Copyright © 2000 Robert G. Ferrell

Le Cuque du Duque

(After Having Stayed Up Way Too Late Reading Shakespeare)

Scene: a small alcove just down the hall and to the right from the audience chamber of the Duke of Tortellino. Two courtiers, Spinzella and Bubo, are whispering in urgent tones.

Spin.: An I tell you, it is more than a mound o' mushrooms that hath brought him to this pass; E'en Jonah's beast cert hath no bladder for such a bloating.
Bubo: Doubt me not 'tis struth. Yet my fancy wanders far in ponderance on what morsels passed those ivory gates. Methinks it must have ta'en the labors of no less a stout brace to fill that cairn with stones.
Spin.: Wicked, thou.
Bubo: I wought.

Suddenly a door opens off stage and running feet are heard. A aging minister of the Duke's stumbles breathlessly into the scene, clutching something that looks like a cucumber dressed in a full mail shirt.

Min.: Wurra, wurra! Darkness comes a-calling and the stars fail.
Bubo: A worthy knight that, and straight from the round table. Come ye to plumb or plead?
Spin.: By his mein, I'd wager both, and right fairly.
Min.: The Duke hath succumbed! Oh, wurra--the reins of government lie limp!
Spin.: Tut, 'tis but inaction that pursueth action.
Bubo: Battle was met in earnest, by the looks of yon soldier.
Spin.: He lacks neither armor nor girth, in truth.
Min.: Jest! Ruination will take us for our losses, methinks, yet you must needs let fly like popinjays!
Spin.: Struth, thou crow, thy nest were feather'd far more thickly with the Duke's down than our own.
Bubo: One less goose scarce diminisheth the gaggle.
Min.: Owls will of mice make meals, though no moon shows her face.
Bubo: No Caladrius ever laid gaze on thee, nor will, master wren, so keep thy health as thy may.
Min.: A curse! Unheralded hath I given throat; unmourned now I fly. (dies)
Spin.: Alas, the bird passeth, yet in demise we may find filling.
Bubo: How say you?
Spin.: His man-at-arms.
Bubo: 'Twould turn our best knife.
Spin.: Aye, but lacings may be undone.
Bubo: And the partridge thusly plucked aright.
Spin.: So let us lay to, and a brave end make of a worthy soldier.
Min.: Wax doth not a hearty repast make.
Spin.: Sophistry, and from a saucy corpse. Sleep, wren.
Bubo: Mayhap a swoon and ne'er a swan.
Spin.: Swoon or swan, I'll have the cuke.
(Takes a healthy bite out of the vegetable).
Fah, it may as well be a taper!
Bubo: The late robin doth sing at last a trusty note, it seems.
Spin.: My teeth would chase shadows but for lack of wick.
Bubo: Thy breath wouldst likewise dispel nature.
Spin.: Verily, it reflecteth naught but thine own sweet scent.
Bubo.: I'll give thee a bouquet to savor (puts Spinzella in a surprisingly fatal armpit strangle-hold)
Spin.: (Gasping) No spark glows long in a dungheap... (dies, but as he falls, strikes Bubo a savage blow on the head with the cucumber)
Bubo: Aaarrgghh! Laid low by a salad! Veggie-vexed, and not even a Duke's puppy to yelp o'er me. (dies)

Duke: Where's that blasted minister with my snack?