Shadow of a Dragon (DEATH IS THE SANCTION….)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 09, 2017

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Submitted: June 09, 2017

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The dissonant squawking of sea gulls fighting for food drowns out his mother’s voice emanating from his cellular phone. Mark knows she wants to meet him here today at Spanish Banks, yet isn’t really sure why. He’s sitting on a log on the beach. The air is pleasantly cool on this early June morning. Mark inhales the ocean breeze, feels his lungs expand, and heaves a melancholy sigh. He remembers how his dad used to take him here on Sundays . . . Once his dad left him alone for a few minutes. Mark felt a strange mix of curiosity and fear when two dogs started fighting in front of him. He imagined that the dogs were callow, unfledged dragons battling to the death. He wasn’t able to sustain this fantasy when he witnessed the dogs’ owners berating each other and shouting curse words and epithets. Mark felt nervous, a drop of sweat formed over his left eyebrow, and he was worried that his dad wouldn’t come back.  He decided to run away from the log and the crazy dogs and people and wanted to cry tears of joy when he saw his dad walking towards him. His dad lifted him up in the air and Mark felt as if he could touch the sky like the cloud-white ceiling at home.

 

His mother’s voice interrupts his nostalgic reverie: “Mark, I’m sorry I’m late.” She smiles, sits down on the log, and before setting her turquoise hobo bag down on the sand, she takes out a menthol cigarette and lights it hastily, inhaling the cool smoke into her lungs. A diaphonous grey-white plume of smoke flies out of her mouth like a chimerical dragon-ghost. “I know I wasn’t the best mother I could’ve been, Mark; just, please, don’t ever scare me like that again.”

 

Mark is taken aback by the naked emotion in her voice. He doesn’t want to think about his overdose, the anniversary of his father’s death, the psych ward. “I just wanted to be with him again.”

 

“I know how much you loved him . . . how much you still do . . . You know, since he died, I’ve never fallen in love again . . . He’s dead, and we’re forced to go on living without him . . . Your suicide attempt made me realize I have to tell you the truth. It’s now—”

 

“It wasn’t— What truth?” Mark frowns while searching for a joint in one of the many compartments of his backpack.

 

“You don’t remember, do you?”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Mark has found the joint and proceeds to light it with a pale blue lighter.

 

“Do you remember how he died?”

 

“Yeah, you told me he was murdered by some bum who sought retaliation because his nephew was killed by Hells Angels.”

 

“That’s not how it happened.” She crushes the cigarette stub in the sand, then clumsily reaches for her bag, yet thinks better of it, remarking, “I really should quit . . .”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“We all lied to protect you from the truth . . . He wasn’t murdered . . . He killed himself.”

 

“ . . .”

 

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sure this must be difficult to process. You must have repressed the memory . . . You found his dead body on the bathroom floor.”

 

“How did he die?”

 

“A gun shot wound to the heart.”

 

Mark wants to shield his face with his hands. The soporific inferno of the sun is too bright, and not even the joint he took a drag from can provide respite from the unwanted revelations his mother has burdened him with. He knows the marijuana is further enervating him, alienating him from the world, but he doesn’t care. He sees a father and his wife and children and happy couples and families and feels nothing, except maybe some bittersweet pain and resentment for their being allowed to enjoy what he has always felt deprived of.

 

“I’m so sorry I lied to you.” Mark says nothing, just stares off into the distance, at the ocean, the buildings, mountains, clouds, anything. “Please don’t shut me out,” she says.

 

“For all I know, you’re lying now too. Maybe he’s still alive.”

 

“I wish he was. He died, and you were the first to find out. If only I knew how much that would scar you.”

 

Mark tries with all his might to remember discovering his father’s dead body, yet all he sees is bright orange-red behind his eyelids. “Why? Why did he kill himself?” He opens his eyes only to be blinded by the sun again.

 

“You know we were both gambling addicts at the time. He’d lost more than I thought; he was in debt. Do you remember one of the last times we left you waiting outside a casino when you were five-years-old? You were warning people not to enter, that they would lose their souls and all of their money. You were wise beyond your years . . . I don’t want you to destroy yourself like your father did. He became an empty shell of a man because of his addictions.”

 

“Don’t worry about me; I know the truth now.” Mark smiles wryly and stands up.

 

“Where are you going?”

 

“I have a band meeting.”

