It’s so quiet in the boys’ bedroom, the city street life outside the thick windows eighteen stories below can even be heard. A car horn. A shout. A distant siren.
Peanut hits Otto hard in the shoulder. “That was so cool, dude. I totally believed it was the dog talking. Do it again,” he says and shoves him.
The dog growls. “You shouldn’t hit Otto like that.”
Peanut hits him again, even harder. “Dang, that’s good. When did you learn the ventriloquist dummy routine?”
Walt leans toward the dog. “Umm, I don’t think he has.”
Peanut looks at Walt, then at Otto. “Of course he has. Do it again, but this time I’ll watch your mouth to see if I can spot your lips moving.”
The dog stares at Peanut staring at Otto. “Maybe he learned the dummy part from growing up with you.”
Peanut’s jaw drops. “Your lips didn’t move at all.”
“It’s not me,” Otto says.
Peanut looks at Walt.
“Nope, not me,” Walt says.
“Well, it’s not me,” Peanut says.
“We all know that,” the dog growls.
Peanut spins on the dog. “You can talk?”
The dog tilts his head to the side. “He’s sort of slow on the uptake, isn’t he?”
“Hey.” Peanut raises his hand like he’s about to hit the dog in the shoulder like he does Otto and Walt.
The dog bares his front fangs. “Don’t even think of hitting me.” He gets up and moves to face all of them, then sits and looks at each of their faces, one after the other. “I’m an astronaut on a mission from Dog. And yes, I can speak.” The last is said to Peanut.
Walt says, “Don’t you mean, God? As in a mission from God?”
“No, Dog is the name of my planet. God is a two-legger concept we don’t have, nor grasp really.”
Peanut’s eyes are wide. “Holy cow, Walt. The dog can talk. He’s actually talking. I’m going to be a star at show and tell at summer school.”
The dog glares at Peanut. “Is your love of hamburgers what makes a cow holy? There’s a lot we don’t understand about your species.”
“We?” Otto asks.
“Those of us on Dog.”
Peanut stands up excitedly. “Boy, do I have a lot of questions for you. There are so many things I’ve asked dogs about but have never gotten an answer, like, why are you always licking yourselves and sniffing butts? Do things that smell bad to us smell good to dogs?”
The dog tilts his head to the other side. “What you should be asking is, why are boys like you always so dirty?”
Peanut wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Am not.”
But he is. Peanut always has the most recent thing he ate displayed on his face.
“So then why are dogs always sticking their noses into peoples’ crotches?” Peanut asks.
“Why do little boys eat their boogers?” the dog asks.
Otto interrupts by clearing his throat with a loud, ah-hum, and asks, “What’s your mission? You said you were on one.”
The dog answers, “Dog needs help, and I’m here to ask for it.”
“Help from people?” Peanut chuckles. “You want us to take your planet on a walk or something?”
The dog shows a bit of teeth. “Peanut, even taking account for your age and species, you’re still a cat’s backside.”
Otto laughs. “I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen him dig in the neighbor’s litter box. They have cats we take care of sometimes.”
Peanut looks to Walt for support, but all Walt has to say is, “Dude, you’ve got a dog from space in front of you and you go insulting him? Even I have to agree with the dog and the weird one on this.”
Peanut sits back down and jerks his chin at Otto. “Those cat turds you find in your bed have to come from somewhere.” Then he addresses the dog. “How am I to know how to talk to a dog? I’ve never had one for a pet.”
“I’ve never had a two-legger for a pet, but I’m pretty sure you’d be a difficult one to re-home and end up at the pound on your way to the glue factory.”
Peanut eyes are wide again, but out of fear instead of excitement. “You have pounds for people and make glue out of them?”
The dog wags his tail and growls a stuttered bark that sounds like his equivalent of a chuckle. “No. I’m only making a point. But I bet that chubby, well fed body of yours would make some quality glue with its much higher fat content than a stray dog’s emaciated body. They could make a few bars of soap from the fat from your belly and glue out of the rest of you.”
Peanut knits his brows together. “I thought dogs were supposed to be nice.”
“You two-leggers believe a lot of things that aren’t true.”
Otto asks, “How come the dogs in the building don’t speak like you do?”
“I’m about as related to them as they are to wolves. We share a common ancestor, an ancient spacefaring canine that seeded the galaxy, just like you share an ancestor with bigfoot.”
Peanut sits up straight. “Now there’s a good source of glue.”
Walt and Otto scowl at Peanut. He just doesn’t get it.
