In the Kingdom of Cosmos, Mortimer and his longtime companion, Ms. Estelle traveled over a winding cobblestone road which leads to the King’s palace. Mortimer’s donkey Elmer pulling their carriage became entangled in honey locust vines that fast grew right after a heavy forest rain. Their pleasant scent gave the forest a sweet smell, while the thick roving branches quickly attached themselves to everything blocking the roadside.
Elmer stopped his quick trot on the road to eat the tasty leaves as branches twirled around the carriage wheels and around his hooves. The donkey was accustomed to the phenomenon as lifelike strands twirled around his hind legs. Unafraid, the animal made up its mind not to move again until its appetite was satisfied.
“Good lord Mortimer!” cried out Ms. Estelle. “Our palace arrival will be delayed because of these dreadful weeds. The King is expecting us now! Something must be done immediately!” she shouted as vines blocked part of her vision by covering the carriage window.
Pies fresh out of the oven made especially for King Cosmos, sat in the back seat. Apple, cherry, pineapple, and the Kings favorite lemon meringue were cooling quickly. Ms. Estelle prepared and baked the pies using a secret spell recipe that caused a strong fruity vapor to rise from the pies when hot. If the King couldn’t smell the pies while hot he wouldn’t pay the extra gold coin for them as was agreed.
“I have the problem in hand,” said Mortimer smiling as he reached under his seat for the handmade brass French Curl Horn he brought just for this situation.
“What on earth?” Ms. Estelle exclaimed, puzzled.
“Just observe,” Mortimer said confidently. Taking a breath, he blew 3 high pitch notes consecutively to convey urgency, followed by a loud cry:
“Belvedere! Belvedere! Belvedere! Where are you…boy?”
Instantly, two blond-haired Cosmopolitan boys, age 15 and 16 appeared. Side by side, they hacked their way through the honey locust vine infested forest clearing the road toward the stranded carriage.
“Bravo! Mortimer, Bravo!” Ms. Estelle exclaimed while clapping her hands. She gave her companion a look that suggested a proper thanking behind secluded doors was coming.
“Who’s that with him?” She asked. “He looks tired. Maybe from all the hacking?”
“That’s Belvederes younger brother. They call him Sleepy,” Mortimer replied without further explanation.
Sleepy was diagnosed with a medical condition that caused his eyelids to close partially over his eyes making it appear he might be sleep. Mortimer, who voted for HIPPA laws, never disclosed to Ms. Estelle why he really looked that way.
“Wake up boy!” Ms. Estelle told Sleepy as he cleared the vines off the carriage and donkey.
“Why does everyone say that?” Sleepy said to no one in particular as his brother Belvedere continued to clear the road of vines so the couple could resume their journey. Sleepy freed the carriage of vines and tied a piece of the honey vine leaf over Elmer’s head, just out of reach. Swatting the animal on the hindquarters he yelled “Elmer! Move your ass!”
With a braying “hee-haw,” the donkey took off in a cantering pace down the road.
“Oh good lord Mortimer” cried, Ms. Estelle. “A Cosmopolitan youth speaking such crass words?”
“My apologies Ms. Estelle. You see the boy has his way of getting Elmer to obey quickly, much better than I.” Mortimer explained. “Tis the reason I have him and his brother on company retainer.”
As Mortimer spoke, Elmer sped into a breezy gallop to the palace. Belvedere and Sleepy were soon out of sight.
“Well done Mortimer, well done.” Ms. Estelle said holding his hand affectionately. As they lumbered on she devised a new plan to avoid the honey vines the next time.
***Back home Ms. Estelle counted the gold coins from the sale of the pies to the King. True to his word, he paid extra for the smell of fresh pie no one else could duplicate in the kingdom of Cosmos. The profit from the pies, however, was lost due to Mortimer’s hiring of the two teens to remove honey locust vines. Working papers for teenagers was expensive in Cosmos.
“Oh dear Mortimer, this will not do at all.” Ms. Estelle said sadly.
Looking through her recipe and spells book version 2.0, Ms. Estelle devised a plan to get free help battling the honey locust vines as they traveled the road to the King’s palace.
