(Reader: GK) Change for a Dollar



Reader Post | By GK

Chapter Two: A New World Disorder

            Jaque de la Jaque reread the letter.  The Queen was ordering him to come see her at once.  He could see her castle from his ship in the harbor.  He had dreaded this day –   the day she would find something for him to do.

            Jaque headed slowly toward the gang plank.  Maybe it was just a simple errand she had in mind, like slaughtering a small island of peaceful, weaponless, dark-skinned people.

            A coach awaited to whisk him up the winding road to the castle’s drawbridge.  He tipped the driver and asked him to wait.  Jaque was considering quitting and collecting unemployment.  Plan B for lazy people.

            The castle, like most European castles, was dark, cold, damp, and constructed of big, moldy blocks of stone.  The ghost of a king who once lorded over that particular area of real estate and who fancied himself a practical joker, stuck out his big foot and tripped Jaque, who fell against the first three stairs.  That blasted ghost got him every time.

            Jaque cursed the haunting and climbed the stairs to the queen’s boudoir.

            Inside her chamber, the queen was busily testing out hundreds of bottles of perfume.  Applying some to her writs and sniffing, it was clear from her expression that she could not find one to please her.  She saw Jaque in the mirror and turned to face him.  Jaque, bowing from the waist, pulled a muscle in his back largely because he was soft and out of shape.




            “You sent for me Madam?” He announced crisply.

            “You’re on the damn payroll, aren’t you?”  The queen never sugar coated anything.  “I don’t pay you to tan in the harbor; I pay you to work.  By the way, where’s the head of the Loch Ness Monster I asked you to fetch me over a year ago last Tuesday?”

            “Um, we looked but to tell you the truth, I don’t think it really exists.  Me and the guys think it’s a tourist attraction hoax.  Would you settle for the head of Heather Locklear?”


            Jaque changed the subject.  “You look and smell wonderful.”

            The queen, who loved a compliment but hated a bullshitter, chose to ignore his comment.  “Jaque, I need a new perfume.  Of these thousand or so scents, none of them say, ‘Thursday’, and to a woman who prides herself on being unique in a classical and sophisticated way, it just plain sucks.”

            “Have you tried Liz’s Obsession?”  Jaque was trying to be helpful in the way men pretend to care about these problems they consider to be of little importance compared to something like RBIs.




            “Obsession is a good name for it.  Ever since I put it on my neck I’ve been scrubbing it constantly to get it off.”

            “How about that Joan Collins perfume?”

            “It attracts too many men looking for a free ride.”

            “Have you tried Cher’s uninhibited?”

            “Yeah, but I didn’t feel uninhibited . . . So I drank it.  You wouldn’t believe the dress I wore to a beheading.”

            The queen tried a fancy pink bottle, but that scent didn’t please her either.

            The sailor poured a bottle of something on his wrist and inhaled its aroma.

            The queen deadpanned, “Smells like beer?”

            “A lot like beer,” he agreed.

            “It is beer you moron.”   She grabbed it from his hand and took a swig.  “I need a new scent!” she exclaimed, the exclamation point being the major indicator of that fact.




            “You try Aromarama?  That new store in the mall on the continent across the ocean?”

            “What other continent?”  The queen was genuinely surprised.

            Jaque pulled out his telescope and walked over to the window that peered over the ocean.  Through the telescope, he could see clear across the ocean to the sandy shore of the other continent.  Focusing, he spied on an elderly couple, combing the beach with a metal detector.  It was one of the better telescope’s money could buy.  Jaque handed the instrument to the queen, who eyed the old lady digging for an object that her metal detector had indicated.  The woman pulled a big treasure chest from the sand, opened it up, and happily, she found it to be full of silver, gold and jewelry.  Her husband, who had been scrounging the sands with his own detector, ambled up behind her and looked at her find.

            “I found a ten-cent rebate bottle cap, a rusty nail, a flip-top and a silver dollar.  Here’s your half.  Fifty cents.  We’re splitting everything, right?  He had saliva cascading from the corner of his lip as he gazed upon her rich discovery.  “It’s nice how in marriage a husband and wife share everything,” he added hopefully.

            “Roy, I’m going to take my split and split.  For forty-nine years we couldn’t afford to do anything but grow old and miserable together, but now that we have all this money, I’d rather not listen to you hack, scratch, and fart anymore.”

            “Avis, if that’s what you want, who am I to stand in your way.”  He stood to one side as she gathered up half the treasure into her arms and walked off.

            “See you around Roy.”

            “Have a good one Avis.”

            The queen closed the telescope and handed it back to Jaque, who hung it back on his belt.

            “When did they discover a new world?  Why didn’t anyone tell me?”  The queen seemed hurt.




            “Actually, it hasn’t been discovered yet.  The people there are just kind of waiting for someone bigger and smarter to come and take it all away,” Jaque explained.

            “Then why hasn’t anyone nabbed it?”  The queen was hopeful again.

            “Because it’s best just to send them our tired, our weak, our poor and keep our alert, strong and wealthy.”

            The queen, grabbing for the telescope, grabbed a handful of Jaque’s groin by accident.  “Woops.”

            Jaque handed her the telescope and adjusted himself as she took a second look at the continent across the ocean.  Through the looking glass, she could see a well-built man rubbing suntan lotion on his companion.  His mate sat up to take a sip of iced tea, and the queen could see that they were both men.

