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The Jester's Tale

By 

Addoris J. Davis

O

nce upon a time there lived a question so perused in the kingdom nearly all men lay stumped on the subject. The subject vexed those from the far east coast where women wore heels so high and dresses covered in meat, all the way to the Midwest where drawling and hauling’ seemed as much a part of life as their incessant need to wear plaid shirts and complain about winter. The question brought terror to some, eye-rolling to others, and to the thoughtful, a conundrum.

The question, as the listeners may have been wondering, is the definition of legitimate. The debate began at the don of time, but ended here, in the court of the High King, when his jester, vying for the attention of his graceful majesty exclaimed,

“Legitimate, was it legitimate rape?”

Jesters play an integral part of the court proceedings by commenting on relevant issues with irreverent comments. The case in point was of a girl, crying, lying at the foot of the King, and hoping for revenge. Revenge most brutal, directed at the poor sod that stood stoic on the other side of the courtly room.

The jester, clad in a stately suit reserved for only the most idiotic members of society, clapped his hands harshly. He wanted the attention, you see. He needed the attention to keep his reigning position as head jester, in charge of all the other jesters of his district. If the King stopped noticing him, then the King would appoint a more amusing jester to his position. And that just would not do.

Again, he asked. “Legitimate, was it legitimate?”

The girl, in frustration of her tale once again being interrupted, screamed. “What is the ‘it’ you keep referring to? If ‘it’ is the validity of my word, I bring here two witnesses to vouch for my suffering.” She pointed at two elderly folks, their clothing modest for the age, in muted pastel colors and wearing hard-walked shoes.

The King spoke then, his voice booming. “I believe my humble jester wishes to question whether or not the hereby mentioned rape was legitimate or illegitimate. Though, I have no idea of the distinction between the two forms.”

The Jester spoke again, his voice smooth as slathering butter on toast. “Legitimate, my dear King, refers to rape as purely perpetrated by the perpetrator, where the victim was helpless in defense, and defiant in every direction of the actions which lead to the twain meeting. Illegitimate, then, is the opposite I suppose.”

The court members gasped. Such intelligence! Such brevity! His words seemed so true. Was this legitimate? Was this poor little child, barely past the age of teenage hood, deceiving the King and Court, claiming consequences that were partly her fault? There must be something sinister afoot.

The girl spoke then, her voice shaking, shattering along the pillars of the castle. “Is this jester, jesting at the truths of my grieving?”

The King nodded. “I suppose he is.” He looked at the jester again, and asked, “Wise jester, what are your reasons for suspecting our humble guest of deceit?”

“Why first her clothes,” spoke the Jester, “do you not see the distance in inches from where her ankle to her dress falls?”

The court members looked. The green fabric fell suspiciously high along her calf. “Call for the court measurer!” cried the 4th court member, from the left, his toupee nearly falling off his face while he shook his fist in emphasis.

His request echoed along the line of members.

“Yes!” called one.

“Quickly now!” cried another.

A bubbly, bumbling, boisterous rosy faced woman came shuffling in along the steps. The head court member, Bob, pointed toward the girl. “Come on now, measure her skirts. It is imperative we find out the proclivity this child has for scantily clad clothing.”

The woman began to shuffle toward the girl.

“Stop!” cried the King.

The entire court turned toward him. “Yes, your highness?” asked Bob.

Huskily, the King looked at the official court measurer. “Mistress, what is an acceptable distance for one’s dress to be from one’s ankle?”

The official court measurer looked toward her King, and red-faced, stammered. “Well ain’t nothing acceptable past an inch an’ a half, yours High-ness, lest you ‘in be invitin’ all kinda troubles.”

The King nodded. “I see. Proceed.”

The official court measurer walked up to the girl, pulled out her measuring tape and sized up the distance between the girl’s ankles and the ending of her dress.

“Well?” asked the Jester.

“Therein’ be nearly three inches between this girl here ankles and her gown. Most shame, for sure.”

The court nodded in agreement. “It seems, child, you are prone to most scandalous attire.” The Jester said, sadly, his face seemingly sinister.

Now, loyal listeners, most women of this age would have resigned their fate. Kissed their wonderful bustiers’ goodbye and hoped for fashionable shackles. But, this child, this young girl in our story was far more cunning than most women of the age. Her father was a lawyer, and well-versed in turning criminals into the next Pope.

