On Broadway

“Somebody help me,” a tiny voice said. The noise didn’t travel very far in the humid air of the swamp.

Kingsley slithered closer to the water to see what was happening. An alligator was snapping at a low-flying swamp fairy. Kingsley slithered closer and used his tail to smack the alligator, nearly hitting its eye.

Recognizing the threat, the alligator backed up and hissed. The fairy quickly darted away, and Kingsley slithered into the bushes. He settled back into his warm spot. “Stupid lizard can’t tell friends from food,” he hissed.

The swamp fairy appeared next to him. “Well, lucky for me, you can. Can I grant you a wish, friend kingsnake?”

“Call me Kingsley, friend,” he said. “There is nothing that I really need.”

“But surely you have a dream? All living things do.” The swamp fairy smiled.

Kingsley gathered himself up, embarrassed to admit it.   “I’d like to be able to sing.”

“Oh?” said the fairy. “Like which bird?”

“I’d like to sing on Broadway,” the kingsnake admitted.   “Just once.”

The swamp fairy smiled wider. “Lucky for you, I have connections. And I happen to know that they are casting for another round of Lion King right now.”

And so it was that an hour later, Kingsley found himself singing in front of a table of humans. The humans leaned forward and looked at him closely. He managed not to run and hide, but it was a close thing.

“He has such a beautiful voice,” the director said.

“But his appearance will frighten the audience,” the stage manager said. He shook his head. “It is impossible.”

“Oh pah,” the costume manager said, flicking her fingers at him. “He can be the understudy for Rafiki. No one would notice a snake necklace as part of the costume. It would be a shame to miss out on a voice like that.”

So Kingsley spent four months practicing the songs and riding out onstage as part of the costume for the principal actor. Not once did he have a chance to sing on stage.   He’d gone to introduce himself to the other actors and actresses, but when they answered the door to their dressing rooms and saw him, they just shrieked and screamed. He had to slither away quickly. Noisy humans.

For four months he hid in the storage room between rehearsals and performances, catching mice and dreaming of the warm quiet swamp.   And then, on the last day of the run, the principal actor caught laryngitis. He couldn’t sing a note. It was finally Kingsley’s turn.

He felt a golden glow as the music for “Circle of Life” began and he could finally sing along. His dream was coming true. The warm glow was still there as he curled up in his corner of the storage room when the play was over.

The swamp fairy appeared at his side. “Well done, Kingsley,” she said. “So now that you’ve had a taste of stardom, do you want to stay and see if you can get a part in another production?”

“No,” he said. “I want to go home. It was lovely though. Thank you.”

“So polite,” she said. “Do you want to go to the party and say goodbye to your colleagues?”

“They’re still scared of me,” he said, “when they don’t see me as just another prop.”

The swamp fairy smiled. She chanted and danced and their surroundings faded into the more familiar warmth of their home.   “Here you are,” she said.

“I missed this,” Kingsley said, stretching out.   “Will I still be able to sing?”

“Of course,” the fairy said. “Just try not to lure any curious humans too close to the alligators.

Kingsley shuddered. “I’ll be careful. If I ever hear another human shriek, it will be too soon.” The swamp fairy laughed.