“I’ve found you at last.”
He stepped away from the boardwalk’s railing and walked towards his next conquest, making sure to wear his infamous, heart-melting smirk. Doubtless this young lady would fall to his charms; already he could see her face reddening, her breaths quickening, and her legs weakening. He had her in his grasp -- if he asked her to jump, she would fling herself atop a skyscraper.
How could she resist his charms? He stood among plebeians as a crown prince -- a tall, lithe young man whose every motion flowed like a silken cloak. His plum-hued hair glimmered, and bounced just enough to give him a wild mane. His sharp face and sharper eyes focused on his prey, his hazel eyes targeting her from behind low-cut glasses. Each strut-laden step teased his shirt, daring to undo another button and exposing another sliver of his chest. Yet not a wrinkle teased his outfit; as a prince should be, his dress shirt, his khakis, and his Oxford loafers had been cleaned, pressed, and straightened to perfection. Only his bracelets moved out of line, chiming and gleaming in the setting sun. But even the shine of his jewelry proved inadequate -- no force on earth, or heaven, could resist that flawless smile.
He seized her hands in his own. He could feel their warmth, and the quivering of her skin as she stared into his eyes. Yes, he had her now. Her blue eyes glazed and widened, unaware of the trance he’d placed her in. Even as the hot summer wind ruffled her blonde hair and rosy sundress, she remained still. Fortune was on her side; any given vampire would have plunged his fangs into her neck.
But he was no beast -- merely a man out for this girl’s heart. “Your name, my dear,” he said in a soothing voice. “I would like to know the name of the girl who so touched my soul.”
He shook his head. “Certainly I do. Your aura gives off a very distinct…sensation. Any man would be a fool to ignore you.” His fingers danced about her hand, massaging with the minutest of motions. “Now then. Your name. Let me hear the name of the young woman who so enraptures me.”
“Emily. Emily, Emily, Emily. Ah, how your name -- no, how your very voice graces my ears! The pleasure alone of hearing it is enough to make me swear off heaven itself!” With his hands still pressed into hers, he fell to one knee and lowered his head. “I owe you so much; every second I spend with you adds to my debt. But it is a fate inescapable; for the moment, allow me to make the first stride toward pleasing you.”
Emily gasped. “But…but this is crazy!” she pleaded. “I don’t even know your name!”
“My name?” He let loose a soft laugh, and stared up at her with a gaze that made her swoon ten times at once. “My name is Lloyd B. Hoigleheimer.”
Those five words (and one letter) shattered the trance. “Uh…what? What, uh, what kind of name is --?”
“The B is for Beatrice,” Lloyd explained, still smiling. “But it matters not. For I have a humble request for you. So that you may know nothing but eternal love and peace…please become the first member of my big-breasted harem paradise.”
Lloyd couldn’t have destroyed the act any better if he’d taken a jackhammer to it. Emily slapped him across the face with all the force she could muster. Which, as Lloyd quickly discovered, was quite a bit; his head spun around so fast that he nearly created a tiny tornado. His body followed suit, corkscrewing through the air until he landed on his stomach with a thud.
In spite of the girl now storming off, his thumping red cheek, and his skewed glasses, Lloyd pressed himself off the ground with an undeserved level of dignity. “That’s a tentative name, by the way!” he called out. “You don’t necessarily have to be big-breasted to be a part of it!”
He rolled to his right -- just in time to dodge an old boot -- and climbed to his feet, deciding to give chase. “Now hold on there, Emily!” he called out, his sultry smile giving way to a cheery grin. “What I said was true! You’re special to me, even though we just met about two minutes ago! Busty or not, there’s room for you in my harem!” He stroked his chin and ran his eyes up and down her form. “Although, judging by the rather impressive size and shape of your hips -- and by extension, your butt -- I’d say you’ve got SOME form of qualifica-”
A huge slab of wood flew into Lloyd’s face, forcing him to his knees. “Okay, I deserved that,” he said, raising a trembling hand to the sky. “But I still love you, mysterious wide-hipped stranger. Maybe we can get to know each other better once I get my island paradi-”
Just as the onomatopoeia declared, a whole trashcan full of goodies careened into Lloyd’s body, sending him tumbling back a good ten feet and spilling garbage everywhere. “Okay, now you’re being a little excessive,” he groaned, stroking his nose to make sure that last attack hadn’t busted it open.
“Stay the hell away from me, you pervert!” Emily yelled. She stomped off, causing enough of an uproar to make onlookers turn their gazes as she passed. They could do without having random items threatening to bash their skulls.
In spite of the attacks (and no one coming to help him), Lloyd stood up and smiled. “Looks like another one got away,” he muttered to himself. “Guess it can’t be helped. I’ve got rotten luck with women.”
In spite of the ruckus he’d raised, Lloyd -- after straightening his Coke-speckled glasses -- shoved his hands in his pockets and headed towards the boardwalk’s edge. He wore a slight, content smile, even as the remaining visitors turned away from that purple-haired madman. They’d gotten what they’d come for; with the show concluded, they figured it was high time to head home.
Lloyd didn’t. He just rested his elbows on the boardwalk’s rails, and stared dreamily at the ocean before him. He’d stood on the boards of High Tide Park many a time, so much so that his steps had practically carved grooves into the wood. Most likely, others had spent a fair amount of time in Porbeagle’s infamous locale -- in the past, tourists from across the country came to enjoy the tiny amusement park. The carousels stuffed with grinning horses; the teacups making their last revolutions for the day; the roller coaster that, while shorter than most its age, still offered quite the wild ride. And of course, the Ferris wheel that loomed over Lloyd -- the park’s main attraction, its carriages faded with age, but still more than capable of hoisting people a good three stories above the boardwalk.
