Have you seen the Hobbit? Smaug sure left his front yard a mess. Reminded me of this little story I wrote about Vern and his yard. (This is before Grace came along, btw.)
|You'd think after 60 years, the plants would have grown back. Maybe Gandalf can recomment a good landscaping service?|
Beautification Claws: From the Case Files of DragonEye, PI
By Karina L. Fabian
She stood on my doorstep wearing hot pink shorts and a blouse that looked like an art fair threw up. I almost breathed fire on her just to put her out of my misery. Nothing cures the aftermath of an ethanol binge like dragon-style pyrotechnics. But she might have a job for me, though with that artificially whitened smile, I doubted it. "Yes?"
"Hi!" she lilted. What was I, a puppy? "We represent the Los Lagos Beautification Committee!"
We? "Great. Start on the yard."
"Oh, Mr. Dragon! They told me you were funny!" She pealed with laughter. Yes, pealed, like hyperactive church bells. It made me regret the twenty dollars I blew at the Texaco last night.
She took a deep breath, just avoiding a snort. "No, no-no. I do see that you could use some help, however."
"You here to give me landscaping advice?"
Again the laugher, happy ice picks doing the Macarena on my eardrums. She patted the air with her hands. Why hadn't someone eaten her yet? Why hadn't I?
"Oh, Mr. Dragon! I admire how you can keep a sense of humor, especially in...weeeelll." She cast her eyes about my place with what I'm sure she'd call a Significant Look.
I tilted my head in a Significant Way. Damsels and Knights, I wished I could raise one eyebrow.
"It's just that, a Beautiful Environment Makes a Beautiful Attitude!"
She even sounded like a toothpaste commercial. I treated her to my can-we-get-to-business-before-I-eat-you-just-kidding! look. Who needs eyebrows?
"You see. There's a problem with the area, and we think you can help."
A job? I perked up.
"I understand you've... scratched some of the buildings in the area."
"Well, you're defacing the exterior!"
"It simply won't do!"
"Anybody around here complaining?"
"Those 'scratches' mark the area as under my protection. My Territory."
"I realize it might be an instinct thing--"
I threw back my head and snorted. She jumped but didn't back away. Score one for guts. "Do you know the crime rate around Territory?"
"Unacceptably high. That's why the Los Lagos Beautification Committee wants to foster a more pleasant environment--"
"--Do you know the crime rate within Territory?"
"People don't mess with places I've marked. They've got a stronger motivation than beauty. Me."
"Could put up some nice signs?"
"'Property Protected by Dragon'? Get serious."
She crossed her arms. "We cannot allow you to continue to vandalize property."
Joan of Arc used that look. Wondered if they were related. That shirt did look French Impressionistic. "Get an injunction."
"If I must. Good day!" She spun on her expensive hot pink heels and stalked to her Lexus.
I slammed my door just before she slammed hers.
A few minutes later, I started feeling guilty, which really burned me up. Bad enough I was stuck living among humans until I'd earned back all my dragon power--did I have to develop the ability to feel guilty, too?
I glanced out at my window. Wrappers and garage sale flyers played hide-and-seek among the leaves. No one would dare use it as a dumping ground now, but there's no threatening the wind.
Fine. I'd go clean up the trash. Least I could do for Princess Beautification.
I'd swept up a sizable pile using my tail when I heard the screams. Sounded like Ms. Beautiful Environment had gotten into an ugly situation.
I found her, one tough smashing her face against the wall while another was dumpster diving and shouting obscenities. Apparently Princess Moxie tossed her purse into the garbage.
I let out a roar and a burst of fire over their heads. Ah, the sound of screams and fleeing feet! Cured my hangover, too.
I fished in the dumpster with my tail for her purse.
"Oh! Thank you!" She pulled wet wipes from it.
"You shouldn't be here alone. Fine lady like you with a set of wheels like that?" I bit back the rest of my reply. Hard to sarcastic to someone dabbing away blood and tears with a powder-scented towelette.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Dragon."
"Vern. Thank you." She gave me a clean if watery smile. "People around here depend on you?"
"I take care of what's mine."
She directed her Significant Look at her car.
I tilted my head in my best puppy-dog imitation. "You sure?"
"It'd make me happy."
Know what? Raking my claws across the back fender of her Lexus made me happy, too.