This was written for the TinMan Grand Prix Challenge over on Live Journal. Each challenge had a different theme. This round's challenge focused on Ahamo. Here was my submission. Hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to TinMan. However, I do know the owner of said pickup.
The Royal Court milled about in anticipation for the annual Liberation celebration
The Royal Court milled about in anticipation for the annual Liberation Celebration. It resembled something like a Fourth of July celebration on the Other Side.
Ahamo stood silently on the balcony waiting for his wife and daughters to arrive. He watched the milling crowds, but didn't really comprehend anything. Instead, Ahamo was reliving memories of days past.
When he was first reunited with his beloved wife and daughters, he had spent untold hours reliving memories of the four of them. The first time he had seen Lavender Eyes.
God she was so beautiful and full of life. It's no wonder I could not leave her. He thought to himself.
Then he remembered his introduction to Ambrose Maxamillan, Royal Advisor and confidant of the Queen, and father to one Ambrose/Glitch. It had not gone well. The Queen, infatuated with this mysterious man, had issued a royal summons for Ahamo to attend a Royal State dinner. Ambrose had tried in vain to dissuade the headstrong young woman from this faux pas, but DG came by her stubbornness honestly. So a royal messenger had been sent to deliver the Other-Sider to her.
Ahamo, born and bred in Nebraska, had no understanding of royalty. So, instead of formal attire, he wore his best pants and shirt. He really hadn't packed his entire wardrobe before that stupid cyclone flung him here. Upon entering the castle, he had strode up to the Queen and shook her hand. The castle gasped and waited for holy hell to break loose. No one dared touch the Queen without first being properly vetted by the Royal Advisor.
Ambrose Maxamillan had immediately placed himself between his Queen and the overly-familiar man.
"Sir," Ambrose began in his snootiest tone. "I am sorry that I was not here to properly introduce you to the Queen."
The accompanying glare tipped Ahamo off that maybe he had erred in some way.
"No problem, man. I just wanted to take a moment and thank you both for the invite." Ahamo accompanied this statement with his most innocent country boy smile.
Now, one must remember that Ahamo, whose real name was a closely guarded secret, had been raised a Nebraska country boy. He was more used to football games, Friday nights cruising in his blue and yellow two-tone Chevy pickup (with extra loud muffler – God that was a sweet ride), and county fairs with buffet barbeque, rather than dinners more fit for the President.
He wasn't exactly a barbarian by good old American standards, but to the royal court of the Oz, he was Thundarr the Barbarian in the flesh. So, most people politely gawked at the interloper.
Ahamo thought about leaving, but the beautiful lavender eyes of the young Queen held him in place. She was prettier than Mary Alice Teeple when she was crowned Homecoming Queen and he was King.
So, Ahamo did what any red-blooded American man would do – channel John Wayne. He really should have channeled Robert Redford. It might have gone over better with the OZ people, but people make mistakes.
In his most swaggering step, reminiscent of the Duke in The Searchers, Ahamo stalked around the floor, tipping his imaginary hat to the various young ladies, and giving an impassive look to the men.
Soon, the crowd realized that there was something special about this young man. The men began to strut, trying to measure up to his borrowed personality, while the women began to coyly throw glances at his wheat-colored hair and blue eyes.
Ambrose was not one of the ones impressed by Ahamo's actions. However, it was the Queen's reactions that caused Ambrose the most concern. Instead of frowning at Ahamo for his boorish behavior, the Queen's normally placid purple eyes began to shoot sparks at the various women fawning over him. This did not bode well for diplomatic relations. Ambrose decided that the potential for disaster outweighed the nuances of correct etiquette. Dinner would be called for immediately.
The young Queen made her way over to Ahamo and placed one delicate gloved hand on his arm.
"It would please the Royal Court if you would escort the Queen to dinner," she stated. Ahamo was a little confused since she had referred to herself in the third person, but decided to go with the flow.
Not totally lacking in manners, Ahamo pulled out a chair for his escort and helped her to sit. She then gestured to her right for him to sit. Ambrose Maxamillan would sit on the Queen's left. Once they were seated, the rest of the party sat.
Ahamo shook his shoulder-length hair in consternation at the assembly of forks, spoons, knives, plates, and glasses that lay arrayed in front of him. He remembered old Ms. Fannin telling him in that creepy old lady voice.
"When you are in a new situation, young man, follow the example of someone else to know what to do." For a woman who basically hated him, she had pretty good advice. Of course, she probably hated him for the snakes in her desk, the skunk in the A/C unit, or the goat in her classroom. Ah, the good ole days.