 

“Your father would be so proud to see the talented and hard-working man you’ve become.” Mark says nothing as he buries the toe cap of his shoe into the sand. “Don’t kill yourself . . . like the man who loved you. My father always had a weakness for the bottle. And then it developed into a bad habit he couldn’t get enough of. Why should everyone in our family perpetuate these cycles of addiction and madness?”

 

“I won’t . . .  Like I said, I know the truth now.”

 

“And please don’t go see a shrink. She wouldn’t understand. It would only make things worse to open up old wounds.”

 

“Goodbye.” As he walks away from his mother, Mark is overwhelmed by the oppressive desire for a stronger high—pretty much anything to distract him from these disturbing revelations about his father. It hurts to believe this could be the truth. If only I could’ve saved him, stopped him somehow.

 

Mark takes a bus and texts his drug dealer. He feels somewhat anxious; his heart rate has increased under the influence of the marijuana. Mark texts, “I would like to see the golden dragon today.”

 

The dealer texts back, “Ya sure. Meet me at English Bay in half an hour.”

 

Mark knows that half an hour usually means two to three hours, so he goes to his band meeting first. (He plays guitar in a punk-rock band called Desiderium.) He is slightly annoyed with the lead singer and tired of the songs they’ve been playing, yet conceals these sentiments behind the charming, polite mask he wears to face the world. The marijuana surely doesn’t hurt.

 

When Mark gets to English Bay the sun is setting: an uncanny yellow-orange-red glow suffuses the almost crepuscular horizon. He ignores the stench of urine inside the washroom. His dealer is there and hands him the blotter in exchange for cash. Mark takes the LSD inside the washroom and they both walk outside together.They sit down at an empty bench. Mark is still waiting for the drug to take effect. “So is there anything different this time?”

 

“The trip should last longer.”

 

“As long as I learn something new, I’m happy.”

 

“Don’t ask for so much.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“You’re hoping for some sublime insight, some epiphany, to lift you up, to make you feel more connected to the world around you . . .”

 

Mark and the dealer hear the loud, anxious barking of a German shepherd, and they watch as it attacks a Golden Labrador. A sparkling turquoise sapphire dragon exhales a plume of radiant orange fire. The serpentine golden dragon valiantly defends itself and breathes a jet of luminous jade.

 

“Help us. Get your dog away! . . . You shouldn’t let your dog off leash if he’s so violent.”

 

“Fuck you! . . .”

 

The scene unfolds and tapers off—a mundane skirmish.

 

“Some people in this town are really angry,” the dealer observes. This is the first time he’s decided to spend some additional time to get to know Mark better.

 

“I’m not. I do have a talent for pissing people off, though.”

 

“Never would’ve guessed, dude . . . So where were your parents from?” the dealer inquires.

 

 “My parents were from Ontario. My father was born and raised in Toronto.”

 

“My parents grew up in Manitoba.”

 

Mark stretches his arms and legs, then sits back down. “You know the way I see it, we’re both two normal, hard-working white guys in a land that’s become increasingly hostile to our kind. We can’t let the foreigners take over; they hate us more than we hate them. I say we should never let them have the upper hand. What do you think?”

 

“Totally, man. Our days are numbered . . . I’m not sure if I see the point in fighting it, though . . . Yet I get angry when I think about how my ex-girlfriend left me for some Muslim lawyer—”

 

Mark is happy to see his beliefs mirrored by the man who supplies him with drugs. He begins to lose himself in this converation at the expense of the goal that prompted him to take LSD in the first place. “I always stick to the rules: Never date Asians, Sand People, and Eastern Europeans. I’ve never broken that rule once.  I’m not sure why women can’t do the same. Maybe something went wrong with their upbringing—they were raised without rules, without manners, without strong father-figures, I don’t know . . . Luckily some of them do follow the rules.”

 

“What do you think about enforcing the rules?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“You know, taking the law into our own hands. So if our girlfriends, our sisters, whoever, decide to get fucked by these sand people, for lack of a better term, we will kill them.”

 

“Sounds kind of extreme, don’t you think?”

 

“No, no, I don’t think so. September 11th changed everything. Many people thought George W. Bush was a joke, but what happened was no laughing matter. When he said that you’re either with us or against us, that really resonated with me. I mean, there are people out there—traitors, that’s what I call them—who think that the terrorists are the victims. Can you imagine? Look over there. That kid looks like a Muslim to me. Let’s attack him—two to one—what do you say?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 


© Copyright 2017 Saul Przybyszewski. All rights reserved.