A local homeless man has signed with CBS to produce a mini-series based on Julius Caesar. Claiming to have worked on the parody for ten years in libraries across the country, the unidentified homeless dude hopes to follow in the footsteps of the "Man-with-the-Golden-Voice," Ted Williams. "He owes me money and some crack," the man said.
CBS executives hope to occupy the time-slot formerly allocated to "Two and a Half Men". "We admit it...we're desperate," said a CBS executive who spoke on the condition he not be identified, fearing another verbal chastising from Charlie Sheen. "He scares me," he added.
CBS did not divulge the terms, but insiders suggest they got the script outline for a bottle of Jack and a little weed.
Julius Caesar: Reloaded - A Parody of the Shakespearean Political Tragedy
The concept of the story “reboot” is as old as “Frankenstein” and as new as the most recent “Star Trek” movie. Given the archaic nature of the dialog, it is entirely possible that many might not be familiar enough with the classic works of literary fiction to tell a reboot if they saw it. Most might still be waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse. If reboots work for movie franchises, why shouldn’t they work for literary fiction? It’s primarily because the audience knows more about Captain Kirk than, say, Julius Caesar.
But what goes around still comes around. Many consider great works of fiction only perspectives of history, while others see them as eternally recurring themes. Canonical concepts that transcend centuries may make a story timeless but meaning can still slip away over time into the sterile pool of irrelevance. Perspectives are shaped by the times. Some would rather find humor in political tragedy than angst, providing a perfect opportunity to reload Julius Caesar with a laugh track and a musical score.
At the lowest ebb of classical knowledge, it would be possible to reboot all of Shakespeare surreptitiously in the ultimate literary art heist. But, whether the final product would even resemble the original tale or instead evolve into an eerie symmetry of reality remains to be seen. Classic tales and song lyrics that once stood alone might be melded into an unrecognizable fusion of pop pabulum that passes for literature. The original depictions could become lost in endless translation, reduced to a common denominator of expression.
On the other hand a mash-up may ascend to heights of relevance more suited to the modern masses. “Julius Caesar: Reloaded” is a Frankenstein tale built from bits and pieces of diverse literary material, hooked up to the power lines of satire, reanimated and released to run amok.
This dark political thriller begins in New Rome, the late 21st century, in the midst of a jubilant crowd. Murellus and Flavius two disgruntled politicians, walk the streets criticizing the blue-collar workers celebrating a declared holiday in honor of Caesar's recent military victory over the android hordes of Oceania. They feel it is actually a sad day since he failed to continue his military campaign until the entire world was subjugated. By withdrawing the troops too soon, Caesar has put a strain on the employment numbers as the returning veterans have driven zombies out of the jobs clones no longer wanted to do. Fearing a return of a government mandated increase in the minimum wage, the rich and powerful bemoan their loss of cheap slave labor without benefits and blame Julius Caesar directly.
“What IS this, a holiday or something? Why don't you people just go home?" Flavius grumbles at the crowd, wearing his signature clock around his neck set to an arbitrary time. “Hey, you...get a job, you bum!” The man turns and sizes up the clothes and accessories of these gentlemen and immediately moderates his response.
“With all due respect, I have a job, sir,” he announces.
Falvius sneers, “Oh yeah? And what do you do?”
The man smiles slightly and says softly, “I'm a carpenter and thanks to the rise in housing starts, business is good, thank you very much. Hail, Caesar!”
Murellus looks him up and down and asks, “So why ain't you working?’ But the man ignores him and moves further into the crowd. “That’s right, just run away, you mumpsimus!” Murellus looks around. “And what about you?” Murellus points to another man in the crowd.
This man points at himself questioningly, then not wanting any trouble, quietly responds, “I make an honest living as a mender of soles...say...how is YOUR sole? I can hook you up,” he offers. Murellus is momentarily taken aback.
“What do you mean by that, wise-ass? You an evangelist or something?” Murellus finds his tongue.
The citizen smiles, “I'm a cobbler, sir.”
But, that still doesn't satisfy Flavius who persists with, “D’Oh! A cobbler, eh? Peach or cherry? So why aren’t YOU working today?”
The man is still smirking when he replies, “It's a holiday...but I'm STILL out here drumming up business while these people wear their soles out dancing in the streets. Business card?” He offers one to the duo but they pompously refuse.
“Listen, we buy new shoes when the ones we’re wearing only need polishing. We're politicians, you know,” Murellus cuts him down to size. “And what kind of victory are you celebrating? What kind of conquest does Caesar bring home when he was too damned meek to go all the way with global domination?” But, the worker doesn't hear and the celebration goes on, drowning out their protests.
“Run back to your entitlements! You been took! You been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok! We didn’t fail on this economy, the economy failed on us!” Murellus screams after the worker, shaking his fist.
“Chill, Murellus! Not really much we can do about the celebration,” Flavius calms his associate.
Murellus clenches his jaw, then his face lights up maliciously. “Hold tight wait till the party's over,” suggests Murellus menacingly.
“Hold tight?” inquirers Flavius.
“We're in for nasty weather,” informs Murellus.
”There has got to be a way to put an end to all this populous sentiment,” ponders Flavius.
