Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Story 179: Average and the Beast

(A parody of several versions of Beauty and the Beast)

            Once: there was an average-looking girl who became imprisoned in the castle of THE BEAST, after exchanging her freedom for her father’s after he wandered off and had tried to take a rose from The Beast’s neglected garden as a present for her.  A bit harsh, but so is being transformed for possibly eternity just for rudeness: the world is a cruel place.  That night, the average-looking girl was invited to dinner with The Beast….

            (Average waits at the end of a long table for The Beast to arrive.  The only dish placed for her features some lukewarm soup with a bit of stale bread on the side.  The dining room door bangs open and The Beast prowls in, knocking vases off side-tables and destroying the place settings as he slumps into the chair at the other end of the table.  Average cannot take her eyes off his three-day beard, rat’s nest hair, beer belly, stained undershirt, and sallow skin)
          The Beast: (Stares at Average with bloodshot eyes) Well, go ahead; don’t let me stop you.  (Burps)
            Average: (Slowly eats the soup; attempts a cheery tone) It tastes good.
            The Beast: DON’T LIE TO ME!  (Average freezes)  You really like it?
            Average: Yes, I detect a hint of rosemary; that’s my favorite.
            The Beast: That’s great – will you marry me?
            Average: (Drops her spoon) What?!
           The Beast: (Tears into the bread at his dish and talks with his mouth full) Don’t make me repeat myself.
            Average: What – no – how can you – what – I don’t – when did – how – why – I – what – ?
            The Beast: Pick a question, please.
            Average: Why are you asking me to marry you?  We literally just met two hours ago and I’m your replacement prisoner!
            The Beast: I can’t tell you why.  You just have to say “yes” and everything will be all right.  (Starts picking his teeth with a fork)
            Average: Well, I can tell you right now that if it means having to look at this (Waves her hand up and down at him) every day for the rest of my life, then the answer is a resounding “NO!”
            The Beast: Suit yourself; I’ll ask again at dinner tomorrow.  (Shoves himself up from the chair to leave)
            Average: Wait!  (The Beast slumps down into the chair again, sighing) You have to tell me why, if only so we don’t have the same conversation every night.  That’ll get annoying.
            The Beast: I suppose that’s as good a reason as any.  (Clears his throat very loudly, several times)
            Average: What are you doing?
         The Beast: Preparing to tell the story!  Impatient.  (Clears his throat some more) Once – could’ve been a year ago, could’ve been a decade, I forget – some random old woman showed up here during some random old blizzard and asked me for shelter.
            Average: Awwww….
            The Beast: No, not “Awww”: she was wretched, she was dripping melting snow all over the marble floor, and to top it off, her method of payment was utterly unacceptable!
            Average: Why, what did she give you?
            The Beast: Get this: a rose.  One, single, boring, useless rose, as if that was actually currency, when the sign on the front gate clearly states that rooms here are 250 a night, because money, honey, is what makes all this (He twirls his fingers around his head to indicate the castle) work!
            Average: I see.  Then what happened?
          The Beast: Then, two seconds before I was going to toss her old self out onto the nearest snowdrift, she cursed me.
            Average: I’d curse at you, too.
            The Beast: Not at me – she put a spell on me!  Turns out that she wasn’t an old coot but a hot witch all along.  Obviously, I would have given her the best room in the place – mine, with me – if she hadn’t arrived with false advertising.
            Average: Obviously.  So what was the spell?
            The Beast: (Gives her a withering look) She turned me into a beast!  I didn’t always look like this, you know – normally, I’m quite the stud.
            Average: OK.
            The Beast: I am!
            Average: Sure, I believe you.  (Coughs into her napkin for a bit) And this was all to teach you a lesson about not being a rude snob then, yes?
           The Beast: I guess.  Probably would’ve been easier if she’d just made me live as a dirty peasant like you for a day.  (Average grinds her teeth) She didn’t have to make me so ugh, and she didn’t have to go and curse my servants, either – nothing ever gets done around here anymore.
            Average: (Looks from side-to-side out of the corners of her eyes) Servants?
          The Beast: Yeah, they were punished along with me.  I can take it, but they’re too weak to handle enchantments, why should we all have to suffer?
            Average: So were they also turned into beasts?
            The Beast: (Speaks with an unsaid “Duh”) No, they were made invisible.  (Starts playing with a 200-year-old bottle of wine) Ever since then, I haven’t heard a peep out of them, they’re so ashamed.
            Average: (After a moment) Um, Monsieur – Beast?
            The Beast: It’s not Monsieur, it’s Prince!  And my name’s not “Beast,” it’s Robert Pierre du Lac du Terre!  If I had any friends, they’d’ve called me Bob.
            Average: OK, Prince – Bob.  Just throwing this out there: have you considered the possibility that, after you were cursed, your servants… left?
            The Beast: (In a low voice) That actually would explain a lot.
            Average: All right, next question: how did this lead to you asking strangers to marry you?
            The Beast: Ah, that’s the crux of the matter.  The hot witch said that I had to love and be loved in return for the spell to be undone or else I’ll be a beast forever.  Or is it be loved and love in return?  At any rate, I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone because that might taint the “be loved” bit, but you know.
            Average: And since I was the first female who’s ever graced your doorstep after the curse, you automatically think I must be the one to solve all your problems?!
            The Beast: Do you know how long it’s been since anyone has come here?!  I would’ve made a play for your dad if he hadn’t tried to steal from me – I cannot abide a thief, just cannot.  Plus I hate roses now, for obvious reasons.
            Average: Yes, he shouldn’t have taken something without asking, but you realize that love, actual love, doesn’t work like this, right?
            The Beast: (Leans messily over his plate) How about now?  (Smiles, showing his few stained teeth)
            Average: (Trying not to gag) Sorry, your curse is going to have to stay until some other victim – soulmate! – comes along.  (Stands) I regret that I will be unable to serve out the remainder of my sentence, Your Highness.
            The Beast: (Stands in a panic) You’re not leaving?  Was it something I said?
            Average: Yes!  It was everything you said, and did, and emitted!  (Starts to back out towards the door) Go read up on what healthy human relationships are and maybe you’ll have better luck next time.
            The Beast: (Starts to follow her) Next time?!  There may not be a next time, or any other time – would you doom me to remain a beast forever?!
            Average: You seem like you’re doing all right for yourself.
            The Beast: You can’t see it, but I’m covered in unwanted body hair!
            Average: Try shaving.  And taking a bath.  (Runs out of the room)
            The Beast: (Slumps into Average’s chair for a moment, then starts slurping the rest of the soup out of the dish.  Shouts over his shoulder towards the door) By the way, now you owe me 250 for the room!
            Average: (From a distance) I never stayed the night!  (Gallops away)
            The Beast: Fair enough.  (Slurps some more) Maybe I need to imprison the father of someone not-so-average next time.
            (The Enchantress appears before him)
            Enchantress: You could also learn to be a better person!  The love of and for your people would work on the curse just as well – it really is the whole point!
            The Beast: (Lays his head down on the table) Nope: that sounds too exhausting.

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