Dragon and phoenix

a dragon ripping a phoenix apart

Luter was a pet rat, white, red eyed. He lived with Pander all his life. Pander had always been kind to Luter: never locked him up in a cage, always shared his beer and chips with the rat generously. Pander had been a bit mad, though.

Luter’s first memory was a bright flash, a big bang in the unconscious darkness, the beginning of the endless chain of reminiscences, colorful shards with sharp edges, frozen bits of time.

It all began with this:
They’re both breathing hard, speaking is not easy. Pander’s voice is raspy, almost growling. The second voice is melodical, female. It’s as sweet and sticky as honey…

“Tell me about your tattoo,” the sweet voice asks ingratiatingly.
“It’s a dragon ripping a phoenix apart,” Pander answers, his tone careless. A tense silence follows…


Not a day had passed without adding a new shard of memory to Luter’s collection. Pander spoke to his pet rat often, unaware of the fact that he remembered everything.

“I give her blue roses. Roses the color of her jeans. She likes them, these jeans roses. That’s stupid. For me, at least. She thinks them to be a miracle or something!” Pander murmurs in the same careless tone, which is clearly a lie, as he gently strokes the little bracelet she forgot at his place. She, the one with the honey voice…

-

Pander’s hair is ruffled and dirty, he is bristling with rage, even the dragon tattooed on his back looks more ferocious than usual.

“I’m not giving you anything, you bastards!” Pander yells at someone inside his cell phone. “You hear me? Nothing!!!”

“They will kill her, Luter. These freaks! Me they wouldn’t dare to touch, but her… It’s not that I loved her or anything, but we were good together… and now, when she’s gone I feel so damn miserable! I don’t want her to get hurt…”

-

“Intruders. There are intruders in their home! Luter is scared. He hears their leather jackets and boots squeaking with every step.

Pander flattens himself against the wall, holding his breath, waiting. He is so calm its scary. He is as pale as a ghost. His brow is sweaty, glistening. The intruders are looking for him. Luter huddles himself up in a corner, terrified.

There are two guns in Pander’s hands. He throws the last glance at Luter and ducks around the corner. Gunshots follow…

-

The nasty leather jackets step over Pander’s prostrate body and leave. The rat approaches his dying owner, watches the light in his eyes go out, the glassiness settle.

“Luter...:” Pander whispers. His eyes close.

-

Strangers at Pander’s place again. They brought a dozen of strange, poignant smells with them: meds, disinfectants. They brought handcuffs too, but didn’t need them.

Those as white as rats in their smocks are standing around Pander. Those wearing jeans and leather jackets are staying aside from them, staring.

“What’s with the ugly tattoo on his back?” one of them asks in a low male voice.
“It’s a dragon ripping a phoenix apart,” answers the other voice, female, so familiar to Luter even without the sticky sweetness. Now it’s as hollow as an empty beer bottle.
“A phoenix rises anew from its ashes. But what happens if someone kills it before it succumbs to the fire?”
“Pander was that phoenix. Pander the Undefeated…”
“So who is the dragon?”

Silence.

“What’s interesting, though, is that Pander had paid a visit to a local tattoo parlor a day before he died. He crowned his dragon with roses, jeans-blue…”
“Ugh, that tattoo is disgusting! Even worse with the roses… whatever they mean.”

(September 2, 2003)

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English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.