King Stephen I: ruler of Bytown
Clementine: the King’s Fool

A cavernous throne room, dark, shadowy, windows covered with heavy, black curtains, room is empty save for a King upon a decadent throne. King Stephen I, wearing a dented crown perched upon a helmet of hair, sits with his chin perched on his fist, brow furrowed, frown permanent.

King (aloud and to self): Oh how these peasants are revolting. Always in some pathetic state of complaint. Where is my Fool? I require his counsel. Fool! FOOL!

Clementine (slithers from the shadows behind the throne): Sire?

King: Gah! Fool, you startled me. What were you doing back there?

Clementine: My purpose is to serve.

King: This vocal public opposition following the response by the royal guard vexes me. It was a meeting with Kings, one in which the rabble had no place demanding a hearing. Yet, 10,000 of these violent jackals disrupted our peaceful, temporarily deserted streets. The royal guard did as they were instructed: silence these miscreants with any force necessary. Now the people are irritated. Some nonsense about “rights” and “abuse.” I should have them all rounded up and tossed into the dungeons.

Clementine: Sire, I shall inform the dungeon-master to…

King: Hold Fool. What we need is a diversion.

Clementine: A diversion?

King: Yes. What say you of the royal census?

Clementine: The royal census provides us with much needed information. How to spend the royal treasury, how to not spend the royal treasury, how to determine how our realm grows or declines.

King: I have heard that a small group of cave-dwelling bandits finds the census too intrusive.

Clementine: Well yes sire, but they are a fringe and not known for deep thoughts.

King: Quite. But if we cancel the census, we can be seen as responding to the people. Even if the “people” are a dozen lightly armed buffoons.

Clementine: I must respectfully object. The census is used by our wise and learned scholars to spend taxes prudently. You’ll recall that time we hastily spent vast sums on trebuchets when we had nothing to lay siege to.

King: Money well spent Fool. We provided my subjects with the illusion of safety. Don’t let facts get in the way. Good decisions are made with one’s gut.

Clementine: The scholars and generals will strenuously oppose terminating the census.

King: Let them. It will take the focus off that unfortunate incident at the Gathering of the 20 Kings. And we can say that our decision to sink the census was based upon vox populi.

Clementine: Brilliant!

King: It gets better. We’ll let the elites express, respectfully of course, their woe. We’ll let this otherwise insubordinate behaviour carry on for a few weeks until the G20K is forgotten, and then we’ll restore the census, stating that we did so after listening to the people.

Clementine: Genius sire! Genius!

King: I know. It is what separates me from you. Go now, let my will be done and leave me to my cold calculations.

Friends: I’m taking the summer off from writing and will return in the fall.

Eric Mang

Eric Mang

Eric Mang served as a political aide in the Harris government in Ontario and the Campbell government in British Columbia. His politics have since shifted left. He works full-time in health policy, part-time...