Sleeping beauty overdosed
The Brothers Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm, were a pair of 19th-century Germans whose "fairy tales" often involved the cooking of children. Disney cleaned that up quickly, and the whacky brothers' fairy tales were a childhood staple until we forgot them in favor of British-accented pigs.
Always, in the tales, the princess sleeps or is in some kind of trouble that may involve her being roasted and served up like a prime rib.
But before you can slap the horseradish on a slice of princess, medium rare, a prince comes along and everything is fine. He saves the princess, and she goes to college, balances kids and career, and buys a house with a real pizza oven in the kitchen. The prince returns to construction work, and a fascination with hockey.
Even if the prince is sometimes a little late with the child support, the story chokes you up -- like too much horseradish on a slice of underdone princess.
Then came prescription drugs, heroin and, finally, the dragon Fentanyl, who came west from the misty mountains of China, following a trail made by cheap blouses, toasters and smartphones.
In my neck (or vein) of the woods, the pretty princess in her prom gown sometimes doesn't make it to the end of the story. The prince usually overdoses first because men are more reckless. His child support promise is buried with him.
This is my fairy tale backdrop to everything that happens because I live in a place out-of-town writers invariably describe as "a city at the epicenter of the opioid crisis." The phrase translates to "Jesus, I was so glad to get out of there and back to the office."
Me? I'm here. Writing. Driving past the bone-thin street hookers who hang out in front of the library, scanning the gutter in front of my house for used syringes.
The Brothers Grimm could have done one hell of a job with this situation, and television and movie directors do it all the time. I believe every movie and TV series about zombies or vampires is actually about junkies. That's why I don't watch those kinds of shows. If there's one thing that doesn't scare me, it's the undead. I give them my spare change all the time.
But back to Sleeping Beauty, who is young and touched with magic in the prom picture, ruffled and flounced and catching the light, and who is then dry-skinned and high in front of the library at night, catching the headlights of oncoming cars and the hard, hungry glances of the men who circle the block, and who is, at last, the subject of a Facebook plea for "help" with her funeral. Her kids will be at the wake, but the prince won't be. He overdosed first, remember?
Busted fairy tales. A dead prince. A host of "facilitators" and "coordinators" lapping at pools of government money, repeating forever that millions of dollars are worth it "if we only save one life."
Bitter? Oh, yeah, I am. Me and the Brothers Grimm, we've been to the bad wars. Only, they had it better because their princess got rescued every time. Mine hardly ever makes it out alive.
But I love them, all of the dead princes and princesses. I love every lost scrap of their prom finery, every dirty, trampled corsage, every ugly tuxedo in gray piped with more gray. They are the illustrations in my prayer book, chemistry's victims gone east to China, out of the cold at last, as handsome and pretty and smart and laughing as they were in the days of The Lost Kingdom.
Before Sleeping Beauty fell asleep and no one could wake her up, no one, ever.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin'," is a collection of his best columns about politics, heroin, guns, small kitchen appliances and cats. It is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay.