Dragons Over Bastrop
by Frank Minogue
A parade always brings a tear to my
eye, especially when I'm in it. This year I'm Grand Marshal of the
Fourth of July parade. Sitting beside me is Tishie, my lady. I'm
usual blue jeans and black T-shirt and my favorite Stetson. Tishie's
in her cowgirl get-up.
As we proceed down Main Street, I
look at all the familiar faces and wave to 'em. Jim Bander, the guy who
hair, is standing in front of the Post Office. He gives me the thumbs
Ray Nash, over there by Lock Drug Store, nods appreciatively; Dolly
owner of Dolly's Diner, is out there throwin' kisses at me. I wonder if
will make Tishie jealous? I salute some Boy Scouts who stand at
attention as we
pass. There's Sam Springer who used to be the mayor. He spends his days
down by the River Walk. He hollers, "Way to go, Nigel." Across the
way I see Sheriff Larry Oosterhon talkin' to a couple of state troopers
front of the ole Kleinert Building.
I am the town hero. Of course when
people come up and tell me I'm a hero, I tell 'em they would have done
thing if they'd been in my shoes. People appreciate a humble hero.
So maybe I'm a genuine Texas hero, a
Texian with a shinin' star on my heart. The parade passes the bronze
commissioned by the city of Bastrop to celebrate our great victory over
dragons. Feeling I should do something patriotic as we pass it, I stand
put my hand over my heart. Tishie does the same and asks, "What the
are you doin', darlin'?"
"Thought I should make a
"We're not at a football
game," she complains.
"I know, hon. I just thought I
should do something."
Donna Lanier, the librarian, is
holding a flag and waving it in my direction. Tears are runnin' down
I nod my head in silent appreciation.
"They just love ya,
honey," Tishie says, squeezin' my arm.
"And I love 'em back."
As Salvador Dali would say,
"All of this is a little surreal." And it sure is, for a guy who's
just a chainsaw carver in a little town in Texas.
A year ago I was not the hero of
Bastrop. I was well liked and all, but no one waved at me when I went
the mail. To most folks I was the guy who carved bears out of wood with
That's my business. Nigel's Kingdom,
I call it. First thing people say when they hear my name is "That
sound like a Texas name." And it's true, Nigel is not a Texas name by
means, but my mom was a fan of Nigel Rathbone of Sherlock Holmes fame
I was named. My siblings, a brother and a sister were given regular
names: Travis and Cheryl. There are more Travises in Texas than there
rattlesnakes. In fact I'm surprised they're not called travisnakes.
Tishie and I live in the historic
section of Bastrop. How historic is Bastrop? Well, way back in 1691 the
Spaniards used to ride through here on what was called El Camino Real,
King's Highway. Yes, Bastrop was once owned by the Spaniardos. Later
Bastrop was set to become capital of Texas then Austin snagged it.
We live in a nice two-story wooden
house with a tin roof and my carvin' barn out back. Our street is lined
pecan trees, good neighbors and lots of flags on the Fourth.
Tishie and I were blessed with one
good son we named Josh. He's finishin' high school and plannin' to join
Internet, I mean, go to college. He plays football and loves to watch
volleyball. But, yes, he's one of those Internet nuts who has chat
over the place. Tishie thinks he's surfin' for porn, but I say as long
the clean porn we shouldn't get on his case.
At age 51 I've seen a lot of
America, some of Europe, a bit of Mexico and not much else. I got into
carvin' mostly out of boredom. I'd been laid off from the feed plant
been cuttin' up wood for our fireplace one fall, when I thought I saw a
the wood. So I carved it out and showed it to Tishie, and she said,
"Nigel, that looks just like a squirrel. How'd you do that?"
"I was lookin' at the wood and
saw this dog, so I set to carvin', and this is what came out."
"Can you do more?"
And so I got some books on chainsaw
carvin', got me the proper chainsaws and went for it. I can now do a
standing black bear in half a day. People come from all over to get one
"creations," as Tishie calls 'em.
But the reason I am on this float is
not because of my chain-sawin', or because I saved a kid from drowning
Colorado River, nor because I lured a Korean silicon chipmaker to our
don't even know what a silicon chip looks like or where it goes.
I am on this float because I saved
the city during the dragon invasion last year. Dragons. Sixty-foot long
belch-of-fire dragons. It appears that what we all thought was a
mythology happens to be as real as a toilet seat.
The world woke up one day and
learned that dragons are real, and we discovered it the hard
way——by war. Do
dragons like humans? No. They are not fond of humans as their war
humanity demonstrated a year ago.
Some people now use the term 'bd'
and 'ad': the time before dragons and the time after dragons.
Everyone knows what life was like
'bd.' When you looked up in the sky you didn't see a large gas
creature. You saw seagulls or black birds or even swallows, but you
didn't run to escape getting cooked by a 'gon.
Before the dragons, your chief
concern in life was makin' sure you got to the video rental store
closed——or God forbid, you had to spend an evening
without a movie. You mowed
your lawn, you re-tiled your bathroom, you went to church and, except
odd dust-up with a state trooper, your world remained serene.
Then the dragons came, and life
would never be the same. It began with reports of flying monsters in
but when did anything not crazy come out of Russia? That was before the
Igarka? Who's ever heard of Igarka?
Sounds like a Soviet washing machine, but the attack on Igarka would,
Russians, rate right up there with Stalingrad.
The dragons swept in late one
Tuesday in the afternoon. A survivor later told CNN what happened.
at the Gvestapopyrov plant were walkin' home when shadows suddenly
over 'em. The workers looked up to see dragons circling.
"They came at us. We threw our
lunch pails away and ran. I watched a friend burned alive.
"I watched as dragons snatched
people with their claws and carried them away. I watched my shop
torn apart. But you know what I remember most? The smell. I never
there being a dragon smell but there is. It's like a mixture of rotten
dog shit and gasoline. Terrible smell. Never comes out of the clothes
how many times you wash."
"How did you get away?"
"I saw a bridge over a stream,
and I jumped into the stream and scrambled under the bridge. Then I
myself into the water, so that only my nose and mouth were still
"And then what happened?"
"Even though my ears were
submerged I heard a high-pitched screech and could hear the dragon
the bridge. I think he was looking for me. I kept my eyes closed and
breathe regularly. When I finally opened my eyes and climbed back on
the dragons were gone and there was nothing left of Igarka but smoking
A year ago, no one knew where the
flyin' devils came from, but since then the 'gons have been traced to
island: Severnaya Zemlya. Russian scientists later found an ice cave
with dragon spoors.
Russian scientist said, "The truth is in the
spoors." (Tishie thought they said "spurs" and wondered why
dragons would be wearing spurs.)
