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I Pity the Dragon!
By Tucker Burns and Grace Hall
NEW YORK — Beneath the island of Manhattan lie hundreds of miles of subway tunnels, millions of miles of fiber optic cable, and, until last week, one real-life dragon. But that was before Chronicle photographer-cum-dragonslayer Wes Freewald fought and killed the fire-spewing lizard in the sewers of New York’s Chinatown.
“It was mean, it was ugly, and now it’s toast,” said Wes, who also happens to be an expert on Madagascar Palm Dragons. “What do you want me to say? I’m just that good.”
Rumors of the dragon’s existence rocked the tight-knit community for weeks prior to Wes’ encounter. “It was a noble creature,” observed Noodles, a life-long Chinatown resident. “But we all knew it was extremely dangerous.”
Among those who encountered the beast was Mina Shen, a local teen-ager, who was pregnant with the monster’s child. Midwife Jing Lin knew something was wrong as soon as Ms. Shen gave birth. “It had scales and didn’t seem human,” Ms. Lin recounted. “I wanted to call the hospital, but Mina refused.”
Indeed, that night Ms. Shen ventured deep into the sewers with the baby to find the father. Nearby was Wes, the Chronicle’s own Lancelot, who was armed only with an axe, a piece of sheet metal, and his own bravery. “I saw her coming and tried to save her, but she was out of reach,” Wes said. “After I struck the fatal blow, the dragon exploded in a ball of fire, and she and the baby were gone.”
Also destroyed in the blast was the Blue Dragon restaurant, a local hangout owned by community leader and self-described “legitimate businessman” David Lo Pan. According to Mr. Lo Pan, the story isn’t over. “There are rumors that more dragons lurk beneath the streets,” he said. “The only way to find the truth will be to visit the new Blue Dragon restaurant, opening in November.” He also noted that patrons who bring a copy of The Chronicle to the restaurant’s grand opening will get half-priced dumplings.
However, Wes cautions those who would seek out dragons. “I know I’m seen as some kind of a hero in the dragon-fighting community, but I want to warn the kids out there that battling these monsters should be left to professionals like me,” he said. And what should you do if you’re ever faced with a dragon? Wes’s advice: “Fight fire with fire.”
“Here There Be Dragons”
Written by Naren Shankar
Directed by Sandy Bookstaver
GEORGE TAKEI . . . . . . . . as Mr. Shen