Tango the parrot was listening to Juan as he communicated with a fellow god through the sacred handset. The bird’s head was slightly cocked. As he listened, his feathers puffed up, and his pupils shrank to the size of pinholes. Osa knew this meant trouble. “The Bald One is coming,” Tango prophesied. Osa whimpered and trotted in place on jittery paws. Tango was perched on the back of a chair near the kitchen table. “Who is the Bald One?” she asked. It had only been a few weeks since she was added to the Rodriguez family and she was learning new things everyday. “Even the gods have a god,” Tango explained. “The god’s god is the Bald One and he is an evil god.” Osa looked sideways at Juan with a terrified expression. God Juan was pacing around the kitchen balancing the sacred handset between his shoulder and his ear. He patted Osa’s head and gave her a kibble. She thumped her tail and licked his hand, but even that did not quell the terror she felt inside. “God Juan would never allow an evil god into our home,” Osa objected. “God Juan fears the Bald One,” explained the parrot. “The Bald One is the food stealer, the feather puller, the snatcher of jingly toys. When he wails the other gods flock to him to appease his wrath.” Osa was shaking all over, she turned in a circle, then ripped a tassel off the rug with her teeth. Luckily, God Juan’s back was to her so he didn’t notice. “When will the Bald One come?” “No one knows the day nor the hour,” Tango began, then paused for a moment to listen to Juan, “but probably Saturday at noon.” Osa was overcome with another wave of anxiety. She tore a second tassel off the rug. “What should we do?” Osa cried. “You must avoid the Bald One at all costs,” Tango explained. “And most importantly, do not reprimand him even if he pulls your tail or bites your paws. If you do, the other gods will punish you.” Osa tore off a third tassel. She was so nervous she swallowed it without even thinking. “Will I know the Bald One when I see him?” “Without a doubt! He is like a god, but horribly distorted,” Tango explained. “His head is a third the size of his body, his limbs are small and shriveled looking, he does not walk upright like most gods but slides across the floor on his belly. He has no teeth, but a very strong bite. His hands grab whatever he can reach and his grip is iron. He is much smaller than the other gods. They carry him from place to place. Though we know him as the Bald One, the gods call him by another name.” “What name?” Osa asked. “I dare not say it,” Tango answered. “It is a dark and evil name.” “Please tell me!” Osa begged. The parrot looked around and lowered his voice. “Lucas.” Osa howled and spun in circles. She ripped three more tassels off the rug. Juan spun around at the sound. He dropped the sacred handset and charged toward her crying out in Human. Osa didn’t understand Human the way that Tango did, but she knew a few words here and there. For instance, she knew “¡Osa Mala!” meant “You have sinned against the gods”. “¡No coma eso!” was what Juan usually shouted before prying her mouth open. It probably meant You must offer me a piece of your food in reparation for this sin. God Juan forced Osa’s mouth open and pulled out a few strands of tassel. Then, he snatched up the sacred handset and continued communing with the other god. Osa spent the next two nights dreading the arrival of the Bald One. She hid under the gods’ bed whimpering and picturing the awful thing Tango described. The horrible little limbs, the unnaturally oversized head… her imagination plagued her nightmares with images of the abomination. At last, Saturday came. She knew it was Saturday because the gods did not ascend to the place called Work. She swore that nothing in the universe could coax her out of hiding on that awful day. Then she heard the treat box shaking and broke her oath. She charged toward the noise and skittered into the kitchen, where she saw God Juan holding the box. She danced up and down, her claws making a tapping sound on the tile floor. Then, suddenly she noticed a pair of strange gods standing next to him. There was a tall skinny bearded man and a stout red-haired woman with a ponytail. They both looked friendly and Osa would normally have run up to greet them, but she stayed back, her eyes fixed on the little creature in the woman’s arms. It could only be the Bald One, the evil one, the one called Lucas. For a moment, Osa was petrified with horror. But then she looked curiously at the thing. It was as Tango described—giant head, tiny limbs, but it was not hideous. On the contrary, it was somehow endearing. And it smelled wonderful, more wonderful than anything Osa had ever smelled before. It must have been using some kind of evil magic to hide its true nature. The gods went into the living room and Osa followed cautiously. The goddess holding the Bald One put him down on the rug. He did not slide on its stomach like Tango suggested but instead walked on all fours like her. Then, it noticed an old potato chip lying under the coffee table. The Bald One charged toward the chip, picked it up, and put it in its mouth. “¡No coma eso!” The woman called. She grabbed the Bald One and pried his mouth open removing the remains of the chip. The Bald One released an awful wail just as Tango had described. That sound made Osa feel horrible inside. She pitied the Bald One. Perhaps Tango was wrong about him being the god’s god? They did not seem to fear him at all. They would never steal a snack away from their own god, would they? She wanted to help the Bald One, to find it another potato chip. She knew there were more behind the recliner, she had been saving them in case of famine. She waited until the goddess returned the Bald One to the carpet and was engaged in conversation with the other gods, then she retrieved one of the chips and brought it to the Bald One. He broke into a huge smile and gobbled it up. Osa’s tail thumped up and down against the carpet when she realized he was happy. Then she brought him another chip and another and soon his face and bald head were covered in crumbs. So she licked him head to foot until he was clean. As she did so, he grabbed her face and ears and pulled. He did have an iron grip, but it didn’t hurt. His pulling and tugging reminded her of the dogs she used to play with in the place called Shelter. Then something occurred to her—this creature was more dog-like than any of the other gods, but he was also more human-like than any of the other animals in the house. Perhaps, he was meant to be some kind of mediator between the gods and their creatures. She decided to ask Tango about it, but couldn’t find him anywhere. As she walked into the gods’ room, she noticed Dutchess glaring down at her from the bed. “Where is the prophet?” Osa asked. “How should I know?” She answered. “Is that kitten still out there?” “What kitten?” Osa asked. “The people kitten,” Dutchess replied. She flattened her ears against the top of her head. “I hate people kittens. They like to pull on my fur.” “You mean the Bald One?” Osa asked. “He is sort of naked, isn’t he?” Dutchess replied. Then it clicked. That funny little creature in the living room was a people kitten, or maybe a god puppy! At once, Osa knew what she had to do. She followed the god puppy for the rest of the afternoon. She brought him crumbs and kibbles and lint so that he wouldn’t go hungry. She even let him drink from her water bowl. She licked him, and played with him, and never once left him until his parents took him home. She whimpered sadly as she watched them leave through the window. She heard Juan get the treat box out of the cupboard. He stooped down and fed her from his hand. She must have done something to make him happy because he rubbed her head and neck all the while saying: “¡Osa Buena! ¡Muy Bein!” That was one of those human phrases that she understood, it made her tail thump uncontrollably.