Once upon a time, Jack — a young man of humble birth whose ancestors had never quite saved up enough to warrant a family name worth remembering — found himself before the Constable. Sworn to uphold the law in this quaint seaside town, the Constable twisted the corner of his mustache as Jack stood before him, dressed in tattered sackcloth barely fit for a worn-out mare put to pasture, no less a man.
"Why the smile?" asked the Constable, perplexed by the grin that stretched across Jack's face, unrepentant and badly in need of a fresh shave. "After your most recent drunken outing, you stand trial for treason. Do you wish to hear the particulars of your crimes?"
"What I can't recall is often best left forgotten," Jack replied with a puckish lilt.
"Nevertheless, it's best spoken aloud and committed to record," said the Constable. "After having more than your fill of ale at every tavern along the King's street, you commandeered one of the Crown's prize stallions and rode up and down the peninsula, spreading tall tales of your adventures slaying giants, witches, and a dragon or two. The Lowcountry hasn't heard such dribble since those Grimm fellows set foot on the colonies."
"The Brothers Grimm balanced little Jack upon their knees many a night in their day," Jack replied. "Like many a child, their merriment nurtured my young mind."
"Well, while you may have inherited their gift for storytelling, you lack the education that kept those unhinged syphilitics from the gallows for such nonsense," the Constable remarked, his thoughts tethered by reason and the rule of law. "Fake tidings. Tis sad."
"So, if I am bound to hang, at least allow me to propose one final bargain for my life," Jack said. "Perchance I can offer up a plea that might keep me from the potter's ground for a bit longer?"
"As a man faced with the gravest of sentences, it is the prerogative of this court to allow the condemned a final plea. But please do keep it quick," said the Constable, leaning back in his high chair as he pretended to scan some distant horizon in disinterest.
"I can promise you, your honor, my plea shall be as nimble and as quick as my reputation warrants," said Jack. "My vow is that I can offer a tale so captivating that extinguishing the voice of its teller might do a disservice to the entire kingdom and therefore diminish the Crown."
"Well," said the Constable as he poured a thimble of wine, "The court shall hold its tongue as best it can to give your final words their air. But let me assure you that stories alone cannot save you."
"That is the best consideration one can ask in my position," Jack said as he launched into the tale on which his life depended. "Let me begin ..."
When first Charlestowne stood wild and untamed, the settlers feared wolves and bandits alike. Also, malaria — setting up a kingdom on the nearest swamp posed quite a risk for those not well-versed in the local mosquito-borne infectious diseases. But still they persisted.
While their coyote cousins were wise enough to spread out to the islands, the peninsula's biggest and baddest of wolves were soon hunted down or cast out by the Crown. This mass exodus and extermination was met with the applause of the fairer creatures in the burgeoning city. But with valuable tourism dollars on the line, more work would be needed before the scribes of far-off travel magazines would heap praise upon Charlestowne.
Turning their sights to the city's large troll population, the King's advisors decided that muscle would not be enough to remove these beasts from their roost underneath the bridge. Instead, the lords of the village launched an endless barrage of feasibility studies and traffic assessments aimed at the trolls' home. Three lanes? Four? Bikes? Cars? Perplexed and exhausted by the bureaucratic back-and-forth, the trolls fled to their rightful home on the message boards — damned to troll-splain how feminism was ruining the kingdom. Little did they know, but the princesses had been saving themselves for quite some time. It was, in fact, the trolls who spent most of their time sleeping and waiting on a kiss.
With the wolves and trolls out of the way, it became time to rid the city of the giants, dragons, and any other creatures deemed a little too mystical, creative, or odd. Removing the giants was easy — I mean, who can afford an apartment here fit for someone who's 30 feet tall? Certainly, not someone living on a giant's salary.
The dragons held out until the Wet Willy's and downtown fro-yo merchants closed up shop, as these were the fire-breathers' favorite purveyors of icy treats. Ultimately, the dragons moved up to Myrtle's Beach where they could easily blend in with the giant pyramids and other such nonsense. Most can now be found slumbering throughout putt-putt courses, obstructing the nearest hole with their powerful tails.
