Parable #5: The Golden Suit

Posted: March 27, 2010 by xcowboy2 in Fiction, Parables, Political Fiction

Once upon a time..
in the land of Potoma (which sat between two rivers in a country I’ve forgotten on a continent that has subsequently been lost), there lived a clever tailor named Samuel Turkey. Sam Turkey made exquisite suits the like of which were rarely seen. The fabric shimmered, the lapels were perfectly sharp, they were always cut just right in the leg and broke exactly as one expects a perfect suit to break. A Sam Turkey label in a suit guaranteed quality.

One fall, the Emperor of Potoma came to see Sam. His retinue crowded into the tailor shop, parting as the man himself stepped from his long black limousine and sauntered inside, waving to the small crowd which had formed on the street.

Barack, the Emperor of Potoma, was always perfectly dressed. He wore dazzling robes, a smart fur hat, and his fingers glittered.

“I’d like to commission a suit from you” he said to Sam. “A suit the likes of which the world has never seen. It will have gold braid and silver lapels. It will be seamed with rubies and sapphires. It will be woven with platinum thread. I will wear it to the annual ball. Have it completed by a fortnight hence.”

Sam Turkey bowed low at this great honor. He spent the rest of the afternoon taking the royal measurements. He did not see the Emperor again. The men of the treasury arrived the following day with all the precious metals required. As Sam stitched and sewed this miracle suit, they kept a careful eye.

As the night of the ball came closer, Sam’s work on the suit became more intense. He lined it with rare silks, he embroidered tiny images of Potomac history onto the cuffs, he soaked it in the subtlest of fragrances. Then he gave it a pressing and, for good measure, used a nonabrasive silver polish on the buttons.

On the night of the ball, it was complete. Sam Turkey laid the suit carefully in a box and took a smart pumpkin carriage up Pennsylvania Avenue to the palace. He marveled at the preparations. A small orchestra was tuning beside the dance floor. Flowers festooned the tables, long tapers were set in sconces and awaited the match.

Barack was in his private quarters, still in pajamas, lounging like a cat on silk pillows. He faced a long mirror and, as Turkey entered, it became clear that the Emperor was blowing kisses to himself.

The Emperor was far less impressive in his pajamas than he had been in his flowing robes at the tailor shop, Turkey decided. Without the distraction of the magnificent clothes, one could see that the Emperor was in fact a quite ordinary man; he was greying, lined, a little scrawny, and overall not much to look at. But such thoughts were not to be pursued.

“My Emperor, I have brought the suit as requested!”

“Suit? Oh yes the suit. Well, show it to me then.”

Sam unboxed the suit. It caught the fading rays of the sun outside. It sparkled. It shimmered. It set tiny prismatic sparks rotating about the room.

“I don’t like it.” said Barack.

“But why?”

“You dare question your Emperor? If you must know, it is far too magnificent. It will distract from the magnificence of myself. Keep the suit. The gold of its construction shall be your payment.”

And, with this, Barack returned to his reflection and paid the hapless tailor no more mind.

Turkey was stunned. TOO magnificent? Whatever could that mean? He slipped the suit on a hangar, put it over his shoulder, and stepped from the room glumly.

The ball was underway. The people of Potoma were decked out in their finest. Feathers bobbed. Medals glinted. Chenilles and chiffon shifted under the lights. Military boots dueled with high heels on the polished dance floor. It was a magnificent celebration.

Then Sam Turkey stepped into the room.

The orchestra played a fanfare and began to play “Hail to the Emperor” the traditional tune for the head of state. Thinking Barack must be entering behind him, Sam turned and began to bow. But no one was there.

Was the room bowing to Sam Turkey?

No, not to him. To the suit!

All eyes were on the magnificent suit that he carried on his shoulders. As Sam stepped into the crowd, men saluted smartly, women curtsied.

The Emperor’s Wife led Sam out onto the dance floor for the traditional first dance. She held the empty sleeve as if it were her husbands arm and she and Turkey spun in circles as the orchestra played “The Mirror Song” from the popular operetta “The Feigned Prince”.

As the crowd clapped, Sam looked with wonderment at their faces. They had no idea that the empty suit he held was not their Emperor- so dazzled by it were they. They raised glasses in a toast, and Sam raised a sleeve in salute.

“Stop!” cried a voice. Barack the true Emperor appeared at the top of the marble stairs. He wore his usual robes, thrown back over his shoulder. He pointed a long, accusing finger at the hapless tailor. “Traitor! How dare you impersonate me? How dare you dance with my wife! Guards! Have that man executed!”

Barack strode menacingly towards Sam Turkey. But suddenly guards stood between the two men, blocking the emperor’s way. Weapons rallied to Sam Turkey’s aid.

“Who is this madman?” came a soft voice at Sam’s side.

The Emperor’s wife (whose name was Clarissa) was clutching the sleeve of the magnificent suit.

“I am your husband!” cried Barack.

Clarissa leaned her soft cheek on the golden lapel.

“My husband is here” she said. “Take the fool away.”

The guards bowed to their Empress and crowded around Barack, seizing him. His tasseled shoes lifted from the polished marble.

“No!” he was heard to cry. “You don’t understand! THE CLOTHES HAVE NO EMPEROR!!”

And then Barack the Vain was gone.

For centuries since, the Kingdom of Potoma has been ruled by the sons of Sam Turkey, who act as chief advisors to The Golden Suit.

The Suit itself lies still on the throne, empty as it has always been, waiting till the day that time and tarnish free the people from their bedazzlement…


Richard Gleaves Richard Gleaves
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