A Modern Fairy Tale

by Michele Elaine Wilson © 1999

The White Mage was fuming. He paced up and down, arms flailing and declaring loudly to anyone who would listen that the Baron was the most frustrating creature that ever lived. His wife, Queen Niri, smiled in his direction and continued with her stitchery. She knew that her husband would eventually wind down.

Sean came into the room during this tirade and listened for a few minutes. He smiled over at his mother who indicated with a look that he should see if he could distract his father.

Sean was a huge redheaded shape shifter whose favorite thing in life was to tell stories and sing songs. He was considered to be one of the finest Bards in all of Caledonia.

"Ye know Dad," Sean said when the White Mage paused for a long breath, "I bet I can tell ye a tale of a more frustrating person then the Baron. In fact when Iím done Iíll bet ye see the Baron in a new light."

The White Mage turned to glare at his oldest child. "Oh you think you can do you, well we will just see about that. If I win the bet then you will be helping me to put those records in order that the Baron messed up."

Sean smiled at his Dad. "And if I win ye take a break and we play a few rounds of demonball and you are the pitcher."

The two men shook hands and the White Mage sat down in his favorite chair and gestured for his son to begin. Sean sat on the floor at his motherís feet and began with a big grin.

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ∑∑∑ oops wrong story. Once upon a time there lived a lady who lived in a small city with her two cats. Now one of these cats was a big orange-red tabby who believed that he was king of the universe. The other was a silver and gray tabby whose favorite pastime was getting into everything. He was cute but a bit of a klutz. He would try to pounce on his big brother and land in the water dish instead. The lady just laughed and cleaned up after the kitten. The older cat kept trying to tell the lady that the younger one was defective and needed to be taken back. Unfortunately for the self-styled king, the lady ignored his advice. The bratty little kitten had won her heart and remained a member of the family.

The lady was a long time fan of fantasy and science fiction and low and behold she found herself at conventions where she was suckered into, err I mean, she volunteered to help out. The people in charge soon discovered that the lady was quite good at what she did and that the guests really liked her. They began to give her more responsibilities and her reputation began to grow. She was happy at what she did. Of course there were the occasional conventions such as a certain Westercon and a Timecon with a chairman that, but we wonít go into that.

The lady spent happy years doing conventions, seeing friends, doing detective parties, and dating the wrong men. It seems she had good taste in everything except men. As she explained to a good looking English star when he asked her why someone as nice as she was wasnít married that if there was a wrong person to go with she would find him.

After working on other peopleís conventions for many years her friends started asking her to run one of her own. Well, she knew the amount of work that went into the conventions and figured the best way to stop her friends from asking would be to reply that she would run one if they would work for her. Clever girl that she was she figured they would all go that no they couldnít possibly do conventions any more. Unfortunately she underestimated her friends. They said yes and she ended up running her own convention. She even drew the cute little baby unicorn logo for the convention.

Her staff loved coming to her staff meetings because she always made good food for the breaks. Besides the cats were very amusing. One staff meeting was broken up when the younger cat chased the older one who dived under a chair to escape only to have the little one jump onto the chair seat and slide through the back opening landing on the older one.

At one of her staff meetings her tech head brought a man that would be on his staff. The lady was immediately smitten. She thought that at last her penchant for going with the wrong man was over and that this would be her true love at long last. The man was large with gray hair and seemed to be meek and mild. She thought that he must be a sweet gentleman.

So the lady and the man started dating. She found out that the manís wife had left him. He told horror stories about the first wife being a black witch who tried to poison him and made his life miserable. He introduced her to his teenage son, a troubled lad, who he claimed had been abandoned by his mother and that he, the father, was the only person who cared and could help the boy. The lady was the type who wore her heart on her sleeve and felt so sorry for the man that she vowed to do everything she could to help him.

To be honest, she did notice that he was a bit of a hypochondriac but felt that if that was the worst about him then she was fortunate indeed. He had called her at home one evening complaining that he was having a severe allergy problem and could she come and take him to the hospital. She lived an hour away and knew that if he needed to get to the doctor right away that he would have to call an ambulance. He was reluctant to do that. She suggested that he take an antihistimne and said she would stay on the line with him. It only took a few minutes for the manís symptoms to subside. After about an hour the lady was able to persuade the man to go to sleep and that she would call him in the morning. It was after midnight and she went to bed herself thinking that the man was prone to panic attacks.

