Monday, April 5, 2010

The Ides of March

He boards the bus, fumbling out the change and marking himself as being less than the professional drunken flyer, strictly an amateur.
"Thanks," he manages, hoping that it comes out as cohesively as that. It's about as well received as if it had come out with chunks. The driver catches his eye, then looks up at the sign above the dash window: Do Not Talk to Driver. The next line, in simple printed script: Move behind the white line, go to the back of the bus, and find a seat; Thank-you.
"Conversation's already taken care of for me. How kind." he mutters, pulling the impotently small bag behind him, jerkingly for the slush that has compounded into hard snow around the wheels.
Out of the airport terminal he can only think of how Toronto was as cold as he remembered, the skies as filled and thick as he remembered. Unfortunately, the bus was not as cheap as he remembered, and now his anorexic wallet can be effortlessly slid into a pocket without even a memory as to how it might have had to have been jammed in. Still, the bus is thankfully empty, or at least close enough to empty that one could be thankful for it. He takes a seat, moving the single luggage bag to his lap in what almost approached a co-ordinated convulsion of his extremities. Something inside sounds as though it's leaking. Shit. His head drifts to rest on the window without protestation from his neck, and the bus shudders to a start.
"Toronto." he whispers into the glass, misting it. Missing it? No, not Toronto. Toronto was what it was, but it was easy to admit that it was familiar enough to be a sight for sore eyes. He doesn't admit it, and sinks instead to more pleasant thoughts- of which the only recent one was the unusually sociable customs young woman at the customs desk.
"Shaver. Heh." a wan smile breaks out. "Stanley Shaver."
The coincidence, being minor, is lost in view of other things, perhaps not so well lost. Memory plays back, with young Donnelly and young Shaver sitting side by side in the row of desks--

Scene I, A schoolroom, DONNELLY and SHAVER sit at the back of the class, ignored by the TEACHER, who concentrates on getting her papers marked. DONNELLY has THE BOOK, a Shakespeare play, in one hand. He looks at it with modest interest whereas SHAVER taps boredly on his desk:

DONNELLY: [wistfully] "The evil that men do--"
SHAVER: "Fuckin' awesome Iron Maiden song, that."
[DONNELLY mimes throwing THE BOOK at SHAVER, who ducks]
D: "Julius Caesar, you illiterate tit. Shakespeare!"
[D waves THE BOOK at S] "Didn't you do the readings?"
S: [playfully] "Why bother? Song was way better. Shorter, too."
[both smile]
D: "The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones."
S: "And he couldn't have written that in plain English? Guy is so overrated."
[D, with playful exasperation, swats again at S with his arm]
S: "Seriously! Could you honestly tell me who the fuck--"
[he pauses, looking over the sea of heads towards the equally pre-occupied TEACHER at the front of the room; S lowers his voice a touch] "--who the fuck besides that miserable old tyrant gives a damn about when the Ides of March is."
D: "It's history, man."
S: "That's not history, not by a long shot."
[He points to THE BOOK] That's not even 'history written by the winners', that's, like, history written for descendants of the winners."
D: "You're just saying that 'cuz you hated Macbeth."
S: "Fuckin' 'fair and foul a day' my ass. That shit never happens! It's all dramatized so that Billy Shakes-his-spear can get his belly rubs from royalty for touting the party line: 'Don't kill the king, that shit upsets nature.'"
[he jabs his finger skywards, with emphasis] "Also? The bad guy who killed the king was actually better at his job than his successor. Total- fucking- bullshit."
[smiling] "Yeah, yeah. It's fiction, I got it. Coming from the guy who watched Gladiator, like, 20 times--"
[smiles also] "Fuck you!"
[TEACHER looks up, S and D pretend to resume reading, snickering imperceptibly]
S: "So what'd Billy say, again?"
D: "The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones."
S: "...So everyone dies a badguy, huh."
D: "Well, they're only remembered for it, anyways. It's more like you don't die well, even if you had it all going in life."
S: "...Everybody dies a badguy."
D: "Not really."
S: "I like my version better."
D: "So you leave people around you to remember the good stuff."
S: "Nuh-uh. Like you said. Personal evil's, like, immortal."
[D shrugs]
S: "Must be why even the terrible people get remembered. People don't think of Richard the Lionheart, they think of Genghis Khan."
D: "Different wars."
S: "But the same thing! Do you remember that Purvis FBI agent guy, or John Dillinger?"
D: "Dillinger, but--"
S: "Churchill or Hitler?"
D: "Bad guys, sure, but you don't just disappear if you're a good guy."
[sarcastically] "Because 'Julius Caesar' is all about Octavian in the later acts, right?"
[S looks smug]
D: "I thought you said you didn't read the fucking play!"
S: "Nah, I just listened to the song."
[D and S laugh, which is cut short when TEACHER looks up again]
S: "Still- the point stands. The evil that men do is what makes them immortal."
[shaking his head, muttering] "Metaphors. Just metaphors."

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