Friday Flash Revisited: Pucked Up

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Puck looked at the watch and pondered the nature of time.

It was almost as fickle as he was.

What marriage – or a good binding-spell brought on by too much drink and a serious lack of judgement – had bound together, time would tear asunder. At least it would if Puck had anything to do with it. Robin Goodfellow was not a fairy that would remain tied by one woman for long, no matter how fun bondage might be.

Belching loudly, he sat up, snapped his fingers and produced two ice-cold cans of his favorite fizzy intoxicant. Crumpling and tossing the empties, he re-loaded his beercap. He stood, scratched his hairy belly, and brooded over his newly acquired wife.

Buttercup lay frozen on the flowery bed, a beatific smile softening features that would otherwise have appeared harsh in the early morning light. No, who was he kidding? She looked angelic, no matter how much spandex she was wearing. Still, if he was tied to her by the terms of her nefarious binding-spell until “the end of time,” the obvious solution was to stop time, right?

Puck contemplated the charmed silver band that graced his finger. Buttercup was many things, but a fool was not one of them. In fact, he might even go so far as to say she was as shrewd and knavish as himself–a perfect match. So his solution seemed almost too easy. Was it another trap?

However, Robin Goodfellow was not known for his caution. Snagging the watch from the fairy king had been risky, but he knew his boss would be too busy “making up” with Titania to notice its absence. He removed the magically-binding wedding ring, then turned to face his lovely bride. He’d make the bitch pay, but there was no reason her punishment couldn’t be fun for both of them. He pressed a button on the watch’s side.

Time once more in motion, his blushing bride opened her eyes; her smile slowly widened as she took in his appearance.

“Hello, darling,” she said. “Want to play?”

##

*I hope you enjoyed this! If you are a fellow fan of the Bard, I suggest you check out the Ohio Shakespeare Festival page and find out their schedule for the rest of this year! They are incredibly talented.

I will be concentrating on some longer-term projects in the next month, so I thought I would repost another of my favorite Shakespeare sequels. The text has been edited slightly since its original appearance on my blog several years ago.

***Today’s post is an expansion of a flash I wrote at the six minute story site as a continuation of an earlier flash, Puck’s Surprise. The kernel of today’s post is still there.

***image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

 

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Friday Flash Revisited: Puck’s Surprise

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Fairies were neither prudish nor temperate by nature, but when Puck’s pranks graduated from tipping old ladies to strategically placing whoopee cushions, he crossed a line. Something needed to be done.

“But what?” asked Oberon. Puck had served as his wingman for years, so he wished to handle the situation delicately. Several compromising photos were at stake.

Titania suggested an intervention, though Oberon thought the idea unproductive.

“I agree,” called a voice. “He’ll think it’s a joke, take it as a challenge, and be worse than ever.”

“Who speaks?” called Titania.

A delicate fairy woman appeared out of the crowd and knelt before the thrones. “Buttercup, my liege.”

“Well, do you have any better ideas?” said Oberon.

She grinned.

#

Later that afternoon, Oberon searched the woods.

“Puck! Robin Goodfellow!” called Oberon. He’d thrown dignity to the wind when he told Titania that he’d fetch Puck for the party, but he didn’t dare disappoint her again. He’d never live it down.

A nearby bush moaned softly, and Oberon pushed aside some leaves. “Puck? What are you doing here? I’ve been calling for nearly ten minutes!”

The wayward fairy rubbed his temple and moaned again. “Sorry, my liege. If I had been conscious, I would never have dared keep you waiting. Do you have some aspirin?”

Oberon produced two small pink tablets. “I’m always prepared.”

Puck sat up, scratched his hairy belly, and fished around on the ground for his beer cap. Fitting it to his scalp, he popped the pills and sipped from one of the cap’s straws. “What do you need, sire? Having trouble with the Queen again?” He rose unsteadily. “You know, I could get Cobweb and Mustardseed for you. They make a mean–”

“Really, Robin, you’ve been around mortals too much! That’s depraved, even for you, and–”

“–chocolate cake.”

“What?”

“Oh…oh! You thought I meant–”

“No, of course I didn’t–”

“Of course not. Not after last time, right?” Puck nudged the King and winked with one blackened eye.

After an uncomfortable silence, the King asked, “What happened to you?”

Rubbing his forehead, Puck said, “I really don’t remember, sire. There was this party–”

“Of course,” said Oberon.

“And all I… ah, I remember. Fraternities have no sense of humor no matter what they say.”

