Come gather around your grampa’s knee
Only be careful and don’t bite too hard.
Now children, your old gramps will tell you a story.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess –
Careful, Julius, leave that cat alone;
There, there, now don’t cry – we’ll get another kitty.
Yes, I know it’s all bloody – mommy will clean it up in the morning.
Come here Julius, sit in your grampa’s lap.
Damn it, take your spurs off.
Now listen you little monsters.
Now where was I?
Oh yes, once upon a time …
Hortense, stop playing with the cat!
Yes, I know he’s dead, but you’re getting the floor messy.
Now this beautiful princess had no brothers or sisters …
What do you mean, did they have birth control in those days –
Where did you hear about that?
No, no, the Queen died when the princess was very young.
No, it wasn’t an axe murder – I don’t care what the neighbour did.
Anyway the King remarried.
Hortense, for God’s sake, go wash your hands!
The Queen was a beautiful wicked woman.
Yes, she was very wicked.
Because, when men see a pretty face they get kind of stupid, sometimes.
Oh, for Christ’s Sake, he met her at a burlesque show!
You don’t really – well I’m not going to explain it now.
Anyway, this stepmother was very very mean to the princess.
No, a stepmother isn’t like Uncle Henry and Aunt Mabel;
The King was married to the stepmother.
No you can’t have any candy.
Your old gramps will bring you some next time.
No, that isn’t coconut; that’s a caterpillar.
No, they aren’t good to eat.
I told you they weren’t good to eat.
Anyway, the wicked stepmother decided to get rid of the princess.
So she sent the princess into the magic forest to pick some flowers.
Oh, the kind you’re eating, I guess.
Put those damn flowers back in the vase.
Yes, mommy will pick some more –
For my funeral, no doubt.
So the princess went into the magic forest
But unbeknownst to her –
Yes, I heard the noise.
Yes, I know it’s an accident.
Yes, I can hear the screaming.
Yes, you can go out and see – go out and play in the traffic.
Hell. I wonder if the mail is in.
Copyright © 1976 by Richard Harter
Reprinted from Apastan #343 by the author.
This page was last updated August 15, 1999.