The Boy and the Sea Dragon
Zuangeng came to a street paved with cobblestone. He walked down the street. He felt the roughness and heat of the pavement on his bare feet. He looked on both sides of the street. People of all ages wore clothes, at least shorts. He became conscious of his nudity. Some people were looking at him. The people walked on raised wood walkways. Lamp posts stood along the street at even intervals. Street signs were on posts at the corners. He could not read. Wood or brick buildings of various sizes lined the streets. Some had vast windows displaying various goods. Writing was painted on the windows or above doors. Some had signs hanging over the sidewalk.
He turned right into a side street. No one was on this street to his relief. This street was similar to the one he just left. A stand stood outside a building on the other side of the street to the left. He walked toward it.
The stand was wood. Legs supported it off the ground. The side facing him slanted down toward the street. He walked to the stand’s front. The front was waist high to him. Fish of different kinds and sizes laid in the stand. Flies buzzed around the stand. He felt hungry looking at the fish His stomach rumbled. It reminded him that he had not eaten since yesterday.
He looked all around. Nobody was in sight. He looked over the fish. He found one that was the right size. It looked fresh. It was the same kind of fish as the first one he ate with Xianjeng. He looked around, again. Still, nobody was in sight. He picked the fish up. He walked off.
He came to an alley. He walked into it. Metal bins stood along it. Trash laid on the ground around them. He sat on the brown dirt ground. He felt the heat of the ground. He cleaned the fish. He threw the guts toward a nearby bin. He missed. The guts landed among the trash on the ground. He ate the meat. He tossed the remains toward the bin. They joined the guts. A cloud of flies rose into the air.
He stood up. He looked down at himself. His thighs, stomach and hands were covered with scales and blood. He looked around the alley. He looked through the trash. He found nothing to clean himself with. He walked out of the alley into the street.
He turned left. He continued to walk up the street. He came across another stand. A man sat next to it. He had light skin and brown hair. Zuangeng walked up to the stand. He looked at the contents of the stand. Clear and brown glass bottles laid on it. Labels were on top of each bottle. The bottles contained different colored liquids. Some had clear liquids.
“Darsteg,” the man asked when he saw Zuangeng. Zuangeng looked at him and shrugged his shoulders. The man stood up. He picked up a clear bottle with a clear liquid. The label said ‘Water’. He offered the bottle to Zuangeng. He figured that the boy had no money, being so young, naked and alone. Zuangeng looked first at the bottle and the man. He made no move to take it. The man smiled. HE held the bottle top close to his mouth. He tipped the bottom up as if to drink. He offered the bottle again. Zuangeng, then, nodded. The man uncorked the bottle. He gave it to Zuangeng. Zuangeng took it. He took a sip. The liquid was water. Zuangeng smiled and bowed his head. He drank from the bottle as he walked off. It was different than drinking from a dragon’s mouth or glass.
He came to another alley to his left. He entered it. He looked at himself and the bottle. Most of the bottle’s content remained. He thought, “This would be a good time for a bath.”
He poured some water over his stomach and thighs. He rubbed them with both hands. until they were clean. He poured some water into his left hand. He cleaned his lips. He drank the rest of the water. He set the empty bottle on the ground.
He walked among trash and bins to the alley’s far end. He came out into another street. He turned left. He walked along the street. This street was similar to the first street. Fully clothed people roamed this street. He heard murmuring among these people. Shops and eateries lined this street. He smelled food being cooked. The aromas smelled delicious.
A few doors down, he came to a clothing store. He stopped. He looked through the window. Rows of clothing hanging were visible. A few people were visible as well.
He looked to his right. The shop door stood open so he went inside. He looked around. People were shopping. A few clerks roamed the store. Some clerks assisted some shoppers.
He wondered through the store. He came across what he took to be children’s clothing. He rummaged through the clothes. He found a white short sleeve shirt and blue shorts that looked like they would fit. He found a fitting room and entered. He put the clothes on. They did fit. He forgot to take the tags off. He walked out of the room, wearing the clothes.
