Lavender Mary was never included in the FGT because she was an ethereal Ghost. No one hired her for anything.. she just showed up. Lavender Mary could become like the girl she was before she died and go out dancing in the real world. Dancing was the thing she had loved most of all in life and that didn't change after death. She'd arrive at proms, parties and weddings, uninvited, to dance all night. She’d have unsuspecting fellows drive her home and drop her off at her gate in the black of night. These poor lovestruck young men would come back the next morning to discover her gate led to an old graveyard over grown in ivy and lavender. If they had lent her a jacket in the cold, they would find it neatly folded on her grave.
She felt bad for everybody and their loss of income. She luckily didn't have any bills to pay other than the dresses she had made.
The Fairy Godmother wondered where she got her money because she always paid in faded cash, and old coins, or even jewelry. She always brought in the most wonderful vintage fabrics to sew into swirling dancing gowns. Actually when The Fairy Godmother thought about it sometimes she saw visions of empty pocketed, undressed dead people, and she'd shoo that thought out pretty quick. It really didn't matter to her anyway. If someone came from beyond the grave to complain she would deal with it then.
Lavender Mary’s money helped pay the bill for the poorest maidens who deserved a free gown for a dance.
She whispered in her ghostly voice that she was very sympathetic to the cause of the FGT. Her feelings were that for their Fairytale services to mankind, the magical folk should be rewarded.
In a large ancient warren not too far away, the Easter Bunny had to think about it for a little bit. Sometimes when he was doing his egg rounds on his holiday, people in certain areas (mainly the Deep South) tried to hunt him to make him into a stew and something about hanging his lucky paws from their belts. He wasn't sure if he was happy or not that his services might be canceled due to lack of funds. If he was forced to stop, he could stop, and not feel bad about it. It wouldn't be his fault.
The Golden Goose, who laid non-golden eggs for Easter decorating, finally talked him into filing for a hearing with her and others to look into re-structuring the FGT so folk could live and eat. People had tried to catch her plenty of times too, but filing seemed to be the right thing to do.
The magical folk made people happy and kept the magic alive in the world. They were paid by the numbers of people who loved them- by the total number of people subscribing to fairytale gift services- and that last lady screaming at the Sandman happened to put them under the line for the decent pay-out. Now they were kicked back to the next bracket, and that meant very little money now. This brought all the FGT recipients out of the woodwork.
Everyone demanded a day in court to discuss the matter, and they got it.
Gathering on the appointed day in High Court the magical community argued for their livelihood. It was a packed courthouse and voices were crying out one after another with the Justice serenely listening and watching. When he finally spoke, the matter was settled.
They could re-submit separately or in small self-chosen Unions to get payments based on their individual subscriber numbers. They had never been allowed to submit as individuals before. Only Santa had been allowed to do that. Some people who did not want the Sandman's services might still want the Easter Bunny for example, which of course meant all magical folk had to re-submit and gather personal clients. Everyone silently filed out pondering the fallout from this.
It was a paperwork flood.
Previously existing folk on the FGT rolls were ushered through quickly and got far less than they expected because they had to use the numbers currently on record. To get more they had to start collecting signatures to prove their popularity and need for more money for the next year.
The small unions that cropped up were including folks for total numbers sake who didn't even know they had been included. These unsuspecting members were suddenly being chased down for outlines on what services they provided and how many people they serviced even though they had no idea what anyone was talking about. The Muffin Man for example got confused and just started handing over recipe books as his outline of services provided. He had never had subscribers officially but out of feelings of friendship went along. He tried to count people who bought his baked goods. He still had no idea who else was in his new union though. It was a massive bureaucratic mess in the civic office set up for the purpose of reviewing these papers.
The other side-effect was new people came out of another type of woodwork with self-made "holidays" to hopefully collect money doing their invented holiday every night, or once a month, or once a year. If all they had to do was collect names of interested people and write an outline of their holiday idea, there was a chance they could get money to do it from the FGT.
Pay the Piper
One person who was tired of working so hard for a living was The Pied Piper. I know I know- you probably thought he would have already been on the FGT rolls but no- he had to perform services and submit bills like regular people. One of his ancestors did a very very bad thing and was thrown out of the magical community. Later Pied Pipers were never included in the FGT. People had very long memories.
The Piper couldn't remember when he got caught up in the billing cycle but it was killing him. You see no one on his route paid their bills. He'd creep around the lower levels of their homes and charm the bugs and assorted creatures out of hiding, while playing what was a very lovely tune, and then he'd lead the insectile and creature intruders away or into bags to be discarded.
He worked in one town mainly, all of which he could walk if needed, because sometimes he couldn't afford gas for his Bug van.
No, he did not re-infest non-paying neighborhoods with captured bugs, as some nastier minded people might think. The Piper was just lucky they were a dirty town with lots of fallen crumbs. The houses re-infested on their own quite easily and quickly. He worked all the time, and would have been pretty well off if people paid what they owed him. They did not pay their bills though, and he didn't have it in him to get mean. Well not at that point in his life. He thought of hiring a collection agency but he didn't have the money to do that either.
