April 1, 2018

Branding - William Gilmer

Myth is the strange bedfellow of Belief...
Maggie Peddlefoot waited outside the door of a dilapidated warehouse nestled between an adult bookstore and a payday loan office.

“What’s the password,” slurred a voice from behind the door.

“Horny Centaur.”

Inside unicorns sat amphitheater style around a desk flanked by two chairs.

The scene was revolting.

People imagine unicorns as single horned quadrupeds saturated with beauty and majesty, which only speaks to the effectiveness of Mrs. Peddlefoot’s services. Truth be told, unicorns are disgusting creatures. They look more like a mix between a garbage bag full of mayonnaise and a 4 foot giraffe. Tentacles run like tree roots over their undulating bodies as they struggle to breathe through the mucous that fills the openings they claim are mouths.

Mrs. Peddlefoot took a seat across from the abomination serving as the spokesperson for the assembly.

“A rather larger crowd for a simple signing,” she said trying to start the negotiations off casually.

“We need to discuss this year’s contract,” the representative mumbled through a badly angled jaw.

“I assure you, it’s the same as always. This is the contract your parents signed, and their parents, and so on since the birth of the agency.

“We want it changed or we’re going to cancel.”

This wasn’t Maggie’s first time dealing with uppity clients; Godmother’s Human Relations Firm had been transforming the reputations of unpalatable creatures into something people could accept for centuries. Being liked by humans certainly wasn’t necessary, but being known to them was compulsory. Myth is the strange bedfellow of Belief. One feeds into the other, until finally Reality forms. Maggie was confident in her skills, having orchestrated some of the firm’s most successful marketing campaigns. It takes expertise to turn vampires into sparkling sex pots and genies into tragically enslaved wish granting comedians.

“Is that a threat? This contract has given you the veneration of humanity for hundreds of years. We will not be changing it. Do you have any idea what would happen to your brand if people found out what you are? Humans prefer certain aesthetics, and “cute” is working well for you in this modern age. Who here,” she asked, turning to the assembly, “is willing to vanish because you canceled the contract just to make a point?”

“This isn’t about our aesthetic. We want to enact the Santa Claus clause.”

Maggie’s dramatic eye-roll made it clear to the audience that this meeting was not going to go as planned.

“As I’m sure you know, that clause is reserved for clients whose status is of such cultural significance that their terms cannot be revoked for any reason, including non-payment.”

The unicorn’s gelatinous brow narrowed in frustration, “Despite the propaganda you spew out every year, Santa is a dangerous lunatic. It’s not fair that he gets your services for free while we have to pay more than what we can afford.”

“My firm has earned every cent you’ve paid us. There’s been a new hair style named after you, a designer Frappuccino at the largest coffee chain in the world, and the “Unicorns Poop Rainbows” motto is showing up on everything from bumper stickers to t-shirts. Your portfolio has never looked better, and judging by the how many of you are here today, your numbers are swelling with all the attention. Get a holiday that supports months of economic growth every year, and then we can talk about the Santa Claus clause.”

The unicorn broke eye contact and pointed its slug-like optical tubes down at the table.

“The endowment from our ancestors has run out. We don’t have the money to pay for another year. Without the clause, I’m not sure how we can carry on.”

“That changes everything doesn’t it? It’s been nice to see you all,” Mrs. Peddlefoot said while quickly snatching the contract from the table, “but there’s been a mermaid attack off Reunion Island, so I’ll be busy staging a shark attack in an effort to protect one of our profitable clients. If you find a way to pay for our services, my assistant Vanessa will know how to reach me.”

The crowd was silent as her heels clicked across the floor, down the garbage strewn alley, and into her car.

* * *
Maggie’s daughter greeted her at the door.

“You’re late mommy,” she said with a pout large enough to balance a quarter on.

“Mommy had a meeting sweetie. What did you and daddy do tonight?”

“We watched a movie where The Queen of the Unicorns had to protect everyone from an evil witch that wanted to steal their horns.”

“An evil witch…”

“She was a scary lady, but daddy told me she was just pretend, he said no one would really hurt a unicorn.”

“He did, did he?”

“Uh huh, because unicorns are magical and help princesses.”

“Daddy is absolutely right, now let’s get you off to bed, and no more thinking about bad witches unless you want to have nightmares.”

After a thorough tucking in and rounds of forehead kisses Maggie closed the door to her daughter’s bedroom. She sat on the couch with a bottle of wine and the contract she had slid into her briefcase. Despite the late hour she dialed her boss’ phone number.

The voice on the other end was gruff and obviously frustrated,

“It’s ten at night Maggie, if this is about the new Dublin expressway paving over fairy mounds, it can wait until the morning.”

Mrs. Peddlefoot looked at the DVD case on the floor showing a horridly depicted witch looming over a group of cowering unicorns.

“No this is something different. Tell me John, how does your daughter feel about unicorns?”
William Gilmer is a writer and poet currently living in Michigan.
Follow him on Twitter @willwritethings 

Cover Layout: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

No comments: