Monday, April 14, 2014

On Dragons: A Foible

Here is another silly little tale that is too short to publish alone and it may be centuries before I get enough of them to come out with a collection.  So if you have ever gone to college, read about Pern, or wondered about the modern system of law and justice, you might enjoy this tale!


“Ahem,” cleared an eager but nervous throat.  The dragon opened one scaly lid a fraction, glanced at the unassuming personage rudely standing upon his threshold, shut his eye, and resumed his nap.  This went completely unnoticed by the impatient intruder who continued to ‘ahem’ so much more loudly and frequently that the dragon finally came fully awake, quite ready to do violence to this interrupter of his slumber.  The creature smiled broadly and greeted him cordially upon his awakening; so startled was he that the creature would thus greet imminent death that for a moment he forgot his intentions entirely.  But then he perceived that the creature was not welcoming death, but rather would not know danger until she had lain six months in her grave.  His wrath was replaced by perplexity as he finally listened to what the creature was prattling on about, “no doubt you have received and reviewed my resume?  I have been patiently waiting for some confirmation that you had looked upon my application favorably, but as you no doubt are quite busy, perhaps you had not yet had a chance to get back to me so I thought I would just drop by and save you the trouble of scheduling an interview.”  The dragon cocked his head and scratched the angle of his jaw in wonder, never in all his countless years and vast wanderings had he ever come across such a spectacle.

The creature happily chattered on, without seeming to notice that her host had not, as yet, made even the briefest of replies.  Finally, before pausing for breath, she said, “now that we have finished with the formalities, when would you like me to start?  And if you could get your HR department to give me a synopsis of my pay and benefits, we should be all set.”  Pay, benefits, HR department, resume, interview?  Said the dragon at long last, “perchance, madam, are you mad or under some foul curse?”  She frowned at him for a moment, but continued brightly, “I will just pretend you did not try to denigrate my feminine status by calling into question my intelligence and sanity.  I assure you, Sir, I am quite within my right mind.  Just because I am not a man does not mean I cannot do this job as well or better.”  Now the dragon was even more confused, “pardon my insensitivity, madam, I meant no denigration to your sex, species, or any other congenital characteristic, but I am quite far from understanding what exactly you are talking about.  I have no ‘job’ available, as you seem to presume, for any woman, man, dwarf, giant, lizard, mime, or any other sensible life form ever born.  Please be so kind as to take your resume and be gone, I have important business to attend to forthwith.”

She drew herself up and stared at him coldly, highly insulted and not a little confused.  How dare he use such language with her, congenital indeed!  He was just asking for a harassment lawsuit.  She tried to calm herself as best she could, knowing that anger would not advance her cause and while a lawsuit might attain her ends, it would not be the best means of getting what she truly wanted.  She said as calmly as she could, “I apologize for the confusion, but apparently you did not receive my communiqué and are also frightfully unaware of your own plight.”  He could not help but smile at the creature’s audacity and the exceeding pride which she had in her sophomoric knowledge.  For sheer amusement, he indulged her continued blathering.  Said she, “I have spent the last seven years of my life in thankless toil at the prodigious and esteemed College for the Mastery of Draconic Lore and Equitation.  “So you have learned all about dragons and how to stay on a horse?” said the dragon with as straight a face as he could muster.  “A horse?” said she in disgust, “nay, nay, Sir, I have learned the art of riding dragons but there is no fit word yet for the art because it is just catching on so we must rely on a word once applied only to equids until a more suitable term is coined.”  “I see,” said the dragon, though obviously he did not.

Continued she, “now, as I said, it is a new and modern trend, but one I am assured that is vital to the success of both our species.”  Said the dragon dryly, “I do not know how we have survived this long without it.  You say you have actually ridden a dragon?”  She colored slightly but continued boldly, “not a real dragon as it were.  But I have practiced extensively with models and studied the art thoroughly under masters in the discipline.  A dragon’s time is too valuable to be wasted on students and their practicums, instead, such honors are reserved solely for licensed and accredited graduates of the College.”  Her voice took on an eager lilt, “of which my class is the first.  The College assures us of finding an amenable draconian partner within three months of graduation and that he or she will be quite willing to pay back all of our quite substantial educational loans within a reasonable period of time while also allowing us a generous stipend, housing allowance, and other necessities.”  “They have promised you all that and more?” said the dragon, not a little impressed at the greedy machinations and baseless propaganda of the College and wondering why he had not thought of it first.  It was quite brilliant, actually!  Continued he, “so what exactly does a dragonrider and her esteemed companion do?”

