Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Wrong Way

Aristophanes and Socrates squat next to prickly bushes on the shore of a brackish lake in the Underworld.  Socrates is wearing ithyphallic breeches.  Aristophanes wears a simple stage phallus.

Aristophanes: Was it the wise choice of a philosopher Socrates then before you drank your cup of hemlock, to spend your final hours writing poems, instead of eating your last meal, buggering your last pretty boy, because you knew you would shortly very shortly thereafter get all that and more but everything much better in the Underworld?

Socrates:  You don't have to wave the rope in the face of a hanged man Aristophanes.  There was nothing to eat here for an eternity. Then they showed me this thistle patch, now I am happy they let me chew these prickles slowly.

Aristophanes:  Who are those three heading towards us?

Socrates:  (groaning loudly and clutching his loin, his sockets turn a shade blacker and his flannel complexion knots up)
    Those are the Eumenides, my tormentors.  You'd better hide behind the bush.

Eumenides gather around Socrates.

Eumenides 1:  Who are you?
Socrates        :  I don't know.
Eumenides 2:  Where are you?
Socrates        :  I don't know. (low sobs)
Eumenides 3:  Were you here yesterday?
Socrates        :  I don't know.
Eumenides 2:  Will you be here tomorrow?
Socrates        :  I don't know.
Eumenides 3:  Do you know anything?
Socrates        :  I don't know.

They all laugh ghoulishly and fly away.

Socrates is left a bony broken shade in a heap on the ground. Aristophanes comes out cautiously from behind bush and is startled by the sight of a shark like fish worming its way on its belly out of the briny slimy  lake and heading their way.

Aristophanes:  Socrates look at this leviathan moving towards us! What shall we do?!

Socrates:  (still weak and limp from his interrogation)
    My staff, my staff, where did I put my staff, I still don't remember anything, where have I put it?

Aristophanes:  (watches helplessly as Socrates starts to chase around like a dog trying to bite its hindquarters)
    What staff, what does it look like?

Socrates :  Like a staff you fart bowl, with a curved head and a forked end, it's the only way to push those sharks back. Those aren't ordinary sharks. They eat shades, they are themselves ghosts and they eat anyone who falls in on the crossing and when nobody has fallen in for a while, hunger drives them on shore, they are like crocodiles, they travel short distances quickly.

Aristophanes:  But what about the immortality of the soul?
      You were so sure of it!  Eueonos believed you and asked for the hemlock cup shortly after  you drank it, you mean to say the whole thing is a big cheat?!
Socrates:  (to himself)  If Eueonos the poet followed me then my death has not been completely in vain.
    (louder to Aristophanes)
    No cheat, no cheat, but the sharks eat the shades whose souls, that's all that's left, isn't it, but polymorphic and protean, and the soul then comes out in the excrements and those excrements are eaten by other sharks and so on, that is the life cycle of the immortal soul.

Aristophanes:  So why don't you just let yourself be eaten?

Shark is very near now.

Socrates:  Because I don't fancy spending eternity in the bowels of a shark.
    (looking at Aristophanes very intently, oddly)

Aristophanes:  What are you looking at me for?

Socrates:  The shark only eats one shade at a time, since
I can't find my staff you'll have to do – (pushing Aristophanes violently – who as he falls hits his head on the staff which has been hiding openly like a stick caterpillar. Aristophanes cursing and swearing scrambles to his feet, grabs staff by the forked end and starts clubbing the shark which cries out like a human and rolls back to the water like an empty barrel. Aristophanes panting heavily, hands still raised with staff in them moves towards Socrates)

Socrates: No harm meant, pure necessity, one is already dead, it is not as if anything changes and you have my blood on your hands anyway. . .

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