Tudorama

“Double double toil and trouble.” Oops, wrong story. Just a sec. Oh, here it is. Right where I put it. Amazing what you can’t see without your glasses. So here goes.

In Merry Olde England, there was a very happy couple. He called her Puddin’; she called him Dumpling. Would have called him her Doughboy, but that one had already been taken by the King of France. Francis One.

Annie Boleyn met Henry on a blind date. She was a sub for her sister Mary Beth. When he walked into the Great Hall of Boleyn Estates and her two peeps saw him, it was love at first sight. It was true that he did look like a doughboy. That was the charm of King Hal. Plus there was that twinkle in his eye, and he was a regular party guy.

Within hours of his arrival, King Hal had a party going at Casa Boleyn. It was a toga party. After all, Hal was a regular practitioner of toganomics. If a courtster was unwilling to wear a toga at court, he was on his way outster. The outster for most was Scotland where the lord in question was condemned to wearing a kilt without underpants. One could get a chill and catch the flu.

Pretty soon Annie eased up close to Hal. She wanted a little kissie-poo as she called it. The king was real accommodating with the kissie-poo, but soon he was wanting more. He was wanting Annie to share her boudoir. She may have been the partyingest of party girls, but she wasn’t about to give Hal the key to her chastity belt for free. She’d heard stories. He even said, “Pleeeze with a cherry on top.” But Annie wasn’t about to give in.

“I’m not that kind of girl,” Annie said. She was not about to be easy, even for a king. Annie being Annie, she had found her Daddy Warbucks in Hal and that was all there was to it. Opportunity came knocking, and she was ready to open the door. But Hal had to purchase a ticket to walk through that door. And her ticket was not cheap. It was a 500 carat diamond ring.

Hal was devastated. This was definitely a true love he had for Annie. He could feel it in the way down yonder. He said, “Don’t be a heartbreaker, Puddin’. Don’t you know I’m a hunka hunka burning love?”

Annie’s response was a smile and a few words. “I really would like to give you the key to my heart, Dumpling. But I will need a ringie-poo pretty please with pudding on it.”

Hal could give his Puddin’ the sable she wanted. He could give her an Astin Martin. He could even give her the Queen Mary. But that wedding ring was out of the question. He already had a wife. If Hal had been a Middle Eastern potentate, he could have potentated all over the place and married as many women as he wanted. Deep down in the heart of Texas, Hal wanted a harem.

His wife was Catherine of Aragon. Thing was, Cate was no Annie Boleyn. She had her daddy’s looks and her mother’s hygiene. Like her mom, Isabella, Cate hated to take a bath. She wasn’t partial to showers either. So the odor coming from her boudoir was a bit overpowering. Not in a good way. At one time, Hal sent in the fumigators. But the smell returned within a week. Add to that, Cate wore one of them smiles upside down. So much so she was called Sourpuss, or SP for short. She was the original SPCA, short for Sour Puss Cate of Aragon.

On top of everything else, each fortnight she walked around the castle like Hamlet’s ghost, mumbling, “I can’t get no respect.” It was true. Cate got no respect. Hal wanted a boy and all he got from Cate was a Mary.

“So what to do?” Hal asked himself one dark and stormy night. “What to do?” Then with a flash of brilliance it came to him. “I know. I will get a divorce,” Hal said, and he said it where everybody could hear.

“A divorce?” one courtster said.

“A divorce,” another courtster echoed.

When the echoing finally settled down, King Hal commanded the Pope to give him a divorce. After all, Hal was the Pope’s right hand man in England and Defender of the Faith. But the Pope wasn’t up to the job. He had other things on his mind. Like Cate’s brother, the King of Spain.  King Charlie had an army close to Rome and he wasn’t hesitant in using it.

Besides that, it would set a precedent. Precedent is legalese for all those things that come before everything else and give folks permission to do a thing. Like, if you marry a virgin, she has to be a virgin in order to get a divorce. Cate was no virgin. She had a kid name of Bloody Mary. And, no, she was not mixed with vodka. Mary was a teetotaler all the way.

Pretty soon any earl or lord would want a divorce. Before you knew it, the papacy would be so overloaded there wouldn’t be any time left for infallibilities, bulls and indulgences. What if the Pope wanted to profligate a Papal Bull or two, he wouldn’t be able to rope the darn thing and ride him all the way to Rome. No, the Pope had decided. Divorce wasn’t going to happen. So Pope said, “No way. Pretty soon we’d be backed up with all that paper work.”

