“The Cloud Dragon Ate Red Balloons” by Tom Cardamone from Wilde Stories 2012 (Lethe Press). Edited by Steve Berman.

I cannot imagine that anyone, having read this story, would think it is a simple confection about dragons, but there is evidence that they do.

In Chinese and Japanese mythology, dragons are ethereal creatures made up of water and air, sometimes described as being gods, and at other times “creatives” and other accomplished men, like unto gods, who have been carried aloft by great winds. If you delve into it at all you discover that, according to the teaching, two disparate types of men can become “accomplished”. There are those of great character and intelligence, and those who possess no such desirable traits, but rise solely due to political machinations. It’s a warning, coming through the centuries clear as a bell.

Taken in the context of this particular anthology, if the passage:

Japanese monks had deferentially joked with Western Missionaries that cloud dragons were failed snow dragons that only had love for one another, never sharing their snow with Izanami, Mother Earth, and were thus unfettered, unproductive fantasies. The crawling pestilence of one religion consuming another was blight enough on the world, but that the monks had disparaged the cloud dragons to mask the guilt of their own nightly assignations had only hastened the exodus….

doesn’t make you think of smarmy Pat Robertson grinning into the camera as he levies the most asinine and vile statements imaginable against gay people as a whole; or of the anti-Christian antics of the Westboro Baptist “Church”, or, more recently than the publication of this story, but still applicable, the claim by Tea Party Republicans that the Ebola virus is the latest curse God has hurled at homosexuals (bad aim?); or of something, anything, beyond literal dragons, well, I’ll just be standing here shaking my head.