The Story of a Song
King Rupert gently swirled the maroon Bordeaux in his chalice. Or so he experienced it; in his inebriated state he failed to notice the wine sloshing onto his shirt or pouring in rivulets down his throne. It would be a gruesome throne of blood, except it wasn’t blood, it was wine, which is much less gruesome, if at all gruesome. It was mostly sticky.
“The bouquet is . . . strong, but . . . small?” The king didn’t slur his words. One of his greatest aptitudes was not slurring when drunk. “In short, a mighty, fine wine. In long, a very very really really quite surprisingly but inevitably, considerably, significantly, arguably definitively mighty fine wine. In my opinion.”
“Blurble durble durble” said the bullfrog, slumped against the base of the drenched throne. “Hurble hurble durble. Ribbit” he added. He started to refill his goblet, but in finding this difficult to coordinate, decided to swig directly from the bottle. It was his wine after all.
“Oh Jeremiah, you are a good friend, in word and deed. Though I don’t understand your words, so mostly in deed, indeed. You may not even be named Jeremiah, I just started calling you that because you looked like a Jeremiah. You could be named anything, even King Rupert. Imagine that. Are you? Are you imagining it?” The King squinted his eyes, as people do to scrutinize more thoroughly, though it counterproductively limited his vision. “I can’t tell. I think you’re imagining it.”
He wasn’t. The frog, who may or may not be named Jeremiah, was imagining a draghouirefly, which is a firefly stuffed inside a housefly stuffed inside a dragonfly. “Lurble. Murble lurble.” He said longingly. Which meant draghouirefly.
“Dibs! Dibs I say.” The proclamation was as regal as it was nonspecific and unprompted. “If a princess arrives, keep your lips off of her, I have dibs. I’m the King of the World after all, and you’re a toad. I stood on the bow of that ship. I made sure it crashed into that iceberg, and that’s how you become King of the World. You were probably sitting around playing Frogger. Or Super Mario Brothers 2. Or Battletoads. Or Mario 3. Or Star Fox.”
Jeremiah, if in fact his name was Jeremiah, which it may very well not be, was trying to open a new bottle of wine. This was difficult for him as his hands were covered in a thin layer of mucous. The mucous allowed him to breathe through his skin, but it also made his hands perpetually slippery. The mucous also made dating difficult. He handed the bottle to King Rupert and made the bullfrog equivalent of puppydog eyes.
Rupert grabbed the bottle somewhat magnanimously. “Listen you Jeremy Fisher wannabe, the princess is mine. You can have Hello Kitty or Miss Piggy or whoever or whatever else. As long as we have that squared away we’re square. Don’t be a square.” He twisted off his left ring finger, revealing a corkscrew. “Look, you know I love the ladies, especially having fun with said ladies, especially making Sweet Love with them.” He opened the bottle using his hidden corkscrew finger and handed it back to Possibly Jeremiah.
“Murble. Murble murble murble murble murble. Murble murble murble. Croak.”
“And as you know” Rupert began, leaning forward conspiratorially, “Sweet Love is a chemical compound, soluble only in salt water that induces pure joy in humans under eighteen years of age. But it won’t work on me because I’m nineteen. And it won’t work on you because you, much like the character Frog from the children’s book Frog and Toad are Friends, are a frog.”
The frog of the unknown name wasn’t paying attention, but was instead enjoying his new bottle of wine. He had no idea what the human was saying because he wasn’t paying attention but also because he didn’t speak English. He just came here to get his wine bottles opened. To be polite he added “Lurble murble nurble.” Which was his phone number.
King Rupert glanced about the throne room, scanning for spies or eavesdroppers. Seeing none he slowly crumpled to the floor as nonchalantly as possible so Presumptive Jeremiah could hear his whispers. “Don’t we deserve to be happy, to have that joy? You’re well known around here, but you’re not Kermit-famous. You don’t want to be a big frog in a small pond, you want to be a huge frog in a giant, golden pond, filled with rubies and rupees and rubles.”
“No rubles.” Rupert again looked around the room to make sure no one was listening. “Here’s the plan. I get the Sweet Love from the ladies. You release it into the depths of the ocean. I know, you prefer fresh water, but quicker than you can sing Hello My Baby, you’ll be back to shore. The fish will ingest the Sweet Love, become overcome with joy and will easily be caught by fishermen. They’ll be made into fish sticks which only little boys and girls eat. The kids will become joyful, and thus docile, making parents’ jobs markedly easier. In gratitude they’ll promote me to MegaKing of the World. And guess who will be MegaPrince? My son. But guess who will be Vice MegaKing. You!”
“Rurble?” Potential Jeremiah was still stuck on this word as it had two meanings in amphibian. The first was to be well muscled, the second was to dissect. He didn’t know if he was being hit on or threatened, but didn’t like either option.
“Once I’m MegaKing I get to start all my projects. 1. Build a giant monument. 2. Ban war. 3. Ban cars. 4. Ban bars. Alcohol will be plentiful so bars will be obsolete. The mass drunkenness is why we banned the cars in project 3. 4. Build a giant monument for me. That first one was for the god Dionysus depicted as Chris Farley. 5. Invent a flying contraption that’s powered by refracted light during the day and by marijuana smoke at night. 6. Start my band The High Night Flyer and the Rainbow Riders. 7. Learn something about music.” Future MegaKing Rupert started to choke up, and with great difficulty concluded “8. Find my father.”
The facial expressions of bullfrogs and people differ greatly, and Maybe Jeremiah mistook Rupert’s childlike vulnerability for a wide grin. He laughed mightily to show that he was paying attention. “Murble burble murble burble.”
Thankfully his misunderstanding was misunderstood by Rupert ,who could see how much his childlike vulnerability had touched Might Be Jeremiah’s heart. “My father was a mercenary, a hired gun. That’s why I’m such a straight shooter. It’s also why I have a cybernetic left arm; I’m half gun myself. Growing up, that’s like being a tadpole to you, the other kids always made fun of me and my fully adult sized, weaponized arm. I had no joy. What I would’ve done for some Sweet Love then.”
“Gurble nurble? Purble, lurble murble nurble.” Perhaps Jeremiah had asked if King Rupert remembered his phone number, but he then remembered it on his own. He needed to call Mr. Toad and get a ride in his motorcar, as he was too intoxicated to drive himself at this point. This didn’t stop him from handing another bottle of wine to Rupert, who opened it easily with his cybernetic hand.
“That’s why I have project 2, banning war. No son should have to grow up with a mercenary father. I may just ban the use of mercenaries and let wars continue, I haven’t quite decided.” He slowly pushed his way to his feet, slipping a bit in the puddles of wine. “I’m off. I shall procure the Sweet Love. You stay here and build up your energy with Honey Smacks and wine. When I return you’ll start your swim.” He tapped his chalice to Conceivably Jeremiah’s bottle. “To joy! Joy to the world! Joy to you and me!”
King Rupert never slurred, but he did stagger quite a bit when drunk, so it took him a while to reach the doors and exit the throne room. After he’d left Feasibly Jeremiah stood, swaying a bit, then plopped himself down onto the throne. He didn’t know where the human was off to, but sitting on the throne, with a belly full of wine, he felt like the King of the World. Maybe even the MegaKing.