by Arthur Sánchez © 2003

“Professor Graham, may I speak to you, please!”

The tall figure in the filthy lab coat turned furtively. His wild eyes and unkempt hair made him look more like a feral cat than a Nobel Prize winner – but it was definitely him. “No interviews,” Graham mumbled as he began walking away.

“Professor,” Catherine said, falling into step with him, “you’re going to have to speak to someone. The media isn’t giving up until somebody gets an interview -- and it might as well be me.”

“Go to hell,” Graham snapped back.

Catherine gave him a mock look of dismay. “Go to hell? You don’t really want me to broadcast that.”

“Yes! Yes, I do!”

Catherine arched an eyebrow. “I’m sensing you’re not happy with your new found fame. Aren’t you proud to be the discoverer of the dragons?” At the word, Graham cringed as if expecting one of the pigeon-sized reptiles to come swooping down on him.

“I was going for a velociraptor,” he answered.

Catherine reached into her pocket and turned on her tape recorder. “So, you never intended to breed the delightful little creatures who are presently taking the world by storm?”

Graham looked at her. “If you’re going to tape what I have to say, you could at least offer to buy me a drink.”

Catherine didn’t blink. “Ok, so where can we get a drink at two in the afternoon?” Graham nodded across the street and began to move like a man with a purpose. “So, you were trying to make a dinosaur?” Catherine asked as she jogged along.

“Yup,” Graham answered tersely. “The military would have paid millions for it.”

“Ok, the dragons were an accident. But why aren’t you glad you created the sweet, eco-friendly, creatures who are bringing happiness to millions?”

Graham rolled his eyes. “Eco-friendly? The damn things are a plague. They breed like rabbits, choose their own owners, and –“ he paused to look up and down the street, “are single-handedly responsible for the disappearance of pigeons. Nobody seems to care that an entire species may become extinct because of them.” He stopped in front of a local tavern. “In here.” He held the door open for her. Catherine entered the dark smoky interior of the bar. “But they’re intelligent, clean, and incredibly civic-minded. Crime is down and several wars have been halted because the dragons won’t let people hurt each other. The dragons are quite impressive when they’re riled up.”

Graham stepped up to the bar. “Whiskey. A double.”

The bartender, a thin balding middle-aged man looked at Catherine expectantly. “Nothing for me,” she said, “thanks.” The bartender shrugged and then went to pour Graham his drink.

“That’s just it,” Graham said, “they’re starting to take away our rights.”

Catherine frowned. “What rights, exactly, are you talking about?”

The bartender handed Graham his drink. “The right to be miserable. Look, it’s all fun and games now but the little bastards have a plan. I know they do.”

Catherine wondered how much of this interview her producer would let her air. It had started out fine, but now the good doctor was just coming off as a nut. “The dragons,” she said slowly, “have a plan?”

Graham slurped his drink. “You said it yourself -- they’re smart. The first one learned to open his cage. But he didn’t try to escape until I’d made six of them. Noooo, he waited until there were enough to start a breeding colony and then they took off like a shot. By the time we found the nest there were hundreds of them. People think the dragons just want to be loved -- that they just want to be held. But nobody is that cute. They’ve got an agenda. The dragons have successfully worked themselves into our lives and now there’s no getting rid of them. Did you know that dragons actually purr?”

Catherine sheepishly nodded her head. “Ah, yeah, I do. I own a purple one. His name is Grape Juice. And when you scratch him under the chin, he purrs so loud you’d swear he was a motorboat.” She found herself grinning stupidly at the thought.

Graham’s eyes went wide. “You -You’re a dragon lover?”

Catherine tried to look innocent. “Yeah but that doesn’t affect my objectivity.”

Graham wasn’t listening. He looked around as if he was expecting to be attacked. “They know I’m here. They’re coming, aren’t they?” With a scream he spun on his heel and fled out the door. Catherine watched through the window as he first ran one way and then the other.

“What a nut case,” she said to herself as she thumbed the off button on her tape recorder. Turning, she found the bartender standing behind her.

The older man was holding an emerald-green dragon in the crook of one arm and was scratching her diligently under the chin. “Yeah,” he said to her, “the Professor is always ranting and raving about something.” The bartender noticed her looking at his dragon. “This here is Ginny. Get it? Gin instead of Jen. She wandered in here a couple of weeks ago and I sort of adopted her.” The little dragon opened one eye to look at Catherine.

“She’s a beauty,” Catherine said as she began to pet the creature’s head. “I own a purple one. His name is Grape Juice. Would you like to see some pictures?”

The bartender’s face beamed. “Would I? I hear the purple ones are really rare.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. He just dropped in through the sunroof one day like he was expected.” She started giggling. “Sometimes, he has the cutest expressions.”

The two of them began to chat as if they were old friends. All talk of agendas was forgotten as their love of dragons brought them together. Nobody even noticed the smile on the little green dragon’s face.

x x x

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