A car pulled up along the curb. The door popped open, and a pair of purple glitter high heels flashed on the sidewalk beneath a long, purple coat. The fairy king woke up bleary-eyed and peered up at the flashy woman from the sidewalk.
Long brown hair tumbled around her shoulders, and even through the haze, he could make out the glitter on her cheeks and the gemstones in her ears.
His gaze narrowed because even in his lingering drunkenness, something was off.
“I am a king,” he managed. He was painfully aware that he no longer looked the king with his disguised and damaged clothes, his blue pants and jacket ruined from his crawling about. “I need a place to stay.”
The woman stared down at him, long and hard, and maybe, a little bemused. “I wouldn’t call you a king at the moment,” she said in a smoky voice. “But on other nights, sure, babe.”
She passed his and took her keys from her purse and set about unlocking the animal shelter door. As it squeaked open, she stepped into the doorway and looked back at him. “Well? Are you coming in?”
His pride searing his face and neck, the fairy king trembled and tried to get to his feet as she watched. Finally the woman huffed and dragged him to his feet and pulled him inside as he protested. He stumbled across the scratched tiles of the lobby, filled with animal pictures and cork boards full of adoption advertisements and events.
With a flick of her purple fingernail, the woman turned on a fluorescent light. The fairy king groaned and covered his eyes.
“I’ve got an extra cot in the back for overnight volunteers,” she said. “What’s your name?”
The fairy king’s first impulse was to give his title, which he remembered was useless here. “Rulash,” he said finally.
“Okay, Rulash. You can use the cot in the back.” She pointed down a hallway. “We’ll talk again in the morning. You pull any funny business with me or the animals, and I’ll just say that I was on the Olympic Shooting Team for the great U.S. of A. and I won every event I participated in. You got me?”
The fairy king—Rulash—stared at her, blank.
“The pretty ones are always idiots,” she said in a deep voice to herself. Then more loudly: “I’ll shoot you.”
Face still blank, he nodded and limped past the cages and kennels of cats and dogs. A terrier started barking at him, and the Fairy King Rulash hissed at it. The terrier stopped barking.
He collapsed on the cot, and he slept.
The woman in purple turned off the light and went upstairs.