Fire Breathing Dragon
“There is no story more moving to me, personally than one in which one woman saves the life of another, and saves herself, and slays whatever dragon has appeared.”
- Alice Walker
(ten years ago)
The feeble beginnings of morning light appeared a leprous grey white outside the window of fourteen year old Victoria Pernova’s bed room. She is only awake at this hour on Sunday because of her father’s, (Constantine), need for fervent fellowship. Sundays have more ferocity about them than any other day, because he says its God’s day. At exactly , the unpuritanical preaching from the fire breathing dragon will commence in the family’s parlor room. There, the twisted teachings of scripture will be a flame, all fueled by
’s vice, a demon filled bottle of liquid salvation. And amid the lunacy of the monster’s mind, he believes he is the chosen one. Constantine
Victoria’s mother, (Alexandria) quietly peeks her head into her daughter’s room, and with a nervous smile murmurs, “Please be downstairs soon, Vicki. You know how (looking over her shoulder) the dragon hates tardiness.”
Victoria in her delicate voice responds with a simple, “Yes mother.” She stands in front of a full length mahogany mirror wearing a pretty baby blue dress with white flowers stitched around the cuffs and hem. After the last stroke of a brush through her long blond hair,
looks at her reflection in the mirror, takes a deep breath then slowly releases it dispersing only a fraction of the fear and anarchy clinging to her insides. She places her brush upon a matching mahogany dresser then sits on the edge of her well made sleigh bed and lifts Annabelle, her favorite doll from a soft pillow. Victoria caresses the doll’s rich black hair, kisses her blue jeweled eyes and looks despairingly at the dolls painted on smile. The same smile Victoria knows she will have to wear in front of her father this morning. Nuzzling Annabelle against her cheek, Victoria whispers “You’ll be safe in here honey,” and sets the doll in the bottom drawer of the dresser. Victoria
Victoria then smoothes out a few wrinkles from her dress, exits her room and descends a century old staircase. The wood under her feet creaks and moans as if the floor were worn out arthritic bones. Through a hall way nearing the dining room, the aroma of her mother’s apple and cinnamon oatmeal cover
in a warm embrace. Nevertheless, while approaching the opening to the parlor room, dancing flames from within the stone fire place reveal the flickering shadow of the dragon upon the dull white wall and slap that warm embrace to oblivion. Cautiously, practically tip toeing past the shadows Victoria could hear the soul snatching speech of her father rehearsing the mornings planned precepts. In a rambling intoxicated slur Constantine attempts to mimic the howling and screams of a southern Baptist minister. Mixed in with his Russian accent and the roar of the fire the language sounds extremely vile. Victoria
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of Gawd! So all shall face death! Unless they accept the way of Sal--vaa--tion that Gawd has pro-vii-ded,” the flickering shadow proclaimed.
Suddenly, and all at once, the dragon stumbles into the dining room table. Rattling dishes and silver wear he causes his wife and daughter to violently leap out of their skin. On his knees next to his chair Constantine struggles to stand. Once to his feet, he pounds his fist to the table as if slamming a gavel on a death sentence. He begins yelling and searing the air with fiery words until oxygen deprived. While his barrel shaped body appears to melt into his chair. A wrath of silence fills the kitchen.
Both Alexandria and Victoria are motionless and staring into their breakfast dishes as Constantine once again pounds the table. With his fist tight and knuckles white he glares deep and hard at his wife as pods of sweat pulse from his forehead. The stench of alcohol bleeds from his pores.
focuses keenly on Constantine in the same manner a snake does its prey. Alexandria
Pressing his hands together in front of his face as in prayer, Constantine sits quietly while Alexandria and Victoria begin to eat their breakfast resembling two life deflated prisoners.
Letting out a long dramatic sigh a lofty smile consumes Connie’s doughy face at the same time he slowly shakes his oblong head back and forth looking flabbergasted. Paying attention to her husband’s mannerisms by only moving her eyes in his direction he captures her careful scan. Both of them are now in locked sight.
is waiting in fear. Alexandria
The dragon with a mien like a tiger ready to pounce leaps from his chair, knocking it over in his wake. He clamps down on a handful of Alexandria’s hair violently jerking her head back as if she was rear ended by a speeding semi.
