Creative Nonfiction Funny Christian

The sunlight fought to make itself known through a slight opening in the blackout curtains. This would be enough to disrupt the cold darkness needed for the creature to sleep. Mouth open, breath hot, the eyes would soon blink against the light.

Cursing the light, the mighty Dragon stirred. At nearly six and a half feet tall, this beast would pull his large body to a sitting position. Looking around his surroundings, his eyes finally settled on the clock. A slight panic sent a charge through his system that caused his eyes to open fully.

Time - 10:23 a.m.

Recalling the day before, he realized that it is actually Saturday morning. No where to be, and no honey do list. Well, not that day, anyway. Feeling the familiar tide of depression, he would fall back down on his pillow.

No, this would be one of “those” days. One where Dragon could feel the weight of his world crushing his soul. Where memories gathered in some clandestine fashion during his subconscious state, and prepared to overwhelm him once more. This would bring with it the inevitable gravity trap, a device that would hold him down, and reinforce his helplessness. A device created almost entirely by his own impulsive nature.

The nickname itself would be misleading. For those who enjoyed Kung-Fu theater, “Dragon” refers to a master at their art, one capable of far more than self defense.

This Dragon had mastered self defense only. His skills did not yield him a black belt in martial arts, though if awarded, he would certainly have one in sarcasm. It had been the use of that sarcasm that led to his nickname.

Born with the name Craig, he had been angered by a coworker, then fell back on his usual defense mechanism; his sarcastic wit. He decided to joke the guy about his nickname of Cowboy, because of his love for Dallas football. The guy laughed and countered with incredible sarcastic technique, asking Craig what nickname he might take for himself.

Craig had been born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon. He had always liked “Dragon” as a nickname, though he never shared the idea with anyone. Caught off guard in that situation, he blurted out the name.

After the laughter died down, the name would stick. Soon, all of his coworkers called him Dragon. It even became a source of pride for Craig, now called Dragon. The name made him feel – powerful. He kept it.

That had been on his first job, where Dragon ruled the parking lot as a grocery store clerk. In the beginning, his imagination cushioned the task of gathering grocery carts. This had been before the days of mechanical gathering assistants. Decked out in slacks, a dress shirt and a tie, Dragon would be dragging carts from all over the lot, returning them safely to their home inside the store.

In his mind, he would be in the Grocery Clerk Olympics, taking the gold, time after time. Then came the controversial call. Two carts were not properly joined together, and this caused him to lose control. Several of the carts on the end worked themselves lose, and began the trek downhill. He just saved them from hitting a car, however, the situation left him very frustrated. Dragon suspected sabotage and complained to the Olympic Committee, but would be stripped of the gold regardless.

There is the possibility that, in the beginning at least, Dragon's imagination may have been too much a part of his reality. Even his fantasies might turn on him.

As the mundane overpowered his imagination, Dragon began complaining aloud about pushing the “blankety-blank” carts all over the “blankety-blank” parking lot, trying to dodge the “blankety-blank” cars.

He didn't actually use the term “blankety-blank”, however on this particular Saturday morning, this is how his memory decided to present it.

Thinking back to that time, he remembered it being just a few days later leaving that job, and moving 250 miles east. The reason: well, those blankety-blank shopping carts.

That had been job number 1 for Dragon.

Dragon had always heard that hindsight is 20/20. This would easily be the case for him. As he had gotten older, he could see what had been hidden to him at 17. He had been both very indecisive, and exceptionally impulsive. In fact, he might have been accurately described as both tempestuous and impetuous.

Job number 2, the boss made him mad. Dragon bellowed and walked off the job. Number three, guy fires him. He appeals to the guy, who gives him the job back. Dragon just laughs and walks out.

At number 4, Dragon makes the trek back to the blankety-blank carts, certain he has a better attitude. That lasts a month.

Over the next several years, he works in different stores, some production and industrial gigs, and even joined the military. That lasted about a year. That one took him four “quits”, of disappearing for days, even weeks to actually walk away.

By his 10th job, his average time at a job would be around 4 months, or the length of a season. So too would his romantic relationships. This Dragon would live one life for a season, and on a whim, exchange it all for a new one in the next.

Soon it became a sitcom that played like a reality show, exchanging actors and locations regularly.

After losing job number 16, he called his ex-girlfriend 600 miles away, and proposed. She accepted, so he went to her, and taking the spinner in hand, played vocational roulette. Job 17 lasted 3 days. Number 18 lasted a whole week!

Convinced he would find his groove, he is able to persuade his girlfriend to marry him despite being unemployed on the day of their wedding.

