Dragon: Our Tales
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~Blossom on the Water
by Marian Allen
(This story also appeared on Allegory–then called Peridot.)~ Illustration
by Joy Kirchgessner
~ The Slaying of the Dragon
~ The Dragon Within
~ Buenos Noches
~ Sometimes Da Dragon Wins
~ Six Lies of the Dragon
~ Slaying Summer’s Dragon
~ Dragon’s Tears
~ The Dragon Incident
~ Sanctum Ad Terminus
~ The Jade Dragon
~ The Transformation
~ The Hired Hand
~ Dragon’s Lair
|Blossom on the Water
by Marian Allen”A dragon,” he said, his voice so calm he had to be trying hard to make it that way. I looked at him, then: His eyes were narrow slits, his nostrils were flared, and the corners of his mouth were drawn down tight. I could see his teeth glinting from between his lips and I’ll tell you I was a little bit scared.”No offense,” I said, holding on to the broom and standing real still. This was my first run-in with a binge drunk and I didn’t know what to do or say. “I didn’t understand at first. There’d be a dragon in Cherokee Creek, if it was in China?”Bud relaxed some, and so did I–some.
“More important than that,” he said, “everyone would believe there was a dragon–even those who ‘knew better.’ He would have a name, and a personality and qualities, just like another townsperson, except he would be honored and sacrificed to.”
“Sacrificed? Like…how?” The Aztecs had made a bad impression on me, and the word sacrifice called up very unpleasant associations.
The Slaying of the Dragon
The Dragon Incident
No one said anything. Dean put tomato, lettuce and onion on top of the patty, lifted all with the spatula, laid it on one half of the bun. Smearing mayonnaise on the other half, he mashed it all down and put it on the counter in front of Greg. Then he asked:
“Why ya’ wantin’ to know? Not aiming to buy it, are ya’?”
“Thought I might. Anything wrong with the property?”
“Wellll, it ain’t exactly prime real estate, if ya’ ask me! The Nudger said. Wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole!”
Swallowing a bite, Greg asked, “Could I ask why?”
Dean placed Greg’s coke on the counter. It was one of those little green bottles, foaming with tiny shards of ice on top.
“Been up for sale for a while. No lookers, well, maybe a few, but no takers,” Dean said.
“Looks like a piece of good property,” Greg offered.
“Looks good, okay, but the hard facts is, it ain’t!”
“Wellll,” said Nudger, twirling an ash tray on the counter. “There was that dragon incident!”
Sometimes Da Dragon Wins
“Dragonette?” I couldn’t stop myself. “Really, I thought dragonette was something one splashed on salad.”
Yurazz hissed though clenched teeth, “Yes, dragonette. Princess Jasmine grows weary Sitting-the-Egg. Naturally, she has cravings. She’s told me she’d kill for some Grimlich.” The blond man/dragon with the Prince Valiant haircut looked up at the storm clouds gathering around the Princess’ turret window and sighed, “And I truly do believe she would. So, I’m bound for Eyedaho, and Grimlich is my mission. Are you with me, lads?”
Slaying Summer’s Dragon
“Oh, man!” he exclaimed, “you done got your head busted, McNabb!”
McNabb only managed a weak groan as the other children fell back, seeing the blood mixed in with Morton McNabb’s reddish, long mane. Almost as one, the children gasped in fear and wonder at the bloodied bully.
Morton McNabb engendered no love among those who had the misfortune to serve time at Meinert Elementary School with him and his gang of bullies. The sight of him bloodied and beaten was almost pathetic; it was frightening in its own way. As he slowly regained himself, he rose to his full stature, nearly a foot taller than David. McNabb was nearly fourteen years old but, due to poor academic performance, was only in sixth grade. Once back on his feet, McNabb grabbed David. David struggled, but McNabb rammed his knee into David’s stomach. He fell into a lump at McNabb’s feet. David lay in helpless pain. McNabb kicked him with the steel-toed work boots he always wore and spat out, “You just wait Scharre, I’m gonna kill you for this.”
The Jade Dragon
The place was packed with dragons, most of them plastic, except for the one in the glass case behind the cash register. That was one venerable worm. Genuine white jade, a family treasure for better than 600 years, and the piece itself was thought to be much older than that. According to Harvey Leong, Prop., it was a sky dragon. Didn’t mean much to me, but beaucoup to Harve. I asked once why the thing wasn’t in a bank vault or on loan to a nice, safe museum and was told the dragon had to preside over the family doings. It was tradition. Tradition, maybe, but not good security. I guess the best protection was that no one believed anything so valuable would be on such prominent display — especially in a hole-in-the-wall eatery like the one bearing its name.
The Hired Hand
She strained to see beyond the lantern’s soft glow as it came off its perch on the wagon. Seemingly by itself–though she knew it was by someone’s hand — the light hovered first near one horse, then the other like some giant firefly.
“I’ll put the horses away, boss. You go on in and get some sleep,” suggested the stranger.
Despite the fact that she couldn’t make him out, she knew her stepfather was headed for the house. The squeaky hinges of the kitchen door betrayed his entrance. He stumbled over something solid that scooted across the wooden floor.
“Son of a…,” he growled in a half-finished curse.
She traced him through the house by the sound of his footsteps and held her breath as he hesitated at the bottom of the staircase. With any luck he would sleep downstairs; sometimes he came up to Momma’s room and made her cry–like the night before when he gave her a black eye. Momma had so far protected her from his physical abuse. Ron was always ill-tempered and growing worse. Hannah’s friends at school had told her their parents talked about him. “He spends time at the local bar with lowbred women and brags that he’d just up and leave one day to go further west to seek his fortune in the gold mines.” Her friends didn’t know the half of it.
By the time Ellen caught up with him, he was hopping impatiently from foot to foot beside a white stand with the word tickets flashing above it in yellow lights.
“Mom, over here. I found it.”
The headache that had been threatening was now firmly established. Ellen closed her eyes for a moment, hoping the darkness would help. She wanted to go home and lie down, but home was hundreds of miles from the Monroe County Fairgrounds. For the past two weeks, she had spent every available minute at the hospital, sitting at her mother’s bedside, watching her die little by little. Evan had been cooped up at his aunt’s house, surrounded by people he knew only as signatures on Christmas cards. They both needed a break, and the fair had seemed a good opportunity to take their minds off things for awhile. At least it was working for Evan.
“Mom, hey Mom.” The hopping had turned into an all-out dance.
“I’m coming. Settle down, for Pete’s sake. The rides aren’t going anywhere.”
She purchased a book of tickets and headed into the midway, struggling to keep up with Evan as he darted in and out of the crowd at a seemingly impossible pace. He rounded the corner between the carousel and the Tilt-O-Whirl and stopped. He just stood there, looking straight ahead. As Ellen made her way toward him, she saw it, the object of her son’s awe, and she stopped too.
In front of them was a huge, green dragon; its metallic skin glared and glistened in the sun’s rays. The beast had piercing red eyes and orange and red flames shooting from its mouth. Its serpentine tail lay coiled around its dagger claws. Within its belly, people writhed in black cars, jerked and twisted first one way then another at a speed that blurred their faces as they raced past. Their screams mixed with the electronic growls and roars of the dragon, giving it a surreal dimension that sent a shiver down Ellen’s sweaty neck. She hadn’t thought about The Dragon’s Lair in years.