Shakespeare 2012 part.., p.1
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       Shakespeare 2012 - Part III, p.1
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           Cathal McCarron
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Shakespeare 2012 - Part III
SHAKESPEARE 2012 – Part III

  Cathal McCarron

  Dedicated to Lauri McCarron

  Copyright 2012 Cathal McCarron

  Chapter 26

  Joel felt jittery. He was standing toe-to-toe, eyeballing some random old bloke who had stopped to stare threateningly at his crew of mates. His gang were standing ten metres behind him on a small set of concrete steps. Joel had ventured away from the group to face down the threat, but he knew they would immediately rush in to help him if the situation deteriorated. The bloke looked like an aging, balding skinhead with a neatly trimmed goatee. He was wearing a faded old Back to the Future T-shirt stretched over a beer belly.

  “Yo bruv, can I help you with suttin?” Joel had said menacingly right into the guy’s face. An ominous silence filled the air as Joel and the rest of his gang waited for the bloke’s response. Would he meet the threat and escalate the situation? Or would he back down and leave them alone?

  The bloke hocked in his throat, turned his head away from Joel’s, and spat noisily onto the ground. He stepped back. “Yo! Word up, homeboy!”

  “You wot?” Joel replied, sounding confused. Was the guy taking the piss with this awkward, contrived matey banter? Joel’s arms returned to the side of his body and he stood upright again.

  “Yo! Word up, homeboy!” the bloke repeated. He leaned back and to his right, folded his arms, and pouted his lips. He held the pose for a few seconds, then leaned back and to his left, cocking imaginary guns with his hands, with another lip pout.

  “Homeboy?” Joel said aggressively. “What you on about, man? Who the hell are you, man?”

  The bloke threw another ungainly pose. “Bill I is,” he said in a crude attempt at a New York accent.

  ‘Bill I Is’? Was this geezer for real? Bill looked ridiculous, but Joel didn’t sense any malice in his unintended mockery. Perhaps he wasn’t actually a threat. From behind him, Joel heard Brandon laugh. The other lads standing beside him on the steps started chortling too.

  “Yo! Word up, my homeboys!” Bill loudly addressed the gang in his awful impression of an American drawl.

  Joel wasn’t sure how to respond. “Are you taking the piss, old man Bill?” he asked.

  Bill busted another embarrassing pose. Brandon called across to Joel. “It’s alright Joel! The ol geezer just wants to be a bad man!” The lads on the steps tittered. One of them offered Brandon a fist bump.

  Trusting Brandon’s judgement, Joel looked Bill up and down; his sneer slowly turned into a smile. “Hey homeboy! What’s happening, fam?”

  Bill offered a closed fist to Joel. Joel made a fist and bumped it against Bill’s. Peace was made. The threat had lifted. Joel relaxed.

  “I heard you rap,” Bill replied calmly, reverting to a lumpy country accent. “You’re good.”

  “My raps?”

  “Yeah man. Your words, your metre, your rhythms. Is this your poetry? Are these your ballads, bruv?”

  “Wot? Ballads?” Joel asked, surprised. He had expected confrontation; he was getting compliments. “Poetry? Nah way, old man Bill! Poetry is boring. These are my rhymes. I is just spittin my flow to some beats. You like hip-hop old man Bill?”

  “Yeah, I’m learning to like it. I like poetry. Cos I is a poet like.”

  “The old man’s a poet, fam!” Joel called back to his mates. “Asked me if my raps are ballads!”

  Brandon and the others walked across to join Joel and his new acquaintance.

  “Nah, fam, you is a poet,” Bill told Joel. “Your rhymes, your flow, that’s poetry, man.”

  “Hey, we is poets!” Brandon said with a sarcastic snort.

  “And I’m William Shakespeare!” Joel said, bumping fists with Brandon.

  “Shakespeare was a hip hop poet,” Bill said, his voice firm with assurance. “He spat his flow back in his day.”

  “Yeah right,” Joel countered. “Shakespeare? Hip hop? Get outta here, fam. He’s antique man. Shakespeare ain’t no MC.”

  Joel noticed Bill’s eyebrows rise, as if he sensed a challenge. “Shakespeare could spit,” Bill said to Joel with quiet confidence.

