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Mouth Of The Dragon


OK, so ever since the firecrackers started, I'd been wanting to take him. See, SNAP studios are right on the edge of Chinatown, and as soon as you start hearing that pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, you know it's just about time. It opens Chinatown every year. There's a massive Chinese New Year celebration. And my little man, when he was 2 years old, I told him to get ready 'cause we're going to the festival, all right?


WASHINGTON: It's a beautiful Saturday. We start early. Thousands upon thousands of people start packing downtown. I kind of push my way through the crowd to find a spot on the curb where a little boy can actually see what's happening. He claps when the procession starts with all these drummers. They're followed by a kids dancing troupe all in white. It's angelic, and I watch him seeing all this for the first time. It's awesome. Men stroll by on giant stilts for legs then hundreds of old ladies holding yellow and blue lanterns, puppets on strings, a twirling flower show - it's so much color. Then the crowd starts pressing in tight, and I know it's just about time and there it is. Gorgeous red and orange, black, 25 feet long, leaping, shimmying, animated by six separate dancers, the dragon, tail whipping from side to side. The head spins directly towards us and it opens wide its huge mouth.


WASHINGTON: My little boy looks up at the monster and takes off...


WASHINGTON: Top speed into a wall of people. Hey, hey, hey, hey - I run after him, but I'm a grown man fighting a sea of people.

Look for a little boy. Ten seconds, 20 seconds.

Who sees a little boy?

Sixty seconds. I'm starting to panic.

Nobody move, nobody move.

I'm like a crazy person. People back away from me best they can.

Look down, everybody, look down now.

Two minutes go by, three. I see two police officers.

I need a perimeter. We were right there. He's gone. He's 2. He's 2 years old. Don't let these people leave. Call - call somebody.

And I'm running again. I'm screaming.

Boy, boy.

And then I see him.


WASHINGTON: Sitting on the stairs of somebody's shop eating an ice cream cone. Where did he get an ice cream cone? Probably pulled it out of the garbage or something, and I'm weeping, running up to him, hugging him, kissing him.

Boy, boy, where'd you go? Why'd you do that? Why'd you do that?

And he looks up at me like I'm simple, like he has to explain stuff to me slowly.

The dragon - I run away fast.

He takes a bite of his ice cream cone, nods, like he's confident in that decision and I'm still out of my mind. I want to holler some more, tell him not to run away from dragons, but that doesn't even make any sense, but think about it, and I tell him, listen, next time you run away from a dragon, take Daddy with you.


WASHINGTON: Today, on SNAP JUDGMENT from PRX and NPR, "Quick Fix," amazing stories from real people trying to find the simple solution. My name is Glynn Washington. Please enjoy the festivals in your life 'cause you're listening to SNAP JUDGMENT. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.