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Amir meets the dragons


         Amir whistled gently to himself, as he tidied up the dishes in his café-bar. It had been a long afternoon, and it was already getting dark outside. In early December, the nights had drawn in very quickly. But it had been a good day, and he was looking forward to a more relaxing and quiet evening ahead. Everything was fine, with no undue excitement, and as he looked around, everything was in order. No surprises for today, he thought.

         He did hear some strange sounds outside, but he paid little attention to them. Until……until, one of his girl assistants rushed in from outside, where she had been clearing the tables. It had been a sunny day, and he had put out tables and chairs, for those people who wanted to sit on the pavement in this mild wintry weather. Her face was shocked, though she was surprisingly, not frightened. ‘Amir, you must come to look! You will never believe it! I don’t know what to think! Please come! It’s important!’ Puzzled, Amir put down his cloth and followed the girl outside. And then he stopped dead.

         Sitting at all of the tables , were….. dragons. Not just one, but eight of them. They overflowed their chairs, sitting upright, though rather uncomfortably. Every now and again, small snorts of smoke came from their nostrils. They were talking to each other in grunts and snarls, which clearly was dragon-talk. They looked quite peaceful, and took no notice of those small groups of people who were standing on the other side of the street, staring at them with a mixture of fear and curiosity. They were quite clearly waiting for someone to serve them. Amir recognised one of them immediately. He was the dragon who had visited Amir’s place some months ago, and, as it turned it’s head, it noticed him, and nodded to him in a friendly way.

         Amir groaned. All this on top of a busy afternoon! But he remembered his rule of courtesy to his guests, and came forward to the large green dragon he had met before. ‘Good afternoon’, he said politely. ‘What can I get for you all?’ The dragon beamed at him, as only dragons can beam. ‘Good afternoon to you, Amir.’ It said in its rather harsh and deep voice. ‘True to my word, I have brought my friends along to enjoy your hospitality. Allow me to introduce you. And he pointed out his fellow dragons one by one. ‘The big fellow there,’ indicating a huge yellow dragon that must have been four metres high, ‘is Yetgo’. Here is Yamith’, indicating a smaller one. ‘ This is Yoka’. A much smaller dragon, purple in colour. ‘And this is Gotcha’, indicating a rather friendly-looking dragon with a Chinese lion’ s head, who grinned and nodded.

         The dragon continued. ‘Here is Doda. She wanted to come along because she has never visited this country before’, and he pointed a scaly claw to a small white dragon with the biggest eyelashes that Amir had ever seen. She smiled a dragon smile at him. ‘Then there is Arturo, a very clever dragon, and a bit of a brain,’ waving at a medium –size dragon, that, much to Amir’s amazement, wore large horn-rimmed glasses on his snout. ‘And finally, there is Lop-Bon-Tong, who is from Siam. He is a Siamese dragon. Not many of his kind around.’  The last dragon was very oriental. His body was like a serpent with wings, and it curved around both his chair and the table in front of him. It was impossible to tell how long he was. ‘Welcome to you all’ murmured Amir, rather weakly. ‘What is your name?’ ‘Oh! said the dragon. ‘I should have told you before. My name is Boris.’

         ‘Now then,’ said Boris, in a business-like tone. ‘We would like to order some food and drink. We’ve been chasing evil people all day, so we’re very hungry. We would all like lots and lots of your delicious hamburgers, and lots and lots of cappuchinos.’ ‘How many would you like?’ asked Amir, faintly. ‘Oh, as many as you can make.’ said Boris. ‘Same with the cappuchinos.’ ‘Let me see what I can do.’ replied Amir. And he went inside, and gathered his staff around. ‘This is going to be a big order, so we’re going to have to work hard. Don’t worry, I will pay you extra.’

         For the next hour they worked incredibly hard. Once the chef had realised how much he had to do, he settled down and began to make hamburgers as fast as he could. Amir helped him, and the rest of the girls rushed back and forth, carrying out plates heaped with hamburgers, and large bowls brimming with hot cappuchino. Was there no end to these dragons’ appetites? But eventually, one by one, they stopped eating and drinking and sat back with snorts and burps of contentment. Amir and his staff, hot and gasping, finally had a rest.

         Boris beckoned Amir over. ‘Here is all the money that we owe you’, he said cheerfully. ‘And please let me thank you  and all your wonderful staff for a delicious meal. I include a very large tip for all your trouble.’ And pulling out a very large amount of money from the small bag he wore around his neck, he gave it to Amir. ‘Money means nothing to us dragons’, he said gallantly, bowing to the chef and assistants standing in the doorway. ‘And you are all so beautiful. I have eaten people who do not look as pretty as you.’ ‘No, no,’ he said hastily, seeing their faces, ‘It is only my little joke. But now we have a surprise for you. We dragons enjoy surprises’. He turned and said something to the other dragons.

         Their great wings all spread, filling the whole street with thunder. Slowly they began to beat up and down, and then, one by one, they began to lift into the dark sky. Up and up they went, until they were all hovering in a line, hundreds of feet above. Then the crowd below gasped. From each dragon belched a great gout of fire, shooting upwards into the evening sky – red, yellow, green blue, and purple. Purple? That came from the Siamese dragon, Lop bon Tong. For several minutes they threw up great geysers of flame, lighting up the whole street, highlighting the upturned faces of the people below. Others in the neighbouring streets also stopped to watch in amazement and delight.

         Then the dragons formed into a massive circle, each with its head turned sideways. Slowly they began to turn as if they were a giant wheel in the sky, and from each head  great jets of multicoloured flame sprang, as if they were propelling the great dragon wheel around and around. Faster and faster it went until everybody saw, not just eight dragons, but an enormous catherine wheel, spinning in the sky. Faster and faster, and then the whole wheel turned over and over, with great jets of multi-coloured flame marking how it spun and rotated. It was truly wonderful! Finally, the dragons broke out of the circle and formed a line. Once more, a great wall of flame shot up into the black sky, and then the dragons, in an arrow formation, flew away westwards. Everybody saw them only as eight bright spots of light, that gradually faded into the distance. For some time though, they could all still hear the deep. rhythmic flapping of their massive wings, even after they disappeared from sight.

         People began to slowly break up and move away, back to their normal business, still talking about what they had seen. Amir looked around at his tired but delighted staff. ‘Well, that was something, wasn’t it! Not only have we made a lot of money tonight, but we got a wonderful free firework display.’ Amir grinned. ‘Well, don’t tell me I don’t spoil you.’ ‘It was well worth it.’ said one of his waitresses quietly. ‘Time to close’ replied Amir. ‘We can leave the rest of the washing-up until tomorrow. Time to go home.’ A few minutes later, as he locked up for the night. Amir remembered the dragons with something like affection. ‘I wonder if they will come again sometime’ he said gently to himself. And with that, he turned and went home.

Frank Jackson (05/12/06)