Hi everyone. Just wanted to let you know that the Pen Pal letters, although they are not linear to the plot are important to the wider story in terms of plot and a deeper understanding of the characters.
To read Alex's first letter to Chance, click here.
To read Chance's second letter to Alex, click here.
Disneyland, Brindleton Bay, some time after the war.
Henry had been dragging Alex around Disneyland. The park had recently opened in Brindleton. Alex agreed to go as long as he could book the whole theme park ensuring privacy for him and Henry.
"What is this place, Henry?" frowned Alex. Snow White's 'Animal World' had put him in a very bad mood.
"Uhm... this is the island of Lilo and Stitch. That boat on the water is a ride. Shall we try it?"
"I'm not a kid Henry and I'm king, so no. I can put up with wandering around the neighbourhoods, but there is NO WAY, I'm trying a ride."
"But you're quite happy to cuddle me on the 'story time' mats?" said Henry.
"Well of course," said Alex. "Story time is the most mature element of this bizarre place."
"Oooh then I've got a story. Come, I'll tell it to you at the Cafe."
"And then Stitch said, 'Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind.' Isn't that cute Alex? ... uhm Alex?"
"As be, Henry," muttered Alex.
"Uhm... did you mutter something rude?"
"When you mutter something I don't understand in a grumpy way, it's usually something rude."
"I said 'whatever' Henry," Alex snapped. He hadn't realised he had slipped into his native tongue. He was still angry about a phone call he'd received yesterday morning from his cousin, Analisa. She'd proceeded to yell at him about Loki and what a horrible owner Alex was for starving him. She would not even let him explain himself. Did anyone consider that bloody dog lies? His name's Loki for god's sake and he's a dog. Bloody Loki. Bloody Stitch. I hate you both.
"Okay, Alex. I'm taking you upstairs and we're going to have a talk and a cuddle," said Henry.
Alex did not do much talking, but he enjoyed the cuddle. He placed his hand on Henry's chest and listened to the heartbeat. It was fast for a bit, then evened out into a slow regular, lethargic beat. Perfect for falling asleep to. Alex wasn't much of a sleeper. It wasn't that he didn't like sleeping. He loved it, when he wasn't having nightmares about the Royal Family, which had increased recently. No. Alex loved sleeping, but whenever he tried, he began to worry. There were lots of things to worry about. Who would the Sweglords' next kill be? Just last week he had a call from his Great Aunt informing him of her husband's murder. The Sweglords had finally struck again and he was beginning to wonder who was more likely to kill him first? The Sweglords or the Royal Family? All these thoughts swirling around his head could keep him up all night, but here, with Henry, listening to his beautiful beating heart, he could fall asleep.
"So this is Elsa's tower in Frozen, Alex."
Alex grunted. Henry had made him go on a ride. This is what he didn't like about Henry. He could persuade him to do anything. All he had to do was look at him with his adorable big round eyes and he would melt. Why does Henry have to be so cute? It's not fair!
"Hey Alex! You sure you're not up for a swim?"
"No Henry! I'm not swimming in the Coca Cola lake. Not going to happen," said Alex, from inside the Candyland House.
"It's not real Fanta, Alex."
"Yes, whatever, Henry. I'm trying to sleep."
"Those beds are not for sleeping on, Alex."
"Then why are they here?"
Alex did not wait for Henry to reply. He shut his eyes and counted back from one hundred. He got to about ninety before the worries invaded his mind. Ugh. Mind. I'm trying to sleep.
"So, how long are these customers here for?" said Alex.
"I'm not sure, your grace," said the waitress.
"I did mention I hired Disneyland for the day, hmm?"
"Yes, your grace."
"Then what are these customers doing?"
"Although we are situated in Disneyland, we are a separate business."
"Mhmm," said Alex and he cracked a false smile.
"Uhm, Alex, the order?" said Henry.
"Oh yes, hmm. Vanilla Sea-shells and chocolate caviar for Henry." Alex glanced at Henry.
"Yeah. That's right," said Henry.
"And a caesar salad please?"
"No problem," the waitress replied. "Anything to drink?"
"Yes, one love potion please."
Henry laughed. "What sort of name is that?"
"I know which is why I want to try it."
"Let's make it two love potions."
"So Alex," said Henry. "I'm thinking of taking you to one last attraction before we head home."
"If you really must, Henry."
