The Trials of Prince Charming

Oct 17

It was a while ago after happily ever after. For me, it was really like any other day in the office. You know,  pounding down coffee, calling tech support about the networked printer’s latest breakdown, ignoring the surreal distortion fluorescent lighting lends to reality, that sort of thing. Then, my phone rang-a little earlier than usual. Caller ID showed it was someone I’d known for quite some time, my old college drinking buddy, Prince Charming. We’d been hanging out more than usual lately, something my wife didn’t quite approve of but also didn’t quite address. She liked Charming, he was my only friend that didn’t come over to watch college ball on TV.

“Charming, what’s up, dude?”

“Not much, man. Hey, what are you doing Wednesday night?”

“Uh-got no plans. Why?”

“I just want to hang out, you know. Get a drink or something.”

Normally, I’d tell Charming like it is-I’d have to clear it with the wife first, that’s only fair to her. But something was up, that was certain. Lisa would understand.

“Okay, I’m game. What watering hole we meetin at?”

“Trapeeze, back in Athens.”

That took me off guard. A return to our old haunts back in the Classic City was a foray that would require more than the usual entreaties with the old lady. She was sure to think this was mid-life crisis raising its ugly head. And maybe for Charming, it was. The man was three times divorced with no kids, poor guy. Things never seemed to work out for him.

“Um, okay. Sounds good to me.” 

“Cool-see you then.”

I hung up the phone. As I predicted, it took a little convincing, but Lisa understood my friend was in need of a friend and so I made the trip from Atlanta to Athens, the stomping grounds of my ill-spent youth, back when I thought I was cool.

Trapeeze isn’t one of the old hangouts-not for Charming and me and the other guys in our crowd. It wasn’t around back then, but it’s pretty damn close in character-especially since our old grounds got colonized by Frat boys. I go in and get a Belgian beer-it’s cold outside, and good high alcohol content is just the thing.

I see Charming, he’s sitting with a pretty young thing in a booth by a window. They’re side by side, laughing warmly, and he’s got those same pretty boy looks even though we’re both pushing middle age: white teeth, perfect bronzed skin, flawless brown hair, bright blue-green eyes. He’s one of those guys who could pass for a hot girl if he wanted.

“Charmin’.” I say and take a seat before the Prince and his latest Lady.

“Pete, what’s up, buddy? This is Rapunzel.”

Rapunzel’s got long, long red hair, bright green eyes. And like every woman Charming’s ever been with, she’s an absolute knock out.

“Nice to meet you.” I offer a hand and she shakes it gracefully. It’s amazing how women can shake hands and make it seem courtly.

“Likewise. I’ve heard a lot about you.” Rapunzel says and smiles. She’s meeting someone from Charming’s past, and so I’m a way for her to get a glimpse at the real Prince Charming-who he was when he was coming up in the world. I knew him before he killed his first dragon, before he raised the dead with a kiss, you know the stories.

“Thanks.” We chat for a bit and tell old tales. Charming makes sure to talk about my dealings with the vampires of the Red Enclave, about the half-human, half-angelic Nephilim and the  walking nightmare called the Fear. He and Rapunzel thinks it’s interesting-because it’s all no fairy tale, that’s for sure. It just makes me feel uncomfortable, but I share a little, it’s cool. Some old tunes come on the stereo and Charming and I sing along here and there.

Eventually, Rapunzel excuses herself to the woman’s room.  Charming watches her go and then looks back to me with a smile as big as worlds.

“So what do you think of her, Pete?” he asks, and for a moment, I regress, not too unwillingly, to when we were fifteen. He hasn’t changed a bit-he looks almost exactly the same. Hell, he probably even weighs the same.

“She’s nice, man.” I say and sip my beer.

“Yeah, I really like her. We’re getting serious, you know? I think-I think this is the one.” He pauses dramatically and measures my response.

Now, I’m not sure how much you know about Prince Charming-but he’s always been a favorite of the ladies. He got with and married some of the biggest names out there: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty. But one thing always led to another and the next thing you know, Charming is single again. When we were in our twenties and even our early thirties, it didn’t seem like too big a deal. Charming was a complicated guy, you know? But now…

“She’s pretty-and cool.” I say.

Charming frowns and sighs at the diplomatic flatness of my voice. “I really mean it this time, Pete. You’ll see, man. I already saved her from this old hag-witch. Had to climb up her hair to the top of the tower-believe it or not.”

“Really?” I say this somewhat awkwardly and hope Charming doesn’t get confrontational with me. It’s not my fault I’ve been married for over fifteen years and he’s divorced three times. Just then, thank God, Rapunzel returns to the table. Charming brightens immediately.

“Talking about old times some more?” she asks.

“Yes. Pete was telling me about some of his latest adventures…” Charming says and we fall back into easy conversation. We drink more, things go lax and time spins away. Last call goes out in what seems just a short time. We head outside before the lights come on and talk more on the streetside. Eventually, my cab shows up.

“My ride’s here. See y’all later, it’s been real.” I grin. Charming and I hug and slap each other on the shoulders. Rapunzel gives me a hug too and I’m about to be off in the cab.

Charming grabs my arm. “Thanks for coming out tonight. I really appreciate it.” he says in all seriousness.

“Anytime, Charming. We’re friends.” I say and board the cab. It pulls away and I see Charming and Rapunzel looking around, like they’re wondering what they’re going to do next.

2 comments

  1. Came to this story through FB, Pete, and thotoughly enjoyed it. Poor Prince Charming, one never knew his suffering [despite the hot knock outs:)]till you told us about it. Seeeing him with all new eyes.

    The ending was really good.
    Abha

  2. thanks Abha, for the comments. Glad you liked it!

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