Marco was just not behaving. It’s not really as if the youngun’ ever listened to anything he was told, but today was simply a special day in the life of Marco the impish green-blue-dragon. Today he decided to play a prank on his neighbor, Mr. Fussbudget.
Of course, Marcos was in particular poor stead with the neighborhood cranky old goat. Who of course, was an old goat. It wasn’t simply because he would do the things that boys would do during their days of summer, fall, winter and spring. Now come to think of it, Marcos generally did all those things that boys are famous for, and it simply annoyed Mr. Fussbudget to no end.
Now that wasn’t the neighbors real name. No. It was simply the name that everyone in the neighborhood called him, because no one, and I mean no one, was allowed to walk on his lawn, never mind ride their bikes, smell a flower or walk their dog anywhere near that very special green-blue grass and all those highfaluting flower beds of his. You would get more than a scolding, sometimes he actually ran after you with a broom, and then of course, your parents got that dreaded phone call.
It wasn’t that most parents cared really. It was more the idea that parents, being parents, were annoyed that we would purposefully upset an old goat that we knew was easily bothered. So for being particularly unaware one day, Marcos lost his favorite video game for a week, because the old goat complained to his parents about Marcos hiccuping on his prize petunias.
It’s not like Marcos wanted the hiccups.
It’s not like he could control the hiccup fire either.
Fire was simply something that happened. Marcos was working on controlling his outbursts, but it was just so hard to concentrate on keeping the fire in, when it was so much fun listening for the hiccup and then guessing how long it would be in between eruptions. Marcos and his friends would discuss the size of the fire, the color of the fire and of course how long it would last and would there be more funny noise along the way. All while rolling happily on the ground laughing their little scales off.
You would think that Fussbudget was never a boy…Marcos would say to himself. At one point, Marcos actually believed that the old goat actually was born fully grown and in a bad temper. He knew there was a reason that Mr. Fussbudget had no friends. Who would be friends with such a grump?
Unfortunately, because Marcos never really thought through most things, he woke up today of all days, deciding it was time to make Mr. Fussbudget mad. He was going to make the old goat pay for his video gameless week.
So off Marcos went to play the bestest ever practical joke on that mean old goat.
He crept around the corner of Mr. Fussbudget’s house and snuck into the back yard. There were his prized tulips. “If he tried really hard to hiccup,” Marcos thought to himself,” he could burn some more of Fussbudget’s flowers.” Then lets see what Mr. Fussbudget would do when he couldn’t figure out who was responsible. It’s not like Marcos was the only adolescent dragon in the neighborhood. “Ha,” Marcos laughed.
But then the old goat came outside with a pail, shovel and some gardening gloves. He also carried a picture of a very pretty young woman with him. He placed the picture next to the burnt flowers and started digging in the dirt trying to fix what Marcos had done.
“Don’t worry my dear,” the old goat was talking to the picture,” I’ll have your prized flowers back to normal in no time. That foolish boy just didn’t know how much these petunias meant to you and how important that makes them to me.”
Marcos just sat there behind a tree and kept watching as Mr Fussbudget worked the soil, trying to save the flowers. But nothing he did could bring the flowers back to life. This seemed to completely upset the old goat. His shoulders drooped and his head turned to the side. Marcos thought he saw a tear.
Now it didn’t take long for the old goat to notice Marcos. It wasn’t that Marcos could hide and be quiet for very long. He turned, Marcos expected him to yell at him, but instead the old goat just looked at Marcos and sighed.
“Do you even care what you did here, youngman?” he asked.
Marcos couldn’t believe Mr.Fussbudget was talking to him. He couldn’t move. He was terrified.
“Come out from behind that tree boy. Answer my question.”
Marcos moved slowly around from the back of the tree. Terrified, Marcos was half expecting Mr. Fussbudget to dig a hole and put him right in it and cover him up with dirt.
“Well boy. Answer.”
“I didn’t mean too, Mr. Fussbud..erh..Mr. Flowers,” Marcos answered.”I just can’t control the fire when I hiccup. It just happens. I do try. But it’s so hard.”
“Yes, I suppose it is, isn’t it. Hmmm…But tell me boy, do you know why I got so mad about the flowers?”
“No.But I heard you talking to that picture.”
Picking up the picture, Mr. Flowers began to explain,”this is a picture of my wife. She loved these flowers. The entire garden was her greatest joy. She worked on it day and night. She loved making things grow. It’s why I get so upset when you boys have no respect for anything around here that grows. It’s my fondest memory of her.”
“Memory?” asked Marcos.
“She died several years ago and I miss her terribly. By keeping her garden growing, it’s as if she is still with me,” he explained.
Suddenly Marcos, felt very bad and wanted to take back all the mean things that he had ever thought about Mr. Fussbud..errh Mr. Flowers. He had no idea that the garden meant so much to him and that there was such a special meaning attached to all the growing things.
“My parents took away my video game for a week because I burnt the flowers,” he told.
“Well I am sorry about that. But maybe it will do you some good. How would you like to come here and help me try to restore the flowers? Maybe we can talk to your parents about it and perhaps earn your video game back before the week is out?”
“I would like that very much,” Marcos answered. “I am not very good with gardening, but you can teach me some things and maybe I can make it up to you and your wife.”
“Then we can also work on controlling those fire hiccups too. I may be an old goat, but I have known a few dragons in my time and some have even taught me a thing or two about fire hiccups. In fact, what I know is better than some of those new fangled theories they try to teach you kids nowadays” Mr. Flowers smiled a huge smile. Marcos had never seen the old goat smile before, never mind one so big and broad.
“Oh geez,” Marcos answered,” Could you? Would you? My parents are outta ideas for teaching me to control the hiccup fire. I bet if it’s not something new and improved they just haven’t tried it on me yet.” Marcos said with a laugh.
“Well I will call your parents and maybe you can come back here tomorrow. I may even have some lemonade on hand.”
“That would be great!” Marcos exclaimed.” I’m going to run home and tell them now. See you tomorrow Mr. Flowers. This is going to be great.” Marcos waved at the old goat as he left the backyard garden.
Mr. Flowers, aka Mr. Fussbudget, looked down at the picture of his wife and smiled. “I knew you were trying to tell me something my dear,” he said to the photo, “to be kind and understanding with that boy was something I should have remembered was in your nature and what you would have expected of me.”
Marcos, the impish dragon, who had planned on getting even with the fussy neighbor for getting him in trouble learned some valuable lessons that day… There are reasons that people may seem angry and hurt all the time and it has nothing to do with you… A little understanding and compassion can turn a bad situation into something positive…That even an old goat can help you control your fire hiccups.