Global warming raised the
temperatures in the cave enough to bring the dragons out of their
Thank you global warming!
We learned that the Russkies were
aided in the Severnaya discovery by American spy satellites, which had
"unusual airborne life forms" in the Russian Arctic.
Later, the Russian military learned
how hard a dragon's scales are when they attacked the dragons over
fire breathers turned an entire squadron of attack helicopters into
shrimp. Jets were burned from the sky, and the use of tactical nukes
dragons giddy. After Minsk, St. Petersburg fell, then Moscow. Europe
for the dragons.
Of course the Joint Chiefs (or the
Reefer Chiefs, as Tishie calls 'em) announced that the Russkies had
whole thing, and that they could have finished off the dragons way back
Siberia using biological weapons and other dandy stuff from the
One night Tishie and I, enjoying a
twelve-pack on the couch, watched the latest shocking news from Europe.
dragons took on that most sacred of French symbols the Eiffel Tower.
searing blast of heat, there was no way those aging steel girders could
survive. They melted like cheese on a nacho. The tower wobbled and then
went, hitting a tourist boat in the Seine.
Tishie grasped my thigh and screamed
at the TV, "You devils!"
I said, "Honey, it's not the
French's fault that the dragons knocked down the tower."
"I was referring to the
dragons," she corrected me. "They're just evil."
Paris without the Eiffel Tower,
Berlin missing the Brandenburg Gate, The Kremlin without um. . . them
buildings: what would be left of our world when these dragons were done?
But the fight against the dragons
had just begun. People around the world were working around the clock
to find a
way to stop 'em. A German scientist noticed one important detail: the
appeared to be lookin' for something, they were relentlessly in search
The world became obsessed with the
dragons. Dragons dominated TV news and the front page of every
go into bathroom stalls and see dragon drawings on the door and walls.
King began offering a toasted dragon sandwich, which consisted of
breasts cut in the shape of dragons between focaccia bread with hot
salsa. People loved 'em, despite their hatred for the real dragons.
I, too, found myself endlessly
curious about the flyin' devils. Every morning after breakfast I'd get
computer and start Googlin' dragons. Like everyone else I wanted to
the hell was going on.
read how Chinese dragons were good
dragons, as opposed to European dragons, which tended to eat people. I
through myriad headings for St. George and the dragon. I even read that
Polo reported seeing lindworm dragons while hoofin' it to China. It
every culture had some myth about a dragon.
couple days later, I wandered into
Dolly's Diner. Years earlier, she had converted one of Bastrop's older
into the town's best eatery. Everyone loved to sit out on the porch
homemade pecan pie and ice cream after a double bacon cheeseburger. The
filled with black clouds. We'd been in a drought so a little rain was
Of course all talk was on the dragons. Sam, the ex-mayor was there,
Ed Whitley, who sold insurance.
"I don't think there's any
rhyme or reason to it," Ed said. "Dragons are just mindless critters
who love to kill."
"That's not what the experts
are sayin'. They're sayin' the dragons are like dogs on a hunt," Sam
"I agree with Ed. They just
enjoy the killin'," Dolly said from behind the counter. She wore a
skirt with a lowcut black top. She had a natural beauty that came of
Norwegian ancestry. As I often said to Dolly, "Honey, if all Norwegian
gals look like you, I'm movin' to Norwegia."
"No, most of the killin' on
this earth is for no reason," said Ed, eatin' the last of his pie.
"I wonder if the dragons'll
stop killin' when they find what they're looking for?" Dolly said.
"Now that's got me curious.
What would a dragon be lookin' for?" I replied.
"Who cares!! They're nasty and
we should kill 'em all," Sam said, slammin' his fist on the table.
"Tell you one thing. No one's
gonna be writin' any dragon policies. The industry ain't gonna insure
against dragon damage," Ed said.
"Well, hell, Ed, you boys
wouldn't insure Jesus at the Resurrection," Dolly said.
England prepared for invasion. One
town decided to have its citizens sharpen thousands of stakes and stick
"Those dragons are quite
unputupablewith! We shall impale them on stakes, and then we will come
with hoes," said 84-year-old Doris Miner to a BBC news crew.
The reporter asked Doris to
demonstrate how she would hoe a dragon to death, and without
began flailing at the ground with her hoe.
"Die! Die! Die, you beastly
creatures," cried Doris.
I turned to Tishie and said,
"Now that is one angry old mama."
"I think she's sweet,"
To make the program more
interesting, the BBC followed the interview with a short piece on how
stakes were made: from raw lumber, to finished stake to finally being
into the ground. They even went into the history of the stake,
burnings at the stake.
"I don't think the stakes will
work. All the dragons have to do is fly over 'em, or if they want to
can land on a building or a car," Tishie said.
"Or they could burn the stakes
before they land."
"They shoulda thought of that.
They shoulda used metal instead of wood for the stakes."
"Too much money."
"What'll they do with all the
stakes when the dragons are killed?"
I thought for a moment then said,
"They could use 'em to stake tomatoes."
"Always thinkin', darlin.
Much of the world came to a standstill
the day the dragons crossed the Channel in one tight black mass and
England. They burned Leeds and Sheffield before swingin' south toward
Every able-bodied Brit was called to service. Their rallying cry was
them at Melton Mowbray."
While not having the same ring as
"Remember the Alamo" or other famous slogans, it was a rallying cry
heard around the world.
Tishie vowed to name our next pet
"Mowbray." She wasn't as fond of "Melton," as she felt it
sounded like "melting." And, as she put it, "Who wants a pet
that sounds like it's melting?"
The Battle of Melton Mowbray was
broadcast live. Pay-per-View offered the battle, in addition to a
movie. Tishie had barbecued some ribs and cooked up some
At the height of the battle, I said,
"Josh, can you get me another beer?"
"But I'll miss the attack of
the Black Watch, Dad."
Normally, I'd make him get his ass
off the couch and go get me a beer, but during rough times, like war,
to pitch in, so I got up and fetched my own beer.
The Brits fired rockets and bombed
the flyin' bastards, but could not stop 'em. The 'gons cooked Melton
like it was a Shepherd's pie.
"They're so big. You don't
really get it till you see one pickin' up someone in its mouth," Tishie
"Josh, what's the biggest bird
out there?" I asked.
"I don't know. Maybe the
"Well, these dragons make
condors look like dust mites," I replied.
With nothin' to stop 'em, the
dragons headed for London, throwing a city of seven million people into
panic. All public transportation had to be shut down 'cause of unruly
trying to escape the city.
Londoners had faced nothing like it
since the Blitz. The Queen and her family were taken aboard a submarine
transported to a secret base in Northern Ireland.
"Does the Queen have some place
to stay in Ireland?" Tishie wondered.
"Probably an underground
castle, I would think," I replied.
