Once upon a time, on a planet far, far away, deep within the scariest corners of the so called author’s teeny weeny mind, there was an amazing country called Dementia. Within the borders of Dementia were great forests and roaring streams, lumpy bumpy mountains and mosquitoes the size of American banking corporate executives’ Swiss bank accounts! It was a lot like Minnesota but with some Colorado squeezed in, and over there some little islands like the Orkneys and a kinda flat part cowering under a giant wall of water like Holland and a touch of arid space suitable for Koalas, just like Oz! There’s more, but you have to use your own imagination for the rest and I swear, it’ll be there just like you thought!
Ruling this fair land was a prince among kings, a man known to be tough but fair, even if quite hopelessly neurotic much of the time. King Erik the Melancholy was his name, and this particular morning the king was in a snit. He had risen early, eaten a lovely breakfast of ostrich eggs and milquetoast, and padded off to the room of the Royal Witchdoctor Princess Stephanie for his weekly therapy session, only to find she was missing!
“Guards!” he shouted as he did whenever he was in a snit, or when he couldn’t find the remote for his television, or the wireless controller for his Playstation 2; “Come quickly! The Princess has vanished and I’m feeling moribund!” His guards ran to his side, in spite of the fact they had no idea what in the world moribund could be.
“Your Highness!” shouted the one most likely to shout as the other was meek and not suited to be a guard but was in fact a brother in law to the sister of the Royal Pantywaist and as all the Pantywaist jobs were filled he was corruptly placed in the first open government position, which had opened by the by when the old guard had absorbed the King’s melancholy through his close proximity to his lord and had become so morose he’d jumped off a cliff; “The Princess did by no means vanish! She was taken! That is to say, she, and we, were tricked into believing her daughter Carson the Fine had come to accompany her mother to the Royal Mall where they had planned to shop for shoes, when suddenly what appeared to be her daughter morphed into the fire breathing dragon Teenage Beeyatch! The dragon then snatched up our fair lass and carried her off to Albert knows where!”
“Who’s Albert” said the king, moderately disconcerted; but before the guard could answer Erik waggled his finger at the sky and cried out. “This shall not stand! No Beeyatch is going to harm my Princess! Call for Bragi at once!!!”
Riders were immediately dispatched hither and thither in search of the Great Curmudgeon, which was a shame for the riders as Bragi was in the castle in his own room having a bath which he did so seldom no one had thought to search there first.
After quickly drying, dressing, making a lovely ham sandwich and partaking in a few moments of Oprah which he was loath to miss since she had Neil Diamond as a guest, Bragi lumbered into the Royal Brunch chambers where Erik was waiting impatiently while munching on a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
“Who’s Albert!” the king asked upon his arrival, but quickly changed his tune and instead rattled off the entire story of the shrinknapping. “What are you going to do about this!” he added; “You know how sad I am when I have no one to pat me on the head!”
Bragi simply nodded. He knew that sadness, and there was no chance that he’d allow himself to become the Royal shoulder. He must find the Princess. “I shall take care of this m’lord” he said with a bow and flourish; “I shall slay the dragon and recover your mind caretaker forthwith.”
The old coot, King’s Bard Bragi Stringbreaker mounted his white mare Hansa, called his wardog Oghram and set off for the Dragon Mountains.
“I beckon thee frumpy Beeyatch!” Bragi stood at the mouth of a giant cave from which one could smell the distinct odor of rotten eggs, inefficiently masked by an inexpensive pine scented mouthwash.
“Who’s there!” The dragon was playing hard to get, or coy; Bragi couldn’t be sure.
“’Tis the King’s Bard and Dragon Slayer Bragi Stringbreaker, come to steal back the Royal Hoity-toit over your dead body if need be!” Bragi hoped the hoity-toit reference would confuse the beast. Using large or unusual words always worked on humans, and while they hung their tongues from their mouths trying to think of the meaning to what he’d said he could whap them on the head before they’d even known what was happening. Head whapping would be the preferred method of dragon deafeating, as it’s far less messy then chest boring or tail slicing-offing.
