Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Weeping Consort by G. Arthur Brown (Random Title #1)

This probably happened in a palace, or a manor, or a chateau. It was certainly the olden times, when the royalty had really opulent crowns, with every kind of precious stone encrusted in the solid gold spikes that surrounded a dome of purple or red velvet.

My father was there, I think, and he kept taking pictures of everyone with one of those old fashioned telephones that you have to crank. The pictures were black and white and grainy. It was the olden days.

When we got to the inner chambers, we saw a man in a pink satin suit, cape draped about him, rapier on his hip, powder in his wig. He leaned his face into his hand and wept. It was very moving, so I tried to be discrete as I sidled up next to him for the snapshot. Father cranked the handle furiously. Perhaps the best photo of me and a nobleman yet.

“I am the queen’s consort,” the man confided in us, though we told him we had no interest in protecting his feelings or his privacy. “She has cast me aside now that she has clockwork cats. Give them a winding, and they chase clockwork mice or they hop up on shelves and break dishes all day long. A real cat breaks fewer things, but these are mechanical engines and the art is in its infancy, though the Turkish men who design them are certainly very skilled. They are now working on a clockwork consort and I feel that I must challenge them to a duel, though I fear they will abscond to a secret place where I cannot track them.”

“That’s a sad tale,” my father said. “Whenever I hear a tale like that, I say so.”

“Yes, I am moved by your weeping, sir, and I would like to say that if you do challenge these artisans to a fight, I would watch and cheer for you,” I told him.

“Thanks, sirs, but it would be unseemly to have a cheering section. It is better that I do this alone.” He departed the hall, still weeping, and we could not help but think we would never see him again.

We never saw him again.

Hotdogs were being prepared in the kitchen, so we went there, seeking to dine on these fine meats. The members of the kitchen staff were engaged in scuttlebutt, thus we overheard that the consort had indeed challenged the Turks. As he battled them, he showed superior skill in fencing, but the Turkish men were of course made of metal, and every blow to their body did no real damage to them.

They then sent a clockwork swordsman after him, which finished him by sticking its blade all the way up his nobody’s-business. The clockwork swordsman was given a special award and married to the queen promptly.

“Sometimes, I am sure that life isn’t worth living,” I said to the sous-chef.

“Tell that to the mechanical consort,” he replied, making sauce.

My father took a picture of what it was like to be there in that magical time. The print is still on display, probably in a museum or a gallery or an installment of some sort. He was not given a major award, nor was he married right away to the queen, and my mother was glad of this. When we got home, we had snacks and remembered our encounter with that weeping consort, as if it were an episode of a cartoon show, though I’m fairly sure the man was actually live-action. That was just how we chose to spend our days at that time.

It was the olden days. 

Copyright 2014 G. Arthur Brown
Artwork Remedios Varo

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