“What did you do?” asked Oberon. “Make an ass out of yourself again?”

Puck grinned. “No, but I think I made one out of them!”

Oberon sighed. “Not the donkey head again. What is it with you and donkeys? That’s the oldest joke in the book.”

“Actually, pardon my liege, but you’re thinking of the chicken that crossed the road.”

After another pause, Oberon continued. “Anyway, you need to come to your birthday party.”

Puck perked up. “Party?”

“Oh, I know- you don’t get enough parties, do you? But yes, and Titania won’t let me cut the cake until you blow out the candles and–”

“Cake?” The color returned to his face. “Did Cobweb and Mustardseed make it?”

“I don’t know. It’s a cake: chocolate with–”

Puck took off towards the court. Thunder boomed. Puck returned, bowing low. “After you, sire.”

“That’s better,” said Oberon. “Now, let’s get some cake.”

#

The crowd formed a wide circle around the large multilayered cake. Titania sat on her throne, resting her chin in her hand.

“Can I come out yet?” a muffled voice called.

“No, not yet. You know your cue!” snapped Titania.

“Yes, your Highness,” said the cake.

Just then Oberon entered the hall, followed closely by Puck. Everyone quieted and knelt before the King. The Queen straightened up and offered her hand to Oberon, who kissed it before sitting beside her. With a small nod from the royal couple, the Fairy Court rose again.

Puck ran to the cake.

Everyone sang a tune roughly kin to ‘Happy Birthday’, and on the final line a scantily dressed fairy woman popped out of the cake. “Surprise!” she said. Puck pulled her out and kissed her passionately.

“This is going to be the best birthday ever,” he said.

She guided a straw to his lips, so he could swig more beer.

#

The next morning, Puck awoke in the arms of the lovely Buttercup. He gave her a quick kiss on the forehead, licked some frosting from her hair, and patted her affectionately on the butt. He grabbed his boxers from a nearby twig and started to dress. “Thanks for a good time, but I gotta split.”

Buttercup rolled over and regarded him through heavy lidded eyes. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Puck tried vainly to put on a boot before realizing it wasn’t his. “Oops. Sorry.”

Buttercup sat up. “No, but you’re going to be.”

“Hey, relax, babe. It was an honest mistake.”

“That’s not what I meant,” said Buttercup.

“Okay, whatever. Have you seen my shoe?”

“Look at your finger.”

Puck looked carefully at his finger. “What? My shoe…?”

“No,” breathed Buttercup. “Look.”

Puck looked. A small silver band glinted in the morning sun. “What the…”

“We’re married.”

That brought him up short. “Married? How much did I drink last night?”

Buttercup smirked. “Quite a bit, but that’s not the best part.”

Worried, Puck asked, “What’s the best part?”

“The binding spell I put on your ring. You’re bound to me for life. I know your tendency to stray, but from now on, wanderer…,” she smiled again, “your ass is mine.”

Puck mulled this over. He liked bad girls; maybe this would be fun.

“What do you think about open marriages?” he asked.

A wicked grin crossed her face. “I said you’d be obedient,” she cooed. “Get rid of your whoopee cushions this instant!”

“Yes, Mistress.”

##

*I hope you enjoyed this! I will be concentrating on some longer-term projects in the next month, so I thought I would repost one of my favorite Shakespeare sequels. The text has been edited slightly since its original appearance on my blog several years ago. In two weeks, I will post a followup to Puck and Buttercup’s romance.

**I realize I’m not posting on a Friday, but I felt I should post sooner since my INKubator announcement is no longer relevant.

***image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

 

 

Friday Flash Revisited: As You Liked It –or– As You Like It, Part 2

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“Father, the seating arrangement simply must be changed.”

“Why, Rosalind! Whatever do you mean? The couples are all seated next to each other, as befits an Anniversary dinner–”

“But whose Anniversary, pray you? Nay, not just mine and Orlando’s, but others’ as well!”

“Yes, of course, my dear. Don’t you see? I seated Celia and Oliver across from you.”

“But what of Touchstone? And Audrey?”

“They’re to have an excellent feast in the adjoining room, just as lavish, I promise you.”

“In the adjoining room! You did not seem so hard a year ago.”

“Well, it simply isn’t proper to have commoners seated at the table with nobility.”

“What of the Forest Arden! There you were content to sit alongside the beasts of the forest, and indeed, have your daughter married in the same ceremony as a fool and his lady.”