            “What else did we send there?”

            “My lady, over there, anything goes.  They have a word over there they use freely.  It gives them the right to do whatever they want.”

            “What is this word they use freely,” she asked curiously.


            “They use the word ‘freedom’ freely?”




            “It’s in their constitution and in their declaration of independence.  ‘We the people, in order to form a more perfect union’, blah, blah, blah, and so on and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Jaque made a face like isn’t that ridiculous?

            “Their belief is that they should be allowed to pursue happiness?  That’s absurd.  No one’s happy.  Life’s a bitch and always will be.  As long as I’m around anyway.  I’m the only one that should be happy, which I’m not.  Not only am I not happy but I don’t smell rich and elite.  There are important people in the world who don’t have quality perfume and these people have the gall to worry about their own happiness.  That’s utterly insane and insensitive!”  The queen turned three shades of purple.

            “That’s what I’m trying to tell you,” Jaque confided.

            “What they need is someone they can all serve . . . work and slave for . . . give’m some purpose damn it!”

            “Too far gone, not one of them thinks the same way.  They’re free to do so.”

            “Everything is free?”  The queen panned the shores of the world across the ocean.  “Hey!  You told me the world was flat!”

            “No, you misunderstood me, I said the world was fat.  You told me to sail around the world and find a better route to India, and I said we can’t because the world was fat, meaning that it would’ve taken a long time to do that.”

            “So you sat in the harbor doing nothing for the past year?”

            “Queen, um, that is your majesty, by doing nothing we saved you a lot of money in scurvy insurance claims.”

            “What happened to the basket of citrus my grandparents sent you from Florida?”




            “We had to send it back.  How could we, in the name of what’s right, accept grapefruit from a state that hasn’t even been discovered yet?  In fact, it’s none of my business, but I really don’t think your grandparents should have been allowed to retire in a foreign country that hasn’t been formally recognized by the Federation of Councils and Bureaus Committees.”

            “Who made up that stupid rule?”

            “You did.”

            “I must have a reason for it.”

            “You were lobbied by the Lazy People Union, who requested you create enough red tape to make it impossible for them to find a job.”

            “What did I get in exchange?”

            “They got your grandparents out of the castle.  You remember they were driving you nuts?”

            “Hey, it’s not easy running a country you know.  One day I’m ready to do great things and the next thing you know I’m faced with some skinny jerk holing up in a compound demanding 12-year-old girls in exchange for used up 13 year-old girls.”

            “Is he still there?”

            “Yeah, and the funny thing about it is none of us can remember why we were giving into his demands in the first place.”




            “Because he said he was God and threatened to make the clouds rain big gobs of boogers.”

            “Is that why?  You see what I’m up against?”

            “So if you need me I’ll be in the harbor.”  Jaque crept quietly to the door.

            “What were we talking about?”

            “The weather.  You said nice weather.  I said, ‘Yes, isn’t it?’, and we talked a little about perfume and you said you didn’t need any more and that you were satisfied with all these scents, and you’d call me if you needed me.  See ya.”

            “Woe down there babalooee.  We were discussing more than that . . .”

            “And oh yeah shoes.  You said you need new shoes and I said no you don’t those ones are fine.”

            “Free . . . Freely . . . Freedom . . .”  The queen snapped her fingers.  “We were talking about a new world where everything is free!”

            “Oh yeah, the truth is, they just think they are free.  Everything has a price over there too.”

            “Well I’m sorry.  Now that I know this place exists I simply must Lord over to it.  Take three ships, the best men you can get dirt cheap out of prison and invade.  I want to be collecting taxes by Monday.”




            “But your Maaaaajestyeeeeee . . .” Jaque whined.

            “And to make sure you do it, I’m coming along.”

            “Ya . . . Ya . . . Ya . . . You’re co . . . c . . . c . . . coming along?!?”

            “Yes, I want to go to that perfume store in the mall you were talking about.”  The queen grabbed her purse.  “Let’s go.”

            Jaque was trapped.

            The queen looked at Jaque sternly.  “Where are the other two ships,” she inquired in a give me a good answer damn quick sort of way.

            “They sank,” Jaque replied.

            “They sank?”  The queen wasn’t quite sure she was hearing it right.

            “Both of them.”  She couldn’t believe it.

“Ralph dropped his bowling ball through the hull.  The other hit a little, but pointy, iceberg.  It was almost melted by the time it got to the harbor.  Only about four feet wide and three feet tall.  But hard and pointy,” he explained.

            “Ralph dropped his bowling ball?”  She was not happy.

            “And a little pointy iceberg, that’s right.”

            “Who’s Ralph?”

            “Professional bowler.”

            “Why didn’t you hire a professional seaman?”

            “Couldn’t find any.  Ralph’s my first mate because he was the only professional anything I could get.  Except if you want to count robbing and raping then the ship is full of professionals.”  Jaque seemed satisfied with this explanation.

            The queen wasn’t but she knew to pursue it would be a waste of time.  “How long have we been at sea,” she asked.

            “Two days,” Jaque answered.

            “Of course, you’re the seaman, but what if we were to untie the boat.”

            Jaque looked back, “We could probably make up those two days.”


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