THE COQUETTISH ROUND QUEEN
“The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. ‘Off with his head’ she said, without even looking around.”
L. Carroll “The Queens Croquet Ground”
The Coquettish Round Queen
Alex followed his ears to the forging works. It was not hard to find for there was much banging, clanging, hissing, clamor, crashing and din. This made the ground rumble and threatened to retire Alex’s hearing.
The noise led Alex past an office building. Beyond that he could see a red brick building. “That is where the noise is coming from” thought Alex.
Oil residue had escaped from the building through the steel cased windows. This residue besmirched the beautiful red brick. The stains took the form of inverted keystones for they spread wider as they reached toward the ground. The stains had not missed a single window.
“If there is this much oil on the outside of the building” thought Alex “how much there must be on the inside.”
When Alex opened the door he saw large balls of fire appear and disappear in the smoky atmosphere. After each ball of fire there was a loud and thunderous “CRASH” followed by the ground shaking. Alex strained his eyes and could see some sort of beings moving near the balls of fire. As he edged his way forward he determined that these beings were humanoids.
The fireballs continued, as did the crashing. After a minute or two Alex carefully approached the beings. They were, indeed, men; filthy men with scraggly beards. One man had a tattoo on his bulging bicep. It stated (simply, in single stroke Gothic lettering) “Daddy.” Another’s tattoo said “Mommy”, however, it was more ornate and surrounded with lilies. One man had a tattoo with the acronym “USMC” and yet another’s tatoo was a black leopard. There were apparently more tattoos than men but the most memorable (yet not the best artwork) was a Jaguar under the sun.
Alex approached the most approachable looking of the men and asked where the boss could be located. The man cupped his hand behind his ear as if to ask Alex to repeat the question. Alex shouted “Where is the boss?”
After three repeats of this process Alex assumed that the man was feigning deafness. No feigning had occurred and Alex was embarrassed as the man lifted up a small chalk board and wrote on it “What?”
Alex erased it with his sleeve and took the chalk from the man. He then wrote “Where is the boss?”
The man erased Alex’s question with his hairy arm and wrote “In office” followed by pointing to a very large door at the other end of the building.
Alex saluted the man as a sign of silent “Thanks.”
The man returned a snappy salute to Alex and pointed, once more, to the door that was located out of the din and smoke.
As he approached the office Alex attempted to focus his eyes to look through the window of the door. It was an impossible task due to the oily grime that covered it. He knocked on the door and waited for an answer.
After a short pause – – – – – – – – –
Oh hell. Who am I kidding? I was going to tell you that a big flabby dough-boy dressed as a gay queen committed an aria for Alex with an elongated and sing-song “Come in.” And also I was going to tell you that Alex was taken aback at the image of a pinkish-toned fat man with a miniskirt and V-necked tank top. I had planned to relate that the Coquettish Round Queen had chest hair exposed in his cleavage and that his day-old facial growth clashed with his “Copper-Rose” lipstick. The blonde wig was to be described as fairly close to acceptable despite the fact that it tipped to one side. The only thing that was to keep it from falling off was the description of a silver tiara that was tipped the opposite way.
All this I was going to tell you. However, there is no true way for me to describe what was facing Alex. My real reason for introducing this character was simply an easy way for me to justify the title of this chapter which had to be a mimesis of the “Queens Croquet Ground.”
So now that I have humbly confessed to sloppy authorship let us get on with the story.
Alex stated and asked “You are the boss of the foundry?”
“I am” answered the Coquettish Round Queen without the slightest embarrassment or explanation.
“And you run this forging works full of roughnecks?” questioned Alex.
“I do” said the queen and she added very quickly “with love.”
“That is quite a task” responded Alex.
“It is” said the queen.
“Very efficient operation” lied Alex.
“True” responded the queen.
Alex looked out the open door and noticed two sweaty men furiously writing on their chalkboards and shoving them in each other’s faces.
When the queen saw Alex’s attention drawn to this she explained “That is Joan and Mary. They are always arguing about something. Nothing serious. They have never come to blows.”
“What tasks would you have for me Dear Queen?” asked Alex
“I understand that you have completed an apprenticeship” said the queen. It was more of a question than a statement.
“Yes, with an alchemist” answered Alex.
“Then you shall be called ‘The maker of dies’ said the queen. She immediately knighted Alex by dubbing him with a tarnished plastic scepter that had been setting in the corner of the office.
Alex had never used a metal-cutting plane although he had seen a diagram of one in a book entitled “The Operation and Upkeep of the Metal Cutting Plane as Found in the Tool-rooms of the Northern Hemisphere; copyrights assigned to the American Association of Northern Self Appointed Machinests.” He racked his brain to remember what he had seen and read. The queen led the way to the tool room where Alex imagined the plane was at rest.
As they rounded the corner Alex saw a man writing on a chalk board and holding it up for several others to read. The readers were all sitting in rows of chairs in front of the writer. Alex looked at the queen with a big question mark blazed across his face.
“They are on coffee break” answered the queen to the unasked question.
“What is with the guy and the chalk board” asked Alex.
“Oh, that’s Isabella; he teaches philosophy during the coffee breaks. He really loves Kant but the boys want him to teach them Nietzsche” explained the queen.
“Oh, I see” lied Alex.