Hamlet: Anybody seen my rubber duckie?

These words are razors to my wounded heart. – Titus Andronicus Act I, Scene I.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 3 Scene 4. Bedroom Scene. The Hamster thinks he’s alone with Gertie the Queen,  better known as Mom. But they are not alone. What would a scene in Hamlet be without someone spying on someone else. So Polonius is behind the curtains.

Hamster: Why did you marry–?

Gertie: I love him.

Hamster: Dad not good enough for you?

G: I get lonely.

H: Afraid of the dark? Afraid of sleeping alone? I can sleep on the couch and keep the big bad monsters away.

G: It’s not that.

H: Oh, I get it. Claudius has a sword. Dad only had a dagger.

G: No.

H; Or are you just a slut? Sleeping with every Tom, Dick and Claudius?

G: No.

H: My God, Mother, you didn’t sleep with Polonius, did you?

G: No.

G: I just needed somebody who would scrub my back and let me play with his rubber duckie.

H: Aww, now the truth comes out. Dad wasn’t duckie enough for you.

Polonius coughs from behind the curtain. Scares the jumping-jack-flash out of the Hamster. Before the Hamster could stop himself, his dagger was…well, let’s just say it was. Polonius fell. He was dead as a doorknob and any other kind of knob too.

The good news is we are getting somewhere with the plot. We now have Corpse Number One. But don’t worry, folks, there is more to come.

What can we say about Polonius? Here was a man who hid behind curtains. To spy on all. He spied on Laertes. He spied on Ophelia. He spied on the Queen. And Hamlet. Makes one think that he was a regular man from U.N.C.L.E. with all that eavesdropping. By spying, he knew stuff. Like Who Put The Bop In The Bop Shoo Bop.

Hamlet knew the man, who hid behind curtains, was the man behind the curtains. Now the man ain’t hiding no more.

Gertie starts bawling her eyes out.

H: Now don’t tell me you played with Polonius’ rubber duckie.

G: Are you crazy? I would never.

H: Phew. That’s a relief. You had me worried for a minute there.

G: How can you think such a thing?

H: Well, look whose rubber duckie you are playing with.

G: Hmmph.

H: Poor stupid Polonius. That’s what you get for eavesdropping. A blade in the gut, and you’re dead.

G: Oh shame where is thy blush. On the carpet, of course. How am I ever going to get that blood out?

H: Geez, you didn’t feel that way when Dad died.

G: Your dad had the good sense to die in the garden, not all over my beautiful carpet.

Just when you least expect it, Ghostie shows his pretty face.

Hamlet to the Ghost: Back in Act 1. Scene 5. You said you had to urgently return to the flames of purgatory. What happened?

Ghost: Are you sure I said that?

Hamlet: You did and I quote…

Ghost: That doesn’t sound like me.

Hamlet: Well, it was you. And now you’re back.

Ghost: Just to remind you that your dragging your feet on this revenge business. And, please, don’t get scary with your mother. I don’t want her dying from a heart attack.

Hamlet: I’ve been doing my best. And I’ll lay off Mom.

Ghost: Well, okay. I really don’t want to have to make another appearance. That will mean overtime and you know how play producers feel about overtime. They don’t like it. So get with it.

Poof! Ghostie is gone.

Gertie: Just who were you talking too?

H: Oh, you wouldn’t know. Now do me a favor.

G: I’ll try.

H: Don’t play rubber duckie with Claudius no more.

G:But I like his rubber duckie.

H: You want me to clean up my act?

G: Of course.

H: No more rubber duckie with Claudius.

G: (finally): No more rubber duckie with Claudius. (Gertie has her fingers crossed. After all, The Hamster will be in England soon. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, now will it?)

G: (looks over to the corpse): So what are we going to do with that thing?

H: I hear there’s a fellow down the way that is looking for fresh corpse.

G: That sounds downright ghoulish, don’t you think?

H: I think that’s what “Frankenstein” means in Bavarian. Ghoulish.

G: You don’t say.

