Once there was a tribe where every man was the one true king, and every woman, the one true queen. Odd, you may think, and wonder how any work got done in such a society with everyone making rules. But these were not those kinds of kings and queens. They required no throne rooms, no jewels, no gold crowns. They chose to king as they went about the business of living. The gardeners, the blacksmiths, even the tax collectors were fair and just queens (and sometimes kings).
Among them lived the King of Sorrow, a man flooded with dinner invitations from friends who desired his ear for somber conversations. More often than suppers, he was invited to funerals and desolate November teas where he and his host might sit and watch barren tree branches tap the windows at the urging of a brittle wind. After a while, the King of Sorrow would speak, and he always had something beautiful and surprising to say. His listeners were often inspired to work for social justice and to make significant changes to improve their own condition. He was frequently witnessed attending demonstrations protesting cruelty and inequity. He was truly impartial, without any biases, for he visited every single king and queen.
All the Found Ones knew the King of Sorrow—though he sometimes overstayed his welcome—was absolutely necessary for greater love, greater compassion. After all, he was their one true king. The Found Ones liked to give him oranges, as the uneven, craggy texture made him smile.
Despite his many social engagements, he found time to fall in love.
They met in her hospital room. She had lost her child at birth. The King of Sorrow appeared before her with downcast eyes, and said, “I am truly sorry.” She wept and made room in her heart for him, for though he was a stranger, he loved her child as much as she. He promised to never forget her son, whom she had named Aaron.
She was the Queen of Light.
When they attended funerals together, she would release sparrows which darted around the mourners, singing with delight. Instead of an affront, their presence comforted the grief-stricken, who needed the cheery warbling to keep them standing upright. She could make water sparkle for those who felt despondent. She would whisper the word, “blue” in someone’s ear, someone who had just been kissed by her husband, causing that person to look up and see the expansive cobalt sky while taking in a full, deep breath.
Though she had many sisters (and two older brothers) who also called themselves Queens of Light, her particular gift was in details. The single leaf twirling downward. A determined yellow flower boasting its color at the sun.
Together, the King of Sorrow and the Queen of Light hosted dances in their backyard, under a tree so green, it was hard to witness directly. He loved it when she twirled him; he lost himself in the dizzying patterns of leaves. They invited friends who stayed as long as they could, enjoying the Turkish dance music and occasional moody crooners from eras past. They especially enjoyed songs in languages they did not understand, for they could focus on feeling the music.
Together, they were almost indestructible.
Whose idea was it to leave the kingdom in hopes of restoring Lost Kings and Queens, those who had ventured far from the kingdom and forgotten their true nature? It is not known. “Perhaps,” they told each other, “Perhaps we might help the Lost Ones remember who they were always meant to be.”
They danced among the Lost Ones with their own unique moves, occasionally stumbling, then focusing on each other to right themselves. But they discovered restoring kings and queens was not as easy as they had assumed it would be. Over time, their attempts became more desperate. Instead of relying on the subtlety of birds, she would tell jokes at funerals, pushing too hard to temper her husband’s power. He continued to worship her and loved her by creating more and more opportunities for her gifts to shine.
At some point he became as lost as she, though he assured everyone he was not. “After all,” he boasted, “I still remember my name is the King of Sorrow.” He relied on this memory as proof, which meant he could not see the damage he inflicted, destroying hope. Among the Lost Ones, the King of Sorrow had grown sharper, more persistent. His gift was no longer a gentle and gloomy Spring rain, but had become a raging monsoon. She now laughed at the chaos he had sown, ripping photographs in half, throwing them into the wind.
The Lost Kings and Queens welcomed them readily, gorging on Sorrow as if he were the only dinner guest worth having. She remained at his side, snarking with gallows humor and jokes that hurt, forgetting fully the subtle gifts she once knew.
To this day, the Found Ones remain hopeful of this couple’s return.
They tell their children, if the King of Sorrow finds your heart, welcome him as necessary for life. Weep for the fallen. Shed bitter tears over the unfairness of this brief existence. Take action. Prevent horrors from repeating themselves.
But the key to this couple being restored to glory is the Queen of Light. In times of sorrow, say the Found Kings and Queens, remember her, too. Let her in. While feeling despondent, notice the taste of cold water, the determined agitation of a bug on a June sidewalk. See a mother holding a chattering ten-year-old’s hand and think, “That child is loved.”
Allow your fingertips to explore an orange and imagine each unique bump is someone in the world who knows your grief.
These things do not make the King of Sorrow retreat.
But they do make his presence bearable.
And if you are truly lucky, say the Found Ones, this couple will dance for you, a dazzling pas de deux, both painful and life-affirming, spinning under the tree of life. Open your heart to them, and you may help them remember.
Both of them are necessary, say the Found Ones.
After all, he is the one true king. And she is the glorious one true queen.