The lady invited the man and his son to join her and her family and friends for Thanksgiving at her house. Her friend had helped her bring in the groceries and put them away since the ladyís car was out of commission. The youngest cat jumped into every bag checking things out. The lady introduced the man she loved to her family at Thanksgiving. The man and his son had had a big fight outside and there was a feeling of tenseness. An incident had happened earlier that day when her youngest cat, who normally was great around people as long as his Ďmommyí was around, had bitten one of her best friends who was going to have Thanksgiving with her. At the time the lady didnít correlate that the catís behavior started to change after he had met the man and his son.

Shortly afterwards the lady and the man became engaged. The lady was so happy. She called her parents and her Dad answered the phone. She excitedly told him her news. Her Dad sounded stunned and replied "oh really, here talk to your mother." The lady talked to her mother for a while and happily told her about the engagement and that they were planning a June wedding.

Right before Christmas the ladyís father had a heart attack. The man was very supportive of her at that time. They decided to move their wedding up to her parentís anniversary in April. The lady told her Dad he would have to get well because he had to walk her down the aisle. Her oldest brother would trip on the train, she said, and they would roll down the aisle. The second brother would judo flip her to the man. The third would be called by an ambulance half way down the aisle and she didnít even want to think about the insults she would have to endure from the youngest brother. Her Dad laughed and got well enough to come to the wedding. Of course he burst into tears when he came to get her to walk her down the aisle and cried all during her wedding.

The trip after the wedding started out with a flat tire. Fortunately the wifeís parents had given them cash and they were able to get the tire replaced. Now if the woman had been a little less in love she might have been more superstitious and thought that there might be a curse on this marriage. The actual wedding night was spent in a nice hotel where the husband tried for an hour but still couldnít get anything to happen. The woman did her best in a black lace nightie but to no avail. Finally they decided to try again another night. It took a week before the marriage was "official". The husband took his new wife to the tackiest city in the world for their honeymoon. There was more neon per square mile then any place else in the universe. He took her through the casinos so she could see what they were like. He did take her to one show but wouldnít ask the men who put on the show for one of the white tigers for her. She loved kitties and thought that one of the cubs would fit right into their household. She had recently lost her red-orange cat and now had a big white cat that was trying to eat himself into a full grown tiger-size.

The first few weeks following their honeymoon were hectic for the wife. The husband went back to work and she was left unpacking for both households and setting up the third that they shared. At this time the son decided that he was going to act up even more than normal. The lady found herself getting very stressed. To make things worse the man decided that he no longer needed antidepressants and went off of them. The lady found that her husbandís personality was starting to change and not for the better. He was becoming more belligerent by the day. At first she put it down to the trouble with the son but she began to realize that it was more than that. One evening after a big fight she called her sister-in-law in tears and asked her to come get her saying she had made the biggest mistake of her life in marrying the man. Her sister-in-law came but the man begged the wife to stay and promised that things would be different. The woman decided to give him another chance.

During this early part of her marriage the husband showed a strong interest in anthropomorphic animals and writing about the same in a BBS computer world. He got the woman interested in writing for the system too. She soon found that she was very good at that type of writing and was introducing several new characters to that world. She was a little puzzled as to why the man insisted on playing the one character who was a big-breasted female phoenix. She herself had created unicorns, and elves and all sorts of characters, both male and female, with many different talents. The more the wife got into writing in the storylines for this BBS world, the less interested the man became in them.

The husband hooked up a system where the man could write storylines with the wife going back and forth between their two computers. After a long day at work being a floor manager for a fabric store the wife would come home and make dinner, clean up, do laundry and then to keep the husband happy would have to try and come up with storylines to write back and forth with the husband. He usually wanted her to write as her Moira character, a shape-shifting unicorn, and he would do Legend a griffin bard. Somehow the stories always had to end up with Moira changing Legend into a big-breasted female character, usually one that wasnít very bright.

