Rat in Boots:
A London Fairy-tale
"Behave yourself," Scully admonished.
"I will, Mommy," William said.
"I meant your uncles," Scully said. Her smile was strained as she walked to the taxi that would take Doggett and her to the airport for their second honeymoon. The first one had been a harried occasion as William had still been in infancy. Scully wanted to believe that she could trust the three men. After all, what could go wrong if Walter was in charge?
"Where's the hurricane kid?" Walter asked, flinching as he looked for the toddler of terror.
"Alex is telling him a story," replied Mulder, sinking with a moan into the narrow space left on the couch. He wiggled under Walter's arm and sighed. "Scully says William takes after me. I couldn't have been that awful. The kid means well, but it's one disaster after another."
Walter's snort could have meant anything. Mulder chose not to deal with it.
Alex's voice carried into the room.
"Once upon the time there was a poor skinner who had three sons. Although he loved his youngest son the best, he knew he had to divide his estate the way that people expected. He left the tannery to his oldest son, a very bad man, named Kersh. To his second son, John, he left a nice ass, but to his youngest son he left a rat," Alex said.
"I don't think that's the way my mommy tells this story. She says rats are dirty," the little boy said.
"Moms are like that," Alex said. "This rat was a magical rat; he was very clean and he was a beautiful rat who was really a Russian prince under a spell. Now, the oldest son was very cruel and as soon as his father died, he put his youngest brother, Walter, out on the street. The second oldest son got his ass out of town and was never heard from again."
"Should I stop him?" whispered Mulder.
"No, a little humor won't hurt William," Walter said. ~~~~~~~
Alex continued, "Soon Walter grew tired of walking and sat down by the roadside with his rat on his shoulder. He was very sad and bemoaned his fate for having inherited nothing but a Russian rodent.
However, the rat said, "Fear not, master, Give me a cloak, a hat with a feather in it, a bag, and a pair of boots, and you will see what I can do."
"Walter was not at all surprised to hear the rat speak, because he went through the sixties and all. He just thought it was a flashback," Alex said.
"I'm going to spank him," Walter grumbled, but was too tired to fulfill his threat.
Alex continued, "The rat donned his finery which was all green velvet to match his lovely eyes and beautiful long eyelashes. Quickly, he caught a plump rabbit, dressed it, and presented it at the King's London castle."
"Compliment of my master, the Earl of Duke," the rat said, making a sweeping bow.
"Why, thank you, very much, my good man," said the King's major domo. "And here is a card to my orthodontist for that truly bad overbite that you have."
"The major domo was very honest and besides, he was planning on making a killing on his memoirs... not to mention having a thriving business selling souvenirs on E-Bay. Therefore, he told the King and his son who had sent them the delicious rabbit," Alex said.
"The King's son was a very handsome sort and very curious. Although courted by the richest men and women in the kingdom, he would not marry any of them. In fact, he spent a lot of time, watching bawdy minstrel shows and shooting arrows into the ceiling of the King's palace. His other hobby was trying to prove fairies were real, in the pursuit of which investigation, he had been abducted so many times that his father put a tax on the activity and was able to build London Bridge with the profits," Alex related.
"The Rat went back and found his master still despondent and getting a little road-worn."
"Be of good cheer," the rat said, "Trust me."
Walter might be the youngest son, but he was no fool. He was not sure if he should trust a rat, but after all, it was a fairy tale and he was a by-the-book character. So he tried a brave smile and said that he would."
The next day, the rat snared a line of toothsome partridges and plucked them clean. This time the King came out to receive the gift himself. His son looked out the casement window and mused, "That is a handsome rat. I wonder what would happen if I kissed it?"
But that was a different story so he didn't try."
William broke in at this point to say, "I think the King's son was all mixed up. Frogs become princes, not rats."
"Ah, but not in Russia. In Russia, rats become princes," Alex said.
"I didn't know that. I'll remember," William said brightly.
~~~~~ Walter asked, "Does the kid have your eidetic memory?"
"Yep," Mulder said, proudly.
"Shit," commented Walter, "Our ass is going to be grass."
"But it's a good story so we'll take our punishment like men," Mulder said.
Alex continued, "Every day, the rat brought all manner of good things to the King. Meanwhile, the rat had collected enough coins performing adorable tricks in the marketplace to keep his Master, Walter, in perfect comfort. Day after day, the King and his son became persuaded that the Earl of Duke was a great lord and a generous fine man. Of course, the rat sang his praises, pointing out that the Earl of Duke was handsome, strong, brave, and a great paper manager as well."
"Soon the King became determined to meet this paragon of virtue and announced that to the rat," Alex related. "This might have posed a problem to an ordinary fairy tale animal, but this was a Russian rat and he was an expert on problem solving."
The King's son was very impatient and clamored to meet the wonderful Earl of Duke.
When the rat told his master this, Walter was horrified," Alex said.
Alex mused, "Walter is great, but he always had a hard time, thinking outside the box."
~~~~~ "Definitely, the man is going to get spanked," Walter said.
"I don't have any problems thinking outside the box," replied Mulder.
"You can't even color inside the lines!" Walter chided.
"Shh, we'll miss the story," Mulder said.
"Don't worry," said the rat, "leave everything to me. Here, put on these designer threads and relax."
As the King's carriage drove along the road, the rat pushed his master into the Thames.
