Tag Archives: fairy tales

Halloweenies

I know it’s now the 4th of November and Halloween is old news but I couldn’t let the season go by without at least a little post of my activities. On actual Halloween Mr Osbiston and I decorated some pumpkin cookies… although worryingly his looks a little bit too much like a certain dictator…

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On Friday, Jen had a Halloween house party. I was a zombie, Mr Osbiston was a steam punk Lestat and we had visits from The Invisible Man, an alien and Chucky…

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Our final Halloween activity was a party at Tracy’s house with a twisted fairy tales theme. This time I was Evil Riding Hood and Paul was the wolf in granny’s sexy lingerie. Jen came as Gretel, witch hunter and we had another murderous Gretel along with her Hansel and the Queen of Hearts. As per usual, my make-up scared the shit out of several people en route…

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Edgar The Dragon Slayer – part 10

“Your hair?” asks Rilor. “That’s ridiculous. Who would want your hair?”

“Rilor,” says the fairy. “I zink you forget ‘oo is in charge ‘ere, no? Eet ees me ‘oo makes ze decisions about ze forfeits and I weel take ze ‘air. Afterall eet ees Lenny’s romance wiz ‘is ‘air zat ‘as caused zis ‘ole situation. One day you weel all learn not to see zings at face value. Lenny’s ‘air ‘as more value zan any of your treasure because of what it represents to ‘im!”

With that she snaps her fingers and my father is rendered instantly bald. He looks very strange, almost naked with his pink scalp exposed like that. He pats his head absent-mindedly, dazed. My mother jumps up from the tree she has been leaning against and runs to him, taking him in her arms. They embrace, lost in their own little world. They are my parents and I love them.  My dad shows no sign of rejoining the game and from the death grip my mother has on him, I don’t imagine he’ll be moving anytime soon.

“Lenny ees out of ze game,” says the fairy. “’Ee is unable to continue. Play on!”

It’s just me and the two dragons. I feel sick. Every sip of absinth is a struggle to keep down but when I look over at Elle and my parents, their eyes will me to go on. I can’t give up.

In the middle of the next round Rilor suddenly stops dead and stares into space.
“Wotsh goin’ on guv’nor?” slurs Aslef.
“Can’t you see it?” asks Rilor.
“Shee wot?” says Aslef.
“The mountain of treasure floating in the sky. I need to fly up and get it.
I try to say that there’s nothing there but my tongue won’t work.
The fairy giggles. “Zat is ze wormwood working. Rilor, you are done. You know ze ‘allucinations are not allowed!”
Rilor appears to have lost interest in the game anyway and is making attempts to take off in the direction of his imaginary treasure.

“Looksh like it’sh jusht ush, mate,” says Aslef. “You can alwaysh conshede y’know!”
“Never!” I battle out. “An’ live my life in shervitude to you? I’d rather die of alc’ol poisnin!”

Another shot in, I wonder if I have fallen victim to wormwood as well. I can see my dad’s hair floating in front of my face in a green haze.
“You can’t give up now,” says the hair. It sounds like a million little voices, as if every individual hair were speaking at once.
“What?” I say.
“Shh,” says the hair. “You’ll get done for the woodworm. We’ve come too far to give up now. Aslef only has one round left in him. Do it for us!”
“’Oo are you talkin’ to?” slurs Aslef.
“No one,” I say. “Jusht drin’ your drin’ m’kay?”
Aslef knocks back his absinth, blinks and falls flat on his face, out cold.

I’ve won.

I’ve won! I decide to go with the urge to climb on Aslef’s back and I stand with my fist raised in the air.
“I am Edgar!” I shout. “Edgar, the dragon slayer!”
That is the last thing I remember.

When I wake up I am somewhere dark and slightly damp smelling. I’m lying on something soft and Elle is sitting next to me holing a cold, damp cloth against my forehead. I quickly become aware of a sensation like my brain is trying to climb out of my head via my eyeballs. It feels like a badger with poor personal hygiene has slept in my mouth.

“You’re awake!” squeals Elle.
“Please, no loud noises,” I croak. “Can I have some water?”
She hands me a wooden cup.
“How long have I been out?”
“Three days.”
“Three days! Where are we?”
“Inside a tree,” says Elle. “The dragons don’t exactly have guest accommodation for humans. I need to tell Rilor you’re awake. And your parents.”

Before Elle can make a move, my mother bursts through the door dragging my bald father by the arm. She flings herself on top of me and smothers me in kisses.
“You’re alive!”
“Yes, mum. I’m alive.”
“Your father,” she says, looking at him lovingly. “Has no hangover. Imagine that!”
“That’s because dad’s bloodstream is already about 90% absinth,” I say. “He was just topping up.”
“How did you do it in the end?” asks Elle.
“Good drinking genes,” says my dad.
“Well that,” I say. “And dad’s hair talked me through it.”
“You see,” says my dad. “I told you all my ideas came from my hair!”
“Sure honey,” says my mum. “I think Edgar needs some more sleep.”

Elle tells me the trolls have already returned to London Bridge as they were unhappy leaving it unguarded for too long. It appears they don’t feel much worse for the outcome of the contest since they never made any use of the book in five hundred years anyway. Also, Elle says, Steen fancies my mum so much, he’d forgive her anything.
When I meet Rilor in his personal treasure cave, I have no idea what to expect.  He is sitting on a giant pile of gold with Aslef chained to the floor next to him.

“Well, human,” he says. “I appear to have underestimated you. You have triumphed. When you are fully recovered you may take your family and return to your lives. All contracts between your father and Aslef are void and you owe nothing to the dragons.”
“Thank-you,” I say. “What’s going to happen to Aslef?”
Rilor shrugs. “As victor in the contest, I suppose his fate is yours to decide.”

I look over at Aslef and it’s easy to imagine letting the dragons do what they want with him after the amount of lying, cheating and stealing he’s done. But I feel different since I met Aslef. The adventure he has taken me on has changed me forever. I’ve come to accept my family exactly the way they are and love them for their uniqueness and more than anything I’ve come to accept that who they are will always be part of me and denying who I am has caused me nothing but heartache.