H: I do say. Seems he wants to bring a corpse back to life.

G: Will Herr Doktor Frankenstein take the corpse c.o.d. or are we going to have to pay for shipping?

H: Either way, I’ll get him wrapped up and give FedEx a call.

The Hamster reaches down and drags the corpse off stage. Gertie goes to see if she can find Claudius’ rubber duckie.

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Hamlet: If walls could talk

When clouds appear, wise men put on their cloaks;
When great leaves fall, the winter is at hand;
When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
(Richard III, 2.3)

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Now here’s where things get greasy. The ghost don’t talk. He is the strong silent type. His little finger motions Hamlet to follow him. Just like Daddy did when he was alive.

“Don’t go, Hamlet,” Horatio pleads, afraid that Hamlet will try to fly or something foolish. But Hamlet is stubborn. He’s got to find out what the big guy is up to.

Next thing the Hamster knows he is up on the roof alone and cornered. Ghostee is out for revenge. And not just any revenge. He wants big time revenge. Big Daddy Hamlet isn’t about to take his croaking lying down. No, sirree. Hamlet’s old man is not going to give Hamlet a Get-out-of-jail-free card.

Seems his Cain of a brother, Claudius, poisoned him. Didn’t even give him time to say his goodbyes one last time to the woman of his dreams, Gertrude. On top of that, he’s roaming around purgatory, trying to cleanse himself of all the blood and guts he spilled. He had a lot to confess. Daddy Hamlet was the original Terminator. He was out to terminate Norway because Norway wanted to terminate him. Now he’s roaming around purgatory. All ‘cause Claudius didn’t give him a deathbed confession.

Hamlet had never been close to his dad. Now here is the Great Santini asking Junior to do in Uncle Claudius for croaking him. Claudius is going to pay, and he is going to pay Big Time. And Hamlet is the Chosen One. Big Daddy is insisting he do the deed. And leave his mother to the fates. They will take care of her.

Well, the ghost has gone and done it. He really has gone and done it. Sure, Hamlet knew there was something rotten in Denmark. There’d always been something rotten in Denmark. The good news was that Denmark wasn’t Sweden. The bad news was that Denmark was Denmark.

Hamlet isn’t sure revenge is a good idea. What is the big deal about croaking the king? Why does it need some revenge. Why can’t everybody just get along.

Everybody did their kings in. Even the Romans. Just look at the Neros. All that fiddling around and nobody had a taste for revenge when they were assassinated. If there was anybody who croaked a ruler and got away with it, it was the Romans.

These days there’s no more croaking the king or the queen. It just isn’t done. You have to wait for Mommy to die, and she never dies. Just look at Prince Charles and Edward VII. Queen Victoria hung around till she couldn’t hung around no more.

Hamlet Has His Doubts.

We’ve all got a bit of Hamlet in us. Hamlet reveals doubts we all have. Did I make the right decision? What if I do this thing? What if I don’t marry her? Do we have enough money to buy this house? Should we try that new treatment? Is this the right school for Junior? What if he don’t ask me out?  Should I spend all that money for this school? On and on these questions go. If they’d just go away, we’d be happy. Right?

So here’s Hamlet. He’s seen the damn Ghost. The Ghost says that he’s his daddy. He sure looks like Daddy. With all that armor and all. But what if he isn’t Daddy? What if he’s the devil? Old Scratch? Lucifer? Satan? Didn’t Satan tempt Jesus? Not just once but three times? What if Hamlet’s hallucinatin’? Wouldn’t be the first time some kid has got a bad batch of mushrooms, now would it? What if it was Polonius, and not Claudius, that did Daddy in? Daddy didn’t like Polonius.

What if Hamlet refused to follow the Ghost’s command for revenge? It’s a ghost of an idea, but it’s an idea. Even though the ghost says he’s Daddy, even though the ghost sounds like Daddy, even though the ghost smells like Daddy with his Early Viking cologne, Hamlet can’t be sure. What ghost in its right mind would walk around, asking somebody to kill someone? That went against the Thou-shalt-not-kill Commandment. That would get the ghost in even deeper in purgatory.

