In that corner of the ethereal realm where reside the Frankish kings, it was breakfast time. The kitchenette was overcrowded, as usual. There was much jostling as the kings, who each had very different breakfast needs, struggled to find space to prepare and consume their morning repasts. I was going to say that their breakfast needs differed in a very real sense, but of course that could not be so in the ethereal realm.
Bacon sizzled as Charles the Simple deployed his considerable skillet skills, while Lothair the Second stood at his side smashing many, many eggs into a big bowl. Both skillet and bowl had been bought at Hubermannâ€™s, the department store which is a byword for utter gorgeousness, though the bowl was plain and functional. Lothair the Second was something of an egg fiend, or at least had been accused of being such by Pippin the Short. The latter king made do with a handful of raisins for his breakfast, for he had decided to follow the same diet which had worked such wonders for Charles the Fat. Charles the Fat was no longer fat, and there had been some talk that he might adopt a new name, such as Charles the Frankly Skeletal, but it was decided that this would wreak confusion in the various published histories of the Frankish kings. He and Pippin the Short were rummaging in the raisin box, which was usually kept on the shelf by the suck-and-blow air circulation piping system hub, but this morning had somehow found its way into the pulses and lentils crate, over by the window.
Also by the window was Odo, chomping on a cream cracker, as was his habit, and peering through the greasy glass at the fields outside. One might have thought that these fields were the Elysian ones, but alas it was not so. They were just common fields, overgrown with bracken and vetch and furze, fields in which the Frankish kings disported themselves on weekday afternoons, to get their recommended exercise. Far away across the fields stood the fabled and gorgeous Hubermannâ€™s department store, its frontage a glory of chrysanthemum-packed hanging baskets. Odo could not see it from where he was, of course, but his dreamy gaze prevented him from getting cantankerous at the antics of Louis the Pious and Louis the Fourth Transmarinus, who were fighting over the Scotch pancakes. On some mornings, Odo wanted to bang their heads together, even though he knew that the clang of their crowns colliding would wake Louis the Indolent, sprawled on the table taking a nap. While Charles the Fat had addressed his fatness, and now gave the lie to his name, Louis the Indolent had become even more of an idle good-for-nothing than he had been during his earthly Frankish reign. Every now and then, the more mischievous kings, such as Pippin the Short and Arnulf, would poke at him with pointed sticks.
Arnulfâ€™s solution to the crowdedness of the kitchenette was to nail a chair up high on the wall, and he was going to clamber up to it as soon as his porridge was boiled. This could take some time, as Arnulf believed in over-boiling his porridge for abstruse medical reasons he never condescended to articulate. It was because of him that the tiny kitchenette was fitted with no fewer than sixteen fire extinguishers. These too came from Hubermannâ€™s, which sent a maintenance serf to test them once a month.
Between the pulses and lentils crate and the iron spigot was a trolley stacked with packets of cereal. Louis the Stammerer was crouched by it trying to decide between Special K, Loopy Fruit â€˜nâ€™ Wheat Loops, or Cocopops. He always ate his cereals dry, without milk, for he was lactose-intolerant and something of a madcap. Charles the Simple saw him trying to make his mind up, and prompted him to choose the Cocopops, but only because he wanted to hear Louis the Stammerer trying to say â€œCocopopsâ€. Charles the Simple was cruel, but in a childish way. He had been banned from Hubermannâ€™s for playing stupid pranks at the revolving doors. When Louis the Stammerer ignored him and plumped for the Loopy Fruit â€˜nâ€™ Wheat Loops, Charles the Simple pushed his way annoyingly towards the frankly filthy worktop and began chopping up a piece of raw liver. He had not yet grasped the concept of breakfast.
And today, after breakfast, it was time for the weekly car maintenance class. None of the Frankish kings could drive, and of course there were no cars in their corner of the ethereal realm, but it was thought important that they kept busy. Even Louis the Indolent was persuaded to join them in the activity tent, though he soon dozed off when the instructor started yattering on about crankshafts.
Next week : Pippin the Short and Louis the Fourth Transmarinus get lost while hiking.