"And what about all her
servants? Will they get to go, or will they stay at Buckingham Palace?"
"I don't know," I said.
"A submarine can't hold a lot of people. She may be cookin' her own
till this war is over."
It was early on a Sunday mornin'
when the air raid sirens sounded. The dragons came in two groups: one
Finchley and one over Barking. They converged on central London and
the Horse Guards who were being used for crowd control.
As the BBC reporter described it,
"Horse and riders have been set afire. We saw a Guardsman's helmet
setting his hair on fire and boiling his brain. It's ghastly."
The 'gons attacked the Parliament
buildings and razed Piccadilly. The British army fought them the whole
pilots who ran out of bombs and bullets dived their planes into
flying 'gons, taking a page from the kamakaze boys of World War Two.
That night Tishie and I lay in bed,
wondering, like most Americans, if we were next.
The endless destruction oversees was
havin' an impact here in good old America. People talked non-stop about
comin' invasion. Jim the barber said, "I've been storin' food in my
tornado shelter, preparin' for when they come. I just hope those
Washington are making some plans."
The lost art of canning became
popular again. Sales of Bibles skyrocketed, and despite not being the
religious folks on the planet, Tishie and I went out and bought one,
We looked at the King James version,
but we didn't really understand what was being said, so we got a copy
Lone Star Bible, which had all the same stories as the King James one,
spoke our language.
Like when Jesus wanted to speak to
the people, he had one of his disciples whistle and say, "Listen up,
Boss has got somethin' to say. You over there! Yeah, you, you're
you should be listen'n."
Tishie and I talked about converting
our tornado shelter to a dragon shelter.
"I love our tornado
shelter," Tishie said. "I don't want to change it, jus because of the
dragons. It's all set up the way I like it."
"Okay, we'll leave it like it
is, but what about cannin'?" I asked cautiously. "A lot of folks have
been busy cannin' stuff, but you've avoided it." This got Tishie's
"Let me guess, Dolly Chesterak
is Miss Texas Cannin' Queen, and you wish you could taste her cannin'!"
Tishie, always jealous of Dolly,
could never just say "Dolly," she had to use her whole name.
"That's crazy. I don't know if
Dolly's cannin'. But she has the perfect right to can."
"So now you're defendin' Dolly
Chesterak over me."
hon. I was just sayin' that if people in Bastrop feel the need to can,
they should can. And I'm sayin' that even if the dragons don't come
it's not a
bad idea to get cannin'. It's not like the canned peaches would go to
"I don't like cannin', Nigel.
It's messy. You have to buy all them jars and it's hot. I hate it! And
would we can?"
"Beets, turnips, peaches."
"I hate beets! And how long
could we live on peaches?"
more a dessert you serve with ice cream."
"I doubt there'll be ice cream
if there's an invasion. The luxury goods are the first to go."
"Well, I've been squirrelin'
chocolate bars away. Just one here, one there."
"But, hon, we can't live on
"I wasn't sayin' we'd live on
'em. It would be a treat for when our spirits were down. Look, hon,
cannin'. Just cause other folks are cannin' don't mean it's right for
make a list of things we can sock away——"
"Pecan and cherry pies."
"I can't think of anything I'd
One thing Tishie and I did look into
was buyin' gold. You hear that in tough times gold is the way. When
buyin' a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow load of greenbacks, a man
is sittin' pretty.
We went down to the bank to buy some
gold, and we were told banks didn't sell gold. You had to buy it
There was a guy in Austin who bought and sold gold and so we drove in
We sat in his office, across from
the Capitol, looking over the various gold coins he showed us,
including a gold
"Gold is gonna go through the
roof with the dragons and all," the dealer said. He was in his mid-60s,
with long gray hair tied back to a ponytail. He wore three gold rings
fingers. "While everyone is left holding a handful of cash, you'll have
solid American gold."
"So how do we buy milk with
gold?" Tishie asked.
"Well, it doesn't really work
that way," he replied.
"Okay, how does it work?"
she asked. "If the stores and banks don't take gold, what good is
"If it got really bad, the
paper money would be worthless, so we'd go back to trading gold. I'm
not going to get that bad."
"So I take my gold eagle coin
into the grocery store for a loaf of bread, how do I get change? Will
me gold back?"
"Like I was saying, it's
unlikely you'll ever use a gold coin to buy bread. You're buying gold
in tough times it will be more valuable. Gold rises as everything else
Well, we ended up not buying any
gold because Tishie said if she couldn't buy milk with it, what good
"It would only make sense if
you were buyin' things worth the value of a coin. Like say a $400
generator," she said.
"Are you thinkin' we should buy
a generator?" I asked.
"What do you think?"
"Well, you buy a gas-powered
generator, and that's good for the first night or so, but what happens
run out of gas?"
"Unless you stocked up on
"But, hon, with fire-breathin'
dragons out and about, that's kinda dangerous. One lick of flame and
house would go up."
Just then Tishie turned to me on the
street and said, "Darlin', you just said something amazin'."
"About our whole house goin'
up. What if we made our house dragon proof? So they couldn't burn it
"We don't even know if they're
comin' this far," I replied. "In fact why would the dragons want to
attack Bastrop? They'll go for Austin or for San Antonio, then move on."
"But there's nothin' stoppin'
'em from goin' anywhere," Tishie said. "Couldn't hurt to do some
fireproofin'. What if we coated the roof and walls with mud?"
"Hon, that's the craziest thing
I ever heard you say."
But it wasn't only the local folks
who had big plans, the White House had plans too. The president went on
and said it was every American's duty to fight the invaders.
"We don't believe any dragon
will set foot on American soil, but if they come we'll throw everything
at 'em. And if they come to your town, fight 'em; if they come to a
game, fight 'em; if you're standing in a parking lot and they suddenly
"I will be fighting them in my
own way, from a secure base deep inside a mountain. Together,
will fight 'em in the streets and in the air."
I turned to Tishie and said, "I
think I'll call my congressman askin' for the address to the secret
the president and I can fight side-by-side."
Things went from bad to worse a week
later when the world learned that the dragons split up, with one group
attackin' Ireland and another group flyin' south and attackin' the
Parts of Jerusalem were in flames, and the 'gons had attacked and
bulk of the Saudi Arabian oil wells.
"They're in the Holy Land! It's
just not right. What if they burn the place where Jesus died on the
cross?" Tishie asked.
This was especially hard on Tishie
because she owned a sliver of the True Cross, which she'd ordered
online from a
church in Alabama that owned the U.S. rights to the lower part of the
Tishie kept the Holy Sliver in a wooden case by our bed.
"They'll rebuild it,
sugar," I said, calming her. "They'll rebuild everything."