"It's the newest set. A town Alex. I know you love model villages."
Alex listened. Henry was right. He did love model villages.
"Okay," said Alex. "Where from?"
"What's this village based off?"
"I prefer Milo myself."
"Shut up Alex, besides you've never tried Milo."
"This is the Land of The Dead, Alex."
"Looks like a theme park to me, Henry," teased Alex.
"I think you're gonna love this place," said Henry, ignoring his joke.
"Mhmm," said Alex.
He soaked in his surroundings.
The other attractions he had been forced to partake in hadn't been too impressive but this place... well, he'd always had a thing for model villages.
"I thought this one might cheer you up," said Henry, noticing Alex was smiling for the first time since arriving in Disneyland. He kissed him on the cheek. Alex giggled.
"Your lips tickle Henry."
"No, you're just ticklish."
"Very true Henry. Very true."
"So, this is the land of the dead, hmm?" said Alex. He studied four skeleton models, facing a brightly lit stage. "Oh look, Henry. Don't you think that skeleton in green looks a bit like Gabriella?"
"Gabriella, Henry. Remember her?"
"My doll, Henry."
"Oh. The one in your pescatarian restaurant?"
He stared at the ground for a brief moment. Had Henry really forgotten Gabriella?
"Gabriella was a menace," said Henry. "Always throwing my burger in the trash."
"Well, she supports healthy eating," said Alex.
"Still, she was a menace for doing that." He nodded at Alex and raised an eyebrow. Alex knew exactly what he meant and returned a particularly smug smile back at Henry.
Alex strolled up to a door. He peeped through. "Think we should break in, hmm?"
Henry laughed. "No one lives here, silly."
"Yes they do. You just can't see them because they're dead and we're alive."
Henry said something cheeky in response, but Alex was not listening.
He was peeping through the window.
"What are you waiting for, Alex?"
"Nothing, Henry. I'm going in."
He decided he didn't like these walls.
He remembered when he was eight having an argument with Grandma Oak over what colour to use on his bedroom walls. Grandma Oak had insisted on this same colour for most of the rooms in her house. She liked to have a theme. But where's the fun in painting everything one colour? he had thought, and he had wanted to paint his bedroom a bright red, as red was his favourite colour. Quite rightly his Grandmother had explained why it might not be a good idea. Red is too noisy for a bedroom, she had reasoned.
Oh how I miss her.
"Alex. You okay?"
"Uhm... we can head home if you like. There's always tomorrow if you're not feeling up to it today."
"I'm fine, Henry."
"What is going on, Henry?" said Alex. He could not believe what he was seeing.
"What do you mean, 'what's going on?'" said Henry. "It's a bed, can't you see?"
We had a bed like that once, Alex recalled. In our guest room back at my grandparents' place. "But why are there real beds in a Disney theme park? And why are they there if we can't sleep in them?"
"What have you got against beds, Alex?" Henry laughed and he brushed past Alex into the room.
"Oh, Henry. I've got absolutely nothing against beds, in fact..."
"Uhm, Alex," breathed Henry, "I don't think this is uhm very respectful of you know the theme park and... uhm..."
"Hmm, Henry?" said Alex, kissing his best friend shamelessly.
"You are a toe rag and a half," Henry chuckled.
"But I'm your toe rag Henry, which makes it alright." Alex collapsed onto Henry, shifted into a comfortable position, arms wrapped around his best friend and fell asleep. Home, I welcome you.
"Uhm... Alex?" Whispered Henry after several minutes. He nudged him. "Don't think it's right to sleep here."
"Hmm," sighed Alex. "I remember."
"Wanna go home?"
Alex sat upright, refreshed after his power nap. "No Henry. Perfectly fine."
The two went outside.
Alex picked up a book off the shelf inside one of the homes and opened it. Coco, hmm? A 2017 movie? I would be seven. Don't remember that year much. Mama told me that's a good thing.
