The hoxton street monster shop? I had never seen it before. “Well, I definitely have a ‘monster’ on my hands.” I thought, and pushed open the door.
It was quiet inside, with rows and rows of tins and jars lining the walls. “Can I help you?” a deep voice asked.
“Got anything for dragons?” I replied.
“We stock the finest pureed organs, beneficial to a range of monsters, including elderly dragons.” The voice belonged to a tiny man sitting on a tall stool.
“That wont work.” I said. “ I’m looking for something for a young
He nodded. “Not much experience with dragons?” He asked sympathetically.
“I have just the person for you.” He said, and started rummaging in the desk, finally pulling out a faded yellow business card.
He handed it to me. “Tell him Pincy sent you.”
“Thank you”, I said and with that I left the little man in his odd shop.
The name on the card was “William Berny, field printer.” The address was nearby. My dragons antics that night – setting fire to my pillow, pulling books from shelves and then not letting me touch him after I had stuffed him under my bed to hide him from my parents – convinced me to see Mr Berny in the morning.
True to my intent, I found myself, card in hand, staring at the battered sign marked, “printers” hanging over a battered brick building. When I entered I found myself completely alone in an empty room. Unwilling to give up, I found my way to the door marked on the card – number 13F, I opened it, I saw dark a figure huddled behind a desk. It was dark, so I couldn’t see his face. It leaned forward.
“Why are you here?” He asked in a hoarse, old voice.
“Mr Berny? Pincy told me to come to you about my dragon?” I said, confused.
He laughed. ‘I see. Close the door.” He said as he flipped on a small lamp.
I sat. “About this dragon?” I explained how my dragon was maniacally active, refusing to sit still, and how it was becoming to explain the terrible smell and the burns to my curtains. For all I knew this could be normal dragon behaviour – I just couldn’t handle it.
“Fire breathing already eh?” He said. “Where did you get this dragon?”
“A market in Pretoria, South Africa. I thought the egg was a stone – it was only thirty rand.”
“Thirty rand! When was this?”
“Four months ago.”
“Ah, thats when the inspectors do Southern Africa.” He did not explain this but fell silent, gazing at me.
“So will you help me?” I asked. “Oh yes. It will be good to be back in the
game. Meet me at the Hoxton Monster Shop and bring your dragon. All right?”
“Then good bye Miss.”
“Thank you!” I called over my shoulder as I shut the door.
When saturday came I managed to squeeze Jagon under my coat. I arrived at the shop and Pink greeted me with a smile. Mr Berny however, was hiding his face under an old hat. Silently he led me into the back and up several flights of stairs; emerging onto the roof. Jagon squirmed as I unbuttoned my coat. He scurried around as Mr Berny faced me.
“Well I’m convinced.” He proclaimed. “I didn’t know what to make of you, quiet little girl. What’s his name?” He added as Jagon stood in front of me and bared his teeth to Mr Berny.
“Jagon, right.” And Mr Berny knelt down on the concrete. To my surprise, Jagon scurried over to him and allowed himself to be picked up. “Hmmm.” Mr Berny looked right into Jagon’s yellow eyes, touched the ridges that ran along his back, and finally completed his examination by feeling the tiny points that poke through Jagon’s pink gums. “Healthy.” He commented, then spread out Jagon’s translucent wings. Jagon’s eyes widened as Mr Berny flexed his wing muscles. When Bill put him down he scurried to me. I picked him up. “And imprinted too. You have a real docile dragon there.” He gazed at Jagon. I had a chance to examine him in the daylight. Bill had a burn on his face and his hands and arms were heavily scarred. His eyes were bright blue, and his age was only shown in his white hair. “Well! The good news is I know what is wrong with Jagon. The bad news is I don’t know exactly how to fix it. But I think we can find out.” The age had fallen from his voice.
“What’s wrong with Jagon?”
“He hasn’t been taught to fly.” He said simply.
I frowned, “thats why he’s acting this way?”
Bill nodded. “And the smell is because he isn’t active enough.”