The dragon attack on the Holy Land
brought out the zealots, both on the streets and on TV. The reverend
Sweet of the Sweet Baptist Ministries was the most vocal. He worked out
Iowa, a place not likely to get attacked by dragons. We watched his
because we liked the old time singin', but lately there hadn't been
"People ask me, 'Pastor Jason,
why have the dragons come? Why has this evil suddenly manifested itself
"And I say, 'Read the
scriptures, my friends: And the great dragon was cast out, that old
called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was
into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.'
"You see folks, those dragons
flyin' around are devils. They are the manifestation of Satan, coming
destroy us for our sins. America is a sinner nation and must repent.
come out of hiding and is fighting his last battle."
"I know I'm a sinner,"
Tishie said, clicking off the TV.
"I've never sinned in my
life," I joked.
"That's not funny. You can't
joke about sinnin'. A little repentance wouldn't hurt this country."
"But I don't think that's gonna
stop the dragons, hon."
"God parted the Red Sea for
Moses, didn't he?"
"What's that got to do with the
"It means when we're on God's
side and we're followin' his Commandments that God will intervene for
he will rain fire down on the dragons if we pray hard enough."
I could see Tishie was upset, so I
agreed to do some prayin'.
While the 'gons were still in the
Middle East, our government prepared to deliver a nuclear strike to the
in hopes of annihilating the dragons as they wreaked havoc there. Radar
picked up a large concentration of 'gons over the Saudi Arabian desert.
Tishie and I watched the attack on
Bacon & Eggs, the new morning show. Bacon & Eggs, ever
ratings, had cameras both in the air and on the ground. Tishie and I
the warheads detonate.
"Darlin', is it safe to be
watchin' warheads detonate?" Tishie asked.
"Of course, hon. We're
protected by distance and TV," I replied patting her knee.
"This is Stefanie Morrow
reporting on the ground for Bacon & Eggs. According to the U.S.
the warheads missed the dragons and ended up detonating over a Club
word yet from Club Med on casualties. Bob, back to you."
The heat from the explosions
vitrified the sand, and it rained glass for miles around the epicenter.
only remnant found at the Club Med site was a pair of very expensive
An hour later the president told the
nation that the nukes didn't work, that the 'gons had escaped and were
north, to rejoin their buddies, it was assumed.
I was out puttin' the finishing
touches on a seven-foot bear one morning when Tishie informed me that
dragons had been sighted in Newfoundland. I asked her where
and she said it was in Canada. Dragons were in Canada.
The Canadians deployed its armed
forces, but they were no match for the fire-breathing satans. What was
Newfoundland was now charred rock.
One night as I passed Josh's
bedroom, I noticed him cleanin' his shotgun. Josh had a big poster of
Twain on his wall. I envied him.
"What are you doin', son?"
"You know what."
"The dragons? You don't believe
the dragons are comin' down here, do you?"
"Ask the Russians if they're
comin'? Ask the French and English and Saudis and Newfoundlanders if
"Okay, it does look bleak, but
what good is a shotgun when you're fighting somethin' that not even
"Maybe not much, but at least
they're going to get some buckshot before they get me."
"No dragon is gonna get my
"I wish I could believe you,
Dad, but how could you stop a dragon?"
Later that night, as Tishie and I
lay in bed watching Leno, I turned to her and said, "Our boy is a man,
Without muting the sound, she asked,
"Omigod, did you catch him, um . . .?"
"No, not that. It's because
he's ready to take on the dragons. A boy doesn't take on dragons.
That's man work."
Tishie turned away and said,
"My boy is a man."
The talk shows were filled with
dragon experts. They debated whether the dragons could talk. As
dragons in the movies talk.
A Dr. Cortland said, "Dragons
cannot talk. I've studied them on video. I've listened to audio
them, and it's clear that aside from that terrible screech they make,
unable to speak."
"I disagree, Dr. Cortland. I've
listened to those same tapes, and I'm definitely hearing a form of
one video sequence a dragon, flying low over the streets of Berlin,
head down and clearly screeches out the word, "Beer."
"That's absurd, Dr. Green. Why
would a dragon say 'beer'?"
"Dr. Cortland, I have listened
to that sequence hundreds of times. The dragon definitely says 'beer.'"
Tishie pressed the mute button and
threw the remote down on the couch.
"I just wish we knew what they
wanted," she said. "Experts everywhere and no one seems to know
anything about the dragons."
The dragons, tired of toasting
Newfies, invaded our country and all work came to a stop. The buzz of
chainsaw was suddenly silenced as we watched the 'gons invade Boston,
Tishie and I watched it all on TV.
She cried so much that the remote became moist in her hands, so I took
her, sayin', "Honey, I love ya, but don’t ruin the remote
The sight of dragons in Times Square
sent me to the edge of my easy chair. The NYPD fought them on every
backed by the Army and Marines.
A suicide platoon of
not-quite-graduated cadets from West Point charged four dragons that
Central Park. They didn't stand a chance and were cut down in a blast
One dragon sat atop the Empire State
Building and battled biplanes. The cameras caught four women screaming
horror when the dragon bit a plane in two, causing the pilot to tumble
pavement right in front of them.
As we watched the action unfold
before us in New York, the reality of dragons comin' to Texas and even
Bastrop turned us from watchers into doers.
The Bastrop City Council hired Bert
Mandilow, a well known chaos expert, to talk to the town. Tishie and I
late at the Methodist church, where Mr. Mandilow would be speakin'. I
against Dolly who was headed to the ladies' room. She turned and said
that big Norwegian smile of hers.
Mr. Mandilow wore a light blue suit
with a red tie. He was in his mid-30s, with blonde reddish hair, a
around the waist and a rounded jolly face.
With the heat and humidity, it
wasn't long before discomfort set in, and the clever Mr. Mandilow took
advantage of that in his speech.
"Getting' hot in here, isn't
it?" he said.
"Talk cooler," someone
yelled, to much laughter.
"Here's a scenario: You're in
City A, which is under dragon attack. You decide to go to City B
isn't under dragon attack. You pack a few things, even bring some
stuff like water, a flashlight, extra cash, you pack the kids in the
the SUV and you head out. Sounds about right, doesn't it?"
We all nodded in agreement.
"You don't even get out of City
A when you discover you're in the biggest traffic jam you've ever seen.
wife says, 'Honey, didn't you check the traffic reports?' and you
thought you did.' No, no one checked the traffic reports.
"So here you have a choice, you
can stay in the jam, risk running out of gas, having your car possibly
and having no toilets within miles, or you can turn back, unpack things
face possible destruction at the hands of the dragons. But at least
clean toilets." Everyone laughed. You had to admit he was one funny
"So what should we do?" a
"Good question. But before I
answer that, here's another scenario. In your desire to escape City A,
burning all around you, you know the roads are clogged, you know that
transportation is hopeless and you know no one's coming to help you, so
think 'I'll escape by water. I'll go down to the docks, steal a boat
Tishie turned to me and said,
"I didn't expect him to be funny. It's nice."
