All the world’s a stage . . . and Shakespeare knew this best. Today’s chapter begins with his poem about this stage, the theater, the players, and shadows the creation of today’s chapter. One of the characters in The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy) is being charmed, cajoled . . . conjured.
“We are all demonic!”—Queen Stormag This painting, again, is one of my father’s last works . . . he knew darkness . . . find more at www.bogdanovitch.com . . .
To read the very beginning of The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy), simply click here: Part 1. To refresh your reading mind, here’s the link to Part 5: LINK! You can access the other chapters by clicking there and following the breadcrumbs.
All the World’s a Stage by William Shakespeare
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy)
The town battened down the hatches Sunday night with the first Pacific Northwest storm predicted to come wailing out of the darkness. November brought the worst of them, winds sometimes reaching hurricane-force gusts of up to 80 mph and beyond if so unlucky. The deluges made the islanders shiver in their beds as the winds screamed, the old-timers remembering those lost to such storms, drowned Alaskan-waters-trawling fisherman, who left their wives home on the island, victims of sunken boats, now memorialized, names etched on a monument in the town marina; the newer transplants cocky and mostly unaware of how much damage such storms can do, lawn furniture, hammocks, flags, cushions blown away, trees falling, mudslides, floods, something spooky because of the sheer destructiveness, faced with hubris.
All through the night the wind and sheeting rain danced, sped up, and touched everything on the island and beyond. The castle walls held, stone a cold barricade. Within the castle, the four inhabitants slept, Waltzcrop with a horrible gaping maw, upright in a soft leather chair, his eyes unable to close after so much use, Camoustra and Frenalto (lovers who knew each other so well over the decades that they finished each other’s thoughts) entwined on the master suite’s king bed, while the owner of the house, Gerald Pommeroy, slept the sleep of the physically drained, limbs weak from use, palms blistered to a continuous painful wince, on an air mattress in the chilly basement.
Kate Denisov couldn’t sleep a wink. Earlier, she had opened three bottles of wine, the good stuff she reserved for helping soften any director’s stubbornness or a visiting celebrity from her younger years, for her new neighbors, Camoustra and Frenalto, who she liked immediately.
“Most of my favorite friends, the ones I take into our tribe, call me Cammie. You can do the same!”
“Do you have a nickname?”
“Kate. My partner’s name, Frenalto, is rich—distinctive. He’s so incredibly giving, masculine, inventive, no nickname would ever suit him as well.”
“Yes. I can see that. Cheers to my two new friends and neighbors.” And that toast finished the second bottle off. Kate grew tipsier.
“Let me get that,” Frenalto said, covering Kate’s hand with his own. Letting it rest there for a moment too long, rubbing, Denisov’s thoughts swirling. She relinquished the final bottle of wine to the handsome stranger.
Only four hours ago, she’d opened her door to them, both smiling with immediate conviviality, carrying a large bouquet of flowers from the most expensive local florist, a bunch of the thorniest red roses mixed with darker greens, stems, ferns. Her first thought was: “Who died?”—they looked funereal.
Now, the wine had softened her usual bluster. She had no close friends on the island, only people she needed to placate, give something to, forgive, ask forgiveness from. Her bark could be worse than her bite, and she had a certain reputation to maintain, especially coming from a theatrical background. Everyone who bought season tickets to the local theater’s offerings knew who Kate Denisov was. The audience loved her, invited her to speak at Ladies-Who-Lunch functions, town fundraisers, appearances to coddle favor, and Denisov made them grovel in tiny ways. She’d never married or had children, and she gave up everything in her life for the stage.
“My,” Kate Denisov said to the room, the gloom of the approaching storm seeping forth.
“Yes,” Camoustra said.
“We’ve enjoyed the evening so much. Frederick can’t wait to make your acquaintance,” Frenalto said.
“You’ll make him so happy.”
“This play you mentioned. I’m game. Sounds like the perfect part.”
“You do have a certain—”
“Style,” Camoustra finished.
“Flattery is so easy for me to appreciate. Do go on.”
All three of them laughed.
“I’m sorry to hear about Mr. Pommeroy. I never got to know him well, but his home has always fascinated most people who live here. I’m just happy it’s behind my own house, and that it doesn’t block my view of the water.”
“He’ll be well taken care of. Poor dear can’t remember what happened last week. Sad sad sad for the family.”
“Well.” Denisov was never good at chitchat about serious subjects, illnesses, accidents, deaths, giving comfort to those left to pick up the pieces.
“We should be going. I’m so happy you were home. Welcome to our tribe. When things have settled a bit across the street, we’ll call on you again. Continue where we left off.”
“Look forward to it. And the play?”
“I’m sure you’ll be getting a call about it in short order. The high mucky mucks have to read and approve, as always, and this is taking place. Once you read it, you’ll be fighting off many others who wish to portray Queen Stormag. I’m sure you’ll win this battle,” Frenalto said. He then reached out and took Kate’s hand in both of his, forming a warm bond as he stared into her eyes. “You have what it takes.”
“Cammie, I now understand why you’ve been with Frenalto so long. I’d never be able to give him up.”
Frenalto dropped Kate’s hand and smiled.
“He’s only showing you his good side,” Camoustra said.
“He’s too much of a charmer to have a bad side.” And this made them all laugh again, two of them with a ridiculous amount of disbelief rushing through their bones.
“Batten down the castle hatches. First storm of the season is here.” Kate Denisov opened her front door and the wind almost blew it out of her hands.
“Cammie loves storms. Not to worry.”
“Thank you again for such a wonderful reception, and for the luscious wine.”
Kate Denisov gave a little wave as she watched the couple step across the darkened street, climb the front steps up to the castle entrance. They turned and waved down to her before closing the door behind them. Then the drawbridge started to rise.
The storm had just begun.
To read Part 7, simply click HERE!
Well, I know what’s going to happen. Can you guess? Just let me hear from you in the comments section. It’s nice to know people are out there reading and enjoying, hating, loving, obsessed with, the play . . . thinking of retitling the story to The Demon’s Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy). What do you think? Poor Kate Denisov is up for an awakening of her own, soon, as each character introduced should be up for: a transition, a change, an arc. Until next time . . . ever,
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