Friday, October 17, 2014
Madame Chau and the Snail
The harvest festival was in full swing in the Dao province, and the hawker stalls were bustling with the sounds of commerce. Standing in a prized lot adjacent to the best produce stands in the center of the square stood the Chow Chau Pyrotechnics booth, just as it traditionally had for decades. Manning the stall was the impressive Madame Chau herself, her golden mane, considerable girth, and sheer size cutting an intimidating silhouette. The great she-dog had been peddling the finest celebratory sparklers and explosives for years, just as her mother and grandmother had before her. The crowds swept in fast and hard in the cool morning, but dissipated in the heat of the mid-day sun. These middling lulls had become her most hated part of the entire festival season. Even the largest fan couldn't dissuade the heat, and the empty square did nothing to distract you from your own misery. So lost was she in her own grumbling musings, Chau had almost failed to notice the strange new customer gracing her booth. A tiny green and yellow snail, grasping a single coin roughly the size of his own body.
Even with the keen ears of a hound, she couldn't make out his words. She offered a great paw palm up, which the snail happily slithered upon. Chau gently lifted the invertebrate level to her nose.
"My apologies, could you repeat that?"
"I'd like a fire rocket, please."
The jade coin in his tiny grasp was amply sufficient, so she gladly exchanged it for a long thin explosive strapped to a narrow stick.
"Might I ask the occasion? Perhaps a wedding, or a newborn?"
His eyes grew as stern as could be expected from a snail's lidless orbs.
"A bird has been feasting on my family for far too long. This shall be the divine hand that sweeps it from this world."
Chau fought hard to stifle a giggle. She had sold many types of pyrotechnics, but never explosive ordinance to tiny vigilantes.
"Sir, I have to tell you..."
His gooey face looked up at her own in the most implicit of manners. His eye stalks gave a slight quiver, and Chau melted.
"...tell your friends where you got them,and I'll give you another as a gift."
Gods be with the birds.