by Fanny Adams
Once upon a time, in a kingdom by the sea, lived (predictably enough) a king, and his wife (also predictably enough) the queen, a notable beauty. They were happy enough but for their longing for a child. For many years they longed. Finally they got around to doing something about it and lo', the queen was delivered of a son whom they named Prince Bodie. There was great rejoicing in the land and a magnificent christening feast was planned, to which were invited all the local fairy godpersons save one--a mean and treacherous bad fairy who would have made thirteen at table.
After the sumptuous meal and while the mint patties were being passed around, each of the good fairies took a turn in granting some precious gift on the little prince.
"I," said the first, "give Prince Bodie hair as dark as the wing of a Raven--naturally curly, of course--and a gift certificate for a free trim at my salon." So saying, he touched the baby with his magic wand, there was a little flurry of stardust and the hair on the prince's head grew dark and curling. His mother was pleased.
Then the second fairy stood up. "I," she said, eyeing the first fairy who was looking unbearably smug, "I bestow upon Prince Bodie eyes as deep and blue as the sea!" With a wave of her wand and a slightly larger flurry of stardust, the prince's eyes turned a gorgeous deep blue.
"That's amazing," said the king.
"Contacts," whispered the first fairy.
The third stepped forward. "That's all well and good," she asserted, "but I give him eyelashes to die for." And the baby's lashes grew long and thick and silky. By now the stardust was getting pretty thick and some of the guests began to cough, somewhat ruining the general effect. The queen, realizing that with lashes like that you'd never need to use mascara, leaned forward and whispered a request for a personal favour.
The fourth fairy announced, "For Prince Bodie--a wilful, vulnerable, expressive and kissable mouth." He waved his wand, and after a modest display of pyrotechnics, the baby's mouth curled up into something like a sneer.
"Oh, my dear, I don't like that expression at all," said the queen.
"Here! What's wrong with him?" the king demanded.
"It's a little tight at first," the fairy assured them. "It'll loosen up." Even as he spoke, the sneer relaxed into a charmingly vulnerable smile. "If he has any trouble, I'll stop by and adjust it," the fairy promised.
The fifth fairy looked a little annoyed. "Nobody ever thinks about the nose, do they? Not until it's too late for anything but the plastic surgeon. Well, I give the prince a perfect nose...with just the tiniest hint of a tilt at the end because I like them that way." Immediately the prince took on the look of a small, blue eyed pig. "Tiny hint, I said!" the fifth fairy shouted at his wand. He shook it a few times and waved it over the baby once again. There was one small, fizzling roman candle and the nose became less alarming. "Damn wand!" the fairy muttered as he went back to his seat. The first fairy whispered that he should have used Duracells.
The sixth fairy scratched her head. "Baby-fine skin?" she suggested to a chorus of hoots from the others.
"It's so predictable," said one.
"Well, that's tough," she replied. "Baby-fine skin it is." A wave of the wand and nothing happened apart from the appearance of a large brass band playing Gaudeamus Igitur. "It won't really show until he's older," she assured his parents who were looking a little harassed. "He'll thank me for it, mark my words."
The seventh got up. "Okay," he said, dimpling, "the tushy of death."
"Ooohh," chorused the court. The string section of the Royal Philharmonic appeared, playing "Tonight We Love". The din was deafening.
"Seems like a waste when it's going to be damp for years," the queen remarked as the pages hurried the musicians out of the dining chamber. "Why didn't they just potty-train him?"
The eighth fairy looked smug. "I grant the prince, ah...greater than average...assets, shall we say?" He waved his larger than usual wand over the crib and the child's eyes grew wide and he began to coo. There was a minor eclipse.
"Here!" shouted the king, "How's he going to learn to walk like that?"
"Oh, I hadn't thought of that." Another wave set things back to normal. "I've fixed it so it'll take sixteen years to fulfil its promise," he said. The lads and lasses of the court checked sixteen years ahead in their date books and freed up some weekends.
The ninth fairy, an athletic sort, bounced up to the crib. "I grant to the little prince, adorable knees."
"Knees?" everyone asked.
"Yeah, knees. You want to make something of it?" she demanded. When she was sure that nobody wanted to get into a dust-up over it, she waved her wand and the prince's knees got cuter. His mother couldn't believe it possible. Somewhere a star supernova-ed and Renee Richards won Wimbledon.
The tenth fairy looked bemused. "You haven't left much of his anatomy for me," she complained to her cohorts. "I could give him great teeth, I suppose, but he'd only spoil them with sweeties, wouldn't he? No, I tell you what, I'm going to give him the gift of a sense of humour." The prince's parents looked pleased and the tenth fairy stepped over to the crib. "Black humour," she whispered to her wand just before she waved it. There were no fireworks, no fairy dust...but somewhere in the kingdom, someone died laughing. The tenth fairy smiled demurely as she sat down.
