For All Nails #7: Uneasy Lies the Head
by Johnny Pez
His Royal Majesty Frederick William Augustus Hohenzollern, King of the Poles, was not a happy man. For eight years now, since succeeding his late father, Frederick had tried to do what was best for his adoptive people, but to no avail. Why couldn't the Poles be content with what they had? After all, they had their own legislature, their Sejm, to represent their interests. There were elections held every three years, and Frederick himself pored over the preselected lists of candidates to insure that only good men were chosen.
The Poles had the security of an alliance with the great German Empire, ruled over by his wise cousin William. The Poles were safeguarded from all harm by the atomic bombs carried by the Empire's fleet of long-range airmobiles, by the fleet of warships that sailed the world's oceans, and by the brave German soldiers who patrolled Poland's cities.
Although he himself had been born in Poland six years after his grandfather became King, and although he even spoke Polish himself, still the ungrateful Poles plotted against Frederick's rule, secretly publishing pamphlets that condemned him as a foreign tyrant, forming secret societies to foment revolution, agitating for an endless list of nonsensical demands.
Sometimes Frederick found himself becoming angry at his obstreperous subjects. Their actions were hindering the German Empire in its noble task of preserving order in Eurasia and countering the evil designs of the perfidious British and their allies in Japan and Taiwan. There were times when it seemed to Frederick that the German race was enmeshed in a web of enemies, and that there was nothing they could do to save themselves from eventual defeat and oblivion.
Frederick shook his head. He knew that if he let himself dwell upon these morbid thoughts the result would be days of lethargy and hopelessness. He needed to clear his mind. Picking up the telephone in his bedchamber, he dialed his majordomo. "Klaus? Have the Daimler readied for use. I wish to take a drive."
"Yes, Majesty, it will be done," said Klaus.
Frederick found his mood lightening already in anticipation. Leaving his bedchamber, he strode through the corridors of the Belvedere Palace to the rear courtyard where the locomobile would be waiting. Wolfgang, the driver, saluted as Frederick seated himself in the back, then closed the door and took up his post behind the wheel.
"Where to, Majesty?" asked Wolfgang.
"Bielsk Park, please."
"Yes, Majesty, it will be done," said Wolfgang. With a soft purr the topless Daimler pulled away from the courtyard and passed through the gate into the street beyond. There was, Frederick knew in the back of his mind, another locomobile following his containing members of the Palace Guard, but he had long since ceased to give them any conscious thought. As far as he was concerned, he was alone, and all the cares of his position had been left behind at the Palace.
It was a lovely summer day in Warsaw, and the morning sun shone down out of a cloudless blue sky. Frederick removed his sunshades from their case and put them on. As the locomobile made its way through the familiar city streets, Frederick found himself, not for the first time, pondering his destination's name. The park was named after a city to the east of Warsaw where the Poles had defeated a Russian army in 1881, during their short-lived Second Republic. Naturally the Germanic Confederation, as it then was, could not countenance such an inherently unstable polity on its eastern border, and the following year a combined Russo-German army had defeated the Poles and restored Russian rule to the region.
Mind you, he well understood why the Poles had acted as they had. The Russians had been going through one of their periodic "Russification" drives at the time, requiring that all official government business and all school instruction be conducted in Russian. The Poles were much better off today under his rule, though you would never get them to admit it.
There was a loud popping sound not too far away, for all the world like gunfire, and Frederick was rather surprised to see the top of his driver's head open up and begin disgorging its contents. He ducked down to avoid getting any of it on him, then was thrown forward as the locomobile came to an abrupt halt. He remained lying in a daze by the back seat while more gunfire sounded, and he must have lost his sunshades because the sun was shining directly in his eyes.
Two armed soldiers in the uniform of his Palace Guard leaped up onto the sides of the locomobile, and both kept their weapons trained outward while one looked down at him and said, "Your Majesty, are you all right?"
The bright sunlight was making his eyes tear up. "I'm fine," Frederick assured the soldier, "but I fear Wolfgang has lost his head." He began giggling, and found to his horror that he was unable to stop.
Forward to FAN #8: Oil Markets.
Forward to 12 September 1971: A Day at the Office.
Forward to Frederick of Poland: Ball and Chain.
Return to For All Nails.