“Hansel, this place is a dump. You told me yourself Home Depot would have to special order gingerbread shingles, and sugar-glass windows are impossible to get these days. But our location is hot right now, plus I can get a great deal on the Old Lady’s shoe down the way; she is finally ready to relo, but it’s really just a single. I have so many ideas for it, especially the heel, but you! You have got to get a grip. Ask Rapunzel to marry you! Stop stalling. How long have you been climbing up that hair? God, that woman is so patient. My fav construction company would be glad to put a door in the tower and do a little upgrading. Make the place a real charmer for honeymooners! Rap would love it!”
Gretel was tired of living with her sad little brother, whom she did love dearly. And she (who was five years older and always the smarter one) knew he was more disturbed by their childhood traumas. Abandoned in the woods by their poor but unforgivably horrible parents, almost becoming the Old Witch’s entree, and then having to shove the old crone into the huge barbecue meant for them! No wonder Hansel was crippled by fear, guilt, and depression. Plus (no surprise!) he seemed to have trouble relating to women, princesses and milkmaids alike. He has to move on though, she thought, and getting out of this crumbly rattrap would help.
“Gret, I like Rap, maybe even love her, I dunno, but I don’t know about forever, marriage. And her dad! He’s just scary. But you are right as usual. I have to do something. You have your real estate but I have zip. I get it. Okay, let’s sell this place. Isn’t there any room in your shoe? A sofa bed?” Hans was fiddling with his liederhosen suspender buckles as he always did when he was agitated.
“No, Darling Boy. I have to be on my own and you do too. You’re almost twenty-five. Or how about a roommate? You like Jack Horner and he lives alone. I could find a larger place for you guys than his corner. Or join All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men and bivouac with that handsome bunch.” Gretel allowed herself to imagine just a moment one of those hunky guys in her life, but she really was serious now about someone else, and she had wasted so much time on Peter Pan. Oh, they’d had lots of laughs, partying and soaring around all loosey-goosey, but she finally faced the fact that he would NEVER grow up! End of story.
“I heard that two of the Little Pigs moved out on smart alec Piggy #3 and his bricks. Maybe we could get a place together. I like them.” Hans smiled like a boy in a fairytale, all wide-eyed, fresh, and dense.
“Snap out of it, kid! Those two are dopes. No, you need to think about your future seriously, without hanging around more ninnies. Get a job. Get out and start looking around! You don’t like offices. So…work at picking pickled peppers. Shepherding? Say, how about working for the Farmer in the Dell?”
“Yeah, that’s kind of a good idea, Gret. You know I like being outdoors and also cows,” Hansel said, staring off into space with visions of the rural life.
More reasoning to herself than speaking to her sweet, but weak-witted brother, Gretel went on, “As for me, I love my career, and even though all the good princes are taken, King Midas does have an eye for me and he is a King. It’s be good to be Queen! I like him. I know he’s old enough to be…well, he’s a lot older, but it would be a companionable thing, ya see? No touching with those death-by-gold, cold fingers. I could feed him. We could talk. He has great business contacts. And his daughter, that sticky sweet bottle blonde, has moved to Oz, of all places, and rarely visits. She’s so busy with her Eco-Green Home Products company.” This last was spoken with a prissy pout. She went on, “I haven’t told you, Hans, but I’ve actually been seeing Midas for several months. Nice castle (just needs some tasteful upgrades), and Midy and I really have a lot in common. He’s certainly a gentleman compared to that smarmy Jack of Hearts or that tiny dweeb Winky.” As she thought about him, Midas was looking better by the minute.
A knock on the graham cracker door (old gingerbread one long gone in a milky hail) interrupted both their reveries.
“C’mon on in. It’s broken!” shouted Hans. “Like everything else.”
Peter Pan, little green suit and one-feathered hat, all perky and pert bounced in. “Hansel, I have the good stuff, the Pixie Dust, and we’re ready to roll. The Lost Boys are probably tuning up right now. Let’s fly!”
“Hello to you too, Peter,” snarked Gretel. “Nice to see you again,” she said. Jackass, she thought. “We were discussing moving. I’m pretty heavy into Midas now, you know, the King, and I’m moving to the Shoe. At least for a while.” She tossed him a syrupy smirk.
Peter showed no reaction at all, turning completely to his pal. “Okay then, Hans. Make your move and get away from Goody-Goody Gret here. Come live at the camp with me and The Boys. There’s no need to stay in this dump or even in the Tale Zone at all. Come to the island!” Peter smirked right back at Gretel, and stuck out a hand to Hans who was nodding vigorously and reaching to shake on the plan. He was eager to ditch the needy and possessive Rap and her overprotective father. He wasn’t really the marrying kind anyway. He’d never seen a good marriage except for Jack Spratt and his wife, and they seemed to argue a lot, mostly over food.
“Peter, let’s do this! It’ll free up Gret, get me out of here, and you really are my best friend in all the world.” The two males spit on their pinky fingers and then hooked them swearing eternal allegiance. Male bonding at its most juvenile and slimy thought Gretel who winced at the new Saliva Brothers. Already she was composing the real estate flyer in her mind: Ultra-charming, old world cookie cottage in the very heart of the prestigious Wondrous Woods. A slight fixer-upper needing a teeny bit of love, but still high-calorie, utterly delightful, and full of possibility…