Last Scene

Last Scene

Smoke drifts over the stage, to suggest the end of battle.
Black and dark grey, it spreads low,
does not choke the audience,
for like all else in the theatre,
it is not real, but artificial, an illusion.
The smoke thins, to reveal a jester,
knelt in a blue lamp lit corner.
His coat and trousers, made of patches
of green, red and yellow cloth, are stained and torn.
In his hands, he holds a large crab, over which, he weeps.
Onto the stage, enters a warrior,
his armour coat, helmet, cloak, sword and shield,
splattered with mud, smudged with smoke stains.
He appears to look up at the sky,
as if to see what the clouds are doing.
He then attends to the jester.
“So you survive, fool. Why cry over a crab?”
he mocks him, loudly.
“Found it on the shore. Only expected to find shells, seaweed,
like when I was a boy, not this,” groans the jester.
“It lay by a rock pool, its legs stiff, unjointed.
I decided to carry it here, away from the gulls.”
“Should have left it there,” says the warrior,
who then turns, surveys the audience.
“I know, you have come to be entertained,”
he addresses them, coldly.
“Well, there was a war, but it’s over now.
There were some plots, schemes, conspiracies,
betrayals, dethronements, banishments.
Much there was that would have interested you,
but the mad machine finally sputtered its last steam,
hissed its final defiance, and is silent now.
I leave the stage myself.
I won, by the way. At least, I was on the side that did.
I leave you with Ambow, the fool, back there, crying over a crab.”
His last words said, the warrior leaves the stage.
In a sudden, behind a red curtain, it is hidden.
The audience leave the theatre, too polite to ask for their money back.
“What was it like?” Audrey was asked in the office next day.
“One of those modern plays,” she answered.
“Nothing happened much.
But one feels one ought to see such things to keep in touch.”

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