The Boy and the Sea Dragon
A New Family, Home
Zuangeng came upon a fruit stand. He found some red medium sized fruit he liked. He looked around. It seemed to be nobody around. He held the bottom of his shirt up with his left hand. He picked through the fruit with his right hand. He put some in his shirt. The last one he picked, he kept in his hand. He took a bite out of it. Red juice ran down his chin. He chewed on the piece.
A merchant popped out of nowhere. He yelled, “Hey! Ju vareisun aan bitalon om ganen!”
Zuangeng looked up at the merchant. He turned to the right. He took off running. The merchant took off chasing him. Zuangeng ran down the street. A crowd of people had appeared. He merged into the crowd. He dodged around some people. He became one with the crowd. He slowed down. He walked. He still had the fruit in his shirt and hand. He ate the fruit in his hand.
The merchant watched Zuangeng enter the crowd. He yelled numerous times, “Chief!”
People heard him. They turned to face him. The merchant ran into the crowd. He continued yelling, “Chief!”
Zuangeng turned to see the merchant pursuing him. He turned back around. He ran again. He dodged grasping hands.
He turned left at a corner into a side street. The merchant still chased him. He yelled, “Chief!”
Hans and his father walked along a street. They heard someone yell, “Chief!”
Hans said, “That is someone else yelling. Zuangeng must have gotten into trouble with another merchant.”
“Who is Zuangeng,” the father asked.
“The boy Petra and I were telling you about,” Hans replied.
They came to an alley. They entered it. They walked to the other end. They peered around the corner to the right. Zuangeng just turned the corner. His hair flew to his right. He held the bottom of his shirt up with his left hand. He clutched something with his right. Shortly, a man appeared around the corner.
Hans said, “That’s the boy we were talking about.”
They pulled back into the alley. The father said, “Hans, stay here. Give me that sheet.”
Hans gave him the sheet he was carrying. The father out his own sheet over his head. The sheet draped to the ground. He vanished. Everything he saw appeared hazy. He looked out of the alley. He waited. He unfolded the small sheet.
Zuangeng came to the alley. The father ran out. He threw the small sheet over Zuangeng. The sheet draped over Zuangeng’s head to the ground.
Suddenly, everything Zuangeng saw went hazy. He turned his head left to look. Out of nowhere, a man appeared. The man grabbed him. He caught Zuangeng in his arms.
Zuangeng dropped the fruit in his shirt. He had let go of his shirt. He managed to retain the one in his hand. He yelled, “Ah, ingayala!”
The man pursed his lips. He held a finger to them. He made a soft ‘sh’ sound. Zuangeng continued to yell. The man used his hand to cover his mouth. Zuangeng bit the hand. The man stifled a yelp. He pulled Zuangeng into the alley. Zuangeng moved his legs sideways. He saw Hans. He quieted down. He stopped struggling.
The merchant chased Zuangeng down the street. Zuangeng came to an alley. The merchant watched him vanish. He stopped on the spot. He yelled, “Hey!”
He looked around. He was about to leave when he heard a disembodied voice yell. The merchant ran to where he heard the yelling. The yelling stopped. He turned to look into the alley. He only saw Hans walking off. He looked down. Smashed fruit littered the pavement where he stood.
He turned around. He walked to the police station. He lodged a complaint with the authorities. New, amended fliers went out.
The father touched Hans to signal his presence. Hans and his father, with Zuangeng in tow, walked back to the other end of the alley. Zuangeng finished the fruit. He tossed the remains. The three of them walked through the streets. Zuangeng and Hans’ father still wore the sheets. They reached the back of the shop. They walked through the back door. They entered the storeroom.
The man removed the sheet from Zuangeng. Everything returned to normal. The man removed his own sheet. He appeared. He gave the sheets to Hans. Hans put the sheets in a hamper next to the door in the right wall.
Zuangeng watched. He wondered what was going on. He apprehensively wondered what would happen to himself.
Hans returned. Hans and his father turned their attention to Zuangeng. Hans said to his father, “Fader, dut ben Zuangeng.”
Hans pointed to his father. He simply said, “Gunthar.” (Note: Gunthar is spelled with an umlaut over the u)
Gunthar held his right hand out. He said, “Blaj aan moken kennis mit ju.”
Zuangeng hesitated. He stood there. The fruit juice had dried on his chin. He looked at Gunthar. He was not sure what to make of him. The man looked harmless. Zuangeng knew that looks can be deceiving. The man looked like he could be related to Hans and Petra. Zuangeng made up his mind to trust him for now. He extended his own right hand. They shook hands.
Petra had a break. He had gone into the storeroom. He heard his father speak to Zuangeng. He said, “Fader, haj dounet varstaan ju!”
Zuangeng then spoke, “Dong amia lakea Cingalia?”
Everybody looked at each other. Petra said, “There he goes again with that strange language.”
Zuangeng repeated the question. As he did so, he pointed to each of them. He moved his thumb and fingers together and apart.
