The pure, ringing sound of New Orleans’ town crier’s pan flute split the early morning air. Max Junior jumped out of bed. He had worked for years, studying under uncle Max, and today was the day he’d take his final step toward being a real man—toward being a minstrel! He kissed his own hand and touched his lucky poster of R Kelly, clicked his wenises together, and ran across the castle’s drawbridge and into the town below.
Refrigerators rolled across the sky in great clumps, as wee hurricanes scampered hither and thither through the village square. Max Junior pounded on his uncle’s door, and the old man stuck his head out, his fuchsia beard blowing weirdly in the warm breeze.
“Why, hello, young master! Or should I say, Master Minstrel!”
“I’m all ready to go, uncle.” Max held up the peacock sandwich his mother had made the night before.
“Where’s Marta?” No sooner had Max asked, than she trotted ‘round the corner with the boy’s goggles between her prickly teeth.
Max jumped on her back, and the two galloped away. The proud uncle stood in the attic, waving his shrimp po’boy in the air, his face cerulean with emotion.
At the dragon’s cave, Max pulled his sunflower cloak over his head. This was the moment! Claiming one’s instrument from the dragon’s cave was the rite of passage all young apprentices must go through in order to become real musicians.
There he lay! The great dragon Tigger! Inch by inch, foot by foot, the boy crept past the sleeping beast’s shoulder blade until he saw it: the Twix + Didgeridoo. He carefully pulled it under his cloak and was almost outside, when a belch of smoke shot past him.
“Where do you think you’re going, you smelly thief?” bellowed the dragon.
The boy was suddenly glad he’d worn “the brown pants.” His lips flapped spastically as he replied, “N– n– now that I’m a real minstrel, I’m headed to the Trinity Vale stage at Middlelands, where I’ll make my fortune.”
“Oh,” said the beast, “Why didn’t you say so? Have a blast.”