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The King Has No Teeth

Fear of Failure is a hard lesson to understand. Sooner or later, we all need to perform in a way which 

  soothes our own soul. The result of our lives depends on the work we put into it ...and the things

  we allow to happen to us. 

D Paul Fonseca, Author, the King Has No Teeth

     I had a terrible nightmare last night. I was driving to the airport. A sound came from the back seat, so  I looked behind me. A homeless guy, with a long grey beard, lay sleeping in the back seat. He woke up, startled, and I told him I was going to let him out at the airport.  He acted as though I was his driver, nodded, and went back to sleep.   When we reached the airport, he got out and went on his way and then I rushed off through the airport to get myself onto a small jet.      

    The plane flew to an Island in the Pacific, but it only took a couple of hours to get there. When the jet landed, I found that crowds of people of all ages lay waiting outside. As I emerged, cameras flashed and everyone cheered. Paparazzi called to me by name to get my attention, and everyone there bowed vigorously with respect. Everyone I encountered seemed eager and ready to serve me as though I were a king. 

     A strange, but ornate, horse drawn buggy lay in waiting. A small man, asian in appearance, took my hand and ushered me into the buggy. We wound our way through a lush mountainous landscape and up to a walled city. The surrounding hills, so beautiful and rich, thick with forests and waterfalls, made me fall in love with the island instantly. Once we reached the top of the hill, the man led me out onto a trail on foot. 

     The man, who I came to find out was my personal assistant, K'heen Xia, walked behind me, guiding me with a gentle voice as he called out directions to inform me as to where we were headed. Around the bend in the trail, an enormous structure came into view. Once I saw the building, I knew I was home.

     In my enormous walk in closet, I found an assortment of many red and gold silk robes. Beautiful handmade furniture filled my home, but really, it felt more like a palace. 

    Once dressed in appropriate attire, a white silk shirt, dark red canvas pants, and a bone colored cape with gold trim, I stepped out onto the balcony on the second floor. A murmur arose outside. Crowds, scattered below, stopped what they were doing and gazed up at me. Many of them clapped and cheered. I only wish I knew exactly who I was and what I was doing there. All I could do was wave and smile kindly at all the people below.

     Not too far off in the distance, across a large field of grass, huge tents were erected. Men of all ages labored to set them up, hauling long, heavy ropes to secure them. Elephants sounded in the background and I became giddy with excitement. I felt sure this may be a circus. There was definitely some kind of show going on and it felt certain to be for my amusement. 

     However, I trembled on seeing the horses being walked across the grassy field between me and the tents. Something about them... I grew nervous about something.  An idea egged me to go back into my room and finish getting ready. I was supposed to go on stage soon. I was to supposed to sing, but I was fraught with fear. I left down the back hall instead, waving everyone off, even K'heen Xia. 

    Down the hallway, my footsteps echoed. The lights dimmed and I realized there were no windows here. Darkness overtook my eyes and I succumbed to the fear growing in my stomach. I ran into the door at the end of the hall with a thud. My hands searched the flat surface for a handle, so I could let myself out, but as my hand gripped the cold metal bar, it turned in my hand, with a force I had not expected.

      The un-reality which greeted me, thrust me into full blown panic. K'heen Xia held open the door as he grinned a beautiful smile and held his hand out away from me, inviting me onto a stage.  Lights bore down on me, brilliant and hot, hitting my face with their warmth. Before me, the stage buzzed. A band of four musicians stood ready to play. The woman behind the drums tapped her foot into the bass drum a couple of beats before I stepped out. That is when the full crowd in the arena came to life. The roar of their cheers intensified and the decibels beat against my ear drums.

     I faked a smile. My feet moved slowly as I crossed the stage to the front where the microphone waited for me. It stood there, a reminder that I had work to do.  This was to be my time to shine. I knew everyone had waited and paid handsomely just to be there. My stomach turned inside out in my belly. I looked down at my shoes.

     I don't know why, but the shoes I wore calmed me. They were new, shiny and light brown. My hand went to my face and I held up one finger as if to tell the crowd, "Just a second."

     Bent over at my waist, I reached down and ran two fingers over my shoe tip.  It was soft, the softest leather I'd ever touched. It felt nearly obscene. I stood up and walked up to the microphone. "Good evening!" I yelled out. "I'm so glad you all made it out tonight."

