Published: Aug 31, 2020

His real name is Paul Wallis, but he prefers to be called Mike because he likes the sound of the name. The kids call him the Dragonman. They follow him down the block to the square, next to the fountain, where he performs with his bag of tricks. They come out of their houses when they hear his shoes squeaking, leaving TV cartoons and bowls of ice cream behind, forgetting shoes and sunscreen.

The Dragonman dresses as a red-nosed clown and plays in a one-man band. In his sack he carries all kinds of props, tools of imagination, which he uses to make the children smile. The littlest ones try to pluck away his toys and giggle all the while. Parents smile and slip a few bucks into his palm.

But the Dragonman is only happy when he's with the kids, away from his real life, away from his memories of the crash and the joy before it. He can't remember his daughter's smile anymore. He can't remember his ex-wife's face because she was driving the car: it causes him too much pain. He lives in a tenement next to a man who lost his job, wife, and kids in succession. They sympathize with each other.

Dragonman, Mike, or Paul enjoys making the kids happy because then he's filled with happiness.