The eleventh sighed. "Oh, god, I don't know," he complained. "Health, wealth, happiness and luck in love." He waved his wand with resignation and somewhere a new galaxy formed.
"I think they were all a safe bet to begin with," the king whispered to his beaming wife.
"Hush, dear, you wouldn't want them to think us ungrateful, would you?" his wife replied.
Suddenly the bad fairy appeared in a puff of evil-smelling yellow smoke. "I see I've been snubbed again!" he boomed. Everyone but the other fairies cowered.
"Maybe it's your personality," one of the other fairies suggested. The rest tittered.
"Yellow isn't your colour dear," said the second fairy.
"Look, I've got as much right to be here as you do," the bad fairy complained. "Anyway...I am here to bestow a gift too!"
"Probably a boil," said the first fairy, sotto voce.
"Naff off," snarled the bad fairy. "I don't have to put up with this shit from you."
"Ooooh, I'm scared," said the first fairy, rolling his eyes.
Ignoring the others of his kind, the bad fairy strode towards the crib where the little prince lay, playing with his toes. The only sound that could be heard was the creak of the bad fairy's leather jacket. He picked up the baby. "Nice little lad. Pity I have to do this, but black magic can't afford to play favourites. I say, that on the first day Prince Bodie discovers sex, that day will be his last!"
"Oh, that's rotten," shouted several of the fairy godpersons. "What a bastard you are."
"I know, I know. I hate myself, but there it is. I'm a bad fairy and I can't do anything about it." He put the prince back in his crib. "Sorry, kid," he said, and was gone in a puff of poisonous green smoke.
"No style," one of the fairies was heard to say.
Then the last, the twelfth of the good fairies, known throughout the land as Cowley-the-very-good-but-tetchy, or simply The Cow, stood up and a hush fell on the crowd. He had not yet bestowed his gift.
"Och, why is it I always have to clean up other folks' messes?" he grumbled as he stepped up to the crib. He lifted the little prince out and stared at him. "You'll be a proper terror and no mistake," he said to the cooing baby. "Never mind, never mind. I canna prevent the curse, and I have a feeling it won't take long to happen, but I can make it a wee bit less harsh. On the day in question, the little prince won't die...but he will fall into a deep sleep that will last until he's wakened by a kiss from his one true love." He put the baby down again. "Oh, that goes for the lot of you," he announced to the court. "And everyone in the kingdom. I need a wee vacation. I suggest," he said with a touch of acid, "that you all make long-term investments as soon as possible."
Years passed and the child grew to be strong and handsome and brave and most of all, pure. For years his family kept him in ignorance of the fact that such a thing as sex existed at all. For all Prince Bodie knew, the gift of the eighth fairy might have been to help balance him. In a state of ignorance the prince grew to young manhood.
One day, though, as he was walking in his secluded garden, Prince Bodie happened upon a young man hidden in the bushes, making pained sounds. "Are you all right?" the Prince asked the other young man, who looked up in shock at this unexpected company.
"Ah, ah...fine, thanks." He covered himself with a branch.
"I thought you might be hurt," said the Prince, a kind-hearted young man.
"Ah, well, no, not really. I was just...tossing one off."
"I beg your pardon?!"
"Um, jerking off."
"Romancing my hand?" the young man tried.
"I'm not sure I'm following you," the Prince admitted.
"I'm masturbating and you're putting me right off!"
"What are you, terminally dim or something? Look!"
The young Prince was stunned by what he saw when the stranger moved the branch away. "How'd it get like that?" he asked. "It looks painful."
"Don't tell me you don't know about...well, shut up and watch because I'm ready to finish."
The prince did as he was told and was amazed to see the result of the stranger's efforts.
"Oh, God," the young man sighed as he lay back in the bushes. "That was terrific."
"You liked it?" the Prince asked, feeling sudden, strange longings wash over him.
"Yeah, it was fantastic. You oughta try it. Go ahead," he urged.
The Prince undid his codpiece and after a moment of hesitation, reached for himself. But just as he fingered his prick, he fell down into the bushes in a deep sleep. The young man, who was none other than the bad fairy in disguise, looked at the sleeping figure and shook his head. "Maybe I was hasty," he mumbled, admiring the prince's assets. "Oh well, what's done is done." So saying, he vanished in a puff of bright red smoke that pleased him immensely.
And so the Prince and his kingdom slept on for years which stretched into decades which stretched into...well, quite a long time really. And around the kingdom grew a barrier of thorns which only a brave adventurer could pass through.
