story,” Peanut says. “She knows we never go to the park.”
“The mall then.”
“They don’t let dogs in the mall.”
Otto says, “They let service dogs in the mall.”
“So we stole a service dog from a disabled person?” Peanut says. “That’ll be sure to win Mom over.”
“Stop being so negative and think of something,” Walt says. “This is what you’re good at. Make yourself useful.”
“I met a soldier on the elevator today,” Otto says, “who said someone with your skill at lying should work for the government.”
Peanut tilts his head to the side as he thinks. “Mom won’t believe Oddo stole him from anyone. Me, yeah, but not him. He needs to tell her the cover story because she’ll believe him. She trusts him.”
Walt nods. “Makes sense. So where did you find him, Otto, really?”
“It’s just like a told you.”
“Dogs don’t fall out of the sky,” Peanut says. “Or centerfolds.”
“Let’s go look at this big round thing that landed on the roof deck,” Walt says.
Otto shakes his head. “It’s gone. It disappeared.”
Walt scratches the back of his neck. “I’m confused. Mom is supposed to believe you because you never lie, and you don’t. I’ve never caught you in a lie. So what’s with this story you’re giving us about the dog landing on the roof in a rocket ship, something no one is going to believe? Either you’re telling your first lie or things are getting weird.”
“I was a big round craft, not a rocket ship, and I’m not lying.”
“Maybe you should lie so people will believe you,” Peanut says.
“I’m telling you guys the truth.”
The dog growls, like he’s clearing his throat.
“What you’re telling us is some crazy story with no proof,” Peanut says. “What do you say, dog? Who did Oddo steal you from?”
The nuts stare at the dog, half expecting an answer.
He stares back and starts growling, but this time he growls words. “Otto isn’t lying. What he said is what happened.”