Mother and I entered the burial mound through the front door, guarded by a magnificent and proud blue dragon. We’d come to take a tour of the facilities and see the hoard—a maze of small apartments, a popcorn machine, game and card tables, a library with large print books, and a Bingo and puzzle room—all lovingly accented with fresh blue and orange flowers. There was only one problem: the temperature, which was humidly hot, an environment designed both for the health of the residents (whose skin was thin) and for Alonzo, the greeter and door dragon.
“Excuse me, can you direct us to the General Manager? “ I asked, fanning myself in an effort to divert the dragon’s hot breath over my shoulder. It was at that time I noticed his gold vest, dapper purple pocket hankie, and shiny name tag fastened to his chest scales, which read A-L-O-N-Z-O, printed in bold capitals. (I thought to myself, those letters must be 210 point font.)
Such a basic question, asked so simply and directly, was clearly the wrong thing to do.
Alonzo heaved a long wheezing and bronchial sigh (which waxed off the hair on my legs), circled his mat several times like a restless dog, and plopped down (with a thud!) on the blue braided rug, singed on the edges from his fiery words and noble intentions.
“I’ve been protecting this mound and its hoard for 325 years. Not one goblet, coin, or jewel has been lost under my watch,” Alonzo explained, his voice a seasoned tenor, his resolve an impressive must. “I am who you are looking for!” he barked hoarsely in the way dragons do, when the heat of their vocal chords meets the moisture of their mouths and tries to exit through their phalanx of their sharp teeth.
“Now what can I do for you two? “His blue tail with its spiky chards, slammed down on the lobby floor, in a deliberate act that launched Mother and I up at least two feet. But mother was the smart one and in this case, the lucky one. She held onto her walker like a trapeze artist and fell back to the lobby floor with grace and balance.
I, on the other hand, picked myself up off the warm dirt, wiped the dust from my iPhone, and adjusted my hat.
“We’ve come to this mound because other folks say it’s a good place for old people. Mother is old although her spirit is young,” I felt the need to say.
“Would you like a tour?” Alonzo asked, ignoring my assessment of Mother.
Before we could even say yes, three residents of the mound wheeled past and one old geezer buzzed by like a dragonfly driving an electric cart that was decorated with a flag from his home state of Indiana.
“Hey, hey, Bill, slow down before you kill someone, “Alonzo directed, in a tactful but firm manner.
Were Mother and I in the wrong story? Had we fallen down a rabbit hole?
[This work is registered at the U.S. Copyright Office 2010]