”There is. Burning down the house!” announces Murellus definitively.
”There has got to be a way to put an end to all this populous sentiment,” ponders Flavius.
”There is. Burning down the house!” announces Murellus definitively.
“Yo, Murellus,” Flavius addresses his friend as he shakes can of spray paint. “Are you thinking what I'm thinking?”
Murellus considers the proposition but cautiously asks, “Do you think we can get away with huffing that with all these people around?”
Flavius does a double take then clarifies, “No, this!” as he begins spray painting the closest electronic billboard with Caesar’s image. “Let's spray graffiti all over these suckers! That'll show these blue-collar losers what a tool Caesar really is. Leave no image untouched. I'll go this way and drive the riff-raff off the streets: You too, where you see too many of them!” Flavius unleashes the anarchy.
“You know spray paint’s illegal, right? Might not want to be just waving that can around,” cautions Murellus before succumbing to Flavius’ disdainful stare and getting on with the smear campaign. “This is so archaic, it's cool again!” Murellus notes.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Marc Antony is stripped down to participate in the annual Naked 5K Fun-Run, which has been scheduled to coincide with Caesar's holiday as part of the celebration festivities. In the course of competing, he is determined to touch Caesar's wife Calpurnia in a superstitious ritual that she hopes will cure her infertility. Even though he is already well favored by Caesar, it never hurts to score a few additional brownie points, especially with Calpurnia holding up a sign saying, “I want your hands on me. Put ‘em on, put ‘em me!”
After the anti-gravity chariot races and during the victory march, a soothsayer emerges from the crowd. He stealthily approaches Caesar and warns him, “Beware the Ides of March”, while tap dancing furiously to catch his attention; Caesar ignores him since he’s used to receiving veiled threats, as well as ignoring the insane.
“Hey, I'm talkin’ to you,” the soothsayer yells after him to no avail. “Aw, screw it! War is peace!” the soothsayer grumbles, joining the celebrations.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the crowd Cassius tries to convince his brother-in-law and Caesar's friend Brutus that Caesar has become too powerful and too popular since the War. Cassius casually comes upon Brutus, asking if he is going to stay and watch the next event.
“I don't like sports,” Brutus confesses with a bored wave of his hand.
“You've been a little distant lately,” Cassius feigns concern amid a discordant retro remake of the 20th century song, “Head like a Hole”.
“I haven't been sleeping well. This acid reflux is killing me,” Brutus offers without conviction.
“Nerves. I'm really sorry to see you like this. You’re quite a popular guy. Too bad Caesar’s stealing all your attention, especially with your movie star good looks and hard body and all,” Cassius flatters subtly.
Brutus ponders the remark. “Yeah, I'm as good looking as Caesar, but I'm not a big-shot war hero. He wasn't always so high and mighty. I remember back in college when he dared me to jump into this flooded river. I was so drunk I jumped in and he jumped in after me. We were racing across when I heard him screaming like a goat, ‘Help me, Cassius, or I will sink!' So I swim back, drag him out...and what thanks did I get? He’s still the big man on campus. Even gets one of those Artificial Intelligence implants!” Thankfully for Cassius the sounds of cheering crowds pauses Brutus’ whiny story.
“Fame makes a man take things over. Fame sets him loose and hard to swallow! What award is he winning now?” Cassius asks sarcastically.
“Who knows,” answers Brutus. “I just want to know, where is my cookie in all this? Like the time he had that seizure while we on spring break in Spain...” Brutus drones on as Cassius just rolls his eyes. “Well, I've never been to Spain, but I kinda like the music,” Cassius muses momentarily until he catches the look of disdain from Brutus and shuts up.
Brutus presses on like a bore. “Turns out that implant wasn't doing so great after all, so I took him back to the hotel, adjusted the interface and kept it all secret so it wouldn't become a campaign issue. But do I get my own Senate subcommittee. Hell no, nothing for good ole Brutus!” Brutus bemoans his position.
“My name is Brutus. This is my hour. Can I get just a little bit of power?”
“The power of equality! It’s not what it ought to be,” agrees Cassius.
“The power of equality! It’s not what it ought to be,” agrees Cassius.
After a fashionable silence to make sure Brutus has fully vented his spleen, Cassius returns to his Caesar bashing. “Our freedom of speech is freedom or death. We’ve got to fight the powers that be! I mean, yeah, he stands around with the puny world between his legs like a Colossus, and we insignificant men walk under his huge legs and look around to find ourselves dishonorable graves. Men at some point in time are in charge of their own destinies. It is not our fault.” Cassius verbally pushes with sinister precision.
Brutus contemplates Cassius' words and wisely neither agrees nor disagrees, but considers what is at stake. “Yes, but he's been looking pretty depressed lately,” Brutus notes.
Cassius tries to divert Brutus’ focus. “What if I drop by your house this evening so we can talk in private?” he asks.
“Sure,” Brutus answers indifferently. “And bring me some hot wings.” The two men then spot a familiar face in the crowd approaching.
“Hey, there's Casca. Whassup, Dawg!?” Brutus waves.