With terror sprayed over her face
’s eyes filled up with tears, Alexandria belts out an uncontrollable “Mother!” as if throwing her a verbal life line. But it was quickly snapped by a possessed scowl from her father sending Victoria’s eyes back to a shocking stare at her steamy cinnamon and apple oatmeal. Victoria
Now standing over his wife still gripping her hair Constantine holds Alexandria’s head cocked back in an abnormal position and in a low subterranean growl utters, “Charm can be deceiving my dear and beauty fades away (shouting now) But a woman who honors the lord deserves to be praised! You! You, deserve punishment!” The dragon drones while twisting the hair he is gripping tighter and tighter, so tight that
cannot blink her eyes. Alexandria
“Please Connie please! What did I do? What did I do?” cried
“What did you do? What did you do? You ask. You don’t even know when you sin? You wicked woman! What did you do?” blasted the dragon, spitting into the face of his hysterical hostage. The yellowy mucus landing under
’s left eye where a bluish pink bruise still remains from the last fellowship of terror. “You’re a cow woman, chewing like a cow the food you shove into your mouth before saying grace to our lord and savior! Not even thanking him, not thanking meee! For providing this mess you cook and then cram into your pig shaped body!” Leaning in closer to Alexandria he snorts in her ear. “Snort Snort… what a big fat piggy you are.” Alexandria
Practically unable to speak, Alexandria in a stuttered whimpering whisper says “I’m sorry Constantine, Please let go of my hair, please! It hurts so bad, you’re ripping it out of my head.”
Little droplets of blood began to ooze from the detaching roots of her hair. The more she pleaded the more he twisted tighter. The ooze turned into a drip and the drip into streams running down her forehead and her neck and the dragon enjoyed this.
Victoria slowly lifted her head from out of her hands and her eyes are greeted with a black look of the thug.
“Learn from your mother’s sins Victoria” said Constantine to his shuddering daughter. He proceeds to reach around with his free hand and squeeze then pull extremely hard at Alexandria’s breast causing her to shrill long and loudly at the pain.
“Don’t toy with God my love” sobs Constantine mockingly. “I’m sorry you say? Are you asking for forgiveness?”
“Are you a gluttonous pig?” asks Connie as he pulverizes her breast once again.
“Yes Connie! Yes! Yes! Yes! Please forgive me moans Alexandria through the pain.
Constantine raises his eyes to his daughter and with a look of extreme hatred released the breast of his wife and thrust her head forward with such force a heap of bloody hair was left in his sweaty hand.
Defiantly wiping away her tears Alexandria quickly tucked her exposed breast into her bra and closed her blouse. Embarrassment poured over her face and with exhaustion sobbed into her hands saying the words “I am sorry Victoria, I am sorry Victoria” over and over again.
Postured and looking undaunted by his wicked actions, Constantine sees his daughter still quivering like that frozen blade of grass and walks to her side as she cries into her oatmeal that now appears as rain saturated soil. Connie places a hand on
’s shoulder causing her to flinch as though she was electrocuted. He then digs her head into the pit of his chest as to comfort his daughter and sneers at his wife. Victoria
With shame burrowed throughout her body, Alexandria once again tearfully pleads, “Don’t hurt her, Please don’t you hurt her.”
The dragon then kissing his daughter quietly on the top of her head says to his wife with a civil tongue, “On the contrary Alexandria, you are the one tormenting this poor child. You, with your sinful ways force God to take out your iniquities on our daughter.”
Letting go of Victoria’s head Constantine walks slowly towards Alexandria still seated at her chair and stands before her. He looks down at her and with a coy smile backhands her across the mouth.
Nose to nose he scolds her saying “Do you understand that!?”
He emphasizes his question with another closed back hand to the mouth. The sound of the strike to the face of his wife was that of a thick twig snapping in half under a bores hoof in a quiet forest.
Eyes shut tight and squeezing out tears Victoria swallows the moment and with all her tattered heart hopes it is just a nightmare. But she knows it is not. She looks over at her mother still weeping into the palms of her shivering hands and at the Dragon eating his porridge away.
rises slowly, pushes her seat under the table and proceeds zombie like to the refrigerator. Opening the freezer door she scoops out a handful of ice cubes and arranges them in the center of a dry white dish towel and brings the four corners together. She twists the towel tight looking deep into it. Victoria then goes and kneels compassionately before her suffering mother. Carefully and oh so gently she pulls Alexandria’s hands down from her face. The young daughter jolts from the sight that looks as it were pummeled by a wrecking ball. The skin surrounding Victoria ’s cheek was bruised and still swelling before her daughter’s eyes. Alexandria
“Oh mommy,” chirps Victoria tenderly as she lovingly sets the ice pack onto her mother’s bulging lips.
The pores of the white towel absorb the watery droplets of saliva and blood as Alexandria winces from the icy cold and pain combination and fills the silent room with a sharp cry.
