Past the parking meters on the street, there is a large, yet unobtrusive, two-story yellow house. The faded cream tone of the paint contrasted by the white trim of the windows, and the railings of the front stoop and the balcony above it. Out in the front yard just to the right of the paved walkway is a little red sign with white letters giving the only indication that there was anything more than apartments inside. Up the stairs, across the short porch, through the front doors, and just to the right. There it is, The Dragon’s Hearth.
The front room furnished with cheap pegboard shelves hold rows of colorful books and boxes, and several drab folding card tables. Over a disused fireplace is the head of a white dragon named Kryos is mounted; a rubber mask around a wooden frame that gives the store its moniker, it is the look of the thing that matters. If it is early in the afternoon it is always filled with people playing games. Wonderful people of all ages, playing such wonderful games made of paper and imagination. In the back room painted figures of pewter are engaged glorious battles as they are pushed around large green table.
At the very front of the store behind the long, glass display case I often sit on my stool the ,between fish bowls full of dice, and the cash register. People come in to The Hearth just to chat with me, sometimes I play a quick round or two of whatever trading card game is popular this week. Mostly I just sit and survey things in silence or talk smack about gaming with friends. It gives me an overdeveloped sense of importance, like I’m holding court. I am happy not knowing about the years to come.
Anymore this isn’t a real place, just a moment that was sometime between when my father died, and when my world went to shit.
Now and then, since what I like to call my recovery, I build it in my head, to see if I really miss it. I don’t suppose it even matters if I do. That was there and that was then.
I am here and it is now.