The Iron Writer Challenge #42
2013 Iron Writer Winter Solstice Challenge #6
A Roman Merchant Sailing Vessel
A Flour Sack Girdle
Bunny, the Wonder Elephant
The Royal Shakespearian Company
Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night
“You have no one to blame but yourself. I told you not to ask her out to begin with.” Charlie said.
“I am bereft of reason, now that she leaved me, unspeakable sadness cloaks my very being. I dance with the reaper, going merrily, merrily down. My purpose has departed on a Roman Merchant Sailing Vessel,peddling my heart, broken and bleeding, into the ever-setting sun…” Sam held up one hand toward seagulls flying across the crimson sky.
“You are never gonna get another date if you don’t ‘ix-nay the olonious-Pay’. I told you,chicks dig intelligent, laid back men of the world, not world-weary overwrought, English majors.”
“Aye, my soul is frozen to the very core, girdled by the most meager flour-sack, trampled by Bunny the Wonder Elephant,” wailed Sam.
“The who?” Charlie looked at Sam, regarded his drunken state and decided to cheer him up.
“Up you go, come on now, help me out here dude. You ain’t light. I am not sure gaining 25 pounds to play Hamlet was such a good idea after all… more to life than the Royal Shakespeare Company, you know?” He heaved his friend toward the railing.
“You see that? Look here man, look at those colors.” He pointed at the horizon.
“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” Sam said, swigging another sip.
Just because your heart got tasered, don’t mean you gotta give up. What’s that you always say? ‘One man plays many parts’? Yeah, you’re in like, Act I. Soon you won’t even remember her name, Jenny, Jill,.. What was it again?” Charlie asked.
“How can you fall so madly in love with somebody in three days? “. Charlie said. “You just need a new Juliette, that’s all. Look. Here comes one now, and don’t she look fine…” Charlie watched the young woman climb onto her bicycle and pedal away.
“Oh, sweet adversity… it is a bitter and ugly toad, but it has it’s upside; hidden jewels that you could not have otherwise found, girls you never would have met…” Charlie’s voice mixed with the Seagull cries above.
“And this our life, exempt from public haunt..” Sam slurred, “Tongues in trees…sermons in stones.”
“Other words, life hands you lemons, you gotta make Kool-Aid brother!” Charlie said and patted him on the back. “Okay?”
“I think you mean lemonade…” Sam said.
“Take these broken wings and learn to fly! All your life…You were only waiting for this moment to arise..”, Charlie bowed, then whistled the tune.
“That’s not Shakespeare.” Sam shoved him.
“A rose is a rose dude. You quote one English rock star, you quote ’em all.
A Life-Saving Performance
It took Agliamesi months to convince his rivals, the Royal Shakespearian Company that his act, while honed in the now-defunct circus his father started some 40 years prior, offered equal entertainment value. He worked with them non-stop, rehearsed day after day on the monologue he had prepared for the opening performance in France. It was all coming to fruition in the next 24 hours. If only Agliamesi could pull off the one last piece of this venture: Getting his beloved Bunny, the African elephant, on the ship without the rest of the actors knowing she was aboard.
The ship was set to sail early and Agliamesi had Bunny crated the night before, waiting for the dock workers to load the crates on the Roman-style merchant sailing ship. Hopefully they would have her loaded before the rest of the actors arrived. He had positioned her in the crate, slightly covered and padded with a box of flour sacks he grabbed while walking through the awaiting cargo and crates. It wasn’t until he started padding Bunny’s crate that he realized they were actually flour sack girdles! Oh well, all the better for extra cushioning.
The dock workers finished loading the 8000 pound crate just as the Royal Shakespearian Company of 72 actors and actresses arrived. Although they had reluctantly accepted him into their midst, Agliamesi did not yet feel part of the inner circle of which he longed to belong. Maybe after this maiden voyage and initial performance of the new season, they would realize his value.
It was only an hour out of port when the winds started picking up in the English Channel. The actors upchucked their breakfasts overboard. Suddenly the winds turned and the ship began to tip. The rain came in torrents and the ship pitched and heaved. The captain announced the ship was out of balance and he needed as many people as possible to go below and move crates to rebalance the ship! Agliamesi knew there was no hiding Bunny from them now!
They made their way to the lower part of the ship and found the crates and cargo had been slammed against the walls, tossed about, and some even broke open and spilled their contents. In the middle of the mess stood Bunny, the Wonder Elephant! Gasps could be heard and a few screams of fear. But Agliamesi immediately ran to Bunny and soothed her by rubbing that special spot between her eyes and telling her all was well.
The ship continued to tip and the crew and helpers began to move crates from one side of the ship to the other, trying to get it balanced and upright. Bunny stood firmly in the center of the cargo hold while they packed boxes around her until the ship was back on an even keel.
The Royal Shakespearian Company landed safely, Agliamesi performed an outstanding monologue and Bunny the Wonder elephant became the favorite member of the cast, traveling with them throughout the season.
