Near 500 words: TW and the Two Men

Episode #28 of The Writer.

As TW (aka The Writer) sped away, he looked in the rear view mirror. The police car blew up. But the two men walked away from the disaster. Their police uniforms were gone and they now wore black suits.

“Unbelievable.”

He saw that the speed limit was 30 mph, so he slowed down to make sure the real cops didn’t stop him. That was all he needed. Every chance he had he whipped down a left street, then a right one. He tried to come up with a strategy to keep him safe from the two goons who had killed his friend and his cat.

Before he knew it, he was at the University and pulling up into one of the many parking garages. Since it was still early, he easily found parking spots. But he wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to make things easy for the two men. So he pulled up between two other cars in such a way that only a drive-by could spot his car.

He looked at the time on the dashboard clock. It was eight o’clock.

He had made up his mind. Dr. Baxter was the only one who might be able to help him figure out what to do next. Otherwise he was on his own. For one thing, no one else, not even the police, would believe he was being chased by what he had decided were immortals.

“What do they want?”

He slid out of the car and locked it. He was famished. He decided he would go by the college cafeteria and get a breakfast, then head on over to Dr. Baxter’s office.

The scrambled eggs and bacon were a little too greasy for his liking, but still, they would do. He finished the food, then drank what was left of his coffee. He stood up to take his tray over to trash the paper plate and stack the tray. The two walked through the cafeteria door.

Before they could see him, he ducked and made his way to the kitchen, then out the back door. The nearest building was the gym. He ran inside the building and found himself on the basketball court, then through the men’s locker room and out the back hall.

He hurried into the library and past the check-out desk and down the hall. He turned and went downstairs. He was in the archives when he heard the two men’s footsteps. How did they know where he was?

He dropped onto his knees and stilled his body, breathing heavy. They passed him one book shelf over. Then they were out the back door.

TW went the way he came. Once outside the library, he checked out both directions and made a quick decision. He had to make it to Dr. Baxter’s office without being seen. Maybe the two of them could decide what to do.

He went around to the back of her office building, then slipped inside and headed up the stairs. He opened the third floor door. From the other end of the building, he saw the two men. They were closing in on him.

He hurried down a side hall and found Dr. Baxter’s office and opened the door. She looked with surprise up from her desk. For a moment, he felt like he was going to pass out. “You gotta help me,” he said.

“What?”

“Two men are after me. I think they are K’lggsh.”

Hamlet: To Soliloquy. Definitely To Soliloquy

Never was a story of more woe than this. R&J 5.3.
Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form.
(King John Act 3. Scene 4.)

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

Act 1. Scene 2. Hamlet is the guy in the room who could use some therapy. Freud would have had a field day with him. Everybody else in the room is singing, “Happy days are here again. “They’re all thinking Hamlet is messed up. All that sitting in the corner and brooding. Such moaning and groaning. None of the courtiers had seen its like. Ever. You’d think there was a ghost running around the castle moaning and groaning.

“Cheer up,” the king says.

“Cheer up,” his mom, the queen says.

“Cheer up,” all the courtiers say.

Even Hamlet’s inner voice says, “Cheer up.”

Still Hamlet broods and broods, and he broods some more.

Hamlet is depressed. You’d be depressed too. With good reason. Your daddy dies and Momsy has to go and marry his brother. Now Hamlet can’t be king. Momsy really fixed that.

On top of everything else, the only girl in Castle Elsinore is Ophelia, and he is not allowed to date her. No drive-in or making out in the back of his BMW. I mean c’mon. Ham is a young frisky guy, with all his testosterone hanging out.

Why did Hamlet have to go and promise Mom and the king he would stay in town? He’d rather be off to Paris and the ooh-la-las with Laertes. How did he get himself into this mess? Oh, yeah. He could never resist his mother’s pretty-please look.

Laertes gets to skip town. What makes him so special? Why not Ham? He mimics Claudius. “Your mother has missed you a lots and I want to teach you the king business.”

One thing is for sure. Ham is not the one in the white hat business. He’s not the one shaking hands and kissing babies. That guy is Claudius. He’s the guy what wants to be liked. All that paparazzi snapping his mug every which-a-way. Let Claudius have his throne. Hamlet doesn’t care. There’s no way he could stand all that attention.