"These guys often build humor
into their speeches," I replied.
"This doesn't sound 'built in.'
I think he's naturally funny."
"But they're so good that they
make unnatural humor sound natural."
"Shut up. He's going to talk
about the boat dock."
"You and your family make their
way through the debris strewn streets, fires everywhere, sirens,
people running and you manage to arrive at the dock. And what do you
A thousand other people had the same idea as you, and some percentage
are armed. So there you stand with all the other unarmed people
armed people steal sailboats that they don't know how to operate."
"Is it better to steal
motorized craft?" Ed called out.
"Sounds like he's saying we
need to be armed," said another.
"Now you're starting to think
like survivors, friends. A survivor is someone willing to walk over the
of his neighbor to survive." We applauded.
"When there's chaos, can we
shoot people?" Donna the librarian wanted to know.
"Depends on the level of chaos.
There is chaos where the police are still in control, and then there is
known as utter chaos. If you see a dead police officer with his cruiser
fire, you have entered the utter chaos zone. And in that scenario,
ask questions later."
"So, what's the best way to
steal a boat?" Ed asked, persistently.
"What about heavy
machinery?" asked another.
"Ah, heavy machinery. Good one.
I've got a video clip I want to show you, and it ties in with that
We waited till he got setup, then he
played the video titled "The Bulldozer." In the video there was
yellin' and gunshots, and smoke in the background. The video was
jerky but that added to the realism.
Mr. Mandilow paused the video and
asked, "What level of chaos does this scene represent?"
We all yelled "Utter!"
"Good. You're learning. Some of
you will survive."
The video continued. The camera
panned to a man runnin' and jumpin' up on a bulldozer. At first he
figure out how to start it, but then got it going. Then he had trouble
it in gear and going forward, so he headed down the road in reverse,
slowly. People were runnin' past him. More gunfire. The man was intent,
frequently lookin' behind him.
From the right side of the screen a
man in a torn white shirt, red shorts and tennis shoes ran up to him
pointed a gun at him. The bulldozer man appeared to be ready to
give the machine over to the assailant, but the guy shot him anyway.
assailant stuck the gun in his shorts, climbed aboard the still moving
bulldozer and the video ended.
"My God," someone cried
"Horrible, isn't it?" said
Mr. Mandilow. "This video was shot in South America where lawlessness
utter chaos are a way of life. In Spanish it's known as caos
You should write that down.
"What happened to the man who
shot the bulldozer guy?" Sam asked.
"Do you mean did the
authorities arrest him for murder? Was he brought to justice in a court
Not likely, sir. I know it's shocking, but what's the lesson here?"
"Don't hesitate to shoot an
assailant during chaos?"
"Yes, but more basic than that.
"Yes, this little girl up
front. What do you think, dear?"
"Don't steal a bulldozer
because they're very slow and use lots of fuel."
The directness and clarity of her
answer brought us all to our feet. It was Becky Wrightman, smartest
"Shoulda known Ms. Smartypants
would get the answer," Tishie whispered.
"Don't be bitter, hon."
Mr. Mandilow clapped along with us.
"Wow. You nailed it. What's your name? What's that? Becky? Folks, I
we have a class A survivor here. Take a bow, Becky." With that, we had
Following the seminar, Tishie and I
lined up with others to buy his book: Chaos, It's No Theory.
Later, we sat outside under our big
pecan tree, looking up at the stars and drinking coffee. Tishie had her
on my legs.
"If they come, hon, and there's
no escapin' 'em, don't let 'em fry me," Tishie said. It came out in a
"Now you're getting' all crazy.
The dragons aren't comin' to Bastrop. We're a blip on their radar
"That's what the Igarkians
thought and look what happened to them."
"I know. I know."
"Just don't let them fry
"Okay, hon. More coffee?"
"Half a cup. You know I was
readin' that they don't call a group of dragons a flock," Tishie said.
"What do they call 'em?"
"A berserk. Yep, they call 'em
a berserk of dragons."
"A berserk of dragons, huh?
Does it come from the Russian?"
"They don't know which country
it came from, but it's always been a berserk of dragons."
That night I dreamed about the
dragons. I was one of 'em, but it wasn't like I had turned completely
dragon. It was me, Nigel, in a dragon's body. I couldn't say where we
it seemed as though we were over a vast jungle. There was fire
There were people screamin', and they were covered in blood. And there
these dark things flyin' among us dragons, and we couldn't get 'em off.
The next morning I told Tishie about
the dream, and how I found myself enjoying being a dragon for a night,
the black things, the blood, the screams and the fire.
"So now you like the
dragons?" she asked, flingin' a burnt toast my way.
"Didn't say that. It was just
that in the dream I enjoyed bein' a dragon. I didn't talk to any of the
dragons, and though I roasted a few people, it wasn't like I felt evil
it. It felt natural."
"Natural to set people ablaze.
And this is the man I'm countin' on to protect me when the 'gons come?"
"It was just a dream, hon. It
was like a flyin' dream, only I wasn't in my body, I was in a dragon
was really strange was this battle over a jungle. There's something to
and I don't know what."
"Are we going to Home Depot
later?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Yeah. I need some new work
gloves and stuff."
"Did you hear Home Depot is
running a 'Dragon-Proofing Your Home' class tomorrow morning? I think
"I've gotten all kinds of
dragon proofing stuff off the Net, hon. We don't need to
And that was as far as I got. Tishie
burst into tears. I didn't say anything, and she finally stopped, wiped
nose and said, "I've been such a bitch. I'm sorry. It's just all this
"Come on, let's go to Home
Depot and take our minds off this stuff. It'll be good to get out of
and you always love walkin' through the garden tool section," I said,
givin' her a hug.
I knew she was gonna be all right
when we got in the pickup, and she slid a Merle Haggard CD in and
The burning of the White House hit
everyone hard. Dolly closed the diner that day, and I refused to take
special orders for bear sculptures. The guy on the news said the White
was last burned during the War of 1812.
As the 'gons blasted away at the
White House, the homeless people in and around Lafayette Square ran for
Anti-aircraft crews on the South
Lawn fired till they ran out of shells. We watched in slo-mo as a man
the White House roof onto the driveway. A Secret Service agent fired
till it was empty and then threw it at an approaching 'gon. The big
he was one big dragon——snapped up the agent in his
mouth and flew off with him.
(When the 'gons have a victim in their jaws, they let out an
screech, almost like a victory cheer.)