Finally, the city was free of much of the mystical charm that it had once held. What few holdouts remained would be dealt with in time.
A trio of entrepreneurial pigs set up shop in downtown Charlestowne — one offering a bounty of produce, one promising furniture fit for a showroom, and the other peddling hardware with which one could build a castle of his or her very own. Even without the threat of a wolf, they one by one met their own end.
The youngest pig, a grocer, fled his shop, certain that more could be made in a real estate deal than helping the townsfolk find a meal. While he had overcome his aversion to selling bacon and pork rinds in order to meet the needs of the community, he could not resist the appeal of severing ties with those who would feast on his porcine kind. While the king's best men were able to attract travelers from kingdoms the world over, they struggled to bring in another grocer to fill the little pig's hooves.
The second pig fell to rising rents, his furniture store falling to new developments. Rather than peddling wares to adorn the homes of the kingdom's citizenry, the second pig's shop space gave way to an again undefined replacement. All the furniture pieces imbued with life by a century-old curse ended up going into public relations.
With two pigs down and a host of enchanted footstools and candlesticks promoting the kingdom's newest restaurateurs, there was one little pig still resisting the winds of change.
The third pig, a craftsman in his own right, lost his hardware store seemingly overnight. While he had been the go-to for battening down storefronts for more than a fortnight, the end had been in sight for quite some time. Finding that business conditions were beyond their prime, the hardware store swine bided his time until he could climb out of his current deal and steal away into the night — leaving behind the downtown bind. The rhyme scheme would suggest this as a great time to bring up blight, humankind, and venetian blinds, but those are not too related to anything that's been outlined.
The three pigs, like many of their fairy tale creature kinfolk, set out for greener pastures and lower rents. In their place, the kingdom welcomed a few more hotels and the possibility of a new Dave & Buster's.
Enough," shouted the Constable, his patience sapped by Jack's narration. "Spreading tall tales are what got you into this mess in the first place. Surely, you didn't think such nonsense would be enough to save your hide."
"Well, I've been in tighter jams before," Jack said as he looked to the sea. "And sometimes all you need is a little distraction."
The Constable, his curiosity piqued by Jack's cryptic response and calm demeanor, suddenly felt a shallow stream of water tickling at his feet. Flooding in Charlestowne wasn't unheard of, but high tide had come and gone hours ago and the sky showed no signs of rain nearby. The Constable attempted to turn his attention back to Jack, who seemed suspiciously relaxed for a man awaiting his sentence, but the lawman soon found himself standing in water up to his knees.
For decades, the kingdom's leaders had ignored warnings that the sea would be coming to reclaim the peninsula. But the inevitable tide was not supposed to arrive within their lifetimes.
"Did you have a hand in this?" the Constable asked Jack, both men waist-deep in the salty brine. "Has all this endless prattling of giants and market-rate housing merely been an attempt to keep my attention away from this watery nuisance?"
"You said earlier that fairy tales wouldn't be enough to save me," Jack said. "The moral of the story is that sometimes fairy tales are all that you've got."
As the water's surface rose above the heads of our two characters, Jack felt a violent tug at his collar, lifting him from the sea. Wiping the saltwater from his eyes, Jack's vision focused on a mermaid sat astride a manatee. The maiden was flanked by her fellow denizens of the sea, all prepared to settle into their new home in Charlestowne.
Much like what had happened to the fairy creatures who had once called Charlestowne home, the kingdom's land-based residents found themselves forced out by changing conditions and an unfavorable tide.
Due to Jack's popularity with the more mystical side of the kingdom, he was spared the fate of Charlestowne's less-skilled swimmers. With his life once again saved by the machinations of fate and his way with words, Jack took his spot on the manatee behind the mermaid and the two lived happily ever after — for about two month, until she caught Jack "making soup" with the sexy she-crab across town.