So this is a bit of a cop out. I was meant to be posting the start of another story tonight, just something to tide you voracious voyeurs over until tomorrow night ‘experiment’, but, due to both the depression inspired by fruitless job hunting and the actual hunting itself, I haven’t had time to do anywhere near as much on it as I would have liked on that particular piece and so, instead, I’m throwing a small section that was originally going to be part of my longer piece, but which just doesn’t feel, to me, like it fits naturally with the current narrative I have, hazily, sketched in mind.
I tired of hearing Shakespeare some time ago. It wasn’t honest anymore, like a punk who would once have screamed out in rage at the sight of an advertisement now awaits the phone call from his agent, now stands in a factory of some huge conglomerate and denies his former life in a few expensive sentences. I tired of hearing the Men of England, for there were no Men anymore, as there was no England anymore, no enemy to fight save oneself, no army of undeniably evil foreigners come to take the land we were told we loved. We took the land from ourselves, gave it to vultures who thought themselves our betters, those whom carried our best interests within their bloody hearts. No, I have never strained like a greyhound at the leash, nor desired to contribute my corpse to a breach in our culture.
The beauty of his words, thrown out of a thousand, thousand voices since his idle impulses directed ink across the paper, meant nothing anymore. Perhaps it was a simple regression of society, that beauty for its own sake had no place in our existence. Perhaps it was that, as the rapid decay of man took hold, there was not a soul alive whom could do those lyrics, for that is what they are, justice. I could be commanded, by some skeletal figure beneath the spotlight, to admire democracy’s death as a triumph, to hold nothing but contempt for the petty saviours of that ideology. But Shakespeare had not lived long enough to see the world. Were he some adaptation of Methuselah, if their skills could be exchanged, I’m sure his handsome prose would be exercised in only one thing; a note proclaiming his suicide.
When I was a student, caught in the vague, amorphous mass that was life, I was invited by some friends to a presentation a few of their avant-garde acquaintances were putting on. It was in some run-down, artsy kind of place; barely worthy of the title theatre. It was where the drama students who read too much, who watched too many monochrome films, who dressed in black and wore scarves in the summer and pretended to smoke themselves to death; the result of some alien desire. The theatre itself was falling apart, no longer maintained by the city within which it resided.
It was enjoyable, despite the actors’ attempts. The provision of alcohol from the small bar and the quiet sense of severity emerging from the stage mixing together in the spot where the stalls should have been. They had been removed sometime go and never returned, so we stood in in loose groups, the sparse crowd managing to fill out the space by leaving a step or two between each one of us. The floor had the spectacularly unpleasant texture typically applied to the back rooms of bars where punk bands played, the same gently sucking sensation as that which applied itself on tile-less public bathroom floors.
The play was long, drawn out and I had no idea what exactly I was watching, the words blending together through mispronunciation, misjudged acoustics and the hazy roar of alcohol in the blood. We must have been stood there for almost two hours by the time all the lights blacked out, leaving us in an abyss until the floodlight creaked into life upon the centre of the stage. There stood a slim man, another student I had seen wandering around the city at times, in the corners of late-night cafés, no doubt awaiting some mystical leading lady whom would see his status as a protagonist instantly, and find something to love within him. He was handsome, in a way; hair designed to look completely natural, as though he couldn’t be bothered to maintain it, stubble gracing a strong jaw and his eyes tightened against themselves. A modern day cowboy, the produce of some factory which was engaged in creating them for wholesale prices and this one had merely slipped out of the shipping container, pretending to be anything but his nature.
The words came out stilted and mechanical, not robotic, there was nothing of the slave in his demeanour, but it was clear he could not understand the language he had learnt, could grasp why people would come to listen to them in places such as this. It seemed to me, however, that this building, a shadow of the intended purpose, was the perfect place for an Immortal’s script to be murdered. Like Caesar, the Bard had stepped out in all good faith, as though he needed ever more titles to add to his name, as though his ego had not been stoked enough, and the honours turned to steel in his spine. His voice reached us slurred, disinterested, no effort in the performance, if it could even be offered that dubious title. He was a spoilt child, one unwillingly performing the Lord’s prayer before Christ himself.
As those kidnapped words drew to a close, as he put away his pliers and his knives and wrapped his hammers in blood-stained linen, I heard the meagre crowd around me break into applause. It wasn’t the irritably polite applause of an unwilling celebration attendee, it was honest and loud and shocking. I could feel the filthy floor shake under their approval; I could hear hand on hand, like slaps of meat against meat, coming from every direction, until particles of dust fell from the rafters, reminiscent of clean, white snow in the floodlighting.