Home Alert Dragons
by John A. Frochio
The frequency of burglaries went down significantly when we began using dragons for home security. So did elf infestations, wood sprite invasions, Jehovah’s Witness visitations, and Girl Scout cookie-sales calls. I did miss the cookies.
It all started when I was having breakfast one morning. While I was examining a toy dragon I had extracted from the cereal box, my wife, Marsha, commented that the Crumwells’ house had been robbed again.
That's when it hit me.
When I told my wife my idea, she hit me. The idea sounded ridiculous when spoken aloud, but I decided to pursue it anyway.
I drove to a dragon whisperer's office in an abandoned farmhouse near where the dragons roamed. They resided mostly south of the city, in the mountains.
The name on the door was Charity Paxton. I walked in. Her office was brightly decorated with colorful sculptures, paintings, and photographs of dragons. The woman behind the counter was surprisingly young, perhaps early thirties. She was attractive, with long fiery red hair. I could see how dragons might be attuned to her.
"May I help you?" she asked in a soothing voice.
"I'm Jack Bellinger. From the city. I have a proposition that might sound outrageous at first, but if you're willing to hear me out..."
"You make your living giving tours of the dragons' lairs and providing simple entertainments for the masses. Would you consider expanding your repertoire?"
She smiled. "Go on."
"Home protection services."
She hesitated. "Have you considered how this might work?"
Well, my idea took off. More of my neighbors joined in. Soon there were nearly a dozen dragons circling our neighborhood, majestic beasts of power and grace.
Each of us had our own whistle keyed to a specific dragon. We were required to take a short training course to learn how to work with them effectively. The training was crucial since one mistake could result in your house going up in flames. Or worse. We took our training seriously, including cleanup training. Once we got our dragons trained to watch our homes, they caught on quickly and crimes dropped significantly.
The neighbors who didn't participate became more than a bit nervous. One day, a grievance committee came knocking at my door.
"Hi, Angie, Bill, Carol, Duane, Sue..." I couldn't remember the rest of their names. "This is a surprise. What's going on?"
Sue, as usual, spoke up. "You know very well why we're here, Jack. You have to get rid of those dragons. They’re pests and nuisances. And they keep us up all night fretting about what they might do."
"Now wait a minute. Aren't burglaries nonexistent anymore? You folks who aren't participating in the program are reaping the benefits without footing the bill."
"At what cost, Jack?"
"No cost for you."
"What about frayed nerves and sleepless nights?"
I groaned. Marsha joined in the debate and we almost came to blows. Finally I had to ask them to leave.
We had no further confrontations. No authorities came calling on us. I assumed they had simply given up.
Until the day the ogres showed up at some of our neighbors' homes.
I immediately had a bad feeling about this. I visited John and Sue Alderman, but they refused to talk to me. I did some Internet research on the compatibility of ogres and dragons, but I couldn't find anything. Ogres lived north of the city while dragons lived in the south, so they were not known to interact.
I slept uneasily the first night of their co-existence. I heard many unidentifiable sounds during the night. Eventually I slept. And awoke to blaring fire alarms.
I jumped out of bed. The Crumwells’ house was on fire. I saw lots of smoke and flames and their dragon circling overhead. I quickly threw on some clothes and hurried down the block. My wife followed in a nightgown and robe.
It was total mayhem. The Crumwells were pacing in their front yard. The Aldermans were nearby with their ogre, who was chewing on something I couldn't identify. The firefighters were setting up.
I ran over to Jeff Crumwell and shook him . "What happened?"
He pointed shakily at the Aldermans. "Their damn ogre..."
John and Sue came over. Sue said, "Their dragon attacked our ogre."
"Your ogre was trespassing."
"He was chasing an intruder. You were being a good boy, weren't you?" she said to the ogre.
I managed to piece together the story. Apparently, when the ogre chased the intruder onto the Crumwells’ property, the dragon fried the intruder. Then the dragon turned its attention to the ogre. When the dragon spat fire, the ogre grabbed a scarecrow from their Halloween display to block the flames. The scarecrow caught fire. The ogre tossed it aside and left the premises. Unfortunately, the flames from the burning scarecrow spread to the garage and then to the house.
More of our neighbors showed up, some with ogres, others with dragons. The arguments escalated. The dragons became more agitated and all began circling the burning house. The ogres began pitching large objects at the dragons. Burning lawn chairs, tricycles, and lawn decorations pelted various houses in the neighborhood. Including ours.
Widespread panic followed. The night went downhill from there.
Later, we settled into our cots at the homeless shelter with several other families. We had all pretty much calmed down by then. What else could be said?
After a moment of reflection, I sat up in my cot and said, "I have an idea."
Everyone took turns slugging me.