Hal’s motto was “Esse rex bonum est.” He had a coat of arms to prove it. Now he felt like he was in Nowheresville.

“What to do?” Hal asked everybody. “What to do?” he even asked himself. No one had an answer.

Then he received a letter from far far off. It was across the Channel. It was from Germany. Unfortunately it was written in German and no one could translate it. Hal and his subjects could barely read Latin. But German? Nobody, but nobody could do German. Then Hal realized, “My portrait painter Hans can. Yes, he can can, can he not?”

“Of course, he can can,”” a duke said. So did an earl. l In fact, it was the Duke of Earl.

Hans translated the letter. It was from one Marty Luther. “Hal,” Marty wrote, “Is not your motto, esse rex bonum est? Of course, it is. It indeed is good to be the king. As king, you have the right to a divorce. If the Pope don’t like it, he can go out and start his own church. That’s what I did.”

Before Cate could spell it, she was singing D-I-V-O-R-C-E. When asked by a reporter years later about the whole thing, all she could say was, “Yes I have no bananas today.” There was even a rumor that she was zombified in her later years. But I think it was Mary, Queen of Scots, who pushed that gossip.

Anyway Hal got his divorce and a church to boot. He also got the key to Annie’s chastity belt. On their wedding day, King Hal increased every Englishman’s sheep allowance two-fold. That’s twice in today’s lingua franca.

For a while, Puddin’ and Dumpling were just as happy as two finches in a birdbath.

Well, y’all know what happened next. Annie gave Hal a Liz, not a Tom, Dick or Harry. So his smile turned upside down. Annie delivered a girl. Yes, you heard that right. She gave birth to an eight pound two ounce little darling. Called her Elizabeth, or Bess for short. But no boy.

Again Hal was what-to-do-ing. Then he came up with a plan. Let’s call it Plan J. Hal would get another divorce and then get married again. He already had a victim, I mean a queen picked out. After all, Hal could have the pick of the litter. And Jane Seymour, not the actress, but the daughter of John and Margery, was his Queen for a Day.

So what was Hal to do with Annie? Here’s where Plan Boleyn came in. Annie would be accused of consortin’ with those she shouldn’t be consortin’ with. Treason with a capital T. A trial, Then she would be singing “Going out of my head”. The executioner would do a Lizzie Borden.

But the truth was that Hal couldn’t bring himself to truly rid himself of Annie. She was his Puddin’. She was his One True Love. At the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestion, Hal got a sub for Annie. No one would know the difference. Except for the sub. Sub would be wearing a hoodie. Annie would hide out in a nunnery down the way. Only there weren’t any nunneries left in England. Instead Archbishop would start a Home for Wayward Girls and Annie would supervise. Then once a fortnight Archbishop would slip Annie in the back way to Windsor Castle and up to Hal’s room.

And that’s the real story. Not.

Some Pleasures

I just want to say how thankful I am for all you who read my posts. I am so grateful for you guys. Thank you.

The perfect meal, thanksgiving turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, buttered rolls, pecan pie and iced tea.

Christmas lights twinkling from houses along a street.

Nat King Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song”

A spring morning on my back porch with the cats and watching the birds in the trees.

Joshua Bell playing the violin.

Ravel’s “Une Barque Sur l’Ocean”

Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”

“Let Evening Come”, a poem by Jane Kenyon

Creating a scene whereby two characters, a man and a woman, walk out on the stage of a street and admire the stars, or any number of other scenes that I am amazed that I wrote.

The feet of a flamenco dancer in rhythm with the guitarista.

Listening to Frank Sinatra at three a. m.

An Edward Hopper painting of a diner at the loneliest time of night

John Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood” words and music dancing across the room to my ears, two perfect partners.

Good food and drink in a room full of friends celebrating

A late night drive

A Henry Moore sculpture, lines that rise and fall to the beat of eternity

Kathe Kohlwitz’s “Mourning Parents”

Alan Rickman delivering his lines

Bobbie Kennedy speaking against injustice

Jerry Seinfeld, Kramer, Elaine Benis and George Costanza

Three cats sleeping in my living room.

Season three of “Northern Exposure”

A laugh that begins in my toes and moves all the way up my body and out my mouth in one gigantic ha.