“Not a damned thing...well, not exactly,” Casca whispers, looking around suspiciously before he explains to Brutus and Cassius that shouting they heard earlier was caused by Caesar's refusal when the nomination for Emperor was offered to him three times by Antony. Caesar’s blue-collar supporters rejoiced that he had refused it, for it indicated he is a noble man. At the third offering, however, Caesar collapsed and foamed at the mouth from an apparent epileptic seizure threatening to become a viral video nightmare.
“Daaaammn! Still having problems with that implant, I see,” Cassius smugly observes.
Seeing this as a bad bit of PR, the incident is wisely covered up in the press. Caesar is saddened by the loss of control in public but as Casca puts it, “The crowd would have cheered even if he'd stabbed their mothers in the eye. They’re dancing now, but the devil’s naming the tune,” Cassius and Brutus note that Caesar is close by and watch his passing awkwardly.
Caesar similarly makes note of their observation and whispers to Antony that he thinks Cassius is evil and worth fearing. “Damn, that skinny, slick-headed Cassius creeps me out, Antony! Let me have men about me that are fat and happy. Cassius over there has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much: such men are dangerous,” Caesar wrings his hands nervously. “And probably on meth, too.”
“Ah, be not afraid of him Caesar. He looks hungry all the time. Probably on a low fat, low carb diet. He is a noble patriot and means well. Don't work yourself into another seizure,” Antony reassures Caesar.
“If he just had a little more weight on him he wouldn’t be so...eel-like!” Caesar drops the subject.
Meanwhile, Casca continues dishing out the gossip to Cassius and Brutus, now out of earshot of Caesar. “Did you hear Caesar had Murellus and Flavius censored before the Senate for writing slanderous remarks and defacing his image?” asks Casca.
“Get out of here...no!” Cassius relishes the juicy tidbit.
“Yeah, they had an implant inserted so they are incapable of speaking unless asked a direct question. It'll drive those two mad since no one likes talking to those bladderskates anyway!”
Cassius laughs out loud also, but suddenly takes a serious tone. “The civil liberties in this Republic are going to hell in a hand basket without a ribbon. Bans on high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, salty foods, preservatives, marijuana, and beer in excess of 6% alcohol are only the beginning,” warns Cassius.
“First, they came for the sugary drinks and I said nothing, because I wasn’t a sugar junkie,” notes Brutus.
“Well, they’re coming for the hot wings now, Brutus,” Cassius says solemnly.
“Great greeple leeples!” Brutus exclaims. “Not my wings!”
“They’re going the way of the Dodo and the all beef taco, my friend,” Cassius states matter-of-factly.
“They’ll get my wings when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers!” Brutus threatens.
“They won’t want them, they’ll be cold, too. And that could happen tomorrow,” says Cassius before turning to Casca. “Give me a call sometime tonight, Casca. I've got something I think you might be interested in. And Brutus, think about what we discussed today or there are worst days to come,” Cassius suggests as the three men disperse, departing on foot in separate directions.
Later that evening a ubiquitous storm finally rises in this film noir analog of reality. In the midst of a thunderstorm, Casca meets Cicero to tell him of many ominous and fearful sights this day: dogs sleeping with cats, the dead rising and voting liberal, vanishing weapons of mass destruction and a reality TV show where people were willingly wounded while winning nothing at all. NOTHING!
“A disassociated society’s fault,” Cicero screams in response.
“No. Caesar’s fault,” Casca corrects him.
“Oh, riiiiight! Old habits are hard to break,” Cicero apologizes for being a traditional sociologist.
“All this weird crap going on and this storm too? Caesar’s running this Republic into the ground,” Casca declares, pulling his cloak about him just as Cassius comes on the scene.
But Cassius has an entirely different perspective of events. He gestures skyward towards the raging tempest. “Good evening, gents, and thanks for coming! Welcome to my nightmare. I think you’re gonna like it. I think you’re gonna feel like you belong,” he greets the men. He then explains how the storm is a GOOD omen, validating their covert plan as correct.
“So...the storm bodes...good because it validates our plan to kill Caesar is correct?” Cicero asks Cassius, who nods affirmative. Cicero then makes eye contact with Casca. “And to you, the storm is a...bad omen, verifying Caesar is evil, right?” Casca nods also. “Ok, I’m officially confused, but do go on,” he urges the two, deciding the better course of action is to just quietly exit the scene stage left and let the two men sort it all out.
Cassius continues, explaining to Casca that a liberal splinter group within the Senate plans to nominate Caesar for Emperor again; but Cassius, being the dedicated demagogue he is, aims to prevent it or else commit political suicide trying. He slyly persuades Casca to help by informing him that political insider, Cinna, has information that Decius, Trebonius, and Metallus Cimber will help them to kill Caesar's political career. Literally. But they need an insider close to Caesar. Maybe BRUTUS?
They all concur Brutus must be convinced. "We will wake him and make sure he is ours," Cassius declares confidently. “We’ll take him some wings and he’ll be eating out of our hand.”
Coincidentally, Brutus is unable to sleep this night, and early on the Ides of March as he is walking in his garden he receives several text messages: the traditional male enhancement ads, webcam offers and solicitations for free porn. But there is also an anonymous text message urging him to act on behalf of the Republic and kill Caesar before the he can accept another nomination. That's something you don't see every day.
