The King’s Question

by Marc Friedlander




What time is it? the King asks aloud. The Court's Chief Adviser feels a jolt of panic shoot up his spine.

The King doesn’t really give 2 Royal Shits what the time is - he's just asking idle questions to pass the day, and already his thoughts have moved on to other, equally unimportant things.

The King’s Chief Adviser does not know the time and has never known the time. But the King asked a question. He tells the King that he will research the question and get back to him. The King shrugs his shoulders (neither expecting nor needing an answer anyway) and continues sitting on his throne, staring out the window, thinking idle thoughts.

The Chief Adviser calls a meeting with the Castle Manager and the Director of Serfs. None of them are able to provide an answer. They know what season it is, but the exact time is difficult. They don’t even grasp the concept. Nobody has a timepiece. It was either day or night. That was always good enough, but now the King wants to know the exact time.

One of the serfs overhears them and realizes he might have a way to get the question answered. He approaches the Director of Serfs and tells him he knows of a nearby town where they have a sundial, and if he goes to that town he can have a look at the sundial and maybe get the answer to the King’s question.

The Director of Serfs agrees, and the serf sets out on his journey.

After two and an half days, the traveling serf reaches the nearby town. He finds the sundial and looks at it but does not know how to read it. He asks around and locates the Sundial Manager. The Sundial Manager looks at the sundial, and tells the serf that the time, as close as he could read it, was about 1:15 in the afternoon. The serf thanks him and starts his journey back to his village. It takes him a little longer to return, and he gets back about 3 days later.

Once he returns, the serf finds the Director of Serfs and excitedly tells him that he has found the answer to the King's question, and the time is 1:15 in the afternoon. The Director of Serfs tells him, very good, well done, atta boy, and tells him to go back to his serfing.

The Director of Serfs tells the others that he has found the answer to the King's question, and he requests an audience with the King (planning to take all the credit and cut everyone else out). It takes 2 days for the audience to be granted.

King: What brings you to my court, Chief Adviser?

Chief Adviser: I have researched your question and I have found the answer that you seek, My Lord.

King: Come again?

CA: I have discerned the exact time. It is 1:15 in the afternoon.

King: What the f_ck are you talking about? Look out the window – it’s evening, just before sundown! Get OUT OF MY COURT AND STOP WASTING MY TIME, former Chief Adviser!

Dejected, the former Chief Adviser flogs the Castle Manager, who kicks the crap out of the Director of Serfs, who has the Serf beheaded.

The King continued sitting on his throne, staring idly out the window, wondering what idiot started the stupidity in the first place.