Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends!
Friday this week finds me on retreat. I am loving the people around me right now. I wish I’d spent a little less time chatting and more time working, but a few days still yet. I’m looking forward to creating momentum on my latest WIP and maybe putting down some ideas for the next Apprentice book. What can I say? Sometimes you just need to get away from everything, laugh til you nearly pee, and watch the blue jays out the windows.
But I can’t leave you guys hanging, so I will of course sit here and write an improvised but of flash fiction based on the following prompts. No editing, no second guessing. Just what comes.
Today’s prompts: imposter, that song on the radio again, (and oddly enough) the tarot’s four of pentacles.
They called him the dragon. He was an old man living in the nicest house on the block. A house no one had ever been in. He would sit out on his porch, with a cold watchful stare, waiting for someone to cross the line of his perfectly manicured yard.
“Keep your feet off my lawn!” he’d roar. “You paying the landscaper?”
No one ever saw a landscaper. We figured they came too early for anyone to spot.
Somedays you could hear the radio inside playing “Hook” by Blues Traveler. Always the same. My mom always said we should just leave him alone. That he’d been sitting there on his porch for as long as she could remember. He was probably lonely. He was probably spending his time remembering his own long life, his losses.
I didn’t buy it.
No one’s lawn stays that perfect, even if they have regular maintenance. And it was like he was watching us too close. Waiting for one of us to do something stupid.
I guess that’s why Rick kept pushing us to egg his house. He was tired of the scrutiny. Hoped it would drive the old dragon inside his house.
Next Friday at midnight we met up at my place just three houses down: me, Rick, Matt, and Duncan. And then we were gonna run to Rick’s around the other side of the block so he wouldn’t see us. Two dozen eggs, toilet paper, shaving cream. Normal ammo.
It’s wierd how the street feels watchful at night. Not asleep, not peaceful, but waiting. Like the whole neighborhood was holding its breath for what we were about to do. Rick went up the drive, close to the porch. He wanted to lob a few eggs right on the bullseye of the dragon’s door.
I started to sneak across the yard to get the shaving cream going when I felt a crunch beneath my shoe. I pulled out my phone and shown its flashlight on the ground. The body of a tiny lizard, reflecting green and orange scales, laying crushed beneath my feet. That’s when we heard it.
“The hook brings you ba-ack.”
The yard rumbled. The front door burst open, bright fiery light pouring through the doorway. Rick stood i from tof it, frozen as a massive golden eye filled the space.
The little army of lizards that had been tending the yard, scurried up the steps and into the house. One stopped in the doorway, its head upturned as though speaking with whatever the eye belonged to.
A roar the likes of which I couldn’t have ascribed to any living thing, shook the night. I looked for Duncan and Matt, but they were already gone. Rick still stood frozen in the gaze of whatever lay beyond that door. I dropped the shaving cream. Rick’s eggs lay in a broken oozing heap at his feet.
Flames licked the frame of the front door and pushed right for Rick. I grabbed his collar, dragged him away from the house and around the block. It wasn’t a hard run to his house, but we panted in his kitchen all the same.
“Wha?” he finally managed after a few minutes.
“Guess they don’t call him the dragon for nothing,” I said. We found this riotously funny, giddy from having just escaped a scorching death. We laughed until we cried, the relief pouring down our faces. And until Rick’s dad woke up and told us to quit making a ruckus and go to bed.
We went up to Rick’s room, but we didn’t sleep. We knew we’d just changed something. I kept thinking about that lizard I’d stepped on. The dragon wouldn’t let that go. He probably considered me a murderer. Or maybe he thought Rick had done it, since he was the one on the porch.
For a week, no one saw him. And his lawn got a little shaggy.
I hated every moment of waiting to find out what the punishment for our trespass would be. That day when I came home from school, he was sitting there on his porch. Blues Traveler in the background.
“I’m really sorry about the other night.”
If his gaze could have turned colder I would have been an iceberg.
“It wasn’t Rick, the one on your porch, who stepped on your friend. It was me.”
A look of surprise crossed his features. “Not many would be willing to own such a crime.” His voice was high and musical. Nothing like the guttural roar that had shaken the ground. “Now my friends are afraid to do their work, as you can see.”
“I could come and mow it for you.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to make the offer, but it felt like the right thing to do. “It won’t be as perfect, but I can mow and trim it for you each week. It’s the least I can do.”
“How long before you are considered a man grown?” It was a weird question.
“I’m fifteen now. So I guess about three years until I’m 18.” I shrugged. He considered a moment.
“Very well, three years service to repay me. I want the yard down twice a week, and I may have need of extra errands from time to time.”
I offered him my hand and we shook on it.
“What made the Pan refuse to grow–“
I hope you all found that fun. And as always I’d love to see what you come up with. Put it in the comments or link to where we can find you.