Lucius, a young musician turned secret service agent attached to Brutus, approaches him in the garden. “Cassius and a few close friends are outside. Should I let them in?” he asks Brutus.
“Uh, who's with him?” Brutus asks.
“I dunno. They've got their hats pulled down really low,” Lucius replies. “And they’re all wearing beards and robes.”
“I can't believe we're wasting good tax money on security like this,” Brutus groans under his breath.
“Sir?” Lucius asks for clarification.
“I said let ‘em in,” Brutus orders and a few seconds later, the shady crew creeps into the garden.
“Top of the morning to you, Brutus,” Cassius offers merrily.
“Oh, shut the hell up. It's three in the morning. Who are these people and where are my hot wings?” Brutus is in no mood to be jacked with.
“Farctate and up all night with acid reflux again? Pity. Oh, and here are your wings. But let me introduce you to the team. This is Casca, over there, Cinna, and this is Metellus Cimber. These are the people you'll be killing Caesar with tomorrow.”
“Say what?” Brutus stops dead in his tracks, chicken bits still hanging from his mouth.
“Oh, pardon me. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me explain,” Cassius apologizes. Cassius and crew make a good attempt to bring Brutus into the plot to murder Caesar and lay the cards on the table. Cassius is aware of Brutus' suspicions about Caesar's AI implant being faulty and plays it to the hilt, finally persuading him that the implant is truly taking over, creating a danger for the entire Republic.
“You know he can control drones with that implant? How long before he’s targeting Citizens for unhealthy eating habits, Brutus?” asks Cassius. Brutus doesn’t reply with his mouth full, but grunts affirmatively.
Pressing his power of personality, Cassius vigorously tries to convince Brutus to join the conspiracy. “If you make sure you’re connected, the writing’s on the wall. But if your mind’s neglected, stumble you might fall,” Cassius plays to Brutus’ paranoia.
But Brutus is a little more savvy than most, pondering the possibility of being pegged as just another pissed off political pundit. Fear is still on his mind, however, and he agonizes over the consequences. He himself fears Caesar may indeed become a tyrant controlled by his faulty AI implant if something isn't done for the good of New Rome.
“How about a good old sex scandal? That’ll get him some scrutiny,” Brutus offers.
“Hell, these days, it would probably just make him more popular! No, we’ve got to snuff him out like the flame of a candle before he becomes a raging wildfire,” Cassius declares.
“Whoa! That’s kind of extreme! How do you propose we do that?” asks Brutus.
“We lure him to the Senate chambers and stab him to death with sharp objects,” answered Cassius.
“Kind of crude and messy but it will keep security from detecting the energy weapon discharges,” notes Brutus.
“Ever since the gun ban, it’s hard to get those into the Capital anyway,” Cassius replies. “We’ll just go Old School on his ass!”
On his cell phone at the other end of the garden, Metallus convinces news correspondent Caius Ligarius to join their cause and set the news spin once the deed is done. Putting the plan in motion, the men leave.
Brutus walks back to his house and calls for Lucius, whom he observes is fast asleep just outside the backdoor. Brutus displays a bit of affection for the inept youth.
“Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber,” he says quietly. “Carry on, you will always remember. Carry on, nothing equals the splendor of a life no longer empty. Surely heaven waits for you!”
Brutus’ wife Portia has been watching from the window and greets him at the back door.
“Brutus,” she addresses him.
“Portia, what are you doing up? You shouldn’t be out here in the cold morning air in your frail condition,” he admonishes her.
“Don’t give me that jibba-jabba! You sneaked out of bed tonight and slipped away last night at supper. You’ve been musing and sighing around the house with your arms crossed, so I know something is up. When I asked you what was on your mind, you threw a little fit and stomped your feet like a 6 year old. What the hell is going on?”
Portia begs Brutus to tell her what’s got him so self-absorbed. “Make me acquainted with your cause of grief”, she demands. But Brutus resists.
”Oh, it’s nothing,” Brutus tries to shrug off her curiosity. “I’m just not feeling well.”
”Bullshit! If you were sick you’d be focusing on getting well, not slinking around with corrupt characters in the garden,” she rejects his explanation.
”Bullshit! If you were sick you’d be focusing on getting well, not slinking around with corrupt characters in the garden,” she rejects his explanation.
“Go back to bed, Portia,” Brutus tries in vain to stop the line of questioning. Portia kneels in request but her voice demands.
“Not until you come clean, Brutus. By all your vows of love, and that great vow that make us one, you unfold to me, your self, your half, why you are so heavy. And who are those men running around with you?” she persists.
“Get up, Portia. Equals do not kneel to one another,” Brutus raises her to her feet.
“Then within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus! Is it excepted I should know no secrets that pertain to you? Am I not your equal or am I simply subject to your arbitrary notions of intellectual inferiority? So, I’m OK only to keep with you at meals, comfort your bed, and talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs of your good pleasure and not the inner city of your troubles? If that’s it, Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife!”
