Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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It was Halloween. I was on my way to the Albany Museum but didn’t have any idea why. I felt as if I’d been drawn into some sort of a Royal Command Performance, and though I had planned to play host to the Trick or Treat visitors this evening, I had made this trip a priority. But, when I arrived at Lark Street, I found myself involuntarily stopping at an ancient two-family house I had never seen before. It seemed of venerable ancestry but strangely inviting. I exited the car, walked the short distance to the porch, and rang the bell on the first floor side of the door.
“Come in,” beckoned a male’s voice from within. Haltingly, I opened the door and entered.
Inside I saw a large living room with a polished wooden floor. In the middle of the room, seated on an ornate chair of golden color, was a middle-aged man facing me. He bore a majestic appearance, wore long hair, a white beard and mustache. He was dressed in flamboyant purple clothing. Facing him was a simple nondescript chair. There were no other items of furniture in the room. Doors on the sides of the room were closed. I felt no trepidation. Indeed, where there could have been fear, was a mixture of friendship and hospitality.
“Hello,” I said.
“Please sit down, Mr. Hemmings,” the man bade softly. “Thanks for coming.” Instantly feeling welcome, I sat facing him. “My name is Arthur Pendragon,” he stated. “You’re a psychiatrist, I need your help desperately.”
“Mr. Pendragon, I have an office in Troy, you need to . . .
“Mr. Hemmings,” he interrupted, I am the ghost of King Arthur! The help I need can’t wait for an appointment. It wouldn’t do for my knights to learn, at an inopportune time, that their celebrated king needed professional help. Can you imagine with what glee Sir Galahad and Sir Lancelot would have if they got wind of this?”
Stunned by who this man claimed to be, I did not respond for several seconds, but, not for a moment did I doubt that what he had declared was true. “Aren’t ghosts supposed to . . .” I began.
“There are many myths of that sort,” he countered “Ghosts have many forms and powers. But despite all this, I have no desire to scare anyone, tonight, especially, of all nights.”
I could see that Arthur, who I now knew as the ghost of King Arthur, truly needed my help. “Do you know why you feel this way? Don’t all ghosts have a built in lust for scaring people?”
“No, no, no,” he retorted. “Most ghosts are lovable and often do the work of guardian angels. My greatest yearning is to serve my community as a gifted leader. But the knights expect me to do what they perceive is my mission. The fact is they believe I’m out haunting people right now!”
“How does this make you feel,” I asked.
“Dejected,” was his one word response.
“The word means in low spirits,” I stated.
“Exactly,” he replied. “And what could be worse for a ghost than to be in low spirits?”
I loved his sense of humor. “Your Highness,” I said. “You know that in Hamlet, Polonius says, ‘This above all: to thyne own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.’ You don’t have the ghost of a chance to find satisfaction as a ghost unless you follow this dictum.”
I had offered a pun of my own!
King Arthur smiled at my feeble attempt at humor. “How would the knights feel if I were to tell them that the man they revered as King of the British was now a failure as a haunt?”
“They would understand, Your Majesty” I declared. Gather with them at the round table. Tell them that from this point, you will strive to be naught but the best British king there ever was. Tell them you deplore horrifying people and wish to pursue a new calling. Ask for their cooperation. They will support you!”
King Arthur smiled, then dimmed and disappeared leaving me with the feeling that this had been a dream.
Tonight, Halloween, a year later, after having drained all my bowls of candy and apples at the front door, I was resting in my recliner. Suddenly, the ghost of King Arthur, in full royal regalia, including bejeweled crown, appeared before me carrying a covered dish. “I did what you suggested,” he said. “Have a sample of my now famous fish and chips,” he gushed. “I and the knights enjoy them often at the round table. Indeed, they are served throughout Camelot and I am renowned for their grandeur. This is my legacy. I’m known as the Albert, the Fish and Chips King. Take this gift with thanks for the advice you gave a dejected ghost one year ago.”
“Thanks, very much, Your Majesty,” I responded. “I just happen to have some mead in the refrigerator. Let us celebrate your success with mead and fish and chips,” I suggested. He liked the idea. We enjoyed our meal and planned to repeat this event every year on Halloween night from now on.