But even so, High Tide Park couldn’t stand up to the siren song of smartphones and easy access to porn; year after year, the number of visitors dwindled, with even longtime residents refusing to whittle away a few hours there. Little by little, the park had begun falling into disarray. Paint faded and chipped. Booths were abandoned, with half of them emptied beforehand or raided since their owners had forsaken them. Specks of rust collected on even the most popular rides, the Ferris wheel chief among them. On most days, it did its duty admirably, albeit at a lurching pace. On a windy day, some feared that one gust would knock one of the carriages clean off. But no matter what the weather, few bothered to take a ride -- even now, the empty carriages spun out of necessity rather than a sight of the ocean.
Not that Lloyd cared. The park’s falling numbers gave him a larger playground to enjoy -- a playground, in every sense of the word. His fondest memories lay within the salty winds of the park; child or adult, he’d come again and again to the boardwalk’s balcony, just to stare at that sloshing ocean.
He pressed a hand to his cheek and sighed dreamily. Another failed conquest, he thought, still wearing a slight smile. I’m starting to wonder if it’s hopeless for me. Have I reached my limit? Is this really all I can do? But before he could start moping, he slapped his hands against his cheeks. No! Never! I can’t give up yet! Remember what you’re fighting for, Lloyd! A harem without equal, without limits!
Lloyd sighed, casting all the negative emotions out with a single breath, and smiled brightly. And then he slammed his head against the railing.
Damn it all! It’s not fair! I’m only trying to help others! So why do I keep getting rejected?! He slammed his forehead down, then flung it back up, and then slammed it back down with twice the force. And he did it ten times in a row. It’s bad enough getting turned down by one woman, but to be spurned by dozens in a single day…hundreds in a month…thousands in a year…it’s too much for my fragile, maiden’s heart to bear!
Lloyd (evidently immune to concussions) raised his head once more, and looked to the sky with new hope. Of course! I see! I’ve been too direct with women! Expecting them to join my cause just because I declare my intentions so honestly is a surefire way to fail! I need to use more tact. Finesse. I must sheathe my tongue in a silver veil!
“SUBTLETY!” he shouted, raising a fist to the heavens.
While Lloyd laughed to himself, a young boy tugged on his mother’s pants and pointed at the purple-haired prince. “Mommy, who’s that?” he asked.
“That’s what we call an idiot, son,” she answered, tugging him away as fast as possible.
But Lloyd paid her no mind. He merely stroked his chin, sensing a breakthrough on the horizon. Yes. If I’m to deal with the fairer sex, then I need to make my words more delicate. It would explain exactly why I couldn’t woo that Emily to my cause. He winced slightly. Although, come to think of it, I thought I was being pretty delicate when talking to that girl Ashley. He started to sweat. And come to think of it, didn’t Lindsay give me a slap just because I approached her? His legs quivered. And come to think of it, didn’t Louise give me a swift kick in the Romeos just for looking at her?
Lloyd pondered all those instances and more, stroking his chin and staring at the ocean. And then, he started slamming his head against the rail again. Damn it all to hell! Subtlety won’t work! I’ve tried everything -- EVERYTHING to woo women! There’s no strategy, no skill in the world that will let me touch their heart! He folded his arms and pouted. If only I was more attractive…what kind of men are women into nowadays? The muscular type? Or maybe those with slender fingers? Big feet, maybe?
He groaned and shook his head. Too many variables. Too many tastes. Looks alone won’t win me any women. Besides, I can’t build my harem on women being physically attracted to me; they have to join me of their own volition, based on their thoughts rather than their urges. And there’s only one way to do that. I need to form a bond with them.
He closed his eyes. I need a technique -- a means to build the perfect bond between me and my followers. To be on the same wavelength. But how? Does a technique like that even exist?
Lloyd shook his head, and a wily smile teased his lips. No. That’s no way for me to be thinking. Whether that technique exists or not isn’t the problem. Even if there isn’t one, I have to MAKE one! For the sake of my island of love!
He nodded to himself, and peeled away from the rails; though he started toward the park’s exit, he only took a few steps before halting. The shadows of the Ferris wheel’s frame loomed over Lloyd’s body, casting him in strips of dark stripes. Soon enough, old friend. Soon, I’ll have fulfilled my dream. But as he stared at the wheel, his eyes widened. Wait a minute…of course! The Ferris wheel! If I use that as a backdrop for my romantic meetings, then surely my chances of success will be much higher! Yes…cradled in the moonlight with the beauty of my choosing, she’ll have no defense against my improved offense! It’s perfect!
“A good set is as important as the performance itself,” Lloyd declared. He pressed a hand against the Ferris wheel’s base; the metal felt rough, but warmer than he’d expected. “With your aid, old friend, I’ll have my harem. You’ll help me out, won’t you?”
The Ferris wheel gave an immediate answer. The bolts fastening it squealed, shook, and shimmied out of place. The beams supporting it trembled and bent. The carriages swayed, as did the wheel itself. And then, all at once, it toppled over, taking the edge of High Tide Park with it.
Somewhere in the wreckage, in the nexus of warping metal and the columns of water bursting from the surface lay the prince of love. But since the parks visitors seemed content with getting the hell out of there, they had no problem leaving Lloyd to die. And what did they need a prince for? They had a mayor.