“And it is a great honor, you meat bag!” Stanley shouted as he landed on the countertop by the wine barrel sink. By way of punctuating his sentence, he blasted a small puff of fire at Dan, who quickly ducked under it. The stainless steel fridge took the punishment instead.
Dan screamed in rage. “You scale-faced lizard! It's no wonder my wife left!”
Stanley reared back in mock surprise, knocking pots off an overhead rack. “Lizard?” he gasped. “That's racist!”
Dan had finally had it. Feeding the dragon, cleaning up after it, fixing stuff it burned, fetching it beers about every ten minutes, giving up his spot on the couch; it was all too much. He didn't want this stupid “honor” in the first place. The second he first laid eyes on Stanley as a hatchling, he knew he'd be nothing but trouble. But dragon hatching ceremonies were a big deal with the HOA and everybody in the neighborhood showed up, holding their collective breath in anticipation. More like terror of being picked, he now realized.
“What was that? You say something, meat treat?” Stanley sneered, circling the countertops as Dan circled the floor, wielding his broom. Mind-reading was the latest and most infuriating bad habit the unwelcome guest had picked up.
“You know what I'm thinking. You figure it out!” he said, swinging the broom.
“You want me out? Tough luck, pal! Dragons choose their humans for life, so you'd better get used to it!”
Red-faced and sweating, Dan screamed “Get out of my life!” and rushed Stanley, swinging the broom like a madman as Stanley ducked and deflected every blow. At last, when he was good and ready, Stanley pounced. Dan felt like he'd been hit by a Saint Bernard with a weight control problem and attitude. When the stars stopped spinning in his eyes, he found himself flat-out on his hardwood floor with the dragon looming over him, a fang-filled grin on its face.
“I win,” Stanley said simply and dashed away. From the living room, he shouted, “You know the rules, meat-bag. Get your keys!”
Dan sat up coughing and tossed the broken broom away. “Best two out of three?” he offered. There was nothing for it. He used to be able to wrestle Stanley into submission and get his way, but it was pretty clear those days were over. Out front, Stanley was already cramming himself into the driver's seat of Dan's Mercedes. “So now the car's ruined too,” Dan sighed.
“You say something, Danny boy? Ah, lighten up. It'll be fun!”
Dejected, Dan dropped into the passenger seat and tried to explain to Stanley which pedal was which before handing over the keys. Ignoring the instructions, Stanley laughed and pulled the car into gear with a wrenching sound of metal being bent the wrong way. He craned his neck up out of the window and cheered, “Road trip! Road trip!”
Dan palmed his face as they peeled out of his driveway. He could put up with Stanley all day long, but a road trip to Vegas? That was just cruel.