You think you’ve heard what happened in Castle Elsinore back in fifteen-four-ought. You know, how Hamlet had his Daddy’s revenge on Claudius. Well, that’s not the story the Ham’s best bud, Horatio, told me, and he ought to know. He was an eye witness to all things Hamlet.
The truth of the matter is the Ham was afraid of ghosts. Hard to believe since the Old Man showed up slinking around the castle like he owned the place. But if you’re living in a castle five hundred years old, what can you expect? Walls gonna talk and what they’re going to say is Boo.
And not just ghosts scare bejeesus out of the Ham. Shadows walking the halls. Even his own shadow. The graveyard. Ophelia tippytoe-ing down the hall in her flip flops. His Mommykins anoring so loud it could be heard down in the graveyard. Claudius giving a kingly command. You name it. He was afraid of it. If he heard a clinking of armor outside his room at midnight, he was kissing the ceiling.
When the Ham was knee-high to a grasshopper, his Dad had sent him to Anti-Boo Skool. But that hadn’t worked. Those monks walking around in black scared him all the more.
Since this was the middle ages, there was no internet, no tv, no smart phone, no movies. There was not even books. So folks had to find a way to entertain themselves. After a while, counting toes just don’t hack it.
That’s when Polonius came up with a boo-a-thon. He just loved running up behind the Ham and watching him turn white as a white picket fence. Pretty soon half the castle was in on the gig. The one that sent the Ham the highest with their boo won a prize. It might be a free ticket to the fair. It might be sitting on the king’s throne for a minute. It might be getting on the graveyard express with poor Yorick. It became so popular that Claudius and Gertrude joined in.
For the Christmas, 1541, Polonius planned a boo-a-pa-looza, For the winner, there was a week’s vacay with the Romeo and Juliet Sunny Italy Tour. Some years before, the R&J had been a venture capital startup with King Lear as a silent partner. That had been in the days before Goneril and Regan had conned daddykins out of his kingdom and he ended up in the mad house.
Well, the Ham’s Dad got wind of the plan on the other side. Seems Horatio had a seance with Macbeth’s three witches and they communicated with him.
“What to do? What to do?” Dad asked in his best W.C. Fields. He asked Faust. He asked Beelzebub. He even asked Beetlejuice. Three times, no less. They came up with nada. Nothing. They thunk and they thunk until they were boo in the face. Then it hit them. Their old friend Scrooge. Perhaps he had a solution.
Scrooge introduced Dad to Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim knew people. He was a regular medieval Facebook and he had thousands of Friends and millions of Likes. Tiny Tim introduced him to Doctor Frankenstein. Doctor F snapped his fingers and said, “Have I got a monster for you,”
He opened his closet and rolled out the ugliest thing you ever saw. It was on roller skates.
“This is Thing,” he said. “He’s slow on the up side but I think he’s the Thing for you.”
Needless to say the night for the boo-pa-looza was not a pretty sight. Dad slipped the Ham out of the castle and dressed up Thing like the Prince.
Around midnight Thing left the Ham’s room. It was Polonius who took the first boo. Thing turned and went, “Boo.” Polonius’ eyes became saucers. His whole body turned white. And he left the castle faster than a speeding bullet. Right behind him were Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes and Ophelia and the rest of the boo-pa-looza gang. They disappeared into the darkness and haven’t been seen since.
Hamlet decided Italy was the place for him. it was sunny and the food was good and everybody had wonderful Italian names.
As far as Elsinore was concerned, it became a ghost town. I mean, literally it was a ghost town.