Sunday, July 31, 2022

Vive la Free Press


NOTE: This was a collaboration between me and Isabelle, written some years ago. She was no older than 12. Most of the plot is her genius, I contributed mostly prose, historical context, and clever French names.


Vive la Free Press

by Eugene and Elizabeth Fairfield

Daring Palace Robbery

PARIS FREE PRESS--A daring robbery took place late last night at the royal palace. The thief scaled the palace wall, despite pouring rain, and entered through a fourth-story window directly into the queen's bedchamber. The queen herself was sleeping after her usual nightly debauchery, and old Louis the Umpteenth had moved to the opposite end of the palace, saying, "She shakes the whole foundation when she snores."

Eluding palace guards, the thief made his or her way down to the kitchens and exited by the service door.

The thief passed up countless valuables, including the queen's carelessly heaped diamond necklaces, all purchased with the onerous taxes paid mostly by the working poor. The only items missing were from the royal pantry, including flour, german chocolate, evaporated milk, coconut, pecans, eggs, butter, and baking soda.

Publicly, palace spokesman Oral Le Bruyant denied the robbery had taken place, but posters are appearing around the city, describing the thief as "male, or else female, of indeterminate height and weight, with hair of an indistinct color, and wearing wet clothing." A reward of 50,000 livre is offered.

The thief, who prefers to remain anonymous, said only, "I was hungry," a phrase echoed by many in this oppressed country.

Hungry Thief Strikes Again

PARIS FREE PRESS--For the second day in a row, a robbery took place in the royal palace. The thief outsmarted palace staff by entering this time by the kitchen door. Flummoxed guards explained, "He was supposed to try to get out this way."

The thief opened the royal counting house, ignored several sacks of gold that had been plundered from the hard-working people of the country, and stole a quill pen. He or she then worked through the palace, lifting several 10-inch round cake pans, a knife sharpener, some musical instrument cleaning supplies, and a roll of twine, before exiting through the royal dog flap.

Palace spokesman Oral Le Bruyant just about had a coronary, saying "When will you idiots get it through your thick heads? There was no robbery!" Wanted posters continue to appear throughout town, increasing the reward to 100,000 livre.

The only evidence discovered was a travel brochure the thief had dropped, entitled, "Paris on £10 a Day." A high-placed official said, "Clearly, the thief is a foreigner, probably a kraut."

Said the thief, "I'm not a kraut, but the queen is."

Police suspect the thief is staying in one of the low-rent boarding houses mentioned in the brochure. Needlessly destructive raids are planned for later tonight.

Police Raids Thwarted By Mass Protest

PARIS FREE PRESS--Forewarned by clever journalists, the people turned out in huge numbers to defend their dwelling places. Police descended on the neighborhood, intent on "clobbering some of the unwashed," in the words of one unidentified officer. They were turned back by crowds approaching 200,000 strong.

Police Chief Brute Le Téméraire attempted to deny responsibility, saying, "We weren't raiding the neighborhood. We got a call that there was a riot in the area."

Organizers of the protest, who forgot to give their names, said, "Oh, that's likely."

Hungry Thief Can't Be Stopped!

PARIS FREE PRESS--cleverly disguised as the queen herself, the Hungry Thief slipped into the palace, and made off with some loose change and a bottle of vanilla extract.

"I suspected something was up," said a palace guard, now relieved of duty, "because the queen didn't have her usual lack of personal hygiene."

Said the thief, "There are limits to what I will do."

Palace Spokesman Oral Le Bruyant screamed incoherently, but careful listeners agree he was probably saying repeatedly, "There was no robbery!"

Police Chief Brute Le Téméraire sent a letter to Free Press offices, saying, in part, "If you insist on publishing slander and lies, we will shut you down. See if we don't."

Palace Crackdown on Free Expression

THE PEOPLE'S UNDERGROUND PRESS--Palace Police ruthlessly attacked the offices of the Paris Free Press, destroying property valued at under £200,000, and writing nasty words on the walls. Everyone present was arrested and dragged off to jail, where someone was heard to laugh wickedly and say, "You'll never see the light again!"

Police Chief Brute Le Téméraire said, "We didn't write those words. They were already there when we arrived."

Warned by watchful citizens, the Free Press staff had already fled the building, taking with them a small printer and many cases of type. The only one left in the building was the paper's mascot, Mittens.

Editors of the Free Press are continuing to publish from an undisclosed location.

Inauguration Party Tonight--Public Invited

PARIS FREE PRESS--Habile Le Faim will be inaugurated as our new president tonight, in a gala celebration certain to please.

"The people made this happen," said Le Faim. "So everyone is invited."

Outraged over many abuses under the old monarchy, in particular the crackdown on the Free Press, not to mention the mishandling of beloved Mittens, angry people stormed the palace last week and overwhelmed the guards. Mittens was unharmed but shaken by her harrowing ordeal.

Palace spokesman Oral Le Bruyant was heard saying, "But... but... but... this was all nonsense!" just before he was tossed out on his derrière.

The king and queen had no comment, due to the large number of socks stuffed in their mouths.

Organizers say the Inauguration will feature many wonderful foods, especially german chocolate cake, in honor of the departing queen.

In other news, the editor of the Free Press, who coincidentally is also named Habile Le Faim, has left the paper, saying he or she will "just be really busy with some new responsibilities I have to take on."

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