Short Story – A Fool’s Throne

A retelling of one of King Solomon’s famous stories. May contain comedy and large quantities of stupidity.

“So…you’re the king now?”

Gary Gareth Garethson sat atop his new and distinctly uncomfortable throne, looking especially kingly save for his beer-stained shirt.

“No, of course I’m not!” he protested loudly. “They just think I’m the king!”

“But if they think you are, and the king’s not around to say no, doesn’t that mean they’re right?”

Gary pondered this for a moment.

“Nope, pretty sure that’s not how it works,” he decided. “I guess I could fill in for him, though. You know, while he’s out and all.”

Penny’s footsteps echoed through the throne room as she approached, her long ginger hair rustling despite the still air.

“Just make sure you’re ready for the responsibility,” she warned. “Kings don’t just sit on their arses all day, you know. They have make decisions.”

“Pfft, how hard could it be? It’s not like I have to-”

“TWO WOMEN ASKING FOR A JUDGEMENT ON A BABY, SIR,” an official voice announced from outside.

“What?! Of all the…gah, fine! Send them in!”

Penny scuttered out of the way as the giant golden doors fwooshed open as the women gained entrance. One tall and thin, the other short and plump, they looked to be exact opposites, save for their similarly concealing clothing. As they reached the halfway point, they bowed in respect.

“Great and honourable majesty,” the tall one began. “Thank you for granting us audience-”

“Hey, that was my line!”

“-and we wish you to weigh in on a matter, if you would be so kind,” she finished, ignoring her counterpart’s remark.

Gary sighed, brushing a lock of greying brown hair from his face.

“Very well, then. What seems to be the problem, ladies?”

“Well, your majesty-”

“SHE STOLE MY BABY!” the short one burst out.

“I most certainly did not!” the tall one retorted. “The baby is mine, and yours died in his sleep! That’s the end of it!”

“But all of my friends and family will vouch for me!”

“And mine will not? Where is your proof?”

“Why I oughtta-”

“Ahem.”

The women broke off their argument.

“Oh, um, my apologies, your graciousness,” the short one said. “We await your just and kind judgement on the matter, if it pleases you.”

Gary lent back on his chair, a hangover making itself known as his eyes sunk lower in their sockets.

“Look, just…okay. If there’s really no concrete evidence on either side, we’ll just split the baby, okay? How would that work?”

“SPLIT THE BABY?!” the short one yelled, horrified. “WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU THINKING, MY KING?!”

“Uh-”

“No, no, it’s completely fair,” the tall one said. “I get half, you get half.”

“Actually I-”

“Half a baby is not half as good as a full baby!” the short one exclaimed. “That’s just not how it works!”

“It totally is.”

“No! No it’s not!”

“Um, excuse me for a moment, ladies…”

Gary leaned over to one side, gesturing for Penny to come closer.

“Psst, Penny! What the hell do I do?!”

“Oh come on, do you really need to ask me?”

“Uh, yes, of course! Now tell me!”

“Fine, fine. Look, you asked them to split the baby, right? Well, clearly the mother must be the one who doesn’t want it split, since the other one doesn’t care much as long as the other woman doesn’t get it.”

Gary scratched his beard.

“You know, when I said split, I kind of meant-”

“Having the baby raised by one on some days and the other on other days?”

“Yeah, that.”

“That doesn’t surprise me, somehow.”

“Should I tell them?”

“Nah. Just pass it off as kingly wisdom.”

Gary returned to his place on the throne, clearing his throat.

“After conferencing with my advisor, I believe I have come to a decision.”

The two women looked intently up to him. He sighed.

“Look, it’s pretty clear that the baby’s mother is the short one, right? I mean, come on, you clearly don’t give a shit about it being torn in half as long as she doesn’t get it. That doesn’t strike you as kind of suspicious?”

“No,” the tall woman answered honestly. “I believe my mother would say the same thing.”

“That explains a lot,” the short one snarked.

“In either case, I have dispensed my wisdom, so you can both go…sort that out, I guess. Can one of you guards fetch a scribe or something? They’ll probably know what to do.”

Gary watched with relief as the women left, leaving him alone in the throne room.

Well, except for Penny, but she hardly counted.

“You’re right,” Gary said finally. “This isn’t as cushy as I thought it’d be.”

“Giving up so soon, my king?”

“What? No! I just…feel like I should put some more thought into this. I mean…”

Gary paused.

“If that total fart of the last king could rule a country, what’s stopping me?”

“Lack of imagination?”

“Oh really? Isn’t that what you’re here for?”

Penny sighed.

“Apparently so, your majesty. Apparently so.”

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