Bessie’s Boys Chapter 25

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

King Phillip sat at his desk in his private sitting room collecting his thoughts.  He was making an entry in his diary about the encounter with a levitating maiden in the courtyard.  He took it to mean complete heavenly assurance of victory over the God-forsaken English.  Before he could dip his quill into the inkwell to describe the exquisite beauty of the Gypsy maiden, the chamber door flew open. Lord Boniface staggered in wiping sweat from his boney face.

“I know the names of the spies in your court!”

Phillip pushed his diary aside and stood.  “Who!  Who!”

“Clarence Flippertigibbit and Rodney Broadshoulders!”


His Lordship bowed.  “Their names aren’t important, Your Majesty.  They’re mere callow youths.”

“Then alert Senor Vacacabeza to have them captured!” He pointed to the door.

“My pleasure, Your Majesty!”  Boniface rubbed his hands with gleeful anticipation.  “I can’t believe it!  Wales is as good as mine!”

A trumpet’s blare echoed through the cavernous Alhambra.

“Ah!  Time for court.” Phillip, about to leave, turned to Boniface. “Don’t just stand there!  Keep chasing them!”  He hurried from his chambers and down the hall to the throne room.

Phillip had gone only a few yards when he heard a “Psst!” over his shoulder.  The King looked around to see where it could have come from.

“Over here!”

Another damn Englishman, he thought, as he saw Lord Steppingstone motioning to him from a side chamber set aside for prayer or a game of grab ass, depending on the Spanish monarch’s predilection at the moment.  He joined his spy and closed the door before anyone could see them.

“Your Highness!”  Steppingstone was beaming.  “I have the names of the spies!”

“Yes, I know.”  Phillip found deflating a sycophant’s ego extremely satisfying.  “Some callow youths–Rodney Broadshoulders and Clarence Flippitigibbity!”

“Flippertigibbit!” Steppingstone corrected the King.  “He was pretending to be dead!”

“Don’t worry,” Phillip comforted him.  “He will be dead soon.”

The Lordship bowed.  “Of course, Sire.”

“The gall of that Englishwoman to sneak two spies into my court!”  Indignation filled his royal voice.

Steppingstone threw his hands in the air.  “All England will rejoice the day you liberate it from her tyranny.”

“Oh, shut up, you toad,” Phillip ordered.  “Just find them!”  Not waiting for another round of vain compliments, the King left the chamber and continued down the hall to the throne room. 

When he entered, trumpets announced his arrival, and courtiers bowed and applauded with vigor.  Phillip did not want too raucous of an outburst when he appeared among his subjects.  He emitted a quick, “Shush!”

All went to silence.  Vacacabeza stepped from the crowd and followed the King so he could whisper in his ear.

“Your Majesty!  I understand you know who the spies are!”

He waved to his loyal followers.  “Yes.  Rodney Broadshoulders and Clarence Flip—flip….”

“Clarence Flipflip?”  Vacacabeza shook his head in confusion. “Oh, you mean Clarence Flippertigibbit.”

“Don’t ask me to identify them,” Phillip said as he mounted the steps to his throne.  “I wouldn’t know them from Gypsy minstrels.”

Following him up the steps, Vacacabeza reassured him, “Never fear, my Lord.  In my many trips to England I met both of them, Broadshoulders and Flippertigibbit.”

After he sat, Phillip glared at his ambassador, envious he could pronounce Clarence’s last name with such ease.  “Showoff.”

Maria, with Clarence under her flowing gown, emerged from the mass of courtiers and approached the throne.

In her best Spanish accent, she announced, “I no longer can take your abuse, King Phillip.”  Maria paused for all the gasps emanating around her.  “I’m leaving for England.” 

The courtiers murmured in shock.

“No, you’re not,” Phillip announced.

Vacacabeza walked down the steps and went behind her.  “Excuse me, my dear, but your slip is showing.”  He leaned over to reach under her dress and grab Clarence’s feet and dragged him out into the open.  The courtiers continued to gasp.

(Author’s note:  Gasping from the audience at formal occasions involving any royalty throughout Europe was not condoned during this period of history.  Except in Sweden, where any introduction of hot air, especially in winter months was welcome, even encouraged.)

Taking Clarence by his collar and lifting him to his feet, Vacacabeza announced with great pride, “Your Majesty, allow me to introduce Clarence Flippertigibbit, spy!”

Clarence took Maria’s hand and ran for the door.  “To England!”

Maria added, “Vamanos!”

A few courtiers tried to block their way, but Clarence kicked them in the crotch and they quickly retreated.  The young renegades were out of the door before the King was able to order his guards to capture them.  That was the disadvantage of being an all-powerful monarch.  No one around him would dare initiate any action on their own.  However, when Phillip officially gave the word, the guards were out of the door lickety-split.  At this time, Rodney and Alice, still disguised as Gypsies, made their way from the back of the courtier crowd and to the throne.

“Your Highness,” Rodney began in his bad Slavic accent, “we wandering Gypsy players humbly ask permission to leave your glorious presence.”

Phillip, still trying to figure out how Clarence could have hidden under Maria’s dress all this time, waved his hand dismissively.  “Very well.  Go, go.”

Rodney and Alice are halfway to the door and their escape when the King focuses his attention on them. 

“Hmm, I wonder,” he mumbled.  He called out, “Oh, Senior Broadshoulders!”

Rodney turned and smiled.  “Yes?”

“Aha!” the Monarch exclaimed.

“I think you just made a mistake,” Alice informed her companion.

“Um,” Rodney said in a pitiful little voice, “may we still go?”

Phillip stood.  “Of course.  You’re going to my dungeon, and she’s going to my bed!”

“Let’s get out of here!” Alice screamed and grabbed Rodney’s beefy hand and ran.

“Guards!  After them!”

Vacacabeza stepped forward, leaning on one foot and then the other.  “Um, Your Majesty?  You just sent all your guards out after Flippertigibbit and my ward Maria.”

“Well then, all of you courtiers stop just standing around and go after them!  Earn your keep, for heaven’s sake!”

A particularly well-dressed courtier stepped forward and bowed.  “But, Sire, we are mere fawning court attendants.  All we know how to do is look pretty.”

“Damn!” Phillip growled.  “Come on, Vacacabeza!  It’s up to us!”

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