The husband had a friend that use to do the on-line stories with him but the friend had fallen in love and moved to the Northwest where he was planning to marry his lady love. The husband couldnít understand why the friend was more interested in his lady love then in doing role playing with him. The wife wondered why her husband was so dense and insensitive.

The husband still had problems like the one which plagued their wedding night. Finally he asked the wife if she would do stories out loud with him to get him in the mood. The woman felt a bit put out feeling that she should be sexy enough to arouse her husband but decided to be a good sport and go along with him. The stories that seemed to work best for the husband were the ones where his character was turned into a big breasted dumb female. The wife wasnít surprised.

During the early months of the marriage the son was put in a foster home when it became obvious that no one in the family could handle his severe emotional problems. The husband swore that there would be no more problems in the marriage from then on now that there was peace in the house. The woman had been putting up with his increasingly bad moods and claims of illness. She decided to give him another chance.

The manís project at work was coming to an end. He had been working on a computer game where you went down confusing tunnels and shot atomic rats or something like that. It never did make sense to the wife who never was any good at shoot-em-up games. As his project ended the man became depressed because his company wouldnít let him design the games that he wanted. The wife didnít say so but she felt that the major reason they wouldnít do the husbandís games was because no one would buy them when they were done.

Low and behold an offer came for the man to take a job in a city that was a mile high. The woman had gone to college there and had remembered the winters but the man was determined that this was the job of a lifetime. The wife ended up making all of the arrangements for the movers and the new home. They moved in the dead of winter and again the woman had the job of unpacking everything and setting up their new home.

And so it came to pass that the expenses for the sonís foster care became due and the woman had to handle all the legal problems that ensued because the husband "couldnít cope with it." The woman sighed to herself and decided that the man really was a wimp. In order to pay for both child support and alimony the woman had to go back to work in order for there to be food on the table. She found a job about a mile away at a liquor store. It was the only thing in walking distance and her car was on the fritz again. The woman worked hard at this job and came home very tired. She would then do the laundry, cleaning, dinner, shopping, paying bills, etc. The husband was too tired from his strenuous efforts at work to give her any help.

It came as no surprise to the lady that her husband was having trouble with some of the people at work. The man was the "director" of his project but did not know how to lead people or even work with them successfully. The woman tried to teach him how to be a leader, drawing on her many years of experience in conventions, but the husband couldnít understand the concepts she was trying to teach. The wife suggested tactfully to her husbandís employer that they might want to put another level of management between him and his coworkers.

One day the husband was bitterly complaining that the artists working on his project were stupid and couldnít understand his simple instructions. The wife was an artist herself and knew why her fellow artists were having trouble. She tried to explain to her husband that you needed non-technical instructions for an artist. After all when it comes to a computer an artist really only wants to know how to point and click. How things actually work can be very confusing. Her husband frequently did things to her computer and then would try to explain how everything worked. He was oblivious to the fact that the wifeís eyes would glaze over. After a long interval when the incessant flow of strange language seemed to have abated the wife would ask if she could still point and click. For some reason this upset the husband.

One evening the wife came home from work to find out that her husband had blown up her computer trying to do something. She was shocked especially since she was still paying for the computer. Fortunately a friend had a spare computer and they were able to retrieve all of her data. She had had visions of many years of poetry and other writings being lost forever. Unfortunately the incident was a precursor of things to come when it came to her husband and the computer.

It came to pass that the project that the husband was working on was to be demonstrated at a booksellerís convention and the man begged the wife to come with him. He didnít like traveling alone and didnít want to be away from her. So the wife managed to get time off, make arrangements to take care of her cats, did all the packing and flew off to the city of angelic smog. The partner for her husbandís project was owned by one of the most egotistical men in show business and it came as no surprise that the people they sent were of the same bent. The wuss the lady married complained that they were trying to push him out of his own project. The woman spent some of her time "holding the manís hand" and when people would ask about the demo she would refer them to her husband. The people from the South werenít amused but then she had worked conventions with William Shatner and nothing fazed her about egotists.

After returning to the mile high city the man continued to work on his project. He also continued to complain about his health. One day he was certain he was dying and walked over to the clinic a half a mile from the house. There he was convinced that he had a near death experience and forever after would bore everyone to tears with his description about a peace beyond all peace and how he only came back from the brink of death because of the wife. The wife had to cancel the order for the tacky pink flamingos for her husbandís grave. A few years later a psychiatrist had said that the whole thing was a panic attack.