Alex flicked through some pages. So, boy steals guitar... nice! Temporarily dies. Cool! Say 'hi' to mama for me. Oh and don't forget to try some of Granny Oak's Pan De Muertos. Yes I can guarantee you they're good. Yep, better than your mama's. I know I'm biased. That's not the point. Oh... hmm... I see. You think this talentless celebrity is the greatest musician ever, hmm? I object strongly. Oh yes I do because we all know Joan Baez is the greatest musician ever. No it's a fact. Why? Because I said so and I'm king. What are you? A shoemaker? Like the one in those European fairytales? Okay, that's pretty cool. Maybe you can tell those European fairytales that witches aren't so bad. Yes, yes, we don't like witches much either, so maybe you can inform both? Why do I want you to do this? Well, because my great grandmother, Talula, is a witch. Yes a real life witch and I want everyone to know just how special she is. Special? Oh yes very special. Almost as special as mama and Henry. Henry hmm? Oh he's so special. You would love him. He's that type of person who, when he walks into a room, you notice. Not because he's extremely good looking, because he is. And not because he's adorably awkward, because he's that too. But because he's approachable and the mere presence of him makes you smile. Do you know anyone like that? Oh really hmm? Your great grandmother? Okay, let's say we both have special people in our lives. Anyway, I've got to go. Henry's dragging me around Simsland... Yeah, I wish you were here instead of me too. Anyway, bye.
Alex placed the book back on the shelf. What a lovely book, he mused. Then he was assailed by memories.
He was fourteen, in his room, playing his guitar. He loved his guitar. Every strum of the strings was like a release of energy, knotted and tangled inside him. His mama had bought it for him when aunty had thrown his Grandmother's guitar in the trash a month after he had arrived at the castle. Mama had been furious and the next week she had bought him a new guitar.
Alex was playing one of his favourites, We Shall Overcome. He loved the freedom it gave him to pep up the melody.
He was so happy in his room, and he had remembered to light the candles, since it was getting dark and there had been a power cut.
Then Aunty had entered his room, invaded his private space, and made him cry. She was good at that. She hated him and he didn't know why. She was angry, she had said, because he was annoying her and the whole family with his guitar playing. He couldn't understand it. He was playing well. Mama told him he was good and mama knows what she's talking about. She could play some tough Rasgueado patterns. But aunty thought differently. She told him his playing gave her headaches.
So she had chucked his guitar out, along with the few personal belongings he still had.
Most of his belongings had already been got rid of by aunty a while ago, not long after he had arrived in Simsland. Mama had been horrified, and so she had hid the remainder of Alex's belongings in a secret basement she'd discovered, where Alex could collect them when he needed or go when he wished to say his prayers. But aunty had discovered the basement and taken the remains of Alex's belongings.
"Nothing Catholic and nothing foreign in this palace, thank you."
"I'm not foreign," said Alex. "I was born in Simsland."
"Hey. What's wrong baby?"
Mama had been out all day at a charity event. Alex could not quite remember what he had told her, but he remembered her reaction. She pulled him close and kissed his cheek. He could smell the familiar jasmine and Bulgarian rose from her perfume. She always smelled like that on days when she left the palace. He remembered there was a fight downstairs between mama and aunty. He couldn't hear what they were saying, but he imagined how it might have gone.
Mama and aunty having a 'glare off.' Mama saying lots of powerful stuff like, "why do you have to be so mean?" and "say 'no' to haters."
Okay, mama later had told Alex exactly what she had said to aunty Charlize of Newcrest.
"I will carve a wooden cross myself. I will handwrite the **** bible. Whatever it takes but if my son wishes to continue his cultural and religious traditions, you will not take that right away."
"Wow, I like the ****."
"No Alex," his mama had said. "That's not the important bit."
So anyway, safe to say aunty had lost the argument.
"There'll be people who support you, Alex. You've just got to be patient. And remember, mama's here. Mama will always be here."
"Hey Alex, This is the karaoke room!"
"Hmm?" Alex had totally forgotten where he was. "Oh. Henry, 'hi.'"
"Alex. You've got to try out that karaoke machine."
"Say that I'm crazy, or call me a fool. But last night, it seemed that I dreamed about you..." sang Alex.
"... Oh my family, hear my people. Sing in chorus, let it be known. Our love for each other will live on forever. In every beat of my proud heart."
"Alex. I swear you saw that movie."
"Coco! You sang that epilogue just like Miguel, but older."
"Never seen it" said Alex. Although singing that song made him feel like a boy again. He used to love singing in front of people.
"So this is the view from the top."
"It's beautiful Henry," he whispered.
"Yeah. It apparently took them ages to build and, huh?"
Henry's hands rubbed Alex's back. They were such strong, firm, hands. Or maybe he liked them because they were Henry's.