“Damn, woman! Don’t call yourself a harlot just because I don’t want you all up in my business!” Brutus tries to resist.
“I grant I am a woman, but I’ve got a stellar reputation as Cato's daughter. You think I am no stronger than my sex, being so father'd and so husbanded? Tell me your counsels and I will not disclose them! Who do you need, who do you love when you come undone?” Portia then cuts herself on the thigh, neither flinching nor displaying pain in a display of mental fortitude that makes Brutus cringe. “Is that tough enough for you?” she asks. Then she turns the blade towards Brutus. “Tell me everything or you’re next, you son-of-a-bitch!”
“Oh crap! Render me worthy of this noble wife,” Brutus sighs, verbally disarming her just as a knock at the door buys him some time. “Go back to bed and I’ll tell you later, honey,” he promises.
Brutus is spared explanation by a knock at the door. Lucius has awakened and informs Brutus that a sick man is here to see him.
“Great! Just what I need is the damned flu about now,” Brutus glances around the corner to see Caius.
“Let him in, Lucius...and go back to sleep,” Brutus orders.
Caius enters the room with a handkerchief across his face. “Why are you coming to my house sick like that?” Brutus asks Caius.
“It’s a disguise! I’m not too sick for any honorable exploit you have a hand in, Brutus!” Caius explains winking as he tosses his handkerchief to the ground.
“Pick that up, Caius,” Brutus commands. “And we have work to do that will truly make men sick!”
“Lead on, Brutus. I will follow,” says Caius and the two stealthily slip away.
Portia watches them leave the house from her bedroom window. “Move yourself. You always live your life never thinking of the future. Prove yourself, you are the move you make. Take your chances win or lose,” Portia muses out loud, waving good-by from the window even though Brutus is too self-absorbed to notice. Although Brutus has told her nothing, she surmises the truth since she surreptitiously checks his text messages from time to time.
She walks downstairs and discovers the half empty bucket of hot wings Brutus left behind on the counter. As she finishes off the rest of the wings, she looks longingly at the last one, turning it over and over in her hand, marveling at the succulent beauty. She briefly ponders the consequences of treason versus life totally devoid of junk food. Perhaps murder really is the lesser of two evils. “There is no political solution to our troubled evolution,” she thinks to herself before polishing off the final morsel and guiltlessly licking her fingers clean.
“Lucius! Lucius! Wake up, boy!” Portia summons Brutus’ aid.
“My Lady?” Lucius appears, rubbing his eyes.
“Run into the Capital and check on how Brutus is feeling. Then come directly back and report to me,’ she orders.
“As you wish,” Lucius replies.
“Wait. Did you hear that?” she cocks her head at the sound of the rustling wind.
“I hear nothing, My Lady,” Lucius replies just before the soothsayer Artemidorus enters the room.
“Don’t you know how to knock, Artemidorus? Lucius, get going. Artemidorus and I need to have a conversation,” Portia sends Lucius on his way before beckoning the soothsayer to the table.
“Sit down you!”
Meanwhile, back at Caesar's house, Calpurnia and Caesar are also awakened by the storm; Heaven and earth have not been at peace tonight anywhere. Calpurnia takes these as bad omens, of course, begging Caesar to stay home for fear of danger.
“Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory, falling on my head like a new emotion,” says Calpurnia, abruptly over the breakfast table. Caesar is already a little disturbed by his wife's earlier nightmare where she tosses and turns shouting three times, "Help! They are murdering Caesar!" which would normally unnerve anyone unfortunate enough to be named ‘Caesar’. Also, given her history of working in PsiOps research, Caesar is more than a little concerned.
Caesar summons his intelligence analyst and orders an “entrails investigation” to see if he needs to raise the alert level. “Make the sacrifice and report back to me,” he orders, realizing the technique might be ancient, but has been proven by modern science, just like global warming. As his wife tells of more omens she's seen on the web, Caesar tries to calm her. "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant taste death only once.”
“Talk to me like lovers do,”13 she solicits him.
“Don’t worry, baby, it was just a bad dream,” Caesar tries to calm his wife. Caesar distracts himself from the moment. “Hey, got those entrails results back yet?" he asks the analyst at the door.
“Yes, sir, the investigators have plucked the entrails of an animal and find no heart in it,“ the operative reports.
“Find any WMDs in there?" Caesar probes satirically.
“Uh...no,” the analyst replies.
“Well, you never can be too sure," Caesar says under his breath. “I'm not sure which is worst. Entrails without a heart, or taxpayer money being spent on entrails investigations,” Caesar mulls the omen. “Is that information accurate?” he asks.
“Yes, sir! Call it a...gut feeling. Our recommendation is that you raise the alert level and stay the hell home,” the analyst replies, then leaves. Caesar ponders the suggestion briefly and declares he will indeed stay home to calm his wife's fears.
But as fate would have it, before Caesar can answer, he is still doomed as exemplified by conspirator Decius dropping by at that exact moment to drive him to the office. When told that Caesar might not be going in today he slyly requests, “Most mighty Caesar, tell me some reason, or else I will be laughed at when I tell them this.”
Calpurnia first solicits Decius to tell the Senate that Caesar’s having a bout of seizures, but Caesar shuns the suggestion as slightly scandalous.