“I think he should stay here with you,” I say.  “As long as he never gambles again.”
“Really?” asks Aslef.
“Then it is so,” says Rilor. “There is one other matter to resolve though.”
Oh god, what now…
“You have returned our book to us. The deed must be rewarded. You must visit my personal treasure store and pick an item to exchange for the book.”
I know exactly what I want and it’s not hard to find. There are hundreds of rings sticking out of the mountain of gold in Rilor’s care.
“Will you?” I ask Elle.
“Of course I will,” she says. “You’re Edgar, the dragon slayer aren’t you? Who am I to say no?”

THE END


Author’s note:
it’s a fairytale, right? Probably the world’s weirdest fairytale but a fairytale nonetheless, so I suppose you want to know what happened to everyone…

Edgar and Elle got married and traveled all over the world together. They have a three-year old daughter. Her name is Colin.

Lenny’s hair never grew back, although he regularly meets up with it and the fairy for chats in the pub. He is still touring with The Truth.

Ruby wrote a bestseller called “Florista, The Dragon Queen” and is a proud, if overbearing grandmother to Colin.

Lenny and Ruby are still happily married.

Not long after the drinking competition, Torhen won a bet on a cat race with some very naïve elves. He won enough money to pay his debts and for him and Steen to return to Oslo and buy their own bridge. They’re working on a business plan for setting up a franchise.

Aslef lasted six months in the Forest Of Dean before an incident with a witch and some magic beans got him kicked straight back out. I still see him in Camden sometimes… above a Chinese takeaway on the high street. As much as he complains, I think he loves it.

Edgar The Dragon Slayer – part 9

I expect a protest to be lodged either by Florista or Aslef himself but they seem to have accepted Rilor’s terms without question.
“That’s barbaric!” my mother eventually says.
“What did you expect?” asks Rilor. “We are dragons, not kittens. Aslef has disgraced his species and his family. Our customs must be observed.”
“I appreciate yer concern, Ruby,” says Aslef. “But it’s ekzakerly what I was expectin’.”

My father, Aslef, Rilor, Colin, Steen and Torhen sit in a circle. The fairy hovers above us in the middle. My mother and Elle have settled against a tree with Florista. The three of them seem relatively cosy together but then it’s rare that my mother goes anywhere she doesn’t make friends, no matter how odd the company is. She’s probably observing Florista in detail to use her as a future character.

“Now,” says the fairy. “I want ze good clean contest, no? Each competitor’s drink ‘as been resized for ‘is weight and species. Aslef I weel be watching you!”
“Wot are you talkin’ about, love? I am the pinnercle of ‘onersty!”
“Eef you remember correctly, eet was you ‘oo spent a week grounded from flight after you pour all of your absinth over your shoulder ze last time we deed zis!”
“Oh yeah,” says Aslef.

A cup appears in front of each of us. My dad and I have normal double shot glasses, as does Steen. Aslef, Colin and Rilor’s cups are about the size of a children’s beach bucket and Torhen has a beer mug. The fairy is holding what seems to be a sewing thimble in her hand.
“Are you drinking too?” I ask her.
“Of course!” she says. “Eet ees not blood zat runs through zese green veins, eet ees absinth. Eet keeps me alive!”
“Who will drink first?” asks Rilor.
“Zis time we do eet in alphabetical order. Aslef, drink!”
Aslef swallows his absinth in one and the game begins.

Colin is next. He is yet to say a single word. Although my dad has bullied me into taking shots of absinth with him before, I have never tasted anything like this before. It stings the back of my throat and I feel instantly light-headed.
The fairy smiles at me as she takes a swig from her thimble.
“Ees good, no?” she says. “My own personal recipe!”

At the end of the first round Aslef draws a forfeit and is forced to tell us his darkest secret. He maintains that he has no secrets left since we all now know that he stole the book. The fairy decrees this true and we continue to drink. Mostly no one talks. It’s not like I can imagine playing drinking games with your uni mates might be. I never played drinking games at uni, of course, but I picture it being a lot more social than this. Here the consequences are too grim.

About three rounds in, after a series of inconsequential forfeits played by the trolls, Torhen falls over and is ruled unfit to continue.
“He was nefer a fery big drinker,” says Steen. “Ven ve vere all drinking aquavit he vas having orange juice.”
My head is spinning a bit and I can feel that my senses are a little… off but as a whole, I’m nowhere near saturation point. My dad appears to actually be enjoying himself. The silent Colin is next to go, after letting off an almighty belch that burns down all of the trees on the one side of the circle. We play for twelve more rounds before Steen succumbs, having been violently sick. The trolls are out of luck and the dragons’ treasure is safe. The forfeits have remained tame. We’ve had some traditional troll folk songs from Steen, I have my shirt off and Rilor is wearing a funny hat. I can now only see straight if I close one eye.

My dad is the next one to draw a forfeit. He pulls it out of the hat in the middle of the circle with a flourish. He opens it and I watch the colour drain from his face.
“What does eet day?” says the fairy.
“Um,” mutters my dad. “It says, um, that I have to do a little dance, um… and…”
“Let me see eet!” demands the fairy, snapping her fingers. The bit of paper appears in her hand. She shakes her head. “Lenny, you know zat you cannot lie to me. Zat is not what eet says at all. Eet says that the player must sacrifice zat which ees closest to ‘im.”
“Take the woman,” says Rilor. “The boy is already playing the game and he is promised to Aslef if he wins.”
“What?” says my mother. “I don’t understand. What’s going on?”
“No,” screams my father hysterically. He gets up from where he is sitting and runs to Rilor, grabbing his wing. Rilor shakes him off angrily. I want to move by my body isn’t obeying any of my commands.
“Take me!” wails my father. “Take anything else but don’t hurt Ruby. Please, anything.”
Rilor gives an impatient huff. “That’s not how it works, Leonard. The game was explained to you before you took part. I don’t see what you’re so concerned about anyway. She’s just a human.”
“Just a human,” shouts my father. “Just a human? That human is my reason for living. That human is the best wife and mother in the world and even though I don’t expect that she will ever speak to me again after all of this, I am not willing to accept the idea of a world that she’s not in.”
“Oh, Lenny,” says my mother/
“Oh for goodness sake,” says Rilor. “No one cares!”
“’Old on Rilor,” says the fairy, who has shed one single green tear. “I care. What else can you offer, Lenny?”
“Take my hair,” says my father. “Take all of it, so it never grows back again. If it wasn’t for my stupid hair none of us would be here!”

