"Theatre of Shakespeare" by Gustav Klimt An Alternative Ending to Romeo and Juliet by Reid McGrath The Society April 13, 2017 Classical Literature, Culture, For Educators, Poetry 7 Comments If Romeo Had Received the Letter Part I Romeo (in the catacomb, lying down beside Juliet) The friar’s note said: “Romeo she will wake.” Thus here I am now with my life at stake. You’ll resurrect? Or will the potion err? the anesthesia taken on a dare, a hope that it will work, won’t stop your brain; I start to think that this is all insane. You are my other half; I’m facing you. Our eyes, like wounds, one inch apart. Into your mouth, your nose, I breath. I crawl; I turn beneath the pall, not facing you. Discern my back now ‘gainst your back. I feel you move! Aristophanes “whole-human” would approve. A caterpillar in this sick cocoon; I’ll wait to morph out of this backwards spoon. Juliet (One month later. She is sitting at a plain wooden table with a few crumbs on it, a dirty plate and glass, a vase full of wilted flowers, with some flies in the tepid and murky water. Romeo, who is gazing absentmindedly out of the window into one of Mantua’s more sordid city streets, has two empty wineskins of Cabernet in front of him. The apartment is small and unfurnished and you can hear the mice in the walls.) So here we are in Mantua. What now? Where once was sun a darkness clouds your brow. You stay inside all day in this bare flat. We don’t have money; yet you’re growing fat… Tell me how that works, Romeo? Recall our honeymoon, how ripped you were, the hall we ran through, to our rooms, sloughing our clothes. We really were a randy pair: God knows we sinned; we did; but not in that way, no, we were married; but Moses said: “I show you these Commandments blazed into this rock ‘Obey your parents. V.’” Is it a shock we suffer now financially, are shunned? The friar’s plan was fry-ered; I just punned. Romeo Our honeymoon is done. There is no dough. We went to where the honeymooners go: to Rome and then to Ischia where the hares are raised in pits, and fished out, sat in chairs out in the yellow sun at some cafe consuming bread and cheese and wine all day, prosciutto from an acorn-finished pig; I clenched in purple teeth an English cig. We laid in bed all day, or by a pool, or on the beach, or on the balc’. The cool sweet air, from off the water, blew the sash. We burned and burned through bonfires of cash. For one month, oh; oh, what a life we led? But now that month is gone. Our love is dead. Juliet What were we really thinking? How could we leave all our fam behind? Just you and me? It sounded nice while in that catacomb but Verona’s the place I call my home. It is the place that you call your home too and that is why you hate me, why you’re blue. Our dreams were dashed against the slipp’ry rocks! Our dreams, like cars, should come with built in shocks to mitigate the jolt of when they crash, because of speed and speedbumps ere they smash, careening towards the cliffs of Life, the sea of what we know is mere Reality… We should have got to know each other first. The play goes poorly when it’s not rehearsed. Romeo You say I’m growing fat; I’m growing old. A young man ages quick pining for gold. I don’t know what to do; I’ve killed my friends by getting in the middle. Make amends? with who? O you Mercutio are dead who always mocked those silly books I read: Petrarch’s sad numbers, Dante’s early work La Vita Nuova. I was wont to shirk my duties for my father, Montague, my studies in the classroom: “Oh boohoo!” I wailed against my fate. My fate was good! It’s just that I had never understood the maxim bout the fishes in the sea. You were, I thought, the only girl for me! Juliet I should have put you through more tests—my fault. I was bombarded by your strong assault of passion, ardor, language; Paris too was knocking at my vestal door. I flew into that bone-crib, drank the vile up, for you, alas, the better looking pup, the better talker, poet—Pilgrim, ah and here we are exiles in Mantua… Oh Romeo, I’m sorry, you’re not bad; it’s just that when I think of what we had, I think that life is one complex mean trick. The gymnast needs to be coached ere she stick her landing safely on the padded mat. My