The wife continued to work and often times would come home to find out that her husband had invited people to dinner and she needed to run to the store and get something because he had promised the people coming she would make something she hadnít been planning to make. The wife personally felt she had made many brownie points by not strangling the husband when he did that.

The wife had noticed for some time that the man was paranoid and as time went on his paranoia grew. One day he tore through the house declaring that his ex-wife was engaged in a psychic attack on him and he had to find the source that she was using to break into their house. The wife watched is disbelief as he took a picture of Bambi down and took it out of the frame and ran down to the dumpsters with it. He came back and was close to tears saying that the ex-wife had used the one thing he was closest too. She knew he identified with Bambi. The wife personally felt that the man had a screw loose. In order to make him feel more secure she took an old blessed rosary of hers and hung it in the computer room where he said the attacks were coming. She told him that nothing could get pass a blessed rosary. He believed her.

Another evening the husband had another panic attack and claimed again that he was again under psychic attack. The woman gave her husband a rosary and took her own out and made him say it with her. The panic attack subsided. The wife was beginning to have serious concerns about the sanity of the man she was married to. At one point he was so convinced that his son was going to show up on the doorstep and shoot him that she made arrangements to get a restraining order against the son. It was the only way to shut the husband up.

The doctor that treated the man and the woman was becoming more irritated at the man. On the rare occasions when the wife would go to the doctor he would complain to her that the man was a hypochondriac. The wife could only agree. Finally the doctor told the man to stop wasting his time and the insurance companyís money because there was nothing wrong with him. The man was furious. The tests had shown nothing and now the doctor was telling him to get lost. No one seemed to understand how sick he was.

During this time the wifeís parents were set to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The wife informed the husband that they were going back to the golden state to be with them. The husband tried his best to ruin the day by starting a fight but the wife bit her tongue and refused to respond. At the party the wife noticed that in addition to the gold decorations there were also red and white decorations. Her sister-in-law reminded the wife that she had been married a year ago on that day. The wife was surprised because it seemed like it had been at least ten years that she had been putting up with the man. My how time flies when you are having fun?

The husband had tried to convince the wife that she really should try his religion. It came to pass that she finally got frustrated enough with his churches hide bound belief that they were the only true believers and demanded that they go back to her church instead. The woman listened to the folk choir and her love of music came back to her and she asked to join. The husband agreed to play his synthesizer at the services. The praise gave him enough of an ego boost that he was able to ignore the fact that his wife was being praised for her singing.

Low and behold the husband decided that he wanted to join his wifeís church. There was only one minor hitch, his first marriage. So the wife made arrangements to see about getting the process started to get an annulment for the first marriage so that they could marry in her church. They were given a series of papers including a long questionnaire to fill out. The man managed to answer about one-and-a-half questions before it got too much for him and he couldnít work on it any longer because it brought back too many painful memories. The wife looked over what the husband had written and was appalled. When he started claiming Walt Disney as family and putting down how influenced he was by him and his movies she knew that if they were going to get an annulment she would have to fill out the questionnaire herself. So the wife sat down and typed the whole document based on what he had told her in the past and his answers to her specific questions.

It came to pass that the company her husband worked for went under. She had noticed that this seemed to be a pattern in the companies he was with. She decided to be charitable and not put it down to him being Typhoid Mary. As the husband panicked their friend set him up for a job interview in the windy city. The wife urged him to take the job. And so they moved again in the winter.

Of course the wife had taken care of all of the arrangements for the movers and getting everything set for their new home. Because it would take a few days for their furniture to arrive, the couple spent some time at her parentís house. Her parents noticed that the husband was becoming very sullen and was snapping at their daughter. They bit their tongues to keep from snapping back at the man. They knew that she was the best thing that ever happened to him and were upset that he didnít see that.

After the moverís arrived the wife again had the job of setting up their new home. She was becoming an expert at this. This time the husband had decided that the wife didnít need to work and asked her to stay home with him. The wife soon found out that this meant she was suppose to be at his beck and call. He would call her for everything and she soon found herself running back and forth to his work bringing him stuff that he "forgot." She was also running to the stores for him.

