A Dinner Reservation for a Narcissist

narcissismFrom: tuckermanroger@gmail.com
To: seattle@ilfo.com
Subject: Dinner Reservation at Il Fornaio

Dear General Manager,

I’m flying to Seattle on December 1st to celebrate my 40th birthday, and would like to make a reservation for 7 o’clock. However, I have a list of requests that I hope you can accommodate to make a memorable evening.

First, I do not want a corner table. I feel very alone and isolated when I sit in the corner. I would like a table in an open area, preferably in the center of the restaurant.

Second, I would like to have your finest server take my order.

I’m requesting your finest server because I’ve had many negative experiences of inadequate service in restaurants, and I can’t risk this happening on my 40th birthday. I recently went to a restaurant in Vancouver, BC, and the server forgot about me for 45 minutes! So incompetent!

Third, I would like to order a birthday cake with 40 candles and “Happy 40th Birthday You Very Sexy Man!” written on it. For the icing, any color is fine except pink or sarcoline. Please make sure the cake is large enough for all your staff to have at least one piece. I want everyone to remember me!

Fourth, when the cake is delivered to my table, I would like the servers to gather in a circle and sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. Tuckerman” to me, and then shout out loud: “You are amazing!” And for each server that sings, I will tip them a dollar in appreciation.

Fifth, and finally, after dessert, I would like to use a karaoke machine. I will have it delivered to your restaurant the day before. My girlfriend (who I hope soon to make my fiancé) will be travelling with me, and I want to surprise her by singing a few songs. She knows nothing of my plans for my 40th birthday. If she cries, I’m going to propose to her!

I know your patrons will love my performance. I used to be an Elvis impersonator in my home town of Falkland, BC, singing every weekend at Falkland Pub. The local ladies found me irresistible in my younger years, especially when I sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” They couldn’t help but fall in love with me! Needless to say, I never went home alone.

If you can accommodate these requests, please confirm my reservation at your earliest convenience. However, if you are unable to, can you recommend another restaurant for me?

Sincerely yours,

Roger Tuckerman

Image Credit: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/narcissism

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The Pig Who Loved Mud Wrestling: A Short Story

muddy-pigLong ago, in a land far away, a young boar named Bart went to a Swine Party. In villages and towns, a Swine Party—usually held in a large barn—is where young single pigs went to meet.

As soon as Bart walked through the front door of the barn, one sow standing alone in the corner caught his eye. She had pink ears, a pink snout, a perky pink tail, and she was wearing a pretty pink dress. Her name was Wilma.

His heart racing, Bart walked up to her and asked, “Will you dance with me? You’re the prettiest pig I’ve ever seen!”

Wilma blushed and said, “Sure I will!”

Then Bart, offering Wilma his forearm, walked her to the dance floor.

In the center of the barn, a three-boar band was playing hillbilly music with a banjo, fiddle, and drums. The dance floor encircled the band, and dozens of sows and boars were stomping and swinging to the beat.

After dancing for seven straight songs, Bart and Wilma were sweating from head to hoof.

“I need to take a break,” Bart said, out of breath.

“Okay,” Wilma laughed. “You sit down, but I’m just getting started!”

Bart sat on a bench beside several other boars, and watched Wilma dance, shaking her body and stomping her hooves on the dance floor.

After that night, nature took its course, and six months later, Bart and Wilma got married.

For their honeymoon, Bart took Wilma to a resort with hot springs and mud baths. On their first night, when they were sitting up to their necks in mud, Wilma said, “Ever since I was a little pig, I’ve wanted to be a mother.”

Bart smiled and said slyly, “Ever since I met you, I’ve wanted to make some little piggies!” And then he grabbed Wilma and carried her out of the mud bath.

Following their honeymoon, Wilma and Bart bought a barn just outside their village. It was a small barn with four bedrooms and a loft, but big enough for them to start a family.

Bart had a job in a corn mill, grinding corn with his feet ten hours a day. Wilma stayed at home, made the meals, and planted a garden; and three months after they were married, she gave birth to twelve healthy piglets.

Bart and Wilma were a happy family. Bart worked hard and was promoted to boss-hog. Five years went by, and their piglets became full-grown. And then, as all young pigs must eventually do, they moved out, got married, and lived in their own barns.