A clerk spotted Zuangeng. He silently followed the boy. Zuangeng was unaware of being followed.
Zuangeng found a pair of socks. He carried them. He found the shoe section. He picked a selection of shoes to try on. He sat on a bench nearby. He put the socks on. He tried some shoes until he found a pair he liked. He tied the laces.
He stood up. He walked toward the door. He was about to leave when the clerk yelled, “Hey! Tir ju gegaan aan bitslon om ganen?”
Zuangeng jumped. His hair bounced. He twirled around with his hair flying out. He just looked at the clerk. His hair settled. The clerk said, “Ju vareisun aan bitalon omganen!”
Zuangeng twirled back around. He walked out the door. He turned right. The clerk took off running after him. The clerk came to the door. He saw Zuangeng walk away. He yelled, “Hey!”
Zuangeng turned around, again. He walked backward. He saw the clerk running after him. He twirled back around and ran. The clerk started yelling, “Chief, chief!”
People turned to see what the ruckus was about. Zuangeng dodged around them. He was nimble on his feet. He snapped into different directions. He got lost into the crowd. The clerk slowed. He breathed hard. He looked around for Zuangeng. He could no longer see him.
He returned to the store. He told his coworkers, “I’m going to the police station. I need to report a theft!”
The clerk exited the shop. He headed for the police station. He talked with an officer. He gave the officer a description of Zuangeng. Soon, fliers were out.
Petra and Hans had come in from their boating trip. They had gone home. They got shirts on. They walked to the business district. They walked along the same street as Zuangeng. They heard the commotion. They ran to the scene in time to see Zuangeng disappear. They heard the clerk yell. They stopped. Petra turned to Hans and said, “We need to help Zuangeng.”
“I agree,” Hans said. They searched for Zuangeng. Like the clerk, they could not find him.
“Zuangeng!” they tried calling. They received no reply.
Hans suggested, “Let’s get Dad to help.”
They walked to the next street to their left. They turned right. They walked up the street to their father’s place of business. They found the shop in a red bricked building. Petra opened a wood door with ‘Von Davildaa’s’ painted on it. They entered the shop. Rows of shelves contained bottles and tins of various sizes. A counter stood near the left wall.
Behind the counter, they found their father. Their father had brown hair like them. Some strands of grey hair were the only signs of age. He was attending to a customer.
Hans and Petra walked to the counter. They walked right around it to the right. They found a gate on that side of the counter. Hans opened the gate. They walked behind the counter. The gate swung closed. They stood and waited until the customer was gone.
Petra said, “Dad, we need to talk with you about something important.”
“What is it,” their father asked.
Hans said, “We met a boy this morning. He is in trouble now He needs our help!”
“That is not any of our concern. Let the authorities handle it. What is he in trouble for?”
“But, Dad. You know how you feel about the law,” Petra pleaded.
“I know! In certain situations, the law is unfair and unjust. How old is this boy, anyway?” their father said.
“I’d say about six years old. They want him for theft,” Hans said.
“Besides, he is not from this island! We found him swimming in the sea, toward shore. He knows none of our laws and customs,” Petra said.
Hans said, “He, even, doesn’t know our language! He speaks in some strange language, we don’t know! Come on, we need to help him!”
The father spoke in exasperation, “Okay, okay! I’ll help. After all, he is too young for execution. Petra, you stay. Mind the store. Hans, you go with me to point him out.”
Petra stayed behind the counter. Hans and their father walked through a doorway behind it. They entered a large room filled with shelves. A closed door was on the left wall. Jars, tins, cloth and articles of outer clothing laid on the shelves.
They walked to a shelf with piles of sheets of cloth on it. The father grabbed a large sheet. Hans reached for one for himself. The father said, “You don’t need one. Find a smaller one for the boy.”
