November 19, 2012

No. 246

“There are dragons in the hills,” said the old man. “They’ll keep to themselves in the summer, but in the winters they come down. That’s when they’re hungry.”
Six young children sat around the man, listening to every word of his stories.  One of them, however, didn’t agree with the content. “That’s not true,” he said. “Dragon’s aren’t real.”
The old man’s face darkened. “You say that, boy, only because you’ve never seen one. They’re real, and, if you don’t believe, then they’re especially dangerous.”
At that moment, a woman arrived in the room. She’d heard the old man’s warning from around the corner. “Mr. Spero,” she said, speaking to the old man. “What are you telling these children? Dragons aren’t part of the town history. We never discussed this when you asked to speak here.”
Spero stood, defiant. “Little Miss, if a man can’t come to the museum and tell the youngsters something that will save their lives, I don’t know why you have these talks.”
The woman put her hands on her hips. “Mr. Spero, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” Then, turning to the children who were still watching every move the adults made, she continued. “Don’t listen to Mr. Spero. I’m sorry he’s been scaring you. There’s really no such thing as dragons. If you come with me, now, I can show you some very interesting rocks from the town’s mining days.”
“Watch out!” said Mr. Spero as the children all got up and filed out the door. Then he gathered his coat and hat and left out the side entrance.

Donald Douglas pulled into town after a long day’s drive. He tried to remember the last time he’d been here. Once, as a kid, while on vacation, his mom had left him to listen to some crank at the local museum talk about monsters or something in the hills. He smiled at the memory. That had been a good trip. The curator had given all the children credit at the gift shop because the old coot might have frightened them.
Donald got out of his truck to check into his hotel for the night. He hoped to get to sleep soon. The next morning would be an early start as he hit the road to stay ahead of the snow that was forecast to roll in.
He looked up at the bluffs towering over Main Street. “Dragons!” he scoffed aloud. That’s what the man had said all those years ago.

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