He crowned himself King, since no one else would do it.

The royal wardrobe consisted of a pair of gym shorts matted with tree sap and a pair of size-three Reeboks. The elevated throne awaited him, the royal subjects on hand to genuflect. Robert never felt more alive. He ascended toward heaven by grabbing each smooth branch, lifting himself up with a warrior’s might and speed. Seven feet from the fruit-stained ground, his royal chair awaited him.

Irrefutably, this would be a good day.

Summer’s rays made a valiant attempt to cut through the foliage of Robert’s crabapple throne room, but shade won the contest. He wriggled his skinny backside into the crook of the best butt-shaped branch in the whole kingdom and popped a few green ones into his mouth. The wet crunch spilled the warmth of the sun all over his tongue. “Real kings eat the apple, core and all,” he declared to the royal party, consisting of an unconvinced sparrow in the outer reaches.

As he feasted on his midday meal, Robert pondered the affairs of state, as all good kings do. Of all the subjects in Robert’s kingdom, none proved more wicked than the Knave. Six years his junior, Chris consistently drew the ire of His Majesty with his incessant pestering and childish crying. Robert would climb toward the throne room; Chris wanted to follow, but being of low stature, could not reach the entrance. Robert would adjourn to his chambers to play with Legos and the King’s mother would insist that Chris accompany him. That frequently evolved into a spat between siblings, as Chris would always try to eat Robert’s royal party.

Historically, Robert knew that kings’ little brothers would often made a grab for the throne. One day, Chris would be tall enough to reach the lower limbs of Robert’s kingdom. This potential security breach demanded swift action.

The threat of treachery consumed the King, so he devised a plot to hoodwink the Knave into relinquishing any claim on the throne. More than anything, Chris loved crabapples.

“We must kill him with kindness,” the King explained as the sparrow fluttered off in search of quieter kingdoms. Undaunted by this insubordination, Robert ran to his father’s storage cellar and fetched an empty Blue Bell pail, filling it with the finest apples in the King’s reserves. With a black marker, he labeled the pail “Bribe Bucket.”

History will remember me as a wise and clever king, he thought to himself. He would keep the Knave fat on fruit. As such, this would-be usurper would become too plump to ever threaten the king’s authority. However, as a fail-safe, Robert would make Chris swear to never climb into his leafy kingdom, assuming that he wanted to keep eating crabapples.

Content with this new ruse, the King strode toward the Knave’s quarters to employ his corrupt politics.