Nineteen lasts three days.

Convinced that being married would motivate him to find some semblance of stability, he felt overwhelmed, and truly helpless for the first time. It had not mattered as much before, he knew he could seem normal long enough to talk his way into practically any entry level position.

Now, he had taken a step toward responsibility and failed. Convinced that it would be noble, he “flies” south in late summer, leaving his bride waiting for a ride from work.

This would be when the gravity trap would first take him down. As he sought out job number 20, his mind had begun to turn on him. He could see and hear “no” before the question would be asked. He is unstable, and could not be trusted as a potential employee.

Then came the day that trap sprang shut, and would remain closed for day; a potential employer used the phrase he had been anticipating. He fell into a funk that would be difficult to overcome. Hopelessness would lie next to him in bed, offering alcohol, drugs, even ice cream as consolation.

Over the years, he would drop the alcohol and drugs, but the ice cream never let him down. He never swerved all over a highway after a bowl of peanut butter ice cream, and not even Rocky Road would make him paranoid after a bowl.

Looking around the room once more, Dragon's memories released him. Back in his bed, he began to feel hungry. Now all he would have to do is get out of bed and start draggin' the Dragon to the kitchen.

He had actually come to call the art of getting out of bed, and going anywhere, Draggin' the Dragon. Not something he would ever be excited about doing. Even today, as he considered grabbing a bowl of cereal, Cap'n Crunch would have to wait a bit longer.

Most often, the gravity surrounding his bed would still be too heavy to let him actually rise and simply walk into his day, anyway. This would be about more than multiple jobs.

Inside the trap, there would always be a call for retribution. This cry would come from in his mind, some real, some imagined. Hearing the voices of family, this would include his original family, then his wife and children. Eventually, there would be so many more that he hurt others everywhere he went. Despite one's intentions, messing with the Dragon inevitably led to getting burned.

Dragon began to feel irreversibly trapped. How could he escape this increasingly stronger gravity?

Laying back on the bed, the memories sweep through Dragon like a tsunami. Taken back again, he sees his 21st job. In this memory, he could still see his employer's face as he shook his hand. It would not be one of pride for a job well done. It would be the first of several pitiful “good luck, you're gonna need it” handshakes as he is handed his final pay. That one would happen in just five days, a record for that kind of recognition. The others would take a couple of weeks.

The pattern is well established. Looking like the ruts of hundreds of wagon wheels moving across the plains of the old west, Dragon's routine could probably have been predicted by a squirrel.

First, the search. This would involve finding a way to convince himself that he is a powerful Dragon. Maybe some uplifting, inspirational music from a movie. Then he would put on that persona that could charm the most skeptical employer. A persona that existed only for gaining employment. The one he used to try and keep the job would not be nearly as polished, or as necessary.

Then, the catch. He goes in, the persona polished and prepared. He is a warrior master in whatever the interviewer seeks. Dangling the bait that is himself, Dragon is patient, humble and slightly, but amusingly awkward. This is to present himself as the best choice for an obedient subordinate, but in no way superior to the person interviewing him.

This, of course, only exists within the persona. Dragon would, if given his preference, stay in his cave and just observe the world around him. He might actually be inclined to bite those that would try to enter, as that whole participating in life thing had become far too exhausting.

The last step would be the thrill of the chase culminating in “the kill”. He nails the interview, and grabs the job. In all his years of moving impetuously through his nomadic existence, he never has to file for, or collect unemployment. There would always be a job waiting for him, somewhere.

He would dance through the door of wherever he called home, whether with his wife and kids or alone, excited over his latest victory. Then, the persona would be put away, awaiting the next battle against the growing power of the gravity trap.

Once more, Dragon's memories offered him a break, as he found himself on this reflective Saturday ready to try to start the day. As if some malevolent power enjoyed torturing him with his multitude of bad choices, it dared him to sit up again. Filled with a small burst of energy, he did find that position once more. Then, he fell back again. He could feel a force laughing at him as he succumbed to the gravity once more.

The Cap'n will understand, he reasoned. Dragon's much deserved morning torture awaited. After all, only seven minutes had passed since his memories had taken back to job number one.

He could hear the raspy voice his imagination had assigned this evil host as it said,

“Now, where were we? Oh yeah, number 22. Hey, Dragon, isn't that the one where your boss's husband tried to take a chunk out of your arm? The dude bit you, man! Thought you were hitting on his wife, as I recall. Yeah, we got you with that one – you were actually innocent, huh? Yeah, tough break, man. C'mon, you know you deserved it.” the entity said, infinitely self satisfied.