The first time I read a novel or a story or a poem where the writer blows the top of my head off with his prose and story, a novel like “The River Runs Through It”, “The Old Capital” or “The Old Man and the Sea” or the Alice Munro story “Walker Brothers Cowboy” or Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here ironing”.

Delivering humor, a joke or a line or a phrase or word, that emits laughter from another person.

Reading “A Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Alan Poe at midnight

An Alfred Hitchcock movie

Following my curiosity and learning something new.

Finishing a blog or a story or a novel or a poem I am very proud of.

The movie “Cinema Paradiso”

A friend’s thank you

Finding a great gift for a loved one or a friend, then giving it to them and finding out that they love it.

Finding a new musician that I love

Writing the perfect sentence

My job in a library

Donatello’s “Mary Magdalen”

Praise from a reader

Creating pieces late at night

Seeing a new movie and finding out that good movies are still made

The support of friends and loved ones.

All these I am thankful for and more. I am especially thankful for those who love me and care about me. Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you and to your families and loved ones.

Short Story Wednesday: The Debutante’s Ball

Short Story Prompt: “Why I Live at the P. O.” by Eudora Welty

Miss Luella Sue Pepper was in need of a husband. She had just turned eighteen and she was ripe for marrying. Her Daddy, William Kean Pepper, said so. Her Mama, Eustasha Alice Pepper, said so. So did her Aunt Michaela Marie. Seems it was apple picking time for their young darling, her being the fairest maiden in the Valley. Only problem was Miss Louella Sue was not in a marrying mood. She liked her solitude. She considered herself wearing the likes of that Emily Dickinson up Amherst, Massachusetts way.

The night of the debutante’s ball Miss Louella Sue locked herself in her room. There was not anyway she’s going to that fancy dress shindig. No way atall. She’d heard stories.

Her Mama, Eustasha Alice, did her best to get her one-and-only darling to come on out of her room and go to the ball. She knocked on Miss Louella Sue’s door with a knock that sound real urgent like. “Y’all come out of there, y’hear. It’s time you put on your best shoes and get on down to the American Legion Hall with me and your Daddy. I’m sure you’re gonna meet a right nice boy tonight.”

“I am not going,” Miss Louella Sue called out, and she meant it.

“You know Mary Eloise Gaine’s boy, Henry, will be there, Darling.”

“I ain’t interested in no Henry Bradford Gaines. You ought know that.” Miss Louella Sue meant these words even more.

Her Mama said softly, persuasive like, “Darling, I know you want to be one of them poets. And you can. Going to this here cotillion will give you something to write about. You can write poems about how all the boys tripped over themselves just to get to dance with you.”

“I don’t care what you say. I am not going to no ball. And that’s final.” As far as Miss Louella Sue was concerned, it was final.

“Your dear friend, Pearl Eugenia Willingham, will be there. She’ll be downright disappointed if you don’t share this night with her.”

“How do you know that?” She was asking ’cause she really wanted to know. How could anybody know anything about what Pearl Eugenia wanted. Pearl Eugenia shared her wants with not a single soul.

“She toll me so. She did last Sunday at church.”

‘Bout this time, her Daddy showed at Miss Louella Sue’s door. He walks right hard past her Mama and knocks on the door. It is one of them meaning-business knocks too. “Girl, you get your skinny butt dressed and get downstairs. If you ain’t down there in a half hour, I am gonna personally knock this door down and tan your hide. You’re going to this do whether you like it or not. So you want to be able to sit and sip punch and let them boys admire you? Or do you want to have to stand all night ’cause your butt will hurt something bad?”

From behind the door came a whimper of a voice, “Yes, Daddy.” She knew that there’d be no going against her Daddy no matter what. Miss Louella Sue may have been spoiled all the way down the Mississippi to New Orleans, but she wasn’t so spoiled she didn’t know trouble when it came her way. There wouldn’t be any sweet talkin’ her Daddy tonight. ‘Sides maybe she’d get a poem or two out of this night just like her Mama promised.

So she swallowed her pride and got dressed. In two shakes, she’s downstairs, wearing the red and white evening gown her Mama bought over in Memphis for the occasion. Her Daddy looked her up and down and smiled like he’d smiled when he got that new hunting rifle last Christmas. Indeed he was proud. He leaned over and pinned a white orchid corsage on her. Then he gave a sigh.

