Sample Sunday, The Dragon of North 24th Street

Not the whole story, but a sample of it. Another sample is on the THE KING OF CHEROKEE CREEK page, because the story is included in that collection. “The Dragon of North 24th Street” appeared in the final issue of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s FANTASY Magazine.

The story begins:

The Dragon of North 24th Street

by Marian Allen

In the year four-hundred-and-something, St. Patrick lured the serpents of Ireland into the sea with the playing of his harp. He may have sung a bit, too, I couldn’t say.

And where did they go? Where else but America, like so many Irish after them. It wasn’t America then, of course, but the land was there, if the name was not.

So they went to America, where they had room to spread themselves. They mingled with whatever native snakes they couldn’t eat, the world turned on its axis and life went on.

Now, among the serpents was one who was so old he still had his four legs which, as you know, serpents lost after that business in the Garden of Eden.

This serpent was as long as the night before your wedding, as black as the inside of a cow’s second stomach, and as evil as your sweetheart paints your friends. In fact, if this serpent wasn’t a dragon, he would do until a dragon came along; and he was, in very fact, Beltran: the devil’s own wicked uncle, the one the devil’s mother never let the family mention when they came to tea.

Now, for sixteen hundred years (give or take a hundred), Beltran lay about, creating a general nuisance. He made his home beside the Ohio River, near the top of Kentucky, and, if he didn’t start more fights between the settlers and the Indians than they started between themselves, I’d like to know who did.

But, in spite of him, the land was settled, and the city of Louisville grew up. Beltran retreated underground during a particularly rambunctious period in the city’s history, when he felt his deviltry would only be superfluous, and took a nap of a century or so.

At last he woke. This was about 1934, I’d say it was. 1934 or ’35. No, I tell a lie, it was 1933, and I’ll tell you how I know: In 1910, a girl was born to Patrick and Mary Kelley, and they named her Pearl, and that girl grew up and married John Anthony Sullivan, and that very Pearl Sullivan was exactly 23 years of age at the time I’m speaking of.

So, in 1933, Pearl and Johnny Sullivan lived in a sort of a tenement on North 24th Street in the West End–that is to say, the “poor” section–of Louisville. Mind you, this was the heart of the Great Depression, and nobody had money, but it was still fashionable for folks in other parts of town to look down on the West-Enders.

Not that anybody who tried it would recommend putting on airs with Pearl–or any of the Sullivans, for that matter. “We’re no better than anybody else,” (so said the Sullivans), “but we’re damned if we aren’t every bit as good.”

WRITING PROMPT: Put a dragon into a setting that is unusual or unexpected.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Sample Sunday, The Dragon of North 24th Street

  1. Nancy Williams

    January 30, 2011 at 2:37pm

    You have such a unique voice, Marian, I loved it.

    He rolled, scratched his belly with sharp claws and stared at the ceiling of the woman’s apartment. He slithered off the bed, found the toilet and, no he didn’t do that! He drank, like a dog, she’d just cleaned it after all. He pulled out dental floss…oh boy did he need to use it after the shaved roast beef left strings of meat between is back teeth. He belched. No need for the dental floss now. He grabbed the burning towel, threw it in the sink, and turned on the faucet. However, there was no hope to save the blackened mirror from his fire.

    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 30, 2011 at 4:52pm

      He burped, and he didn’t need to floss after that! Lady, you crack me up! ~grin~

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  2. Mom

    January 30, 2011 at 6:46pm

    My second best favorite!

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  3. Bodie P

    January 31, 2011 at 11:17am

    I loved this snippet. I simply adore plunking legendary and mythological characters into the modern world. That’s the basis of a whole plot line in Redeeming Stanley. Stanley is actually the Green Man/Cernunnos/Herne the Hunter/Satan, except Publisher’s Clearinghouse had a typo, and sent all of the notices that he may have won $1,000,000,000 to Stan, rather than Satan. Things like that shape an Old God.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 31, 2011 at 12:18pm

      ROTFLOL! Yes, they do! Don’t the Simpsons have a dog named Satan’s Little Helper, when they meant to call him SANTA’s Little Helper? Well, they both dress in red, right?

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