The day after the last pig left, Wilma was sitting with Bart at the kitchen table, when she said sadly, “Our barn feels so empty without our little piglets.”

“I know,” Bart sighed. “What’s life all about? What’s the meaning?”

Wilma thought for a moment and said, “We’ll both grow old together, go for long walks, and enjoy each other’s company.”

“Yes,” Bart said, forcing a smile. “Until death do a pig part.” But in his heart, that didn’t sound very exciting.

One Friday after work, Bart was trudging home, when Fred, a boar he worked with, caught up with him. Fred was middle-aged and divorced.

“Hey, Bart! You want to go to mud wrestling tonight?”

Bart shook his head. “I don’t think Wilma would approve.”

“She doesn’t need to know. Just make up an excuse.”

Bart thought it over and grinned. “What the heck? Every boar deserves to have a little fun now and again.”

Fred slapped Bart on the back. “You got that right! You won’t be the same pig after tonight.”

Bart went home, and after supper, he told Wilma: “I’m going to play cards tonight with Fred and some of the boars from work.”

“Okay,” Wilma said. “But please be home by eleven. You know I get worried if you’re out too late.”

“I’ll be home on time,” Bart promised, and then he and Wilma rubbed their snouts together.

After dinner, Bart met up with Fred at a place called The Mud Pie. It was a sand pit with a large pool of mud in the center and stadium seating on one side. A hundred other boars were there, and most of them were drinking swill. Fred bought tickets for the front row, and he and Bart bought a bottle of hogwash.

Not long after Fred and Bart sat down, a massive boar, holding a hammer, struck a bronze gong beside the pool of mud, and the first match began. Two young sows came out of separate tents in the corner of the pit. They were both very beautiful, had shaved bodies, and weren’t wearing any clothes.

Fred said excitedly, “Look at the ham on the short one! Oh, yeah!”

“I like the tall one better,” Bart blurted. Then he counted. “She’s got twenty teats!”

The two sows walked around the pool of mud, taunting each other with angry stares, and when they wiggled their rumps, all the boars roared.

The two young sows pushed, slapped, and tried to trip each other until they both fell down and rolled around in the mud. Each sow scored a point when they pinned their opponent. The match lasted for a half an hour, and Bart enjoyed every minute of it. He felt like a young boar again, grunting and squealing at the top of his lungs.

After that, there were three more matches. When the wrestling was over, Bart thanked Fred for inviting him and hurried home to Wilma.

He found her sitting on the bench in the living room, pigging out on a bowl of buttered corn. “Did you have a good time with your boar friends?” she asked.

“I sure did!” Bart said, his face beaming.

Then he grabbed Wilma, and he tried to pick her up, but she was too heavy. So he offered her his forearm, walked her into the bedroom, and they made wild pig love.

The weeks went by, and every Friday, Bart went with Fred to mud wrestling. One night, after he got home, he said to Wilma, “I think we should start exercising.”

She frowned. “Why? Do you think I’m fat?”

Wilma and Bart’s jowls had tripled in size since they first met. They were both fat pigs.

“Not at all,” Bart said. “But we’re getting older. If we don’t exercise, we might get — heart disease.”

Wilma exploded in anger. “I work hard in the garden, walk to the market every day, and you think I’m a fat, lazy pig! I hate you!”

Bart tried to stay calm. “That’s not what I said, Wilma.”

“That’s what you’re thinking.” Then Wilma started crying, ran to the bedroom, and locked the door.

No matter what Bart said, Wilma wouldn’t change her mind. She didn’t want to exercise, and she was hurt and angry every time Bart suggested it.

So Bart exercised on his own. He lost a lot of weight, lifted sacks of corn, and became really buff.

The weeks went by, and Bart continued to go to mud wrestling with Fred. One Friday, after the final match, he was about to go home when Sally Strong—the number-one wrestler—sashayed up to him. She wore a beautiful red dress, and reminded Bart of Wilma when she was younger.

“Hi there,” Sally said. “I see you here every week.”

“I come to see you!” Bart said with a big grin. “You’re an amazing wrestler.”