Responding to the compelling moment Constantine shakily stands and pushes his chair away from dining room table. In a low drunken bellow he says to his frightened family “Those who God wishes to destroy he first drives mad.” He exits the room with a satanic giggle and then fades into the glow of the parlor room that is warmed by the eeriness of the dancing fire.
Holding on to her mother Victoria waits for the Dragon to be gone and secretly whispers into Alexandria’s ear, Can we leave this place mommy, Lets go to the city.”
We can’t says Alexandria shaking her head nervously. “No not just yet.”
From the parlor Constantine (muttering) beckons his incarcerated flock to be in attendance before his pugnacious pulpit for this Sunday morning’s Bible brain bashing. Seated on two metal fold out chairs positioned in front of the dragon were Alexandria bruised, swelled, sniveling and Victoria nailed with a look of doom. Both mother and daughter seem as though they have been sucked into a terrorizing passive matrix.
The parlor room is engulfed in the ambient crackle from the flames within the old stone fire place. The curtains are drawn, for privacy? Maybe But more likely to shield the outside world from what takes place on Gawd’s day at the Pernova household. Two items of high importance sit atop the crudely made pulpit that Connie is swaying behind. First, a ninety proof bottle of unholy water, Second a weather beaten leather bound blood stained bible. The Dragon clears his throat then blesses it with the clear blood of his demon and the fuse is lit. With hands open, palms up, arms outstretched, and his forehead creased into a frown a wildly crazed grin washes over Constantine’s face. He then as if a figment in his dirty little mind yells “Action!” The readings and ranting begin.
“Bow your heads in prayer,” dictates the power hungry preacher. As his captive audience complies fearfully, he continues. “Dear Lord, I ask you today to help these poor helpless sinners that come before us this wonderful morning. And compel them to SEARCH their sorrowful souls to ask for forgiveness and to repent .TEACH THEM, Oh lord and savior, to… be… OBIDIENT, to be good listeners of the TRUTH! Orrr (he scows down at his family) if they continue in their sinful ways a good father MUST chastise to obtain their full attention. Help them, oh lord I SAY! Help these proud, pathetic sinners so they can be accepted into the promise land.”
Leaning over his pulpit, glaring at his daughter, he says in a spellbinding tone, “Victoriaaa?”
With no significance in her eyes she meets her father’s boiling hot look. “Yes father?” She sighs with apprehension reaching for her mother’s hand who is seated next to her. In union they tremble at the Dragons words.
“It is written
, to respect your father, your lord. And that he demands all of your love. And if you reject me I will punish youuu. Do you understand Victoria?” He pauses as the contaminated words seep into his daughter’s forlorn heart. Like a rocket Constantine breaks the silence and ejaculates his nasty twist on a proverb. “BUT! If you love me and obey me I will be kind to you,” Causing teardrops to drip out of Victoria’s ice blue eyes. Victoria
With a wicked grin the dragon continues, “My special, special little one, for your father and for your own lost black heart. You must search deep inside yourself and list for me and your father in heaven all the dirty secret sins you committed this week. Go upstairs into room and work on this assignment and when you are completed come to me by the warm fire so we can discuss just how vile you are. The lord will bless you my child and I will bless you -- with suitable punishment, because we both know the law, don’t we Victoriaaa?” finishes the dragon.
Alexandria squeezes her daughter’s hand, a prompt to respond to those dagger like eyes waiting for one.
“Yes daddy, I understand.” replies Vicki in a robotic chant. Victoria stands and lets go of her mother’s hand and suddenly feels stranded in a hellish whirlpool as her father comes to her, bends to one knee and embraces her, filling his daughter’s body with stroke like symptoms. The look on
’s face was one of complete obliteration. Victoria
“Smile sweetie!” said the dragon in a crazed giddy voice. “Count it all joy! Even in your trials count it all joy!” Popping Victoria on her bottom, Constantine points to the door and orders her up to her room and with flapping and wiggling fingers sings “flutter away butterfly flutter away.”
gone from the dogmatism the dragon’s attention turns to his favorite play toy. He staggers over to the pulpit and twists off the cap of his bottle of hell’s devilish power and swigs back a mouthful that ignites an inferno inside him. Grimacing from the tickle and the tang he loomed poetically fiendish at his wife who is now all alone in pit with her face buried in her hands. Victoria
“Why don’t you look at me wife? Wicked people runaway when no one chases them” the dragon spurts roguishly.
Alexandria, feeling the sickness of her husband’s miserable and hopeless eyes pressing on her brings her hands away from her face revealing a swollen deformity. Now staring at the man who did this to her watching him smiling at his dirty deed, she opens her mouth as to say something then thought for moment and only snorted in disgust.
