Bessie’s Boys Chapter 17

Previously: England awaits the Spanish invasion. Elizabeth orders two of her young heros to Spain on a mission. Each one has a beautiful but jealous lover.

King Phillip’s private office at the Alhambra was cluttered with charts and maps.  The spindly, balding monarch, dressed properly in black with only the slightest hint of ancient white lace peeking from his sleeves and collar, sat drumming his boney fingers on a long ebony table as lords, ministers and generals chattered about the impending invasion of England by their invincible Armada.  Vacacabeza returned just that morning from the British court with his comely ward Maria.  He sat like a cat at Phillip’s side, ready to pounce on any opportunity to purr and rub his head against the King’s sleeve.  Phillip rolled his eyes in boredom. A general—which one the King didn’t know because the current turnover of military commanders was so brisk the old ruler could not keep up with them—droned on, listing a massive supplies for the invasion which they said would change the course of history.

“…four hundred thirty-one guns, fourteen thousand barrels of wine—“

“—Fourteen thousand barrels of wine?” Phillip interrupted.  “Where the hell are they going, an invasion or an orgy?”

“An invasion, Sire,” Vacacabeza explained in sycophantic tones that made the King shudder.

“Very well.”  He paused to consider having his minister burned at the stake that afternoon just so he wouldn’t have to listen to his mewling mouth, but decided against it.  He needed all the firewood available for the impending war.  “Proceed.”

The general continued in his dreadful monotone, “Eleven million pounds of biscuits—“

A commotion in the courtyard below drew Phillip’s attention.  He heard tambourines clanging, mandolins strumming and people laughing and singing.  Didn’t they know they were in Spain, and the King took a dim view of happiness?  With great difficulty, he stood and tottered over to the window. 

“What’s going on down there?” he asked.

Individuals costumed in every color of the rainbow jumped from equally festooned wagons, providing a spontaneous concert for the gathering crowd.

Vacacabeza hurried to Phillip’s side and peered over the old man’s hunched shoulder.  “Gypsies, Sire.  They’re dancing, singing—“

“I can see that,” the King interrupted in a display of irritable bowel syndrome.  “Who let them in?”

“You did, Sire, to entertain at the banquet tonight.”

“Have them entertain at the banquet tonight?”  Phillip hated being old.  His memory was shot.

“Yes, Sire.”

A rare licentious smile appeared as he licked his lips.  “I hope they know songs with dirty lyrics.”

“Yes, Sire.”

Phillip looked out the window again, scanning the crowd to spot some beautiful maidens.  His eyes focused on Maria who was walking through the crowd.  Every few steps she stumbled a bit.

“I see your ward returned with you.  Good.”

“Yes, Sire.  She does have a well-developed personality, doesn’t she?”

Phillip frowned as he watched Maria stagger again.  “Seems a bit awkward of late, though.  Like she’s walking with a pig between her legs.”

“No, Sire, I hadn’t.”

“Well, that will all change when she gets something else between her legs, eh?”  The King laughed, wiping drool from the corner of his mouth.

“Yes, Sire.”  Vacacabeza’s eyes widened when he realized what his sovereign had just said.  “What, Sire?”

“Me, sir,” Phillip replied.

“You, Sire?”

“Yes, sir.”

“No, Sire!”

“What, sir?”

“Oh, Sire.”  Vacacabeza’s hand went to his throat.  “Sure, sir—I mean, Sire.”

“Tell her to meet me in the garden in an hour,” Phillip ordered, giving his ambassador a wary once-over.

Vacacabeza bowed, his nose almost toughing his knee.  “Yes, Sire.”

“And be sure to keep the gardener out!”  The King’s eyes twinkled in anticipation of sinning.

Exactly one hour later Phillip paced among the rose bushes when Maria appeared, still walking like she had a pig between her legs.   He could not help but rush toward her.

“Ah!  My dear!  Come closer so I can see if the damp climate of England spoiled your beauty.”

“As you wish, Sire.”  Maria was smart.  She knew to use only the Spanish accent around the King, although it did take quite a bit of concentration.  Stopping in front of Phillip, she curtsied, bending over enough to allow her sovereign to examine her elegant décolletage.

“Just as beautiful as ever.”  He took her hand and patted it.  “Tell me, how did you endure your sojourn on that accursed isle?”

“I enjoyed it very much, your Majesty.”

Phillip raised a thin gray eyebrow.  “I shall have my physician bleed you.  You must be ill.”

Startled by the King’s remark, Maria pulled her hand away, taking a step backwards, right into a rose bush.  A thorny branch found its way under her skirt, which resulted in a muffled cry emanating from between her legs.  She tried to pretend she didn’t hear it which was difficult because the unseen force under her dress moved away from the rose bush, dragging her along.  Unfortunately, the unseen force careened into another rose bush which resulted into tortured moan.

“My dear young lady, it appears as though you are about to suffer an emotional breakdown.”  He paused to allow his indignation to reach its highest righteous level.  “Those damn English!”

“Oh no, your Majesty, I feel just fine.  And everyone in England treated me warmly.”

The unseen force jerked her back in the other direction.  Maria smiled with grace and concentrated on pleasing the King of Spain.

“Even that Englishwoman?” he asked. Contempt curdled each vowel.

“You mean Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen?”

“Hah!” Phillip spat in derision.  “That’s a laugh.  She sleeps around with everyone else but refuses to marry me.  After all, I am her former brother-in-law.”

 Maria stepped toward Phillip to escape the clutches of the rose bush branches.  A soft sigh emanated from below.

“I’m sure that’s not true.”

“No, it is.  I married her sister.  Ugh.  What a dried up old prune.”

“Oh, I know that part is true.  What I doubt is that Elizabeth, as you put it, sleeps around.”

He narrowed his eyes and gave her a glare worthy of the Inquisition.  “Are you sure you haven’t changed your loyalties?”

“Sire!  I am the ward of one of your ambassadors!”

“I suppose so.  But I can’t help but think you’re up to something.”

Maria adjusted her dress and gave the King her most sincere doe-eyed face.  “No, your Majesty.  I’m not up to anything.”

Phillip took her hand and walked her out of the garden.  “Good.  I want you by my side at the banquet tonight.  Gypsies will be singing songs with dirty lyrics!”

“Oh no!” a muffled voice called out.  “More beans!”

“I beg your pardon?”

Maria blushed.  “Nothing, your Majesty.  Just a small case of gas.”

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