“Darling Daughter, you gonna make some fella one beautiful bride,” he said, beaming proud as he could be.

Mama and Daddy Pepper loaded their one-and-onlyin his brand new red Ford pickup. Before you know it, they were at the Hall. They weren’t the first ones to arrive and they weren’t the last ones. Mama led her daughter to the staging area for the debutantes. Soon she’d be walking out into the ballroom, getting herself presented like she was one of them New York City debutantes.

As Miss Louella Sue Pepper walked backstage, all the other girls stared at her. They knew she would have the pick of the litter tonight. She was one fine looking girl and they knew it. But all Miss Louella Sue Pepper could think of was how tight her shoes were. She’s also thinking getting dressed up like this was downright unnatural. She’d rather be out of these clothes and in some jeans and a t-shirt than standing in a line looking like a fool for all to stare at.

Then it hit her right side up against the head. She didn’t have to play favorites with any of them boys. She would give a dance to each and every one of them. At the end of the night, she’d go home with a smile on her face, knowing she had outwitted her Mama and her Daddy.

She and the other girls made the walk out into ballroom, all eyes fixed on the five girls, folks ooo-ing and ah-ing at the girls. Those young ladies were something that night. All dressed up and presented to the town and ready for marrying.

Miss Louella Sue danced first with the hotshot of all the boys, Henry Bradford Gaines. His flaming red hair was something to behold. But she was not impressed. If he thought he had a claim on her, he could guess again. She went on to dance with the Breckinridge boys, all three of them. But not at the same time.

Once she’d made it through those fellas, she took herself a break. She sat herself down to give her footsies a break. She sent Peter Charles Breckinridge, the youngest of the brothers, off to get herself some punch. “And don’t come back without it,” she commanded in that Southern Belle voice of hers.

She was joined by Pearl Eugenia Willingham. She said to Pearl, “What you thinkin’.”

Pearl said to her, “Don’t know why everybody makes such a fuss.”

“Me neither. It’s almost like we’re lambs being led to the slaughterhouse.”

Next Week’s Prompt: “Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Something for Monday: Furniture Love

I don’t want you
I don’t love you
You’re not the bean bag chair for me

I went to the store
Looking for decor

You sat in the corner
Like Little Jack Horner

Then I sat on your face
And loved your embrace

When I got back home
You sat all alone

The sofa didn’t like you
And your stand uppish blue

The chairs were staring
And they were a-glaring

Afraid I was pulling
Their legs, I was fooling

No need for their weeping
Them I’ll be a-keeping

There was no silver lining
Beanie’s hug was confining

So I went a-spurning
And it I went returning

That blue bean bag chair
Of yester year

I don’t want you
I don’t love you
You’re not the bean bag chair for me

City Politics

There had been a rumor that The Mayor would not run for a fourth term. Like most rumor mills, there was some truth to the rumor, but mostly the gossip was fiction. The Mayor had debated with himself whether he should go for a higher office such as Governor, Senator, even President. If he could run “the City Glorious”, why not the whole darn country?

Finally he decided for a fourth run. His reasoning was that he was having way too much fun as mayor. Why give up show business? Why run for President when every Tom, Dick and Harriet would be after your rear? That didn’t sound like fun.

The morning after The Mayor’s penis appeared on the eleven o’clock news, he announced his reelection campaign. When asked about the “genital appearance,” he told reporters, “I did it for the good of the city. Tourists will realize what a fun place we are.”

He had always been a tightrope walker, but this time he didn’t have a net. Now he was caught in a compromising position. His staff thought that the voters were not going to be happy about the whole thing.

“How could you show that thing on TV,” Mrs. Bartok, a teacher at a local elementary school, asked the newsroom, madder at the television station for showing it than at The Mayor for making the “appearance.”

When asked, the President of the Chamber of Commerce commented, “The Mayor’s only doing what comes naturally. Besides it’s good for business and it’s good for the image of the city.”

The night before the news broke, The Mayor had been in tough negotiations with the garbage people. During a particularly difficult part of the session, The Mayor needed to take a leak. He called a recess, urged all heads to cool off, while he went to the head. Then he made a dash down the hall to the men’s room because he had to go real bad. Twinkie Twinkler, a local tv reporter, followed, on the hunt for a story

For seven long years, Twinkie served in the journalistic wilderness. She put in her time as the perky weather girl. But she had ambition. She wanted to be an anchor. She spent months cajoling, begging the news editor to let her do some reporting, any reporting.

