By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB
At that moment, a customer sitting next to Romeo asked:
– Pardon? Are you talking to me?
– What? No. I think you must have heard wrong, sir – answered the innkeeper.
– Sorry. I thought I heard someone pronounce my name. My name is Paris.
Romeo sprang up, yelled and drew his sword:
– What? It can’t be! I’m hallucinating! Innkeeper, what is in this wine? Ah, villain, I thought I had slain you before the mausoleum of the Capulets. How did you survive? What are you doing here? Do you still love Juliet? Then, you can have her! I will force you to take her. As a bonus, you will get the maid as well. That’s right! Draw your sword if you dare!
– You can put the sword back in the sheath, sir. There must be a mistake, for sure. I am Paris Alexander of Troy. I’m not interested in your wife, let alone in her maid! Have you never heard about me?
– Troy? Ah, yes… my creator has a play about that city. I apologize for my outburst. I thought you were my old rival, Count Paris. But what are you doing here? How is the city with the unassailable walls?
– The city is fine. My life, not so fine…
– What happened there? – asked the innkeeper — I remember we had wagers of ten to one that Troy wouldn’t withstand the siege of the Greeks. However, it looks like the Trojans were victorious.
– Yes – answered the prince, with pride — The Greeks made our life difficult for ten years. One day someone had the brilliant idea of building a wooden horse and filling it with Greek soldiers who would open the doors of the city during the night, when the Trojans were asleep. The plan would have worked perfectly if the horse’s architect had made small holes to allow the soldiers to breathe. We only found the cadavers many days later, due to the unbearable stench coming from the horse. When the Greeks realized the plan hadn’t worked, they sailed home humiliated.
– Congratulations, my dear Paris – said Romeo –, but you don’t seem happy after this victory. And it looks like you have been drinking as much as I have…
– Indeed, I confess I have had quite a lot, but it’s because of Helen, my wife. Ah, immortal gods, I wish I hadn’t chosen Aphrodite as the fairest goddess! The goddess rewarded me with the love of the prettiest woman on earth. However, this caused a ten-year war in Troy. Now, after our victory, my wife accuses me of being a coward, for I only fight with a bow and arrow and lost the duel with Menelaus. To make things worse, my family has disinherited me, and I’m no longer a prince. Now I belong to the low Trojan nobility. Helen and I argue every day over financial matters and she wishes I had never kidnapped her. What can I do? Now my financial situation doesn’t allow me to satisfy her former royal needs! She thinks I’m seeing my ex-wife, the nymph Aenone, and I suspect she still sees her old husband Menelaus, whom she regrets having abandoned! Alas, Aphrodite, have mercy on me! I should have said you were the ugliest of all celestial beings, a divine Gorgon!
At this moment, the ex-prince of Troy began to cry bitter tears. His weeping drew the attention of a man in a kilt who was drinking several shots of whisky. With a compassionate glance at the suffering Paris, the man approached the group and said:
– Gentlemen, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I know exactly what you are taking about. A similar thing happened to me. Would you like to hear my story?
– Welcome to the club – said Romeo – Maybe we should start a club for people who face this same problem. We would call it “The Club of the Miserable and Forsaken.” We will listen to you with the utmost attention, my friend. After all, “Misery loves company!”
– I won’t ask if you know my name, as my book wasn’t a best-seller, although it did inspire the libretto of an opera by Gaetano Donizetti. My name is Edgar and I come from Scotland. I understand Paris’ pain, but my story is more like Romeo’s. My life was very good. I come from a wealthy family with a huge estate and I would drink whisky in due moderation, until the day I met Lucy. My beloved Lucy of Lammermoor, a maiden I fell in love with after I’d saved her from the attack of a ferocious animal. She was the daughter of a rival family but I did everything to make our love triumph in the end. We had our “happy ending”. We ran away together, but she made me swear that we would be married in her church and the union would be officiated by her minister. Ever since that fateful day, I haven’t had a peaceful moment. Lucy misses that awful family and often accuses me of forcing her to reject them in order to marry me. She often says I wasn’t her first option, as women like to say, and that she should have married Arthur, a laird who is much wealthier than I. To make things worse, her minister is now living with us. I should have done some careful research about his religious beliefs before I allowed him to live in my house. Everything is a sin for him! This cleric wants to meddle even in my intimate life with Lucy!
– But have you tried anything to save your marriage? – asked the innkeeper.
– I thought going on trips would be a nice way to rekindle our love. I have taken her to France, Italy and Germany, but she insists on bringing that terrible preacher. With him along it’s impossible to take her on a trip to Orgasm.
– If I were you, I’d offer her a vacation in China on your silver anniversary. Then after the anniversary, you could go and pick her up! – said Paris.
– Aye. It wouldn’t be a bad idea… – thought Edgar.
– I’ve heard Orgasm is a Russian town near Geespotsky… – suggested Romeo with youthful malice.
The innkeeper decided it was time to change the topic to something more sober:
– As for the opera based on your book, is there a sextet at the end? Or perhaps an aria of madness?
– No – answered Edgar — I run away with her, and we finish the opera with a short duet.
– Oh, that sounds nice – said the innkeeper, though he thought — I expected more from Gaetano Donizetti. I prefer the “The Elixir of Love!”
– Maybe I’m off the mark, friends, but in my opinion the problem is that we’re poor. If our families hadn’t disinherited us, things would have been different…
In the next chapter, we’ll meet another character who’ll tell us his tragic/happy story. He comes from a far-away land, and he’ll be making our novella more musical!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Latin (the last of which he learned with Carmenta) and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. Mr. Gurgel is currently studying Old English through Carmenta as well.
Click here to read Mr. Gurgel’s full profile.