Flash Fiction Story 065: Better Late Than Never

As English legend had long foretold, King Arthur of Camelot returned from what some might have called death in the year of our Lord, two thousand and nineteen. He immediately proceeded to announce his campaign for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in two thousand and twenty.

Republicans—including that one particular member of the party—were delighted by the unlikely development. They had once made great hay out of other men’s true citizenship, and if there is one thing Republicans love more than anything else, it’s never having to come up with new ideas. It’s fair to say the Democrats have never been exceptionally stellar at coming up with new ideas, but lay off of them, if you would, they have a centuries-old British King of legend running to be the head of their party. They are trying.

The joyous/indignant caterwauling of the GOP did not serve them well for long. The Supreme Court took up the issue in their landmark case Pendragon v. Democratic Party of Iowa. Citing the particular syntax of Article II, the majority of the court indicated that His Royal Highness could be termed a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the constitution, as particular rules about what constituted a citizen—even if they were considered legendary/dead—were not specific at the birth of the republic. King Arthur could therefore run, and run he would. 

The party of Lincoln—for once echoing the dismay of their arch enemies—immediately decried that the return on their investment in a High Court that bowed to their every whim was anemic, at best.

Unfortunately, being allowed to run for the office was not the end, but the beginning of the King’s problems. If one were to describe the King’s platform, he would most assuredly be a single-issue candidate. He was not concerned with the snake eating its own tail that had become Russiagate. He was not interested in climate change. His website—kingarthurforamerica.com—had not one mention of prison reform or the scourge of economic inequality.

He made one promise, and one promise only: to find the Holy Grail.

This posed any number of political problems for Arthur’s effort. No one—least of all the candidate himself—exactly knew what that meant. Was it a metaphor for some sense of idealism that had been lost in the American consciousness? Or was it literally the cup that had so thoroughly dominated Arthur’s activities in centuries past? Arthur never specified. It didn’t seem to matter, either. Arthur received a level of free media on the topic that hadn’t been seen since… the last election cycle wherein a candidate made outlandish claims with nothing resembling reality to support them.

This increased attention likely served as the death knell for Arthur’s attempts to get back into the halls of power. Many likely Democratic primary voters found Arthur’s continued references to “the glory of christendom” off-putting, and he failed to amass a viable voting coalition. Polling for the once and supposedly future king never got above 3.5%. When caucus-goers assembled to make their choices known that following January, Arthur Pendragon finished twelfth behind an already crowded field of candidates. Arthur formally dropped out of the race the next day and retired to live in rural Vermont, where he continues to make swords to sell on his Etsy shop. Political observers have long wondered if the 2020 race would have turned out differently if he had been the nominee.

Art by Eris O’Reilly

Art by Eris O’Reilly