Besides this ghost says he’s Hamlet’s daddy and he’s in purgatory, not hell, for his sins. How can that be? Everybody knows purgatory doesn’t exist. Martin Luther says so. John Calvin says so. John Knox says so. It’s not in the scriptures, they all preach. Purgatory is a pigment of the Pope’s imagination. Any good Protestant knows it’s a Catholic thing. And if Hamlet is anything, he is a good Protestant. So he has his doubts.

This is a Revenge Tragedy, and don’t you forget it.

Hamlet is a dead man from Act One on. From the time he sees the Ghost of a Daddy, demanding revenge. For the avenger must die. It is written. It is the tradition of all the revenge tragedies before and Hamlet knows this. He is well-schooled in dramaturgy.

If only Hamlet ignores Big Daddy and elopes with Ophelia to sunny Italy, maybe love can save Hamlet’s hide and he will get to ride the happily-ever-after Disney ride.

‘Course love didn’t save Romeo. It’s hard to escape your fate. But you can try. It’s a lot for Hamlet to think about. And one thing is for sure. Hamlet is good at thinking. It may be the only thing he is good at.

Lazarus returns from the dead.

So now it’s dawn and Hamlet returns from his Agony on the Roof to find Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo snoring. He wakes them up.

“Listen, dudes,” he says. “Nothing happened last night.”

“Nothing?”

“Nada,” Hamlet lets them know. “On top of that, I need you guys to pretend I am mad. Can you do that?”

“But, Lord,” Horatio says.

“No buts.”

“You’re the sanest man I know,” Horatio throws at him.

“Not anymore. Now, swear.”

Barnardo, Marcellus and Horatio swear. Hamlet leaves the stage.

“Why won’t the Hamster tell us what happened?” Horatio asks the air.

“He doesn’t trust us,” Marcellus points out.

“Don’t that beat all,” Barnardo says.

They are feeling like that fifteen-year-old kid who isn’t chosen for the baseball game.

Hamlet: So you think you’ve got problems

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Hamlet 1. 5. 

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 1 Scene 4 1/2. We already know that it is a dark and stormy night at Elsinore Castle. Well, it’s about to get darker and stormier.

There’s Team Hamlet—Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, Barnardo. Sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it? Or a vaudeville act? The Marx Brothers. The Three Stooges without the nyak-nyak-nyak. Up on the roof, chattering their teeth off from the chill. Next thing you know, Horatio’s teeth stop chattering. Then to Hamlet, “My lord, look, it comes.”

Now that “it” can only be one thing. Not Polonius. Not Claudius. Not Gertrude. Not Laertes. Definitely not Ophelia. Yep, you guessed it.

Enter the ghost. Just three words. If you’re looking for a good plot device, this is a good one. After all, Dickens did it. So why not Shakespeare? They are about to change Hamlet’s life. Hamlet turns. Not slowly and not fastly, but just right the way Goldilocks liked her porridge. The next thing out of the Hamster’s mouth,” “Whoa, dude.” The “dude” comes from his surfing days.

He buckles up his courage. That is Courage with a capital C. “Okay, Big Guy. WTF are you?” Hamlet takes a gander at Horatio. His eyes big as saucers. Not just any saucers either. Flying saucers. “Is that who I think it is?”

Horatio nods an uh-huh.

Hamlet to the ghost, “Hey, are you from heaven? You don’t look like you’re from heaven. You’d be all shiny and new if you were. Maybe you’re a demon.”

He leans over and whispers to Horatio, “Run and get an exorcist. We have a big one here.” Then thinking better of it. “Oh, never mind. ”

He squints and speaks to the ghost, “Well, if it don’t beat all. It looks like the Old Man. Hi, Dad. I got to tell you that you forget to pay my college tuition for this semester. The school almost booted me out. Thank God for financial aid. But you know the interest rate I am having to pay on that loan. It’s enough to bankrupt the kingdom out of castle and moat when I become king.”