“I see temptation threatens woman” says Connie diabolically. He then sips more of his potion, expels a vulgar “ahhhh,” and wipes dribble away from his bearded chin. He is staring hard at
. “You look beautiful my love.” hisses Constantine mockingly at his battered wife then sluggishly smirks, laughing into the vodka bottle. Alexandria
Out of nowhere, like a unsuspected gust of wind, Alexandria catches Connie off guard blowing this whisper at him, “The pleasing talk of an enemy hides more evil plans that can be counted,” adding a condescending smirk of her own from her bulging, cracked, and blood stained lips.
Alexandria could see anger begin to surge onto the face of the dragon. Ears becoming that familiar bright red color and the veins inside of his forehead and neck pulsing as though the rhythmic beat of savages about to attack was playing in his mind.
Like a volcano, hot words erupted from the dragon’s mouth, “Hiding vile thoughts behind smooth talk is like a clay pot with a cheap glaze, Alexandriaaaaa! Do you want to go toe to toe with parables? Just remember don’t doubt in darkness as you stand before someone who is heartless” smiles the dragon, proud of his poetic frenzy.
With more confidence building,
jabs back with an almost just as viscous philosophy. Blowing bangs from her eyes she hails “Don’t change what God has said, He will correct you and show that you are a liar, Constantine!” Alexandria
Then, like a tsunami, Constantine snatches the blood stained bible and blast towards Alexandria holding the good book like a spear.
drops to her knees, tucks her head between her legs and covers herself with her arms as if bombs were dropping. At the top of his lungs the dragon burned wildly, “Vows - are - a lot - easier - to make - then to live. Aren’t they! Aren’t they! Alexandria ! Aren’t they! Aren’t they!” screamed Connie over and over again all the while smashing and bashing his wife repeatedly with the leather bound bible and his fist. With each syllable the pounding was more intense. Uproar was in the room. The amount of energy being expelled by both anger and fear was enough to pin a Richter scale. Barking like a mad man Constantine kept up the pace of the fierce attack with kicks to the ribs, knees to the side of the head, and punches with one so wild it left a deep laceration over the top of Alexandria’s eyelid. Alexandria
Then, after a blow to the top of Alexandria’s head with the leather bound bible with enough pressure to pulverize concrete she was dazed and confused but not down for the count. Out of her mind,
attempted to escape by running away on all fours, but the dragon caught her by her long blond hair and as if pulling hard on the reins of a wild mustang he stopped his wife in her tracks. Connie slaps the side of her face with the meat of his hand. Chaotic screams and satanic voices filled the house reaching up to the room of Victoria where she sits in a corner, hands pressed over her eyes, Annabelle laying over her lap, moaning the words “please make it stop, please make it stop.” Alexandria
The dull heavy blows from kicks and punches combined with vulgar and obscene language reverberated throughout the old house like a tornado ripping off the roof and swirled violently around Victoria trapping her in its wake. Her mother’s cries for mercy were endless and the pleading broke
’s heart to many pieces, cracked like a stream down trodden with drought. Victoria
“Sinner! Sinner! Sinner!” thrashed the dragon, relentlessly pounding on his wife’s body inflicting contusion upon contusion, enveloping Alexandria in his web of willful damage. Every nook and cranny of the Pernova household was painted in misery that dreadful morning with no escape from the mayhem until Constantine, the wicked machine fueled with fury maxed out on extreme hatred.
Next, think of diving into a pool and how all of a sudden silence fills the space around you. This is now what
is experiencing, shrinking in fear. Raising Annabelle from her lap, Victoria holds the doll close to her heart and tilts her head towards the closed door of her room. Pausing before she moves she listens like a curious bird to the excessive quite that now is the voice of the house. A piercing line of Gulls outside Victoria’s window broke her trance sending her darting to watch the flock flying free having her dwell in possibilities. At the window she sighs at the sun struggling to shine through the gray clouds, how poetically chivalrous. Wiping her tears she turns from the window and walks, then places Annabelle in her secret hiding spot. With a hand on the door knob Victoria takes a deep breath before turning it and when she opens the door she steps into the darkness and once again descends the creaky old staircase being swallowed up in the uneasy soundlessness. Making her way through the hall way, the walls seem to stretch long and narrow with every heart pounding step she took. Approaching the parlor room the glow of the fire glistened in a calm serenity. But of course this was a mirage. Victoria
Now standing in the door way,
was forced into stillness at the sight of the demonic dance that took place in the dragon’s pit. Devastation composed the room into a melodramatic symphony of disarray placing Victoria’s thoughts in a racing marathon of doom. Probing her eyes up over and down all the strewn furniture and toppled knickknacks a faint cry came from the vicinity of the heavy cherry wood curio cabinet lying on its side the glass shelves shattered to shards and the trinkets that sat on them scattered around. As Victoria looked deeper at the scene she could see a bloody leg twitching or maybe shivering from beneath the heavy curio cabinet. Then how the mist on a wave fades away she heard a faint cry calling her name, “Victoria? Victoria ?” Victoria
Constantine stood stiff like a statue in the wake of a sun beam streaming through an opening in the curtains with an empty bottle of madness in one hand and the blood stained massacred bible in the other. “Licentious harlot,” he snarled. “Sinful bitch You received what you deserved!” he finished as he sucked from the empty vodka bottle waiting for the one last wretched drop to reach his lips. One could see long vertical deep scratches running down both cheeks of his doughy face, a sign that Alexandria was able to be on the offensive, even if only for but a moment.