The nation watched in horror as a
White House secretary ran from the building shielding herself with a
The woman and her coat rack were soon a burning pile of refuse.
dragons torched the Capitol and the Supreme Court.
With nothin' to stop 'em, the
dragons flew up the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial where they took a
the way there, they knocked the tip off the Washington Monument with
of a passing tail. What a sight to behold. A whole berserk of dragons
in, on and around the Lincoln Memorial.
"Abe'll be turning over in his
grave," Tishie said.
The president, of course, was not in
the White House during all this. He was in a secret location somewhere
Colorado. The federal government had essentially shut down.
People wondered if it was the end of
the U.S. of A. What if the dragons stayed? What if they liked livin' on
Washington Mall? I crushed a beer can in anger.
Some of the 'gons enjoyed a dip in
the Potomac and lolled in front of the Jefferson Memorial. One dragon
to be napping in the cleft of the "V" at the Vietnam Memorial. 'Gons
gamboled in the Reflecting Pool and fell asleep in clumps all along the
We listened to the NBC Evening News
that night. "A day of destruction
in the American capital has left the nation shocked and bewildered. The
House continues to burn, the Capitol dome has collapsed and the dragons
encamped in the Lincoln Memorial. Reaction on the street was
A middle-aged woman stared into the
camera and said, "I believe we are seeing the Apocalypse, the end of
civilization as we know it. And where's our president? He's hiding out
People were angry and scared. It's
one thing to see dragons wrecking a country an ocean away, it's quite
thing to see 'em come to your town and start incineratin' people.
I never thought I would see a kid's
inflatable dragon being burned on Main Street in Bastrop, Texas, but it
happened. It was a group of moms, and they blocked traffic chanting,
gone, you fire breathin' mofos."
For now the dragons stayed put. They
appeared unsure of what to do next. A dragon expert from California was
interviewed on a morning talk show.
"I believe they are regrouping.
They've exhausted themselves. They need a rest. But I'm also seeing
consider to be some communication going on. Almost as if the dragons
planning their next move. Some experts have theorized that the dragons
looking for something and I concur. What it is, we don't know. Where
go next, we don't know."
"You know what gets me?"
Tishie said that night at dinner.
"What, mom?" Josh asked.
"That there are dragons in the
nation's capital. It's like saying rats are in charge of our country."
"I wouldn't compare dragons to
rats, mom," Josh said.
"Well, I would. They're both
evil, smelly, foul creatures
we should have figured out how to rid ourselves of 'em weeks ago."
"Mom, should we be doing up our
wills? You know, in case they come?" Josh asked between bites of his
beans. Tears flooded Tishie's eyes.
I stepped in. "Son, we don't
need wills. No one in this family is gonna get killed by a dragon.
scenario is we get our hair singed, but I don't think it will come to
believe our government will find a solution to the problem. We're a
thinkers, son. We invented the helicopter for God's sake. We can invent
something that does in them dragons."
"Dad, I thought a Russian guy
invented the helicopter," Josh said.
"Don't be smart."
A few days later the dragons got
tired of Washington and began leaving.
Dolly's place was packed. We all
watched on her big screen TV as the dragons, one-by-one, took to the
was amazing to see all the dragons flyin' off, leavin' the Lincoln
other monuments covered with dragon poop.
Not only had they burned important
buildings, they had knocked over monuments and statues, eaten a horse,
the cherry trees and bent an Alexander Calder sculpture.
We listened in silence to the news
anchor: "The dragons are circling and gaining altitude. Some have
out of formation to set a Wendy's on fire. One dragon is chasing a
worker, but for the most part, the dragons are leaving Washington.
"One four-star general is
quoted as saying, 'We are not defeated. Fire breathing creatures will
defeat a country that survived a Civil War, two world wars and that
That night, as I lay in bed
listening to Tishie make odd bird sounds in her sleep, I wondered if we
come to the end of civilization as we knew it. I couldn't imagine a
without drive-up windows. I couldn't imagine a world without advance
arrows. I couldn't imagine a world without automated voice answering
lieu of a human.
Right now Earth was Planet Human. It
was a place where humans ruled. Thousands of lesser animals were going
every day but humans lived on. In a way we were the gods of Earth
did whatever we liked with the planet. Could a duck-billed platypus, a
a vole build a satellite dish?
If we didn't like a body of water,
we drained it, and if we didn't like the way a forest looked, we razed
But imagine a world without humans
in charge. I lay there tryin' to think of that. What if the era of
over, and it was now the time of the dragons? I didn't really believe a
would take care of things the way we had. And what would become of us?
become extinct, like so many other creatures of this planet?
I always thought that humans would
be the last critters standin'! There might be a few underground
for the most part I saw us alone and on top of things.
But if the planet was to become
Planet Dragon, would even one of us survive? I lay there with my hands
my head wonderin' who might be the last person on earth. Would it be
with money? A religious guy up on a mountain? Or a big guy drivin' a
maybe a miner, who came up from the mine and found that everyone else
He'd rush home, and his family and friends would be dead. He'd head to
nearest town and not a soul would be alive. He'd turn on the TV:
hear a scratchin' on his door, fling it open expectantly, only to find
of dragons milling about. The dragons would give him a few moments to
his thoughts before toasting his marshmallows.
The real panic in Texas set in when
it was announced the dragons were on a south by southwest heading. A
website was set up to allow people to track the 'gons' flight path from
startin' point in Russia to where they were now.
I was upstairs late one afternoon
trackin' the bastards and listen' to Hank Williams when I noticed
little strange. It was what you might call a deviation, and I wondered
if I was
the only one who had noticed it.
The 'gons had just passed
Louisville, Kentucky and were continuing south when they suddenly
east, almost at a right angle. I wondered what might have caused them
swerve, so I went to a few news sites to see if the veerance had been
There was some mention of it but nothing in depth.
I mentioned the dragons veering off
at dinner, but Tishie said she didn't want to talk dragon. She was on
were much of the townsfolk. It was like the town had gone into a funk.
talkative people like Dolly had gone quiet. People were livin' in their
Fear had caught hold of 'em.
Normally the post office was the
talkin'est place in town. It's amazing how chatty people get just
mail, but with the dragon fear in 'em, people picked up their mail,
gave a nod
Before turning west, the 'gons hit
Nashville. The Grand Ole Opry became the Grand Ole Hunk of Charcoal.
and Western fan buses were set ablaze, the flames fueled by all the
One 'gon crashed into Elvis' "jungle room" at Graceland. It was
reported to have taken one look, let out a loud screech and flew off.
of curiosity, I overlaid a
printed plotline of the dragon's flight line on a map of the United
pinpointed the place where they had earlier veered, and found my finger
right on the words Mammoth Cave National Park.
