Romeo & Juliet: Scene Ten

© 2010 Hank Quense

Outside the Capulet family tomb, Romeo steeled himself for the sight of a dead Juliet. The workers hadn’t sealed the tomb yet, so he and MacBath had no trouble entering the dark crypt. Dozens of dead Capulets lined the walls. Romeo wrinkled his nose at the stench of mold and decay. Juliet lay in the center on a stone catafalque wearing a white gown. Her hands were crossed on her bosom.

“There you are!” Romeo almost jumped out of his boots at the sound of Dreadmona’s booming voice. “Juliet is dead, and it’s all yer fault. “ The yuk stood in the entrance and shook her fist at him. “Come outta there.”

Dreadmona’s command puzzled Romeo. Why didn’t she come in and grab him? He looked around the tomb, hoping to spot an exit. Coffins and stone statuettes filled every nook. If the yuk came in here, he would have to elude her long enough to bash her head with a few of the statues. He looked at Dreadmona. “I’m busy. You’ll have to come in.”

“Yuks are afraid of tombs, laddie. It’s about the only thing that scares them.” MacBath looked at Dreadmona. “But, you have a big problem when you leave. That is one very angry yuk.”

“Dreadmona,” Romeo said. “I came here to bring Juliet back to life.”

“Yer a magician?”

“Not me. I hired this wizard to do it. Watch.”

Confusion and indecision painted Dreadmona’s face.

MacBath moved to the catafalque and scattered a powder on Juliet. The dwarf chanted softly then sprinkled a second powder on her.

Her hand twitched.

Romeo smiled.

Seconds later, Juliet’s eyes popped open and she glared at MacBath. “Who let you in?”

Romeo moved to the edge of the catafalque. “It’s all right, darling.”

“Oh Romeo! I guess the poison didn’t work.”

“The poison worked. You died. I had this wizard reanimate you so we’ll be together again.”
“How romantic you are,” she cooed as she sat up. “Hey! Who took my toe rings?”

“Jewelette!” Dreadmona bellowed. “Ya selfish brat! Ya killed yourself widout thinkin’ about anyone else. Like me. Yer nasty brothers kicked me outta the house. Widout my back pay. ”

“Can you move?” Romeo asked. “We’ll go to your brothers and force them to give back your inheritance, because if we’re rich enough, no one will care that you’re undead.”

“And my toe rings. Can this old dwarf marry us?’

Romeo looked at MacBath. “Aye. I’m licensed for that.”

She grinned and waved a hand at MacBath. “Make it quick. We have things to do.”

“I pronounce you husband and wife.” MacBath made a mystical sign over their heads. “That’s as quick as it can be done.”
Juliet looked at the tomb entrance. “Dreadmona, I’m sorry about your troubles. I’m married now so I don’t need a chaperone, but I’ll need a maid if I’m to be respectable. The position is yours if you want it.”

“For how long? ‘Til ya throw me out like yer brothers?”

“Oh, no. For as long as you want it.”

Romeo didn’t think this was such a great idea but held his tongue.

“All right.” Dreadmona folder her arms across her chest. She had a devious smile on her face.

“Hey!” A frown flicked across Juliet’s face. “Can we still do . . . you-know-what?”

“Once we get your money, we’ll rent a room.” Romeo winked at her. He felt a
breathtaking sensation in his loins. At last! No more chastity belts. “Then, we’ll find out about . . . you-know-what.”

Juliet clapped her hands and giggled.

“Ain’t no one gonna do ya-know-what wid my mistress.” Dreadmona cackled.

Romeo stared open mouthed at Juliet.

“But . . . Dredmona, what if we want to do . . . you-know-what? Juliet gave Dreadmona a pleading look.

“Don’t care. Ain’t gonna be any ya-know-what while I’m around.”

Romeo felt an icy hand grip his guts. All his dreams and hopes were about to be crushed by Dreadmona. “You’re doing this to Juliet because you can’t get revenge on her brothers.” Romeo pointed a finger at the yuk. “Aren’t you?”

