THE SZECHUAN DRAGON
Not really thinking about how stupid the idea was I got out the pool cover and spread it over the pool. I ensured it was very tightly drawn. I next went to my buddy’s house and asked to borrow his crossbow. Now, I’m not much of a hunter, but I do enjoy shooting targets and especially shooting his crossbow. I didn’t tell him what I was planning to do. I hadn’t even told him or anybody else what had been happening all these weeks, now months. No, I just ask and he gave. Naturally, I was a bit apprehensive in carrying out the plan, but what more could I do? Strange, we didn’t see or hear the dragon for several days. One morning, however, I grabbed a cup of coffee and went out on the back deck to enjoy the summer sun and read my paper. I nearly dropped my coffee when I saw the pool cover. Yep, it was ripped to shreds. Those things are expensive! My heart was hardened at that moment.
That afternoon I sent the kids to my parent’s house across town and I concocted my strategy. I got a chair and set it up inside the tool shed. The tool shed was near the back corner of our lot by the now decimated blueberry bushes. Next, I got several snacks from the pantry and tossed them helter-skelter around the backyard. Then, I grabbed the crossbow, knocked in an arrow, and proceeded out to the shed and had a seat. It was around 7:00 p.m., and there was still a few hours of daylight.
After dark, I wearily went into the house and sat at the kitchen table wondering what I was doing. Why had it come to this, and, more importantly, would I kill the dragon if given the chance? Also, I don’t know why the thing was so intent on harassing us so. The next morning my mind was made up. That such and such had ruined my entire garden. Why it hadn’t bothered it before, I don’t know, but that was the last straw. I went inside, grabbed the crossbow, loaded it, and sat and waited.
Around 9:00 p.m. I heard a swish in the air. I eased the butt of the crossbow to my shoulder and rested the front on my knee. There was still enough light out that I could easily see. The problem was, so could the dragon. This thought only just occurred to me. Hmm… I heard the dragon panting around in the yard, but I hadn’t seen it yet. Poof! Did I just see a touch of fire shoot across in front of me? Yikes! Now, at least in my mind, this was a self-defense situation. That haphazard dragon knew I was in the shed because it landed on top. I was beginning to get nervous and second guess my actions. Poof! Another taunting stream of fire shot down in front of me. Enough is enough! I stood; I stepped back out of the shed with the crossbow raised against my shoulder; I looked the dragon in the eye even as it drew a deep inhalation of breath; I loosed the bolt upon the beast. It fell harmlessly off the roof of the shed and lay motionless on the ground. I killed the Szechuan dragon.
I went into the house, my heart beating out of my chest, and I called my friend to come over immediately and help me. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw the dragon on the ground. We treated the creature with respect even as we did the deed to get it ready to cook. With the grill fired up and the meat ready we popped open a couple beers and enjoyed the Szechuan dragon. It was delicious!