  “Yeah right!” Brandon said. “Shakespeare couldn’t write shit, fam” The youths all laughed.

  “He would have dropped any of youse in a battle.”

  “Really now?” Joel said, accepting the challenge Bill was issuing. “You know Shakespeare? Come on then, show his flow. Brandon, get us a beat, fam.” Brandon started playing a backbeat through his phone’s speaker. “Take it away, Shakespeare,” Joel announced. He folded his arms. His face closed impassively, adopting an expression of nonchalant diffidence.

  Bill nodded along, following the beat. He lifted his arms up and out and started swinging them loosely in time to the rhythm. “To be or not to be that is the question ...” He looked Joel up and down and gestured towards him. “To wear fresh clothes, or to go out in that costume.” He leaned back, folded his arms, and pouted. A quiet titter passed amongst the lads standing around the two combatants.

  “Not bad bruv,” Joel said. “Not bad. But check this out ...”

  “Yo, I spit no theatre twee, no Shakespeare in my class,

  You ain’t challenging me, you blowin out your ass.

  Macbeth, Hamlet, fuck all that shit at school.

  Old words for old turds. Ballads? Fuck away outta here fool.”

  The other youths were cheering, and egging Joel on as he eye-balled Bill disdainfully.

  Bill watched Joel impassively. “So it’s just all about name-calling eh?” Bill asked. “Nothing has really changed since 1612 then. Shakespeare and his crew were doing that all the time, albeit with less of this frantic gesturing.” He made some mocking copies of the shapes Joel had thrown. “But check this shit out.” He followed the beat from Brandon’s phone for a few seconds. “Shall I compare you to a summer day? You are bare ugly and bare ignorant.” Some of the lads hooted at the cuss. “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May ...” Bill pinched his nose and leaned in to close to Joel. “And your rhymes stink like they need deodorant.”

  Joel’s mates laughed and cheered louder. “Thanks for the support guys,” Joel told them sarcastically, although he had to admit to himself that Bill, despite his gormlessness, was surprisingly good with rhymes. Joel let the beat play for a few seconds as he remembered some lines he had written the previous day.

  “Compare your rhymes to the shit in the sewers,

  I pour my rhymes like pints of beer at the brewers.

  My crew here knows there’s only one rapper standing here,

  You’re gonna crash bro, and you ain’t got no landing gear.”

  “Go on Joel!” Brandon shouted.

  Bill was ready immediately for his next salvo. Sweeping his hand around to include the full gang in his attack he said, “You merry few, you band of brothers ...” He slapped his chest, then pretended to weep. “But hearing my rhymes, you’re gonna cry for your mothers.”

  “OOOOOOOOOH!!” the gang whooped loudly together, several of them bending over double and staggering about laughing. Joel couldn’t believe it. Judging by his friends’ reactions, he was losing to this old codger in a battle, and on his own turf. He nodded along to the beat as he ran through a few rhyming words in his head.

  “Is that your best, man? You embarrass yourself.

  You’re using rhymes that I put back on the shelf.

  Your factory made, you’re using outta date tins,

  Processed shit that I dumped last week in the bins.”

  Again, Bill was instantly ready to retaliate. “If music be the food of love, you’re cheese! “ He slapped the air downwards to point to Joel’s legs. “And you’re dribbling cheddar, look!
All over your knees.”

  “WOOOOOOOOW!” the other lads all screamed together, pointing at Joel’s legs and roaring with laughter, and high-fiving. The beat from Brandon’s phone continued. Joel was feeling the pressure but his mind felt empty, he was struggling to come up with some new rhymes.

  “You is nuttin, you just landing here stumblin,

  I can’t hear you, you’re just standing here mumblin.”

  There was no response from the gang. Most of them were looking awkwardly at their feet. Joel knew they were embarrassed at his flubbing, repeating himself, and losing to an oldie.

  Bill didn’t delay. “Homie-OH, homie-OH, where fore art my homie-oh?” He slapped Joel on the back, stood beside him, and pointed around the rest of the gang. “Look, your crew are laughin at ya. And your wussy flow-ee-oh.“

  Joel’s friends screamed their appreciation. They had blatantly now flipped sides. Joel was losing badly. His rep would be ruined if he couldn’t come up with something devastating soon. But he couldn’t think of anything. He felt frozen to the spot as Bill pointed at him, looked at him contemptuously, and started to stomp slowly and cockily around and around him. Bill was owning Joel, whilst Joel’s mates clapped and whooped, egging Bill on.