“A wise man does not argue with a god, Rosalind, no matter WHAT his rank.”

“The god, Hymen, is a rather agreeable sort.”

“The god of marriage wished to marry you. I will not quibble with a god about his own business.”

“It seems uncivil, somehow, to separate the celebrations now that we are back.”

“Then we were, as you so kindly observed my dear, in the forest. Manners in town must needs differ from the forest, and indeed, differ widely from Court.”

“What will your friend, Jacques, have to say about that, I wonder?”

“No doubt he will soliloquize awhile, and then wander off to be melancholy.”

“He does love to do that sort of thing; does he not?”

“Yes, my dear, though I fear he may not wander far enough. He’s rather fond of our fool.”

“Of Touchstone? I had forgot, but mayhaps he shake Jacques from his melancholy.”

“Oh no, my dear! For his happiness is more a terror than his melancholy. God save me from his mirth.”

“Now, Father, you are not in earnest. I see the curl of your lip and the sparkle of your wit. But come now. What of Audrey and Touchstone? Shall we seat them near Celia and her Oliver?”

“That depends. Has Oliver the patience for it?”

“Dear father, he is, of course, a patient and kind man. How could he be otherwise, when sired by Sir Roland and brother to my dear Orlando?”

“That same brother, whose life he aimed to end, I recall.”

“A miracle, I grant you. No doubt, my dearest friend, Celia, tamed his rage with her beauty.”

“I should hope so, for her sake. He wooed in haste.”

Give thy thoughts no tongue. You do not suggest–”

“No, my dear. I know your friend to be honest, though I do not trust HIS mind. False face may hide what the false heart doth know.”

“Father!”

“So the seating arrangement stays the same.”

“I have not agreed to such a thing. What of Silvius and his Phoebe?”

“The shepherd! I grant you, allowances are made for a licensed fool. It is the nature of his craft to be allowed liberties, but a shepherd-”

“Married by the god, Hymen, in the same ceremony as your own daughter and her friends.”

“The god is hardly going to come to the anniversary feast, now, is he?”

“—!”

“Oh, my lord Hymen! Pardon this poor mortal. I did not observe your august presence. Of course, I shall seat them together.”

“Lord Hymen, my father and I are grateful for your interest in our humble feast. It doth-”

“Left in a flash, did he not, my dear?”

“That was laid on with a trowel.”

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.

“Too true, dear Father. They treat the world as their stage, and they are the stage managers.”

“So, my dear, I suppose you shall have your way. All the lovers shall be seated at one table, as they were wed in one ceremony.”

“What shall we feast upon? Indeed, for I mean to make merry.”

Cakes and ale, my dear! Venison, and all manner of meat. The sauces shall be rich, and our wit more so.”

“What of your brother, Frederick? Will he not dine with us?”

“He is most welcome, as always, in my house.”

“Did not my Uncle eschew meat when he vowed a monastic life?”

“He need not eat it. I shall, for my own part, eat a pound of flesh, for my salad days are well behind me.”

“But your melancholy friend, Jacques… Will he not object to the venison?”

“Mayhap my head will ache all evening, and YOU may deal with Jacques! All the world’s a stage, indeed!”

“But father, I thought him your dear friend!”

“A friend, my dear, but his philosophy is too much for my mind. Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”

“Then it is a good thing Touchstone and his lady will be seated nearby. His merry wit may counter Jacques’ philosophy.”

“Rosalind, my dear, send for the apothecary. My head doth ache.”

#

 

*In honor of Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s premiere of As You Like It, I can’t help reposting my flash sequel. For fun, I bolded the lines that I stole… er, borrowed from Shakespeare!

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

Friday Flash: Final Performance

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The old and respected Shakespearean actor had taken his last bow. With a final farewell to his audience, he raised his hand and exited the stage for the last time in his long, distinguished career. Behind the scenes, he patted the pocket where he kept his lucky quill, a solid, silver writing instrument topped with a brightly colored feather. Throughout his long career he had kept it on his person during every performance, and it had always brought him luck.

“What, that’s it?” cried one of the foremost groundlings. He shook his head and muttered, “I can’t believe it.”

The actor’s ears, specially tuned to hear criticism, singled out the ne’er-do-well from the boisterous and otherwise happy crowd with one long finger. Years onstage had trained him not only to pick out the murmurs of unhappy theatre-goers, but also to command their attention with minimal effort. “You.” He said it quietly as he returned to the stage, without electronic enhancement, yet the tourist in front heard him clear as day.

