by cheri block
King Beowulf, the Geat military hero of yore—killer of the monster Grendel, killer of Grendel’s crazed mother, and (gulp) killer of a fiery dragon who protected a wealthy hoard—summoned Alonzo to his mead-hall, an impressive office and bar around the corner from the burial mound. Leaving his residents without his contagious smile (and his occasional ironic wink ), not to mention the p-r-o-t-e-c-t-i-o-n he fancied himself providing, Alonzo straightened his name tag, poofed his hankie and thumped into the King’s office.
The King got right down to business.
“I’m concerned about that old woman with the walker and her daughter, you know, the one with the iPhone wearing an orange hat who asks too many questions and seems uninitiated, “ the King observed, kneading his gray beard into a point.
“Initiation is something that only experience can tender, “ Alonzo answered, using his talons to scratch an itch under his vest. “It is surprising that a woman her age should walk around the mound with such big eyes. Have you noticed her eyes? Their expression makes me wonder.” And with that philosophical treasure, the dragon exhaled through pursed lips, burning the ground with a beam of wisdom.
“You are right, of course, my reptilian star,” encouraged the King.
“ Could you leave the word reptilian out of the compliment?” Alonzo retorted, coughing a bit. “It sounds so primitive. I prefer to be categorized as serpentine. I just love the sound of that word with its twists and turns.”
“Life does provide us humans with the twists and turns of life,” said the King.
And with that hackneyed cliché, the King dismissed Alonzo, with the following advice, “ I suspect the daughter will make the choice for the mother because the mother is weak, in pain, and looking for a place to rest. Watch the mother’s eyes to validate that she too, wants to live in our burial mound. Don’t worry about the finances. If you represent it as is, they will come.”
Alonzo had heard this advice before, but he couldn’t remember where.
“Certainly, your liege,” he answered (feeling pleased with his use of such a regal word) and lumbered back to the mound.
There, waiting by the popcorn machine, were Joan and her daughter.
[This work is registered at the U.S. Copyright Office 2010]