Babet and Prosper—A NICE, QUIET TOWN—Chapter 7
Felix Freiberger tightened the screwcap on his bottle of tequila, pushed up the blind, and glanced outside. The damn dog wouldn’t stop barking. The barn doors were closed. No movements caught his eye in the fenced-in area for the chicken coop. If a fox had dug a hole, there’d be all kinds of noise coming from frantic hens. The stupid mutt ran back and forth, snarling and growling, and there wasn’t a thing in sight.
Felix walked to the kitchen, opened the screen, and hollered, “Shut up, or I’ll shut you up!”
The dog ran to the door and tried to squeeze inside the house.
“What in tarnation? Get the hell away from here!” Felix gave him a good, solid kick to the ribs. Dogs were meant to be outside. Those prissy, little fur balls that people cuddled and cooed over were an insult to nature.
The dog yipped and ran. It circled the house to the front porch and stood on the cement stoop, barking at nothing.
Enough was enough. Felix grabbed the shotgun from the hallway closet, opened the door, and shot the damn thing. It finally shut up. He slammed the door and returned to his spot on the couch.
He reached for the tequila, took a swig. Whew! He felt the liquid all the way down. Focusing on the TV, he smiled. An antelope was getting closer to the edge of the water.
“A little more,” he said, encouraging it. It bent its head to drink, and a crocodile sprang forward, grabbed it, and pulled it into the river. Nothing more entertaining than death throes between species. The camera shifted to a cheetah, almost impossible to see in the shade under a tree. A mother gazelle with her young nibbled on grass.
A dragging noise outside made him pause his program and return to the front porch. He grabbed his shotgun on the way. Maybe a coyote was slinking around, checking things out. The dog wouldn’t have barked at that. The big mongrel would have chased it off.
The air felt sticky. A half-moon shed enough light that he could see his yard and fields. He muffled a laugh. The stupid sheriff had issued a warning for everyone to stay inside after dark to hide from a dragon. A dragon!
People in town probably fell for his ridiculous story. Not Felix. He knew about conspiracies, how the government manipulated people so it could do whatever it wanted. Felix couldn’t figure out what the sheriff was up to in the middle of the night, but he was sure he wasn’t fighting dragons. More like letting trucks loaded with toxic waste drive through their town when no one was watching or letting drug lords meet to make deals with no prying eyes to witness what was done.
He didn’t step off the cement. He didn’t believe the sheriff, but why take a chance? Dirty deeds were going on in Sutter’s Creek, but he doubted anyone would ever know the truth.
Something scraped against the side of the house. If kids had come all the way out here to rob him, their mommas would be burying their scraps in the morning. Felix raised his shotgun. A huge head whipped around the corner. Felix pulled the trigger, but the gun’s bullet bounced off hard, shiny scales. A jaw opened, and sharp teeth snagged his midsection. He pounded the butt of the gun on the dragon’s long snout. The damn thing tossed him in the air, opened wide, and swallowed him.
He felt himself sliding down a long tunnel. He tried to cling to consciousness, but he was losing too much blood. He shivered and his teeth chattered. Damn the sheriff! He said the dragon stayed underground. Then everything went black.