Short story


The boy was staring at the spider's quick deliberate gestures running back and forth weaving her web, quietly doodling to herself. Her graceful rhythm arose his curiosity.

"Why are you doing that?"

"Hah?" the spider turned facing the boy.

"Why are you weaving?"

"Oh, that," the spider smiled. "It makes me free."

"I see," the boy said not seeing and continued watching. Then, when the web was almost finished, the boy ventured: "Would you teach me to weave a web?"

"What for?" the spider inquired.

"I don't know," the boy shrugged, "to make me free I suppose."

"Why would you want to be free in a web?"

"For the same reason you want to be free in a web," the boy said.

"That's a good reason," the spider declared and went on singing joyfully.


"So what?"

"Why do you want to be free in a web?"

"I don't know," the spider replied.

"Who knows?"

"The golden dragon. Don't you even know that? Ask him."

"Where do I find the golden dragon?" the boy asked excitedly.

"I don't know," the spider mumbled, "ask around".



"Little bird," the boy cried out to the sparrow, "where is the golden dragon?"

"Not in the aaaiiiiiirrrrrr," the sparrow chirped and flew away.

"Little fish," the boy whispered to the goldfish, "where is the golden dragon?"

"Not in the water," said the goldfish burbling air bubbles.

"Dear deer," the boy begged, "where is the golden dragon?"

"Neither in forests, nor in fields," the deer answered.

"Little worm, where is the golden dragon?"

"Wrong question," the worm snarled tunneling into the mud.

The boy grew cheerful: "You mean, wrong answer, right?"

The worm perked his head up and remarked in not so few words that he was not senile, he knew perfectly well what he meant and if the boy didn't care to mind what he, the worm said, then that was fine by him, the boy could live his life through wondering about the golden dragon and yes, it was the question that was wrong.

The boy sat speechless for a while, in such a state of confusion that he fell asleep.



He dreamt that he stood nose to snout with the golden dragon.

"You must be my dream," the golden dragon pointed at him.

"Oh, no," the boy shouted triumphantly, "you are my dream."

"No, I am not! You are mine!"

"No, I am not! You are my dream and I am going to prove it to you."

"Really?" the dragon sounded amused. "How?"

"That's how!" the boy leapt up, embraced the dragon with all his might and opened his eyes. He was laying on the mud tightly embracing himself, no dragon. Disappointed, he closed his eyes again only to find himself face to face with the golden dragon.

"Well?" the dragon chided.

"I don't know, but you are my dream," the boy said, tears running down his face.

"Now it is my turn to prove that you are my dream. Look at me, what do you see?"

"A golden dragon."

"Good. Now, here is a mirror, look in it, what do you see?"

The boy approached the mirror and saw nothing. He went closer, tried it from different angles, still nothing.

"What do you see?" the dragon urged.

"Nothing," the boy admitted with defeat.

"Well?!" the dragon proclaimed victoriously.

"You look in the mirror, I want to see whether I can see you in the mirror."

The golden dragon watched his own reflection with admiration. The boy saw it too.

"You are beautiful," the boy sighed.

"I know. Since the issue of who is whose dream is settled, I would like to know why you have appeared in my dream."

"I forgot."

"Very well. In that case I have a burning question, maybe you can help. Where am I?"

"In my dream," the boy rejoiced.

"No, we have settled that. Remember?"

"In my imagination."

"No, that's like a waking dream, and you are my dream, so where am I?"

"Nowhere!" the boy replied angrily.

"Hm. Very morphogenetic. Where is that?"

"Not here, not there."

"A negation is no explanation."

The boy grew more and more agitated: "Wrong question, Mr. golden dragon."



The dragon opened his eyes, wondering about the strange dream he had. Something's wrong with my diet, he thought, lately I keep having these lucid dreams, I could swear I can still smell the boy. He scratched his left ear and blew fire out of his nostrils. What shall I eat? What is the right diet for me? I better ask the wise owl.

"What did you eat before you had the strange dream?" the owl asked pushing her glasses into place.

"I scorched some clay and that's it."

"Hm. Very unhealthy. Earth is a delicatessen, to be eaten seldom by golden dragons. Your main diet should consist of truths, ideas, beauty, etc. Moreover, you should quit fuming out of your nostrils, go jogging instead."