The dragon Teenage Beeyatch slowly moved from the mouth of the cave and sat on her haunches whilst she scratched her pointy head.
“Hoity-toity , an adjective meaning haughty. Its origin deriving from frolicsome, or flighty: from the obsolete hoit, or, to indulge in riotous mirth” she said through an enormously toothy smile; “Nice try buster.”
Bragi was disappointed, but unmoved.
“What is it you want dragon. Surely you don’t have self esteem issues.”
The draggy put one hand under her opposite elbow, raised the loose hand to her chin and scratched slowly. “Hmmm” she said; “I know! Sing me a song and I’ll let her go!”
This, Bragi knew, was too easy. But he decided to try it as he had no better idea at that moment. Hopefully the monster wasn’t a fan of Mariah Carey as Bragi was far too old to do vocal gymnastics.
“Alright then dragon, we have a deal. What song would you like me to sing?”
“Guess” said Beeyatch.
Bragi was annoyed. A cur is pretty much always annoyed, but this was a special annoyancing.
“What?” he shouted. “There is a witchdoctor’s life hanging in the balance and you want me to play guessing games?”
“What’s your point” said Beeyatch. She began to bounce on her hinder, clapped her little hands together and chanted “guess, guess, guess...”
“Mary had a little lamb!” Bragi spewed the words, his eyeballs bulging, his blood pressure meds quivering in his shirt pocket.
“All the girls I’ve ever loved before!”
“Behold the Lord High Executioner from the Mikado!”
“When the Red Red Robin goes Bob Bob Bobbin along!”
“That’s enough” Bragi screamed. “Tell me or die!”
“Ooo, you’re so close! What kind of monster am I?”
“What kind of dragon?”
“A fire breathing dragon!”
“And what’s this cave built into?”
Bragi nearly exploded. He was so angry, yet, it was so simple. He pulled his fiddle from his saddlebags and began to play Fire on the Mountain. Beeyatch jumped to her feet and stomped a path around the bard, clapping and singing along, and now and then even spewed a little flame. When the song was finished, she sat back down and crossed her arms.
“The girl” Bragi demanded.”
“Aw come on”, Beeyatch pleaded, “just one more!”
It was getting to be late in the day. Surely it couldn’t go on forever.
“Name it” Bragi spat.
“Ring of Fire” the dragon squealed.
Of course the bard might have known the dragon would want one more, and then another and another.
He played Light my Fire, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, Great Balls of Fire, The Berceuse and Finale from The Firebird Suite and Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire before twilight finally descended and he thought himself finished. The bard was just packing away his instruments when he noted the dragon holding a small flame in her right hand and lifting it over her head, the universal sign for “encore”.
Exhausted but unwilling to give in, Bragi asked for the final title.
“Take This Job and Shove It” Beeyatch said.
“That’s not a fire song” Bragi protested.
“It’s about a guy getting fired” she explained.
“No it’s not! It’s about a guy that quits!”
“No it’s….” Bragi hesitated. It DID seem apropos in spite of not making sense. So he played it, putting special emphasis on the “shove it” parts.
When he’d finished he scolded “Now that’s it Beeyatch! Bring me the Princess right this minute or I open you up like an Iphone!”
“Ok, alright, don’t get testy” she said. “Here’s your stupid human chick. Take her and go!”
Bragi smiled and waved at the beautiful princess as she stepped from the cave and into the valley. She had just enough time to wave back… before a great winged beast swooped down and snatched her from the earth and flew away.
“What the hell” Bragi shouted.
“Looked like Oogityboogity to me” Beeyatch offered; “My sister the frigid dragon!”
“Well aint that just great” Bragi said to no one in particular; “a frigid beeyatch! Like I have seen enough of those to last a lifetime! I’m takin a nap first” he added, before he lie down next to Oghram and snored his way into unconsciousness.