Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Masquerade

by Barbara Pavone

As the jagged edges dug into his spine he relished the relief of the cold, wet cobblestones slowly soaking his shirt and soothing his bruises. He had barely any control remaining over his weak body but he exerted himself to force open his eyes. As he did so, he instantaneously regretted the effort. The cloaked figure in the harlequin mask was still staring at him mockingly, as were his equally clad assistants. He had hoped with all his heart and soul that it had been a terrible dream - their continuing presence stated otherwise.

“Wipe that indignity off your face,” snarled the leader of the harlequin army. “Surely you know you brought this upon yourself. Your meddling and so-called ‘constructive criticisms’ alienated our readers and publishers and cost us our careers.”

“No ... one ... ever ... said anything!” pleaded the critic.

At this accusation a universal groan echoed off the walls of the cave and roared in the deteriorating critic’s ear.

“We, kind Sir, always voiced our opinions of disagreement, but you persisted. Your senseless babble made us appear to be nothing more than incompetent, illiterate morons who, in your eyes, could not string two words together. You turned us into the laughing stocks of the literary world!”

On this note the critic felt himself sink farther into an abyss he was now certain he would not return from. He pondered over the masks and the figures seemed to read his mind.

“As a great writer once said: ‘All the world’s a stage.’ You’ve transformed us into fools, mere Harlequins placed into your theatre for comedic relief. We’ve adopted the role for this farewell - our final gift to you, before the curtain falls.”

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