"Thank you, wise owl, I shall abide by your advice."



The bitch picked up her basket stealing a last glance at her new hat in the mirror: "I am ready my dears! Let's go."

The dog family embarked on a picnic route to the truth market. Sunshine, good cheers, a perfect day for the fare. The distant noise of vendors shouting, offering their merchandise merged into a lazy cacophony. As they drew closer, butterflies unfolded from the picturesque background, laid out into colorful carpet patterns on the pavement, called the butterfly effect. It was the puppy's first visit to the market.

"Daddy, how come there are so many truths?"

"One truth only creates monopoly. A flea market is characterized by demand and supply, thus upgrading the quantity and quality of the merchandise. Do you understand that, whelp? Since there is great want for truth, there are many who offer it."

"But daddy, how do they know they want truth?"

"Sonny, you are a genius. Have you heard him, mom?" He buried his nose affectionately into puppy's neck. "Listen well, doggy. This is the magic of marketing. Good marketing solves problems. First it creates a problem of course in buyer consciousness only to solve it by the exact product it wants to sell. When a certain number of potential buyers get persuaded that this is the product they need, it becomes the "in" thing, and you sell and sell and sell. So what will you be when you grow up?"

"I'll be doggoned if I know," puppy mused.

There was much noise and amusement in the market. A head quartet with only one body and four heads (one of them very small) were singing:

First head on Do: "I am"

Second head on Me: "I shall bee"

Third head on Sol: "I become"

Forth head on Si minor: "I waaas"

First head, second head, and third head toward fourth head in staccato: "Shut! up!"

"What a day! So much fun," the bitch wriggled her tail enthusiastically having collected a half basketful of truths.

The dragon stood in the shadow of the worm's kiosk. "What's that?" he asked pointing at a pile of mud.

"Mud," the worm growled.

"Aren't you selling truth?"


"Why not? Everybody else is selling truth."

"'Cause I'm selling mud."

"Who needs mud?"

"Who needs truth?"

"That's deep," the dragon stated.

"So is mud."

"Well, I must admit, it looks delicious," the dragon confessed, "however wise owl was very particular when she indicated truths and ideas for my health."

"Suit yourself," the worm said losing interest in the golden dragon.

The camel was ruminating a koan when puppy ran into his hind leg.

"You should be more careful; look in the direction you go", doggydaddy instructed his son.

"Wow, that's a good one," a passerby remarked who looked strikingly similar to his own older twin brother. "Where did you purchase it?"

"How do you look in the direction you go if you go backward?" the older twin brother asked.

"Thank you, thank you," doggydaddy wriggled his tail.

"Daddy, daddy, I still don't understand something. What is an arbitrator?"

"Usually, a hairsplitter or a woodpecker. Why?"

Puppy pointed toward a podium where a woodpecker was just being approached by a Phoenix and an Ephemeroptera.

"Honored arbitrator," the Phoenix bowed to the woodpecker.

"Listen, whelp, learn," daddydoggy whispered.

"I bear the truth. I am immortal. My body does not decay, but rejuvenates as proof of the spirit's supremacy over the body. Only a greater dimension can cause something of a lesser dimension to survive forever. The spirit alone has the power to transcend the laws of nature thus elevating this material shell to the glorious plenum of eternity." He must have poked his eternal chest a bit too hard pointing at his immortal spirit, since he was coughing.

"You are absolutely right, Phoenix," the woodpecker nodded.

"Benign arbitrator, you haven't heard my side as yet," the mayfly observed with indignation. "My bodies come and go, they live and die, yet I am alive, changing bodies as your honor changes feathers. Precisely this freedom of the spirit from the yoke of servitude to a body constitutes the essence of the sublimeness of the spirit. It should be matter serving the spirit, not vice versa. Spiritual splendor needs no proof through the persistence of matter. One body may be one expression of the spirit whereas another body another expression. Why limit the scope of the spirit to only one eternal body? Such a mundane manifestation is meaningless in eternity, infinity makes no sense in finite form."

The arbitrator was nodding all along with one eye closed: "You are absolutely right, absolutely right."

"How can you say that?" the whelp cried out unrespectfully. "How can they both be right?"