She said, her voice resigned. “Jester, how could I be so wrong as to dress like this? I must have been inviting every male in town to hide and play underneath my skirts! But, you see sire,” she looked at the King.  “I was seduced into dressing so wrongly! How else could I catch the attention of the strapping, grabbing young man in this courtroom! Look!” She pointed to her attacker. “See how his suit is tight, pulling at the fabric and creating such an image of lust. And his pantaloons! Oooh! They constrict so close to his heavenly hip! How could I not want to make him want to rip them off, so he and I could trounce in the hay! It is not my fault. It it his for making me dress to catch his attention.”

The King became confused. “Are you recanting your plea of rape?”

“No!” she said, emphatically painting an image of shock with her hands. “If I were in my right mind I would never dress so. It is only because my crazed hormones have cursed me to vy for the attention of men! And the only reason my hormones are crazed so is because of the constricting and form-fitting outfit this man wears!” Her voice became hard, and she said slowly. “King, do you not see how tight my attacker’s pantaloons are?”

The entire court turned to look at the pantaloons in question. The attacker shifted uncomfortably on his feet; rarely accustomed to this type of unwanted attention.

After perhaps pausing too long to look at those tight pantaloons, The King spoke. “I know how we will settle this issue. Call my royal dresser. He is most well versed in appropriate clothing of men. He will know the right measurements for a mans suit.”

“Rightly so,” cried the court.

And after a few moments, the royal dresser, clad in pink tulips print leggings and a yellow tunic, sauntered into the courtroom. “You called, your highness?”

“Yes, Georgie, we are in need of your rather daringly expert opinions on men clothing. We need to determine if this mans—” the King paused for a moment, gesturing at the pantaloons again, “—pantaloons are, uhh, tight enough to cause this woman to, uhh, throw herself at him. Of sorts.”

“I see,” said the royal dresser. “Well, I am well aware of the correct fit for men. Let me measure this supposed attacker and I will deem his outfit appropriate or whether it could have thrown this woman into such a tizzy fit.”

At this, this, absurdity the Jester exclaimed, “King! You can’t be serious in this exercise? Why, this dear fellow, wrongly accused of rape, is dressed in the same suit as me? I surely am not dressed in a tight suit. Please, see reason. This woman has openly admitted she was not raped. That she wanted this transgression. Must we continue to punish an honest man for this woman’s wiles?”

The King looked toward his Jester, then gestured at his royal dresser. “If the Jester compares himself to our attacker, then let us measure the Jester instead, and deem his outfit appropriate.”

The royal dresser walked up to the shocked Jester. The Jester fraoze. He was stuck, for if he refused the measurements, his King would surely dismiss him from his position. So, he stood still while the royal dresser snaked his hands along his chest and legs.

“Are you quite done, yet?” the Jester asked after four minutes had passed. The royal dresser nodded, stood, and turned toward the King.

“It is my humble opinion that this mans suit is much too tight for appropriate fashion.”

“What!” burst the Jester, flinging his hands into the air. “You must be jesting?”

The girl smiled, the glee reaching to the corner of her eyes.

The King stood stoic. “The royal dresser does not lie. Your outfit is scandalous, and just as a woman would be charged with solicitation, so shall you and this attacker. I will not have my subjects forcing themselves on others. Your outfit elicits sexual responses! Shame. For Shame.”

The Jester and the attacker were hauled out of the courtroom in a flurry of words and accusations best not written down for the sake of appropriateness.

A silence fell throughout the courtroom.

“So, to ask the question again, your highness, was this rape legitimate?” Bob asked, tentatively.

The King, playing absentmindedly with his golden scepter, said. “Clearly, we have shown here in this court today that when the question of legitimacy arises only confusion and further harm ensues. We have found that this young woman here was raped. Her two witnesses attest to that. I admit my motives for playing along with the Jesters question were purely for entertainment. After all, what is a jester, but for the joy of court to see where absurdity lay?”

Bob nodded. “Rightly so. And I never really liked him anyway. Walked around this place like a rooster in heat.”

“Indeed,” cried the court.

So ends our tale of the Jester, and his quest for legitimacy, or lack thereof.

Quiz question:

Was the rape legitimate?

Yes.

Yes.

No.

No.

We never find out.

We never find out.

It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter.

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Issue 2

published 

February 22, 2017

The Jester's Tale was written by Addoris J. Davis. She is a senior at the University of Alaska-Anchorage and studies economics and theatre, two strangely complementary yet contradictory topics.

i dont feel like fininishing this website right now and i am sorry

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This writing was originally published in Opium Magazine, and is not listed in the Lit.cat archives.
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