"Help, help, the Earl of Duke is drowning," the rat yelled loudly as Walter thrashed about in the water, not saying very nice things about his ratty.
Fortunately, as the rat knew, the king's son was a great swimmer besides looking fetching in a Speedo. The prince leapt in and dragged Walter out of the water, applying mouth to mouth with such enthusiasm that the rat's master was nearly smothered by his lips."
"Hey, that sounds like it needs re-enactment," Mulder said, pouncing.
Walter said nothing at all as his breath was quite taken away by the sudden attack.
As soon as the shivering, 'Earl of Duke' was pulled into the king's carriage, the rat ran ahead, warning all the peasants, junior agents, and lowly peons of other sorts to tell the king that the field and the offices in which they worked belonged to the Earl of Duke. The peasants lined up on the street corners to sing the praises of the Earl of Duke. However, being unseemly rabble, most of them got it wrong and sang, "Duke of Earl" instead. It was all right. The king knew what they meant and he rather liked the Mo Town beat.
The King insisted that they must go to the Earl's manor so he could change into rich clothing and be comfortable. Of course, Kings and Queens like to visit other people a great deal as they get presents all the time even when it's not their birthday. They also don't have to pay their bills so it's a great job if you can get it.
"Maybe, I'll be a King when I grow up," William said, "I like presents."
"We'll see what we can do," said Alex.
"Crap, something tells me we better make sure that Alex isn't planning any trips to England. He likes to spoil William," Mulder remarked.
Alex said, "It so happened that there was a vast manor not far from London. An elderly, but evil ogre, who smoked nasty cigarettes constantly, owned this. The rat had been spying on this creature and he meant to destroy the cruel old monster and set his Master Walter up in style at the same time."
"Donning elevator boots, and carefully disguised, the rat went to the ogre's manor and knocked on the door," Alex related.
"The ogre was very proud and liked to think he was in control of everything. He was proud of his magical ability to transform into other creatures, which the rat knew because, of course, he had his spies in the manor. Besides, the smoking ogre was the one that cursed him to become a rat.
The rat said, 'I have traveled far and wide, from Russia to Tunisia, and everywhere I have heard of your brilliance and talent. Is it true that you can become an eagle or an elephant?"
The ogre preened and said, "Of course, it is true. With a snap of my fingers."
"Ah, but can you become an inanimate thing," the rat asked.
"Certainly, if I wanted to, but why would I want to?" replied the ogre.
"I don't believe anyone can become a cheese," said the rat.
"I can," bragged the ogre. He snapped his fingers and he became a smelly Limburger cheese.
Promptly, the rat leapt upon the cheese and ate it as much as he could before slicing the rest up and giving it to the poor.
By this time, the Earl of Duke had arrived in the King's carriage. He was very surprised when his dear ratty threw open the gates, and said, "Welcome, home, Master, welcome, oh, King and Prince."
Alex stage-whispered, "The King had really wanted a dog, but his wife said they shed too much which was why his poor kid had to make do with a dog's name."
"I'll help you spank him," Mulder told Walter.
There was a long silence and the two men became curious. They crept into the next room and found William fast asleep.
Pouting, Mulder said, "Maybe I should wake him up. I want to hear the end."
"Shh, come on, I'll tell you the end," Alex said.
"The King and the Prince were very impressed by the manor and rich holdings of the skinner's son, Walter. Straight away, they proposed a union and nuptials were declared."
"Are you sure this was London? Sounds more like Holland," Mulder said.
"Who's telling this story?" Alex said. "Anyway, bans were read and a date was set. By this time, Walter's brother had come to a bad end, falling in his own tanning vat and ending up as several wallets. People noted that money never stayed in these purses and soon everyone said they were Kershed."
"What happened to the Rat?" Mulder asked.
"The Prince was a bit of a slut so he kissed the rat and, lo, a handsome Russian prince stood in the rodent's place. Walter cried bitterly when he could not find his ratty until the Prince confessed what happened. So they married the rat prince too because after all, the prince was the prince and he could make the laws anyway that he wanted."
"They lived happily ever after?" Mulder said.
"Except for the rat prince's habit of squeaking when they made love to him," wisecracked Walter.
"Hey," Alex said indignantly.
Walter grinned widely and said, "This story reminds me. I've often thought that some ancestor was clearly someone who worked with furs or hides. Perhaps, a tanner as you pointed out. A man should practice his ancestral arts once in a while."
"Not necessarily," Alex said, with a squeak. "Um, about that sixties crack..."
Mulder tripped Alex and upended him over his knees.
"Be very quiet," Walter admonished, "You don't want to wake William."
"I have just the thing," Mulder said, handing Walter a strap of leather with which to gag Alex and a longer one that Walter had been planning to tool into a belt.
"It's good to be a king," Walter said.
"You know if you married the prince and he became king, that would make you a..."
"Mulder, do you really want to go there?" Walter asked.
"Um, I was about to say, Royal Consort, not enough of those about these days," Mulder said, nervously.
Walter surveyed his playing field and gave a happy sigh before placing a red palm print in the middle of the white. He added a stripe of red from the strap and said, "I wonder if I can make a Union Jack on your ass, Alex?"
Spitting out the leather bit, Alex replied, "I hope your interest will flag before then, Walter."
He got five extra swats for that one.