The Flounder continued to ramble on and on, repeating much the same remarks as could be read or heard at any such event, nothing new or even slightly controversial. Alice soon was bored and strolled away towards a rather splendid crowd, shouting and chanting excitedly.
The third segment was without doubt the juiciest so far. The stump was covered in gold paint and surrounded by a wonderful display of very colorful Brugmansia. The stump was occupied by a very rotund Golden Carp dressed in an expensive tailored blue suit who seemed capable of making both elitist and populist statements at the same time. He shouted slogans in machine gun rapid bursts that seemed to have little rhyme or reason except to cause his enthralled audience to repeat them back like favorite quotations from religious text.
“We are going to build a net! Keep those shrimps out of our clean surf.”
The crowd started chanting back.
“NET! NET! NET!!”
“And the prawns are going to pay for it!”
At the mention of the word prawns the crowd hissed dramatically.”
“Going to make the ocean great again. And the waves. And the sand.”
Each new great induced an eruption of cheering and flipper flapping.
“Nobody knows more about nets than me!”
Alice was a little confused by this last remark. Why a fish should be proud of his association with nets was a mystery worthy of a Scotland Yard investigation.
“Is he always so shouty?”
The question was aimed at no one in particular but resulted in a myriad of shh’s and hisses from all directions. Alice noted the very unpleasantly threatening glances coming from some of the Goldfishes supporters and decided on balance to move on.
The next segment was much calmer. The atmosphere was almost adult, with a polite audience sitting in neat rows listening intently to the speaker, the very well presented and experienced orator Mister Hamilton Fish. Hamilton was a fish tank governor of some fame and success, he was a well-liked veteran of many political battles which were always fought in a robust but polite and frank manner. Alice decided he was far too intelligent and fair-minded to ever succeed in this non-election and moved on quickly.
The next two segments were empty, apparently some sort of shuffling had taken place and some of the participants had decided to drop out. Alice was still attempting to understand the principles of the whole enterprise when to add to her confusion a shrill whistle blasted out and all the supporters suddenly rushed into groupings and counted off very dramatically. It seems there was no result whatever the expected sum might have been because the people rapidly returned to milling, listening, milling, listening and milling again.
“This is all very confusing. No order at all to my poor brain.”
“Did you expect anything else child?”
Alice recognized the voice immediately as her belated friend and adviser the Duchess of Hearts.
“Duchess! I was beginning to think I would never see you again. Did you ever find the Knave?”
“No and the tarts never showed again either. A whole pack of cards to keep in suits and not a tart to tempt them with.”
“I am so sorry. Perhaps you could make some more?”
“Looking for the rough ingredients now silly child. You won’t do at all, far too hoity toity.”
Alice considered whether she was being somehow insulted. She was about to ask when in the far distance she could just make out the sound of trumpets.
“I think the Queen is coming.”
“Yes, yes of course she is. I am going to lose my head I know I am. not even my brother the King will save me this time.”
The Duchess’s face went a shade of beetroot as she turned to face the new arrival.
“You ungrateful sniveling wretch. How dare you steal all the finest tarts for yourself?”
The Knave didn’t even bother to look at his aunt but instead fixed his eyes very firmly on Alice.
“Well hello beautiful! So good to see you again and looking sooo pretty!”
Alice smiled serenely but was really not impressed by the Knaves attempted flattery. She had witnessed his endless groveling to all and sundry during her time in the Queens castle and had come to the conclusion he really was just a toady through and through.
“Changing the subject won’t save your neck foolish boy.”
The blasts of the approaching trumpets had started to cause some serious reactions amongst the crowds, some were simply fleeing openly whilst others seemed to think that the safest course was to drop to their hands and knees as if collectively praying in a mosque. The Queens dulcet tone could be heard growing in some terrible crescendo.
“Off with his head. Off with her head. Off with their heads.”
The Queen of Hearts was not renowned for her varied conversation. In fact, should her sad demise ever befall this kingdom her monument would certainly include that favorite intonation.
“Alice? Is that Alice?’
Alices bow was exceeding deferential.
The Queen lifted Alices chin with her index finger tip and smiled less coldly than might be feared.
“Such a good robust neck you have Alice.”
“Thank you, your Majesty.”
“Sister dear, how lovely to see you.”
The Duchess had decided that getting in the first word might be preferable to hearing the last.
“I don’t remember saying you could speak.”
The Duchess looked crest fallen and curtsied deeply causing her to almost topple over sideways like a large sack of potatoes.
“Is that my son hiding underneath your petticoats sister?”
“Mother, Madam, your Majesty, Sovereign Queen.”
The Knave crawled slowly from between the Duchesses layers of net and lace to grovel at his mother’s feet quaking like a dog expecting a deserved and violent whipping.
“You sniveling little whelk. You still have strawberry jam smeared all about your face.”
“Make way for Mister Goldfish, make way I say!”
The Queen whitened in rage and turned to face this uncalled for and improper interruption.
“Your Majesty, may I present the winner of the upper north section of the seashore primary Mister Goldfish.”
The speaker was the same barker who had so eagerly introduced Mister Cruiser a little earlier. The Queen with some venom in mind took a deep breath inward, puffed out her chest and began to speak.
“Going to make you great again your Majesty, going to make you famous, build you a wall. Send the suit of spades back to their own pack, great, great, great.”
The Queen studied Mister Goldfish for perhaps two seconds then smiled very sweetly.
“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!”
The crowd seemed quite agreeable to this arrangement. They were after all just as interested in seeing failure as success in political life.
“It’s what’s called a ‘Reality Show’ you know my dear.”
Alice nodded heartily in agreement with the Duchesses wise words and with a squeeze of her hand quietly slipped away in search of Hatter at the tea party.