“You should be a wrestler. You’ve got the muscles for it.”

“Yeah, I’ve thought about it,” Bart said offhandedly, “but I’m happy doing what I’m doing.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a boss-hog at the corn mill.”

“I like a boar who can command other boars,” Sally said, fluttering her eyes.

“I am a powerful pig!” Bart boasted. “Look at these.” And then he flexed his chest muscles.

Sally giggled. “Ooh! My tail is wiggling!”

Bart and Sally talked for a while, and then she asked, “Do you want to get a glass of swill?”

“Sure I do!” Bart said.

They walked to the Wild Boar Inn, sat at the bar, and drank several glasses of swill. Then, at one in the morning, Bart realized how late it was.

“Whoa, I gotta go!”

“Oh,” Sally said, disappointed. “Will I see you again?”

“Maybe. Probably. I’m not sure.” And then Bart put money on the table and ran home.

When he unlocked the barn door, Wilma was sitting at the kitchen table, wrapped in a blanket. “Where were you?!” she asked angrily.

“I—uh… Fred and I had a few glasses of swill at the Wild Boar.”

“Is that the truth?”

“Yes, what did you think I was doing?”

Wilma frowned. “You can sleep in the loft tonight.”

“If that’s what you want.”

“It’s what you deserve—for being so inconsiderate.”

Then Wilma trotted to the bedroom and locked the door.

The next morning, Bart and Wilma didn’t eat breakfast together, and when he came home after work, they barely talked to each other.

That night, Bart decided he would sleep again in the loft.

“I think I’ll sleep better tonight if I have my own bed,” he explained to Wilma. “I’m getting older, and I toss and turn when I sleep.”

Wilma sighed. “Sleep wherever you want.”

For the next week, Bart continued to sleep in the loft. Then on Friday, after the first wrestling match at The Mud Pie, he said to Fred: “I’ve got to be honest with Wilma.”

“Are you crazy? She’ll kick you out of the barn. That’s what my wife did.”

Bart shook his head. “I’m not going to tell her about mud wrestling.”

“What are you going to tell her?”

Bart didn’t answer Fred. He got up and left, and as soon as he got home, he went into Wilma’s bedroom. She was sitting on the bed in her pink pajamas, reading a book.

“You’re home early,” she said.

“Wilma, I’ve decided something.”

“Oh? What?” Wilma asked, a nervous expression on her face.

“I want to live on my own.”

“What?!” Wilma said, her face stricken. “Why?”

“We’ve grown apart. I don’t love you anymore.”

“You’re seeing another sow!” Wilma yelled. “Who is she?”

“I’m not seeing anyone,” Bart said, and then he left the room and packed his things in a sack.

Before Bart left, he went back to Wilma’s bedroom and said, “I’ll send you some money—until you can make it on your own.”

“I don’t need anything from you!” Wilma said with contempt, but after Bart was gone, she broke down and cried.

The next day, Bart rented a small barn; he started seeing Sally, and he soon discovered that she was totally different than Wilma.

Bart and Wilma often went for walks in the woods, but Sally liked to run through the fields and wrestle with him, and he got a sore back.

On weekends, Bart and Wilma went to sleep before midnight, but Sally liked to party until sunrise, and Bart felt exhausted when he went to work.

When Bart got home from work, Wilma always had a hot supper waiting for him—corn, potatoes, or onions—but Sally didn’t know how to cook, so they went to a cook-house to eat.

Although Sally earned a lot of money as a wrestler, she wasn’t a smart shopper like Wilma, and didn’t save anything. She often asked Bart if he could buy her new clothes.

The weeks went by, and Bart woke up one morning and realized how much he missed Wilma. So that same day after work, he went to see her and knocked on her door.

Wilma opened the door and said calmly, “Hello, Bart.”

“Hi, Wilma,” Bart replied, and then he just stood there, not knowing what to say.

“Is there something you want?” Wilma finally asked.

“Wilma, I made a mistake.” Bart said sadly. “I love you, and I’d like to come back. Will you forgive me?”

“It’s too late for that,” Wilma sighed.

An old boar with white hair came to the door and put his arm around Wilma.

“Bart,” Wilma said. “This is William.”