During this time the manís personality was deteriorating and he was becoming vicious in his verbal attacks on the wife. The stress landed the wife in the hospital with severe stomach problems. Later it would land her in the hospital with severe migraines. The husband would always claim that there was nothing wrong with the wife even when tests showed different.

The wife finally demanded that the man attend marriage counseling with her. The therapist listened carefully to both sides and told the man that he was at fault. He was told that he couldnít invalidate his wifeís feelings. Of course he believed that the therapist was in error and wasnít any good at her job.

The first Christmas that they spent with the wifeís parents was a very long one. The man was sullen because the parents hadnít put up a Christmas tree. He also spent his time sulking because they didnít want to watch cartoons all the time but wanted to talk with their daughter whom they hadnít seen in a long time.

One weekend they had promised her parentís that they would come over to see them. It had been several months since their last visit and her Mom had taken time off of work to see her only daughter. The man became upset because there was a movie opening that night that had a computer generated dragon in it. He claimed he had spent his whole life waiting for this movie and was mad because the wife insisted that they honor their commitment to her parents. It was a real bad weekend for all.

The man was constantly trying to tell people how much he was doing for the wife. He would claim that taking her to a movie that he wanted to see was a gift for her. One evening after seeing a movie with friends he complained that they took the stairs up one flight rather then walk over to an escalator. It wasnít like the man didnít need the exercise after all.

At work the manís behavior was becoming more and more bizarre. He had whined until they had given him an office with a view of the outside. He had to rearrange everything in the office because he claimed the spirit of the tree outside his office was upset and it needed to be appeased. He then tried to convince a coworker that he needed to rearrange his office also.

The employees at the company had begun to scatter whenever they saw the man coming down the hall. They had an arrangement with friends that if they saw the husband corner one of them in their office, they would call and inform the person that they needed to attend an urgent meeting.

The manís project was finished and he was asked to work on another game. He refused saying that the game was demonic and it was against his religion to do so. That weekend he had the wife accompany him to a religious goods store where he bought the biggest crucifix he could find and started wearing it to work. He was unaware of the jokes and the paper crosses that flourished when he wasnít around. He then complained that he wasnít allowed to work on the project.

The man was frequently away from his desk getting sodaís and candy bars. He kept complaining that he was eating less and gaining weight. The wife kept trying to make healthy meals at home but her efforts were no match for the vending machines. He started accusing her of washing his clothes in hot water because they were all shrinking. She had taken to washing his T-shirts in cold water and hanging them to dry. He then tried to convince her that they were shrinking in cold water. The woman had watched him go from a XL to a 3XL and a size 38 to a size 50. Somehow she didnít believe that the clothes were shrinking.

Surprise of surprises the company that this man worked for also folded. Typhoid Mary had struck again. The wife had urged the man not to put in his resume the fact that all of the companies had folded fearing that no one would hire him if he did so.

The man decided that he would take a job in the golden state again after promising the wife they would stay in the windy city. By this point the woman knew that his promises were worthless. He claimed that he didnít get any job offers in the windy city. Later she was furious to find out that he had gotten a real good offer at a high salary and turned it down. The man promised everyone that the wife could come back and visit with her parents whenever she wanted.

As usual the woman was in charge of the moving and setting up of the new house. She was beginning to think that she should write a book on how to move. After all she had more then enough experience.

The manís annulment had finally come through right before they left the windy city and one of the first things he did was join a group to become a member of the wifeís church. The wife had discovered the choir and they were glad to have her. The man showed up with his synthesizer once but realized that the choir director could play rings around him. He decided that this choir wasnít for him. The wife in the meantime made a lot of friends in the choir and really enjoyed singing every Sunday.

After studying for several months the man joined his wifeís church formally. It took him only a month or so before he got bored and didnít bother to go to services any more. He berated the wife one Sunday for going saying the church didnít expect her to go in the rain. The wife didnít remember seeing that in anything she had ever read about her church.

