You know it’s going to be a tough day, when one of the first things out of your mouth when you get to your office is, “Bob. What do you mean, you want to raise a dragon?”
Standing front of my desk, hat in hand, Bob at least the decency to look a bit embarrassed, when he said, “Well, it lost it’s Mum and ...”
I took in a long breath, and studied my associate. He didn’t look drunk.
“Just a little one. Hardly as big as a rottweiler.”
I leaned forward, and steepled my fingers. “Bob. You do know they get bigger.”
Bob, a friend of many years, a fellow who’d been mostly a stable influence in our small community, began pacing about the room anxiously. “Derrill, he’s just a wee, little bugger. With no Mum. He’s all helpless and stuff, and he followed me home. What am I supposed to do?”
I leaned back in my chair. “Bob. This isn’t rocket science. It’s a dragon. Generally, in the past, when we see dragons around the town, we call the hunters, and we go KILL it. It’s a Dragon. And you want to keep it as ... what, a PET?”
Bob looked at me pleadingly. “But Derrill, it’s so helpless! It’s not gonna lay waste to anything just now. And there aren’t that many dragons left. It’s not like the old days. These days, it’s the fashion for young men to make a name of themselves by bringing in the head of a dragon, the bigger the better. And now,you can’t hardly find them. They’re nearly extinct!”
I was starting to feel like I needed a drink myself. “Bob, in case you forgot. That IS a good thing! The world’s a lot better place without fire breathing dragons.”
“But ... it’s so cute! And ... and ... I think it’s decided I’m it’s Mum. I can’t kill it.”
“Maybe I can train it. Turn it into, like, a guard dragon for the village. Yeah.”
“The Town of Little Rock has a Guard Dragon! People will come around from miles to see it! It’d be, like, a tourist attraction! Draw in the crowds, and their money!”
“I see. Come to Little Rock, see our dragon! With luck, it won’t eat you!”
“No no no! It’ll be a tame dragon! A friendly dragon! So tame, we could give out dragon rides to kids!”
“You have been drinking.”
“No no no! I can do this thing! Lemmie do it. Let me try!”
Bob paced around the room muttering, then got a look on his face that made me worry.
“You just need to see’m. That’s the ticket! You’ll see how sweet and cute he is, and you won’t be able to say no. Hold on...”
Before I could leap up and do more than say, “Bob! No!”, he opened the door, and I saw, tethered on a leash to the horse railing, was the dragon. I was so flabbergasted, I just stood there, jaw unhinged, while he walked it in and let it loose.
Bob had said, “cute”.
I made a mental note, for future reference, to remember that my dear friend Bob had very strange ideas as to what constituted “cute”. What I saw was far, far away from any ideas I had for “cute:,
It was long, lean and menacing. Scales shimmering, dark and opalescent as it stalked into the room, tail swishing, like an irritated cat. Claws clacking on the tile as it surveyed the room, head turning this way and that, probably wondering what was edible. It’s golden yellow eyes finally settling on me, as it paused, coolly staring.
Bob said, “See! He likes you.”
I couldn’t move. I’d heard about how can people freeze under a predator’s gaze. That it’s some kind of genetic instinct. You freeze, and hopefully they won’t see you, as you become one with your surroundings. Just another rock. Just another tree. Nothing of interest here.
It jumped up on my desk, still staring me in the eyes. Coming closer, it brought it’s head mere inches from my own, the hot breath from it’s nostrils puffing me in my face. Then, it licked me. And plopped it’s rear on my desk, tail wagging, tongue lolling, panting happily like a dog.
And Bob said, “SEE!” triumphantly. “Isn’t he adorable? What’d i tell you?”
I had a lot of things I wanted to say just then. None of them did justice to the honor of my title. I took a few moments to compose myself. Finally, all I could say was, “just ... just take it home. I’ll think about it.”
“Cool! I can do that!” Bob said as he happily gathered up his dragon’s leash. “I knew you were a great guy, Derrill. Yup. And I’ll take little Ferris here home.”
Bob smiled broadly, as he coaxed the beast off my desk, skritching it behind the ears has it hopped down besides him, tongue still lolling. “Yep, this one here is Ferris. Doesn’t he look like a Ferris?”
I lowered my head to my desk, and began rubbing my temples, trying ease the headache now thrumming away in the front of my skull. “Sure, sure. Just ... take him home. Now. Thank you.”
“Okay doke.” Bob said, as he led the dragon to the door. “Oh, and ... sorry about the peach tree.”
“Peach Tree?” I asked, watching Bob and dragon now hurrying to the door.
“Ferris still needs work.”, was the last thing I heard before they closed the door behind them.