“Don’t know what yer talkin’ about” Dreadmona smiled. “And I’m gonna sleep at the foot of the bed to make sure it don’t happen.” Dreadmona folded her arms.

Juliet and Romeo stared at the troll, open-mouthed.

Dreadmona grinned at the happy couple.

MacBath snickered and shook his head.

Juliet and Romeo stared at the troll, openmouthed.

Romeo had an idea, one that would save the situation and taunt Juliet’s brothers. “Juliet, do you have any aunts or uncles or cousins?”

“No. The Capulet name is doomed to die out with my brothers.”

Romeo’s stomach clenched with anxiety; so much depended on a fickle yuk. “Dreadmona, do you want to get even with Juliet’s brothers? They’re the ones who fired you and cheated you out of your wages.”

“Yeah. Dem’s on me list of things to do. Me get even someday.”

“Well, the worse thing that can happen to them is for Juliet and I to have a child. Just imagine how mad they’ll be. Everyone in town will hear them howling.”

Dreadmona picked at a clump of hair on her arm. After a minute or so, she gave a gruesome grin. “Dat good. Me can’t wait to see dere faces. Me gotta be de one to tell ’em, all right?”

“Fine, you can tell them.” Romeo nodded his agreement. “But before we can have a baby, you’ll have to stay outside our room.”

“Uh-oh.” She made hideous faces while she struggled with the problem.

After what seemed to be an eternity to Romeo, she sighed and said. “Dis a big problem, but me think gettin’ even wid de brothers is bedda than getttin’ even wid Juliet. Me sleep inna next room.”

A wave of euphoria swept over Romeo. His child stood to inherit the emerald mine!

Juliet jumped off the catafalque and threw herself into Romeo’s arms. “My hero. I knew you were short, hairy and strong. Who knew you were also smart?”

 

The end

Romeo & Juliet: Scene Nine

© 2010 Hank Quense

After a sleepless night, Romeo wandered the streets of Verbona in a brain-dead fog of desperation. His beloved was imprisoned and he couldn’t rescue her until he discovered her whereabouts. For all he knew, her brothers might have advanced her wedding. She might already be a reluctant bride.

He felt a hand on his arm. It belonged to an elderly elf crone who looked familiar.

“Remember me?” the crone said. “I’m Juliet’s servant.”

“Where is she?” Romeo’s heart surged with joy. The servant could lead him to his beloved.

“She feared her brothers would kill you last night.” Tears formed in the crone’s eyes. “But when I saw the condition of those three, I knew you weren’t dead, and I came looking for you.”

“Where is she?”

“She said she couldn’t live without you.”

“Where is she?” He stamped his foot.

“She took poison last night, rather than marry Count Paris this morning.”

“Dead?” Romeo slumped against a wall.
“Her brothers were most irate at her actions.” The crone sighed. “They’ve already placed her in the family crypt. Without even holding a proper funeral ceremony. They even removed her toe rings.”

Romeo slid to the ground and held his head. All his dreams were dust.

“Listen to me,” the crone said. “Dreadmona holds you responsible for Juliet’s death and she wants revenge. She plans to hang you upside down over a fire.”

If Dreadmona killed him, maybe he’d find Juliet. He wanted to be with her, no matter her condition or state. She made any situation bearable. If he killed himself in the mines, it would be a lot quicker than getting caught by the troll. He made a face. There must be a better way. One that didn’t involve getting killed.

It took a while, but finally he came up with a plan. He returned home to grab the bag of coins he had saved. Romeo ran to the district populated by immigrants. After an hour of searching the side streets and alleys, he found the shop he sought.

When he entered, an elderly dwarf eyed him suspiciously.

“Are you the wizard, MacBath?” Romeo asked the kilt-wearing dwarf. A strange plant bent long tendrils towards him. The vine sniffed his body and he could hear tiny teeth clicking behind the blood-red petals of a flower bud.

“Leave the customer alone!” The wizard whacked the plant with a wand and turned to Romeo. “You’re wanting something?”

