“I can’t do it. I just can’t,” said the Rudygiuliani, scratching the many scabs on his head. They were from having too often fallen asleep in the sun. “Since you got back from Smellstinki, you’re backtracking every day now. I can’t keep things straight and even the Grandoldparty dinos are giving me a wide berth. And not just because I’m pretty wide myself,” he said, looking down at his pudgy, sagging, mud-caked haunches.
The Huckabeecyclops, her mercurial eye twitching away, wrinkled her nose at the sight.
“Backtracking,” said the Stephenmillerus. “Constant backtracking. That’s exactly what we’re going for. It’ll drive the Mediacircustops crazy. Our base is eating it up. Would, wouldn’t. ‘No’ means get out of the Oval Dwelling. This opens up everything. I love it.”
“Except we just had a vote of 98 dinos to nothing in the Sin Hut Chamber,” the Rudygiuliani told the T-Rump, “on your suggestion that we send our dinos over to the Putinodon for interrogation.”
“What’s wrong with that?” asked the T-Rump. “The Putinodon was so strong and sincere. That’s exactly what he told me to say when we discussed this on our own in Smellstinki.”
“Well, I dare say. It’s a good thing we changed your story out there a few seconds before the Sin Hut vote came in.”
The Stephenmillerus paced in a circle, dragging his scraggly, serrated tail against the floor, grating the nerves of the others, a secret joy he loved playing out.
“This one,” he said, “THIS one, we should’ve doubled down. Let the Putinodon throw our dinos out in the cold in the Gulag Hark-of-the-Yellow-Nosed. He knows how to control his dinos. He’s a maverick.”
“He’s a killer,” said the Huckabeecyclops, shuddering.
“You could be too,” the Stephenmillerus urged the T-Rump.
“A killer? You mean, for more than just meat to eat?”
“Sure, why not?
“I don’t know if you want to go there, T-Rump,” said the Rudygiuliani.
“You can’t walk back a dead dino,” offered the Huckabeecyclops.
“Who said just one?”
The Stephenmillerus frowned at her weakness. Hands on hips, his best pout on his lips, he turned to the T-Rump.
“Look, do you want to be the next Putinodon or not? I mean, what DID you two talk about when you were off on your own at Smellstinki?”
The three senior walnut brains leaned in close to the T-Rump. Dinosaurs get a lot of mud in their ears.
“Well, you know I have a tough time remembering things …”
“And he was making footprints in his sand while you weren’t,” said the Rudygiuliani.
“That’s right. I don’t read footprints in the sand. I hate it. So, uh … we talked about … uh, you know … the natural things …”
“Right, right,” said the Rudygiuliani, “where you like to pee.”
“Yes, there was that. For some reason he referred to me as the Smalldinki of Smellstinki.”
“Hmm,” said the Stephenmillerus. “Must be a Finnish thing.”
“No, they are. Never mind.”
“Oh, yes,” the T-Rump continued, “I made sure NOT to ask him if he meddled in our big victory.”
“Well, of course you didn’t!” an exasperated Rudygiuliani said, eyes bulging.
“You wouldn’t have gotten out of there alive,” said the Huckabeecyclops, wringing her hands nervously.
“What else?” asked the Stephenmillerus.
“Um, well … you sure don’t want to know what he’s gonna do to the Manaforta if he catches him. I pity that poor dino. I really do. No wonder he wants to stay in the Solitary Sinkhole.”
The Stephenmillerus brightened.
“Perhaps we should take another run at sending dinos, in this case, the Manaforta, to the Putinodon. You could score some major points with the Putinodon.”
“I don’t know,” said the Rudygiuliani. “98 to nothing is a tough nut to crack.”
The T-Rump whirled on them, orange tail lashing out.
“WHO said they’re gonna crack my nut?!”
“I wasn’t referring to your … nut.”
“No, no he wasn’t,” the Stephenmillerus chimed in. “He was talking about … other …”
“Nuts,” finished the Huckabeecyclops. “You have a fine nut, T-Rump.”
“Ah-ah-ah,” the T-Rump raised a claw. “A stable nut.”
“Yes, T-Rump,” they said together, bowing in unison.
“Anything else from the Putinodon?” asked the Rudygiuliani. “Anything he wants or needs? You can tell us. We won’t blab to the Langleyops dinos. They don’t need to know.”
“Hmm … He also said he will continue meddling in our affairs this fall to help us win the November battle.”
“Thank you, thank you, evil shrouded god of darkness,” the Stephenmillerus hugged himself and bowed his head, his eyes burning two fresh holes in the ground.
“Oh, oh.” said the T-Rump. “I almost forgot. Speaking of this fall, the Putinodon wants me to invite him here to the Puhl-DePlugg Reservoir. Can you stand it?”
The Rudygiuliani shivered, ravaged by an attack of giddy goosebumps.
“This – this just keeps getting better. Doesn’t it?”