Otto stretches out on the recliner, hands behind his head with a book on dogs flipped over on his chest, and gazes up into the sky. This is Portland, he thinks, it should be raining, overcast at the very least. But the sky is a vast expanse of blue except for one lone cloud drifting overhead that holds Otto’s attention. A black speck emerges from the cloud, probably a bird, a hawk maybe, though he’s never seen a bird that high up in the sky before.
Otto has the whole rooftop deck of the building where he and his family lives to himself. He’s not supposed to be up here on his own, high above the downtown city streets of the Pearl District, but he comes up here to get away from his two older brothers, Walnut and Peanut, when he wants to read. They’ve grown too cool for reading and tease him whenever they see a book in his lap. They’re all about video games. He like those too, but it gets old losing to the nuts all the time. They hate it when he calls them that. Their actual names are Walter and Peter, and they get back at him by calling him Oddo instead of Otto, but it doesn’t bother him. It’s just a breath over lips, an exhale. It might as well be a couple of birds chirping.
One of the photos in the dog book on his chest is of an army dog parachuting out of an airplane. The dog has on a camo vest like the soldier he’s strapped to and they’re jumping into someplace in Afghanistan. Who said dressing up your dog was silly? Otto thinks it’s the best photo in the book, a dog trusting you enough to jump out of an airplane with you, you can’t beat that. Maybe some dogs are thrill seekers just like some people are. Continue reading “Chapter One ~ Smokejumpers”