The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.
Fairies were neither prudish nor temperate by nature, but when Puck’s pranks graduated from tipping old ladies to strategically placing whoopee cushions, he crossed a line. Something needed to be done.
“But what?” asked Oberon. Puck had served as his wingman for years, so he wished to handle the situation delicately. Several compromising photos were at stake.
Titania suggested an intervention, though Oberon thought the idea unproductive.
“I agree,” called a voice. “He’ll think it’s a joke, take it as a challenge, and be worse than ever.”
“Who speaks?” called Titania.
A delicate fairy woman appeared out of the crowd and knelt before the thrones. “Buttercup, my liege.”
“Well, do you have any better ideas?” said Oberon.
Later that afternoon, Oberon searched the woods.
“Puck! Robin Goodfellow!” called Oberon. He’d thrown dignity to the wind when he told Titania that he’d fetch Puck for the party, but he didn’t dare disappoint her again. He’d never live it down.
A nearby bush moaned softly, and Oberon pushed aside some leaves. “Puck? What are you doing here? I’ve been calling for nearly ten minutes!”
The wayward fairy rubbed his temple and moaned again. “Sorry, my liege. If I had been conscious, I would never have dared keep you waiting. Do you have some aspirin?”
Oberon produced two small pink tablets. “I’m always prepared.”
Puck sat up, scratched his hairy belly, and fished around on the ground for his beer cap. Fitting it to his scalp, he popped the pills and sipped from one of the cap’s straws. “What do you need, sire? Having trouble with the Queen again?” He rose unsteadily. “You know, I could get Cobweb and Mustardseed for you. They make a mean–”
“Really, Robin, you’ve been around mortals too much! That’s depraved, even for you, and–”
“Oh…oh! You thought I meant–”
“No, of course I didn’t–”
“Of course not. Not after last time, right?” Puck nudged the King and winked with one blackened eye.
After an uncomfortable silence, the King asked, “What happened to you?”
Rubbing his forehead, Puck said, “I really don’t remember, sire. There was this party–”
“Of course,” said Oberon.
“And all I… ah, I remember. Fraternities have no sense of humor no matter what they say.”
“What did you do?” asked Oberon. “Make an ass out of yourself again?”
Puck grinned. “No, but I think I made one out of them!”
Oberon sighed. “Not the donkey head again. What is it with you and donkeys? That’s the oldest joke in the book.”
“Actually, pardon my liege, but you’re thinking of the chicken that crossed the road.”
After another pause, Oberon continued. “Anyway, you need to come to your birthday party.”
Puck perked up. “Party?”
“Oh, I know- you don’t get enough parties, do you? But yes, and Titania won’t let me cut the cake until you blow out the candles and–”
“Cake?” The color returned to his face. “Did Cobweb and Mustardseed make it?”
“I don’t know. It’s a cake: chocolate with–”
Puck took off towards the court. Thunder boomed. Puck returned, bowing low. “After you, sire.”
“That’s better,” said Oberon. “Now, let’s get some cake.”
The crowd formed a wide circle around the large multilayered cake. Titania sat on her throne, resting her chin in her hand.
“Can I come out yet?” a muffled voice called.
“No, not yet. You know your cue!” snapped Titania.
“Yes, your Highness,” said the cake.
Just then Oberon entered the hall, followed closely by Puck. Everyone quieted and knelt before the King. The Queen straightened up and offered her hand to Oberon, who kissed it before sitting beside her. With a small nod from the royal couple, the Fairy Court rose again.
Puck ran to the cake.
Everyone sang a tune roughly kin to ‘Happy Birthday’, and on the final line a scantily dressed fairy woman popped out of the cake. “Surprise!” she said. Puck pulled her out and kissed her passionately.
“This is going to be the best birthday ever,” he said.
She guided a straw to his lips, so he could swig more beer.
The next morning, Puck awoke in the arms of the lovely Buttercup. He gave her a quick kiss on the forehead, licked some frosting from her hair, and patted her affectionately on the butt. He grabbed his boxers from a nearby twig and started to dress. “Thanks for a good time, but I gotta split.”
Buttercup rolled over and regarded him through heavy lidded eyes. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Puck tried vainly to put on a boot before realizing it wasn’t his. “Oops. Sorry.”
Buttercup sat up. “No, but you’re going to be.”
“Hey, relax, babe. It was an honest mistake.”
“That’s not what I meant,” said Buttercup.
“Okay, whatever. Have you seen my shoe?”
“Look at your finger.”
Puck looked carefully at his finger. “What? My shoe…?”
“No,” breathed Buttercup. “Look.”
Puck looked. A small silver band glinted in the morning sun. “What the…”
That brought him up short. “Married? How much did I drink last night?”
Buttercup smirked. “Quite a bit, but that’s not the best part.”
Worried, Puck asked, “What’s the best part?”
“The binding spell I put on your ring. You’re bound to me for life. I know your tendency to stray, but from now on, wanderer…,” she smiled again, “your ass is mine.”
Puck mulled this over. He liked bad girls; maybe this would be fun.
“What do you think about open marriages?” he asked.
A wicked grin crossed her face. “I said you’d be obedient,” she cooed. “Get rid of your whoopee cushions this instant!”
*I hope you enjoyed this! I will be concentrating on some longer-term projects in the next month, so I thought I would repost one of my favorite Shakespeare sequels. The text has been edited slightly since its original appearance on my blog several years ago. In two weeks, I will post a followup to Puck and Buttercup’s romance.
**I realize I’m not posting on a Friday, but I felt I should post sooner since my INKubator announcement is no longer relevant.
***image courtesy of BigFoto.com