by Mark T Wayne
We’re here to interview some reprobate named William Shakes for the job of special correspondent. I do not know why I’m a part of this. No sir! Perhaps it’s the strange nature of the recruit. Perhaps it’s because Jonelis recommended this particular…person, and does not entirely trust the judgement of Jim Kren, his assistant editor. (Shakes bears an uncanny resemblance and must be related in some way—maybe) Perhaps it’s because that execrable Lonagan creature is the only other help Kren could muster. But we need more writers, so here I am, eager and helpful as always, ready to lend any assistance within my power.
Kren consults a wrinkled scrap of paper. I believe he’s reading questions from a list. “So, uh…your name is William Shakes. Is that right? Tell me about yourself.”
What kind of softball question is Kren pitching? There sits Shakes in frilly regalia, looking like something out of an Elizabethan play. He probably came here straight from an all-night costume party, roaring drunk, and Kren asks a fool question like that. Wait, I believe the man is transparent enough to respond to such utter inanity.
- “What’s in a name?” he says with dignity. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. We are such stuff as dreams are made on. But if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive.” Spoken fluently and with aplomb! And in a well-modulated voice!
- Loop Lonagan looks at the man slack jawed. After a moment I hear him whispering to Kren. “What didee say?” Kren fiddles with his paper and mutters to Lonagan, “Idiot! I was gonna ask you that!”
- My value to the proceedings is now clear. Not to mention that I recognize the true and somewhat illustrious identity of this candidate. “Gentlemen, Mr. Shakes expresses the sentiment that his name and his fame do not matter; that he brings to the table a strong imagination and boundless creativity. He’s proud of his accomplishments and liable to brawl with anyone that displays the audacity to criticize his work. (Also, gentlemen, notice that the man carries a sword.)”
“Why,” Kren asks testily, “didn’t he just come out and say what he meant?”
I express the opinion that’s precisely what he did.
Lonagan shrugs and grins at his boss. “Ain’t got no problem with it.”
Kren reads the next question:
- “What is your greatest accomplishment?”
- Shakes sits there in that hot scratchy outfit, seeming at ease. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” He says. “The play’s the thing. Thirty Seven there be, wherein I catch the conscience of the king and posterity.” The man runs off these lines without breaking sweat.
- More muttering and both Kren and Lonagan turn to me. I clear my throat. “He’s considered the supreme writer in the English language and highly respected throughout the known world. Among other things, he produced 37 highly prized major works of written material that have captured the attention of world leaders.” (Privately, I take violent exception to the widely-held belief regarding his supremacy as a writer. Such accolade is more aptly applied to myself. But I refuse to squabble. Honour is at stake. Yes sir! I will do nothing to lampoon this interview!)
A brief dumbfounded silence. Then the barely vocalized sounds of approval indicate that these two examples of lower life are suitably impressed by the response. I warm to the task! Kren scans his page of questions.
- “What major problem have you had to deal with recently?”
- Shakes: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
- I immediately translate: “He says he’s learning not to underrate himself. As a result, he never shirks a task, even if he feels inadequate. Because of that, he’s consistently surprised by hidden talents.”
Lonagan finally gets up the nerve to ask a question himself:
- “Are you one o’ deeze team players?”
- Shakes: “Prithee, it be thus. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
- Me: “Ditto that.”
- “What’s yer biggest weakness?”
- Shakes: “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”
- They both sit there stunned, so I venture another paraphrase: “He says he’s only human, subject to the same vices of body and character as you two.”
Kren throws up his hands, then with an obvious effort, composes himself, and manages to appear grave and somewhat skeptical. Then he plods on.
- “How do you think you can add value to our magazine?”
- Shakes: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our venture.”
- Lonagan: “What didee say dat time?”
- I happily translate: “He says the magazine could go on the rocks due to poor staff and lousy management. But we’re at a critical stage right now and must take full advantage of it while the opportunity is ripe.”
That last answer emits a bit of grumbling between the two louts. Those fellows have no idea who they’re dealing with. Lonagan asks what I can only assume expresses the issue that bears most tenderly on his feeble mind:
- “How much money d’ya want fer dis gig?”
- Shakes: “While I am a beggar, I will rail and say there is no sin but to be rich; and being rich, my virtue then shall be to say there is no vice but beggary. If money go before, all ways do lie open, but the comfort is, you shall fear no more tavern-bills.”
- I immediately insinuate myself: “He says he doesn’t come cheap, but he never pads the expense account.”
Kren utters a deep sigh and hits him with what I am sure is his final payoff question:
- “Why should I hire you?”
- “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
- I try not to bust out laughing. “He says, don’t be a ninny.”
Kren and Lonagan stare at each other. Face it—they botched the interview. There is nothing remaining to discuss. No sir! Jonelis wanted this relic on staff. These goons found no reason to reject the man.
Kren shrugs. “Show up tomorrow for work. Eight o’clock sharp.”
Shakes gives a bow and a flourish. “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
As William Shakes nobly marches out, I can barely contain my mirth. But tomorrow, the man will stand on the sidewalk for hours. Our office rents space in the back room of a fine establishment and Ludditis doesn’t open the bar till the potato pancake connoisseurs crowd in for lunch. Kren’s revenge.
Image Credits – John Jonelis, Public Domain
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