The auditions

President Trump’s judicial nominees struggle with basic legal questions and are blatantly unqualified for the role on a district court. [CNN report]

I slunk through the labyrinthine back corridors of the Orange Palace, emerging at the last minute into one of the main halls leading to the Royal Theater.

Crotchet, the cook, had asked me to meet here for some entertainment.

The Royal Theater would certainly be a good place for entertainment, but there was no show scheduled. Even so, the hall was thronged with lines of people waiting patiently to be admitted.

While casting my gaze around for any sign of Crotchet in the crowded hallway, I noticed each line was formed behind one of a row of brass poles holding an inscribed placard. “Musicians”, read one. “Actors” the next, then “Singers” and “Jugglers” and so on.

Of course! Auditions!

I blinked, recognizing some of the faces. Was that really Tone Deaf Tony in the musician’s line? A one-legged beggar normally found outside the Dog’s Breath maneuvered himself into the line marked “Acrobats” just as Crotchet grabbed my arm and yanked me through a side door.

We sidled through a dark and dusty passage and emerged in the orchestra pit, right in front of the stage and out of sight of the panel of judges we could hear talking amongst themselves behind us.

A sharp tap-tapping caught my attention. A man in dark glasses shuffled across the stage, feeling his way with a bamboo stick and helped by a young boy.

“And you’re here for the position of ...” one of the judges said.

“Prompt reader,” the man said.

“Can you read?”

“Hmmm ... no.”

“Can you even see?” hissed another judge.


At each question, the man waved a plain blue flag ever more frantically. At each answer, the judges conferred in ever more audibly angry whispers.

Then, the man’s helper stepped forward and whispered in his ears.

“Oh,” he said, and he turned the flag around and waved it again.

Plainly on the other side, were the words “Long Live King Grump”.

The whispering among the judges ceased. Eventually the lead judge sighed. “You’re hired. Next!”

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