Hans left the sheet. He rummaged through another pile. He found one about the right size. They walked to a locked door. The father opened it. They exited the building into an alley. A metal trash bin was on their right. The alley where they were was clean. The door closed and locked behind them.
Zuangeng wandered the street for a awhile. He crossed the street to the left side. He looked around to see if anybody was following him, nobody was. He walked past an eatery. Delicious smells wafted from it. He stopped at the eatery. It was in a medium sized red bricked building. A large window was in the side. A door of wood framing glass was right of the window. He looked through the window. People sat and ate at tables. Other people walked around carrying dirty dishes, drinks of plates of food. A counter with a woman behind it stood behind the door.
Watching the people eat, seeing the food and the smell of the food made him realize that he was hungry again. All this walking, running and the excitement made the fish he ate earlier not last long. His stomach growled. He licked his lips.
The owner was a heavy set young man. He had short, brown hair. He was personally serving an elderly married couple with grey hair. The couple sat at a table closest to the window. The window was on the wife’s right. They looked out the window. They saw Zuangeng staring through the window. They watched the boy lick his lips. The husband pointed with his right index finger at the window. He said, “Look, there is a child out there. She looks hungry.”
The owner turned his head. He looked at Zuangeng. He said, “I see the kid. I believe that’s a boy. I wonder where he came from.”
“You maybe right, His hair length fooled me. I wonder where his parents are,” the man said.
His wife said, “He looks homeless and hungry. Honey, buy him something to eat, please.”
Her husband said to the owner, “Bring the boy in. He’ll dine with us.”
The owner walked to the door. He stepped outside. He turned to face Zuangeng. He stood with the door on his back. He said, “Hey, kid!”
Zuangeng twirled around to his right. His hair flared out. He looked at the man. He stood there, slightly crouched. He had one foot turned to the right. He was ready to bolt if necessary. The owner waved to him to come over. Zuangeng cocked his head to the right. He put his right hand on his chest. The owner nodded, smiling and said, “Hungerag?”
Zuangeng kept his head cocked. He remained ready to flee. The owner pointed at him. He continued to smile. He moved one hand to his mouth. He opened it. Last, he pointed at his shop. Zuangeng took a chance. He moved toward the owner.
He entered the eatery, followed by the owner. The owner showed him to the table with the couple. He pulled out a chair opposite of the man. Zuangeng sat in the chair.
“Walke daen ju misseen,” the owner asked him.
“Uh,” Zuangeng said. He looked around at the people. He eyed the owner, saying nothing else.
The wife said, “Blikbar haj nodeg varstaan ju. He’s not likely from here.”
Zuangeng suddenly said, “Yes. I don’t live in this country.”
The owner said, “You speak Dragonese. However, you need to learn our language if you plan on living here. What would you like to eat? Not everybody here knows Dragonese nor your language.”
Zuangeng looked around to see what everybody was eating. He looked at what the couple, he was with, had. They were eating lobster, potatoes, corn and other items. He said, licking his lips, “I’ll have what they’re having.”
The owner disappeared. He came back with a plate and silverware. He put them in front of Zuangeng. Zuangeng ate the first cooked whole meal he had since being swept off the ship. The owner watched him for a minute. He looked up. He turned his head. He saw a waiter carrying a tray with a pitcher of water and glasses. He beckoned the waiter over. The waiter came to the table. He set the tray on the table. He filled a glass and set it in front of Zuangeng. The waiter picked up the tray and left the table.
The owner sat in the chair on Zuangeng’s right. They asked him the same basic questions Xianjeng asked him. He calmly gave the same basic answers. After eating, he said, “Thank you. I need to be going.”
He got up. He left before they could say anything more.
Zuangeng went back to roaming the streets. He saw posters on poles, walls and windows. He could not read them. They had sketches of someone that looked vaguely like him. He heard people talking in that strange language. He, even, saw some of them pointing at him. He felt a little uneasy, being among them. He walked through an alley off to his right to escape the crowd. At the other end, he came to a street that seemed deserted. He turned right. He walked down the street.