|The Meister King of Burnt Orange|
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By E. B. Alston
Burnt Orange is a tiny principality in North Carolina. It consists of a house and lot on Highway 70 in North Carolina between and Efland and Mebane. King Charles is the most boring king who ever lived. The Goddesses Nondice, the Goddess of Dependable People, and Opal, the Goddess of Sex and Hilarity, engage Di Bona Fide, Tinsmith of the Gods, to fabricate a helm designed to make King Charles of Burnt Orange allow his daughter, Princess Francine, to get a life. The events depicted could have occurred anytime in history. They could occur anytime in the future. Who knows?
Princess Francine entered the throne room where King Charles was reading a newspaper. Sir Richard, the King’s jester, was sitting by the window reading a copy of Playboy magazine.
“Papa, where’s mama?” Francine asked.
“Your mother, the Queen, will be gone until next week. She said she was leaving right before you got home and she packed all of her things inside the red suitcase, you know, the one with the broken zipper and the little wheels that she got from her uncle Zebedee. He’s the one with two teeth and that lecherous grin. Did you know he owes me money?
“Where did she go?”
“She said she was going to Ybor City, Florida. It’s an Italian enclave close to Tampa and they have a big church there called the Relevant Christian center. I don’t know why she’s going to Ybor City unless it’s to meet a bunch of Italians with garlic breath. I don’t like people with garlic breath. Do you know why I don’t like people with garlic breath, Francine?”
Francine ignored the King’s question. “Why did she go, Papa?”
“She said she wanted to disrupt our normal pattern and go somewhere where people were different. I bet the people in Ybor City Florida are a whole lot different from the people in Burnt Orange, don’t you think? I saw a sign on the way to the airport that urged people to buy sofas. I saw that same sign again on my way back home. But I saw it in the rear view mirror on the way back because the sign advertises a store in Raleigh and you have to be driving east to see the sign through the windshield. Raleigh is the capitol city of North Carolina.”
“Papa, why do you have to talk so much?”
“Because I don’t want to be misunderstood. Being misunderstood causes a lot of misunderstandings and people get confused. Like the young man in my class today misunderstood my chart showing how putting people in jail didn’t reduce the crime rate.”
“He misunderstood that?”
“He made fun of my chart. Then he made everybody else laugh when he said that my chart implied that when criminals are locked up, ordinary people commit crimes to keep the statistics up. I told him right then and there that statistics never lie and I was a credentialed statistics professor and he was not and what I said went no matter what smart aleck dumb thing he said.”
“But liars interpret statistics,” Sir Richard interjected.
“Ha, ha, ha, Sir Richard,” the King replied.”Now that is very funny coming from my Court Jester. I love it when you say silly things, Sir Richard. You are the very best Court Jester ever and ever. Jane thinks so too. She told me on the way to the airport how much she liked you and said she wished you were going to Ybor City, Florida too. I told her that I thought that would have been fine. I can get along without my Court Jester for a few days without any problem.”
“Papa, I want to go away from here,” Francine said.
“Why do you want to go away?” the King asked. “Do you want to take a couple of weeks off, or do you want to move away for good. Your mother has been saying how you needed to get out into the world and being cooped up here, even though you are a Princess, is not good for you. But I told her that I loved you and couldn’t bear to see my little girl leave my side.”
“I want to leave for good, Papa.”
“Who put these ideas in your head, Francine? Who have you been talking to? It must have been an evil person to tell a father’s little girl that she needed to leave the bosom of her family?”
“Opal! That troublemaker! All she does is make people get funny ideas about going to parties, having fun and having sex. I’ll tell you what fun is, Francine. Fun is being with your sweet old papa and your sweet mama and knowing how much they love their little girl and how they never, ever want anything untoward to happen to her.”
“But Papa, I’m forty-five years old.”
“But you’ll be our little girl forever and ever. The love of parents for their offspring is the hallmark of being human. You want to be fully human don’t you? Besides, it’s a big old ugly, scary world out there filled with people like Opal lurking behind every bush looking for a chance to lead our little girl astray.”
Francine was close to tears. “But papa, I want to get away from Burnt Orange and do something with my life.”
The Goddess Opal was hiding behind the kitchen door with a most mischievous grin on her face.
“I am going to fix that old blowhard. Just wait until I talk to Di Bona Fide. I am going to fix his wagon!”