Finally he broke down and said, “Yes, as long as you continue to do the weather forecasts.” What could it hurt? the editor thought. I get both a perky weather girl and a news reporter. Just to be on the safe side, he assigned her to the city hall beat. Lots of boredom and no glory. He underestimated Twinkie.

When Twinkie told all her friends, they commented on The Mayor’s larger than life personality. He ran city hall like it was his own private fiefdom.

“That shrimp,” Twinkie said, unafraid. “He’s short and skinny and bald.”

“Yes,” her friend Norah said, “but he’s such a womanizer, except with his wife. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. So you watch yourself, kid.”

Now here she stood outside the men’s room. She needed a story to help her with her career. That’s when it came to her. Like a bolt of lightning. “I’ll get my story.” She walked through the men’s room door and saw The Mayor before one of the urinals.

“Mayor, can you give me a comment about the negotiations?”

When The Mayor turned around, Twinkie’s eyes became large moons. What Twinkie saw was unbelievable. So unbelievable she grabbed her smart phone from her purse, aimed its camera and clicked a pic. Just to be on the safe side, she took several clicks.

The Mayor was always a man who acted well under pressure. He hadn’t gotten where he was by backing down when confronted with what he would later refer to as “an interesting situation.”

“Well, my dear,” The Mayor said, standing there with his flag run up full mast. “I’m always glad to share a little of my charismatic personality with the local media.”

The pictures appeared on the eleven o’clock news. The phones started to ring off the wall around the town. His honor had done it again. Everybody was telling everybody else what they’d seen. “Can you believe it?” they asked.

The next day one of the city commissioners approached the city manager, “Do you think we could sell them? The pictures, I mean.”

“Maybe,” the city manager said, “we could use the money to pay off the budget deficit. At least it would keep the public’s mind off all the money we’ve stolen. I mean, wasted.”

The Mayor, who had always been popular, soon found his poll numbers going from 75% to 90%. The public loved him even more than they had before. It gave the city’s nickname “The City Gorgeous” a real meaning. A local amusement park even developed a Weiner Ride in honor of His Honor. The owner of the local minor league baseball team changed the name of his team from the Hot Dogs to the Hot Weiners.

All this was to say that it looked like The Mayor was going to be a shoo-in. Until he shot his wife.

Actually she shot at him first and missed. In the City Gorgeous it was to become known as the Shootout at the OK Corral, the OK Corral being the local watering hole for all the big fishes in the little pond.

When Mrs. Mayor thought about what she had seen on the news, she became angrier and angrier. Her anger started getting angry. She arrived at the OK around six the next night and she was totting. In her purse, she had a magnum the size of the thing The Mayor carried in his pants. Over in the corner, The Mayor squeezed one of his female constituents’ buttocks. He figured why not. Anything to keep the voters happy.

Mrs. Mayor pulled the gun from her purse and aimed. Then she said, “I haven’t seen that thang in a month of Sundays. Now here you are, showing it on TV. Who do you think you are?”

“I’m The Mayor.”

Mrs. Mayor fired, not once, not twice, but three times. Unfortunately she couldn’t hit the side of a barn. She was near-sighted. She missed The Mayor and hit his constituent in the bottom. It was not a pretty sight. It is never a pretty sight to see a bottom bleed all over the place.

The Mayor, being the opportunist he was, saw the opportunity he had been waiting for. A way to rid himself of a wife, who was no longer the entertainment she had once been, and get away with it. For a very long time, he had the hankerings for his secretary, Willow Pussywillow.

The Mayor pulled out the .45 he carried in the concealed weapon department and shot her corpus dilecti. Mrs. Mayor fell over dead. And not just dead. She was as dead as a corpse in a coffin six foot under.

Now the citizens of the City Gorgeous were a very tolerant people. Sure, The Mayor had no legal recourse but to stand his ground. It was a sure thing that he would get off scot free. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that the standoff would hurt the tourist trade. When the story broke on the national news, people cancelled their tickets to paradise by the bushel load.

There was only one thing to do. Fire The Mayor, arrest him and throw him in jail for exposing his weapon in public. And that was exactly what happened. As they say in the news biz, it was Bye Bye, Miss American Pie for The Mayor.