Dragon couldn't see it. Not for many years. He believed he was a good guy. He didn't believe that he deserved everything that kept happening to him. The world had chosen, for whatever reason, to make some sort of example of him. Dragon could not see that he alone had built his world.

The next phases of construction of his world would take him from job number 23 to number 36 in just four years. Then came number 37.

Other than the military, this would be the first job he would actually celebrate a one year anniversary. He would earn vacation for the first time as well. He wore many hats there, working his way out of the mail room, and helping out in the warehouse. Then, he would be promoted to the computer lab.

Just like with the military, it came to an end in less than 380 days.

A dark cloud enveloped Dragon. The ruts ran deeper. The highs of getting a new job would grow higher, the lows, lower. In the middle, a dark cloud followed Dragon, threatening storms at a moment's notice.

Thirty-seven jobs in less than eight years.

When asked where he saw himself in five years, or ten, the answer always sounded hopeful, and confident. They were rehearsed, often custom tailored to the position to which he applied. Personally, he had no answer for the question.

Dragon thought he might be a meteorologist, chasing tornadoes. Maybe a radio personality. Then there was writing. He began writing short stories at six, assuming he would write “one day”. He would always be one serendipitous event away from breaking this cursed cycle.

Truth is, Dragon had no idea what he wanted. He had become as driftwood, without direction or ambition. In the background of his life existed a growing family, hoping he would just see them. What he would see in them would be a constant reminder of his failures.

Education? He had grabbed a GED and dropped out of high school. It was the quick fix. School had moved much too slowly for him.

Getting jobs came much the same way, of course. Pull out all the stops, get the job, then wing it. Careers were for others, like people who drink coffee from Starbucks.

Friendships were something that happened often through the convenience of coworkers. Not many would come to know the man called Dragon. As self consolation, he often saw himself as mysterious as the wind.

Dragon prided himself on being capricious. He could take impetuousness to a new level. He once woke up to go to the bathroom at 3 am. He would opt not to go back to sleep, but shower, dress and then drive two hours away to visit relatives. Arriving at just after 5 am, he would point the headlights of his car into their bedroom, flashing them until they answered the door.

This habit of impromptu choices would define him for many years. That invasion of his cousin's place would be far from the only time he would show up places in the middle of the night, or early morning. Sometimes, he might even show up with his car packed, looking for a new Dragon lair.

When he heard other's voices ask him why, he asked why not. The response would become his mindset. The more he would be told about this so-called “wisdom”, the more he challenged it.

His behavior often seemed to have no rhyme or reason to others. Looking back, Dragon believes those who are “loners” develop their own, unchecked logic that seems impeccable – to them.

Three years after leaving job number 37, Dragon rests his wings at number 52. Working for family, this one would last just over a year. After wrecking three delivery vehicles, he is let go.

Seven years later, the Dragon, ironically, would begin job number 70, as a driver. This one would be with family as well, and would last a full year and a half.

At both numbers 70 and 71, he would have a bit more free time at work, and he began to practice his love from childhood, writing. At this time in his life, it would actually become therapeutic.

Now, here he lay on that Saturday morning that began this tale. Dragon's nemesis; his memories, had brought him up to date. Just a few days prior to this peaceful Saturday morning, he had actually celebrated his 2nd anniversary at job number 72.

Then, something inside the beast broke: the gravity trap would fail: Dragon developed a plan. He would stay at this job until he retired, then he would become a full time writer. With a plan now, the gravity lessened.

Then, something awesome happened: the count changed for Dragon. Rather than counting the number of jobs in one year, he would instead start counting of the number of years at one job.

Three, four and then his fifth anniversary celebrated. Then ten. Then fifteen.

The memories of living the impulsive life fade, as do the gravity and helplessness. His memories now play like a half forgotten movie of long ago.

Dragon came face to face with himself, and refused to run. He had grown tired of running. Finally he would deal with himself, but not alone. He turned to God, to find that He had been waiting for him all along - with a plan for his life.

With a new plan in place, the beast that had been the Dragon slowly faded as well. He's okay with not being the most powerful one in his life.

He's moving past the lessons of “hurt people, hurt people”. He is learning that there are no good people, or bad people - just people. People who make good choices, or bad.

Could have, should have, would have, and if are words that have been replaced with this one word – hope.

It's real.

Oh yeah, and he did jump right up that Saturday morning, and go get that Cap'n Crunch cereal.

Just thought you might be curious.

May 25, 2021 17:52

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