“Aye. I need something precious. Something that you can provide.”

“Precious somethings cost a lot of money.” MacBath combed his flowing white beard with the fingers of his left hand.

“I’m prepared to pay.”

“And what is it you want so badly?”
“I want you to animate my dead beloved.”
“You’re wanting me to break the law? Making an undead is illegal.”
“I know. That’s why you charge so much.”

“This is true.” MacBath nodded. “I charge a hundred silver pennies.”

“Agreed.”

“Laddie, are you sure you want this lady brought back?”

“I’m sure.”

“Let me get some things and we’ll bring back your lover.”

 

To be concluded

Romeo & Juliet: Scenes Seven and Eight

© 2010 Hank Quense

Romeo suffered through the longest day of his life. He could hardly wait until it was time to return to the garden. When Juliet didn’t show up for the ballet class, he worried she might be sick. Eventually, he convinced himself that she had much to do in preparation for their meeting.

“Romeo!” the dance master yelled. “Pay attention!”

He colored under his beard. The dancing master had never before reproached him. He tried to clear thoughts of Juliet from his mind but didn’t succeed. Finally, he excused himself from the class and went to visit his cousin the locksmith.

Later on at work, he fingered the ring of keys in between wall smashes. He pictured himself unlocking Juliet’s treasures and many times his iron cup became painfully tight. Images of happiness with Juliet alternated with scenes of deadly combat with her brothers. The mood swings left him emotionally drained. After his last charge, he cleaned up, removed his cup and set out for the Capulet’s garden.

~ ~ ~

The key ring jangled when he dropped over the wall. Romeo, giddy with anticipation, stood still and listened to see if anyone had heard the noise. After a moment or two, he advanced further, avoiding the thorn bushes. In the center of the garden, he paused and looked around. “Hsst?”

“L . . . Looking for someone?” The voice came from the shadows.

The hair rose on the back of Romeo’s neck when he heard two more voices chuckling. Juliet’s brothers dropped from tree limbs, carrying naked rapiers and came at him from three sides. Romeo’s hand reached for his ax. A knot constricted his throat. Since he planned an evening of love, he had left the weapon at home. All he had was the pair of metal snips in case the keys didn’t work.

“J . . . Juliet has been sent away,” Foberon said.

“Too bad you won’t live long enough to miss her,” Banquette added.

Puque, on his left, lunged and nicked his tunic.

Romeo jumped backwards and took out the metal snips. When Puque lunged a second time, Romeo caught the blade in the jaws of the snips and squeezed. The rapier snapped in two. Puque gawked at his two-inch-long rapier while Romeo lowered his head, roared a curse and charged. He slammed into Puque between the knees and hips. He pushed forward with the elf on his back. He heard a bone crack when he ran into a wall. Puque groaned and fell to the ground.

Romeo turned to confront the other two. His attack had changed the alignment of the brothers and Foberon now stood behind Banquette who limped forward.

Using a stone bench as a launching point, Romeo executed a ballonné with a grand buttement. In the midst of the leap with his right leg fully extended, his foot connected with Banquette’s chest and drove him back. The elf bounced off a tree and stumbled forward. Romeo landed on his feet. He grabbed Banquette and hoisted the elf over his head into the stulchak position. He pirouetted twice then hurled the screeching Banquette at Foberon who jumped out of the way, exposing his unguarded left side. Romeo, head lowered again, charged into the elf. He drove Foberon into a tree trunk. Foberon’s body went slack and slid down the tree trunk to a sitting position.

Romeo took a few deep breaths to compose himself. How was he to find Juliet? Her brothers would die rather than tell him where she was.

He clambered over the wall and walked back to his rooms. He shuddered. Where earlier, he had been filled with hot-blooded anticipation, now he suffered from cold fear for both Juliet and himself.