“And the Murderer is…”
Paul Arden Lidberg
Detective Maxwell Dent surveyed the storied assemblage and smiled with deep satisfaction. Despite their heritage, history, and wealth, they had again been forced to call upon him to solve their problems. Their money, influence, positions of power – these meant nothing. It took Maxwell Dent, the son of a cobbler – he was their savior.
On the table were the clues to the murders of the four scions of these families. Simple objects, but each was key. As they sat, nervously sipping coffee, he reviewed it again.
Lady Diana Effington, “Pip” to her friends, had died with her throat cut. Dent had shown how it had been done, not by a knife, but a show program. “Hamlet” by The Royal Shakespearian Company. A deftly administered swipe of the mint condition book had delivered a deep papercut across her carotid, and ended her life rather abruptly.
Lord Sir John Thomas, the shipping magnate, had died more prosaically. He owned an unrivaled collection of merchant ship models, and the half-crushed model of the “Saturn”, a Roman merchant vessel, attested to how he had passed. One blow was all it took.
Lady Tabitha Weatherby, Duchess of Earle, had died in a manner most embarrassing. A flour sack girdle belonging to one of the staff had been on the floor near the stairs. A small shove was all it took. Lady Earle first slipped on the girdle, then the stairs…all the way down.
Brigadier General Sir Ainsely Smythe-Burnham of Her Majesty’s SAS, ret., had loved the circus since he was a little boy. He loved to go watch the animals perform, and collect little souvenirs. The prize of his collection, a ceramic model of Bunny the Wonder Elephant, was his favorite, and he would pull it out at any excuse. That had been his downfall.
For the Brigadier was deathly allergic to peanuts. Any contact would send him to the emergency room. Someone coated the toy in peanut oil, the anaphylactic reaction had been severe, and he was dead before hitting the floor.
Dent had spent most of the last half hour explaining this to the group, showing who had had access and motive. Well, mostly. He paced around and faced away from the group.
“And now you’re all wondering who killed all of these people…their murderer who managed to stump the finest Scotland Yard had to offer…” he said.
“There wasn’t any one person who had access to them all” exclaimed Percyl, gadfly son-in-law of Lady Effington.
“That’s where you are wrong, young man” replied Maxwell calmly, “one person did.” Max turned and looked at them all. “Me.”
“What?” rose collectively from the group. “But why?”
“Because I’m tired of cleaning up after you.” He cast his gaze around the shocked assemblage. “And it ends tonight!”
He turned and headed toward the door, then looked back. “Oh, and one more thing…you know that coffee you’ve been drinking? I hope you enjoyed it, because it’s your last.” He walked calmly through the door as the group started to fall with varying looks of shock and dismay.
I first met Pam Christafer in kindergarten. Among the 20 children corralled together for half a day with nothing better to do than play in the yard, finger paint, consume Kool-Aid and graham crackers, and take naps on mats, we mingled a bit. She usually napped on the mat next to me, and frequently would share the graham cracker she had saved from snack time with me. She was like that – generous and thoughtful – but Pam was also very overweight.
Her mother would tie Pam’s hair into fun, bouncy pigtails which someone must have thought looked like rabbit ears, because she soon acquired the nickname Bunny.
One of my fondest memories of Pam is when she was in the fifth-grade school play, taking on the part of “Willy, the wonder elephant”. With her chubby rolls of fat, she seemed to fit the part to a T. This was when we started referring to her as “Bunny, the wonder elephant”.
I think her weight problem was beginning to bother her even then, because I know she had made, backstage and in secret, a girdle out of an old flour sack to try to make herself look more glamorous on stage. However, her scenes were obviously a little awkward for the audience. Her faltering self-image was showing through.
As the years rolled by, I saw her ostracized from many social activities, and treated… differently… because of her weight. One evening, I found her sitting on the park bench, alone. Without a word spoken, I sat down beside her. Making no attempt to hide from me, she turned to face me. Her wet, red eyes were dark and empty.
This was not the Bunny I knew.
So, I hugged her.
That was 30 years ago. Now, I stand with my wife on the deck of a mock-up Roman merchant sailing ship, one of the many props I have helped to build for the Royal Shakespearean Company here in Stratford-Upon-Avon. In their production of “Antony and Cleopatra”, she’s playing the part of Octavia, Caesar’s sister, referred to as “a woman of poor complexion and undignified gait”. It’s not a flattering role, but she’s okay with that. There’s no dire need for her ego to be stroked; her self-image is fixed and strong. She says the part is perfect for her, and she gives this ecstatic shudder of glee.
Now, that’s my Bunny!
“Dear, I don’t mean to disrupt your thoughts, but I have to get ready. There’s so much to do before I go on stage tonight.”
“I’m almost finished here, Sweetheart. I’ll be there to see you before the house lights go down.”
“What shall we do for dinner? We’ll be famished by the time I get changed.”
“What do you say we stop in at The Rubicon? Then, we can walk through the park after dinner.”
Turning to face me, her eyes are bright and full of light, and in them I see the most attractive woman in the world.