Hamlet steps up to the mic. This is his big chance to get in good with the audience. He had better not blow it.

“I hate Denmark,” Hamlet speaks into the mic. “Why? For one thing it gets friggin’ cold here. I don’t mean the normal winter chill. I mean to-your-bones cold. I can never get warm.”

Bad Hamlet appears on his right shoulder. “Why don’t you go ahead and off yourself.”

“Who the devil are you?” Hamlet wants to know.

“I’m the guy who wants you to have a happily ever after,” Baddie says.

Hamlet pulls out his dagger. In mid-air, Good Hamlet shows up on his left shoulder. “Hold it,” he says.

The dagger stops.

“Wh-wh-what?” Hamlet stutters.

Goodie repeats himself, “Hold it, I said.”

“What do you mean showing up here?” Baddie challenges. “Haven’t you got business elsewhere? Like helping Henry VIII pick a new wife?”

“Nope,” Goodie says. “Got no place I’d rather be than here. Now, Hamlet, put that thing away. You’re going to poke your eye out.”

Baddie puts his hand above Hamlet’s hand on the dagger. “Hold on, fellow. You’re stuck here in limbo already. Why not go whole hog?”

Goodie grabs the dagger above Baddie’s hand. “Hamlet, you know that is a mortal sin.”

Hamlet grabs the blade and cuts his hand. He releases the blade.

“Now see what you’ve gone and done,” Baddie says. “That’s not nice.”

“What’s this got to do with nice?” Goodie retorts. “What we are talking about is his immortal soul.”

Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo appear onstage. Poof! Goodie and Baddie are out of there.

Horatio calls out, “Yo.”

Marcellus and Barnardo do a “Yo” as well.

Hamlet embraces his friend Horatio, then says, “It’s been a month of Sunday.”

“Longer,” Horatio says.

“Whazup?” Hamlet wants to know.

“We think we saw your daddy,” Horatio says.

“I’ve seen him to,” Hamlet says. “In my mind’s eye.”

“You still on that happy juice?” Horatio asks.

“No,” Hamlet says. “I haven’t been able to find a dealer here. My daddy drove them out of the kingdom when he was king. He wasn’t happy that so many Danes were happy. Thanks to the happy juice.”

“We have news,” Barnardo says.

“We saw your daddy,” Marcellus continues. “Or a reasonable facsimile.”

Horatio finishes, “He was a ghost as large as the Eiffel Tower.”

“You saw my daddy? You saw his spirit?” Hamlet’s eyes light up with hope.

“The apparition we saw wore your father’s armor and his visor.”

Hamlet can’t believe his ears.

Marcellus continues, “We have seen it for the last three nights.”

“And,” Horatio says, “I saw it tonight.”

Right then and there Hamlet decides he must see it too. Tonight.

After midnight.

Enter Hamlet

A little touch of Harry in the night. Henry V Act 4 Prologue.

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

Act 1. Scene 2. On one side of the stage, there is a party going on. King Claudius and Queen Gertrude and a roomful of courtiers, dancing, boogeying to the music of The Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Five. It’s a bit James Brown, Rick James and ABBA, thrown into one big stew. The crowd is really getting down as Rosencrantz sings their signature hit, “By the Time I Get To Wittenberg”.

Out on the dance floor, Claudius and Gertrude are so happy. Maybe they are like Ronald and Nancy Reagan. They love each other to an extreme, even above the children, and always singing, “I only have goo-goo eyes for you.” One thing is for sure. They are one happy couple. Of all the couples in Shakespeare, they may be the happiest. Happier than Romeo and Juliet or Anthony and Cleopatra anyway. And they put the Macbeths to shame.

The folks on their side of the stage are really with it. The booze is good. So is the food. And the comradery is the comraderyest. Folks are lining up to shake hands with the king and get a good gander at the queen’s new dress.

Alone on the other side of the stage sits a man in black. I would call him the Man in Black but Johnny Cash already laid a claim to that one. He has such a gloom on his face that it would make one think he invented melancholy. His name is Hamlet. He is the son Gertrude and the Daddy Hamlet, a Prince and heir to the throne, nephew to the current king. He is also the star of the show. He is the reason the play is called “Hamlet”. Otherwise it would have been called “Laertes” or “Ophelia” or “Claudius and Gertrude Make Whoopee Big Time” or “All’s Not Well That Ends With All The Main Characters Dead”.