Edgar The Dragon Slayer – part 8

“Is this true?” asks Rilor.
“Well yes and no,” says Aslef.
“Yes or no, Aslef?” asks one of the dragons, surprisingly gently.
Aslef hangs his head. “Alrigh’, mum, yes. It’s all true.”
“You see, Florista,” says Rilor. “I told you he stole the book. I was right all along.”
“Well done, brother,” says Florista. “Once again you are proved infinitely wise.”
She is clearly being sarcastic but Rilor has not noticed.
“You will hand over the book, female,” says Rilor. “And you will take the young female with you immediately.”
“But the trolls,” says my mother.
“Oi, warrabout me?” asks Aslef. “You said if I brough’ back the book, I could be a proper dragon again!”

Before Rilor can answer, I hear a voice from beneath my elbow.
“Not so fast,” it says.
I look down and Steen is glaring up at me.
“Where did you come from?” asks my dad.
“We haff followed you since we gafe you the book. Vile trolls may not haff the ability to read, ve are not stupid either!”
“But we flew,” says my dad.
“Torhen run fast!” exclaims Torhen, appearing from behind one of the trees.
“Trolls!” says Rilor, infuriated. “First humans and then trolls. Aslef, you shame our entire clan.”
“It’s not like I flippin’ invited them is it?” says Aslef.
“Ruby,” says Steen. “I cannot belief somevun with your obfious grace and beauty lied so openly to us. I am very hurt!”
My mum sighs.
“Oh Steen,” she says. “I’m a mother. I lied to protect my child. It’s what we do.”
“Vatever your reasons,” says Steen. “That book is rightfully ours. Ve von it fair and sqvare and ve vill be leafing vith it today.”

Suddenly everyone is squabbling.
“Quiet!” booms Rilor. “There is only one way this can be solved.”
“What’s that?” asks my mother, suddenly bereft of most of her bravado.
I have a horrible feeling that Rilor is going to suggest that the dragons just eat us all.
“In the old way. The way dragons have solved unsolvable disputes since the dawn of our kind,” says Rilor. “With a feat of great endurance and ultimate consumption.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Elle mutters.
“It’s basically a drinkin’ competition,” says Aslef.
“Score,” says my dad.
“As the trolls only have two representatives, each race will pick two representatives to take part. Aslef will complete alone. Name your terms.”
“I’m confused,” whispers my mother.
“’Ere’s the deal,” says Aslef. “Basically in these compertitions you can name warrever terms you want. You don’ ‘ave to stick to what you originally wanted. Also there is a box full of forfeits. We’re going to sit in a circle an those what are participatn’ will drink one after the other and at the end of every round someone ‘as to pull a forfeit. They vary in degree of severity. You might ‘ave to bark like a dog, you might lose an’ arm. Las’ man standin’ is the winner. Gorrit?”
“What will we be drinking?” my mother asks with a swallow.
“Absinth,” says Aslef.

“The contest will be judged by an external party,” says Rilor. “One who has held dominion over our contests since dragon kind first set foot on the earth.”
“Let me guess,” says my mother. “It’s some kind of druid or elf or something.”
Rilor snorts. “Of course not. The contest will be judged by the absinth fairy.”
I’ve stopped being surprised. Nothing surprises me anymore.

There is a snap and a popping noise. A tiny woman suddenly appears floating next to Rilor’s head. She is about the size of the dragon’s eye and bright green.”
“Zut alors, Rilor,” she says. “’Ow long az eet been since you ‘ave called me?”
“It can’t have been more than a hundred years.”
“Eet az been much more like a three ‘undred, no? I ‘ave begin to zink zat you ‘ave forgot me.”
“Hold on,” says my dad. “Do I know you?”
“Of course you do, Leonard, mon cheri,” says the fairy. “We ‘ave spent many a night talking about ze philosophy when you ‘ave imbibed in my spirit. You always fall asleep before ze good beets, no?”
“Oh for fuck sake,” mutters my mother.
“So ‘ave we named ze terms yet?”” says the fairy.
“We were just about to do that,” said Rilor. “Aslef, maybe you should begin since this whole debacle essentially originates with you.”
“Alrigh’,” says Aslef. “If I win, I wanna come live back ‘ere with all of yous and I want all record of the disappearance of the book to vanish. ‘An I wanna keep Eddie as per the original deal.”
“Agreed,” says Rilor.
“Hey!” I say. “I don’t agree!”
“Silence!” says Rilor. “You will get your turn, human. Troll, what are your terms?”
“Ve don’t vant the book,” says Steen. “Ve vant enough treasure to return to Olso and buy a bridge and to pay all off Torhen’s debts and also ve vant you dragons to stay out off London!”
“Agreed,” says Rilor.
“Humans, who will represent your kind?”
“I will,” says my father.
“And I will,” I say.
“No,” says my mother. “Let me. Eddie, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you!”
“Mum, do you remember the incident with the sherry at Christmas last year? If you’re on the team, dad’s basically fighting alone. With both of us we have a pretty decent chance.”
“Fine,” says my mother, linking her arm through Elle’s. We’ll be widows together.”
“What are your terms, human?”
“All I want,” I say. “Is for my family to be free and for all the terms of the original contract to be voided. You can keep your treasure and your books, I just want my girlfriend and my family back.”
“Agreed,” says Rilor. “Myself and Colin will compete for the dragons.”
He points to one of the other dragons behind him.
Colin?” asks my mother.
“Is there a problem,” says Rilor.
“No, no,” says my mum. “Colin is a lovely name.”
“What are your terms?” I ask.
“We want our book back. We want the trolls to return to Norway and we want Aslef… dead.”

