By James Lincoln Collier
King Leer was meeting with his cabinet. They were all there—Rumpelstiltskin, the Mock Turtle, Hansel and Gretel, and the King’s spokesperson, Huckleberry Sausage, a chubby woman wearing an elegant string of pearls. The King spoke. “What are we going to do about the Wicked Witch of the West Coast?”
Rumpelstiltskin grimaced. “Nuke her.”
Huckleberry Sausage shook her head. “Can’t. Crookman will be all over us.”
King Leer looked around the room. “What about you, Humphrey?
“That’s Humpty, sir.”
“Humphrey, Humpty, same difference.”
Hansel raised a hand. “I got it, sir. Get Angel Whatshername from Germany to straighten it out. They have oodles of money.”
The Mock Turtle shook his head and shed a tear. “No good. It’s in the Constitution. We can’t accept emoluments from foreigners.”
King Leer stared at him. “What’s an emolument?”
“Payment, profit—you know, money.”
King Leer wrinkled his brow in amazement. “That can’t be right. My pal Pootin said he’d give me as much money as I wanted. He’s a foreigner, isn’t he?” He looked around the room.
Hansel shook his head. “Sorry. It’s in the Constitution.”
“I don’t give a crap about that. Right, Huckleberry?”
“I’ll have to check it, sir.”
“What the hell kind of noise is this?” said King Leer, frowning. “Kings don’t have to go by the Constitution.”
“According to Crookman they do.”
“Lock him up,” said Gretel. “Like your pal Pootin does.”
“Yeah,” the King said. “That guy knows how to run a country. Who the hell said I have to follow the Constitution? I’m King, aren’t I?” Once more he looked around the room. “Who’s supposed to be taking care of this?”
There was a moment of silence. Then the Mock Turtle said, “I think it’s Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum.”
King Leer frowned. “Then why haven’t they done it?”
“They were going to,” Gretel said. “But then the F.B.I. sent down a huge crow as black as a tar barrel. It scared the living sh– out of me.”
“Doodoo,” said Huckleberry Sausage.
“Yeah. We got those Evangelicals to worry about.”
The King frowned. “Can’t we do better than those two Tweedles? How the hell can I run a country if everybody faints at the sight of a crow?”
The Mock Turtle shed another tear. “What about getting a scarecrow, sir?”
“We tried that. The stuffing kept coming out of him. I told Dorothy to sew him up, but she was busy making eyes at the Tin Woodman. I don’t know what she sees in that guy. He hasn’t got a brain in his head.” The King paused. “Where’s the Unicorn?”
“He got busted, sir.”
“Busted? What the hell for?”
“He went past a schoolyard with his horn exposed.”
King Leer frowned. “What’s he supposed to do with it? Hide it in his shirt?”
“He’s supposed to wear a sheath on it.”
“Who said that? Crookman? Whoever heard of a Unicorn with a sheath on his horn?” He looked around again. “Where’s my Saint George? Get me Saint George.”
The Mock Turtle flew out of the room. In a moment he returned, followed by a scrawny horse on which rode a tall, equally scrawny knight bearing upright a bent lance. The horse came to a halt. The knight began to sing, “Sing ho for the life of a bear—”
“Knight, sir,” the Mock Turtle said.
Saint George looked down from his horse. “What?” he said.
“You’re a knight, not a bear.”
The knight frowned. “Who said I was a bear?”
The Mock Turtle said, “Just tell your story.”
Saint George nodded. “Right. I was supposed to fight a Dragon. I saw this dame carrying something. ‘That’s the Dragon,’ I figured. I lowered my lance and was about to charge when this email server came flying at me. My horse kicked up its heels and I damn near went over its head. The Dragon got away.”
“Where did that email server come from?” King Leer asked.
“The Dragon had it in its pants.”
“The Dragon wore pants?” the King asked.
“Of course,” Gretel said. “You can’t go around with your fanny hanging out anymore.”
“Who the hell said that? I’m King. I can let my fanny hang out all I want.”
“I’m afraid not, sir. It’s in the Constitution.”
Now the King shouted, “Where’s Huckleberry Sausage? I want Huckleberry Sausage.”
Huckleberry Sausage was sitting off to one side smiling ironically. “Right here, sir.”
“Sausage, who the hell said that the King has to follow the Constitution?”
“I’m afraid that’s so, sir.”
There was a long silence. “How come nobody told me that before?”
“We thought you knew, sir.”
There was another long pause. Then the King said, “Well, if that’s the case you can take this job and shove it. If I’d known what a pain in the butt it was to be King I’d have stayed home in Queens. At least there you can get a decent pizza.”
“And Down She Comes.” The demolition of the north end of the building formerly known as St. John’s Terminal will split the development into at least two distinct buildings. This view is looking south on West Street; the block from Clarkson to Houston will be cleared for residential towers. Credit: Chris Manis, firstname.lastname@example.org.