You know that feeling you get when your favorite author asks you if you’d like to host a story of theirs on your blog? Well, I didn’t either until this morning. Hint: it feels amazing. I might have smoked a cigarette afterwards if I, you know, smoked.
Helena Hann-Basquiat, dilettante, asked me if I’d like to host a part of her new Shakespeare-styled story and the word ‘yes’ exploded from me like the finale of a 4th of July fireworks extravaganza. If you aren’t familiar with Helena you are in for a treat.
I command thee to read the first part of this story before continuing here. I also command thee to click Helena’s follow button while you’re over there. She get’s a little thrill each time someone touches her button. You may even enjoy it, too.
Thank you, Helena, for once again sharing your superior prose on this unworthy blog.
If you haven’t read Part One yet, GO BACK HERE and then follow the link at the end which will return you here.
Welcome to Part Two, where you get to meet the cast of characters (including a special first peek at the character art for Penelope herself!) as well as a chance to read Act One, Scene One of my new play, coming soon in paperback and e-book.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Penelope, Countess of Arcadia
A university student. After reading Alice in Wonderland during a particularly bad citric acid trip, Penny developed a penchant for dressing in outlandish striped socks and crinolines, and enjoys turning her hair into sculptured works of art that require a scholarly knowledge of both Salvador Dali and Dr. Seuss to understand and/or appreciate.
Penelope’s Penelope’s fiercely protective Aunt To make up for a crippling sense of high self-esteem, she dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into in order to fail spectacularly at something.
The Empress Claudia
Empress of the Society of the University of Arcadia. Conniving and manipulative, she’ll not be blamed for anything, and will not admit to any wrong-doing, even if she is caught with her sticky little hands in the cookie jar.
A Moneylender. A greedy pinch-thrift who does not forgive debts and has been known to exact terrible consequences upon those in default.
a member of the Society and friend to Penelope. He is a scholar and a poet, and is in a fiery relationship with Beatrice, also a friend to Penelope. Neither have any love for the Empress.
an Inspector of the University of Arcadia. A shrewd, clever, suspicious man, who takes Justice very personally.
A messenger, who sells his services, and has no loyalties one way or the other.
the audience, who feels it necessary to interject when it is completely inappropriate, destroying the illusion by breaking the fourth wall. What the fuck, You?
A tavern. Outside it is pouring rain. The Empress waits in a booth in the back corner of the room. Genevieve enters, soaking wet and annoyed.
‘Tis fine weather thou hast called me out in,
And surely I am chill-ed to the bone!
The rain is but a gift from God. Thou canst
Not pin foul weather on my blameless breast
Like a plague cross, nor hold me in debt for
Sickness incurred due to your improper
Preparation. Thou art no fool – thou know’st
A grey sky from blue.
I came not to blame you for the rain, nor
Petition thee for sunshine. I come for
What is owed, and shall have it, else you face my wrath.
Surely thou speak’st of the bit of coin
You believe thou art due.
‘Tis no bit of coin, thou sanctimonious
Flap-mouthed maggot pie! It is a small prize,
And thou hast given me promises of
Reimbursement, sworn on the blood of thine own mother.
I said no such thing! I told you most
Assuredly that our society
Could not bear such a debt.
Thou mangled hedge-born promise-breaker!
I have given thee time most ample and
Sufficient, and my kindness has become
Like an ancient pair of breeches. I tire
Of your tongue-wagging, and cannot bear the
Sight of thee. Thy dress is like a dog’s breakfast!
Well, in truth, I did not choose these garments
Myself! I was in a rush to meet you,
And my aide did, in haste, dress me in these
Most unseemly vestments.
I care not a tick!
Only, where is my money that thou hast
Promis-ed? My garden is already quite well
Fertilized. I’ve no need for any more
Compost from thy putrid lips.
Methinks I need some air.
Methink’st thou art a general offence and
Every man should beat thee.  Be off, then, and
Get some air. T’would be unwise to run, and
Prudent to return with what thou owest.
