In graffiti’s midst

I see my beloved’s name

“For a good time, call —”


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 5

— 3.5 —

King Cymbeline, the Queen, Cloten, and Caius Lucius were talking in a room of Cymbeline’s palace. Some lords and attendants were also present.

Using the royal plural, Cymbeline said to Caius Lucius, “We have gone far enough, and so I say farewell to you.”

“Thanks, royal sir,” Caius Lucius replied. “My Emperor has written that I must leave, and I am very sorry that I must report to him that you are his enemy.”

“Our subjects, sir, will not endure his yoke, and if I were to appear less patriotic that they are, then I would appear less than a King.”

Caius Lucius replied, “So be it, sir. I request of you that you give me safe conduct — an escort — overland to Milford Haven.”

He then said to the Queen, “Madam, may all joy befall your grace!”

The Queen replied, “And to you!”

“My lords, you are appointed for that duty,” Cymbeline said to the lords present. “Give Caius Lucius safe conduct and escort him. Show him all honor that is due to him. Omit nothing.”

Cymbeline then said, “So farewell, noble Lucius.”

“Give me your hand, my lord.”

“Receive it friendly,” Cymbeline said, shaking hands with Caius Lucius.

Their hands separated, and Cymbeline said, “But from this time forth, this hand is the hand of your enemy.”

“Sir, the upcoming war has yet to name the winner,” Caius Lucius said. “Fare you well.”

“Don’t leave the worthy Lucius, my good lords,” Cymbeline said, “until he has crossed the Severn River.”

He said to Caius Lucius, “May happiness be a part of your life!”

Caius Lucius and the lords exited.

The Queen said to King Cymbeline, “He goes away from here frowning, but we have done the right thing in giving him cause to frown.”

Cloten said, “It is for the best.”

He then said to King Cymbeline, “Your valiant Britons want you to oppose the Romans.”

“Lucius has already written to the Emperor what has happened here,” Cymbeline said. “It is fitting for us therefore to immediately ensure that our chariots and our horsemen are in readiness. The troops that Lucius already has in France will soon be brought to full strength, and from France he will move to make war on Britain.”

“This is not a time for sleeping,” the Queen said. “Everything must be looked after speedily and strongly.”

“Our expectation that war would occur has made us prepare early for it,” Cymbeline said.

Using the royal plural, he said, “But, my gentle Queen, where is Imogen, our daughter? She did not appear before the Roman Caius Lucius, nor has she greeted us recently. To us, she seems more like a thing made of malice than a dutiful daughter. We have noticed it.”

He ordered an attendant, “Tell her to appear now before us; we have been weak in allowing her to treat us this way.”

An attendant left to summon Imogen to appear before her father.

The Queen said, “Royal sir, since the exile of Posthumus, her life has been most retired. She stays by herself most of the time. The cure for this, my lord, is time, which tames the strongest grief. I ask your majesty to not speak sharply to her: She’s a lady who is so sensitive to rebukes that words are strokes, and strokes are death to her.”

The attendant returned.

Cymbeline said to him, “Where is she, sir? How can her contemptible treatment of me be accounted for?”

“If it please you, sir, her rooms are all locked; and there’s no answer given to the loudest noise we make,” the attendant said.

The Queen said to Cymbeline, “My lord, when I last went to visit her, she asked me to excuse her keeping to herself, saying that she was ill and therefore was unable to greet you each day, as she was supposed to do. She wanted me to tell you this, but our great court business with Caius Lucius caused me to forget.”

“Her doors are locked?” Cymbeline said. “No one has seen her recently? Heavens, may that which I fear prove not to have happened!”

He exited to go to his daughter’s chambers. His attendants followed him.

The Queen said to Cloten, “Go, son, and follow the King.”

Cloten replied, “That man of hers, Pisanio, her old servant, has not been seen for the past two days.”

“Go, look after the King,” the Queen said.

Cloten exited.