“Awe, come on, bigfoot isn’t real. Those are just drunk guys in the woods with huge plywood cutouts of feet strapped to their boots.”
“The skunk-ape, the yeti, sasquatch,” the dog says, “they’re very real and very intelligent.”
“Then why not ask them for help?” Peanut asks.
The dog looks down at the floor, avoiding eye contact. “Because we need help telling a lie.”
Walt and Otto grin at Peanut and Walt says, “Well you’ve come to the right place for that. We’ve got a first class liar right here.”
Peanut grins. “So who’s the jerk now fuzz face?”
“I take it you’re implying I am for calling things as I see them? You see, that is my species weakness. We can steal and fight, but we can’t lie worth a cat’s meow. Lying is an unacceptable trait among us on Dog and none of us know how to do it.”
Peanut grins some more. “So you’re saying lying is a strength.”
“No, but when my home world is under threat of invasion, it would be a strength if we were able to do it, at least as a bluff.”
“And bigfoot doesn’t lie?” Peanut asks.
The dog chuckles. “Does bigfoot look like he needs to lie?”
Peanut shrugs. “How would I know. I’ve never seen a bigfoot except for phony videos on YouTube.”
“Would you like to see one?” the dog asks.
“Then you’ll help us?”
“You want me to lie for you?” Peanut asks.
“Yes.” The dog turns to Otto. “And we want you to tell us when he’s lying.”
“That’s easy,” Otto says. “What’s hard is knowing when he’s not lying.”
Peanut stands up. “Okay, then let’s get on with the telling of tall tales,” he says with a giggle at the dog’s expense and continues, “and go see bigfoot. I’ve got a lot of questions for him too, like why is he such a scaredy-cat that he hides all of the time?”
“We need to go to Dog,” the dog says.
“Hold on there, dog,” Walt says, “My brothers aren’t going anywhere without me.”
Otto doesn’t want to go anywhere, let alone stumble around in the woods looking for bigfoot with his crazy brothers and a talking dog from space. “We won’t all fit in that landing pod or craft or whatever it was you landed in.”
“We won’t have to. That was a one-way trip. It’s gone. Vaporized into another dimension to hide it from your soldiers like that one on the elevator. We have a file on him.”
“You know him?” Otto asks. “Who is he?”
“Captain Case, or known behind his back as Crank Case. He should be on our side but something went wrong when he was a child and he’s been a threat ever since.”
“He’s a threat and you’re undercover but you still felt the need to growl at him in the elevator?”
He looks away, embarrassed. “Sometimes it’s hard not to growl, it’s kind of second nature to us and we don’t even know we’re doing it.” He glances at peanut. “Like little boys when the pick their noses. They do it and don’t even know they’re doing it.”
Peanut pulls his finger out of his nose. “Was not,” Peanut says. “So how do we get to Dog?”
“That’s where bigfoot comes in. They’ve agreed to let us use one of their portals.”
“Portals?” Otto asks, not liking the sound of that at all. “Is that anything like getting vaporized into another dimension?”
“The bigfoot have portals that bend space and time and are used to cross vast distances.”
“What’s the catch?” Peanut says. “There’s always a catch. They’re not letting us use their portal for nothing. What do they want in exchange?”
With a gleam in his eyes, the dog looks at Peanut and thumps his tail against the floor. “The bigfoot are extremely short on good sources of soap and glue.”
Peanut pops up and moves away from the dog. “Heck no. I’m not going anywhere with this loopy dander bomb.”
Walt says, “I think he’s pulling your leg.”
“Ha ha, very funny, but that implies he just told a lie, and if that’s the case, everything he’s said is a lie.”
“No, it’s true. The bigfoot are very short on soap and glue because they have no need for either. They don’t bathe.”
Otto smiles. “I guess they’re not called skunk apes for nothing.” He reaches into his desk and tosses Peanut a bottle of white glue. “But just in case.”
Otto laughs, but not Peanut. Peanut says, “We’ll see if you’re laughing when I trade this bottle for our lives.” He puts the bottle in his back pocket.
“You know you’re going to sit on that bottle and get glue everywhere,” Walt says. “Put it in your front pocket.”
As he’s doing that, there’s a knock at the door. “Boys, what’s going on in there? You know how it makes me nervous when you all get quiet. It usually means you three are up to something.”
“Crap, it’s Mom,” Peanut says as the door knob turns. “So much for meeting bigfoot, fur-breath. Looks like you’re going to the pound after all.”
Next Chapter – The Hagg Lake Incident