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Posts Tagged ‘Hamlet’

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When he was about 5 or 6, I used to tell HRM stories every evening. The following is one of them:

“So, last night, at bed time, I continued telling the series of stories to Hayden that I had begun about two years ago. The stories concerned the adventures of Danny (Hayden’s alter ego) and his trusty pony Acorn (who Hayden now and then rides whenever we visit Bill and Naida’s ranch).”

“Danny was resting at an oasis in the desert following his besting of ‘The Old Man Under the Mountain.’ With him were his two friends; “The Black Knight,” a gorilla (Whose alter ego cuddly toy shares my bed) who is “The World’s Strongest Knight” and rides a white horse with brown spots like a cow and is called appropriately “White-brownie or Brown-whitey,” and; “The White Knight Who Used to be ‘The Old Man who Dressed Like a Beggar’ and was The Worlds Most Powerful Magician,” until Danny, in the throne room of the Green Castle, defeated him in a duel of magic aided by “The Monster Who Lives in the Closet and Who Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags,” and turned him into a mouse. In order for Danny and The Black Knight to escape from the dungeon of the “Old Man Under the Mountain,” Danny, again with the aid of “The Monster who lives in the Closet but Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags” turned him from a mouse into a young handsome human except with less magical power so that his full name now became, “The White Knight Who Used to be an Old Man Dressed Like a Beggar and the Worlds Most Powerful Magician Until he was Turned into a Mouse and Then into A Young Man who was Not so Powerful a Magician.” The White Knight rode a black horse named, “Blackie.””

“They had just finished dinner and were drinking their milk while staring into the campfire when a troop of musicians and actors who were camping nearby came by and offered to put on a performance for the famous Knights.”

“The Knights agreed that they would enjoy that and the chief musician tuned up his Lute and began his song by introducing his main protagonist a skinny boy of indeterminate age named ‘Heimlich.’ Heimlich lived in a not so great but good enough castle in a dreary country somewhere that was always foggy. Heimlich was sad because his father, who was called Pruneberry the King of the Castle (and, if truth be known, King of little else) had just died. In addition almost before the body became cold or whatever it is body’s become after its inhabitant dies, his mother Natasha Dewlap married Heimlich’s uncle, Julius Caesar (we both thought that was a very funny name).”

“Anyway, Heimlich and his friend [who strangely did not have a name but it could just as well be something as ridiculous and Guildenstern or Rosencrantz or even Miracle Max] one evening, for some unknown reason, decided to go the cemetery to visit the site where Pruneberry was buried. Along the way, they came upon a pile of bones and a skull. Heimlich thought the skull reminded him of “Mortimer” his old kindergarten teacher.”

“Anyway, Heimlich’s friend decided to return home after they discovered the bones because he was a sensible lad and was creeped out by the bones and Heimlich’s weirdness. Heimlich went on by himself.”

“When Heimlich arrived at the gravesite, a Ghost popped out and said, ‘Heimlich I am your father, Pruneberry and I was killed by Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar who put poison up my nose while I was asleep.’”

“At this point, Hayden asked me ‘How can a ghost speak after he died?’”

“‘A keen observation,’ I acknowledged. ‘That is why Heimlich did not believe him and went back home.’”

“The next morning, as coincidence and fairy tales have it, a group of traveling actors came by the castle and asked Heimlich if he would like to have them perform a play. Maybe, Heimlich thought, if they perform Pruneberry’s death like the Ghost told it in front of Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar one of them would be reminded and say something like, “Say that looks familiar,” and Heimlich would then know what the Ghost said perhaps could have been true.”

“And so, the traveling players put on the show and at just the right moment, Julius Caesar turned to Natasha Dewlap and said, ‘Say Natty does this look familiar to you?’ At which point Heimlich became furious and drove Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar out of the castle where they were forced to live in a tent and sell apples and rutabagas to passersby.”

“Hayden then asked me, ‘What are rutabagas?’ I said, ‘I did not know.”’

“Heimlich, thereafter spent everyday alone in the little castle in that dismal country with his furry white cat named ‘Snowy,’ looking out of his window and down upon Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar trying to sell their apples and rutabagas to passersby, except for once a year when the troop of actors came by and they had a party.”

“The End.”

“I then told Hayden that the actors would perform another tale that I would tell him about tomorrow [I was already working on a children’s version of King Lear]. But, Hayden asked me if Danny was ever going to go back home to visit his mom who lived in the cottage by the “Deep Dark Wood,” before setting out on another adventure. He thought it would be a good idea if he did.”

“I told him that Danny told the musicians that he would not listen to the story now because he needed to get good nights sleep so that tomorrow he would be well rested for his trip back through the ‘Deep Dark Wood’ to visit his mom.”