Alone, the Queen said to herself, “Pisanio serves as the advocate at court for Posthumus! He has a poisonous drug of mine; I pray that his absence from court is the result of his swallowing my drug because he believes that it is a most precious thing. But as for Imogen, where has she gone? Perhaps despair has seized her, or winged with the fervor of her love, she’s flown to her desired Posthumus. She has gone either to death or to dishonor, and either one serves my purpose. With her out of the way, I can place the British crown on whose head I wish.”

Cloten, who could possibly be the next King of Britain, returned.

The Queen said to him, “What is the news, my son?”

“It is certain that Imogen has fled. Go in and cheer up the King. He rages, and no one dares to come near him.”

The Queen thought, All the better. I hope that his rage kills him before the coming day!

She exited.

Cloten said to himself about Imogen, “I love and hate her because she’s beautiful and royal, and because she has all courtly accomplishments more exquisite than any other lady, ladies, woman. From everyone she has the best parts, and she, who is made of all the best parts blended together, surpasses everyone. I love her therefore, but her disdaining me and throwing her favors on the lowly born Posthumus so disgraces her judgment that what would otherwise be rare is suffocated, and because of that I hate her — indeed, because of that, I will be revenged upon her. For when fools shall —”

Cloten stopped talking because Pisanio entered the room.

Cloten said, “Who is here?”

Recognizing Pisanio, he said, “What are you plotting, sirrah?”

The word “sirrah” was used to address a male of lower social status than the speaker.

Cloten said to Pisanio, “Come here! Ah, you precious pander! Villain, where is your lady? Where is Imogen? Tell me quickly, or quickly I will send you to Hell so you can be with the fiends!”

“Oh, my good lord!”

“Where is your lady? Where is Imogen?” Cloten repeated. “Tell me, or by Jupiter I will not ask again. Secretive villain, I’ll have this secret from your heart, or I’ll rip your heart to find it. Is she with Posthumus? From Posthumus’ many pounds of baseness even a part of an ounce of worth cannot be drawn.”

“Alas, my lord,” Pisanio said. “How can Imogen be with Posthumus? When was she discovered absent from the court? Posthumus is in Rome. She cannot have traveled that far so quickly to see him.”

“Where is she then, sir?” Cloten asked. “Come nearer. No further faltering. Tell me exactly what has become of her.”

“Oh, my all-worthy lord!”

“All-worthy villain!” Cloten replied. “Reveal to me where your mistress is at once, using your next word. Let me hear no more of ‘worthy lord!’ Speak, or your silence will result immediately in your condemnation and your death.”

“Then, sir, this letter is the history of my knowledge concerning her flight,” Pisanio said.

He held up the letter in which Posthumus had told Imogen to meet him at Milford Haven. In doing this, he was not betraying Imogen because he thought that she had left the region.

Cloten said, “Let me see the letter. I will pursue Imogen even all the way to the throne of Caesar Augustus.”

He took it and began to read it.

Pisanio thought, I had to do this, or perish. But Imogen is far enough away from Milford Haven to be safe, and what Cloten learns by reading this letter may prove to be his travail and not her danger.

Reading the letter, Cloten grunted.

Pisanio thought, I’ll write to my lord, Posthumus, that she’s dead. Oh, Imogen, safe may you wander, and safe return again!

“Sirrah, is this letter true?”

“Sir, I think it is.”

“It is Posthumus’ handwriting; I recognize it,” Cloten said. “Sirrah, if you wish not to be a villain, but instead to do me true service, undertake with a serious industry those tasks in which I should have reason to use you; that is, whatever villainy I order you to do, perform it immediately and truly — I wish to think that you are an honest man. If you prove to serve me faithfully, you will neither want my means for your relief nor my voice for your advancement. You will be richly rewarded for your service.”

“Good, my good lord,” Pisanio replied.

“Will you serve me? Patiently and steadfastly you have stuck to the bare fortune of that beggar Posthumus, and so you cannot, in the course of gratitude, but be a diligent follower of mine. Posthumus could not reward you well for your service, but I can. Will you serve me?”