So Ahamo, following Ms. Fannin's advice, watched the Queen surreptitiously out of his eye. So when the Queen placed a snow-white napkin in her lap, Ahamo did the same. When the Queen took a drink of the pale green liquid, Ahamo did the same, except that he started coughing as the liquid burned down his throat. This stuff was worse than Tommy Morgan's moonshine on Saturday night.
The Queen and her entourage turned a concerned and inquisitive eye toward him. She once again laid a hand on his arm.
"Are you all right?"
Gasping for air, Ahamo managed to force out, "No problem. Just went down my air pipe. Fine. Fine."
Certain that he was okay, Lavender Eyes resumed her royal countenance. Cringing in embarrassment, Ahamo again contemplated simply leaving. But then he remembered the feel of her hand on his arm. Something wouldn't just let him walk away.
The first course arrived. The Queen, not totally oblivious to the discomfort of her guest, commented loudly for everyone to hear. "Oh, how I adore Yew salad. It is such a delicacy. Thank you, Ambrose Maxamillan for having the cooks make it."
'Okay, this was going to be a salad.' Ahamo thought. 'I wonder if they have Ranch dressing here. Maybe Thousand Island? Oh god, what if it's blue cheese?" Ahamo gave an inward shudder of disgust at the thought of blue cheese on his salad.
Anticipating his leafy green iceberg lettuce salad, he was little taken aback by the purple and yellow flower that was laid before him. So, this is the centerpiece?, he wondered.
No. This was the salad. He watched in disbelief as the denizens of the OZ began to cut the flower apart piece by piece and stick it in their mouths. They really expected him to eat a flower. What was he? A cow?
Swallowing, Ahamo proceeded to cut the first purple petal and pierce the fragile flesh with his fork. Well, it wasn't as bad as Aunt Maud's Jello salad, but it wasn't something he wanted in his mouth ever again.
Ahamo struggled through the first course. He thought he had hidden his distaste fairly well. Only the laughing glance the Queen sent him gave him pause. Obviously, she understood and enjoyed his understated reactions to tonight's first course.
The Queen leaned over and murmured, "The second course is a soup. Muglug ala Yew. It is delicacy from Ambrose Maxamillan's home, the Isle of Yew. It is an honor to have it served tonight."
Okay, warning given and received. No matter what, he should act like this soup was better than Campbell's. Will do.
The table staff laid a steaming bowl in front of him. It smelled like Louisiana gumbo. He had it once on his senior trip to New Orleans. While anything with okra could be considered weird, it had tasted pretty good. Maybe things were looking up.
That perhaps was an unfortunate choice of words. Because just as Ahamo dipped his spoon into the Muglug, a brown, eye-stalked slug rolled up from the bottom of the bowl and onto his spoon.
Now, it might be better if everyone remembered the events differently, but alas, they didn't. Ahamo gave an involuntary shriek of horror (think Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween), and flung the spoon with said slug away from him as fast as possible. This, of course, startled the rather large woman who found herself wearing said slug as a head piece.
She, in turn, leapt up from the table. Or rather, she would have leapt up if she hadn't accidentally folded the tablecloth into her napkin so that when she did leap up, the whole tablecloth and accompanying dishes flew off into the laps of her fellow diners.
Needless to say, chaos ensued. Ambrose Maxamillan was found pinned beneath a grey-haired Countess who was beating him about the head, yelling "Damned Yew Spy!" The waitstaff were desperately trying to sooth the many shattered nerves of the OZ gentry. As for Ahamo, well, when the ruckus started, he did what any good old boy would do. He picked the Queen up in his arms and whisked her away to safety. And people think farm boys are dumb.
So, the Queen got to know this Nebraska farm boy very well. Enough that she decided that even if he wasn't royal and seemed to do everything wrong, only he would do as a husband and Royal Consort.
Ahamo's thoughts were interrupted by the clearing of a throat. He turned to view his wife and daughters waiting by the door.
"My dear," the Queen smiled. "I believe they are waiting for us. Are you ready?"
Ahamo smiled slightly and crooked his arm out to her. He leaned over and kissed each daughter on the cheek.
"Of course, my darling."
The Queen turned slightly to him as they walked. "What exactly were you thinking about?"
"Oh just one of the many celebrations we've had since I came to the OZ. Have I ever told you how glad I am that the traveling storm tossed me over?"
The Queen simply smiled and laid her head on his shoulder. He may be glad, but she was eternally grateful, for it had saved her a lifetime of boredom and loneliness.