A Hairy Tale for Grown-Ups (She Wrote, Week 2)
by Christine Hawks
He checked his reflection once more in the mirrored panel of the elevator as the floor indicator moved upward towards his destination. He pushed a stubborn dark curl, back into place. “Perfect”, he said with a wink to his reflection just as the “ding” of the elevator signaled his arrival at floor 33 1/2. He took a deep breath before stepping out of the elevator.
“You can still back out of this,” he thought to himself. “No one has seen you, yet. Just turn right back around and head out of here.” He shook his head, dislodging that curl he had moved back into place. “No,” he chastised. “The truth must be told.”
With one smooth glide of his hand, the curl was back in place and he strode into the double glass doors of MFGN – Entertainment News Division. He approached the cluttered receptionist’s desk. Amongst the reams of paper strewn about, he spotted a name plate indicating that this desk belonged to, “Agatha”. As he cleared his throat to announce his presence, up she popped from whatever she had been busy with under her desk.
Flustered, she asked, “And, just who might you be?”
“Hello! Agatha, I presume?” And, he flashed her his signature grin.
Her icy facade began to warm immediately as she returned his smile. “Oh, my, yes. And, you are?”
“Prince Charming. I have a 4 o’clock with B.B.,” he explained.
Agatha peered down her nose, squinting past her glasses into what must have been her day planner. Her finger traced the page and then stopped when she found his name.
“Ah, yes. Here you are! Just sign the guest register, please,” she said, producing a pen and pointing to the line on which he was to sign.
He wrote his signature with a flourish and flashed her another grin as he returned her pen.
Agatha blushed and attempted to smooth the mess of grey hairs that had escaped from the tight bun she wore at the back of her head.
“Do you like what you do, Agatha? Why a woman of your stature should be enjoying her golden years being pampered, not slaving away here.”
“Well, with so many children, there’s always somebody needing something. With the last 14 of them in college now, I should be able to retire in another 10 years or so.”
His eyes widened. “Did you say 14 children? In college?”
She nodded. “With so many of them, some days I just don’t know what to do! My first born, Fritz, is helping out now. He’s taken over the mortgage on that old work shoe of mine, keeping it in the family, you know. He bought me one of those new sneaker model homes – a double wide! It’s a down-size, but for an old woman like me, it’s plenty!”
Just then, the intercom on her phone buzzed and a deep voice growled, “Agatha? Is my appointment here?”
“Oh my, just listen to me prattle on! Yes, Wolfie. He’s here. Shall I send him back?”
“Well, Mr. Charming, it’s been a real pleasure. Wolfie will see you now. His den is at the end of the hall. Corner on the left.”
As he bid Agatha good day and headed down the hall, he heard her sigh before muttering a bit too audibly, “Someday my prince will come.”
He reached the end of the hall and was surprised to find the office not enclosed in glass like the others that he has passed, but paneled in a deep, rich hardwood of some sort. The darkness was a stark contrast to the rest of the architecture. “She wasn’t kidding when she said, ‘den’,” he thought.
He knocked on the door that was engraved with, “B. B. Wolf.”
“Enter,” he heard from behind the thick door.
And, he did. Wolfie strode across the room, paw extended, to greet him.
“B.B. I’m Prince Charming. Thank you for seeing me,” he said as gloved hand met paw.
“Please. Call me Wolfie. Have a seat,” he insisted.
Wolfie’s desk was more like a counter with high stools flanking either side.
“Interesting set-up,” said the Prince.
“All the better to see you with,” Wolfie remarked, before resuming his seat behind the counter. “So,” he began. “You have some news you’d like to share?” He crossed his arms in front of him and waited.
The Prince shifted uncomfortably in his seat, in part due to the hard wood lacking any cushioning, but also in part because he was about to share something very important. “The truth must be told,” he reminded himself.
He ran his fingers through his curls and satisfied that nothing was amiss, he began his tale.
“My wife is a fraud,” he blurted.
Wolfie blinked. “Your wife is a what?”
“A fraud. I’m divorcing her on grounds of fraud.”
Wolfie was nonplussed. “I don’t understand. Have you been hitting the poison apples in your mother-in-law’s orchard?! You two are the kingdom’s ‘it’ couple! You are married to the most beautiful woman in all the land, man! What are you thinking?”
The Prince flatly answered with, “Rapunzel’s hair isn’t real. It’s a wig.” There. He had said it. He had finally relieved himself of the weighty burden of unwanted knowledge.
Wolfie licked his lips, salivating. “This is big,” he thought. He stood up and began to pant as he paced the length of his office.
“So, how exactly did you scale the tower wall by using just her hair without the wig falling off?” Wolfie inquired. He had to be very thorough and get all of the facts straight if he wanted the exclusive on this.
“Once upon a time, it was her real hair,” the Prince explained. “Apparently, short hair is the ‘in’ thing for princesses now. She saw Snow White on the cover of Mirror, Mirror a few months ago and chopped it all off, unbeknownst to me, of course.”
Wolfie thought about this for a moment, smacking his lips, before asking, “So, how did you find out? What makes this fraud and grounds for a spectacular divorce?”