Bart was shocked. “You have a boar-friend?”

“Yes,” Wilma said with a smile. “We met a month ago.”

“At a Senior’s Swine Party,” William said.

“But he’s old,” Bart said, wide-eyed.

“Yes; and I’m fat,” Wilma said.

“She makes me feel young again,” William said with a big grin. “She’s full of energy and spunk.”

Bart couldn’t argue with that.

So Bart left, went back to his barn, and he asked Sally to move in with him. Day after day, he tried to change her, but she was who she was.

And six months later, Wilma married William, an old boar who loved her just as she was.

Image Credit: https://www.livescience.com/13953-pigs-evolved-mud-wallowing.html

The Troll Who Went To War: A Fable

Theodor_Kittelsen_-_Skogtroll,_1906_(Forest_Troll)Long ago, a troll lived in a cave on a mountain. He had a head shaped like a pumpkin, a nose like a banana, skin as hard as a rock, and he was ten feet tall. His name was Thug, and he loved one thing more than anything else: He loved trees.

After the sun went down, Thug came out of his cave and talked to the trees. He ate the acorns on the oak trees and said, “You make me feel smart.”

He touched the soft bark of the birch trees and said, “You make me feel gentle,” and he smelled the needles of the pine trees and said, “You make me feel calm.”

Thug didn’t have a friend in the world, but he treated the trees on his mountain like friends.

If a tree had any dead branches, he pruned it by biting the branches off with his teeth. If a tree looked unhealthy, he peed on it to give it nutrients to grow. And if he felt lonely, he hugged a tree and didn’t let go until sunrise, when he went back to his cave to sleep.

Many miles from Thug’s mountain, there was a kingdom ruled by a man named Greybeard. The king had long grey hair, a long grey beard, and he wore a grey robe and a silver crown. When he needed to think, he sat on his throne and pulled on his beard.

King Greybeard felt sad because his people were poor. His land was barren, and the people barely grew enough crops to survive. But one day, he was sitting on his throne when he had an idea.

He summoned Simon, his Right Hand who carried out his orders and gave him counsel. Simon was a bald man, 20 years younger than the king.

King Greybeard ordered him: “Send men to Troll Mountain, and cut down the trees. Pay the men well, so they can provide for their families. We will trade the wood with other kingdoms, and increase our store of gold. I will make my kingdom prosperous again.”

But Simon reminded him: “Many men have gone to cut down the trees, but none have returned. It is said a troll lives on the mountain, and he eats men.”

King Greybeard scoffed. “The troll is a myth. Do as I have commanded.”

And so, Simon sent 50 men to Troll Mountain. After they arrived, they worked until sunset, cutting down many tall trees: oak, birch, and pine.

When Thug woke up, he came down the mountain, and to his horror, dozens of his trees had been chopped down.

He fell to his knees and wept. Then he said, “Men kill my trees. I will make them pay for what they have done.”

Thug returned to his cave and picked up his hammer. His hammer was huge—twice the size of his head. He waited until midnight; then he came down the mountain and smashed all the logger’s tents while they were sleeping. However, one logger managed to escape.

The following morning, the logger appeared before King Greybeard, and told him what the troll had done. The king was greatly dismayed.

Soon after, the families of the dead loggers gathered outside the castle, and demanded that the king kill the troll.

King Greybeard summoned Simon to his throne room and asked him: “What should I do?”

“You must destroy the troll,” Simon urged him.

King Greybeard frowned. “I do not want war. If we attack him, many more men will die.”

Simon waited, and then he said, “If you do not attack the troll, he will surely attack us. It is better that we fight him on the mountain before he comes here.”

King Greybeard thought it over, and pulled on his long grey beard. Finally, he said, “No, we provoked him by cutting down his trees. He killed the loggers to deter us from coming back. If we leave him be, he will leave us alone.”

A year went by, and the troll did not attack as Simon predicted. However, there was a drought, and the people became even more destitute.

Every day, hundreds gathered outside the castle and demanded bread to eat.

King Greybeard summoned Simon to his throne room and asked him: “What should I do?”

Simon hesitated, and then he suggested, “Buy the people bread. You have plenty of gold.”