Claudius glares over at Hamlet. He is thinking, “That young snot of an s.o.b. Who does he think he is? Sitting over there in the corner and taking the spotlight off Claudius.”

Hamlet glares back. To understand what Hamlet is going through, imagine that your daddy suddenly dies. In two shakes, your uncle moves in and marries his wife, then the Board of Directors votes him Honcho-in-Chief to run the family business.

Hamlet (mimicking the crowd): Blah. Blah. Blah.

Hamlet (speaking to the audience): So why am I sitting my ass over here in this downright uncomfortable chair? And with a big frown on my face? They are saying that I look so unhappy Bergman could make an entire film of my sulking. It would show the Swedes a thing or two about melancholy.

Gertrude (to the audience): Gertrude here. But you can just call me Gertie. Everybody does.

Gertie’s thinking a Jack Nicholson kind of thinking when he played the President of the United States in “Mars Attacks” and said to the Maritans, “Why can’t we just get along?” Could be that she is a Libra on the cusp of Scorpio.

Gertie (To Ham): Why are you always spoiling the party? You’d think somebody went and died around here. Don’t you know that this is the very reason your dad and I gave you to poor Yorick to raise. Thinking you would cheer up some. But, no. Your sulk did even him in.

Hamlet: Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Gertie (to Ham): Sure, your father is deceased. But he paid no never mind to me. And to you neither. We were just fodder in his crown. A trophy wife and a trophy son. Do you know how many dumb blondes that man slept with? I don’t know either. I do know it was a lot. He kept a slew of lawyers settling paternity suits. And now you mourn for him.

Gertie (To the audience): Hamlet was a hard birth, you know. Took eighteen hours, and finally there he was. The doctors told me I couldn’t have any more children. I considered it a fair exchange for this one. (Points to Ham.) He was a handsome baby boy. He has his father’s red hair and my eyes and the cutest little dimple.

Hamlet: If I was such a favored son, why did you give me to a clown to raise?

Gertie: It was not my choice but your daddy’s. You were such a sulker he wanted to do something to cheer you up. I can see that it didn’t work. Maybe it’s all that thinking you do.

Gertrude (to the audience): That clown, Yorick, almost cured him of the sulks. Almost but almost only works in horseshoes. Unfortunately Yorick had to get a hold of some bad stew and die from food poisoning. Something called salmonella. That is English for bad stew. Hamlet was seven.

Claudius (to the audience): Claudius here. (To Gertrude) What Hamlet needs is a girl friend. A little whoopee never hurt no one.

Gertie: He had one. Ophelia. Polonius put a nix on that.

Claudius: I am going to have to talk to that Polonius about that.

Ham (again): Blah. Blah. Blah.

Gertie: That’s no way to talk your new daddy.

Ham: He ain’t nuttin’ but a hound dog. Cryin’ all the time. He ain’t never caught a rabbit and he ain’t no friend of mine.

Gertie: What’d I tell you about that sass.

Claudius: Now Ham, Gertie, can we not reason together?

Ham: Isn’t that what LBJ said when he got the USA into that Vietnam? “Can we not reason together?”

Claudius: There’s reasoning together, and then there’s reasoning together.

Ham: Go away. I have a soliloquy to do. I don’t need you listening in. It’s for the audience only.

Claudius (pouts): How come you get to hog all the soliloquies?

Ham: ‘Cause I am the main dude.

Claudius and Gert (together): Well, be that way.

Claudius (to Ham): We’ll leave only if you promise to stay in town. Your mother has missed you a lots and I want to teach you the king business.

Ham looks at his mother. There is a pretty please in her face.

Ham: I’ll stay just to please Mom. But I won’t like it.

Gertie: That’s a good boy.

Claudius and Gertie head for the door.

Claudius: Maybe I can arrange for you to have a soliloquy in “The Murder of Gonzaga”, Dollface.

Gertie: You would do that for me, Sugar Pops?

Claudius: I would even go downtown with you.

Gertie (giggles): Oh, that’s great. I love shopping.