Tropical Leaves

The Steward and the Chamberlain

Updated: Apr 9

"What is a balustrade, you ask? Must I explain everything to you? Very well: I do not know what a balustrade is, and I now bear you a frightful grudge for making me look like an asshat." The chamberlain dredged up his most fiery approximation of a sneer, and leveled the whole thing at the hapless steward.

"Forget I asked," said the steward, his sphincter clenching automatically in response to the chamberlain's dreadful grimace. "Now can we please refurbish our way back to the topic at hand?"


In reply, the chamberlain only coughed up several hairballs. This was odd, as the chamberlain was not himself feline, nor was he known to own any cats.


The steward waited patiently, absorbing the sight of the chamberlain's crimson face and purple hair. If he were being honest with himself, the steward would have little recourse but to admit that he found the chamberlain rather dashing, and in fact had a 'crush' on him. The steward blushed at this thought.


"Now, whatever was it we were discussing?" asked the chamberlain. The hairballs had scurried off.


The steward glanced at his watch, peered away into the middle distance, then looked to his watch again, his eyebrows rearing so mightily that they actually ascended beyond the level of his hairline and escaped from view. Prior to this very moment, the steward would have staked all his lands that such a time was impossible, or at least so improbable as to be entirely omitted from consideration.


Sweat poured down the steward's glistening brow in hot rivulets. Patiently, and with the delicate care of a master surgeon, he removed his watch and, eyes darting around furtively, dropped it into a nearby incinerator chute.


"What did it say?" asked the chamberlain.


"You do not wish to know that," said the steward curtly.


"I do, or I would not have asked."


"You are mistaken."


"I am not."


"You are."


"No."


"Yes."


"No."


"Yes."


"Up."


"Down."


"Left."


"Right."


"Top."


"Bottom."


"In."


"Out."


"Back."


"Front."


...


Some hours later the two men stood panting, having exhausted themselves utterly. Their feet had not budged an inch.


"Do you think fifty ducks could defeat one fully capable human?" The chamberlain asked, contorting himself into a pretzel, in pantomime of a duck.


"Are they guerilla ducks? Or merely standard ducks?" The steward was shrewd, and as such he snacked on pencils while they spoke.


"Duck ducks. What are gorilla ducks?"


"Oh, you know, the sort of ducks who hide in canals and ambush your entire regiment in the dead of night, or snip your Achilles tendons in your sleep, that sort of thing."


The chamberlain shuddered.


"Are gorillas really like that? We shall have to have the zoo's gorillas each tied to a hundred ducks and summarily torn apart, if what you say is true."


"I concur. And I have never lied once in this life. Although I do cheat on my ferrets. I have been frequenting the ferret brothel for some time now. I tell you all this in confidence, by the by."


The chamberlain did his best to imagine the steward making sweet love to a ferret. It was hard work, but the chamberlain managed this mental exercise eventually. Before long, he was on a roll, and psychically invited a whole bazaar of creatures to join in the increasingly satanic orgy. All this made the chamberlain's face contort with effort. His ears strained downwards, his mouth opened and closed like a flounder's; his nose all but disappeared.


The steward grew frightened, and considered summoning the guards, but soon the chamberlain had consulted his manual of courtly etiquette, and resumed a more customary visage and posture.


Now that the preliminaries were out of the way, the two august men could really get down to business.


The steward retrieved a ham sandwich from the confines of his ceremonial diaper, and began to chow down with reckless abandon. This was the sort of careless chomping which sees tongues mistakenly sundered.


The chamberlain was no dummy. He knew this little 'ham sandwich' routine amounted to a secret code, a password, if you will. In effect, the steward was asking:


"Are you, or are you not, in league with the Grand Conspiracy to Circumcise the Emperor?"


The chamberlain was indeed, or at least, he thought he was. By his reckoning the Sane Emperor's foreskin had become entirely too prominent in recent years, but one did not just go flouting their allegiance to such a cause without taking due precautions. What if the steward were a spy?


The steward's frenetic chomping grew increasingly grotesque. In the background, the Sane Emperor writhed on the floor, as though the ham sandwich were a black-magic effigy of his physical body.


The steward's tongue went flying off, sundered at last. Now great rents were appearing in his cheeks, as his wanton chompers tore the ham sandwich to ribbons.


Perhaps the steward is not a spy, thought the chamberlain. The secret password was to 'devour a ham sandwich with all the fervor of one's desire to circumcise the Sane Emperor', and the steward clearly had fervor to spare.


The chamberlain took a closer look at the steward. The fellow had a green face, and blue hair. He also had only a single arm, but compensated for this defect by sporting three legs. One of the most unpleasant fates one could face at court was to be smited by the steward.

In such an instance, two of his boots would invariably strike one's butt cheeks simultaneously, while the third leg, the 'wild-card', would randomly strike a third target, usually either one's cornea, uvula, or frenulum.


The chamberlain was no slouch himself. He possessed only a single leg, which had earned him the nickname 'Pogo' amongst the local courtiers, but he took his revenge on these wise-guys with the help of his three fearsome arms. The chamberlain's most favored tactic was to snap his fingers on both sides of the target's head in order to confuse them, while his third arm tore out great clumps of their hair, usually to an accompaniment of bewildered squeals.


The chamberlain pulled out a fishing rod and cast it into a nearby stream which supplied fresh water to all the castle's far-flung environs. He seldom caught any fish, but the hobby soothed him, as his nerves frequently became frazzled under the rigors of courtly existence. And besides, this was the next phase of the secret handshake.


Within moments, he felt the steward press up against him from behind, the man's robust arm questing around to grasp the fishing rod.


With both men grasping firmly, the rod was steady indeed.


"I did not know you were a fisherman," said the chamberlain, all thoughts of the conspiracy forgotten.


"I am not," said the steward.