“The next batch of pies I’m selling in front of our home to passersby,” Ms. Estelle told Mortimer. I’ve added a potion to the pies and with my magic fiddle, you will play for Cosmos tourists. This will bend their will to do our bidding while dancing with joy for the next seven years,” she gleefully said.
“Brilliant idea!” said Mortimer, as he set up a long table in front of their home with a sign that read â€˜Welcome to Cosmos. Free pie and music.’
Before long, people from all over stopped by and had a piece of Ms. Estelle’s pie. Mortimer was fascinated by the melodies he produced just by moving a bow across the strings of a fiddle made with Elmer’s donkey hair. People ate, danced, and obeyed Ms. Estelle and Mortimer’s requests without a second thought. Mortimer realized that after eating and dancing to a tune, he no longer had to play the fiddle to command the servants, but he did so out of awe. Things were going so well, Ms. Estelle told Mortimer to fire the two Cosmopolitan teenagers immediately. Mortimer stopped fiddling and sounded the horn.
“Belvedere! Belvedere! Belvedere! Where are you…boy?”
Instantly two boys came running to Mortimer out of breath, looking for honey locust vines to cut, but there were none. It was a dry day with no rain. Then the boys noticed people sing, dance, and work in Mortimer’s yard without a care in the world. Looking around bewildered, they had no idea why they were summoned.
“Boys, I no longer require your services to clear the honey locust vines from the road. I’m canceling our monthly subscription of services,” He said with finality.
“Sleepy, are you listening son?” Mortimer asked.
“Yes sir.” replied the boy, eyes droopy.
“Good lad,” Mortimer said. Here are gold coins for your troubles. I thank you.”
Belvedere and Sleepy looked at each other, then back at Mortimer.
“But those people aren’t from Cosmos. There’re not Cosmopolitans. You should subscribe to people in our kingdom for work, like us.” Belvedere complained. Sleepy nodded in agreement.
“Oh but these people are special,” Mortimer said. “Observe the tall bloke from Kingdom Maxim. He is strong as an ox and sports an AB six pack. By himself, he can clear the honey vines in half the time you teens did. Plus he can lift the carriage with one hand and change the wheel with the other. Amazing… and he works without subscribing, no fee.” Mortimer said cheerfully. He continued.
“In fact, they’re all from the most popular kingdoms. Glamour, Vogue, InStyle, Time, and from the rocky continent, the Rolling Stone kingdom. As they eat sweets, I play the fiddle, and they work without subscribing a fee for seven years.” Waving his hand in a shooing manner, Mortimer said: “Now be gone.”
Belvedere and Sleepy left with several gold coins each. As they walked home, they heard Mortimer and Ms. Estelle argue what kingdom villager was going to warm their bed covers. He wanted the little Mexican beauty called Lucia from the Vogue kingdom. She wanted the strong masculine man of color from the National Geographic kingdom. While they argued, the boys schemed among themselves a way to break the pie eating dancing spell.
***Three years later the boys returned to Mortimer’s and Ms. Estelle’s home. Things were still the same as the years passed. Ms. Estelle baked pies, people from other kingdoms ate, and Mortimer fiddled tunes as they danced, completing the spell making them servants. Ms. Estelle had enough servants to make two pie runs a day to King Cosmos, bringing in many gold coins and much wealth since they did not have to pay the dancing servants fees.
Sleepy observed a manservant washing and waxing the carriage for the next pie run. He danced gyrating his hips to a tune Mortimer played on the fiddle. He sang “wax on…wax off…wax on…wax off.” He worked as the fiddle played.
Ms. Estelle was being fed grapes from a yard hammock by several gentlemen from kingdom GQ wearing short white togas. She saw the boys and grew suspicious.
“Belvedere, Sleepy, what do you want here?” she asked, after eating a hand fed grape.
“We came to ask for our jobs back,” Belvedere said. His brother Sleepy nodding in agreement.
“Were adults now so you don’t have to pay fees for working papers.”
“But I’d still have to pay a monthly Cosmopolitan subscription for the two of you. I have enough free servants to make the pie run, clean my house, cook my dinner and feed me grapes.” She said while wondering if Sleepy heard. He still looked tired.
“You hear me Sleepy?”