Edgar The Dragon Slayer – part 7

When we arrive to meet Aslef, my dad and I are both looking… unhealthy. Our one nightcap swiftly ended up being a bottle of whisky. My dad fished out some photos he had of The Truth, his band, from the eighties with him and my mum in their heyday and we poured over them while I listened to him reminisce about touring and the adventures they had together. In the past I had always blown off any attempts by my dad to tell me about his rock ‘n roll lifestyle but with the whisky in me, I found myself being swept up in the craziness of it all, until 3am.

Today I just feel like a troll’s been sleeping in my mouth. My dad has the hood of his jumper pulled over his head and is refusing to make eye contact with anyone. I don’t think he’s been awake this early in the morning in about twenty years. This time we don’t have to signal Aslef. He’s waiting for us.

“Where’s Elle?” I immediately ask.
I hear muffled swearing from under one of Aslef’s wings and the sound of someone struggling.
“Oi,” yelps Aslef. “You don’t ‘ave to kick! Eddie, I gotta tell ya, yer missus is even crazier than yer mum!”
My dad pulls back his hood and says, “That’s my wife you’re talking about and I think if we could just see the young lady maybe everyone would be calmer… and maybe a lot quieter.”
Aslef sighs and lifts his wing. Elle appears with a look like a thundercloud on her face.
“Aslef,” she spits. “Do you have any idea what dragon armpit smells like? Not good!”
She spots me and her eyes light up. “Eddie…”
But before I can run to her, Aslef lowers his wing.
“She’s still an ‘ostage, mate.”
“How are you going to fly with her under your wing anyway?” I ask. “Once we’re up in the air it’s not like we can go anywhere, is it?”
“You lot can bloody argue, can’t you? Alright then, get on,” he says.

Riding a dragon is not as simple as it might sound. Aslef is so bony that it’s like sitting on a ridge of rocks and I have to keep an eye firmly fixed on my dad because he keeps nodding off and starting to slide down the side of Aslef’s neck. Even so, I have never been happier because Elle is sitting behind me, with her arms wrapped around me. It’s only been a week but I have missed everything about her… way she smells, her laugh, her skin.
“What the hell is going on?” she whispers into my neck. “Where is your mother?”
“Where should I start?” I ask.
“Aslef has explained the background details to me. Your family is even more mental that I thought possible.”
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“Don’t be,” she says. “As horrible as living in a basement with a dragon who farts fire and tells stories about biting the heads of knights I doubt existed, this is probably the most exciting thing that ever happened to me.”
“Oh god, you’re one of them,” I say.
“Eddie, I was always one of them,” says Elle. “Although you might not realise it, that’s why you like me. Now, where is your mother?”
“She and dad had a little failing out, with regards to the actual deal. She’s not exactly speaking to either of us right now and she has the book but she’s taking the train and meeting us there.”
“Good heavens,” says Elle. “No wonder your dad’s in such a state, the two of them are inseparable.”
“Do you think we’ll be like that one day?” I ask her.
She smiles into my neck, “If you continue with all if this knight is shining armour stuff, then we might just be. You’re kind of sexy when you’re in rescue mode.”
“When this is all over, I promise you we can go travelling through South America like you always wanted and I won’t whine about the mortgage or tropical diseases or not speaking Spanish.”
“Your dad’s about to fall off again,” says Elle. “You better grab him.”

When we arrive at the Forest Of Dean, my mother is already standing there leaning against a tree, holding the book against her chest.
“I thought you were never going to turn up,” she says.
“Ruby,” says my dad, grinning.
“Did he have to come,” says my mother.
My father’s face reminds me of a kicked puppy.
“Ruby, please,” he says.
“Leonard, I have nothing to say to you. I just want to get Elle back and move on with my life.”
She turns to Elle. “Are you alright, sweetheart? That brute hasn’t been mistreating you, has he?”
“No, Rubes,” says Elle. “I’m fine.”
“Enough of the lollygagging,” says Aslef. “I want to get on with me life as well, alrigh’?”

Aslef leads us to a clearing surrounded by giant oak trees before opening his wings wide and lifting his head to the sky. He opens his mouth and lets out a piercing screech that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Elle clutches my arm more in shock than anything else.

“Who goes there?” booms a massive voice.
“Aslef, the mighty wing,” Aslef shouts back.
“You are banished,” replies the voice. “You cannot gain passage here.”
“I ‘ave the book,” says Aslef.
There is a flapping sound like many huge wings and four dragons land in front of us.
“Humans?” booms one of them. “Aslef, you dare to bring humans to our sanctuary. This is not acceptable.”
“Calm down, Rilor,” says Aslef. “They’re me captives.”
“I am no one’s captive,” snaps my mother. “And I’m the one who has your book.”
“Explain yourself, female!” says another dragon.
“That would be Ruby Truman,” says my mother. “Look to cut a long story short, Aslef kidnapped, Elle here to pay back a debt that my idiot husband made with him years ago. Aslef then agreed to swap Elle for this book which he gambled away to some trolls. I got it back but the trolls are on our tail and I’m not handing it over until you lot guarantee us some protection. Got it?”

Edgar The Dragon Slayer – part 6

“There might be a slight problem with that,” says my mother.
“Look ‘ave you got the book or ‘aven’t you?” asks Aslef.
“Oh we have it,” says my mother. “However to get it, I had to mislead the trolls somewhat. They believe they’re getting it back next week.”
“Wot?” says Aslef, his voice turning hard. “That ain’t my problem sweet’eart, now ‘and it ova.”
“I don’t have it with me,” says my mother. “And I’m not giving you anything until you can guarantee our safety from the trolls.”
“I ain’t guaranteeing nothin,’” says Aslef.
“Well I ain’t givin’ you the book,” says my mother, mocking his accent.
Aslef’s nostrils flare but he says nothing.

“Maybe,” says my mother, “I’ll just give the book directly to your uncle. He’s the rightful owner anyway and when I tell him where you are, he’ll make you hand over Elle himself!”
Aslef snorts, sending a little shot of fire out of his nose.
“You’re bluffin’!”
“Try me,” says my mother.
“Well you can’t enter the dragon’s caves anyway, innit? Cos you ain’t a dragon, okay?”
“Easy,” says my mother. “We’ll all go to the Forest of Dean. You bring Elle, we’ll bring the book and we’ll do the exchange with your family there. Got it?”