kinsmen hate me; I blame me for that. Romeo (after a minute, growing visibly contemplative and remorseful) You sound like Helen but it’s not your fault. I was the Trojan Paris. I assault you even now, when I should go to work, get off my ass: The breadwinner can’t shirk the onus that he owes to his nice wife. The problem though is my entire life I haven’t worked at all; nor have I said I’m sorry, when I should have. Oh we’re wed we might as well get on with it; I’m changed. What if our marriage wasn’t pre-arranged? Perhaps you didn’t love me like you thought; you’re blameless, girl; two Parises had fought for your white hand. I had the better tongue. Should we go out tonight? I’m feeling young. Juliet We’ll take a walk. I want to talk tonight. I am so glad we do not have to fight about this any longer. When they see us working on our marriage. It will be clearer to them that we have settled down; we have matured, are serious. The clown of our old love has lost its squeaky nose. Call our old love: “Pinocchio!” It grows (the lie) despite the fact that one is blind and ignorant — But that is all behind us now, our nose has shrunk, and we are true in that we now know what we have to do: We have to nurture this, our Love, our seed. My time of month’s long-gone and I don’t— Romeo (interrupting her) You’re kidding— No, you’re serious. I don’t know what to think; I have to think; I won’t! I cannot be a Hamlet-thing; I think too much (or like the Irish say) I tink. Tinking is like a chisel and I tick my Time away in tinking like a mick. I drink too much; I tink too much; I tock; I sway as if I were a kind of clock, a reed; I paint, I draw, I write, I read. But Doing-Time is here and now I need to do, (“hacer,” in Spanish), duty mad to do my duty as a doting dad. I’ll go to work wherever work may be. I’ll dig a ditch or I will plant a tree. Part II The Nurse (Back in Verona, having received orders from the friar to go immediately to the two women, who are in a salon getting their hair done. They jump up, startled, in curlers, when the nurse arrives…) O Lady Montague and Capulet! I know you have been worried but don’t fret! I know you have lost sleep over your bond of friendship, lest your husbands know, abscond you need not do; but please to Mantua come see your new grandchild! I just saw him for myself! He’s healthy and he’s calm! Delivered just this morning in white balm that comes with birth: protecting him. On dug of Juliet herself! I see you hug! You know that all these family quarrels will be swallowed and forgiven like a pill that succors, uplifts. This his name will do: Mercutio Capulet Montague…!!! Reid McGrath lives and writes in the Hudson Valley Region of New York. Related Post A Translation of André Chénier’s ‘Elegy XX’... Born at Constantinople in 1762 of a French father and Greek mother, André Chénier grew up in pre-revolutionary France and studied at Paris. Well-read,... Tell the world:FacebookTwitterTumblrPinterestRedditLinkedInEmail 7 Responses Amy Foreman April 13, 2017 Anachronistically witty and delightful, Reid! I like this ending better than Shakespeare’s. 🙂 Reply Kathy F. April 13, 2017 I really enjoyed reading this! Reply Sathyanarayana April 13, 2017 This is a very very interesting ending and of course it’s the natural good ending too. Yes, the boys and girls go mad with love, and never think of their future. No dough, no love. Aging cures some ailments, even love. The language and narrative style and poetic style(without capitalisation of first letter…the style I follow) are all beautiful. Reply Dona Fox April 13, 2017 Delightful. Reply Reid McGrath April 14, 2017 Thank you. I’m glad you all enjoyed it. It was a fun project. There’s actually a father Montague and Capulet section that I clipped for the journal because the whole piece was too long already. But now I am hesitant to share it as this ending seems to be successful. Reply Bob McGinness April 14, 2017 I love it. My favorite line: “The play goes poorly when it’s not rehearsed.” Reply Wilude Scabere April 14, 2017 Nice, down-to-Earth, humourous take on Shakespeare, some fun vernac, chock-a-block with pleasant lines and surprising scenes. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.