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In a land far too close there is a king named Harumph

He has a peculiar orange face and a lumpish, doughy body he tries to contain within costly suits of broadcloth and grey sharkskin, dark blue blazers, and crisp white shirts. His accessory is an extra-long, bright-red-and-blue striped necktie, specially made to hang below his belt-clutched waist. No one in the kingdom falls for these sartorial tricks, meant to fool the eye into believing the king is a handsome, well-shaped man. For he is just the opposite. And to make matters worse, thinking he can trick onlookers into thinking he has a healthy head of shiny blond hair, King Harumph glues yellow thatches of straw to his head and goes about his day whistling through his fleshy pursed lips.

As unattractive as his exterior, all slippery smiles and smarm, what is going on on the inside of King Harumph is far uglier and more dangerous. For on the inside of this desperate ruler is nothing but the barren landscape of self interest, of degrading selfishness and staggering visceral displays of concern for no one but himself. His heart is made of basalt, an igneous rock formed from the extruded lava of the dead volcano of his arrogance. He has stomach for only the basest of foods, cooked in the fast-food kitchens of his slum lands, and processed in his digestive tract which is generously lined with the acid of his reptilian avarice.

From the day he was crowned King of the Land of the Unfortunates, Harumph knows nothing but strife, for he has no idea how to be a king, and now holds a particular hatred in his rocky heart for all kings that have come before him. He counters their intelligence with his willful ignorance; tears down their fine and civic-minded institutions with the zeal of a true destroyer. So that now, gold pours from the meager purses of the citizens into the already bulging purses of the wealthy and people are dying every day from fear and hunger.

Where is the hero that will rescue the land from King Harumph?

Is it possible the kingdom will meet its doom at his behest? Will his oddly tiny hands peel away all that is civil and decent? Will he cash in all the kingdom’s chips to build a wall to keep others out, behind which he presumes himself to be safe?

Dream on, King Harumph! For you are not safe. Your days are numbered.

Meanwhile, in King Harumph’s fake gold halls (where the marble is actually ply wood covered with contact paper), his Deplorableness sits on his unstable throne and contemplates his name in huge lighted letters displayed across the far wall: HARUMPH! His name is also displayed cross every other wall in the throne room, large letters encrusted in cheap gold paint, all yelling HARUMPH!

He observes the workmen laboring to erect more signs of his name writ large. Soon the entire castle will be lit with HARUMPH’s, blocking even the windows. He does not need to see outside into the real world, for all that matters is his own reflection, his own name, shouting back at him to reassure him all is well. He pets his large toad JoJo, that sits on his fat right knee.

JoJo, if the truth be known, cannot stand his master, but early in the reign of Harumph, JoJo the Toad was forced to marry Harumph’s daughter ViVi, and if JoJo is to have any hope of being restored to his original princely state, tall and obsequious, he must endure his toad-hood until some miracle of disenchantment frees him. And so JoJo sits, yearning for freedom. And a pizza. He misses pizza most of all, as his diet of flies is getting monotonous.

“It’s time to ssssign some thingsssssss,” whispers JoJo.

“Bring me my writing sticks and stacks and be quick about it! ”

Harumph’s enslaved donkeys , tongues panting for water, do as they are bid.

And with one quick swipe after another of his ballpoint writing stick, the wretched king brings down more devastation upon his subjects:

Scribble, scribble … No more free air to breathe. All air must be paid for!

Scribble, scribble … Ice cream must be eaten in bowls not cones!

Scribble , scribble … Shoes shall only be for the rich and highborn!

Scribble , scribble … Water for all, but only if you make it yourself!

Scribble, scribble … Birds are no longer allowed to fly! Nor fish to swim!

Scribble, scribble … No more singing, dancing or writing of poetry allowed!

And finally:

Scribble, scribble… From now on this land shall be known as Harumphland!

And as he scratches his name on the bottom line of each new law, he holds the parchment up for all to see, like a small child proud of writing his name with his own excrement. Harumph’s minion, his toad, Jo Jo leads the applause.

Yet, no one is smiling, except Harumph himself.

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