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The Three Gifts

by Kat Beyer

Once upon a time, there was a sick king nobody could fix. His officials put a reward online: $1 million, a Ford F250 pickup, and dinner with his daughter.

A ways out of town lived three brothers, all probably handsome.

"We ought to try for this reward," said the eldest. "We can't afford Mom’s medicine."

That very day they climbed into their beat-up Pinto. It broke down just outside the royal city. They rested their feet at a diner, where the eldest brother spent his last dollar on a tip for the waitress, whose son was doing his homework at the next table.

When they got to the palace, the guard told them they would have to fill out forms 1040-SC, F-250, and of course the usual SSA-3369-BK, before they could come in.

"But the king may be dying," said the second brother. He kept on until she went for the Platoon Captain, who went for the Undersecretary for Paraguay, who went for the Quality Assurance Manager, and so on, ‘til a young woman came down.

"I'm the Chief Security Officer," she said. "What's up?"

"We've come to heal the king," said the second brother.

She looked at him hard, then said, "Follow me."

When they got to the royal bedchamber, she said, "Now what?"

The youngest brother spoke up. "We hadn't thought that far. But we did read a lot in the Pinto. We have some ideas."

"You've got gall," said the Chief.

"Doesn’t he?" Said the second brother.

The Chief walked up to the bed and put her hand on the king’s forehead. He opened one eye, then the other.

"You have healed the king," she said to them. "You see, he is the kingdom. And he was sick for lack of what you have.

... I was the waitress you gave your last dollar to," she told the eldest. "You bring compassion.

"... I was the guard whose forms you wouldn't fill out," she told the second brother. "You bring persistence.

"... and of course, I was the Chief Security Officer you told you were making this up," she told the youngest. "You bring guts.

"But I want to take you to dinner, Second Brother."

The second brother went out with her. The eldest dated the Undersecretary, and the youngest got the pickup. Their mom and the king got better, and all is well in the kingdom.

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