“No,” King Greybeard said, clenching his fist. “If I give them bread, they will become dependent on it. The people must create their own wealth. I only spend my gold for the defense of the kingdom, and to build roads and bridges.”

Simon thought for a moment, and then he said, “Troll Mountain has the best trees in the land. “They are by right your trees, for you are a king and can take whatever you want. Put men to work cutting down the trees, but also send your army to protect them. The troll will not attack an entire army.”

King Greybeard nodded his head and smiled. “It is a good plan. Carry it out.”

And so, Simon sent 50 more loggers to cut down the trees on Troll Mountain, and he also sent the king’s army of 100 men to protect them.

When Thug woke up, he came down the mountain, and to his horror, he saw that many more of his trees had been axed.

He fell to his knees and pounded his fists on the ground. Then chomped his teeth, and said, “Men have no respect for my trees. I will make them pay, so they will never cut down my trees again.”

Thug returned to his cave and got his battle axe. It was massive, twice as big as his torso, and sharper than any sword. He waited until midnight; then he attacked the king’s army. The soldiers fired arrows, but the troll’s rock-like skin was too hard, and the arrows fell to the ground. Thug killed every man with his axe, chopping off their heads, or cutting them in two.

As the loggers came out of their tents, Thug stomped on them and strangled them, but half of them escaped.

The next morning, when word reached King Greybeard that half of the loggers and all the men in his army were dead, he was filled with great sorrow.

Soon after, the families of the dead gathered outside the castle and demanded that the king kill the troll.

King Greybeard summoned Simon to his throne room and asked him: “What should I do?”

“You must raise another army,” Simon urged him. “And you must destroy the troll.”

King Greybeard thought for a long while, and tugged on his long grey beard. Finally, he said, “Raise an army. But do not attack the troll. He slaughtered our army to deter us from cutting down his trees. If we leave him be, he will leave us alone.”

But Simon shook his head. “If you do nothing, the troll will see it as weakness. You must kill him before he attacks us. You must protect your people.”

“These are my orders,” King Greybeard said firmly. “Follow them.”

Simon did as the king commanded. He raised a new army to defend the kingdom, but he didn’t attack the troll.

Another year went by, and there was another drought. The people became even more hopeless. Hundreds gathered outside the castle and demanded bread. They demanded justice for the dead loggers and soldiers. Finally, they demanded that if the king could not give them what they wanted, he should abdicate the throne.

King Greybeard summoned Simon to his throne room and asked him: “What should I do?”

Simon scratched his head, and then he said, “If you do nothing, you will lose your throne. Therefore, you must send your army to destroy the troll. When the troll is dead, you can cut down the trees. Your people will no longer be poor.”

King Greybeard sighed, and then he frowned. “Many men will die, but I see no other choice. Send the army.”

Simon sent the army to Troll Mountain, but Thug was ready for them. After the sun went down, he ran down the mountain with his battle axe in one hand, and his hammer in the other, and he smashed half of the soldiers with his hammer, and the rest he beheaded with his axe.

After slaughtering the entire army, Thug went to the king’s castle and stood outside the defensive wall.

“I demand your king come out!” he thundered.

King Greybeard and Simon came to the balcony and saw the troll standing beyond the wall.

Thug raised his hammer and yelled, “I am Thug! You cut down many of my trees, but you will not cut down any more!”

Thug struck the wall many times until he made a hole in it. And then he stepped through the hole, walked to the castle, and stood below the balcony.

King Greybeard was trembling. He put his hands together and pleaded, “Great and mighty Thug! Have mercy on my people. It was I who ordered men to cut down your trees. Do not punish them because of me.”

Thug said sadly, “You killed many of my friends.”

“Friends? We killed no one.”

“The trees are my friends. You destroyed them!”

King Greybeard vowed, “I promise you, I will never send any men to your mountain again.”

Thug stared at the king, and scratched his head. And then he said, “I will make sure of that.”

Thug smashed his hammer against the castle, cracking the foundation, and then he smashed it again and again.

King Greybeard said to Simon: “Evacuate the castle.”

Simon left and did as the king commanded. Then Greybeard tried to reason with the troll.