One day as Ray, Prince of a southern kingdom, and son of the Pearly King, was hunting in the woods, the chase took him far beyond the borders of his own land into the northern wilderness. As night fell, he found himself hopelessly lost in a strange country. He sought shelter but found his way blocked by a wall of thorns. He followed this wall for many miles hoping to find a way through into the country beyond which he could only glimpse through the branches.
He grew weary and sat down beside the wall to think. What, he asked himself, would a gardener do in a case like this? And the answer came to him in a blinding flash of insight--Prune the hedge! He ran to get the hedge clippers out of his saddle bag and returned to work in earnest. In a matter of hours he'd not only cleared a path for himself and his horse, but he'd managed to make rather a nice topiary giraffe out of one section of the wall. He thought about cutting a second one for the other side of the passageway, but rejected the idea as too much work for abandoned property. He mounted his horse and rode on into the sleeping kingdom.
Prince Ray was confused by what he saw in this enchanted land. Everywhere he looked there were people asleep and most of them didn't look too comfortable. He rode on towards the castle, hoping to find someone of royal blood with whom he could speak intelligently.
When he reached the castle, he found it in a similar state of disrepair, and all the occupants fast asleep. He went out again in search of some food that hadn't either putrefied or petrified, and found himself in a charming garden. In the centre of the garden he found Prince Bodie, asleep in the bushes, looking very vulnerable. Prince Ray felt some unfamiliar stirrings.
"Well this has been an unusual day, hasn't it?" he mused as he sat down to consider the events of the last few hours. He was so tired that he began to fall asleep.
"Here! What's the matter with you?" A sharp voice woke him with a start. Above him stood a small, sandy-haired man with a look of annoyance spreading across his face. "You shouldn't be sleeping, Can't you people get anything right?"
"What's the matter?" Prince Ray demanded, not used to being abused.
"The matter is that you're not doing as you ought. You were supposed to kiss him," he said, indicating the sleeping Prince.
"I don't want to kiss him!"
"I don't care, do I?" The Cow asked sarcastically. "That's your job and now I've got to chase you about to see that you do it."
"I don't like boys," Ray insisted, backing away from the small fury.
"Oh no? What about that stable boy..."
"I was only ten!"
"And the Archduke of..."
"Okay, okay, but I don't really fancy them anymore. I don't fancy him, I mean, it's a bit like necrophilia, isn't it?"
"Och, no more nonsense," The Cow snapped. "Get over there and kiss him, or I swear I'll..."
"All right, don't get excited." Ray scurried over to the side of the sleeping Prince and bent over him. It wouldn't be unpleasant, but it certainly wasn't his idea of a great date. He didn't understand why the sandy-haired man (who he belatedly recognized as a good fairy) wanted him to do this thing, and it annoyed him to be kept in the dark. "Here goes nothing," he muttered and he kissed the sleeping Prince on the mouth.
Suddenly the birds began to twitter and the wall of thorns dissolved (leaving Ray to regret the giraffe), and Prince Bodie's eyes opened. Prince Ray fell in love.
"Oh, you've got nice eyes," he breathed as Bodie gazed up at him adoringly.
"You too," Bodie breathed. They kissed again and Ray thought that this might have been one of The Cow's better ideas.
"Gift from one of my fairy godpeople," Ray admitted.
"Yeah? Mine too."
"Hey!" They grinned at each other.
"I got a lot of great gifts from them, but the bad fairy put a curse on me."
"He wasn't invited."
"That's not a good idea," Ray told him as they did a little friendly exploration. "He's apt to be unpleasant about a snub."
"Don't I know it," Bodie said with a laugh. This was a lot better than doing it by himself, he decided.
"We're definitely going to invite him to the wedding," Ray asserted as Bodie's fingers discovered a wealth of unexpected pleasures--for both of them.
"Mmmmm," said Bodie, his mouth full.
In the kingdom there was great rejoicing. Not only were they finally awake, but the stock market had taken a turn upwards and everyone was rich. The king wasn't too happy about his only son wanting to marry someone else's only son, but at least they were both princes which made it a little better. Besides, all the good fairies seemed to approve. Even the bad fairy who had been invited to the wedding and sat, sublimely unaware, among the guests in an impossibly gaudy outfit, seemed to be approving of the union.
As Prince Bodie and Prince Ray sat, gazing soulfully into each other's eyes, The Cow appeared beside them. "I'm sure you boys are both very grateful to me," he purred.
"Yes, very," they admitted.
"I'm sure you'd like to repay me in some small way for all my trouble. Magic, you know, is very wearing!"
"Yes, of course," they said.
He pulled a piece of paper out of his cloak. "I just happen to have a contract with me."
They studied the contract carefully as Ray had been taught to do. "Here, what's this C15? What's it mean, anyway?"
The Cow sighed. There had to be a better way of recruiting agents.
-- THE END --
Originally published in The Hatstand Express 2, 1984