You are Henry VIII. You are 5’5’’ and built like a brick shithouse. Your forearm in tennis is phenomenal–your courtier-opponents always flopping to the ground when you strike a shot down the line. Huzzah! You shout. Huzzah! The little crowd of courtiers shouts behind you.
You turn and scowl.
You are Henry VIII. You drive a Toyota Highlander Hybrid and you love the way the engine sounds like a microwave under 10mph. Over 10mph, the combustion engine kicks in, but the memory of that electricity lives on.
You check your rearview mirror. Your car-courtiers are buckled in. They smile as soon as your eyes are up in the mirror. Where are we going? one of them asks with a pathetic grin.
You laugh, We’re going to chop off your head!
The courtier looks at his courtier-mates, who keep their heads locked forwards.
Only joking, you say. We’re off to the McDonald’s Drive-thru!
The courtier smiles nervously, and you witness the weight lift off him like a release of steam–but you keep your eyes on him, even while you’re driving.
At the McDonald’s Drive-thru, there are a lot of cars. You punch your horn to signal your annoyance. I’m fucking hungry, you shout at each beep. The guy in the Lexus in front of you extends a middle finger. Fuck you, his middle finger says, fuck you and your entire family, the Tudors, rightful heirs and defenders of the realm–just fuck you all!!!!
You get out of the car and plunge your gilt silver sword into the dudebro’s chest, the blood blossoming on his tight white shirt like a tangle of red roses.
The courtiers jump to and push the Lexus off to the side, one of them with his arm through the window to effectively steer the car in the right direction.
Big Macs all round! You shout.
To which the courtiers gleefully respond: Huzzah!
For fuck’s sake, you whisper, and then order.
Back at the castle, you have a dodgy stomach. As much as you love that creamy special sauce slathered on the meat, it gives you a turn in the gut.
You slouch on your throne and hold the farts in. Kings don’t fart, your father, the late Henry, always used to tell you, when you were farting.
Kings don’t fart, fuck, pontificate, go on holidays, enjoy the richness and diversity of life, don’t watch TV, don’t finger their arses while they masturbate for additional pleasure sensation, don’t dance or do anything remotely interesting, don’t have a life, don’t chop off heads.
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t.
You are Henry VIII, and you farted.
You are Henry VIII, and the fart slipped out into the amazing acoustics of the Great Hall, lingering like heraldry.
You are Henry VIII, and the fart is a fact–as set in stone as the tomb encasing the body of Edward the Confessor, that right tosser.
A courtier, somewhere under an archway near the exit, within the shadowy cloisters, behind somebody’s shoulder, a very, very squat guy, just an incredibly short-assed nobody, clears his throat and squeaks without exclamation:
Jonathan Cardew’s writing appears or is forthcoming in Wigleaf, Cream City Review, Passages North, Superstition Review, JMWW, Smokelong Quarterly, People Holding, and others. He is the fiction editor for Connotation Press and contributing books reviewer for Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. He’s been a finalist in the Best Small Fictions, the Wigleaf Top 50, the Bath Flash Fiction Award, and he won a travel toothbrush once at a boules competition in northern Brittany. Originally from the UK, he lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.