The Boy and the Sea Dragon
One day, Zuangeng and Petra went out together. The sun was shining brightly. Wind blew gently. White puffy clouds floated by. They left shadows on the ground.
Zuangeng failed to disguise himself. He still wore shoulder length straight blond hair. It waved in the wind.
They went to the marketplace near the docks.
The marketplace was in an open area. It contained stalls and stands. Various items from shoes and clothing to various foods were sold.
Petra carried a basket with him. He was doing some shopping for some things they needed. Zuangeng was just tagging along.
Zuangeng looked around them. Some people were out about. They were likewise shopping. Merchants stood in the stalls or behind the stands. Some were busy with customers. Some of the people looked at them. He heard snatches of conversations. Some of them he understood; but, not all.
A mime distracted Zuangeng. Zuangeng stopped and watched. The mime wore black shoes and tight fitting black pants. He wore a black and white horizontally striped shirt. He wore white gloves on his hands. He wore short cropped black hair. His face was painted white with black lips.
He performed in a clearing among the stalls and stands. He made no sound as mimes do. He had no props with him. Some people watched him.
The mime stood facing Zuangeng. The mime’s arms were out and slightly bent in front of him. His hands were up with the palms out. He moved his hands to his left. Zuangeng thought that the mime was feeling an invisible wall. The mime moved to his left a few feet. He turned left as if he had encountered a corner. He continued a few more feet.
He seemed to encounter a ladder. Zuangeng saw no ladder. The mime curved his fingers as if around a rung. He stepped as if on the bottom rung. He moved his hands and feet up and down like he was climbing the ladder. Zuangeng did not see him leave the ground. The mime turned around as if he was going over the top. He moved his hands and feet as if he was climbing down another ladder.
He took another stance. His hands were out in front of him. The right one was in front of the left. They were clenched as if they were holding a horizontal rope. He crouched down. His right foot was ahead of the left one. He leaned back. He moved his hands toward him as if he was pulling the rope. His hands stopped. He rocked his body back and forth. Zuangeng got the impression that the mime was in a tug of war against somebody else. The mime suddenly leaned forward as if he had lost. His left foot left the ground. He straightened his fingers. He seemed to be releasing the rope. He fell on his hands and right knee. His left leg was stretched out. He laid on his stomach.
He rolled over onto his left side. He raised his head up. He moved his left arm under his head. He bent the arm up. He cradled his head on his hand. His left leg was straight. His right leg was bent over it. His right arm was resting on his side. The elbow was bent. He stayed that way for a short while.
He got back on his feet. He bent his knees. He lowered his body. Zuangeng thought that the mime was sitting in a chair. There was no chair. The mime was in the proper position. He rested his right elbow on his leg. He raised his right lower arm. He leaned forward. He rest his chin on the fist. The left arm rested across his lap. He seemed to be in deep thought. He remained like this for a moment.
He raised his head. His eyes were wide open. His mouth was open in a grin. He raised his right hand up. The index finger pointed up. He continued his performance.
Zuangeng had enough of watching. He turned to the right. Petra was gone. Zuangeng looked around himself. Petra was nowhere to be seen. Zuangeng called out loudly, “Petra!”
He got no response. He walked around looking for Petra. He would occasionally call out, “Petra!”
Xianjeng continued gaining altitude. He wanted to get as high as he could. He got above the clouds. He found a tail wind. He flew as fast as possible. It took days of continuous flight. He never took a break even to eat.
He descended as he approached the island. He found the city where he left Zuangeng. He flew low over it. He searched for the boy.
Zuangeng came to the food section edge. He heard a voice from the left. He turned to face the voice’s source. Three men stood several stalls away. He recognized the middle man. The man was the fruit merchant he stole from. The man recognized him as well. The man was pointing at him. The man yelled, “Look, there’s the thief! Let’s get him! Let’s kill him!”
The three men ran toward Zuangeng. Zuangeng let out a loud, earsplitting scream. People turned to see what was happening. Zuangeng twirled back around and ran. He screamed as he ran, “Petra! Help!”
He heard the rapid thumping of heavy booted footsteps and yelling behind him. He ran among the food stalls. He weaved around some of them.
People reached out to stop him. He saw the grasping hands. He dodged them. Some people tried to block him. He found a way to evade the blockades. He continued screaming, “Petra!”