What was there around Mammoth that
caused the 'gons to suddenly deviate east? I checked the news sites for
anything to do with Mammoth but found nothing.
I called a military information
hotline but the automatic voice recording told me there were 78 people
me, so I gave up on that idea.
I concluded that there must be something
at Mammoth, or near Mammoth that a high flyin' group of dragons would
avoid. A military installation? The dragons had no fear of our military
anyone else's, it seemed. Maybe an unusually strong wind current had
'em off course, but when I checked the weather reports for that time
it had been calm and warm.
And then it happened again. The
dragons were following a steady course southwest when they suddenly
as they reached the northwest corner of Arkansas. Doing my map overlay
discovered that the dragons had veered over a place called Cave Springs.
I could feel the hair on the back of
my neck risin'. The 'gons had veered to avoid two sites where there
With the 'gons headin' our way, Texas
declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard. Every
Guardsperson, every state trooper, every beat cop was told to "Save the
Lone Star State."
I worked through the night Googlin'
so heavily that I got a headache, but at three that morning, just when
neighborhood cats usually start mating, I found the answer: bats.
Both the Mammoth area and the Cave
Springs area were known for bats, and both times the dragons had veered
course was at dusk, the time bats normally leave their caves.
I rechecked the flight path of the
dragons over Europe and noticed a similar deviation in southwestern
And what was in southwestern Germany? Caves. Bats lived in the caves of
I woke Tishie and she almost
screamed, worried that the dragons had come.
"I got it, hon. I figured it
out. The dragons are afraid of bats."
"You woke me up to tell me
I told her about the caves and the
dragons veering away.
"But that doesn't prove
anything. Why should a dragon fear a bat? It's a gazillion times
the stress is really gettin' to you."
I realized how crazy it sounded, but
it was the only explanation. I let Tishie go back to sleep, and I
military hotline and an hour later I was connected to a corporal, who
patiently to my story and then said, "Thank you for calling."
"So what are you going to
do?" I asked.
"Sir, this is a national
emergency. We have no time for crank calls." And he hung up.
I waited until ten the next morning
and started callin' again. I tried the governor's mansion in Austin. No
answered, and you couldn't leave messages. I finally gave up after
National Guard, the Department of Public Safety
the Secret Service.
On a whim I called the biology
department at the University of Texas and was, amazingly, put through
Professor Sphinka. He listed to my theory and then suggested I call a
of his who had retired from the anthropology department, a Professor
Professor Lawrence asked if I could
come to his house in Austin and talk in person. I told him I'd be there
The professor lived on a tree-lined
street off Enfield, in an older neighborhood. The aging and bent
me to his study and offered me ice tea.
"Are you an anthropologist,
sir?" he asked.
"No, I carve bears out of wood
with a chainsaw."
"I've always wanted to meet a
chainsaw carver. Interesting work. Now, about your theory. You have
onto something that few people know about."
"Yes. You see, I have studied
what I believe to be the aboriginals of Guatemala, a people who lived
before the Mayans. They called themselves the Hmmmz.
"Weird name. So these Hmmmz
were like stone age people?" I asked.
"Exactly. Ten years ago I was
down in Guatemala near the Mayan ruins of Tikal, and I unearthed an
Hmmmz burial ground. I found a stone with images carved in relief. What
amazed me. It was the image of a dragon and a bat entangled in
"I believe there was once a
great war between the dragons and the bats. I believe the dragons who
terrorizing us are headed home to the jungles of Guatemala, and,
another clash with the bats."
"But shouldn't you tell the
authorities now, so they know what they're dealin' with?" I pleaded.
"What good would it do? We
can't stop them. If there is to be a dragon and bat war, it will happen
from here, and only one of the two will survive. Anyways, my book, Life
the Hmmz, is due out next fall. It will shock the
anthropology world, but
for now the bats and dragons must settle this themselves."
"But how could bats take on
dragons? It's David and Goliath," I said.
"Yes, and David slew Goliath.
From the images I've seen on the stones, the bats worm their way under
dragon's scales, bite the soft skin underneath and essentially infect
From my research I believe the bats defeated the dragons, and only a
dragons escaped. It appears they went north to Russia. They bred,
their numbers, but then they were caught in perhaps a shock freeze
Ice Age, locking the dragons in a kind of ice tomb until now."
We talked further and then I thanked
the professor and headed back to Bastrop. I thought about my dream
dark things were flying around us dragons. The dark things were
All this academic talk was fine, but
for me, the dragons were real, and if there was somethin' I could do to
town, I was gonna do it.
The next morning I burst into the
mayor's office, as he was watching cartoons.
"What the hell, Nigel. You
"Ray, I know this is going to
sound crazy, but I know what the dragons are up to, and I know what we
to save Bastrop."
I laid out the plan for the mayor,
and pointed out that if Bastrop got torched I would tell everyone that
stood by and done nothing.
"What will all the wood and
banners cost?" he asked.
"Bill the Feds," I said
and walked out.
The dragons swept south into Texas.
Every Texan with a gun fired at them as they passed overhead on their
Dallas. One guy in Dallas fired a Stinger missile from his condo
balcony at a
traffic helicopter and sent it twirlin' to the ground in a fiery mess.
questioned by the police, he said, "I thought it was a dragon."
The CFD (Cheerleader Federation of
Dallas) organized its members into platoon-size units and prepared to
enemy. Dana Markham, head cheerleader, said, "We all went down to
Marcus and bought us deer rifles. The idea is that each platoon will
concentrate its fire on one dragon. We figure one of us might get a
We are very hot and patriotic cheerleaders just tryin' to help."
Not even hot cheerleaders could save
Dallas. Flames from the Bank of America building could be seen for
miles away. When they finished with Dallas, the 'gons headed toward
I laid out my plans at a town
meeting and everyone agreed, except the sheriff, who felt he was being
bypassed, and he was. My plan involved a whole lot of wood carvin', but
pumped and ready for it.
When not carvin', I rode through
town in the back of a pickup truck yellin' at folks to get their asses
To be a leader, you have to be willin' to bruise a few egos. At one
ordered Dolly to make bacon and eggs for a work crew and she yelled
"I ain't your slave!"
With the voice of leadership, I
barked back, "Dolly, don't make me come over there and whack your
She smiled coyly, and replied,
"Any time you're ready, I sure am."
Tishie and Josh acted as my
lieutenants. I'd snap orders at 'em, and they in turn would relay the
down the line.
That night, after a day of kickin'
butt, someone drove by the house and yelled "Hard ass!"
"You're a leader, honey,"
Tishie said. "It can get ugly."
I carved deep into the night: burned
out two chainsaws in the process.
And then our time ran out. We
watched on TV as the dragons tore up Round Rock and flew in formation
the heart of Austin.