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Yarggggghhhh!” screamed the Isabella character as she ran into the characters dressing room. “That’s it! That’s fucking it! That’s his idea of adding female characters, one bull dyke in a shrink-wrapped police uniform?…”

“Sheriff.”

“Police, sheriff whatever. …And, one frozen popsicle French tart?”

“Belgian.“

“What?”

“Belgian, she’s a Belgian. Walloon actually , French-speaking Belgians.”

“Who gives a shit, Belgian or loony, who cares? Is that the best he can do to add woman characters to the story? And he keeps adding fat men”

“Actually,” said the Vince character, “Big Flo is better described as husky, not fat.”

She looked at him and wrinkled up her nose as though something smelled bad, then grinned and asked, “Well, how was she?”

“Who?”

“The frozen French popsicle.”

“How should I know? First we were in bed. Then I wake up in her hotel room. Fiction authors do that you know, avoid describing the specific mechanics of the sex act itself… except for porn authors. Just once in my career in fiction, I would like my author to recount the simple give and take, so to speak, so that I can get to experience it. Maybe when you and I get to do it, he’ll do that.”

“Fat chance of that. I doubt if he knows himself. Besides, I am now your damned bodyguard not your bed mate.”

“Well, it could be like that movie where Costner plays the bodyguard to the singer and gets it on with her. Anyway, whats up? You seem out of sorts. Are you having your period?”

“Ohhh! that is such a man thing, always bringing that up to explain a woman’s moods.”

“Well,” he said grinning?

“How should I know? Most authors don’t write about that either, at least what the women really feels…only the jokes. …But something doesn’t add up” she continued.

“What do you mean?”

“Who are we,” the Isabella character exclaimed? “Or more accurately, why are we?”

“Huh,” the Vince character responded. “What are you talking about?”

“What are we doing in this story? It’s not about us at all.”

“Of course it is about us. We are the main protagonists.”

“Look at it this way. The story is about a business deal gone bad, not your or my emotional or physical reaction to it or even our involvement. We appear to be minor characters observing and not a party to whatever is going on.“

“You mean like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet?”

Sort of…and you know what happened to them?”

“They died.”

“That’s just it. I have the feeling we are being set up by the author, to be… well, removed.”

“What do you mean,” said the Vince character in response to Isabella’s expression of concern?

“Well, the way I see it, it is like your character said when we met at Ike’s house, what we have here is simply a third-rate business screw up, so what’s the big deal?”

“Go on,” Vince encouraged. “I still don’t see what you’re so concerned about.”

“These type of business failures and frauds happen every day, but people don’t go running around committing suicide, killing people or setting up fall guys.”

“Well, maybe the Brethren are publicity shy.”

“Maybe,” she continued. “But their involvement is easily dismissed publicly as only another case of some abused and defrauded investors. No, it is something more, something bigger that if it came out would threaten everything,”

So, I still don’t see what you’re so upset about. This is a thriller. The author, if he knows what he is doing, would want a conspiracy, the bigger the better.”

“No, no that’s not it,” she exclaimed, her voice rising. “What’s our role, your role?”

“I’m the reluctant but courageous hero who after many harrowing adventures prevails over the forces of darkness,” he responds smugly. “And you, why you’re my doxy,” he adds with a smile and leans forward to peer more closely at his face in the makeup mirror.

“That would work,” she responds derisively, “if you knew something that threatens them, whoever they are, which you don’t. Or they think you know something, which you don’t . Or you could stumble over something which you won’t because everyone knows the only reason you were brought into this novel was to die.”

Vince stared into Isabella’s eyes reflected in the make-up mirror.

“So,” he said slowly, “even if I were to agree with your dramatic conclusion, which I don’t, what could we do about it? It is the authors story after all.”

“We can try to change it,” she responded.

Vince broke out laughing with a laugh that was somewhere between mirth and nervousness.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said after finishing his show of feigned amusement. “It is the author’s story. The characters can do nothing about it. They only can play their part.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” she replied seriously. “Characters often make the story and the author respond to where the logic of his character leads. Even this author said that he was disappointed in his character Ike. He expected more of him.”

“I do not think that he ment quite what you think he ment, but,” he added thoughtfully, “I admit that I am intrigued somewhat by your suggestion. How do you propose we do this probably impossible thing.”

“Well, I do not really know for sure,” she said, “but we can start by after each scene you and I going over it to try to figure out what the hell is really is going on or what’s actually in the author’s mind, or even if he doesn’t know himself we can try to understand what could happen. We would be sort of like helping the Author along if you will…for our own benefit of course.”

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He sat in a small booth with a tiny table in the darkened dinning room of the outrageously expensive restaurant waiting for the Great One, Arrogant Bella LaGrande to arrive. He wondered if any of the other diners or any of the wait staff was one of the “agents” that Russel promised would provide him protection.