  When Joel stood staring vacantly at Bill without responding, Bill walked up, put his face into Joel’s, eyeballing Joel as Joel as had eyeballed him earlier. The speed of Bill’s speech increased into a final, rapid-fire salvo, delivered with merciless, withering bravado. “You’re just a reeky, weedy, spleeny, yeasty, Dankish, lumpish, churlish, ruttish, pribbling, beslubbering, mewling, mammering, beef-witted, pox-brained, rump-bellied, flap-mouthed, puttock!”

  The entire gang disintegrated into hysterics. They surrounded Bill and cheered raucously, feting their new champion. Brandon gestured to Isaac. They crouched down and, taking one leg each, hoisted Bill up into the air. Two more lads helped them lift him higher, then the others pulled him back onto their hands so he was lifted aloft on seven pairs of hands. Bill lifted his own arms up and out to the heavens and roared as the gang of teenagers carried him aloft, parading him around the area as their new champion.

  Chapter 27

  Joel sullenly watched his mates carry this peculiar, chubby old geezer on their shoulders around their turf. How had someone older and so uncool managed to beat him in the battle? How had he managed to sway the support of his fickle friends? Joel conceded that the guy had beaten him alright, but he felt pissed off over how his mates were joyously celebrating his vanquisher and ignoring him.

  When the hysteria died down, the gang lowered their new champion rapper back onto his feet. Joel stood apart, leaning back against the wall of the block of flats, eyeing them, resenting them. Bill returned the high-fives and fist bumps of all the gang with disproportionate enthusiasm, even more cringeworthy than other adults who tried to display their hipness with teenagers.

  Bill looked across at Joel, his face lit up with delight. Joel caught his demeanour change when they locked eyes. Did Bill look sympathetic? Joel couldn’t care. He turned his eyes away and lifted the hood over his head. Bill approached Joel with his hand extended. Joel kept his arms tightly folded.

  “Come on, Joel, just shake his hand,” Brandon suggested.

  “Youse are supposed to be my mates,” Joel replied huffily.

  “We are, man. We was just having a laugh.”

  “Joel,” Bill said placatingly, his hand still extended. He began rapping. “A peaceful joust does not imperil reps. Every young knight must fall and convalesce. Sir Lancelot was once desaddled too. New friends are not defeats but victories new.”

  “Come on, Joel,” some of the other guys said. “He’s cool.”

  Joel lowered his hood. Minutes ago he had been threatening Bill, now he had been humiliated by him. But he shook the old man’s hand.

  “Most gracious, gallant knight of Hackney, thanks,” Bill said deferentially.

  Joel felt embarrassed that he had also taken a huff in front of his crew. He tried to reclaim some of his usual nonchalance. “What’s your name again, old timer?” he asked.

  “Bill Wavearrow.”

  “Safe, Bill, you has got some good rhymes.”

  “I’ve been writing em for a while.”

  “Really? I didn’t know oldies did rap. Ever performed em live on a stage? You’re ...,” Joel hesitated, shocked that he was going to praise an ol geezer, “... good enough.”

  “Thanks, man,” Bill said, giving Joel’s shoulder a friendly punch. “Yeah, a few times. You? You’ve got some talent too you know.”

  Joel had often dreamed of performing his raps onstage. “I’d like to play a gig, but I can’t get a venue to give me a slot.”

  “Ah, yes, it can be difficult. What’s stopping you?”

  “You need a CD to get an audition. To make a CD you need studio equipment. To get studio equipment you need dollars. To get dollars you need a job. And there ain’t no jobs cos all those thieving scum leeches down there have nicked all the money.” He pointed at the towers of offices in the financial district of London.

  “Who took all your money?” Bill asked.

  “Not just our money,” Brandon chipped in. “Everyone’s money. The whole country’s, fam. All those bankers and stock brokers.”

  “Scum,” someone else said.

  “The bankers took everyone’s money?” Bill asked. “How did they take it?”

  “Where you been bruv?”Brandon replied. “They gambled it in their banking lotteries. Derivatives and shit. Some guys won the lot.”