I turned to Tishie and said,
"They're gonna bypass Austin."
She nodded and replied, "Of
course. The bats."
As the bats under the Congress
Street bridge rose en masse into the dusk sky, the dragons veered east,
the city untouched. Most people had no idea why Austin had been left
except maybe Professor Lawrence.
I called him and all he said was,
"I've been watching them on Doppler Radar. They're heading right for
Tishie slipped the .357 into her
purse, Josh shouldered his shotgun and I carried my biggest chainsaw to
pickup truck, along with a flare gun.
We looked back at our house,
wonderin' if we'd ever see it again. Defiantly, the people of Bastrop
to their battle stations on the roofs of the buildings downtown and on
Iron Bridge. Some were in boats on the Colorado. It was assumed the
would make a frontal assault. Each Bastropian carried a weapon. For
some it was
just a kitchen knife or a sickle, for others it was a semi- or fully
Josh took the wheel of the pickup, while
Tishie and I got in the back. I had the bullhorn ready.
"People of Bastrop, as you know
I'm just a down home chainsaw artist with a hot wife and a whole lotta
this town. Now the dragons are comin', and while those sissies in
let them run riot over the town, we ain't gonna let that happen. It
My god, every Texan cheered in that
glorious moment. I knew if it came right down to it, the 'gons had us
it was best to go out fightin' no matter what.
Everyone took his position, and some
smartass put Star Wars music over a loudspeaker.
The dragons appeared as a gathering
darkness in the distant sky. With the precision of an Air Force fighter
team, the 'gons formed themselves into a flyin' V formation.
They came straight at us. Heavy
artillery and rifle fire were unleashed from those forces on the
of the river below the historic district. The sales guys at Eddie
Trucks were firing from the new Chevy Half Track Family and Assault
Tracer fire filled the sky. I could
smell the cordite, and for the first time I could smell the rotten egg
gasoline smell of the dragons. It was like livin' inside a fart.
"Get ready!!" I said, over
the megaphone. The air was filled with smoke from all the weapons being
On came the dragons, right through the hail of steel.
When the first dragon crossed the
Colorado River, I fired the flare gun, the signal for everyone to act
From every roof top of the downtown
shops, a line of bat effigies carved in wood and mounted on poles
faced the oncoming dragons. Then a second line of cloth bats mounted on
shot skyward. At the same time, thousands of bat balloons were
massive bat banner slung across the Old Iron Bridge was hoisted up, in
view of every approachin' dragon.
Our last tactic was to turn on——full
blast——a recording of bat calls, that Josh had
The lead dragon reared up, flapping
its great wings. I had never seen a critter so large, so awful and so
I watched as the viscous napalm-like jelly issued from the edges of its
Fire seemed to hang deep in the back of its open jaws. Its eyes were
eyes, and its scales shone in the dying sunlight. From where I stood,
hear the metallic scraping of its continually shifting scales.
It let out a terrific blast of fire,
aimed, thankfully, high in the sky. It wheeled, gave two hard wingbeats
shot west along the Colorado River and over the highway. The other
that had also just crossed the river, followed. We shook our bats and
We continued to play the recording
until the last 'gon passed, then there was a rippling cry of joy
crowd. We cheered till we were hoarse.
I did wonder if the dragons would
wheel and take us from the opposite direction, but onward they flew and
fell with our town still intact.
I hugged Tishie and Josh and soon
found myself carried aloft on the arms of the people of Bastrop. My
carried me to Dolly's place, and there we celebrated with ice cream and
The streets of Bastrop were littered
with the bat effigies, and some of the balloons had burst on their
ascent and were caught in the trees all around town.
The smell of dragon and cordite
still hung in the air. News crews arrived and learned the story,
one small Texas town had defeated the dragons.
Someone fired a shot into the air,
and soon everyone was lettin' those bullets fly, even the sheriff. The
thing missin' was fireworks and a fly-by of Texas National Guard jets.
I must have showered for an hour
that night. Though no dragon had touched me, I still felt that I needed
their stink off me. And how do you sleep after such an experience?
Tishie and I
talked through the night. I told her I was plannin' a new series of
dragons and bats.
"But people love your
bears," she said.
"I know, hon, and I'll keep
makin' bears, but I'm gonna do bats and dragons. I've already got the
"You know, there's talk of
givin' you a reward. We could use it to renovate the upstairs bathroom."
"Now, hon, I can't take money
for doin' what was right."
"I know. I just thought about
those new faucets where you don't turn the handle, you just wave your
"Does Home Depot have
"You know they do, silly."
While the dragons had spared
Bastrop, they did not spare San Antonio. We learned the next mornin' of
destruction, and it did dampen the enthusiasm of our own victory. The
finally crossed the border at Eagle Pass and headed south.
A few weeks later, after Mexico City
had been pillaged by the fire-spewin' bastards, there were reports of a
battle at the jungle border between Mexico and Guatemala.
A farmer interviewed on CNN said,
"I looked up and thought I saw a black cloth suddenly rise out of the
jungle. I thought I must be dreaming. I wondered if it was the Virgin
mourning, but it was bats, millions of bats. From the opposite
direction I saw
many dragons, which are devil creatures if you ask me, and I saw the
right at those dragons. And then the sky was turned all black there
"I saw fire in the sky and
screeches that will haunt me forever. I ran because of the horror
"The next morning the skies
were blue and all was peaceful. I thanked the Virgin for protecting my
Dragon corpses were found rotting
deep in the Guatemalan jungles, and it was not recommended that you cut
'gon ribeye and plunk it on the barbecue.
Turns out I wasn't only a Bastrop
hero, I was a national hero. I've been on Oprah and Larry King. I met
president, and he ended up buying one of my carvings for the East Room
White House once it's rebuilt.
I sold my story to Hollywood, and
I'm hopin' Robert Mitchum can play me.
Tishie said, "But he's dead,
darlin'," and I replied, "Well, hon, with special effects those
Hollywooders can do just about anything?"
The parade's over and Tishie and I
are having margaritas on the back deck. We've got steaks on the
she's sliced up some peppers to go with 'em.
Josh is upstairs chattin' online
with his buddies at Victoria Secret Night Chats, and the sky above
Bastrop is a
deep blue, as deep and as warm a blue as you could ever desire.
© 2007 Frank Minogue
Frank Minogue was born 1955 in Timmins, Ontario Canada
and now lives in Austin Texas where he works as a writer/artist. His
short stories, poetry, and artwork have been published in a number of
literary journals, such as Atomjack, Wisconsin Review, Amherst Review,
Sulphur River Literary Review, Aura Literary Arts Review, and Poetry
Ireland. In 2002, The Place in the Woods Press published his children's
book Little Horse.
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