Goose-stepping behind are Queen of Hearts and Cards. They glare menacingly at onlookers.
Stumbling at the rear is Pied Piper, one-time mayor and now Emperor’s barrister.
“The Reds will win,” Emperor bellows. Queen and Cards pull out buckets and brushes, threatening to repaint those whose colors offend.
Spectators begin chanting, “Emperor has no clothes. Emperor has no clothes.” Children point and giggle.
Pied Piper frantically begins tootling.
No one follows him.
Even the rats, peeking out from the sewers, know they’re better off where they are.