“Great and mighty Thug,” he pleaded. “Do what you will to my castle. Do what you will with me, but do not harm my people.”

“Never again!” Thug yelled. “You will never attack my trees again!”

The troll went on smashing and cracking the castle until the foundation was destroyed, and when the balcony fell, King Greybeard was buried in the rubble.

Victorious, Thug raised his hammer in the air and roared. Then he turned and trudged back to his mountain.

After the troll was gone, the people gathered outside the ruined castle, and mourned for King Greybeard. He had saved their lives by sacrificing himself.

The king, who had no sons or daughters, had named Simon his heir, and he was crowned king.

With Greybeard’s store of gold, he bought the people bread. And because he was generous, the people loved him.

He also raised a new army to defend the city. But he didn’t send any soldiers to attack the troll. And he didn’t send any loggers to cut down the trees. He knew what would happen if he did.

The troll would destroy them all. And because of that, there was no more war.

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=225211

The Culture of a Vampire: A Fairy Tale

english castleWhen Princess Margaret was a young girl, her mother taught her: “Always respect and honour other cultures. If you do this, you will be a Queen who is loved around the world.”

Margaret followed her mother’s teaching, and whenever she travelled to other lands, or received visitors at her castle, she tried new types of food, wore new styles of clothing, and learned about other traditions, values, and beliefs.

As Margaret grew older, she wanted one thing more than anything else: to marry a Prince from another land whose culture was different than her own.

When Margaret became a young woman, a Prince from a kingdom across the sea came to visit her castle. He was tall and thin with pale skin, and Margaret was mesmerized by him. She did not know that the Prince, whose name was Renaldo, was a vampire.

The Prince visited her each evening, and they talked until late into the night. Rumours spread throughout the castle that the Princess was in love.

On his third visit, Renaldo brought Margaret a bouquet of black roses.

“Thank you, Renaldo,” Margaret said. “But no one has died.”

“Where I come from,” Renaldo explained, “black roses signify a new beginning.”

“Oh,” Margaret replied. “How fascinating!”

The Queen had her doubts about Renaldo. “He seems kind of odd, and sickly looking,” she told Margaret. “Are you sure he is the right man for you?”

“As soon as I saw him, Mother, I fell in love. If he proposes to me, I want to marry him.”

“If you love him,” the Queen said, “then you have my blessing. Love is all that matters.”

The next day, Margaret’s wish came true. Renaldo asked her: “Will you marry me, Margaret?”

“Yes!” Margaret cried, and she hugged and kissed him, and ran her fingers through his long black hair.

“You make me happier than any man alive!” Renaldo said, and a drop of blood fell from his right eye, which he quickly wiped away.

“We’ll have the largest wedding ever,” Margaret said. And she began to twirl and dance about the room.

“Whatever you wish,” Renaldo said. “But I do ask that you honour one of my cultural traditions.”

“What is it?” Margaret asked eagerly.

“The wedding ceremony must be held after the sun goes down.”

“Okay,” Margaret said. “Are there any other traditions you want to observe?”

“No,” Renaldo replied. “Everything else can be according to your desire.”

Margaret planned the wedding. She invited hundreds of guests, and a month later, the ceremony was held in a church. Margaret wore a white wedding dress, and Renaldo wore a black suit with a dark red carnation.

After the ceremony, there was a feast in a great hall.

When Margaret and Renaldo sat down at the head table, they were each brought a plate of food: Roast beef, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and gravy.

“Where I come from,” Renaldo said, “the bride and groom do not eat on the night they are married. Their love for each other sustains them.”

Margaret frowned. “I don’t think I can follow that tradition. I’m starving.”

“Don’t deny yourself on my account,” Renaldo said. “It’s part of my culture, not yours.”

Margaret ate two full plates of food, and after everyone was fed, a band of musicians entered the hall. The bride and groom danced, and the wedding party went on until midnight.

When the clock struck twelve, Renaldo and Margaret said farewell to the remaining guests.

As Margaret hugged her mother goodbye, she started to cry. “I will miss you, Mother.”

“The next time I see you,” the Queen said, with tears streaming down her face, “I hope you will have a new life within you.”

After wiping away her tears, the Queen turned to Renaldo and said, “Take good care of my daughter.”