This short excerpt is narrated by Malcolm, Vin Vanbly’s older brother. In the previous books, not much has been revealed about Malcolm, only that he is an African-American police officer, roughly twenty years older than Vin. Vin and Malcolm adopted each other as brothers at some point. This excerpt seemed appropriate to share today, Saint Patrick’s Day.
Come Back To Me is scheduled for release in the first half of 2016.
“One night in early March, I came home and found a note in the vegetable crisper. I had mentioned the day prior I needed to use up the damn broccoli. Vin had anticipated me. The note invited me to bar on north Clark street to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. He had written in block letters, PLEASE COME and underlined the words. I joined him that evening, despite how much I hated the day. All day, we answered noise complaints, party complaints, domestic complaints from people so drunk they could barely form words. This day brought out the worst in people, not the best, but Vin had never invited me out for a beer, or even to meet him outside the house, and I could not pass this opportunity.
“Vin had secured a table, no small feat in this crowded establishment, and had my favorite beer waiting for me. I was touched by this small gesture. He nodded. I nodded. We drank for a bit and watched the crazy people get drunker and drunker. Vin said, ‘It’s my birthday.’ I said, ‘Happy birthday.’ Vin said, ‘It’s not actually my birthday.’ After a moment he said, ‘I don’t know when mine is, and I need a birthday. Everyone has a birthday, right? I pick today. I was horrified and I’m sure my expression showed it. ‘It’s a good day,’ Vin said. ‘there’s always going to be a party on my birthday, and people are always happy today.’
“I said, ‘They’re in a good mood because they’re drunk. That’s not happy. Don’t pick this shitty, shitty day as your birthday, Vin. You will regret it. It will fucking haunt you. Vin laughed, and this was a new sound from him—laughter. He said, ‘I might actually be Irish, you know. I mean, look at me. Or maybe I’m German. Or Finnish. You know, blonds.’ I realized at this moment, it was officially, our first real, sustained conversation. But I couldn’t talk him out of it. He had picked Saint Patrick’s Day and he thought it was genius.
“We sat together on Vin’s first birthday drinking beer and conversing. We talked about sports even though it held no interest for either of us. We were hunting for common ground. I did not ask questions about his upbringing or anything to do with his former life. We mostly stared at the people around us and I started telling him my observations. He had made his own observations, and I discovered his talent—which I had suspected—was real. We ordered corn beef sandwiches, because, that’s what you do. Vin insisted on paying for everything.
“After that Saint Patrick’s Day, he changed. He ate more. Left his room. We would go out together and I would teach him how to watch people, watch for what was true, and then the truths behind their true. He already possessed this skill. I enhanced it. Vin always took it too far, further than I would. He would intervene. Once we observed a woman hailing a cab and both concluded—based on her clothes, her hairstyle, and the way she held her umbrella—she didn’t much like her appearance. Before I could stop him, Vin crossed the street to her and spoke to her. She smiled. When he returned to me, he explained, ‘I told her she looked beautiful.’
“Vin was beginning to find his own way.”
Didn’t you sometimes resent J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series? She created this fantastic world that sucked us in and made us care about potions class, an old geezer named Dumbledore, and bewitched furniture. But then we had to wait two years for the next installment.
I always wished she provided a tasty tidbit between novels, like a Harry Potter short story.
I’m a slow writer, so between king novels I’m hoping to provide readers with a tasty tidbit. Roughly six months after the last book release (which hopefully is roughly six month before the next full novel), I will make chapters available from the sixth book in the series, King Daniel.
Wait, the sixth book? Prior to the release of the other books?
I know, I know. It’s messed up. But Vin Vanbly’s tale is odd and the telling of his stories must also reflect this oddness. Just go with it. Part of the grand adventure.
The release schedule:
King Perry (first book) – February, 2012
King Daniel, chapters 1-3 – October 2013
King Mai (second book) – July, 2013
King Daniel, chapters 4-7 – January, 2014
The Butterfly King (third book) – September, 2014
King Daniel, chapters 8-10– April, 2015
King John (fourth book) – September 10th, 2015
King Daniel, Chapter 11 –February 2016
Come Back to Me (fifth book) – prior to July, 2016
King Daniel (sixth book) – COMPLETED STORY, ???, 2016
The chess pieces are on the board. Vin Vanbly. Daniel Connors. The prophecies. The king whose initials are D.C. The Great Remembering. What happened to Vin in 2005? What role does Daniel play in The Lost and Founds? Enjoy exploring the world of the Found Kings in 2013, the year King Daniel takes place.
And if you’re here for Chapter 11, buckle up, Mare. The real show’s about to begin.
All my love,
The next time someone tries to argue that God designed the world based on a one man/one woman philosophy, complete with gender roles for each, ask them to explain the incredible sexual and gender diversity in animals. And if you need assistance with some examples, look at this link for true-to-live animal gender roles.
A lovely, lovely article about the care and well-being of your introvert.
We’re begging you.