A constable patrolled the area. He heard the commotion. He jogged toward the source. A crowd was heading toward one spot. The constable pushed his way through the crowd. He spotted Zuangeng. He blew his whistle. He chased Zuangeng. He tried to catch the boy before anybody else.
Zuangeng heard the whistle. He turned his head to the right. The constable tried to reach for him. Zuangeng turned left to evade capture. The crowd tried to block him. Zuangeng evaded the blockade.
Petra stood before a fruit stand. He eyed the fruit. The fruit was mango. The fruit was native to the islands of Cinga Archipelago. The fruit was imported from there. Petra thought that Zuangeng would like some. He turned his head to the left and down. He wanted to ask Zuangeng . Zuangeng was not there. Petra looked around, no Zuangeng. He yelled, “Zuangeng!”
There was no reply. Petra retraced his steps. He looked for the boy. He heard some commotion. Out of the din, he heard a high pitched scream. The scream said, “Petra!”
He knew that voice. He realized that Zuangeng was in trouble. He dropped his load. He ran toward the commotion.
A man got too close to Zuangeng. He tried to catch him. His right leg got in the way. The right foot was in front of him and Zuangeng.
Zuangeng tripped on the foot. He went staggering. He tried to keep on his feet. He totally lost his footing. He crashed into a vegetable stand. The stand flipped over onto its side. The vegetables fell on the ground. He somersaulted over the stand.
Petra arrived on the scene. He was in time to witness what ensued next.
A large shadow crossed over the scene. Zuangeng somersaulted into another vegetable stand. He hit the stand’s legs. The stand toppled toward him. He quickly twisted around. He rolled the other way on the ground. He tried to avoid the falling stand. The stand hit the ground. It barely missed him. The vegetables from the stand fell on top of him.
Zuangeng started to get up. The people nearest him rushed to reach him. They never did reach him.
Xianjeng found Zuangeng falling over the first vegetable stand. An angry mob approached Zuangeng. Xianjeng flew as fast as he could toward the ocean. He skimmed over the water. He had his mouth open in the water. He gulped the water as he flew. He took off again. He returned to the scene.
The mob of angry people were converging on Zuangeng. Xianjeng circled around. He flew along the front of the mob. He shot water along the ground in front of the mob. They stopped. They looked up. They pointed at him. They murmured among themselves.
Xianjeng circled back around. He watched Zuangeng struggle to get up. The mob started to converge on the boy, again. Xianjeng landed over Zuangeng. He faced the crowd. He blocked the crowd’s access to Zuangeng.
Zuangeng started to get up. He noticed that he was in a shadow. He hit his head on an obstacle. He lifted his right hand. He touched the obstacle. It felt hard and rough. It seemed to have ridges. He looked up to see what it was. It was a dragon’s chest. He got down on his hands and knees. He crawled out from under the dragon.
He got up on his feet. He stood behind the dragon’s left front leg. He peered around the leg’s outside. He looked toward the dragon’s front. A line of angry people stood there. They yelled at the dragon. They waved fists at him. They yelled, “Get out of the way, stupid dragon! We want that boy! We must get that boy!”
Zuangeng looked to his left. He spotted Petra. Petra looked at him and the dragon.
Xianjeng, finally, had enough. He let out a loud roar. It drowned out the crowd. He roared in their language, “Quiet!”
The crowd went silent. Xianjeng said, “What is going on here? Why are you after this boy?”
The constable stepped out of the crowd. He angrily said, “He is a thief! We kill thieves in this country! You have no right to keep him from us!”
Petra stepped up to the dragon. He said, “That is true, dragon.”
He turned to the constable. He said to him, “However, he is just a child and a stranger! He has yet to live his life! My father has said that this law is unjust. I agree with him, this time. It needs to be changed!”
The constable sternly said, “The law is the law, Petra! He needs to pay for what he did!”
Petra declared, “It should not be by death! Not at his age! He has the same right to grow up like us! Every child does!”
The constable retorted, “Go into politics. Change the law if you think it needs changing, Petra!”
Xianjeng said, “It does not matter! You are not getting him! He has an appointment elsewhere! He is coming with me!”
Zuangeng looked at them all. He understood that he was the center of the dispute.
Xianjeng turned his head to look at Zuangeng. Zuangeng gave a half nervous smile. Xianjeng spoke Cingalia, “Come out here. I need to see you better, Zuangeng.”
Zuangeng hesitated. The smile turned into a frown. Fear appeared on his face. Xianjeng said, “Don’t worry. You’re under my protection.”