To be continued

Romeo & Juliet: Scene Six

© 2010 Hank Quense

Romeo cleaned up once his shift in the mines ended. He ran to the Capulet house in the rich part of town and paused outside the garden to listen for signs of the brothers. A minute later, he scaled the wall and dropped on the other side. He landed on a laurel shrub, making more noise than he would have liked. He moved away from the wall. The garden had so many trees, it resembled a forest, and the leaves whispered in a light breeze.

“Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Juliet awaited him!

“Hsst. I’m over here, caught on a thorn bush.” He tugged his cloak and felt it rip, but he was free. He hastened to her.

Juliet wore a diaphanous nightgown and her lithe beauty stood revealed in the light of a three-quarter moon. Romeo skidded to a halt at the sight of her. He stood, drinking in her magnificence. She smiled and held out her arms. He skipped forward and they embraced. Giddy with love and lust, he undid the buttons in front of his face. He parted the cloth, inhaled her essence, coughed and spit out a gobbet of belly-button lint.

“Oh my love,” Romeo implored. “Say you’ll marry me.”

“Yes, yes. I’ll be rid of the Capulet name forever.”
His hands caressed her body.

“What’s in a name?” she continued. “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

“What are you talking about? Have you been snorting those funny herbs?” Romeo paused in his explorations. “What’s this?”

“My chastity belt.” Juliet sighed. “Dreadmona keeps the key on a chain around her neck. And she’s very snippy when I wake up her at night to go to the outhouse. As if it was my fault.”

Disappointed, but still keen, he explored higher. “Oww!”

“That’s my chastity bra. It has a lot of nasty sharp points that always ruin my clothes.” Her hands did their own exploring. “You have one too?”

“No. That’s just my iron cup. I wear it in the mines for protection in case I trip. I forgot to take it off. And it’s awfully uncomfortable right now.”

She looked down at him. “What are we to do, my darling? My wedding to Count Paris grows nigh.”

“I know.” He snapped his fingers. “My cousin is a locksmith. Tomorrow night I’ll return with a set of master keys. Then we’ll become dwarf and wife.” He embraced her and reluctantly took a step backward. He had to get rid of his cup and find a bucket of cold water. Fast.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

“Eh?”

 

To be continued

Romeo & Juliet: Scene Four

© 2010 Hank Quense

For three weeks he endured the agony of being close to Juliet but unable to touch or talk to her. Every day they exchanged looks through eyes haunted by desperation. Every day Dreadmona glared at Romeo as if daring him to talk to Juliet. Every day Romeo could feel Juliet’s love, even across the dance hall. Every day Romeo went to the mines and tried to forget Juliet in a fog of headaches and muscle pains.

To Romeo’s surprise and exhilaration, one day Juliet came to class with an elf crone instead of the yuk. The crone immediately fell to gossiping with the other chaperones and ignored Juliet. Romeo flew to her. For several moments the two did nothing except stare at each other. Her perfume made his blood boil. Romeo’s heart threatened to burst from his chest. Finally, he managed to blurt, “I love you.”

He held his breath until she replied, “And I you. Dreadmona has her fluxes — you can’t believe how surly she gets when that happens, as if I had something to do with it.” She gave him a radiant smile. “We must make the most of today.”

The musicians started the warm-up tunes and he seized her hands. Her touch sent a shock of elation coursing through his body. She seemed overcome with emotion as he led her in a pas-de-deux. After a few twirls, she gasped, “I’ve never met anyone so . . . so . . . so short.” She ran a hand through his beard. “Or so hairy.”

Romeo clasped his hands on her slender hips and lifted her off the ground. He pirouetted twice then held her horizontal to the ground with one hand, the classic stulchak position. “Or so strong,” she moaned. “You’re so different from the elves. You’re everything I have fantasized about.”

He placed her back on her feet. “What are we to do, my beloved?” he asked.

“I want to marry you, but perhaps you don’t prefer forward females.”

“I dream of marrying you.”
“Woe is me. My brothers have arranged my marriage to Count Paris.” Juliet’s small bosom heaved. “He’s old and smelly.”

“How dare they marry you off!”

“They want the family to become noble and after I marry Paris, I’ll be a countess.”