The man pointed at his own chest. “Me?”

“Yes,” said the old distinguished actor. “You.”

“What about me?” said the groundling, looking around in quiet desperation. He hated being singled out.

“What about my performance did you dislike?” asked the actor.

“Well…,” hedged the tourist, unaccustomed to being called out. “I mean, I flew all the way over here to see some culture, and yeah, Big Ben was cool and I liked the wax museum but your acting was just so…”

“So what?” asked the actor, all smiles. He seemed to find the man’s discomfort amusing.

The groundling floundered.

“Listen, my good man,” said the actor, leaning down and motioning the tourist to approach the stage. “This is my final performance. I would have liked it to please everyone, but an artist should be willing to take constructive criticism. What about my performance displeased you?”

“Welllll…” floundered the man again.

“If you are suddenly shy,” said the actor, smiling as he remembered the man’s incessant stream of comments throughout the show, “you may whisper in my ear. I promise to pay attention.”

The man, leaned in conspiratorially. “Just between us?” he confided.

The actor nodded.

“I thought your acting was kind of over the top.”

“Really? And that’s…” He watched the man intently. “No, that’s not it. Is there more?”

“It was still so boring!” He looked up sheepishly. Criticizing the actor in the anonymity of the audience had been easy, but to his face? That was a harder, even though the old guy did seem to be rather personable and had, in fact, asked for it.

“So ‘over the top’ should at least be exciting?” said the actor pleasantly. “Like this?” He flourished his lucky quill from the depths of his costume, and said in a soft, dangerous voice,”Is this a dagger which I see before me?” Quick as thought,he leaned over and plunged the feathered instrument’s point into the startled critic.

The man reeled back screaming from his attacker, then ripped the blood-soaked plumage from his shoulder, gasping in pain and fear as a mass of men tackled the actor onstage. The older gentlemen did not resist but regarded his captors benignly, then returned his gaze to the victim still standing before the stage. “Was that exciting enough? After all, I told you this was my final performance.”

“What, I, you…,” the wounded man held up the crimson-covered quill. “‘Is this a dagger which I see before me!’” He shook the weapon in the air. “‘Is this a dagger which I see before me!’ What, are you kidding me! It is… the bloody business-”

“Ah, you were paying more attention than it seemed. How nice,” said the actor as they hauled him away, a grin plastered across his broadly beaming face.

.

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**written for the prompt “hero: Thou” and “villain: tourists” on the six minute story site, though I did not post there.

***I’m dedicating today’s post to Summit Art Space, and Rubber City Shakespeare which is performing Shakespeare’s MacBeth tonight!

Friday Flash: Cat Guts

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“Is it not strange that cat guts should hail souls out of men’s bodies?” mused the red-bearded Benedict, eying the musician and his companions with disdain. Despite this odd-seeming praise for the violinist’s musical prowess, Benedict hid in the bushes studiously avoiding the man, though the other humans strained closer as he sang and played. They were evidently pleased with his performance.

However, sitting quietly behind the bearded Benedict, Edgar the cat was not pleased. Violinists may hail souls from men’s bodies with their melodies, but the melody of Edgar’s fellow felines must have been less than pleasing when their own souls were ripped to make the strings that Balthasar now played. He may not have gutted the cats themselves, yet he harvested the fruits of their slaughter with his lonely, lovely notes. He represented all of cat-kind’s dearest foes. The cat’s yellow eyes narrowed, he unsheathed his claws, readying himself to avenge his fellows.

The song ended, and as the other humans gathered round, the musician clothed himself in false modesty by feebly fending off their praise. However, the red-bearded fellow before Edgar mumbled to himself, “Or was that sheep’s guts? I can never remember.”

Disgusted with himself for falling for this fool’s idiotic chatter, an unholy hissing erupted from Edgar’s disparaged soul as he leapt into the air, landing on the back of the unsuspecting Benedict. The man batted wildly at the maddened feline, raving about hanging dogs that howled too much or some such nonsense, but – although insulting dogs never hurt – it was too late. Edgar would have none of it. He sank teeth and claws into the cowering Italian, making an altogether more pleasing music to his own furry ears.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

*inspired by a photo prompt at the six minute story site, but completed on my own. The text prompt was about a cat and a violinist, so I couldn’t help spoofing a scene (link) from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Particular inspiration goes to Kenneth’s Branagh’s portrayal of Benedict. I hope you enjoyed it!