“Sir, I will.”

“Give me your hand,” Cloten said. “Here’s my bag of money for you to take care of. Do you have any of your recent master’s — Posthumus’ — garments in your possession?”

“I have, my lord, at my lodging, the same suit of clothing that Posthumus wore when he took leave of my lady and mistress: Imogen.”

“The first service you will do me is to fetch that suit of clothing and bring it here. Let it be your first service; go.”

“I shall, my lord,” Pisanio said as he exited.

“Posthumus and Imogen will meet at Milford Haven!” Cloten said. “I forgot to ask Pisanio one thing: I’ll remember it soon. At Milford Haven, you villain Posthumus, I will kill you. I wish these garments of yours were here now. Imogen said once — the bitterness of it I now belch from my heart — that she held the garment of Posthumus in more respect than my noble and natural person even with the adornment of my qualities. While wearing Posthumus’ clothing on my back, I will rape her. First I will kill him in front of her. That way, she will witness my valor, which will then be a torment to her because of her contempt of me. The insults I will say will end when he lies dead on the ground, and when my lust has dined on her body — which, as I say, to vex her I will rape her while I wear the clothes that she so praised — then I’ll beat her back to the court, kicking her home again. She has despised me with delight, and I’ll be merry in my revenge.”

Pisanio had come back early enough to hear Cloten’s plan to rape Imogen. Cloten had not been aware of Pisanio’s presence because Pisanio had stopped a short distance away and had been quiet, but now Pisanio walked toward him, carrying a suit of clothing.

“Are those Posthumus’ clothes?” Cloten asked.

“Yes, my noble lord.”

Remembering what he had forgotten to ask Pisanio previously, Cloten asked, “How long has it been since Imogen went to Milford Haven?”

“She can scarcely have arrived there yet,” Pisanio answered.

“Take this apparel to my chamber; that is the second thing that I have commanded you to do. The third is that you will be a voluntary mute about my plan — don’t make me cut off your tongue! Don’t tell anyone what I am planning to do. Do your duty to me, and true advancement shall come to you. My revenge is now at Milford Haven. I wish that I had wings to follow it! Come, and serve me faithfully and truly.”

Cloten exited.

Pisanio said to himself, “You order me to do things that will be to my loss because if I am true to you, then I am false, which I will never be, to him — Posthumus — who is most true. To Milford Haven you will go, and you will not find her — Imogen — whom you are pursuing! Flow, flow, you Heavenly blessings, on her! May this fool’s speed be thwarted by slowness; may hard work be his reward!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


David Bruce: Clothing Anecdotes

Lots of queens exist in the world: fair queens, prom queens, and rodeo queens. Of course, a rodeo queen is not likely to ride in a chariot powered by four horses. Instead, she is going to be riding the horse, moving like the wind, wearing cowboy boots, and not letting her hat touch the ground. Tina Johnson, a former queen’s court advisor for the Yoncalla (Oregon) Rodeo, and therefore an expert, says, “If your hat hits the ground, then your head had better be in it. Losing your hat is a major rodeo queen faux pas.” (As everyone knows, lots of queens speak French.) So how does a rodeo queen keep her hat on while galloping on a horse? The use of lots of bobby pins helps, as does wearing a hat one size too small. Another expert, the 2007 Yoncalla Rodeo Queen and 2008 Senior Princess Whitney Richey says, “One of the new girls was complaining because her hat was too tight. We told her, ‘Take an Advil.’”

In 1994, when she was acting in John Waters’ Serial Mom, Kathleen Turner discovered that she had rheumatoid arthritis. She exercised regularly, as the doctor ordered, and she had surgery as necessary; however, for long periods of time she was unable to wear anything but slippers, although she loves shoes. In an interview with Rachel Cooke that was published in March of 2008, Ms. Turner said that she was very pleased that she had been able to wear shoes for two weeks. She had gone into a shoe store, tried a pair on, and cried, “I can wear these!” The shoe-store employee assisting her said, “Of course you can, dear.” Ms. Turner admits, “I scared the hell out of him.”