Victoria’s insides quaked from the secret rumblings of hatred that were shouting at her father, “I hate you! I hate you!” the words echoed in her mind. This was a new feeling for young
. Not the usual fear and timidity but rage soared throw her veins. She stood in the doorway as the sickening stare of the dragon looked upon her. With undaunted courage Victoria gave a piercing stare back at her father. Victoria
The wicked bastard smiled broadly maybe feeling the mental fiery darts his daughter was shooting at him and said with a raspy growl “I see evilness swims in your blood also. Just like it does in that!” pointing to Alexandria lying motionless on the floor groaning in pain.
Breaking off from the dragon’s ominous glare Victoria quickly made her way over to her mother’s side pushing and shoving toppled furniture out of her way. She then kneeled down next to her mother and heaved the curio cabinet from atop her mother with animal like strength revealing the damage done.
Alexandria drifting in and out of consciousness with shear will swallowed hard, licked her blood stained swollen lips and attempted to speak to her daughter but only two short voiceless breaths escaped as her life dwindled out her.
wailed and protested with a series of no’s as she nuzzled her head into her mother’s chest. Sobbing, Victoria ’s mind was in a whirlwind. As she rocked her mother’s lifeless body something caught her attention. She felt a hard cold object under her mother’s head. Grasping it in her hand she slowly pulled the unfamiliar object out revealing a blood covered pearl handled revolver. Her wide blue eyes swiftly searched over the gun. Her hand trembled from the cold weight of the weapon as her mother’s blood stained her fingers. Then consuming a big breath of air she blew out the shock leaning into kiss her mother misshapen face. Victoria
“I love you mommy,” whispered Victoria, “Goodbye, mommy, Goodbye.”
The sunbeam that was warming Victoria’s back was eclipsed by the presence of the dragon now standing behind her unaware of what was brewing within his daughter.
“God works in mysterious ways little one and his wrath is mighty for those who continue to sin, as you can see” the dragon said cold heartedly forcing a frigid blanket of goose bumps to the back of Victoria’s neck. “Your mother was a wicked worthless woman. I tried to rescue her but …. Tisk, tisk, tisk.”
Tugging on a lock of Victoria’s long blond hair Constantine ordered his daughter up to her room so he could tend to the mess in parlor.
stood her ground, her back still to her father. Kneeling at her mother’s side she clutched the pearl handled revolver against her chest. Victoria
“Run along up to your room butterfly. Let daddy alone now, sweetly spoke the dragon as if nothing at all was the matter.
Again Victoria stood her ground and again the dragon tugged. Rage billowed in both of them. Victoria was defiant as the dragon now placed both of his large strong hands on each side of her head and squeezed them tightly as a vice and cruelly lifted her to her feet.
Constantine flinches back with surprise in his eyes then chuckled. Careful little fox. Don’t want to hurt yourself.”
And with a more sinister sneer Connie says, “Now, what do you intend to do? You little …wicked …. Monster. You’re a witch just like that one,” again pointing to the lifeless body of Alexandria.
“Give me the gun sweetie. Give... it... to... daddy.” hissed the dragon.
Victoria’s eyebrows raised and with an enchanted look upon her face took one daring step towards the dragon who grinned wildly saying, “You possessed little bitch what do you think you’re going to do? Hmm?”
“Why, slay the dragon of course, DADDY!” said Victoria with what one would think was a devious smile of her own. And with all her might, she pulled the trigger sending a lone spiraling bullet right between the eyes of that fire breathing bastard’s oblong head forcing him to the floor landing next to his murdered wife. Blood oozed from the wound as the life of the dragon withered away forever.