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Chapter One: My Name is Nacho

My name is Nacho. I'm a sexy beast. I weigh about twenty-three pounds, though Lauren repeatedly reminds Nick that I'm supposed to weigh 13-20 and that he needs to lay off the Beggin' Strips (he won't though, he's too well trained). I'm thirteen inches tall, and my tail is curly. Nick says my face is wrinkly, but I got news for him when he's surprised his forehed's got the same wrinkles as I do and they're much more comely on me than they are on him. Lauren's noticed this. I know because there was this one time her sister was over and her sister was eating this cheese burger and Lauren was eating blueberries and I had my chin on her sister's knee and I was trying real hard to hypnotize her into dropping that burger and Lauren laughed and said, "Look at that. God, he looks like Nick asking for sex."

I dunno what sex is but I bet cheese burgers are better.

Lauren's cool and stuff but my real human is Nick. He's my best bud and we do shit like go barking at squirrels together. In human terms, this is called jogging. Nick and I watch the TV together. We watch this show called Football where people play fetch with each other, and Nick gets real excited when they catch the ball. I'd play fetch with Nick but I'm too lazy. Every once in awhile, Nick gets this great idea that he wants to play fetch with me and I just roll my eyes and lay down and eventually he gives up and says that I'm useless. I like being useless.

The day everything started was a normal day, as far as I could tell. We were all hanging out at home the day after Nick and I got back from Tour (which was a very, very long car ride away and I'm not sure we ever quite got to as I only remember a bunch of pee breaks and pit stops where I had to protect Nick from these crazy humans that scream at him - he calls them fans). Nick and I were watching fetch on TV when Lauren came in and put some food on the coffee table. I jumped up and sniffed but it was just celery so I laid back down. Nick didn't seem any more excited by it 'cos he left it there and scratched my head.

"I was thinking how you wanted Nacho and Igby in the wedding," Lauren said, sitting on the couch and tucking her legs under her. She pushed me up onto Nick's lap, taking over the spot on the cushion I'd commendeered. Sometimes it sucks being small 'cos people can just, like, move you around and you can't do anything about it except kick your legs and it's really rare that they pay any attention to your leg kicking. Nick shifted his legs so I could lay across them without falling through his knees. He grunted as my weight landed on him. "What if they were like honorary best man and maid of honor?"

Nick laughed, "That's so Brian-And-Leighanne of you," he said.

Lauren laughed, too. I knew Brian and Leighanne, they were Maymee, Kiko, Willie, and Lucy's humans. We let our humans have playdates sometimes during the ride to Tour and helped each other protect them all, plus their mini-Human, Baylee, from all the Fans. "I know it's a little dorky," she said, "But I mean how cute would they be in little tuxedos with little red bow ties and top hats?"

Nick snickered. He rubbed my head, "Would you wear a top hat dude?" he asked. My skin moved back and forth under his hands. His hands are very large and his palm was pretty much the size of my entire skull. "You'd do anything if there was a Bggin Strip involved, wouldn'tcha?"

"You're gonna make that dog into a perfect sphere, you know that, right?" Lauren asked, disapproval in her tone.

Nick laughed. "He'd be his own planet. Planet Nacho."

Sounded good to me. I would rule my planet with an iron paw and all the citizens would be required to pay taxes in the form of Beggin' Strips.

"So what do you think?" Lauren asked, a little whine to her voice, "How cute would they be?"

Nick laughed, "You're serious aren't you? Dog tuxes?"

"Yes! The place that's doing your tux actually custom-fits tuxedos for dogs, too."

"No fuckin' way," Nick said, looking at her with that surprised face I mentioned earlier. I swear, we could've been twins if Nick was tan and black and had bulgey eyes and was 13" tall and 23 pounds. "What in hell is this world coming to?" he asked, shaking his head.

"Just picture the wedding photos," Lauren said, grinning.

"I am," Nick said. He rubbed my head and on the other end of the couch Igby got up and laid down on Lauren's feet and she started rubbing his head. He groaned appreciatively, and looked at me through squinty eyes of pure joy.

"So... Can we do it?" Lauren prodded.

"WHAT THE FUCK!" Nick suddenly shouted and I looked up, but not in time. On the TV, some guy dropped the ball he was trying to fetch and Nick jumped up and I rolled off his lap and onto the carpet with a thump that sent shivers through my body. It hurt like hell. I bolted. "Aw shit. Nacho come back... Nacho..." But I was already on my way up the stairs to the bedroom where I planned to slide under the bed. It was the only safe place. "Nacho!" Nick's footsteps thundered up the steps behind me and I skittered in the bedroom door, threw myself onto my belly and started dragging my self by my paws across the carpet under the bed.

Safety was just inches away. I could almost smell the musty scent of Under the Bed, and could almost feel the softness of my old sock that I'd dragged under there foreever ago. But then my ass got stuck halfway under and no matter how hard I clawed at the carpet I could go no further.

Noooooo! I clawed harder and harder, ripping fibers up from the floor. Oh Lord God Almighty, I was gonna die here, stuck halfway between the Promised Land and the Scary World of Out There. I started crying. Life was flashing before my eyes.

I'm a good pug, I don't deserve to go like this.

A few seconds before I was sure I would never see the light of day again, the door creaked open and I heard a laugh. "Dude you really do need to lose weight," Nick said, his voice muffed by the layers of mattress and box spring hovering over my head.

I felt his hands clasp my body and pull and I was dragged backwards out from under the bed and he hoisted me up into his arms.

My hero. My savior. My human.

I licked his face like crazy, my legs shaking from relief. I mean, I was practically dead, this human just saved my life. I wiggled against him, my tail wagging, and Nick laughed, "Well I guess this means you forgive me for knocking ya down, then?" He rubbed my ears and sat down on the bed, hugging me to his chest as I kept licking his face. "So what'cha think Nacho? You willing to look like a total asshat just to make Lauren happy, huh?" he sighed. "The other dogs might make fun of you, but remember, it's for a noble cause."

His nose tasted salty.

"You want Beggin' Strip?"

Oh fuck yes.

"Okay, c'mon, let's get you one. But shhh," he added, putting a hand over his mouth as he put me down, "You can't tell Lauren." He opened his nightstand drawer and pulled out the Yellow Bag of Happiness and opened it. It crinkled. Oh Lord have mercy, I swear there ain't a more beautiful sound in all the universe as the crinkle that a bag makes. He pulled out a Beggin' Strip. It was beautiful. It smelled like... like bacon... and I felt drool forming at the corners of my lips as Nick held it in his mouth and resealed the bag and put it back in the drawer. I spun around in a circle. Nick likes it when I spin in circles. He grinned at me and held the strip up. "You want it?" I wiggled and spun and spun and spun and he laughed. "You want the Beggin' Strip? Yeah?"

The drool was literally touching my paws.

Nick laughed, "Nacho, man, you're disgusting." He tossed the strip at me and I leaped as much as my body would let me... approximately two inches off the ground in the front half of me and my back paws never left the floor... and I caught it. I was the king of this kind of fetch.

I should play football.

Nick reached down and rubbed my ears as I chomped down on the Beggin' Strip with it's meaty, bacony goodness. So chewy, so delicious.

"You're a good dog, Nacho," Nick announced, "A really, damn good dog."

I know.