A doctor, a lawyer and a blacksmith walk into a golden castle.
“Greetings, my loyal subjects,” says the emperor. “Who among you is most loyal to me?”
The lawyer, Michael of Hannity, steps forward. “I am so loyal that I would take an arrow for you.”
“And I would let you take that arrow,” replies the emperor. “What about you, Dr. Zorba?”
“As your doctor for over three decades, I am incredibly loyal,” Zorba swears. “I have put out decrees saying you are the healthiest, strongest and sexiest emperor in history.”
“But did you not also spread an evil lie?” roars the emperor.
“The emperor has no hair?”
“No, your hugeness! I just mentioned that you benefited from the wondrous hair potion I created.”
“So you did say it! Off with him! Seize his records!”
As the palace guards drag off the doctor, the emperor summons the blacksmith to step forward. “And why are you here, loyal blacksmith?”
“I am here to collect my payment for making new horseshoes for your glorious carriage horses.”
“Of course.” The emperor tosses him a bag of coins.
The blacksmith peeks in and frowns. “I was promised 100 gold pieces. This bag holds but three.”
“Because your work was shoddy.”
“Shoddy? No, your brilliance.”
“Shoddy!” shouts the emperor. “If you have a problem, take it up with Michael of Hannity.”
The lawyer confronts the blacksmith. “You supplier ingrate, we’ll tie you up in court for the rest of your life. Off with him!”
Michael of Hannity is now alone with the emperor. “That will teach him to question the emperor!” the lawyer grovels. “Uhm, your magnificence —?”
“Why did you issue a decree besmirching me?”
“But your friend Sir Pecker wrote I am a crappy lawyer.”
“You are crappy.”
“Then, why did you hire me?”
“Did I hire you? I don’t recall. Guards, seize this wretch.”
As the guards drag off the protesting lawyer, the king stands. “No wait!”
Michael of Hannity looks up hopefully.
“First, rush to court and fetch that blacksmith,” demands the emperor. He turns to his palace guards with glee. “Then throw those three peons under the royal carriage!”
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.