A Water Dragon of Parsley Bay Story
Chapter 1 – Ding! Ding! Round One
Crunching his way across twigs and dried gum leaves came Water Dragon. He was in a hurry and particularly annoyed with himself for sleeping in, especially on such a beautiful morning – thirty degrees and rising. Normally, he would take his time – tune in to the ambient sound of the cicadas and feel the glorious heat on his back. Or breathe in the delicate perfume of the frangipani flowers carried on the gentle harbour breeze.
But not today. There was no time for that.
“Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! If he’s there again, I don’t know what I’ll do…”
On any other kind of day, he might pause by the waterfall and reflect on how lucky he was to live at Parsley Bay – he didn’t need the big surf and excitement of Bondi or Coogee, he preferred the calmer waters and seclusion of Parsley Bay. On any other morning, he might listen to the mud crabs scuttling about on the oyster shells and rocks beneath and ponder how many years the water dragons had been at Parsley Bay. (Was it two million, three hundred thousand and sixty-four, or two million, three hundred thousand and sixty-five?)
But not today.
As he approached his destination, he spotted two bathers coming down the path through the tea trees, on their way to the jetty below for a morning dip. He would have to speed up to make it, but alas, his foe had beaten him to it, and his cold blood began to boil.
“Look, Dad. It’s a water dragon!”
“There. There on that boulder.”
“Ooh, so it is! Actually, I don’t think that is a water dragon. That’s a blue-tongued lizard, isn’t it? Look, he’s got a blue tongue.”
“Wow, he’s cool!”
Feeling very cross, Water Dragon waited until the bathers had descended the steps to the water below and then confronted a blue-tongued lizard who had once again occupied his favourite boulder.
“Right! That’s the last time. It’s three days in a row now. Clear off.”
The blue-tongued lizard took no notice – his eyes were fixed on a mosquito full to the brim with blood and floating woozily into dangerous territory. His head followed the mosquito’s flight path – a figure-of-eight and then a loop-the-loop – before his blue tongue darted out and flicked the mosquito into his mouth. He crunched down on his catch.
“Well?” said Water Dragon. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
The blue-tongued lizard ignored Water Dragon. His eyes had glazed over, like those of a small child sucking a sweet. Eventually, he spoke.
“I know my rights,” said the blue-tongued lizard, picking a bit of mosquito-wing from between his teeth.
“Rights?” said Water Dragon. “What rights?”
“I’ve got just as much right to sit on this boulder as you.”
“Rubbish! Your side of the bay is across the bridge and well you know it!”
“Well, I’ve been speaking to my union,” said the blue-tongued lizard, pausing briefly to burp, “…and they don’t quite see it like that see.”
“Union?” said Water Dragon. “You don’t belong to a union.”
“Yes I do, actually – as of yesterday. The N.U.B.L.T.”
“The N.U—what?” asked Water Dragon.
“The N.U.B.L.T. The National Union of Blue-Tongued Lizards.”
Water Dragon laughed. “Well, get the acronym correct at the very least. The National Union of Blue-Tongued Lizards, if there is such a thing would be N.U.B.T.L., not N.U.B.L.T. – unless you’re a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich?”
The blue-tongued lizard narrowed his eyes.
“You calling me a sandwich?”
Water Dragon sighed impatiently.
“Look, I’m not here to discuss this rot. You are on our side of the bay, and it’s not on. Us water dragons have been on the east side for years and you being here is confusing people. Now the locals think that you’re a water dragon and, worse, that I’m a blue-tongued lizard!”
The blue-tongued lizard was still trying to work out the sandwich reference.
Water Dragon continued. “Look, I don’t mind you coming over once in a while if you must, but you can’t just come willy-nilly, and now you’re hogging all the best spots. It’s not on. And that’s my boulder!”
“It’s not your boulder, mate. I refer you to Article 3, Section 5a of the latest legislation: ‘A Blue-Tongued Lizard’s Right to Roam’, and Article 5, Section 7b of ‘A Blue-Tongued Lizard’s Right to Gainful Employment’.”
“Gainful employment? What piffle,” said Water Dragon.
“It’s the free market mate – not heard of it?” said the blue-tongued lizard. “I’ve as much right to work this boulder as you. Plus the locals love me.”
Water Dragon looked around incredulously. The cicadas were now gossiping loudly and the two magpies, Glen and Shane, had landed on the branch of a nearby banksia tree. Water Dragon shook his head and continued.
“Look, I’m warning you. This is your last chance, or else…”
“Or else what?” said the blue-tongued lizard. He turned and faced Water Dragon head-on. “Go on. Or what?”
A couple of myna birds landed on the pathway and the huntsman spider uncurled himself from a nearby leaf. The commotion had also roused Dunbar the dog from his slumber. His cold, wet nose protruded through the railings of his yard, sniffing the air and trying to work out who was making the racket.
Water Dragon was annoyed at himself for using the ‘or else’ threat without having worked out exactly what ‘or else’ was, and was embarrassed that this confrontation was now taking place in front of an audience. Everyone was waiting for his next move, but his mind was blank. The blue-tongued lizard laughed.
“I thought so. There’s plenty of room here for the two of us.”
Water Dragon countered. “I hereby give you forty-eight hours to vacate or else…” He paused for dramatic effect, but also because he was still trying to think of something threatening.
“Or else what?” repeated the blue-tongued lizard.
“There will be consequences,” said Water Dragon, finally, widening his eyes for added threat.
The blue-tongued lizard held his stare and then laughed. “Yeah, yeah. Speak to my lawyer.” He waved the dragon away like a bad smell.
“Oh a lawyer too?!’ said Water Dragon, turning to the assembled crowd (that now also contained a couple of mud crabs). “A union and a lawyer in one day! My my, he has been busy.”
“Face it,” spat the blue-tongued lizard. “There are two ways to settle this. Through the courts – but we both know you’d never win – or”—the blue-tongued lizard’s eyes narrowed and he took a step forward—“we sort this out lizard to lizard. That’s if you’re lizard enough? Oh, I forgot – you think you’re a dragon.”
A ripple of laughter went through the crowd. Water Dragon felt his anger rise.
“I AM A DRAGON!”
“Rubbish. Where’s the fire? Real dragons breathe fire,” said the blue-tongued lizard. “I don’t see much fire in your belly! It’s a contravention of the Trade Descriptions Act calling yourself a dragon. At best, you’re a silly old sea serpent.”
“Don’t you call me a sea serpent!” said Water Dragon. He took a step forward. The blue-tongued lizard reared up on to his hind legs and hissed.
“Don’t stick your tongue out at me,” said Water Dragon “I don’t care what colour it is.”
Water Dragon and the blue-tongued lizard locked eyes. Neither blinked. Neither moved, but they could hear more human footsteps coming down the path. This is not the time thought Water Dragon. This will have to be settled later.
“I give you forty-eight hours.”
Water Dragon turned and fled down the pathway and slid under a rock to the sounds of a giant raspberry from the blue-tongued lizard and disappointment amongst those who thought they might see a lizard v. dragon wrestle.
“Bottled it,” said Glen the magpie, while his partner Shane made chicken noises.
Water Dragon heard them. This was not how he had planned to spend his day. He needed a swim to clear his mind and get some much-needed perspective on this much-unwanted problem. As he retreated, he could hear more bathers marvel at what they thought was a water dragon sitting on his boulder. But the blue-tongued lizard wasn’t a water dragon – he was a fraudster and a scoundrel who was going to get his comeuppance very soon.
The Boulder will be published later this year.