“I had returned to the castle one evening and seen her lovely braid hanging from the window. Being the romantic that I am, I wanted to surprise her. I imagined we were teenagers again and that she needed rescuing. As I started to climb up the braid, it tumbled out the window, tossing me into the moat.”
“Go on,” Wolfie urged.
“I was horrified! I ran up the 3 sets of spiral staircases to our room certain that some evil spell had befallen her. I found her in the bath tub. Embarrassed, she tried to cover her head with a towel, but it was too late. Her gorgeous blonde locks were gone, replaced with a pixie cut. Can you imagine?”
Wolfie could and he thought it quite attractive, but didn’t admit to it. He perched on his stool again and fixed his amber eyes on the Prince. “Go home to your Princess, Charming.”
“What?” the Prince asked. “You wanted a story and this is a damn fine one!”
“Not interested,” replied Wolfie. “It won’t sell.”
Prince Charming stared at the wolf, confused.
“Do you know why I’m in the reporting business, Prince?”
The Prince shook his head, “no.”
“Fairy tales, happily ever after, they don’t cut it anymore. No one believes in that crap. The kids grew up. They want to shield their little boys and girls from the violence and unrealistic expectations of those old stories. The public craves reality, but demands a softer side presented in a neat and tidy package that resolves itself to canned laughter and applause in 20 minutes, less the paid advertisements.”
Wolfie was on his feet again, pacing.
“There’s no work for villains anymore. The hero always wins today; good triumphs over evil. Why do you think I had to change my name? A resume with “Big Bad Wolf” got tossed in the can, no matter how great I was. Hell! When the station hired me, they made me agree to regular community service work at the retirement home to improve my image; reveal a gentler, caring side.”
The Prince protested. “This is reality, though! What man couldn’t relate to discovering his wife had kept a secret from him and actively concealed it, in an effort for him to never know the truth. The truth is noble. We must always seek the truth.”
Wolfie snorted and gave the Prince a long, hard stare. “Your reality ain’t the same as it once was, either. How many dragons have you had to slay lately?”
The Prince considered this for a moment before offering, “Well, if you count the time I revived Sleeping Beauty after she’d had way too much Chianti with her Garlic Lover’s Pizza…”
The wolf rolled his eyes. “My point is that maidens don’t need saving any more. No one, except perhaps Agatha, is waiting for Prince Charming to come riding up on his steed to save her from some sort of evil. Princesses are modern, independent. They do their own swashbuckling. Hell, the new ones are turning out to be the heroes of their own stories – can you imagine? The role of the Prince is hardly more than comic relief these days. You are a dying breed, my friend.”
The Prince was on his feet now, as well. Keeping pace with Wolfie. “Could he be right?” the Prince pondered. “The truth was told, could it really be that no one cared anymore?” he wondered, incredulous.
“Go home to your Princess. Complement her new hairstyle. Enjoy being her hero, while you still can. Your days as a numbered as mine,” the wolf advised.
The Prince slowly nodded his agreement. “Alright, then. Thank you for shedding some perspective on the situation. You’re not so bad after all, Wolfie. Let’s pretend that I was never here and we’ll live happily ever after as if none of this ever happened.
Wolfie grinned, proudly displaying his canines. “Did you park in the garage?” he asked.
“Yes. I drove my new Mustang, Charley over. Would you like to take it for a drive?”
Wolfie declined. “Wouldn’t want to ruin that new car smell! Have Agatha validate your parking on the way out.”
The Prince flashed his own grin at Wolfie and was gone.
Wolfie shook his head and, once he was sure Prince Charming was gone, he made his way up to Agatha’s desk.
“Did you get all of that?” he asked her.
“Of course! Started recording as soon as you came on the intercom. I heard everything loud and clear. But, I thought you said it was no good.”
Wolfie chucked and draped his arm around Agatha’s hunched shoulders.
“Agatha, my dear woman, you have much to learn about villains. I may not be in the fairy tale business anymore, but I’m still as bad as they come. The good guys will believe anything – truth, honor, all that crap. They’re so gullible! It’s easy to pull the wool over their eyes.”
Agatha’s eyes widened, the effect magnified by her reading glasses.
“This story will bring Wolfie back to the forefront of exposes. This is, after all the Mother Friggin’ Goose Network – Reality Tales for Adults. I’m going to give them one hell of a tale that they won’t soon forget, with my own dramatic embellishments, of course.”
“What will you tell the Prince?”
“Not a damn thing. Those castles have walls so thick, there’s no reception. He’ll never see it air. Once he catches wind of the story, it’ll be too late. You got his signature, right?”
Agatha pointed to the last entry in the guest book.
“Fabulous! No one ever reads what they sign. She takes her sweet time drafting the language, but that Goldilocks knows how to get those contracts, just right. He’s waived all of his rights to the story.”
Wolfie clapped his paws together. “Agatha, I feel like celebrating! It’s a full moon tonight and I’m famished. I know this quaint little cafe at the edge of the woods. Care to join me for a bite?”
Agatha smiled, “Oh, Wolfie! I’d like that very much!”