“I don't need any more questions about my AI implant, thank you,” Caesar informs his supportive wife. “I can hear it now: ‘Oh, look, here’s comes Julius Seizure’. I don’t need that crap!” So he decides to confide in his associate and declares, “The reason is in my will; I will not come. That is enough to satisfy the Senate. But for your own peace of mind, because I am your friend, I will let you know. Calpurnia here, my wife, keeps me at home. She dreamed tonight that she saw my statue, which, like a fountain with a hundred spouts, poured out pure blood, and many vigorous Romans came smiling and washed their hands in it. And she interprets these as warnings and signs of evils to come, and on her knees she begged that I would stay at home today."
A full 30 seconds of jaw-dropping silence transpires before Decius finally finds his voice and manages to blurt, “What in the blazes are you talking about? You can't be serious, Caesar! That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Blood-spouting statues? I mean...this dream is interpreted all wrong!” Decius waves his hands wildly as he constructs his argument. “It was a positive and fortunate vision. Your statue spouting blood from many pipes means that great Rome will suck life-giving blood from you, and that great men will come to you for honors and souvenirs to remember you by. This is what Calpurnia's dream means. Yeah, that's the ticket!”
Caesar actually thinks about it and then asks, “You think that's right, Decius?”
“Slam dunk, Caesar!” Decius responds, raising his arms, relieved that Caesar is actually buying it.“See, there’s nothing to worry about, Calpurnia. Had there been any real threat Decius’ intelligence apparatus would have detected it,” Caesar says to his wife.“But, Caesar, this is the same doofus that told you there were WMDs in Oceania...” she declares as Caesar cuts her off.
“Fetch me down my robe, honey. I'm going into the office today,” Caesar announces to Calpurnia as she groans in dismay that her husband totally disregards her fears.
“Well, its been building up inside of me for, oh, I don't know how long. I don't know why but I keep thinking something's bound to go wrong,” moans Calpurnia in a last ditch effort to keep Caesar home.
But when he looks in her eyes, it makes her realize that she’s right.
“Don’t worry, baby. Everything will turn out alright,” whispers Caesar softly. And he leaves.
Ominous Tubular Bells style music can be heard in the background and the other omens persist in a manner that can only be discounted by drunken teens in slasher films. Former politician turned mute street performer Flavius Flav is observed moving the hands on the clock around his neck to one minute before midnight as Caesar walks by. As the broken mirror body count rises and the number of path-crossing black cats escalates on the way to the Senate, Caesar again passes the soothsayer from the day before.
“The Ides of March have arrived, can you dig it?” Caesar taunts the man.
“Yeah, but it’s not over yet,” the soothsayer admonishes Caesar in a bored manner. “Smiling faces sometime pretend to be your friend. Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within. And that’s the undisputed truth!”
About this time, yet another attempt is made to warn the clueless Caesar of his impending doom. Artemidorus meets Caesar and tries to warn him of death by passing him a document to read.
“A little something I found in a fortune cookie,” Artemindorus says nonchalantly.
But Decius notices and thrusts another piece of paper into his hands. “Look at this first, Caesar,” blurts Decius.
Caesar is momentarily puzzled and asks, “Decius, why is this printout of Antony running in yesterday's Naked 5-K important?” Decius blushes and snatches the paper away replacing it with another document. “Sorry, my bad...I mean this one. Trebonius would like you to read over his humble request when you have time.”
But Artemidorus persists, “Read mine first, O Caesar. It's a little more pertinent in how the rest of your day goes, if you know what I mean,” he declares, winking. As Caesar backs away from what he takes as a flirtatious come on, Artemidorus presses with, “Hey, I worked all night on that paper, the least you can do is read it!” Artemidorus pleads as yet another attempted warning is to no avail. To add insult to injury, everyone else Caesar will meet today will convince Caesar that his horoscope says it's going to be a five-star-day.
“There's just no getting through to that boy,” Artemidorus shakes his head sadly.
Cassius rubs his fingers together in the universal gesture for money as he watches from a distance. “I love it when a plan comes together!” he gloats. The conspirators next use Tribonius to separate Caesar from his trusted friend Antony and continue their congregation around Caesar as he enters the Senate, pretending to plead a case. Brutus hangs back a bit, spying a large platter of hot wings in the break room. He snatches a couple of the delicacies, gobbles them down and wipes his hands on his robe before joining the rest of the conspirators. As Caesar takes his high Senate seat, the noose tightens.
“Ok, what wrong do we have to make right today?” queries Caesar, rubbing his palms together in anticipation. Metellus kneels before him.
But Caesar is not so easily swayed by humility and says so. "All this bowing and scraping is making me nauseated. It might change the mind of ordinary men, but don't be so foolish as to believe I'm that weak willed. I spent good money on this AI implant. If you don't get up now, I'll kick your butt out of here like a mangy dog. Caesar has spoken!” The metallic voice of the AI interrupts in a Tourette-like outburst. “Oops, sorry...OK, I still haven't worked the attitude out of that implant yet."
But, Metellus does not relent. “Is there any better voice than mine to ask for the return of my exiled brother?”