“So can you teach him how to fly Mr Berny?”
“Jagon is a very rare dragon – I have never worked with his kind before. I thought they were extinct. Oh you can call me Bill.”
My eyes widened. “I have an extinct dragon that can’t fly?!”
Bill chuckled. “Not quite. You saw what I was doing with his wings? Do that, and massage his wiry muscles for twenty minutes every morning and night. That will get him used to moving his wings.”
He tipped his hat. “I’ll meet you here, same time on Tuesday.”
The next few weeks were busy. I spent forty minutes massaging Jagon every day. Every three days I met Bill; and we would do racing, climbing even playing catch with Jagon as the ball, all to teach him to fly. Through my time with Bill and my conversations with Pinty, I learned more about Bill and the world of dragon dealing. Bill was an expert in the field of dragons, hunting wild eggs, training grown dragons etc, now retired. Pinty, his old friend, hoped the project with Jagon would be good for Bill. I was inclined to think it was, when I saw how excited Bill looked two weeks after our first meeting. He had told me to meet him on top of a tall building. He was holding something giant and purple.
“What’s that Bill?” I asked as Jagon ran eagerly to Bill who stroked him before answering.
“It’s a kite.”
A huge kite shaped like a dragon. Genius. I held the kite as he held the reel. At his signal I threw it off the building. It caught the wind and sailed. While Bill skillfully flew the kite, Jargon stood on the ledge above the city, his eyes fixed on the kite, he was breathing small jets of
Bill moved up to him and said, “Sometimes you have to soar before you flap,” and pushed Jagon off the edge of the building.
I screamed and watched helplessly as he plummeted down. Suddenly Jagon loosened his wings and flapping frantically, stopped his downward hurdle, crazily zigging back and forth – gradually gaining altitude.
“Fly Jagon, Fly!” I cried. He gained the top of the building, scrabbling up the edge and into my arms. “You flew!”
“More or less.” Bill commented.
I turned to face him. “Jagon almost died!”
“But he didn’t and he wont.” He began to reel in his kite. “The challenge now will be getting him to take off. His instincts took over. Now he must learn to fly voluntarily.”
I stuffed Jagon down my coat. “Then I will wait for Tuesday. Thank you for your time Mr Berny.”
He watched me leave with an amused expression. I was still a bit mad at him for the scare he had given me.
That feeling quickly evaporated over the next two weeks. Nothing we did would induce Jagon to fly. The exercises tired him out, so the smell stopped. He was calmer and more affectionate. But now I desperately wanted him to enter his full identity as a dragon and fly.
But it wasn’t happening, Bill and I after a long morning of unsuccessful work, would sit with our backs to the ledge and eat our lunch; chatting as Jagon napped between us.
We had met five times since the kite and Jagon still hadn’t flown by himself when Bill said, “Let’s take a break. I’ll be here at three next week. You deserve a holiday.” He sounded weary.
I tried to be cheerful in my response. “Okay. Thanks for all this Bill.”
The next few days I spent a lot of time with Jagon. I just didn’t understand his block. One day my dad was out and my mom was on the phone. “Come on Jagon, let’s go look at the moon.” He perched on my shoulder as I went to my parents empty room. There were big double doors in the wall and once I opened them there was nothing but a railing separating me from the spreading city. I leaned against it, Jagon beside me as we watched the rising moon. It stood out, pure white against the soft blue sky. “Oh Jagon, I so want you to fly!” I murmured. Jagon gave a low cry and took off straight for the rising moon.
It took a few moments to sink in.
Dancing up and down in triumph I yelled, “Fly Jagon, fly!” Jagon swooped back to the railing, gave me a smug look and dove back into the air. We had succeeded. I did a twirl of pure elation, it was then I saw my mom in the door way, mouth open, her eyes just turning from the flitting figure out the window to me. “Oh.” I said. “Mom, I have something to tell you…”
Isabel Crawley loves writing and travelling, having indulged in both from a young age. She has gone places as distant as Hong Kong and South Africa and has written things as diverse as poetry, novels and articles.