Dragons, Cigarettes, and Martinis

Dragons, Cigarettes, and Martinis

I didn’t hear my phone; I felt it.  The soft vibration on the nightstand was enough to wake me.  I glanced over to see if Sandy was awakened as well.  She wasn’t; she was still on her business trip.  The decorative pillows I had not bothered to take off the bed gave a vague reference of her silhouette, but it was fleeting.  I was alone.

 

 

I grabbed my phone to see what caused the vibration.

 

 

Just a news alert from Le Monde about yet another protest in Paris.

 

 

I put the phone back down and closed my eyes.

 

 

“Evening, Steven,” he said in a soft stage whisper.

 

 

What the hell?  I was awake, out of my bed, and grabbing my gun from the nightstand.

 

 

“Who the hell is here?!?” I exclaimed backing towards the dark corner of the room.

 

 

“Put the gun down, Steven, you’re just going to ruin the drywall.”

 

 

I recognized the voice.  There was familiarity to be sure, but in my terror I could not identify the speaker, or where the voice was actually coming from.

 

 

“Put on your robe, boychik, and join me on the balcony for a cocktail.”

 

 

I suddenly relaxed; I knew who it was.  Really?  Now I can’t even be secure in my own bed?

 

 

I put the gun back on the nightstand and shrugged into my bathrobe and headed towards the balcony door.

 

 

As I opened it, I saw him sitting on one of our teak patio chairs smoking a cigarette and holding a martini glass.  His ragged looks and medieval costume from the last time I had seen him had transformed into a neatly pressed tuxedo, and he now was clean shaven, save a perfectly manicured, pencil thin mustache.  He looked strikingly similar to David Niven.

 

 

St. Libshitz, it looks like you have been taking your vitamins.”

 

 

“The benefits of celestial existence, my son; we get to sort of skin shift when we want.”

 

 

“Niven may want his tuxedo back.”

 

 

“Hmm.  Over my dead body… wait… that is actually kinda funny!”

 

 

“Roll snare drum, strike cymbal, audience laughs.”

 

 

The saint looked at me dismissively and waived his hand towards the open chair.

 

 

“Join me.”  It was more a statement than a suggestion.

 

 

I sat down and watched him take a drag from the cigarette.

 

 

“Those things are going to kill you.”

 

 

“Too late for that, boychik.  Besides, in ten years you’ll find out they are actually good for you.  They counteract the poisonous effects of soy and kale… you just wait,” he said, punctuating his point by stabbing his cigarette in my direction.

 

 

“Curious… am I the only one whom you wake up at two in the morning?”

 

 

Libshitz laughed.

 

 

“No… this is when I seem to have the most power of apparition.  I tried visiting Hunter S. Thompson before he took his own life, usually about this time too.”

 

 

“You counseled Thompson?”

 

 

“Not really.  Tried.  He had no use for me apparently,” he said with a somewhat sad look on his face.

 

 

“He told you to go?”

 

 

“He told me to be fruitful and multiply.  Well… not in those exact words.”

 

 

This caused me to laugh, as I sat back in the chair.

 

 

“So why the honor of this visitation, St. Libshitz?”

 

 

The saint took another long drag from the cigarette, clearly for dramatic effect.  As he exhaled I realized that no actual smoke emitted from his mouth.

 

 

“Big ticket stuff:  the nature of good, the nature of evil, the inherent duality of man, good hygiene, and remaining steadfast.”

 

 

I looked at him with a degree of disdain.

 

 

“I’m not going back to sleep tonight, am I?”

 

 

“What makes you think you ever woke up?”

 

 

“Is that an empirical statement?  Am I dreaming right now, or is that a metaphorical commentary on the human condition?”

 

 

Libshitz chuckled.

 

 

“Steven, you know the story of my colleague, St. George?

 

 

“The Roman soldier turned Christian martyr who slew a dragon?”

 

 

“Yep… Georgie has a flair, to be sure.”

 

 

“I’m familiar with his work.”

 

 

“You should be. Ever notice his story appears over and over again in history?  Perseus saving Andromeda from the kraken, the brave knight saving the princess in the tower from the dragon, your own favorite Don Quixote taking out wind power systems for Dulcinea?”

 

 

“Yeah, I’m familiar… the quintessential fairy tale elevated to saintly status.”

St. Libshitz narrowed his gaze and scowled at me.

 

 

“Think so, eh?  Scary stories to keep the kiddies in line?  No more, no less?”

 

 

“Libshitz… other than perhaps dinosaur fossils… there are no dragons.”

 

 

The saint looked at me with a sense of disappointment.

 

 

“Do you really think the whole point was Georgie stabbing a lizard?  Seriously?  Could it not occur to you that the dragon itself is a singular metaphor?  Good God, boychik, what do you think the whole point of the windmills was?  I don’t get it.  Those of you intellectual types are more than willing to see the value in the Biblical testaments and see the stories as metaphorical, but when it comes to the central metaphor, you are completely blind to it, even when we give you someone like Cervantes to point it out!”

 

 

“Valid point, your honor… hey, what do I call you anyway?  Saint?  Your honor?  Rabbi?  What is the proper protocol?”

 

 

Libshitz contemplated this for a second before replying.

 

 

“Good question.  No one actually addresses me.  Kinda sad actually when you think about it.  Saints seem to become really nothing more than icons to be rubbed on a necklace or on a key chain, not personal friends or confidants.”

 

 

There was a certain pain in his eyes as he said this. I instantly felt sorry for him.

 

 

“Even saints have dragons to slay, my friend?”

 

 

St. Libshitz reached for his martini and held it up in a toast.

 

 

“L’Chaim, Steven, regardless of what side of the curtain we are on, we will always have dragons that need slaying… and eh… thank you for not telling me to go be fruitful and multiply.”

 

 

“Night is still young, Saint.”

 

 

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Comments (2)

  • Narcanon Reply

    Steven needs to stop taking excessive pain meds before bed.

    05/23/2024 at 11:59
  • Norm Ellis Reply

    Very enjoyable reading. Thank you Steven

    05/27/2024 at 12:31

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