“Begone!” the booming voice of the implant orders Metellus.
Brutus steps up and kisses Caesar's hand. “I kiss your hand, but not in flattery, Caesar,” Brutus offers.
“EEEYYUUUU...then why are you doing that?” Caesar wipes his hand on Metellus’ robe. “Your lips are greasy!”
“I am also asking that Publius Cimber have the right to return from exile,” persists Brutus, bowing.
“What’s that on your robes? Are you eating my wings, Brutus?” Caesar leans forward to smell Brutus’ breath.
“Sorry, I thought those were for everybody,” Brutus apologizes.
Then Cassius steps up. “I'm bowing lower, Caesar...” says Cassius, completing the encirclement of Caesar before he is abruptly cut off.
“NO! Cimber stays banished and that's final!” asserts Caesar. “Is it any wonder I reject you first?”
“Is it any wonder you are too cool to fool?”4 Cassius quickly acquiesces.
Then Cinna enters the discussion. “Caesar?” he begins, kneeling in false respect.
But Caesar is getting a little irritated at all the kneeling. “Get up, stand up. If Brutus on his knees doesn't do anything for me, what chance in hell do you think you have?”
But, Casca moves in behind Caesar and pulls his dagger. “My hands speak for me! And what's that Mr. Hand? The current political system hates a populist?” Casca rhetorically asks.
“Say what?...OUCH! What the fu--!” Caesar finally becomes aware of his imminent doom, as the senators take turns stabbing him with Brutus finally getting his turn to seal the deal.
“I’m not a criminal for eating one of your hot wings, you tyrant! Try this on for risk of early death!” Brutus screams as he takes a stab for the heart and Caesar falls to the ground. Caesar looks up into the eyes of one of his most trusted old friends, calls Brutus closer and whispers in his ear: “Not just one wing. You et tu, Brute,” just as his AI implant announces loudly, “You...rat...bastard!” Brutus recoils from the sudden volume. “Caesar has spoken!” Caesar’s AI implant adds as he dies.
“Yeah, well that AI implant didn’t make you any smarter, did it, Caesar?” Brutus blurts back.
“Crap, that thing is going to be going off for hours. Can anyone disconnect it?” queries Metellus regarding the still functioning implant. All shrug in unison before returning to their exuberance.
Cinna shouts, "Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead! Run from here, tell the news, shout it on the streets!"
But Metellus is not so sure about that. “Whoa...Cinna...dude, do you think that's a wise idea? After all, he was quite popular,” cautions Metellus.
“Only 47% of the population supported Caesar,” snaps Cinna.
“Are you sure? There’s a plus or minus 5% error in that statistic,” Metellus notes.
“Good, then it’s only 42%, concludes Cinna.
“No, that’s not the way it works. You have to add 5% on the top-side too to get a complete range...,” but Metellus is cut off by Cinna.
“Enough of your mathematical mumbo-jumbo! I've got a better idea. We tell everyone Caesar had one of his seizures, and accidentally fell on our daggers. These morons just might buy it if we play it on cable news long enough,” Cinna formulates an ill thought out scheme.
“Cinna, your girlfriend's cat is smarter than you! No one is going to believe that bullshit...look at him...he looks like a goddamned colander!” Brutus nixes the idea.
Metellus finds himself alone in his thoughts as his associates propose covering themselves in Caesar's blood up to the elbows and rushing into the streets like a swarm of egocentric molecules, crying, “War is Peace, slavery is freedom, with liberty and justice for all.”
“Oh, that's just MORBID,” Metellus groans. “What the hell's wrong with you people?”
Antony, meanwhile, has rushed home in a panic, while Cassius considers writing a book about the Incident and ponders if he should share movie rights with the other conspirators. But there's time enough for royalty negotiation. At the moment, he prepares to send Brutus out in front of the rest of the group, into the streets and in search of Antony. But, the resourceful and well-organized Antony has already sent an envoy. A mediator enters the scene, pleading for Antony to be spared.
Brutus shrewdly considers the situation and convinces the mediator that Antony is really in no danger. He urges him to suggest Antony come to the Chambers for an explanation, being as Antony is a wise and valiant patriot, more of a moderate than a conservative, but nothing worse than that. He is owed an explanation. The mediator leaves and Brutus is confident they can win Antony to their side as a swing vote against the liberal faction that’s sure to raise bloody hell over all this!
Moments later, Antony enters the chambers where Caesar's body lies, asking Brutus and company for a little time alone with what’s left of the body. Brutus pauses a moment to consider the request while Antony turns his attention to Caesar. "Oh, Caesar, what a mess you are. Do you lie so low? Are all your conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils, shrunk to this small amount?" Antony then sizes up the conspirators. “So, if you want to kill me too, then get it over with. You've already killed the greatest man of his time, so now is as good a time as any,” Antony surrenders seeking closure.
“Aw, Antony, you joker, don't beg us to kill you. It's not like that, man!” Brutus verbally disarms him.
