Big deal. I am so bad at making deals with people. Because I always break them. That is what I am made to do. I’m nine years old. Who keeps promises at this age?
But I swore on it anyway, on that dark day that poured like a flood. I held Menu in my arms, who was smaller at the time, and uttered to his face, “Ok, I’ll do it.
I will tell the principal that you ate my homework. But why do you want me to say that? They’re not gonna believe me!”
Menu had jumped out of my arms and stood on his hind legs, walking over to me. I was too stunned at the time.
First I found a stray dog underneath an abandoned school that was undergoing some construction (which was awesome, by the way! Just saying.) and now he was talking. And now walking.
I know that I can be really really ‘unruly’ ‘uncooperative’ and all those stupid U names that have dotted my report card for years. But I wasn’t that crazy. Was I?
Maybe I am.
“Brandon,” little Menu pronounced, “All these years I have been buried with this intellect hidden in my heart, in my mind, and it’s simply torturing me.
My dream is to go to school and expand my mind with all of the intelligent pupils. And your dream—” He stared pointedly at me, “Is to get by in your fourth grade class. And you are failing, yes?”
“Yes!” I blurted this loudly and quickly as if I could get rid of this truth.
“And, like you just told me, you want to make your mother happy, right?”
At that moment I was thankful that it was raining hard, because tears were streaming. Fast. Before I found Menu, I was running away. Not running away from home, idiots. I’m not that crazy.
But I was running to find something, to find something that will make Mommy stop crying.
“She has lots of work,” I said louder, hoping to drown the words. “She gets tired. Of me failing.”
Menu stares silently, his fur soaked with water. He is shivering. I scoop him up. I am shivering too.
I look at him, blink hard because of the rain falling in my eyes. Of course it’s not because I’m crying, fools. Get over yourselves.
“Can you, Menu, make Mommy stop crying?”
And he did, for like 6 months, I think. He would eat the homework, and I still don’t know how it works. I guess it wakes up his brain for specific knowledge on that paper.
He will tell me all the answers and at first I didn’t trust him. I scribbled carelessly in my notebook and turned it in to the teacher. She put a gold star on it.
I couldn’t believe it. Was this a joke? A prank? I kept trying to peel it off. It wouldn’t come off the paper.
So I showed it to Mommy after school. I remember the whole thing. She slammed her briefcases on the floor, huffed and puffed. She was mad that day.
Her boss is always mean to her, for some odd reason. If I could I would beat him up. I really really would.
“I have something for you.” I said it so fast I was out of breath. I shoved the paper at her, then ran outside, my whole body shaking like crazy.
Menu followed me, trying to nudge me with his cold nose, but I couldn’t focus.
A moment later Mommy came outside. She sat on the steps behind me and put her arms around me. She held the paper with the gold star tight to her chest. The star glittered and winked at me.
“I am so proud of you,” she whispered to me.
So proud of you. So proud, proud. So yeah I kept doing it. Kept relying on my dog for answers. Don’t look at me like that. She has to be happy. She has hard work.
Every single day she is tired.
I whisper hoarsely in the dark. “Menu!”
He is already up, his leash in his mouth. His tail wagged. “It’s time.”
I bounce and jump and flutter. I leap and spin and twist and I can’t stop, won’t stop moving. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” I breathe, throwing a striped shirt over my head.
Menu was jumping around too, which is strange for him. Like I said, he only goes into hysterics whenever Oreo is around. I hope I’m never like that. I hate girls.
“I’m so excited,” Menu pants, his tongue wagging with his tail. We snuck outside in the almost dark. I say almost dark because the sun is now playing peekaboo with us. And it’s annoying me.
Will it be dark outside or light outside? I shiver in my blue jacket and throw on my hood. “I-I am scared.”
There. I said it. I, Brandon Extraextraordinaire, is scared. And if you tell anyone I will hunt you down and beat you up. I’m so serious.
Menu yanks on his leash harder. “Come on, come on! We must hurry until school starts!!”
I know Menu is smart and all, but I had no idea how he knew where the principal’s house was.
She had the type of neighborhood that make you want to throw up, with all the nauseating pinlk and beige square houses. Menu runs faster, and I tripped afterwards.
There she was! My heart started banging all over me until I seriously felt like I was on fire. I dropped to my knees.
She looked. “Brandon?” her face was stern at first, but softened like peanut butter when she saw me leaning on her mailbox.
“Brandon! What’s wrong?” she hurried over to me with her little rabbit feet. She had on bright orange heels this time.
I couldn’t talk, breathe. I just pointed. “I brought. The dog. Who ate. My homework.”
Mrs. Widdle turned sharply to him, put her hands on her hips. “Brandon. I have let this nonsense slide, but this has gone too far…”
And at that moment Menu decided to make his dramatic presentation. He stood on his hind legs.
“Well,” Mrs. Widdle said, smiling a little. “He does know a good trick…”
And he walked over to her.
And kissed her hand.
“Good morning, my dearest principal. I am proposing a request to be a student…”
And the scream. Oh the scream. To this day, forever and ever, I hate screams more than anything. Mrs. Widdle’s scream curdled my blood. Froze it. Melted it. Froze it again.
It happened so fast that if I blinked half a second I would have missed it. Mrs. Widdle swung her briefcase and slammed Menu with it. He flew, so fast over the air. He was a frisbee.
He was going, going, gone. I don’t know where he landed.
And the police came. And people came. And they were all crooning and yelling and I was crying and crying.
“I’m not crazy, “I kept saying, especially to my mother, who was cradling me. “I’m not crazy.”
just to let you know,
if you tell anybody this story, I will beat you up.
I’m dead serious.