The Piper just got more and more depressed.
That’s why he thought if the FGT could subsidize him, he could be paid for a holiday he would create, and he could keep working too and somehow get by. The FGT would be very helpful, a true lifesaver. He came up with what he thought was a fantastic holiday idea.
The Piper went to the local library and collected the forms for the FGT Holiday submission and sat in his van at night with a flashlight and filled out forms. During the day while he worked, he presented his petition to his clients to sign but no one was interested in his Holiday idea. The Pied Piper didn't feel bad, he knew his proposal was good and well written, and if the panel read it they would love it. If they loved it, people would sign up for it.
That first night after he had finished his application, the Piper had a happy dream. He dreamed of his life as a FGT person with a holiday he created. Children's faces smiled up at him. His songs would be played at that time of the year. He thought Spring would be good because it was muddy and being clean then would mean a lot. Kids would write letters to him and draw his picture. He'd drive by schools and in the windows, cut out decorations of him would be taped up. He saw himself aligned with powerful companies that would chauffeur him around and he'd fly in jets to places to lend his thoughts to products bearing his picture. He woke up smiling and sure of himself. It was sure to work out, then maybe his wife, who was a mermaid, would come back and he'd see his daughter again too.
The truth that no one knew.. was that the Piper had lost his home and lived in his van in a remote corner of a park. Sometimes he'd have dreams that his family had come back to him but he'd wake up and it was just kids playing in the distance. He couldn't blame his wife for not wanting to live in a van with their child. They used to have a pool and he’d watch them splash and play in the salt water he had put in for them.
He had watched her on the beach pour saltwater over her and their daughter's legs and their mermaid tails came back. The last he saw of them was when they dove into the sea and disappeared beneath the waves. He smiled when he thought of the day he'd play the song he wrote for her and she would come back to the surface and he'd show her his bank statement. He thought life would be so good then.
A Fly on the wall heard something one day. The flies on the wall were organized in their own way and watched with curiosity the struggles of the big people. Almost all of the small insects and furry creatures spied on the big people, even the fish in the lakes and oceans. Even if it wasn’t written down some tiny creature had the dialog memorized. And if you knew how to ask, you could know almost anything that was said almost anywhere. That is how much of this history has been preserved, the rest has been captured in the ether.
This particular Fly watched the Pied Piper reasoning with a city worker.
"What we tell everybody who shows up like you is- do it on your own first, and get people to like it. Then get signatures."
The Piper tried not to get mad because he knew it would get him nowhere.
"But I can't fund this on my own, that’s why I need the money to start it. I can tell you about the Holiday- make a presentation to the committee and then they'll give me the money.. I'm sure of it if they heard me out." "What’s so great about your day pal?"
"What’s so great about your day pal?"The city worker had jelly roll crumbs on his chin.
"Well, I don't have a catchy name for it yet, but it’s a day to reward good children for staying Clean. One day a year they'd get a gift for it. Maybe something health related like soap or towels or a new wash mitt or toothbrush." "Stuff their mother buys anyway? "Well it would be special because it would come to them on the back of a mouse or a rat." "That’s creepy pal- no one wants rats and mice in their house hauling stuff around." "Maybe a large roach.." "Hey I don't think I'll be eating lunch today or EVER." "I play the flute and they are enchanted and will follow me anywhere I go and it's really very dramatic. The insect or creature would not stay in the house, just deliver the gifts." "You mean they’d have to touch a roach?! Listen- all these holiday applicants are ahead of you for consideration. Look at all these boxes! They all got crazy ideas like you- they all wanna get paid like you- look at this one, look at this huge proposal- its insane! Even HE has a better shot at it than you because he got a pot load of signatures!"
"Stuff their mother buys anyway?the worker snorted. Yeah good luck getting them to pay the Gift Tax increase for that."
"Well it would be special because it would come to them on the back of a mouse or a rat."
"That’s creepy pal- no one wants rats and mice in their house hauling stuff around."
"Maybe a large roach.."
"Hey I don't think I'll be eating lunch today or EVER."
"I play the flute and they are enchanted and will follow me anywhere I go and it's really very dramatic. The insect or creature would not stay in the house, just deliver the gifts."
"You mean they’d have to touch a roach?! Listen- all these holiday applicants are ahead of you for consideration. Look at all these boxes! They all got crazy ideas like you- they all wanna get paid like you- look at this one, look at this huge proposal- its insane! Even HE has a better shot at it than you because he got a pot load of signatures!"After that tirade the jelly roll crumbs had fallen into the boxes and onto the desk. The Piper couldn't help but calculate how many bugs those would attract.
"Can I read this?" The Pied Piper picked up the folders of the proposal the worker had pointed out.
"Sure you can look- just put it back. No signatures no chance!"
Check out the previous parts of Happily Ever Over right here.