“Yes, Ms. Estelle. But It’s not fair. We want our jobs back and these people need to go back to their homes, their lives. Tourist Lives Matter too you know,” Sleepy said, speaking up for himself for the first time. His brother Belvedere nodding in agreement.
Mortimer listening to the commotion stopped fiddling and joined Ms. Estelle by the hammock.
“Boys, I must ask you to leave or I’ll get my bloke from kingdom Maxim to strong arm you off the premises,” Mortimer said with authority.
“Yes Mortimer, tell them who’s boss here.” Ms. Estelle said while giving Mortimer the look again that she was pleased.
Belvedere and Sleepy looked at each other, then at Ms. Estelle.
“I wanted you to use your spell to tell the servants to go home, back to their families. But I see now you will never let them go. I bet after seven years you’ll find a way to make them stay longer. You are a very selfish woman and don’t deserve such wealth. I am going to break the spell myself,” Belvedere said. His brother Sleepy nodding in agreement.
“You can do nothing. You are still tadpoles compared to my power.” She said.
“We may be young, but you are a second generation witch. My dad is a third generation warlock. He taught me an easy chant that will break that spell instantly.” Belvedere said. His brother nodding in agreement.
Ms. Estelle gasped.
“My god boy! We never say the ‘W’ words around here.”
“That’s right boys. You know better than that,” chided Mortimer.
“We don’t have that fear anymore sir,” Belvedere said. The world has changed. Sleepy, you want to say it… the chant?” he asked.
“Let’s do it together”
They looked at each other, then Ms. Estelle and Mortimer. They chanted together:
“Tinkle In The Pie. The Pie Has Pee. Tinkle In The Pie, The Pie Has Pee.”
The GQ kingdom men wearing short white togas heard it first. They gasp and repeat out loud, “Someone’s tinkled in the pie? There’s pee in the pie?” they yell running away. Soon the servant waxing the carriage hears, and the servants cleaning the house. They all scream about tinkle in the pie as the spell breaks. All of them are angry. All are looking at Mortimer and Ms. Estelle.
“My god Mortimer! What are we going to do? They will come to get us! You better do something!” she shouted.
Holding Mortimer’s hand did nothing to stop the rising fear of a mob attack. A vision of torches, pitchforks and burning stakes filled her mind as Sleepy brought Ms. Estelle back to reality.
“Hey! You awake?” Sleepy asked Ms. Estelle. She just stared at the teen waiting for her fate with the mob.
“It’s going to be OK,” Sleepy said, reassuring. “My brother is talking to everyone now. All you have to do is pay them for their services the past three years and they will go away without violence,” Sleepy told Ms. Estelle and Mortimer.
“Why that’s a splendid idea boy!” Said Mortimer breathing a little easier now. Ms. Estelle frowned.
“But that will take all the gold coins we earned over the years. We will be penniless, broke!” She said with dismay and started to cry.
“Don’t worry,” Sleepy said handing her a tissue for her eyes. “My brother and I will work for you, keeping the road clear and helping out with odds and ends. You can pay our subscription as soon as you get on your feet again.”
“You’d do that for me Sleepy?” Ms. Estelle asked humbly.
“No. not for you, but for a fellow Cosmopolitan.” He said, nodding at Ms. Estelle. She nodded back.
“Wonderful! You did the trick! All is well! Glad to have you both back on retainer.” Mortimer said.
“Just one thing,” Sleepy said getting Mortimer’s attention.
“What now, young man?” Mortimer said, trying to hold back his annoyance.
“Lucia, a lady from Kingdom Vogue, found her husband among the servants. He wants to talk to you about bed warming? My brother said he’s coming over right now.”
Mortimer looked up and saw his former servant, the big bloke from Kingdom Maxim stomping over cobblestones heading towards him, eyes red, fists balled. Mortimer did the only thing he thought might save him. He yelled:
“Belvedere! Belvedere! Belvedere! Where are you…boy?”
Darnell Cureton was born and raised in New Jersey, the Garden State. He is currently working in IT support connecting users to devices in a corporate environment. In his spare time he enjoys writing flash fiction and provides writing encouragement to authors on his blog Fictionista. His writing diary and latest work can be found at DarnellCureton.Com