Toil and Trouble (Part 4) by Barbara Ardinger


Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

When the Amazons land in the capital city, they find themselves standing on the wide lawn in front of the Golden Tower in which El Presidente lives and rules. And look—El Presidente is still talking. Not having noticed the disappearance of twenty-seven princess, he’s still strutting, still emphatically gesturing, still addressing the fifty-four handsome, charming princes, who make up what he considers to be his people. (His fan club?)

Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, adjusts her armor and walks across the sidewalk into the empty street. Her warriors follow her. “Now what?” she asks the air around her.

They hear a voice. “Greetings, Sisters! And be welcome! We haven’t met in many years. I’m glad to see you again.” Hippolyta looks a bit confused. “Don’t you remember Brunhilda?” the voice asks.

“Oh My Goddess. Yes!” Brunhilda dismounts and the two warrior queens embrace. “But why are the Valkyries here?” Hippolyta asks.

“We were called by General Cartier, head of the Feminist National Guard. She is concerned for the welfare of all the people…those who remain here and those who fled after El Presidente’s coup. So she called us and of course we came.” Brunhilda looks up in time to see the ravens arriving. “Sometimes,” she adds, “you know we travel disguised as ravens.” “And sometimes as wolves,” one of the Valkyries mutters (loudly). “What is our task?” another Valkyrie asks.

The ravens have landed on the sidewalk. “We’re here ta finish the job,” Kahlil replies. “Like, nobody told you gals?” He points one wing toward the princes, still apparently under El Presidente’s spell, or at least still sitting there and listening to him. They seem not to be aware of the arrivals of Amazons, Valkyries, or ravens. A few minutes later, they are still unaware when the flying carpet lands. The witch has arrived. As she decarpets, a few clouds form in the sky and some leaves and trash begin blowing along the street. The female warriors lift their feet to avoid the city’s trash.

“Well met!” Brunhilda greets the witch. “You are our new general?”

The witch can’t help but laugh. “Not hardly. Maybe a facilitator of magic. It’s time, you know, time to act. Let’s see what we each have to say.” She leads Hippolyta, Brunhilda, and Domina across the street for a strategy meeting.

“Well,” Brunhilda begins, “we have fifty-four princes over there. The ruling class, no doubt. Colluders with El Presidente’s coup. Now what?”

After a few minutes of conversation and nods of agreement, the witch points at the princes and gestures. “Let their disguises fall away.” The wind blows harder.

V’là l’bon vent,” two of the ravens begin singing, “V’là l’bon vent, v’là l’joli vent, V’là l’bon vent, ma mie m’appelle.” It’s an old French children’s song Bunbury picked up during his extensive travels. Here’s the good wind, here’s the pretty wind, my friend is calling me. Kahlil gives a nod of recognition and begins singing along in a surprisingly Gallic voice. As the wind picks up again, the female warriors and protectors also begin singing. They raise their weapons and their voices and sing to the wind. Now it’s blowing straight at the fifty-four handsome princes…

…and suddenly there are fifty-four old men, some hard and nasty and skinny, most of them merely old and hugely fat. Some are revealed to be bald as their plumed bicorns and toupees fly away. Others have too much facial hair, beards now blowing against faces turning red in the wind. The witch and the warriors are all waving their arms, pulling the wind closer. Now uniforms are blowing away. Medals and sashes and regimental swords bounce across the lawn. Now we see pot bellies straining against fancy silk boxer briefs.

V’là l’bon vent!” Here’s the good wind! The singing female army has now encircled the old men, the rich, conservative men who make up the ruling half of the National Congress that supports El Presidente’s cruel policies, which (of course) are making them even richer than before. “V’là l’bon vent!

“And,” as the female warriors call out, “what goes and blows around,” the ravens reply, “comes back around. Sooner or later.”

As the wind blows still harder, the old men begin to rise into the air. They’ve turned into balloons! Each one filled with hot air! Looking angry and confused, but also dazed, the balloons waggle and jiggle, but their rise cannot be halted. They are blown higher than the Golden Tower. They are blown across the sky and toward the far horizon. The female army begins marching in the same direction. They will be ready with their sharp swords when the balloons start to land.

Smiling modestly, the witch climbs back on the flying carpet, which (it must be admitted) is hard to control in the whipping wind. Icarus perches next to her to steady her, and the other four ravens each take a corner in their beaks. They begin flapping their strong wings, the carpet rises, and the witch goes home to her farm.

The lawn is empty now. Well, not quite. El Presidente, having noticed nothing that has happened around him, is still talking. And the wind is still blowing. The human mask is blown off the scarecrow’s face.

He is still talking.

Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the Neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

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Categories: Art, Fiction, Folklore, General, Women's Voices

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4 replies

  1. Will El President ever stop talking? What a romp. I love the song to the wind and the ravens singing with Gallic voices! Right on, write on!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome, Barbara, may it be so! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I keep wondering if the whole FAR community gangs up if we could turn the Troll-in-Chief into a real scarecrow. So mote it be.

      Like

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