"I love you, Henry," said Alex.
"Yeah," his best friend replied. "Wanna head back?"
"So," said his best friend. "You gonna tell me what's up? You were a little distant today."
"Sorry," said Alex. Henry gave him a loving smooch on the lips.
"You were actually wonderful and I really appreciated the company. Thanks for coming, Alex."
"I love you Henry."
"I know," his friend replied. "And I'm the smuggest man alive."
Cruz Castle, Windenburg
Dear Mr Keener,
My apologies for the delay. I've been rather busy lately with some affairs of my own. Then a few days ago, my friend and I had a trip to the new Disneyland in Brindleton Bay. We had a lovely time. I've attached a pic at the end of this letter. It's of me and my friend in The Land of The Dead from Coco. Have you seen Coco? It's a wonderful movie. A true masterpiece. So spectaculously deliciously scrumptious. I haven't seen it.
Not worthy to talk to a king? Are you saying I have poor judgement? You should be careful not to offend a king and as it happens, I have a list of 'not worthys' and you don't make the top 50.
I am not familiar with a Kristopher Baker. He plays violin you say? I would ask my grandmother if she was acquainted with any such musician but she is unfortunately dead, so not possible. What type of music does he play? Grandma Oak used to play a lot of Jazz. She liked Jazz. She loved the freedom it gave her to express herself.
Yes, my best friend is very sweet. He made me feel better the other day when I was having a rough time. You needn't know the details, just that he's my rock, whatever that expression is supposed to mean, but we're very close.
My friend and I are yet to discuss our visit to San Myshuno, but I do believe we shall be visiting soon. My friend really wants to visit his hometown. I would love to meet the rest of his family, but he's not particularly on speaking terms with them at the moment.
You found out you were what? I'm sorry, but how do you not know you were born a girl? What about your birth certificate? Surely your parents didn't know you were a boy then? I am so confused and you should never confuse a king, Chance Keener. They don't like being confused.
I mean, what about some of the obvious signs? Did you not think it strange to have two holes, for instance? I apologise for my boldness, but this is a serious matter. I think your parents have a lot to answer for, keeping you in the dark like this.
This is how accidents happen, such as your unexpected pregnancy. What if this happened before you were married? What would you do then? Your parents should be ashamed for not educating you properly on your body and I would like to know why your husband never asked any questions. Surely he noticed you had two holes. And what was he doing not wearing protection?
Anyway, hope to hear from you soon about this rather extraordinary and horrifying situation.
His Majesty The King
Earlier in Brindleton Bay.
Alex was walking back to the cabin he and Henry had rented for a few days. He was having a wonderful day. Henry had taken him to The Land of The Dead again and afterwards out for lunch at a local food truck. He had never been to one in Simsland, which surprised Henry very much, so he decided to take him to one not far from the Disney resort.
Alex felt a presence behind him.
He stopped and turned his head. A woman was glaring at him.
"Ehm... Can I help you?" said Alex.
The woman waved her hands at him in a beckoning and brisk manner.
"Alex!" scolded the woman.
"Who are you and how do you know my name?"
"You do not sit on tables."
"Tables?" Alex thought back to the previous night when he was with Henry on the table outside the house they were renting. She was watching us?
"Next time I see you disrespecting someone else's property I am marching right up to your wedding, when you get married, and announcing 'I object' in a very loud voice 'because my grandson is a disrespectful slob who doesn't know the difference between a table and a bench!"
Note: The song that Alex sings is Proud Corazón written by Celestino Deleyto and sung by Anthony Gonzalez in the Disney Pixar film, Coco. The lyrics are written half in Spanish, but I have chosen to translate them to English, because this chapter is written from Alex's point of view. He is fluent in Spanish and so would be thinking in Spanish. I have done the same in other chapters where I have written from the point of view of Spanish speakers.
Disney Pixar's Land of The Dead by Rubinrot97
Frozen Tower by Frantzman. Original by Daniel_SimFansDE (Daniel from SimsFans.de)
Lilo and Stitch Hideout by lollipop1989
Candy House by kaibellvert
Snow White Vet Clinic by FruUtter
Cozy CoCo by SkellySim
Poses by Joannebernice and enniewritesathing.
Custom content by simmyneutron, SimLifeCC, nathaliasims and aroundthesims.