Nobody likes Monday morning. But in Croach Hill everyone really hates Monday morning. Children stay home. Dogs are afraid to bark. Roosters don’t crow. Fruit bats hide upside down in their trees. I ought to know. My name is Mike and I live in Croach Hill.
Monday is the day that Mel the Dragon comes into town. There are many stories about dragons, how they can destroy entire villages with one fiery breath. One accidental sneeze can set fire to a whole forest. Even when a dragon’s breath is not fiery, it smells so bad that you can faint being anywhere near him. And then the mighty dragon can drag you off into the forest, never to be heard from again. Or so say the stories.
I don’t think that Mel is a bad dragon. As far as I know, he has never set a house on fire or turned a single cow into a barbeque. Still, I have to stay home every Monday when he comes to town.
The only person in town who does leave his house every Monday morning is Peter. That is because Peter owns the Dragon Dry Goods Store. The store offers every kind of food that a dragon needs in order to have proper dragon breath: chilli peppers, hot mustard, garlic, old tuna fish, and gorgonzola cheese. And of course, safety matches.
One Monday morning, Mel arrived at the Dragon Dry Goods Store at the usual time.
“Good morning, Peter”, he said, “I’ve come for my weekly order”.
“I have something to tell you, Mel” said Peter, in a very soft voice. Tomorrow I am closing the Dragon Dry Goods Store and opening a new business. I’m calling it “Peter’s Ice Cream Palace”.”
Mel’s tail fell to the ground. “Why close the store?” he wanted to know.
“In the old days”, explained Peter, “there were many dragons in the forest near town. But all the dragons have moved down south. All except you. You are the only dragon left in the whole forest. You are not only my best customer. You are my only customer.”
Mel was upset, but what could he do? Setting the store on fire would not do him any good. So he stocked up on garlic, and returned to the forest.
The next day, right after school, Peter threw a big party at the his ice cream palace. Every child received a balloon, and a free toothbrush as well
For many weeks, Mel remained in the forest. He no longer came into town every Monday morning to do his shopping. Monday slowly became a normal day in Croach Hill.
And then, one bright Monday afternoon, just as I was on my way home from the ice cream palace, Mel the Dragon suddenly appeared. Everyone fled. Everyone that is, except me. I had wanted to meet him for quite some time. My parents had warned me to stay away from strangers. But Mel was not a stranger. Everyone in town knew who he was.
“Hello”, I said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you”. I was very polite (a good idea, I think, when you are meeting a dragon for the first time).
“Hello to you too”, Mel answered. “Quite a nice day, don’t you think?”
“Welcome back to Croach Hill,” I answered.
“Please tell me something,” said Mel. “What is ice cream?”
I explained to Mel what ice cream is, how you lick it in a cone, what toppings are, and how delicious it is, especially on a hot summer day.
“Why don’t we go over and visit Peter?” asked Mel. “Just hop on my back and hang on tight.”
I was happy to fly over town. The people below were quite surprised to see us.
Peter was delighted to see his old customer. He let Mel taste all the flavors in the store, including his special combinations: banana-peanut butter, cherry-lime and licorice-mint.
Mel didn’t love any of those flavors.
“No problem,” said Peter. “I know just what to do.”
The next day Peter made Mel a barrel of onion-garlic flavored ice cream. Mel loved it. He flew three of Peter’s young customers over town. They returned stinky but happy, and ran to take showers.
On Wednesday Mel ate another barrel of onion-garlic ice cream. He flew seventeen children over town.
On Thursday Peter put up a sign outside his ice cream palace: “Ride Mel the Smell Dragon, free with any purchase of ice cream.” All the kids in town bought ice cream and awaited their turn. And Mel was a very happy dragon indeed. The kids loved him. And after every ride, Peter would give Mel barrel of ice cream. I think you know which flavor.
By Saturday word had spread. People from nearby towns arrived to see their very first dragon, and a charming one, as well. Peter appeared on a radio show. Peter and Mel were on the front page of the local newspaper.
Today Mel is a very famous dragon. If your Mom or Dad knows where Croach Hill is, ask them to take you straight to Peter’s Ice Cream Palace. Have some delicious ice cream, and go on his breathtaking ride. You might see me there, too. Say hello if you do!