“What a joke,” he thought. He still could not believe Russel’s warning. He wondered is Isabella was on the job too, lurking somewhere outside or in the shadows. It was all so grotesquely absurd he though and began to chuckle to himself when he became aware of Arabella La Grande’s entrance into the restaurant and purposeful stride toward his table. Tall and slender with a gallic nose and short mannish hair just beginning to become dusted with grey, she wore a dark business suit with a skirt and a white ruffled blouse. He began to rise, but she curtly motioned him to remain seating.

“It is good to see you again Vincent,” she said while in one single move she slid into the booth opposite him, smartly snapped open the napkin and placed it on her lap.

“I’m as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” he responded. “How are you, and how is Alec?” Alec being Arabella’s husband.

She looked at him for what seemed like a long time with those expressionless grey eyes of hers and finally said, “I’m fine. He is fine. Everyone is fine. But I am not here to talk about domestic bliss.”

“I expected as much. So why are you here?” Vince said through clenched teeth.

“Ah, good,” she said. “Let’s order first and then get down to it shall we. I am famished.”

“Good idea,” he said, “but if you’re hungry, this is not the place, the portions are too small for even a mouse to feel full. I always have to go searching for a hamberger joint to get some real food after leaving here.

She smiled frostily and examined the menu.

After ordering and the arrival of the first glass of wine, he leaned back in his booth and said to her, “So?”

She leaned forward her eyes boring into his. “How are you doing, Vince?”

He cocked an eyebrow.

“No,” she responded to his expression. “I am not interested in you emotional well-being,” she continued with an almost girlish giggle. “How, and more to the point what are you doing with the firm? You know I was the logical choice to succeed Sam.”

She hesitated awaiting his response, but Vince knew this game and remained silent. She continued, “You’re a bright guy Vince, we all know that , but you are neither a manager or leader. Why you? No, one on the management committee is talking. They refer me to David. All David tells me is that, under the circumstances they thought you would do a good job. That’s Bullshit.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Vince interjected.

“Ha,” she laughed. “You know what I mean. Something is going on and I need to know what it is. I have my own career to think of.”

“Conjecture,” Vince opined. “It is all conjecture. I do not know if I was asked to return because of any perceived abilities I may have or some more nefarious reasons. I have heard both theories. And, while I admit the latter is probably more reasonable, I haven’t the slights idea what the nefarious plot could be — although there have been several bizarre alternatives seriously suggested. For example, does this all have something to do with the reason Sam took his life and his wife died in what to some is a suspicious accident? Or, does it have something to do with “Red Star” or a shadowy group referred to as “The Brethren?”

“Red Star,“ interjected The Great One. “That’s the little fraud Sam and the management committee pulled on the rest of the partners, that I and others were furious about and why I tried to get the lot of them thrown out and a new committee elected, but then you came along and simply dispensed with the existing committee. A lot of us believe that you were brought aboard simply to stifle our little rebellion.”

“Do you?”

“Well, to some extent. Not in so many words or even consciously. Let’s face it Vince, you may see yourself as spokesmen for the downtrodden and talk a good game, but no one knows if you have any administrative skills whatsoever. You remind me a bit of Hamlet. You cannot act unless you are sure beyond a doubt.”

“Thanks for another vote of confidence. But even Hamlet once he was sure, acted decisively.”

“Yes, and everyone died. That’s what worries me.” She hesitated a moment then continued, “But, Red Star, is there more there than just stealing some profits from the other partners? There’s a rumor that the Federal Government is investigating.”

“I doubt whether the firm is of great interest to the Feds. Oh, they may want some of the involved partners to testify, but I think they are after different game. Our attorney affectionately referred to as “The First” agrees. Oh, there may be some PR fallout but our PR firm, Cantor Associates should be able to handle it. My bigger problem is the impact of the cost of all this on the firm’s finances…that and the fact that I have been informed that I am in some sort of physical danger.”

“What sort of physical danger,” said Arabella leaning closer across the table?

“Oh, are you concerned about my personal welfare?”

“We can discuss my personal interests later, right now I want to know everything you can tell me.”

__________________________________

The following morning Vince awoke with Arabella standing by the bed fully dressed and gripping the handle of her roll-aboad suitcase.

“I have to run to catch my flight,” she said. “You can sleep in until check out time. The room is paid for.”

Rising on one elbow he said, “ah, I enjoyed last night and did…”

“Yes, I enjoyed it too. And if you are wondering how you were,” she said with a smile. “Well, not as good as our pool boy in Nice, but relative to some of your partners, their ego’s are bigger than their penises.”

“Well, thanks. I guess you were pretty good yourself.”

“Yes,” she said with a wink. “Your ego is much smaller than theirs” she added as she strode out the door followed by the pillow Vince flung after her.

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