The brilliant ribbons of a May Pole fluttered in a gentle breeze on the back lawn of Evelyn Eden’s home. Later in the day, a dance would weave the ribbons into a colorful sheath. Smoke and the aroma of roasting meat filled the air. Allyn Jones stood in the shade of a live oak, watching Etienne Comeaux tend the barbecue when his phone buzzed. He pulled it out and read the text from Vassily Alexandrovitch Nabokov. He snorted. The Russian got himself invited to the May Day festivities on a promise to bring vodka from his private stock.
“Vassily’s almost here.” Allyn put his phone in his pocket.
“He’s early.” Etienne put another chunk of oak in the firebox of the smoker. “Probably all excited about it being May Day.”
“More likely he’s excited about seeing Evelyn again. He’s smitten with her.”
“Smitten.” Etienne scoffed. “Aren’t you jealous?”
Allyn laughed. “No. I know she’s a sucker for tall redheaded magicians.”
Suddenly, shrieks came from the tool shed and two men tumbled out, flapping their arms around their heads. Bobby Boudreaux yelled, “Buddy’s attacking us!”
“There’s a nest in there!” Jason Thibodeaux ducked a small silvery creature as it darted through the air. “Buddy built a nest!” It clipped the bill of his Astros baseball cap, flipping it off him. “Allyn, do something! Call him off!”
Etienne turned to the redheaded magician and asked, “You let him loose?”
“No.” Allyn whistled, then called, “Gwibber!” The creature continued to harass Jason and Bobby as they swatted and cursed.
Evelyn stepped out onto the patio with Vassily. His smile faded when he heard the noise and saw the fracas going on at the shed. Glacial blue eyes grew wide in recognition. Shaking his head, he said, “This is not good.”
Jason left his cap where it lay. He and Bobby ran to the barbecue pit. He snapped at Allyn, “Do something with that flying lizard of yours! He’s trying to kill us!”
Vassily said, “If he wanted you dead, he would eat you.”
“That little monster can’t eat something as big as me.”
“Trust me, he isn’t always little.”
Bobby brushed singed hair from the back of his head. “What’s he doing out?”
Evelyn looked at the ground. One copper eyebrow went up. Allyn asked, “What have you done?”
She shrugged and said, “I let him out to get rid of the feral hogs that were tearing up the pasture.”
Allyn’s jaw muscles worked and veins stood out on his forehead. His head tilted slightly. “And he’s still out because?”
“I left him loose because he was doing such a good job.”
“You left him loose?” Allyn sounded unnaturally calm. “You left Gwibber Cymry loose? Unsupervised? We’re having a party and you left him loose?” Allyn seemed even taller as he glared at his wife.
“He likes being out of the amulet.”
“Yes he does,” Allyn said. “Please go get the amulet.” She went into the house. He started walking down the path to the shed. “Come on, let’s see what kind of damage he’s done.”
Vassily walked alongside him and said, “Do not be angry with her, big man, she is protecting her property.”
“She should have told me,” Allyn muttered. “She has no concept of the damage he can do on his own.” They stopped in front of the shed. From within, they heard high pitched chirps.
Bobby said, “Jason and I heard that when we went in to get the tractor to haul the extra tables and chairs up to the patio. That’s when Buddy attacked.” He rubbed a red welt on his forehead.
Allyn’s mouth set in a straight line when he stepped up to the door and looked in. In the dim interior, he saw a pile of twigs on top of the tool cabinet. The other men peeked around him. Vassily said, “That looks like nest. Something is in it.”
“KGB taught you to spot the obvious, didn’t they?” Allyn grouched. A buzzing sound rose from the nest and a glint of silver sparkled over it. As Bobby and Jason jumped away, a silver streak flew toward them. Allyn’s hand became a blur of motion. He caught the tiny dragon. It squeaked and wriggled as he inspected it. “This isn’t Buddy.”
Evelyn walked up and heard this. “Who is it?”
“I don’t know! It’s a female.” Just then, the dragon bit his finger and when he flinched, she got away and darted back to the nest. There, she turned to face the humans, hovering in place, ready to defend the tiny dragon who popped its head up and trilled.
“We have a baby dragon!” Etienne said.
“Great. Just what we need with all the friends and relatives showing up later,” Allyn grumbled. Blood welled and ran in large drops from his bitten finger. Suddenly, the air stirred as if a huge fan had been turned on. A solid thump shook the ground. Everyone turned to see a whole feral hog lying behind them. A gigantic dragon swooped in, landed, and folded his wings. Dazzling silver scales gleamed in the sunlight. Buddy stood taller than the shed. Brilliant amber eyes glittered as they darted from person to person. Flickers of fire shot from his nostrils with every breath. “Gwibber.” Allyn held out his hand. The large dragon lowered his head and made a cooing sound. His tongue flicked out and licked the blood off Allyn’s finger. The bleeding stopped.
Vassily turned to Jason, who stood gaping at the silver behemoth nuzzling Allyn’s hand. “I told you he could eat you. This is how I met him. He is not funny little toy.”
“No, he’s not,” Jason said as he edged away from the big dragon. He caught the sleeve of Bobby’s tee shirt and pulled his cousin along with him. Bobby yanked his shirt away from Jason and stayed close.
Allyn spoke Welsh to Buddy when two silver streaks bolted from the nest, flew like darts to the hog carcass and started tearing into it, rapidly stripping meat from the bones. Bobby’s eyes grew wide as he watched. “How can they eat so much?”
Allyn shook his head. “I don’t know. All I know is they can eat like that every day and still shrink down to housefly size.”
“It is magic. Never ask how it works,” Vassily said. He reached out and stroked Buddy’s head. “You are good dragon. You need to be small now. Jason is afraid of you.”
Buddy snorted sparks. Allyn said, “You heard him. Get small or get in the amulet.” A rush of air filled the void left when the hulking presence reduced to lizard size. The female dragon sat on a rib of the polished skeleton, grooming. Buddy landed by her and twined his neck with hers. The youngster took to the air and flew around Allyn’s head chirping and trilling until it sneezed. Flames shot from both ends. “Give me the amulet.” Evelyn handed the silver dragon medallion to him. Faster than the eye could follow, his left hand shot out and grabbed the baby. He said a few words and clapped his hand over the amulet. The baby disappeared. The adult dragons glared at him. “I’ll let him out after the party.” They went back to necking.
“It’s a boy?” Etienne asked.
“Can I have him?”
“Only if you promise to clean up after him.”
“Bobby asked, “What’re you gonna name him?