Zuangeng tentatively stepped out from behind Xianjeng’s leg. Petra walked up to him. He said, “What does the dragon want? What did he say to you?”
“He wants me to go out in front of him,” Zuangeng said nervously.
“Come up with me. I’ll protect you,” Petra urged him He got on Zuangeng’s left. He reached his right arm across Zuangeng’s right back. He put his right hand on Zuangeng’s right shoulder. They walked together to Xianjeng’s front. The crowd glowered at them. Xianjeng moved his head to follow them. They moved away from him.
They got as far as about half of Xianjeng’s neck length. Xianjeng said to Petra, “That’s good enough.”
He spoke Cingalia to Zuangeng, :Is what I hear about you true? That you are a thief?”
“I’m afraid so,” Zuangeng admitted in the local language.
“Ah! I see you learned another language,” Xianjeng spoke the local language.
“Yes, I had to,” Zuangeng said.
Xianjeng, once again spoke Cingalia, “Zuangeng, I need you to go with me. There is a very important someone who needs to see you.”
Zuangeng said hopefully in Cingalia, “You found the Serikua? You’re taking me home?”
He further said in Cingalia, “Why are we speaking Cingalia?”
Xianjeng said, again, in Cingalia, “What we are discussing is our business, nobody else’s No. It is someone else very important, though.”
Petra could not understand their conversation. By the tone of their voices and what the dragon said earlier, Petra felt that they were talking about leaving. He said, “You can stay with us, Zuangeng. We’ll protect you from ‘them’!”
He emphasized the word ‘them’; while, looking at the crowd. The constable said, “Petra! You are treading dangerous ground there! I can arrest you for harboring a fugitive!”
Petra said, “You won’t! I am protecting the boy from an unjust law! And you know it!”
Zuangeng looked at all of them foe a while longer. He turned to Petra and Xianjeng. He pointed to the dragon. He spoke to Petra, “This is Xianjeng. He has taken care of me. He brought me here.”
He pointed to Petra. He told Xianjeng, “This is Petra. He and his family took care of me since I arrived.”
Petra said, “We know this dragon by another name.”
Xianjeng said, “I go by many names. It depends on what country I’m in and the language.”
Zuangeng continued, “Sorry, Petra. I’m going with the dragon. I will not risk your freedom for my sake. I want to get back to the Serikua. Maybe, this way, I can get home faster.”
“Well, if you ever decide to come back, you have a home with us,” Petra said.
“You’d be better off without those clothes where we are going,” Xianjeng said.
Zuangeng took his clothes off. He handed them to Petra. the constable said, “That’s another charge of indecent exposure against you, Zuangeng!”
Zuangeng just glowered at the constable. He turned back to Petra. He said, “Please, keep these for me. I may come back some day. I may need them.”
Petra took the clothes. He said, “Sure. Remember, if you ever return, you have a home.”
Xianjeng laid down on his belly. Zuangeng and Petra hugged each other. Zuangeng said, “Thank you. I love you like a brother. Tell the others good bye for me. Tell them that I love them, too.”
Petra said, “We love you, too. Good bye. Be sure to come and visit some time.”
“I will,” Zuangeng said.
The constable said, “I will be looking for your return!”
Zuangeng climbed on Xianjeng’s left front leg. He climbed onto Xianjeng’s back with Petra’s help. He heard the angry mob protest. They said things like: “Give him to us!”; “You have no right to take him from us!” and “We demand justice!”
Petra yelled, “Zuangeng, try to find a way to let us know how you are doing.”
Zuangeng said, “Petra, thank you for everything. Tell your family the same. I’ll try to let you know how things are.”
He laid on his stomach. He wedged his feet between fins. He held onto two more fins. Xianjeng stood in a crouching posture. Zuangeng and Petra exchanged waves. Petra stood back a few paces. The mob’s protest seemed to have become a chant.
Xianjeng spread his wings out. Petra stepped further back to avoid the sing. Xianjeng held his wings up. He jumped up, front feet first. His mighty legs pushed him high into the air. He flapped his wings. He flew off. He turned toward the ocean.
The people continued chanting. They stopped when the dragon was out of sight. Petra was silent. He watched them fly out of sight. Zuangeng’s clothes were in his arms.
Petra walked back to where he dropped the basket. He picked it up. He picked up the spilled items. He picked up Zuangeng’s clothes. He finished shopping. He walked home. He told everybody what happened and was said.