If you are really famous, it’s hard to avoid the paparazzi. For a while, celebrity photographers were after all the photographs of Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie that they could get. (Actually, they still are.) And for a while, Ms. Aniston wore the same outfit over and over, hoping that media editors would think that newly taken photographs were actually old, leftover photographs. According to celebrity photographer Gary Sun, that trick will no longer work. He says that these days the media will “use the pictures, [and] they’ll talk smack about you for wearing the same clothes over and over.”

Even a member of the punk group the Sex Pistols can fall in love and clean up his act—at least for a while. When guitarist Sid Vicious fell in love, lead singer Johnny Rotten was amazed at how it changed him: “He even changed his underwear for the first time in two years.” Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren didn’t believe it: “Did you actually see him taking it off?” Mr. Rotten replied, “He didn’t take it off. He had been wearing it too long for that. He had to shave it off.”

Music has no fans like punk fans. Richard Hell once designed a T-shirt with a bull’s-eye target and the words “Please kill me” on it. Richard Lloyd, lead guitarist of the punk group Television, once wore the T-shirt. Some wild-eyed punk fans saw the T-shirt and told him, “If that’s what you want, we’ll be happy to oblige because we’re such big fans!” Immediately, Mr. Lloyd thought, “I am NOT wearing this shirt again.”

Famed photographer Yousuf Karsh took a portrait of Senator John F. Kennedy during his Presidential campaign. Senator Kennedy had not realized that Mr. Karsh would take color photographs in addition to his usual black-and-white photographs. Thinking that his tie was an unsuitable color for his portrait, Senator Kennedy requested of Mr. Karsh, “Let me have yours.” When the color photographs were taken, Senator Kennedy was wearing Mr. Karsh’s tie.

Beatrix Potter wore sturdy clothing because of her work on the farms she owned. The wool in her clothing came from the sheep she owned, and she wore clogs in the fields. However, the sturdy clothing was hardly fashionable. A tramp she met once on a road as she walked to a pasture during a cold and windy day thought that she was homeless like himself and greeted her with, “It’s a sad weather for the likes o’ thee and me!

Adrienne Janic, host of the car show Overhaulin’ on TLC, attended the 2008 Christian Oscars: the Movieguide awards. She wore a dress with slits up the sides, and when she sat down, she used two napkins so that she would have enough material to cover up the top of the slits. Even so, one of the Christians present warned her about the evils of wearing such a dress. Ms. Janic replied, “Oh, I’ve got a mansion in hell.”

Before her marriage, the name of children’s book author Barbara Park was Barbara Lynne Tidswell. Her mother made many of Barbara’s clothes, and she often monogrammed the clothing, too. Because BLT is an abbreviation for Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwiches, Barbara says that when she wore the monogrammed clothing, she felt “like a walking sandwich board.”

In New York, Joan Collins and Bette Davis attended a Night of a 100 Stars gala. Ms. Collins was wearing a dress that she describes as “a low-cut, backless, armless and slit-to-the-thigh silver lamé gown, created by the Dynasty designer Nolan Miller.” Ms. Davis looked at Ms. Collins and the dress, then she told Ms. Collins, “M’dear, you almost have that dress on.”

Conrad Kenson was an actor who knew the importance of good shoes in his profession. He was also wealthy, and when he died he left $250,000 to the Actors’ Fund so that actors could go to a Thom McCann store and get a paid-for pair of shoes. Mr. Kenson once said, “An actor cannot hold his head up if his heels are run-down.”

In 1936, the always well-dressed Sir Malcolm Sargent conducted an orchestra in Australia, surprising the musicians with his impeccable suit and the red carnation in his buttonhole. During a break in the rehearsal, members of the brass section went outside, visited a street vendor, and returned with decorations in their own buttonholes: each was sporting a red candy apple.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved