Lucky Break

Another story for Flash! Friday vol. 3-27. The mandatory setting was a theater, along with the public domain photo shown.

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors… um… are melted into air.”

A flubbed line, but the show must go on. Not that these orange-jumpsuited brutes could appreciate Shakespeare. Empty eyes, emptier heads stare blankly — to them, Miranda is a warning, not a woman.

Long ago, Hamlet Jack and his bloody beheadings struck terror along Route 81. But that was a drugged-up lifetime ago… and seven consecutive life sentences to go. Now theater is my opiate; I am more grizzled sorcerer Prospero than brash young Ferdinand. Prison cafeteria performances break the ceaseless monotony of boredom in the yard and beatings in the shower. “And our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

In the back row, a heckler offends a rival gang. Heated words erupt into a tempestuous brawl as guards rush in, nightsticks raised. Nearby, one guard takes a chair to the head. Crouched by his lifeless form, I take his keys in my hand. “Most strange, beautiful fortune.” Freedom is but a concrete corridor and a locked door away.

“As you from crimes would pardon’d be, let your indulgence set me free.” I take a final deep bow amidst the cacophony. Hamlet Jack exits this tiny stage, making his return to the Globe.


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