The judging for the final round of the nation-wide bake-off was televised. People watched from around the nation as famous and not-so-famous bakers competed to earn a spot working in the royal kitchens. The announcers told heart-warming stories of struggle and toil about most of the contestants.
However, one of the contestants wore a long coat with a hood up in the hot, hot kitchens where everyone else had their sleeves rolled up to try to cool down. He had sunglasses and gloves and a bandana over half his face. The announcers knew his name and the high compliments the judges had given his work so far in the competition. No one knew anything else about him.
His final entry was a complex pastry that required precision in both the timing and a number of subtle temperature changes. His work was masterful, almost as though he had some sort of magical control over the oven temperature. He easily triumphed over his distinguished peers.
The head of the judging committee eagerly called him to the podium to accept the trophy and the certificates and the other paraphernalia of victory. The audience roared in approval for Dr. A. Jones. The head judge shook his hand and peered closely at what was visible of his face.
“Dr. Jones! What a green, scaly face you have!” The head judge said.
“It’s a skin condition. It’s not contagious, but it’s meant that I’ve had a difficult time in life,” Dr. Jones said. “Many people have been unkind.”
“Awww,” said the audience.
“That’s terrible,” the announcer said. “Isn’t it wonderful he was able to rise above all that and win the competition?” The audience roared.
“Dr. Jones, you have such an unnaturally deep voice,” The head judge said.
“I’ve often been told I should record audio books,” Dr. Jones said. “But alas my passion lies with baking instead.” The announcer and audience laughed.
“Are you a medical doctor?” The head judge asked.
“No, I have a doctorate in philosophy,” Dr. Jones said.
“Ah, of course,” the head judge said. “And what does the A. stand for?” The head judge asked.
“Alex,” Dr. Jones said.
“Just give the man his award already!” The announcer said. “He’s more than earned it.” The audience roared again and stomped their feet and the head judge handed over the trophy and certificates and such.
“Thank you,” Dr. Jones said, waving at the audience. “This is a dream come true!”
“Awwww,” the audience said, and then they clapped and whistled and roared in approval once more. The other judges and contestants came over to congratulate the winner. The baking competition had been a remarkable success.
Dr. A. Jones began working at the palace a month later. He was quiet and good at his job, and the nation soon moved on to watching a gardening competition. The winner would be on the landscaping team at the royal holiday home. When a contestant was found smuggling in illegal fertilizers, the nation was horrified. The lovely young lady had been a favorite up until then, and many had sworn they could see flowers grow when she sang to them. Dr. Jones and the baking competition were completely forgotten.
A year later, the nation had reason to remember Dr. Jones. Somehow, in the year that he’d worked at the palace, he’d managed to steal the heart of Princess Gertrude. The two had run away together. Gertrude had left a defiant note, and somehow the two had managed to slip past security and fly away together into the night.
On a whole, the nation approved of the match. Dr. Jones clearly treasured her, and as the youngest princess, Gertrude wasn’t involved in the political arena. The King considered sending one of the knights to rescue the princess from her folly, but a scandal on the set of the competition for a substitute royal barber ended up needing his focus.
By the time the investigation was complete and the barberous spy prosecuted for bribery and theft, the king decided to let his daughter stay with the dragon who had stolen her away. After all, the competition for an assistant to the secondary royal launderer was underway. He needed to keep an eye on that.