Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Bard-day!

To commemorate the day of William Shakespeare's birth AND death, here is a selection from my historical fiction novel "Verses of Villainy", which features playwrights Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe competing for the affection of two ladies. It just so happens that Marlowe is interested in a lady who isn't present and Will couldn't care less about: his wife, Anne Shakespeare.

The moment Shakespeare started strutting toward a pair of young brunettes in the corner, they took notice, giggling to themselves through his entire stride.

"Ladies, do you know who I am?" he asked.

"No, My Lord."

“Have you ever heard of William Shakespeare?”

“He’s the one who wrote that poem you like. 'The lovely April of her prime',” one girl said to the other.

“An excellent recitation, My Lady. Did you know that that poem was written in a place just like this, about a girl just like you? Well, not just like you. You are far more beautiful.”

“I did not know,” she replied with rose flowering in her cheeks. “Are you acquainted with Master Shakespeare, My Lord?”

“Quite well, for nearly three decades now,” he replied and bowed grandly. “My Ladies, I am William Shakespeare and your most humble servant.”

The girls were atwitter with excitement and when they curtsied, Will fondly inspected their charms.

“Ladies, you may know this gentleman as well,” he said, beckoning for Kit.

“You are Christopher Marlowe, are you not?” one of the girls asked with wide, batting eyes, and they both glided past Will to get closer to Kit. “I love your work, Lord Marlowe.”

“I saw Tamburlaine three times. Part One and Two,” the other girl giggled.

With each fawning laugh, Will grew angrier and more envious.

“I’ve always wanted to meet you, My Lord. My sister Patricia Yorke spoke very highly of your talents.”

“I’m afraid I don’t remember Mistress Yorke.”

“She is shorter than me. Older too. I think you’ll find me a more memorable friend,” she said as she walked her fingers up his arm and playfully tapped him on the chin.

“Ladies, my friend Master Shakespeare has talent that surpasses even mine,” Kit declared.

“At poetry perhaps, but I’m in the mood for something less brief. I’d rather have a play’s length than a stunted sonnet.”

“His poems are epic, Ladies, and by no means stunted.”

“Hold your tongue, Kit,” Will snapped. “There’s no point in wasting your energy. It appears you may need every bit to satisfy these wenches. I’ll even pay for the room myself.”

“There’s no need.”

“I insist.”

“Perhaps another time. Ladies, you must pardon me, but your beauty moves me so that I am compelled to create monuments to you in my new play,” Kit said.

The girls seemed just as pleased as they would have been in bed. He kissed their hands and bid them good-day before heading back to the table and gathering his papers.

“You didn’t have to do that. Why should you miss out because of me?” Will asked.

“I'm quite well without them. I’ll see you soon, Will, and thank you for your help,” Kit replied, but before he hit the door, Will called after him.

“If you’re heading to Thomas Kyd’s, I wish you good luck. He’s been talking about you non-stop since the night you spent together,” he said mockingly, and when Kit noticed eyes falling on him in revulsion, he stomped back to Will and hissed into his face.

“I would hold my tongue were I you. We both know I am not the only poet to wake in Thomas Kyd's bed.”

“So it is true. No wonder you didn’t want a go at the girls.”

“You don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.”

“You’re right. You’d better dismiss my assessment of your work then,” Will said snidely and intentionally knocked against Kit as he exited the tavern.

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