Once, the people of a great land divided power between their king—chosen after each fourth harvest—and heroic knights. The king reigned in the Great Castle. The knights gathered in the Great Hall to debate at a trapezoid-shaped table. A round table would have upset the narrow hall’s feng shui.
Many knights wore beautiful armor. Some of their helmets, however, had loose screws. These knights could not always see what was before them. A few strutted in armor rusted by uncontrollable drooling. The marketplace speculated on injudicious parental mating.
One day the king proposed, “Let everyone in the land be given a daily banana.” Despite the kingdom’s wealth, not everyone could afford bananas, rich in health-enhancing potassium. A majority of knights assented. Bananas were made available to all. Still, some knights insisted that the doors to the treasury be locked and bananas restricted to only those subjects who could afford them. “Let them eat cake!” they cried. “Sugar promotes energy. Besides, we question the blasphemous tenets of modern dentistry.”
“Bananas for all!” announced the king. “It’s the law of the realm.” The opposing knights countered, “The law isn’t the law unless we say it is.” In protest, they established the Cake Party. Donning bakers’ garb and brandishing studded rolling pins, they bellowed, “The king must be removed and the Great Castle turned into a bakery.”
Some knights who opposed distributing bananas nonetheless believed Cake Party members to be several ounces short of a cup. Still, they feared making enemies. Chief among them was Sir John, who sat at the head of the trapezoidal table. “Only if the kingdom forswears spending on bananas,” he said, “can it amass more gold. Then everyone can buy their own bananas—although scientific evidence concerning potassium is questionable.” Hoisting a screwdriver, he sighed, “If only the king would negotiate and do as I say.” Then he watched as the Cake Party catapulted stale loaves of bread at the Great Castle’s walls.
The king, many knights and most of the people objected to these attacks, but Sir John held firm. Hadn’t he the kingdom’s best interests at heart? And if the Cake Party pried him from his chair, wouldn’t conditions worsen? But in truth, Sir John loved his special chair at the trapezoidal table more than gold or even croissants. The chair was covered in glitter and sparkled with bits of shiny metal and glass. Privately, Sir John granted that the Cake Party might be a cup or even two short of a quart. Yet he lusted after his glittering chair.
The kingdom foundered. Dragons, now emboldened, flew overhead, belching fire and brimstone. The rich hunkered in bunkers, their gold in iron vaults, while farmers’ fields and craftsman’s studios went up in flames. “Fools!” the people cried. In response, the Cake Party baked cakes and iced them with the words, “It’s a matter of principle.”
This, of course, is only a fable. And everyone knows the old saying, “All that glitters is not gold.” But legend has it that each morning, Sir John would stand in front of his glittering chair, wave at the dragons and with a long-handled wooden spoon wipe the spittle from his chin.
Many thanks to Michaela for inspiration. This post, however, expresses only the opinions of the author.
Responding is simple. Click on “comments” above then go to the bottom of the article.
Read the first three chapters of SAN CAFÉ and of SLICK!, named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the 25 Best Indie Novels of 2012, at davidperlstein.com. Order at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com or bn.com.