They watched him. Gunthar realized what Zuangeng tried to ask. He shook his head. He said, “Noon.”
Zuangeng tried a different language in an effort to communicate. He said, “Do any of you know Dragonese?”
Gunthar said, “I do know Dragonese. None of my sons do though.”
You could hear Zuangeng let out a sigh of relief. Gunthar spoke their language, “Petra, Hans, go out there. Mind the store. I need to talk with Zuangeng.”
Petra and Hans exited the storeroom. They entered the front of the store.
Gunthar led Zuangeng to his office’s door. They entered the office. It was a small room. A window was in the far wall. Light shone through it. Shelves lined the wall to the left of the window. In front of the window was a desk with a nondescript chair behind it. Two chairs sat in front of the desk. Some black and white photos of Gunthar’s family hung on the right wall. A clock hung on the left wall close to the far wall. A filing cabinet with five drawers sat next to the clock.
Gunthar walked around the desk. He sat in the chair. He said, “Have a seat, Zuangeng. We need to talk.”
Zuangeng sat in the chair to his right. Gunthar said, “What is this I hear? You being called a thief?”
Zuangeng replied, “What do you expect? I have no money. I’m new here. I don’t even know what people are saying around me.”
Gunthar said, “I don’t know about your country; but, here they kill thieves. They do not care about age, either.”
Zuangeng developed an expression of fear on his face. Gunthar said, “Don’t worry! It’s against the law; but, we will protect you. My boys told me, they found you in the ocean. What were you doing there? Where did you come from, anyway? Where are your parents?”
Zuangeng said, “I came from the ship, Serikua. I was told my mother died the day I was born. I was never told about my father. As far as I’m concerned, the captain of the Serikua is my father. They say, I was born on the Serikua, somewhere on the ocean.”
Gunthar said, “What country are you from?”
Zuangeng said, “The captain has told me that my mother was from Cinga Archipelago. He told me that the ship flies the Cinga flag. He, also, said that he and the crew are all from Cinga Archipelago, too. That all of us, including me, are Cingala.”
Gunthar said, “You said that you came from the Serikua? That is a sailing ship?”
Zuangeng said, Yes, a clipper to be more precise. It has three masts. It is the only home I know.”
Gunthar said, “Does the captain happen to be Esiada?”
“You know him,” Zuangeng asked surprised.
“He is a buddy of mine. So, you have never been on land before?” Gunthar said.
Zuangeng said, “Actually, I have been on land a few times with Esiada as far as I can remember. However, this is the longest I have been on land.”
Gunthar said, “For the time being, you’ll be living with us. You’ll need to lay low until things settle down. If you go out, you need to be with at least one of us.
“Where is the Serikua by the way? Again, how did you end up in the ocean when my boys found you?”
Zuangeng admitted, “I don’t know. It is somewhere out on the ocean. It is heading this way, though. I was swept off the ship during a storm. A dragon saved me. He brought me here.”
“The boys never mentioned a dragon,” Gunthar said.
“That’s because the dragon dropped me off in the water. He left before I met Petra and Hans. I was swimming to the shore when we met,” Zuangeng explained.
Gunthar turned his head to the right. He looked at the clock. He said, “It’s time to close up shop and go home.”
He stood up. He signaled Zuangeng to do the same. Zuangeng stood up. They exited the office.
Gunthar walked to some shelves that contained some garments. He rummaged through the garments until he found a suitable black hooded cape. He pulled it off the shelf. He said, “Let’s see if this will fit. I’ll need to disguise you so we have no problems.”
Zuangeng stood there while Gunthar put the cape on him. He draped it over Zuangeng’s shoulders. He tied it at the neck base. The cape turned out to be a little big for him. The bottom of the cape laid on the floor. Gunthar said, “It’s a little too big. It’s the smallest I have. Stay here while I get some scissors.”
He entered his office. He found a pair of scissors in a desk drawer. He returned to Zuangeng. He cut the bottom off below Zuangeng’s ankles. He said, “That will have to do.”
He put the hood up over Zuangeng’s head. It drooped to the tip of his nose. It made it impossible to see in any direction but down. He complained, “I can’t see!”
“We want to hide at least part of your face so nobody can recognize you. Let me see what I can do to allow you to see,” Gunthar said. He reached up under the hood, crumpling it. He found Zuangeng’s eyes. He cut holes in the hood so Zuangeng could see.
“How is that,” Gunthar asked.
“That is better! I can see now,” Zuangeng said.
They walked into the front of the shop. They joined Petra and Hans. Petra and Hans looked at the caped figure. Petra said, “Woo, who is this we have here?”
He reached down. He pulled the hood up. He said, “Oh, it’s you, Zuangeng!”
Even though he could not understand what Petra said, Zuangeng smiled at the little joke. All four of them walked out from behind the counter. Hans had his right hand on Zuangeng’s left shoulder. Zuangeng was in front of him. They walked out the front door and stopped. Gunthar turned around. He locked the door.