“I will make her happy forever,” Renaldo promised.

Renaldo picked up Margaret and carried her to his coach. When they were both inside, the driver closed the door, and they drove all night until they reached a port where Renaldo’s ship was docked.

Renaldo and Margaret boarded the ship, and the ship set sail.

“My dear,” Renaldo said. “Among my people, it is tradition that the bride and groom separate for one week after the wedding ceremony.”

“What? No,” Margaret said sadly. “Where I come from, the bride and groom make love on their wedding night. Sometimes even twice!”

“We will make love as soon as we arrive at my castle,” Renaldo promised.

Renaldo escorted Margaret to her room on the ship, and then he kissed her. “If you need anything, just call for the Captain.”

“Okay,” Margaret sighed.

A week later, the ship reached its destination. The ship landed at night, and Renaldo and Margaret took a coach to Renaldo’s castle. Renaldo carried his bride through the castle doors, and then up the stairs to his bedroom.

But when Renaldo opened the bedroom door, Margaret could not believe her eyes. In place of a bed, there was a coffin.

“Where are we going to sleep?” Margaret asked.

“Among my people,” Renaldo explained, “it is tradition that the bride and groom sleep in a coffin. Today is the beginning of our new life together, and by sleeping in a coffin, we are reminded of our mortality.”

“Okay,” Margaret said. “But that’s really weird.”

Margaret took off her wedding dress. Renaldo took off his suit, and they snuggled together in the coffin.

“My dear,” Renaldo whispered, “would you mind if I nibbled your neck?”

“Nibble away!” Margaret said excitedly. “Where I come from, a girl loves to get a hickey.”

Renaldo gently bit Margaret’s neck, and she cried with delight. Then he bit deeper and he struck a vein.

“Renaldo!” Margaret yelled. “That hurts!” Then she touched her neck. “Oh, my God! I’m bleeding.”

“Do not be alarmed,” Renaldo said. “Among my people, it is tradition that the bride and groom taste each other’s blood before they make love.”

“What?!” Margaret yelled. “That’s sick!”

Renaldo bit again into Margaret’s neck and sucked more of her blood.

“Stop it!” Margaret cried.

But Renaldo did not stop. He bit deeper into her neck and sucked more and more of her blood.

Margaret struck Renaldo with her fists, but his bite was so strong, she could not break free.

When Renaldo had his fill of Margaret’s blood, he said, “Now, Margaret, you must taste of my blood, and we will both become one.”

Renaldo opened his mouth, and Margaret stared at his fangs and screamed. “Are you going to kill me?”

“No,” Renaldo said. “I love you. I’m a vampire, and you will be my vampire bride.”

Renaldo bit into his wrist and said, “Now drink my blood, and we will be one.”

Margaret felt so weak from the loss of her blood, she knew she could not resist him. “I will honour your tradition,” she promised. “I will become a vampire like you.”

“Nothing would make me happier,” Renaldo said with a smile, his teeth dripping with blood.

“But first, it is a tradition with my people,” Margaret explained, “that the bride gives the groom a lock of her hair before they become one.”

“I will get a knife,” Renaldo said, and he left the room. A few minutes later, he came back with a knife. Margaret cut a lock of her long red hair and gave it to Renaldo.

“When I was a little girl,” Margaret said, “my mother taught me to honour and respect all cultural practices.”

“Your mother is a wise woman.”

“No,” Margaret sighed. “My mother was wrong.”

Then Margaret drove the knife into Renaldo’s heart.

“Your culture is evil!” she yelled. “You’re a monster, Renaldo!”

Margaret twisted the knife, drove it deeper into his chest, and the vampire fell dead on the floor. Then, all of a sudden, his body decayed and became ashes and dust.

Soon after, a servant came and carried Margaret out of the room. He laid her in a bed and bandaged the wound on her neck.

“Thank you for destroying him,” the servant said, and he explained to Margaret how Renaldo had sucked the blood of all his servants, and many had died.

When Margaret recovered from her loss of blood, she was crowned Queen of the castle. She ruled her kingdom with justice and mercy and was loved by all the people.

Image Credit: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/conisbrough-castle/