The man discovered a group of people in his area that were into making furry anthropomorphic animal costumes. He decided that he was going to make a full griffin costume and proceeded to spend a great deal of money trying to design a costume that had moveable wings. Years later he is still at it. He would bring these people home on Sundays and the wife would have to cook for them. One very loud obnoxious kid became a regular visitor to the house. The husband included him in everything even at their wedding anniversary dinner. To make matters worse the wife had to pay for the dinner with her credit card.

The man became more and more involved with this particular furry community even dragging his wife, who had pneumonia at the time, to one of their picnics. The woman had thought she had heard every bizarre thing from her husband but around this time he started talking about the dolphins and whales being sentient and that man was going to have to realize that many animals were sentient and that there would come a day when man would have to acknowledge that and treat the animals as equals. At that time the taboos with sex with animals would be lifted the man claimed. The wife has it on good authority that dolphins maybe among the horniest animals on the planet but even they draw the line at having sex with her husband.

At this time the woman discovered computer art. She had long been an artist but the arthritis was getting to the point where she really couldnít do the intricate pen and ink etching any more. She discovered that not only was the computer art fun but that she was able to do some really spectacular pictures. The husband became more sullen as the wife became more proficient at the art programs. He got upset when she wouldn't take his suggestions for changes to her pictures. He got more upset when she wouldnít give him any credit for her art work.

One day the woman got brave and asked a professional artist to look at her work. The man told her he wanted her in the next artistís colony in a couple of months. The woman excitedly called her husband who was very curt because he was busy working on his costume and wasnít interested in her art. She found that this would be a pattern. When a man from NASA saw her space art and praised it and told the wife that NASA would be interested in her art the husband on hearing that became sick and had to come home from work. The husband never attended a single art show that the woman did.

The woman discovered at this time that she had a serious lung problem and that the air in the golden state was poisonous for her. The man refused to believe the womanís doctors even when numerous tests proved that she had an obstruction in her lungs. One evening the wife started choking and couldnít stop. The man waited fifteen minutes before he called for an ambulance. He knew that if she couldnít get a sentence out he was suppose to call but by the time the ambulance got there the wife couldnít even get her name out.

When the doctors told the husband that he had a sleep problem he was elated and quickly bored everyone to tears with the problem. Of course the main problem was that he was so fat and if he would lose a hundred and fifty pounds he wouldnít have the problem. But that was beside the point. He could claim to be ill and he only mentioned the wifeís problems if he was trying to get sympathy for himself for having to take care of her.

Things became more and more difficult at home and as the wifeís fame as an artist grew the husband became more difficult to live with. In spite of the fact that the doctors told him that he needed to be on antidepressants and in long term therapy the man refused to believe them and continued to blame everyone else.

One Christmas the wifeís mother had a serious heart attack. The husband refused to let his wife go back and see her because the wife had been back a couple months earlier to see her family. Her place was with him he declared. The wifeís mother had to be revived three times. She was given the last rites of her church. During her motherís long convalescence the husband didnít send a single note either by snail mail or email to his mother-in-law or his father-in-law. All of the wifeís friends did however.

The marriage destructed a couple of months later when the man, after pushing his wife into a near asthma attack in the early hours of the morning, came into the bedroom after spending the night in a chair in the living room. The wife had an appointment to see her priest and when she tried to leave the bedroom the man blocked her with his bulk and kept flashing a camera in her face. He shoved her into the chest of drawers when she tried to get by. The only way she got free was to call the police.

The husband has caused numerous problems since that time but the woman is pursuing her freedom back in the windy city. She is certain that things are going to work out for her. Of course she has been warned by family and friends that if she ever decides to marry again that they are going to check the guy out first to make sure that he will be good to her. She can understand why they donít trust her judgment in the matter.

In the meantime the ex-wife has begun to suspect that the ex-husband was not what he claimed to be. It has been strongly suggested to her that he is really a demon. She does admit that the explanation makes a lot of sense and would explain things quite satisfactorily.

 

Sean looked over at his Dad and smiled. "So you see Dad there is someone that is much more frustrating then the Baron."

The White Mage agreed that Sean was right. He happily went outside with his son and they engaged in a round of demonball. The White Mage would blast the demon with a bolt of fire sending him towards Sean. Sean would then bat the demon with a large stick trying to hit it hard enough to bounce it off of the trees. The other children were used to retrieve the gray demon. A good time was had by all.

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