     The crowd rumbled and shouted in affirmation. They were also glad to be there. With a glance at the band and a nod of my head, I heard them queue up and break into a rhythm. The music filled the arena and everything happened at once, so fast, I started to sing, and it was good. I sang one song, and then another and another. In all, I sang eighteen songs, including three encores. The crowd was happy, and I was glad to be done. There was work to be done, and I knew it would not be easy. I went back into the back hallway.  

     I heard the people in the audience scattering since I left and the show was over.      

     Then I walked down this empty hallway.  It was cold and I saw the homeless guy again.  He just looked at me and didn’t say anything.  Then I felt this weird sensation in my mouth and I went to my chambers.    I looked in the mirror. One of my teeth was loose.  In fact most of them were.  I tried to push it back into place and I felt the others loosening up.  I tasted blood and I sucked my mouth dry, but it just made four teeth fall out.  I looked in the mirror and freaked out.      

     Some advisors of mine came in.  Rashi, my best friend and oldest advisor was startled and yelled at K'heen Xia to get the dentist in here.  As I sat pondering my future, with no teeth at all, I went over all the scenarios in my head: I should have flossed more.  This is probably all gum disease. 

     Then a horrible fear struck me.  Oh my God.  I remembered that I was to be married to Princess Jeannette.   Married in two days.  I knew she would never marry me like this!   I didn’t know what I was going to do.       

     I ran out to my white gull-winged Ferrari and a friend of mine met me in the hangar.  We got in and he looked at me, “You okay?”  He asked me.  I told him I would be fine. Of course it sounded like I said,  "Om hine."  He looked about twenty-five years old and I don’t know who he really was, but I knew him from someplace.  Band, maybe. 

     I powered on the twin engines and throttled up. Dust blew away from the car in a roar. We went up, since the car could fly, and on our way out of the hangar, I saw the old, homeless guy again.  He was staring up at me from the ground, kinda dazed.  I don’t know, maybe he wanted a ride back. He just threw me a peace sign and for a moment, I could swear that I was looking at Jesus Christ. I shook off the idea.

     We flew for a couple hours, not saying anything to each other. As the coast came into view, I grew more upset. My stomach turned as we passed landmarks, first the Mission Beach Roller Coaster, The Plunge, and then we crossed the swampy looking San Diego river outlet and the interstate 5. We dodged the mammoth I805 bridges, which spanned across Mission Valley, and the old Chargers Stadium loomed before us. We were really moving fast.

     I got to a neighborhood, which felt like Del Cerro, in San Diego, I think.  I became upset getting out of the car.  I knew Princess Jeannette wouldn’t love me like this.  The guy who flew in with me, I remembered his name, Steve. He looked at me and shook his head. He said, "Dude, you are trying too hard. Just be who you were born to be. She'll either love you, or she won't, but you can't stop being who you are." He hesitated. "And personally, I like who you are."  

     Steve took off. He was young again.  He was about seven years old now. He ran down the front yard of someone’s house and disappeared in the direction of an enormous amphitheater.  I knew they were setting up for the wedding in there.  

     I sat in the grass. I'd been in denial about my own abilities and how I might be as a husband and a father.  I had been tumbling my broken teeth around in my mouth for a while by this point, not wanting to let go of them, even though I knew it was pointless. The sun was high above me and I knew I couldn’t hide from Jeannette. I couldn’t run.  I wouldn't run. I spat my teeth out in the grass. The dark blood looked grim against the perfect green and my teeth looked more like a gruesome pile of tic tacs.

     I thought of all the things Jeannette and I had done together and all the things that we'd shared.  I thought about our dreams of a family and love and a house with a dog. I just sat there thinking of how much we couldn’t have anymore, because I lost my teeth and I thought that she’d still love me. Yeah, sure, dentures would fix this.  But then, I thought for sure, she’d never look at me the same way again.  King, or no king. The king has no teeth and she’ll never look at me the same way!  I knew she’d never tell me to my face, so I will never really know how she feels about me again.  I sat there, crying on the grass alone, as the sun set behind me. 

© 2023 Mayachrome Press & D.Paul Fonseca

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