“Do?” said the girl in confusion, “the dragon flies and the rider, well...rides.”  “Obviously,” said the dragon patiently, in answer to this brilliant reply, “but I would assume there was some task of mutual benefit that must be accomplished?”  Sounding like an infomercial for the College, she said eagerly, “oh, there are countless things that can be accomplished by such an ideal arrangement.  Think of the ease of travel, the improvement in exploration and communication, the implications for trade, the applications for war and defense, and let us not forget our vital role in repelling any showers of parasitic worms intent on ravaging our planet.”  The dragon stared at the child in amusement and pity, what had they been teaching the poor creature?  Said he as gently as he could, “and how is any of that vital to draconian thriving or even survival?  We do not trouble ourselves much with the inane undertakings and endeavors of men, excuse me, men and women.  I can see where our cooperation would be quite beneficial to humankind, or should I say people?, but I do not see how it helps dragonkind.  As for that last bit of nonsense, please remember that what happens in popular novels is not exactly reflective of reality in general.”  She stared at him aghast, “but you must help me!  I have more debt than I can ever hope to pay off in three lifetimes.  All my friends and family are expecting me to have a glorious and lucrative career; they will be vastly disappointed.  The College assured us that things would work out brilliantly and their networking division guaranteed us a job upon graduation.  What am I to do?  I did not spend seven years of my life and a small fortune for nothing!  You are just ignoring the realities of the modern world, stuck in the past as you are.  You have not heard the last of me!”

She stormed out of his lair and he resumed his nap, vastly amused.  It was many months later that an even more annoying visitor unceremoniously awakened the sleeping dragon.  This one did not amuse the dragon in the least.  Said the meticulously groomed man who had never been accused of possessing anything even resembling a sense of humor, “are you Macracanthorhyncushirudinaceous the Deplorable?”  The dragon yawned, showing his massive teeth to the intruder who was not in the least impressed as he continued in nasal tones, “I am with the law firm Sneezes, Wheezes, and Squeaks, I am Mr. Squeaks, I represent one Genevive Smithdaughter, a graduate of the Esteemed College for the Mastery of Draconic Lore and Equitation and recent applicant for the position of Dragonrider that she deemed necessary for your own health and happiness.  She was grievously treated and demands a full apology plus the immediate implementation of all rights and privileges attendant unto said position.”  The dragon snorted, “and just what happens if I ignore this little farce?”  Said his lawyership most grimly, “the courts do not look favorably upon such matters, the full weight of the law is on her side.”  The dragon said in irritation, “and what do your judicious courts have to say upon the matters of meddlers, thieves, and enslavement?”  The lawyer replied calmly, “she is a trained professional and deemed it in your best interest to enter into this contractual relationship, solely for your benefit, of course.  But as a woman, you have treated her deplorably, thus living up to your name I might add, when she only had your interests at heart.  Will you comply or shall we see you in court?”  The dragon smiled, showing his teeth once more, and Mr. Squeaks finally began to show sensible signs of nervousness.

Three months after Mr. Squeaks failed to return from his interview with the dragon, obviously dilatory in his duty as all men perpetually are, Ms. Wheezes took up the case and obtained the earliest court date available for this critical case.  Fifty-seven years and two days later, Ms. Smithdaughter’s granddaughter appeared in court on her behalf, as she was the sole heir of that deceased lady’s student debt and pending lawsuit.  The dragon slept blissfully through the trial, finally having overcome the indigestion caused by that persnickety lawyer which kept him awake for nearly three decades.  The judge waited patiently for the advent of the dragon, but alas he did not appear.  She then turned to the anxious girl and said, “as your grandmother’s adversary is not here to defend himself, let us begin this trial and see where it leads.”  Though the dragon did not appear and only read the outcome in the papers over his coffee some two hundreds years later when he finally awoke of his own volition, his side was not without its advocates.  While it was ostensibly a case of discrimination based on sex, others interpreted it as an attack on the legal definition of what was and what was not a person, there were activists hoping to use the case as a springboard into declaring that dogs were people and males were not, while others saw it as a race issue or even a species issue, the University had its representatives there to make sure no one usurped their curious rights, and every other strange and varied argument for and against was heard in the ensuing days. 

After thirty seven years of argument and counterargument, the ancient judge declared from her deathbed, “for this I have wasted my life?” as she passed from the sphere of mortal concerns.  With the decease of the original judge, a mistrial was declared but no one seemed eager to pursue the case anew, not even Ms. Wheezes who was still annoyed that Mr. Squeaks had not yet returned, men!  The dragon slept on. The Smithdaughter heiresses continued to attend the College in each succeeding generation while passing on their combined debt to their progeny while still languishing without a proper job or brilliant future that was theirs by right, as promised by the College.  Dragons were still thought people by some, at least the female dragons, while the rights of dogs gradually increased to be more than that of male dragons but less than that of female dragons, though the dogs were happily oblivious to their ever changing legal status and the dragons could also care less, as the legal and philosophical inanities of men were of little interest to them, but it was a standing practice amongst them never to intentionally ingest lawyers ever after.  And still Mr. Squeaks did not appear.

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