"An interesting point, young doggy, you are absolutely right."

At that moment a huge roar settled over the noisy market. Its volume was such that everyone froze in mid-sentence. A tremendous lion with a disheveled mane appeared thus roaring:

"My kingdom for the truth!"

Everyone was petrified, only his wife licked the right side of his face purring:

"Chicken soup, honey?"

"Okay," the lion cuddled blinking mildly. "It sounds good," he said putting his napkin around his neck.

In the middle of the fanfare the ass stood in front of the worm's booth, quite lost. "Dear Mr. worm, what shall I buy? I promised my lady... what should I choose for her? For example," he went on preoccupied, "what's so special about this Einstein?"

"He never wore socks," the worm obliged gloomily.

"And what about this Hawk king?"

"Oh, him?" the worm became excited, he even straightened his folds. "The Hawk king understands worms. He is good."

"Then what shall I bring my missus?" the ass kept wondering.

"Mud," the worm snapped curtly.



The golden dragon chose the biggest, juiciest, most expensive true ideas and was at his fifteenth dish when something got stuck in his throat. He started coughing uncontrollably.

"A doctor, please, a doctor, quickly!" the peacock yelled.

The vulture landed beside the golden dragon and ordered him to open his mouth. Within moments a big TUFT bone was extracted from his throat.

"TUFT," the vulture remarked with disgust.

"TUFT?" everybody asked around.

"Totally Unified Field Theory, ignoramuses," the doctor obliged.

"Thank you," the golden dragon gasped, "that was too big a mouthful even for me."

"You bet," the vulture agreed. "Here is a prescription. Take 3 drops of this daily for 3 days."

"What is it?" the dragon asked.

"Crocodile tears."

"Why false tears?"

"It's not called false;" the vulture chuckled, "but placebo." It is very good for your health." And the doctor flew away.

Everybody went back to doing whatever he or she was doing earlier; vendors praised their goods, buyers lamented the prices and the golden dragon felt queasy in his stomach. He started to swell, gradually covering the whole market place with his golden aura. Fear started creeping into buyers, salesmen, onlookers, clowns and performers, even into the merchandise. Trying to keep smiling with diminishing success because of the pressure building up within, the golden dragon kept growing. Onlookers started moving away slowly at first, then accelerating to escape the inevitable outburst.

"Daddy," the puppy yelped while trying, tongue out, to keep up with his folks, "could it be that the dragon conceived the Big Truth after having devoured the small ones?"

"Shut up and run, son."

The tidal wave could not be held back, the tsunami of truths, the soliton of enlightenments erupted from the golden dragon in maelstroms and whirls of mud.

The golden dragon sat down and cried. Pitifully shedding tears, he looked so forlorn, even the immortal Phoenix started crying. (They all came back to see and measure the new paradigm.)

"If I eat truth, I get sick. If I eat earth, I get stoned. What shall I do?"

"Eat mud," was the worm's advice.



The boy was shaking the golden dragon's tail.

"Wake up fella'."

"Oh, shit, I am dreaming again," the dragon grimaced closing his eyes.

"No, you are not."

"Yes, I am."

"No, you are not. And neither am I. Look in the mirror. What do you see?"

The dragon looked in the mirror and saw nothing. He looked from all angles and still saw nothing.

"Nothing. I am your dream."

"No, you are not," the boy breathed excitedly, "look at me in the mirror. What do you see?"

"Nothing." The golden dragon jumped and pinched himself, blew fire out of his nostrils against the wise owl's best advice and settled comfortably beside the boy.

"What shall we do now?"

"I just remembered what I forgot to ask you in your dream. Why does the spider want to be free in her web?"

"Why not?"

"You are answering my question with a question. Answer or I won't play with you any more."

"Okay. Because she can."

"Then why didn't she say so?"

"Because she doesn't know."

"That's mighty funny," the boy cheered. "She doesn't know what she can. Then what does she know? What she can not?"

"Maybe, if she shopped for virtues of knowing a spider's limitations."

"Then why do I want to be free in a web?"

"Perhaps because you know what you can. How should I know? This game is boring, let's play something else."


"Let's play," the golden dragon looked coyly at the boy, "that I dream you."

"No, we played that already. Let's play the spider and her web again..."



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