For a moment I think Aslef is going to incinerate my mother on the spot but he shrugs and says, “Alrigh’ then. I’ll meet you lot ‘ere tomorra. We can fly.”
“You can fly,” says my mother. “I’ll get the train. I don’t trust you. I’ll meet you there at 2pm.”
She turns and heads out towards the road.
“Wait for me,” says my father.
“No, Leonard,” says my mother. “You and your hair can go home with your son. I can’t stand the sight off you.”
“Mum,” I say.
“No, Edgar,” she says. “I can’t deal with either of you right now.”

My father doesn’t say a word the whole way home and when we get to my flat he sinks into an armchair with his head in his hands and ignores me.
“Dad, do you want a drink?” I eventually ask.
“No,” he says. “I don’t feel like drinking.”
I can’t recall a time my father didn’t feel like drinking. I see his shoulders start to shake and I realise he’s crying.
“Dad,” I say softly. “Mum’ll come around. This can’t be the worst fight you’ve ever had.”
“She’s never kicked me out before,” says my dad. “Not even the time I dropped the only copy of her manuscript in the sea when we went on that yacht trip. You don’t understand. That woman is the only thing I have in the world.”
“You still have me,” I say, finding it hard to keep the bite out of my voice.
He looks up at me and puts one of his hands on my shoulder. “Edgar, the most exciting day of my life was the day your mother told me we were going to have you. Well that and that time we opened for Marilyn Manson, but you’ve moved out of home now. You have your own life.”
“And I’m a giant disappointment to you,” I say. “You and mum wanted me to be like you and instead I’m like me.”
My father sighs. “Ed, we never wanted you to be like anything except like yourself. I’d be a liar if I said the idea of going on a father and son tour, playing my greatest hits wouldn’t be insanely cool… but your mum and I are who we are and you’re who you are… and we’re a family, no matter how fucked up we are.”
“I don’t think you’re fucked up,” I say.
My dad laughs, “You were always so ashamed of us at your school events.”
I laugh too. “Well, have you noticed how loud mum is. She always tried to take over every event. Do you remember when she tried to convince the head teacher that the summer ball should have a “night of the living dead” theme?”

At the mention of my mother, my dad’s eyes tear up again.
“I miss her so much,” he says. “She’s right though you know. What I did was unforgivable and if I had known I was going to have such an awesome son, I wouldn’t have traded you for anything in the world.”
“So you don’t wish I was a rock ‘n roll son?”
“I always wished you would hold back less. Sometimes you’re so distant but then since this dragon thing happened… you seem more… more bold. I think you’ve always had it in you but you’ve been so scared to turn into the caricatures that you think your mother and I are, that you’ve hidden every bit of fire you had in you. I know I’m not perfect,” he says, with a shrug. “I know I don’t always make the right decisions and if it wasn’t for your mother, I’d probably be dead by now but the important this is that I love you and I love your mother. More than anything.”

My father and I have never spoken like this. We’ve sat for twenty-three years quietly misunderstanding each other and it’s taken a dragon to close the distance between us.

“We’ll get her back,” I tell my dad. “No matter what we have to do tomorrow, we will get back the women we love.”
“And then we’ll write a song about it!” says my dad waving his hand over his head. “And in the middle bit there’ll be this epic guitar solo and we can get a massive model of a dragon onstage behind me breathing fire over the audience. Maybe we should have a drink… just a little one to help us sleep.”
Some things change and some things are always the same.

Edgar The Dragon Slayer – part 5

“I think you fancied that troll,” says my father.
“What?” says my mother. “He was a troll for crying in a bucket. You and your jealousy!”
“You gave him your engagement ring!” my father all but shrieks.
“My engagement ring? My engagement ring? It was never my engagement ring!”

With  my mother’s tattoos and my father’s hair people normally stare at us on the tube. Well, the way Londoners stare on the tube anyway… sneakily out of the corner of their eye from behind their newspaper but with my dad in full kitchen battle regalia and both of them yelling, everyone is openly ogling them. I wish they would just catch cabs or get a driver or something. They can definitely afford it but my mother loves public transport. It means she can check out who’s reading her latest novel and then tap them on the shoulder and say, “I wrote that!”

“For god’s sake, shut up both you!” I say in that train whisper you’re supposed to use on the tube. “Never mind the ring or mum’s supposed troll fancying. What are we going to do about the book?”
“What do you mean?” asks my mother. “We have the book and now we can take it to Aself and get Elle back. I’d quite like to meet this Aslef and give him a piece of my mind.”
“Um, mum… if we give Aslef the book, in a week from now we’ll have a half-troll, half-giant, psycho with a gambling problem tailing us.”
“Look here,” says my mother. “If I remember correctly, all you did was sit there with a mouthful of teeth while I was negotiating with Steen. It’s not like you presented an alternative plan. Anyway, surely when Aslef returns the book back to his uncle, the dragons will be so overjoyed to have it back and protect us from any minor troll threat.”
“If the rest of the dragons are anything like Aslef, who has so far stolen from his own family, gambled away all his possessions, kidnapped my girlfriend and lied to me, I think we’re pretty much fucked!”
“Don’t speak to your mother like that,” my father snaps, glaring at me.
“Lenny,” says my mother with a gentle smile. “That’s so sweet!”

They embrace in a clatter of pots and pans and commence making out in a way that would make drunk sixteen-year olds on a Friday night out cringe. I wonder for the thousandth time if I am actually their child or if they found me abandoned backstage by a pair of accountants.

“We should go home,” says my mother, coming up briefly for air. “We’ll regroup and take on Aslef tomorrow.”
“Yes, please, dear god, go home,” I say.

In the morning we meet up in the alley behind The Cavern in Camden. My parents are still behaving like teenagers, giggling and holding hands. I ignore them… since they appear to only have eyes for each other. I hold up the tooth and after a few seconds we can hear the leathery flap of Aslef’s wings. He settles in front of us with a toothy grin.