Hamlet then realizes he may not be talking to dear old Pop. “Look, dead corpse—you are dead, aren’t you? How did you get out? And don’t give me that yo-ho-ho-and-a-bottle-of-rum-on-a-dead-man’s-chest either. I read Treasure Island and I know how it turns out. It ain’t you.”

“Hamlet” and One More Thing

Foul deeds will rise, though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes. Hamlet 1. 2.

For Hamlet’s plot up till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 1. Scene 1 (Continued). Let us not call Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo cowards. All three were brave veterans of Daddy Hamlet’s wars against Norway. They had seen some bad ass stuff that would scare most mortal men. War is like that.

If you had seen the Thing they saw that night, you would have been terrified. The Thing was no run-of-the-mill ghost. It was a different matter. It was supernatural. It might even have been the Devil. The Big D himself. There’d been stories of Lucifer showing up like a wedding crasher, coming around as a familiar just to raise a ruckus.

Needless to say, the three were scared. Shaking-in-their-boots scared and glad the Thing was gone and hoping it wouldn’t come back though they pretty well guessed it would. At least, not on a night like this. Let It pick a night when the moon and the stars were out and the sky wasn’t covered in darkness.

Horatio couldn’t believe his eyes. He couldn’t believe his ears. In all his twenty-two years on Planet Earth, Horatio had never ever seen anything like Thing.

He was the first to speak. “Did you see what I saw? Did you hear what I heard?”

Marcellus wondered, “It sure looked like Hamlet’s dad.” Hamlet is the dead king’s only son and heir to the throne once the new king, his uncle Claudius, is dead.

“Or at least it wore the old king’s armor,” Horatio said.

“Maybe he stole the armor,” Barnabas said.

“Not a chance,” Horatio said. “Ain’t no way that the old king would let go of that armor. I remember that armor from my squiring days with the king. Not all the hounds in all the hells of the nine circles of hell could get that armor away from him.”

Marcellus rubbed his hands to keep warm. “I really can’t blame the Thing for wearing the armor. Otherwise he’d be out there in his altogethers freezing his ass off.”

“I’m not sure what this means,” Horatio said, his teeth chattering from the ice cold coming off the sea, “but it sure feels like it’s a bad, bad thing. Could it be that it wasn’t a Thing but an omen?”

“Omen?” Marcellus and Barnabas asked.

Horatio continued, “Yes, an omen of terrible, terrible things ’bout to be. Just like the omens Shakespeare put in his play, ‘Julius Caesar’ ‘fore J. C. got the dagger.”

“We got a war a-coming” Marcellus said. “There’s ships getting built. Cannon readied. Soldiers training.”

Horatio agreed. “Norway has been cruising for a bruisin’ since the king’s death. He’s testing the new king’s resolve.”

Since the young Fortinbras is the head dude in Norway, the characters often refer to him as Norway. Folks did that in the olden days.

“He’s really smelling up the situation,” Barnardo said. Fortinbras means “strong underarms” so it was very appropriate for Marcellus to say this. In those days, a bath wasn’t needed to be a strong leader. His feet probably stank too. Fortinbras’ smell wasn’t nothing. Folks in Scotland could smell Macbeth miles away.

“His daddy got clobbered,” Horatio went on. “Now he’s coming back for more. He’s gonna get it too. We’re going to whop up on him good this time.”

“Just like Norway,” Marcellus said. “Those Norwegians are so Norwegian.”

They had relaxed, thinking it was safe to hang out. The Thing made a reappearance. Not willing to settle for one shakedown, Thing came back for the Big Boo.

This time Horatio wasn’t sitting still. He yelled out at the Big Boo-sky, “What you want?”

Boo was not talking. Maybe It couldn’t and maybe It could. It wasn’t.

“C’mon guy. Has the cat got your tongue?” Horatio shouted out.

Horatio was thinking. Here we go again. Just like college when nobody would talk to me. This Thing shutting me out. Not a word. All cause I am not aristocracy. Only Ham would speak to me.

