Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What to do with a Ghostly Dragon, Earli in the Mornin.

Sometimes, quick thinkin is gonna save your butt. Like if you get yourself into a contest with a one-eyed, bearded fella that shows up at your door and challenges ya to a thinkin quick contest in which he wants to wager a rump roast, but you don't have a rump roast, so you think he's likely to take your actual rump, because this guy looks like serious business and you think he might be cheatin ya because his two crows is outside cawin away and sayin crazy things like, "Nevermore!" On the other hand, there are prolly times quick thinkin could actually hurt you, like if you just decide to bake yourself a cake but you don't have any milk, so you decide you can prolly use whiskey instead and you don't wanna be bothered to slow down and consider how that's gonna work out (not well, if the first, and last, angel food cake I made was any indication). On the third hand, there's times you don't get the opportunity to do any thinkin whatsoever, like when you use a phrase like "on the third hand," or maybe when you're under so much stress it feels like your head's gonna crack open and butterflies are gonna fly out and have knife fights with one another. That's the kinda situation I found myself in.

I was backed up against the cliffs, my exo-suit had given out, the Deus Ex Machina turned out to be no help and, to top it all off, I realized Frank's birthday was comin right up and I didn't even know what she wanted. I'd tried to wing it the previous few years, but, on her last birthday, she made it pretty clear that if I bought her any more socks, I would leave her house with the socks in a place that would likely require medical intervention to remove. Even though I don't require much doctorin, I still like to think of myself as a patient man. But there, against them cliffs, I guess I'd had enough.

The dragon was comin straight at us, like an arrow fired from the bow of an Olympic champion and I just started yellin. "Hey! Hey! HEY!" I shouted. "Stop it! Just stop it! Just knock it off! I've had it up to here," I pointed at my eyebrows, "with you! You been flyin around here, roarin away like it was nobody's business, just cryin out at eatin people and I've had enough, buster!"

Shockingly, this worked. The dragon stopped in mid-roar, slumped a bit in the middle and hung it's head. Then it started cryin. It wasn't no single-teardrop-rollin-slowly-down-the-cheek kinda cryin, neither. This was full on, I'm-eight-and-I-just-fell-down-playin-and-skinned-my-knee-and-tore-my-brand-new-pants-that-I-was-fixin-on-wearin-the-next-day-at-school-and-I-think-pa's-gonna-whip-me, heavin, bawlin, givin-yourself-the-hiccups kinda cryin.

Alistair, wide eyed, looked at me and cocked his head towards the dragon. I sposed he was suggestin I go over there and do somethin. So I did.

I waled right up to that dragon, patted it a couple times on the back and said, "There, there." Mind you, this technique has never, ever worked for me. When I'd done it before, the people recievin the comfortin pat on the back and heartfelt "There, there," would look at me with a combination of disgust and hate in there eyes, shrug off my hand, and go back to their cryin, but at least I could tell myself I tried and feel ok about slippin out for a sandwich or a block of cheese. But this here dragon was full of surprises. My pattin seemed to calm it down a bit. The sobs dropped off, the wailin reduced from a fevered pitch to a low whinin sound, like Barry White tryin to imitate a puppy, and the hiccups came fewer and farther between.

When the sobbin was nearly gone, the dragon reached into a tiny pocket on its abdomen which I hadn't noticed, pulled out a small kleenex, blew its nose with enough force to knock over several beach bungalows, had there been any there.

Then it spoke. "Thank you," it said in a thousand voices at once, "for giving us a little comfort. That's all we really needed."

"You're welcome," I replied, not wantin to be rude. "You feelin better now, big guy?"

"Yes, thank you. You've done much to ease our suffering, Pat O'Neil. We will now allow you an audience with us. You may ask three questions and three questions only. Then, we shall disincorporate and journey to the land of the dead."

"I been there," I informed the dragon, "it ain't all it's made out to be."

"Is that so?" it asked.

"It is so," I confirmed. "Just a bunch of whiners down there. I'd suggest gettin yourself reincarnated pretty quickly, if y'all want to avoid hearin a lot of long, borin stories about people what has been dead a couple thousand years."

"We appreciate the advise."

"Ain't no thing."

"Now," non-sequitorized the dragon, "we shall show you our true form. Then, we shall hold court with you."

"All right," I drawled.

And that's just what happened. The dragon slowly disolved, breakin pieces of itself off left and right, like a twinkie in a glass of warm milk. Soon, we was surrounded by a semi circle of ghosts. They was a sorta translucent blue, glowin from an unknown source. Every single one of em was skinny as an Italian model gettin ready for Fashion Week. All of em was wearin trucker hats with slogans like "Git 'Er Done" on 'em, worn out jeans and t shirts with the arms cut off. The lady ghosts also had cut off the bottom half of their shirts, revealin sunken bellies and an assortment of tattoos featurin a great deal of roses and butterflies. I'd also estimate there wasn't but three teeth in the whole bunch. I guess I'd have to say that I wasn't ready for that. From the ghosts I seen on the teevee and in the movies and whatnot, I thought ghosts was supposed to be classy, or at least scary, these ghosts just made me a little sad. That wasn't the worst, though. The worst was that they stunk. I guess you never think about ghosts havin a smell, what with seein em in movies and all. But these here ghosts smelled like poo chili what has been left in the sun and covered in battery acid. I could hardly keep my eyes open from all the waterin they was doin.

I knew I had to act fast, before I rudely threw up all over the place. I'd already done it in my mouth a little bit, but I managed to cover it with a fake cough and then swallow that bile back down. Lookin behind me, I spotted the pile of silk what used to be my exo-suit. I slyly reached back there, grabbed a handful of the stuff and, pretendin like I was sneezin, jammed it up my nose.

"Subtle," said Alistair.

"But effective," I retorted.

"Now," announced the group of ghosts, "you may ask us three questions, and three questions only."

Alistair leaned over to whisper, "Make them good."

"OK," I said, takin a deep breath through my mouth, "here goes."

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