Awright, Eddie,” he says. “I see ya brought the family along. ‘Ello, mate!”
My father opens his mouth to greet Aslef, but my mother shoves him out of the way and squares up to Aslef, hands on hips.
“Hello, mate?” she snaps. “Is that all you have to say for yourself? This is all your bloody fault, you overgrown lizard! I’ve been under a bloody bridge, negotiating with trolls because of you!”
Aslef appears bemused.
“You must be the missus. Nice to meet you, love. I understand that you’re un’appy with the situation, but it ain’t really my fault. I’m just onnerin’ the contract, I made with your ‘usband ‘ere. I think I’ve been more than generous.”

The look on my mother’s face is not one that indicates she will be backing down any time soon.
“It’s Ruby, and trading people’s love for human children, thieving, gambling…” she counts off on her fingers. “I don’t care how generous you think you are, you have the ethics of a labour MP on expense day!”
“Like I told your Eddie,” says Aslef calmly. “I ain’t go no power ova love. I traded your ‘usbdand a first born in exchange for ‘im keepin’ ‘is ‘air.”
“You what?” said my mother her jaw dropping.
My dad is jiggling about on the spot. He grabs my mother’s arm and says, “That’s not what happened!”
She wrenches her arm away and glares at Aslef.
“I don’t believe you!”
“It’s in the contract, love.”

He produces the contract and shows it to her. My mother turns to my father, her hands clenched into fists. Her voice is colder than the Antarctic in mid-winter.
“Do you mean to tell me that you exchanged our child for that preposterous mop on top of your head? Of all of the ridiculous things you have done in the past twenty-six years, this… this… it’s unforgivable, Leonard… that’s what it is.”
“I don’t… I don’t even remember,” says my father. “This is good though, isn’t it? It means our love is real!”
“Love?” says my mother. “You love your hair more than our child. You have no concept of love.”
“He wasn’t a child then,” says my dad, desperately. “If I knew… if I knew what I know now.”
“Shut up, Leonard,” says my mother.
“Mum, I…”
“Don’t you mum me,” she says. “You knew about this and you didn’t tell me. You and your father are way more alike than either of you want to believe.”
“Thing is,” says Aslef. “’As ‘eartwarmin’ as all this family business is. There’s the matter of a certain book and the girl I’m ‘idin’ in the basement to resolve. I’m getting’ bloody sick of ‘er. She never bleedin’ shuts up… shoes this, tidy up that… it’s time we got this deal done.”

Edgar The Dragon Slayer – part 4

Flash 31

“Now what?” says my mother as we walk under the arch of the bridge.
“Hold up the cheese and the mirror,” I say. I mean it worked with Aslef and the tooth.
There’s a slight rumble from below the bridge and the ground just below my dad’s feet shifts slightly, sending him and his pile of pots tumbling to the ground. A trapdoor opens out of the slime under the bridge and a knobbly head the size of a manhole cover pops out, sending the resident seagulls into a frenzy. The face grimaces at us blankly, confused, before pulling its hairy body out of the hole. It’s easily about 8 feet tall.

It narrows its eyes at my father and then makes an irritated grumbling noise before picking him up by his ankle, hanging him upside down and sniffing him.
“You see! You see!” shouts my father. “They’re fucking huge!”
“Congratulations, Leonard. You were right,” says my mother. “You’re also upside down.”
None of us has noticed that a much smaller version of the troll investigating my father has also emerged from the trapdoor and is watching the scene with an expression of annoyance.

“Torhen, put that man down,” says the smaller troll.
Torhen whines and gives the smaller troll a plaintiff look.
“Vat ve speak about?” says the smaller troll.
“Torhen not eat human,” says Torhen with a sigh.
“Ja,” says the smaller troll. “Now place him back on his feets.”
Torhen drops my father unceremoniously. My father swiftly picks up his curtain rail and cracks Torhen across the shins. He wails angrily, apparently torn between attacking my father and obeying his orders.

The smaller troll looks my mother up and down appreciatively.
“I must apologise for my husband,” says my mother. “He has no manners.”
“I must apologise for Torhen,” says the smaller troll. “He has no brain. My name is Steen. How may ve be off assistance?”
My mother smiles in a way that I have only ever seen her use when faced with a traffic ticket.
“Steen,” she says. “What a charming name. Where is that from?”
“Ve are from Norvay,” says Steen.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Norway,” says my mother.
“Just last week you said Norway was the most boring place you could ever imagine visiting,” says my father.
My mother shoots him a filthy look.
“What my husband means is that I find the public face of Norway unappealing. I don’t believe that all the ethnic groups of the country are fully represented.”
This cannot possibly work.

“Vat a refreshing attitude,” says Steen. “All off the fairytale peoples have been oppressed and forced underground. The Leprechauns, the vitches even the elfs! All off this urban development, ve haff lost our natural habitats.”
“You know I can’t help noticing that your friend is so much larger than you,” says my mother batting her eyelashes.
“Torhen is my brother,” says Steen. “His father was a Finnish giant. This is vy his brain is small and his body is big. A normal sized troll is rarely more than four feets.”
My mother gives my father a smug grin. “How fascinating! I must say, it’s unexpected to find Norwegian trolls in the middle of London. What brings you here?”
“Ve are here for same reason all migrants come to London. Come and vork for eight hundred years. Make enough money to buy a bridge off our own in Oslo. Ve vork as security employed by elder council of bridge trolls. Also ve haff many debts to pay off in our home since Torhen has a terrible gamble habit.”
Torhen grins. “I bets you I eats this man!”
“You see,” says Steen. “He vill bet on anything! I try to keep under the bridge but he is very strong. Fife hundred years ago he escaped and almost lost this entire bridge to a dragon. It is not efen our bridge!”
Torhen manages to look both ashamed and hungry at the same time. I am impressed.