A moment, then. I’ll not flee, thou hast my word.
A valueless thing, broken and bespoiled.
Go, thou saucy, crook-pated malt worm,
Before my angry foot finds purchase in
The enormous mounds of thy bottom.
Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit,
For I am sick when I do look on thee. 
Empress exits to side stage
Am I a fool, that I must contend with
Such nonsense that seems bound and determined
To dull my wits and ebb my strength? To have
Insults hurl’d upon me like an ass, when
I should have respect and all forms of duty?
Was it not I who, with demonstrations
Of mercy did allow those charg’d with
Petty disobediences to rejoin
Their brethren in the bosom of our fair
Society? Aye, t’was none but I did
Open arms and forgive. Now I find myself
With hounds nipping at my heels. But watch,
As I shall run quicker, smarter and faster
And show you all that this fox is clever,
And will not be caught. A ruthless creature, I
And not afraid of spilling a little blood.
The Countess! I hate the Countess, and she
Shall serve. When the hounds come sniffing ‘round,
I shall wound her, and they cannot help but
Follow that scent to where she lies bleeding.
I shall form a trap so complete that she
Will not fail to step in’t. And the yips
Of pain, and the look of fear in her eyes
Will be the sweet cream I pour over my
Berries for dessert, and vengeance shall stain
My smiling lips.
Hast the air consumed thee, thou poxy cur?
Or hast thee, with thy dull wits, lost the way?
Doth thou need a map to find thy way back?
Or should I send a rescue party hither
To rescue thee?
I come, anon!
The air hast cleared my clouded mind, and it
Doth occur to me to double mine efforts
To locate the missing funds. Surely something
Hath gone amiss, as thou hast ascertained,
And I shall check the Society ledger,
For indeed I hath promised recompense
To your fair self, and I am no liar.
Just a clock
That never ceases chiming the hour,
Ringing the same song in my weary ears.
I only mean to say that if there hath
Been an error in accounting, the fault
Lies not with me, good lady, but with she
Who held the books. (Aside) That foul-mouthed tart with
The stryp-ed socks and multi-coloured hair
Who dared call me liar in front of the
Entire assemblage. I’ll not take the blame
When, with a little work, the sin can be
laid at her feet. Before this day is done,
mark my words – I’ll see her blood in the street.
Thou art to blame for naught, t’would appear, for
Thy protestations art the mewling of
Kittens that win the heart of the genteel
Farmer and are spared drowning. Very well.
Bring me such proof as shall vindicate, and
If a treasure I cannot collect, I
Will take my fee in a measure of flesh.
But ‘ware me, Empress – should all thy
explorations leave thee empty-handed,
I promise that t’will be thy hands I take
As my reward.
And thee I shall call villain!
‘Twill be thy claws that leave their mark when the
Countess, who wears naïveté like that
Cursed shirt of hers (The one that reads
Fuckest Thee, Thou Fucking Fuck) doth inquire
As to who hast delved into her affairs,
And made accusations of theft and
Misappropriation, I shall whisper
Into the Countess’ eager ears, telling
Of thy unsurmountable greed and avarice
And extend a hand of equally
Offended friendship so she canst not then
Doubt I am no villain. I shall play
The innocent dove, come to warn her of
Danger, and vow to follow her into
The dragon’s mouth. But in following her,
I do follow mine own dark ends. For when
The dragon doth open its fiery jaws,
‘Twill not be the charry beast’s fearsome teeth
The Countess will feel piercing her foolish
Breast, but mine own dagger, sharpened and
Envenom’d. And still, I shall declare my
Innocence. I know not how, but surely
There is some poor fool that I can rake ‘cross
The coals until his skin be like the Moor
At midnight – While I remain pure as
Freshly fallen snow. But soft! The rain doth break,
And there is much mischief to attend to!
 All’s Well That Ends Well, Act II Scene III, William Shakespeare
 A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II Scene I, William Shakespeare
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