  “And the rest of us gotta pay the price,” Joel added bitterly. “No jobs, no dollars, no CDs, no auditions, no gigs.”

  “Why don’t you all go and take the money back?”

  “We can’t,” Joel said.

  “The feds protect them,” Brandon added.

  “They bang teenagers up for years for nothing,” Joel continued, “and they become sirs after robbing the country of billions. It’s the damn system, man. The system keeps them loaded and against the rest.”

  Brandon flicked a middle finger up to the office blocks in the city. “Yeah, and we’re the rest.”

  Chapter 28

  Rob Emerald lived alone in the servants’ apartment at the bottom of a large detached house in Hampstead. His wife, Jane, and their three children lived in the main house. Jane had given Emerald an ultimatum three years previously: work less and spend more time with the kids at home, or she would leave him for a man who would. Whilst he didn’t love his wife anymore to worry about her leaving him, he was horrified to consider his children living elsewhere. Yet he refused to work less. So he had offered his wife an unconventional compromise: they would separate, but for tax reasons they wouldn’t divorce, and they would still live in the same building, with Emerald demoted to the basement flat. She could find a new partner, but she would not take the children away. Emerald would continue to provide for her and the kids, and he would have full access to the house and children as and when he chose. Jane had thought about the proposal overnight then accepted it unconditionally. So far, the arrangement had worked out well for all parties, with little apparent resentment and few disagreements. Emerald knew he would see his children less during the ensuing weeks if John Venison’s new project, codenamed the Larsson trade, was given the go-ahead. Once the project was complete, He had decided he was going to take the entire family to the Caribbean for Christmas.

  Emerald placed the document outlining the banks targeted for the Larsson trade on the desk in front of Venison. He pointed to some figures on the sheet. “They’re exposed, badly exposed. Ripely exposed. Trousers around their ankles in the window exposed.”

  “Mm-hmm,” Venison replied, studying the page.

  Emerald waited to allow Venison to finish inspecting the figures. He knew Venison wouldn’t need a summary but Emerald wanted to keep his own importance in the scheme firmly lodged in Venison’s mind. “The Bank of Wales have over £100 billion of toxic de
bt tied up in Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain. But they’ve hidden it well.”

  Venison placed his elbows on the desk and pressed his fingers together in front of his face.“Let me guess, they haven’t listed it in their accounts.”

  “They’ve got good accountants. But not as good as ours.”

  “£100 billion exposure to toxic debts ...” Venison’s voiced trailed off. “Their share price will plummet when that news breaks ...”

  “It won’t break,” Emerald said, intentionally cutting into Venison’s thoughts. “All those who officially know have huge personal vested interests in keeping schtum. The news won’t break. Not unless –“

  “Not unless it’s broken accidentally by someone who shouldn’t know,” Venison looked up at Emerald, “and wants to profit.”

  “I can tell you’re tempted to go for it.”

  “We could make billions practically overnight. Treble the size of the fund.”

  Emerald felt a tickle of excitement; he’d been considering the implications of Venison’s decision for days. “There would be lots of nasty media fallout. Thousands of families would be ruined. You’d be public enemy number one to ten. Guy Fawkes would be Bruce Forsyth by comparison.”

  Venison dismissed the prediction with a wave of his hand. “I’ve always wanted to be a headline on the front page of the Daily Mail.” He paused momentarily, drumming his fingers together. “Ok. Let’s set this up.”

  Emerald smiled thinly. He was addicted to the intrigues and adrenalin rushes of complex, risqué trades. Scheming to manipulate the markets was the greatest thrill in his job. This scheme was going to be the biggest yet by a massive margin. “I thought you’d go for it, John. This will need even more careful planning than usual.”

  Emerald knew Venison was already working out the details. He waited for Venison to disclose his plan. “Yes. Create a long series of small trades, under the radar, using our offshore companies. Take out futures on the Bank of Wales and Nateast for £20 per share. The price should crash to around 20p once the news of their toxic assets mysteriously breaks.”

  “The government will have to step in to prevent a bank run,” Emerald warned.

  “Of course it will.” Venison leaned back on his chair and looked out across the London skyline. “And I will personally ensure that they make that run happen for us.”

 
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