“What happened?” says my mother, sounding enraptured.
“Vell,” says Steen. “At last minute, Torhen picked a good cat and he von the last and only possession off the dragon.”
“Vat, I mean what was it?”
“It vas a tabby,” says Steen. “Eferyvone knows they run faster.”
“Oh no,” says my mother. “I mean wat did Torhen win?”
“It vas a book,” says Steen. “It is not off very much use to us because trolls cannot read but at least ve keep the bridge, eh? I vish ve had someone to translate it for us, I am sure it has many dragon secrets. Iff ve knew their veak points ve could take their treasure. Be back in Oslo tomorrow.”

And I realise that Aslef lied to me. He has known all the while where the book was and the charges against him are not one bit false.
“Can I see it?” asks my mother.
Steen suddenly looks suspicious. “For vat?”
My mother smiles again. “Well, I’m a prominent dragon historian. That’s why we’re here. I had heard that the book might be in existence so I’ve been going from bridge to bridge with a mirror and some cheese hoping to draw out some trolls that might help me. Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of me. Ruby, Ruby Trueman.”
“This myth that all trolls like cheese and mirrors is ridiculous. It is a strange fixation of Torhen’s. And no, ve haff not heard off you. Ve cannot read! Who did you hear off the book from? I thought you were not expecting trolls.”
“Oh, um, legends and stuff,” says my mother. “We just weren’t expecting Norwegian trolls. If you lend me the book, I could translate it for you,”
“How vill ve know ve can trust you?” says Steen.
“I’ll leave you something of value,” says my mother. “You can take this. It’s my engagement ring.”
My father gasps in horror but my mother cuts him dead with one of her patented looks.
Steen takes the ring, holds it up and inspects it.”
“You haff a deal,” he says. “But iff you do not return the book vithin a veek, I vill send Torhen to find you and return it himself. I see he particularly likes your husband.”
Torhen is patting my father on the head so hard that he is sinking into the mud beside the bridge.
“Deal,” says my mother and shakes hands with Torhen.

Edgar, the dragon slayer – part 3

Flash 30

A quest, I think. That’s exactly what my mother said. It unnerves me when she’s right.
“I weren’t always from London, ye know,” says the dragon. “I used ta be from the Forest Of Dean.”
“The Forest Of Dean?” I ask incredulously.
“Well it’s got caves, innit? And a forest. It’s where the rest of me family lives. It’s our natural habitat, ye know?”
“There’s more of you?”
“A few. I ain’t seen ‘em in five ‘undred years, though…”
“That’s all very interesting,” I say, “But what has this got to with the quest?”
“Flippin’ impatient, you are,” says the dragon. “Ain’t you ever ‘eard of the art of tellin’ a story? Anyway, I used ta live in the forest with me mum and dad and me aunties and uncles and brothers and sisters and cousins but they kicked me out.”
“Why did they kick you out?”
“All trumped up charges, obviously”
“Obviously… what did they say you did?”
“They accused me of stealing this book that belonged to me uncle. He’s like the dragon king. I didn’t do nothin’ though but they couldn’t find the bloomin’ thing and so they banished me from the forest. I been stuck livin’ in basements and sewers. And trust me the sewers were pretty bloody grim five ‘undred years ago.”
“Why is the book so important?
“It’s got all kinda dragon secrets in it,” says the dragon.
“Right,” I say. “And let me guess you want me to find this book, prove your innocence and in so doing get you back in with your family?”
“Yer smarter than ya look,” says the dragon, with a toothy grin.
“Where is the book” I ask the dragon.
“I ‘aven’t got a flippin’ clue,” says the dragon. “Don’t ya think if I knew, I’da found it and taken it back by now.”
“Who else might want the book?” I ask the dragon.
“Well there’s the trolls. They’re always tryin’ ta sneak past us and take our treasure.”
“Did you think of checking with them?”
“Of course,” he says. “Thing is, I got some unpaid gambling debts with some really mean trolls. If I go down there it ain’t gonna be pretty.”
“Let me guess, these so-called trolls live somewhere ridiculous like Norwich and I’m going to have to go cross country on a wild goose chase.”
The dragon laughs. “Nah, mate. They’re trolls. They live under London Bridge.”

How could I not have guessed this fact? Not only are their dragons in the sewers of Camden but there’s a… a… what’s the collective noun for trolls… a conglomeration of trolls living under London Bridge. Next thing he’s going to tell me there are fairies living on Old Compton Street.
“Hold on,” I say. “If the trolls have had your book for 500 years, why haven’t they attacked and destroyed the rest of the dragons?”
“Trolls, Eddie, trolls,” says the dragon. “They ain’t exactly big readers. It’s probably taken them the ‘ole five  ‘undred years to read the prologue.”
“So you lost at gambling to a bunch of illiterate, bridge dwellers? Never mind. Fine, I will go and get your book, ok? Is there a way to call the trolls out?”
“Just take some cheese an’ a mirra. They can’t resist dairy or their own raflecshins and whatever you do don’t mention me name.”
“What is your name?”
“Aslef,” says the dragon. “Aslef, the mighty wing.”
“Alright Aslef,” I say. “Wish me luck.”
“G’luck, Eddie,” he says and with that he flaps his wings and is gone.

I do what any self-respecting man would do. I ring my mum. I have already made the decision not to tell her about the actual agreement my father made with Aslef. If she leaves him, he will attempt to come and live with me, since he is completely incapable of taking care of himself. And then he’s going to die either way because I’ll strangle him. My mother is nonplussed. In fact she is fascinated as I relay the story.

“Trolls,” she says. “That’s fascinating. I’ve always wanted to meet some trolls.”
“What are you talking about, mother?”
“Your father and I have been arguing about the size of trolls for the last twenty-six years. As far as I’m aware a troll is about 3 feet tall but your dad is convinced that they’re gigantic and ever since Harry Potter backed that up in those films, he’s been insufferable. Now I can finally prove him wrong.”
“What do you expect me to do, mum? Take photos of them. They’re hardly going to pose, smiling, while I steal their book, are they?”
“What photos?” asks my mom. “We’re coming along.”
“You most certainly are not,” I say.
“Do you think I’d let you face trolls alone,” says my mother. “I have experience. I’ve been arguing with your father’s roadies for years. They’re practically trolls. It’ll be great.”
“And what help exactly is dad going to be?” I ask.
“You know I can’t leave him at home,’ says my mum. “Last time he dyed Marilyn black and then flew to Los Angeles. I found him onstage in the Hard Rock Café with a homeless person.”

