Grandpa's Dragon

Grandpa's Dragon

A Story by Crawford
"

This did happen, more or less.

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            I remember it was the middle of the 1980’s but that is not important. I don’t remember if it was summer or winter and that doesn’t matter either. What matters is that my baby brother and I were sitting at the kitchen table. Our Grandpa was there, as usual. He did not have a beer in front of him so it must have been after the last time he fell and broke his ribs. Breaking ribs seemed to be a hobby of his. He would have been 81 or 82 then, and he was starting to look frail.
            We were talking; my brother and I, Grandpa never said much, except to tell us to get to work and the like. We were talking about Apples, the computers, not the fruit. They were new and we thought they were amazing. We had just heard about telephones that would work in your car. Well, my brother and I are talking away about the wonders of the modern world when Grandpa says, “I saw a dragon.”
            I already said that he was not drinking, and his saying anything was enough to make us stop and listen. “I was fourteen years old,” he went on, “It was spring and I was out plowing a field for the neighbors.” I already knew that his father was gone by then, dead or run off, he never said and may never have known. He and his Mom and his older sister were living in another man’s house by then. I never learned what those arrangements were.
            “The mule and I were half done with the field. It was a good mule, it knew what to do; I just had to make sure it did it. We were maybe three or four yards into a new furrow and I heard a growling. I thought it sounded like an unhappy dog warning you away. I kept looking over my shoulder at the brambles on the hill trying to spot it; I expected that dog to come at me. The farther into the field we got the louder that growling got but I never did see anything. I never have been that scared in the daylight. It was unnatural.”
            Now I had heard stories about Grandpa, not from him, like I said he don’t talk much, and him saying that he was scared really got my attention. It went against everything I had heard about him.
            “That growling just kept getting closer. I was looking back over my shoulder at the hill and the edge of the field and not paying much attention the mule. It was a good thing that mule knew what it was supposed to be doing. Finally I saw the dragon come over the hill. It was bigger than any bird I ever saw; gliding along; smoke trailing from its mouth. I dropped that mule’s harness and ran off. I am not ashamed to admit it, I ran away. I couldn’t take my eyes off that thing. It must have seen me, it wobbled its wings and growled louder and spit out a cloud of black smoke. I ran across that field as fast as I ever ran and never took my eyes off that thing.”
            He got up from the table and got himself a cup of coffee. My brother and I looked at each other in stunned disbelief; he couldn’t just stop there. “Well?” we both asked.
             “Well when I woke up I was laying at the edge of the field and it was starting to get dark. I was layin’ at the bottom of a good-sized tree that must have been harder than my head. Side of my face and head was cut up and covered with blood. I must have hit that tree at full gallop. That damn mule had just stopped where I dropped the harness and it was still standing there.”
            “I checked myself out; made sure nothin’ was broke, then got the mule and headed home. I figured that dragon had thought I was dead, thought I had killed myself runnin’ into that tree. Dragons don’t eat carrion they hunt. Everybody knows that.”
            It was news to my brother and me.
            “I was all excited to tell about the dragon that tried to eat me but nobody at home had time to listen to me. All the neighbors were there, sitten on the porch, carrying on about something. I could see they was as excited as I was and I was sure the dragon had got my sister until she come out of the house with a tray of food. “Did you see it,” somebody hollered to me, “A flying machine right here in Vanceburg. I never thought I would live to see one,” he said.”
            Grandpa just hung his head and grinned sheepishly like he could not imagine anything dumber than mistaking an airplane for a dragon. I imagined something different though. I thought of a fourteen year old kid in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains who had never set a foot inside a school building. Someone who had seen steam powered trains and riverboats moving along the Ohio River when the water was deep enough for the boats and not over the railroad tracks, someone unable to imagine a machine that could fly.
            What would have to happen or be invented for my brother and me to not even be able to imagine it? We had seen Star Trek and Star Wars. Our reality included men on the moon and being able to watch things happen, live, on the far side of the planet and our imaginations included large parts of the local library. His reality, in 1918, did not include radio, movies, electric lights, indoor plumbing, or reading.
            I was in awe at how much the world had changed for him. In his lifetime people learned to fly, walked on the moon, and sailed under the polar ice. Roads that were ruts in the dirt made by hooves and wagon wheels gave way to gravel covered roads. Gravel gave way to asphalt. Asphalt became multi-lane superhighways. He got married during the Great Depression. Together they raised my dad, bought eleven middle-class apartment buildings in the 1930’s and 40’s and then watched the neighborhood rot away into a slum during the suburban housing boom of the 1950’s and 60’s. It was overwhelming. What changes are my brother and I going to see?

© 2008 Crawford


Author's Note

Crawford
Any comments or advice is welcome.

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Featured Review

I sure hope you get this published. Thanks to Angel's Lady for sending this my way. This is just a truly well-written, engaging, captivating piece...surely one I will pass along to others and keep in my library of favorites. My grandfather flew biplanes for the Navy in Pensacola back during this timeframe...guess he may have been a dragon to some small boy in southern Alabama once upon a time. Your final point, what would it take to challenge our belief, is quite intriguing. I hope to see a dragon in my life.

Posted 15 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This was a wonderful story... It seems Grandparents always have their great stories that us kids love to know about.. And they tell them so well.. I enjoyed it. =)

Posted 15 Years Ago


This was awesome!

Had me reading every paragraph and hungering for more. It has a good moral to it and the flow was excellent. I hope you keep this up because you seem to have a knack for it!

cole-

Posted 15 Years Ago


AJ sent me here and I'm glad he did. What a tremendous write.

Posted 15 Years Ago


I sure hope you get this published. Thanks to Angel's Lady for sending this my way. This is just a truly well-written, engaging, captivating piece...surely one I will pass along to others and keep in my library of favorites. My grandfather flew biplanes for the Navy in Pensacola back during this timeframe...guess he may have been a dragon to some small boy in southern Alabama once upon a time. Your final point, what would it take to challenge our belief, is quite intriguing. I hope to see a dragon in my life.

Posted 15 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Captivating story, your style of writting kept me engross all they way through the story. You are so right we have seen so much that our imagination is limited. I remeber in school we had a project to write what we thought the future would be like, just about everything we dreamed about is coming to pass. Even flying cars, what would your grandpa think of that.

Posted 15 Years Ago


I love stories like this and of course, as you might imagine, it makes me think of my own father, who was born in 1908 and lived to be 91. Raised far out in the hills of Arkansas, he saw the modern world come to be also. A great story, Crawford.

Posted 15 Years Ago


I was drawn in, curiosity in hand, and then definitely mystified, satisfied and finally left stupified, wondering the very same thing...

My grandmother was born in 1882 and lived to be 100 years old. I can only marvel at all the wonders she saw in her lifetime...

This was a wonderfully written, delightful story.
Great job.

Posted 15 Years Ago



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Added on November 6, 2008

Author

Crawford
Crawford

Oxford, OH



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