“You must be rich from your inheritance. Can’t you run away?”

“Alas, my brothers stole it from me.”

“We must meet again.” Romeo stared into her eyes. “But how?”

“Every night,” she smiled at him, “I walk in the garden behind our house. In the garden, I’m away from my brothers and Dreadmona.”

“After work I’ll come to your garden.”

 

To Be Continued.

Romeo & Juliet: Scene Three

© 2010 Hank Quense

After class, Romeo carried his work satchel and rode down the elevator bucket into the bowels of the earth. At the bottom, he walked through a maze of tunnels lit by widely-spaced torches until he came to the newest one, a short tunnel ablaze with lights. Inside, the miners greeted him with wisecracks. He was the senior rock-walloper on the second shift and popular with the crew.

He couldn’t get the image of Juliet out of his mind. As a dancer, she was untrained but her graceful figure and elegant movements showed great promise once she removed the toe rings. He had always dreamed of having a tall, slender lover instead of a short and squat female dwarf. And he knew she was attracted to him – he had caught her surreptitious glances whenever her chaperone’s attention strayed.

The crew chief, Ocello, interrupted his thoughts by slapping him on the shoulder. “C’mon,” the dwarf said. “Get ready, so these lazy bums can do some work.”

Romeo opened his satchel and took out a small pillow and a long scarf. He balanced the pillow on top of his head and held it in place by wrapping the scarf over the pillow and under his chin. Ocello helped him secure the scarf with a pin. Next, he took out an oversized helmet. Made of iron, it featured a twelve inch spike on the top. The helmet fastened under his chin with a thick strap.

Romeo took his place with two other similarly attired dwarves, his apprentices. He rolled his shoulders to loosened up his muscles. He nodded to the chief and forced thoughts of Juliet from his mind so he could concentrate. One mistake now could seriously injure or even kill him.

“Clear the lane!” Ocello shouted. The rest of the crew backed up against the wall, leaving a path to the end of the tunnel. The chief raised his right arm.

Romeo took a deep breath. When Ocello’s arm fell, he lowered his head until the spike was horizontal to the ground, roared a battle cry and charged.

He felt the spike hit the rock wall and penetrate. A shock thundered through his body as the top of his helmet slammed into the wall. His peripheral vision narrowed until it was the size of a pinhole. The crew ran forward, untied his helmet strap and caught his limp body. They carried him to where he started his run, sat him down and went back for the apprentices. Ocello placed a sponge soaked in herbs under his nose. The pungent smell cleared his brain. As always after a run, he had a headache and his neck throbbed. He looked, still cross-eyed, at the helmets. His entire spike was buried in the rock and the spikes from his two apprentices were only half-buried.

The crew pried the helmets from the wall then attacked the holes with hammers and crow bars to enlarge them and weaken the rock face.

Romeo relaxed. He had fifteen minutes to rest before he would run at the rock again. Juliet’s image floated, unbidden, into his mind. She was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. But how could he tell her that? The gruesome Dreadmona stood ready to remove some body parts if he tried. And even if he could talk to her, he faced insurmountable problems. He was just a silver miner while she came from a fabulously rich family that owned the largest and most prosperous gem trading business in Gundarland. Besides, the eternal issue of elf-dwarf hostility would come between them. They would be scorned by both races. Could two such different beings ever find happiness?

He blinked in surprise as he realized that Juliet’s brothers would attack him if they ever found out he had talked to her. And this time, they wouldn’t stop fighting until he was dead. Despite the danger, he knew he had to talk to her.

To be continued.

Short Stories

Starting in April, I’ll be sharing my published short stories on the Strange Worlds Publishing web site.

 

Each month, the web site will have a different story posted a scene at a time. Each subsequent scene will be posted two days after the previous scene.

All these stories are humorous or satiric fantasy or sci-fi stories. They’re mostly fantasy but with some sci-fi.

The first story is called House of Atreus. Zeus is concerned the ancient line of Atreus will soon die out.