The rooster did his cock-a-doodle-doo. Then The Thing was gone. The apparition had left the room. It slipped out into the fog and the sea. The night too slipped out to sea and the sun was pretty near up in the east.

Barnabas was the first to speak. “Did you guys notice how wet the Ghost was? It could have easily passed for Swamp Thing with a helmet and armor.”

“One thing is for sure,” Marcellus said. “We have a war coming. I saw it in the Thing’s eyes.”

Horatio pointed toward the sun, arising over the horizon and painting the sky red. “Look. The red glow of morning. Our watch is now over. Let’s go to young Hamlet. Perhaps the Thing will speak to him.”

Marcellus and Barnardo shook their heads in agreement. And off to find Hamlet, Prince of the City, they went. They were glad to be rid of the Thing.

But the shiver from The Thing, the moan lingered in the three men’s bones. So much so that, on dark, cold nights, their bodies would remind them. The shutter would course through their veins like a river.

So where does this leave us? This Opening Scene is a summary of the whole play. From the first words of “Who’s there” until the final “it’s up to Hamlet”. Hamlet, and only Hamlet.

“Hamlet” and the Thing Part Deux

It harrows me with fear and wonder. Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 1. Scene 1 (Continued). The night had become darker than dark. In other words, it was exceedingly dark. Enough to get Barnardo to say, “It sure is dark out here.” There was no doubt about it. Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo could not see diddly-squat.

Except for the gray ghost of The Thing rising out of the sea. If eyeballs could have popped out, they would have popped out of the three men’s eye sockets. Without knowing it, the three fell face down onto the stone floor. And I am not talking Moe, Larry and Curly here. Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo didn’t feel the pain of the floor because they were not just scared. They were frightened. You would have been frightened too.

Above them was The Thing, hovering, filling the sky with its grayish white.

You remember Marley in “The Christmas Carol”. It took him something like seven years to screw up his ghostly courage before he got enough gumption to visit Ebenezer Scrooge. Even then, he had to huff and puff to build himself into enough apparition to get Scrooge’s goose to gandering.

When I tell you that This Thing was no Marley, take my word for it. I wasn’t there but I have it on good authority. Horatio came by my place the other night and assured me that This Thing was one whopper of a spectre. I mean, It was a Spectre. And I am not talking the James Bond kind of SPECTRE either. And This Thing was neither shaken nor stirred.

If I had been there that night, I would have been out of there faster than Road Runner outrunning Wiley Cayote. Talk about walking on the water. I would have run across that water and been in Sweden, taking in a spa before you could shake your fist at The Thing and say, “Out, damned spot.”

The Thing, hovering above Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo, was not large. It was not huge. It was humungus and then some. And the damned Thing moaned. It was not your run-of-the-moan either.

Believe it or not. They say that Lisa moaned when Leonardo asked if he could paint her. “With this nose,” she moaned. Originally Leo called the portrait “Moaning Lisa”. Then it was shortened to “Moan á Lisa”. Once the Louvre got a hold of the painting they weren’t about to have any of this “moaning business”. So they made the name change to “Mona Lisa” so that “Moaning Lisa” has been “Mona Lisa” ever since.

This was not that kind of moan. This was the moaningest moan ever. When folks talk about really bad moaning, this is the moan they are talking about. It was so bad it could make a banshee scream. So you know that was some moaning.

Such was The Thing’s Presence that It could have put the Fear of the Lord into an atheist. Talk about foxhole conversions, this would have been one of them.

For days, the three-bees, Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo, walked around, white as a sheep. Their buddies snickered, “You been in Ophelia talcum powder, guys?” It was so bad that they wanted to just slap someone. Anyone. Then they remembered The Thing and thought better of it. The Thing might come back and slap them around. Believe you me, when you’ve been slapped by a Thing you’ve been slapped.

So there This Thing hovered above the three men. Shaking in his booties, Horatio took a little peepsy. Well, how ’bout that? he thunk. The bell struck two and the Thing was gone. At least for the time being.