Imperfect Fiction

The Incredible Conjugator

The Incredible Conjugator

Beth Buck

Once upon a time, there lived on the edge of an enchanted wood a boy and this mother. The boy (who had the unfortunate name of Ryanopomeyer Von Schnurrbart, called “Ryan” for short) was blessed (or cursed, if you asked his mother's opinion) with the ability to conjugate verbs in a variety of languages, many of them non-Indo-European. This really annoyed his mother because he would spend all his time conjugating verbs and he never changed the light bulbs or took out the trash.

One day, this very issue cause Ryan and his mother to have terrible row, which ended with his mother forcing him to vacate the premises.

“Conjugating verbs won’t put bread on the table! See if you can eat them!!” She yelled after him, thinking for sure that he’d wander down to the pub but be back in an hour, after they had both sulked a bit.

Ryan didn't feel like going to the pub just then, and decided to go out exploring the forest while he sulked. He had read enough fairy tales to avoid all the evil demons in the guise of lost children, and to help little old ladies get a drink out of a well because they were really good fairies.

Indeed, it wasn't very long until he encountered one of these very creatures.

“I give you the magic power to conjugate verbs in strange languages!” she said to him.

“But I already have that magic power,” he replied.

“Dangit! That’s my best gift! I guess I’ll just have to turn you into a toad to make the problem go away.”

Quickly Ryan fled deeper into the woods to escape. By and by he came to an enormous castle.

“My mother thinks my conjugation abilities are worthless,” he muttered to himself. “I'll show that old hag!” He made himself known to the castle guards and announced himself as “The Greatest Conjugator in the World.”

The guards appeared very flustered at the news. “We must tell the king right away,” the said to one another. Indeed, they thought Ryan was the best conjurer in the world, which is something different entirely.

By and by Ryan was brought before the king, and the king said nervously to him, “I understand you are able to conjugate.” Now, the king wasn’t very bright and didn’t even know what conjugate means. He thought it meant “to conjure.”

“That's right!” said Ryan proudly. “Would you like me to demonstrate?”

“NO!” shouted the king at once, who thought that demonstrate meant to conjure demons.  “ Instead my boy, I have a task for you. My daughter the Princess Ashira has been taken captive by the Evil Witch Makanitch. She is being kept in a tower on the far side of the Enchanted Wood; a tower that has no lock nor key. If you free her, you may have her hand in marriage as well as half my kingdom.”

Ashira!” Ryan exclaimed. “What a lovely name! Did you know that ashira is a future tense Hebrew verb meaning, 'I will sing?'”

“Uh, no, I didn't know that, actually,” said the King.

“And similarly,” Ryan continued, “Makanitch is a negative past tense verb in the modern Egyptian vernacular meaning 'she cannot.' Isn't that fascinating?”

“I suppose,” replied the king, who was no longer sure whether this man was the right person for the job. “So you'll be rescuing her, then?”

“Sounds great!” Ryan said. “I'm on it!”

So he left to fulfill his Great Quest, and the King chuckled to himself. Due to various gambling debts and shady business ventures, the kingdom consisted of the castle and a vacant lot out back. The king would of course be keeping the castle half.

Ryanopomeyer Von Schnurrbart traveled in the Enchanted wood for six nights and three days (which is very difficult to do) and at last came to the Princess Ashira's enchanted tower.

“Save me, fair Prince!” The Princess shouted down to him. “If you don't sent me free soon, the Witch will come back and make me take violin lessons!”

“The nerve of that foul creature!” said Ryan with a shudder. He knew all too well the horror of forced violin lessons.

“Fear not, fair maiden!” Ryan shouted back. And he said the magic incantation that by pure luck was also his favorite conjugation:

Amo           Amamus

Amas          Amatis     

Amat           Amant

 A secret door at the base of the tower opened, and the princess was set free. They rode gallantly back to her father's castle on a horse that appeared out of nowhere, and they were married and were given the vacant lot as their very own kingdom. They built a frozen custard stand and made so much money off of it that they relocated to southern Florida. As for the witch, the stress of losing her only violin pupil to a Conjugator made her so distressed that her immune system weakened, she caught pneumonia and died. Everyone else lived happily ever after.

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