I meet my parents at London Bridge Station. My father has fashioned himself a suit of armour out of some of my mother’s pots. There is a colander on his head and he is carrying a curtain rail as if it were some kind of lance. My mother has brought along a hand mirror and a wedge of brie. I have never wished I had siblings more at any moment in my life. Only someone who had actually grown up in my house with my parents would understand the sheer bizarreness of this situation and be able to sympathise with the mixture of pride and absolute mortification I feel right now. My parents may be insane but at least they’re supportive… even when I’m hunting trolls at the behest of the dragon who has kidnapped my girlfriend.

Edgar, the dragon slayer – part 2

Flash 29
If you haven’t read part 1, it’s here.

“Aren’t dragons normally really into treasure?” says my dad. “Dubloons and gold stolen from pirates!”
My mother rolls her eyes. “There used to be a pawn shop next to The Cavern,” she says.
“I remember that shop,” says my dad, wildly waving his cigarette and narrowly missing singeing our terrified cat, Marilyn. “I bought your engagement…” he trails off, wide-eyed.
“You told me my engagement ring was an antique!” says my mother. “You told me it was a family heirloom!”
“It was somebody’s family heirloom,” says my dad, sheepishly.
“I am starting to wonder if everything in this marriage is a lie,” snaps my mother, snatching my father’s cigarette out of his mouth. “And isn’t it time you quit smoking, you’re almost fifty.”
“Ruby,” says my dad, plaintively.
She sighs. “Goddamn dragon! Leonard, just tell me you didn’t buy this house on eBay because it’s on top of an old Roman burial ground or switch Edgar at birth in the hospital and we’ll move on.”
“I promise,” says my father.

I have had about as much as I can take of the two of them. I think I’d rather face the dragon.
“Hold on,” says my dad as I make to leave. “The dragon gave me this as part of the deal.”
He undoes a string from around his wrist and hands it to me. There is a large, yellowing tooth hanging from it.
“Weren’t you naked when you met the dragon?” asks my mother. “Where did you keep the… you know what, I think we’ve had enough revelations for one day. I don’t want to know.”

When I get back to The Cavern, it’s deserted. There is obviously no show tonight and the alley behind the club is oddly eerie. It’s rained and steam is rising from the hot tarmac. I feel like an idiot but I take out the tooth and hold it up. It takes on a bluish glow and I hear the sound of giant wings flapping. I look up and I can see the dragon slowly descending on the alley. I suppose I should worry about people seeing it but this is Camden. No one notices anything.

The dragon lands in front of me and gives a little shake before settling and folding its wings. This time I manage to get a closer look at it. It’s about the size of a moving van and rather than being the kind of regal, elegant creature, I had always been lead to believe dragons were, this one looks a bit like a Tyrannosaurus with wings.

“Oo’re you?” it says in a surprisingly East End accent.
“Um, Edgar,” I say.
“Where’s the drunk fella?” he says looking around. “’Im with the ‘air. It was ‘im I gave me tooth to.”
“My dad?” I ask.
“Yer dad? Jiminy Christmas, ‘ow long ‘as it been?”
“Twenty-six years.”
“’E still alive?” asks the dragon. “Rate ‘e were goin, I figure ’e’d a kicked the bucket by now.”
“He’s fine,” I say. “You have my girlfriend and I want her back.”
“Look, mate,” says the dragon. “There’s been a birrova mix-up. Yer dad promised me a first-born, righ’? An’ I been ‘angin’ around this shit’ole waitin’ for you to turn up fer years. Lost track of time completely. Not like I got much choice anyway. There ain’t a lorra caves about London, innit? Figure, like father like son. When you and yer missus come down ‘ere eventuallym I didn’t pick up any of that rock ‘n roll aura from you, so I figured she must be yer dad’s kid. ‘Oos yer mum anyway? Bet ya don’t even know!”
“Don’t you remember what you promised my dad in exchange for me?” I ask. “You told him you’d make my mother fall in love with him.”
The dragon chuckles. “I ain’t got no power ova love. Isn’t no one what got power ova love. What I promised yer dad was that ‘is ‘air wouldn’t ever fall out. See ‘ere it is in ‘is contract.”
And the dragon presents piece of paper in his claw.

I’m not sure what I’m more shocked by, the fact that my dad traded me to keep his ridiculous 80’s hair and forgot about it or that my mum has put up with my father for twenty-six years without any magic.

“Look, where’s Elle?” I ask.
“She’s in the basement of The Cavern, your missus. We been talking these past coupla days. She’s worried about you, she is. Says that you’re afraid to be yourself. She says you’re obsessed with being normal when you ain’t got a normal gene in you.”

And I am in an alley… in Camden… negotiating with a mythological character that sounds like he’s from Hackney and all I want is Elle and for everything to go back the way it was. Suddenly I’m very angry.
“I don’t give a fuck what you and my dad agreed. Just give me back my girlfriend!”
“Bleedin’ ‘eck,” says the dragon. “Calm yerself down. Look, you can ‘ave yer missus back but I’m gonna ‘ave to take you now. I gorra contract, you see.”
“And do what with me?” I ask.
The dragon shrugs. “I ‘and’t really thought about it, mate. Yer dad’s the only geezer crazy enough to ever make a deal with me. Guess I could get ya ta ‘elp clean up round The Cavern, like. Make cups of tea.”
“Cups of tea,” I shout. “You’re a fucking dragon, for fuck sake!”
The dragon laughs again and lets out a wheezy cough, punctuated by a puff of smoke.
“No room for any dragonin’ around ‘ere anymore, lad. The knights are all actors and ‘ippy musos tryin’ ta save the world these days. The castles are tourist attractions and the treasure’s been credit crunched. I’m in me retirement.”
“Well what then?” I say. “I’ll come and live with you in the basement of this pub and make you tea. That’s ridiculous!”
“Actually,” says the dragon. “I might be able ta cut you a deal. ‘Ow do you feel about a quest?”