“Well, I'm glad we got that all out of the way,” Antony, clever man that he is, responds eliciting no fear and presenting no threat. “I do not doubt your wisdom. Let each of you give me his bloody hand. First, Brutus, I will shake hands with you; Next, Cassius, I take your hand; Now, Decius, yours; now yours, Metellus; Yours, Cinna; and, my valiant Casca, yours. You been working out? Although you are last, you are not the least in friendship. I take your hand, good Trebonius. Opps...psyche! Got ya, Trebonius, you old sucker!" Antony makes light of the dire situation by jerking his hand back at the last minute, eliciting laughter. As they turn away congratulating each other, Antony rubs his hands together, eyes squinting as he whispers to himself, “Excellent!”
But, inside, Antony is torn as he thinks of his fallen comrade. As the murderous crew becomes lost in their own treachery, Anthony speaks to the dead Caesar: “You must think of me in one of two bad ways, either a coward or a flatterer. That I was your friend, Caesar, O, it's true! If your spirit looks in on us now, won't it grieve you more terribly than your death to see Antony making his peace, shaking the bloody hands of your enemies, most noble! in the presence of your corpse?" Antony bemoans his situation. But, even deeper inside, sly Antony already plans to make things right.
Antony plays his hand. “So, uh...I was wondering if I could display his body in the marketplace and in the pulpit, as is appropriate for a friend? Oh, and say a few words during the funeral, maybe a short musical number?”
“Sure,” agrees Brutus, before Cassius whispers in his ear.
“You don't know what you're doing, you idiot. Do not let Antony speak in his funeral. Do you know how much the people may be moved by the things he will say? We've already gotten rid of one populist,” says Cassius.
Brutus brushes off Cassius’ concern. “I'll speak first, so just chill!” As the conspirators leave Caesar's body for Antony to have, he secretly sends word to Caesar's young clone, Octavius, hiding out in a hotel just outside of town, not to come into town just yet. Not until after the chaos and anarchy hits the fan. No eye lingered on Antony's face and wrinkled brow, deep in thought; the ubiquitous camera closes in and simultaneously transitions to an out door crowd gathered around a large sound stage.
At the funeral Brutus is speaking first with lawyer-like precision, outlining the reasons for Caesar's death. "As Caesar loved me, I weep for him. As he was fortunate, I rejoice at it. As he was valiant, I honor him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. Any questions? Alright, well, goodnight folks."
“That was a pretty ambitious plan, too,” a dissident voice from the press corps yells from the rear, threatening to turn the tables on his entire argument. But the citizens are swayed by his explanation backed up by a power point presentation and assorted unrelated factoids. Like the fickle public opinion polls of the past, Brutus' approval rating climbs from 5% to 65% in a matter of minutes.
But, as Brutus solicits the crowd to stay and listen to Antony, he himself slips away to beat the traffic, overly confident of his oratory skills and leaving Antony unobserved while Cassius also is occupied with another part of the crowd.
Antony approaches the stage, the lights dim, then a hard rock beat erupts over the sound system as an announcer grabs an old-fashioned microphone in both hands and solicits the crowd: “Now, everybody put your hands together for the stud of the Senate, voted most sexy senator three years running, Caesar's best buddy, Cleopatra's main man and all around CHAMPION of the working class. Let's hear a big round of applause for...MAAAAAARRRRCCCCC ANTHONY!!!!!” And the crowd goes wild. Antony comes on-stage and allows about 30 seconds of applause before raising both his hands for quiet.
“Friends, patriots, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil things that men do live on after them; The good things are often buried with their bones. Let it be this way...with Caesar!” He brings the crowd to another burst of wild applause.
“Now, the...ahem...noble Brutus has told you that Caesar was ambitious. If that were true, it was a terrible fault, and Caesar has paid for it terribly. Here, with the permission of Brutus and the rest of these...honorable men...I come to speak in Caesar's funeral. And I ask YOU...whose ransoms filled the government treasury?” Antony takes the microphone from its stand for effect and extends it to the audience.
“CAESAR!” the crowd screams.
“Did this seem ambitious in Caesar?”
“NO!” the crowd answers.
“Whenever the poor have cried, Caesar has wept; now it might just be me but ambition should be made of sterner stuff. AM I RIGHT?”
“YES!” comes the answer.
“But Brutus says he was...ambitious,” Antony looks around as if searching for Brutus. “But, hey, Brutus is an honorable man, right? But, you all saw when I offered to make Caesar Emperor...offered to make him a KING three times, he refused three times. Was this ambition?”
“HELL NO!!!” declares the crowd.
“But Brutus says Caesar was ambitious. And sure...Brutus is an...honorable man! Now, don't get me wrong. I am speaking not to disprove of what Brutus said, however, I am here to say what I do know. You all loved him once, for good reasons. Am I right?”
“AM I RIGHT??!”
“WE SAID YES!!!!”
“What reason keeps you from mourning for him, then? Have you all become dumb animals and lost your intelligence?”
“No!!! And that’s totally uncalled for!”
“Sorry, my bad!” Then Antony, master crowd manipulator, pauses to wipe tears from his eyes, before beginning again, his voice choking with emotion, “My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause until it comes back to me.” The announcer who introduced Antony comes from back stage with a blanket, wraps it around Antony's shoulders and walks him offstage to the soul sound of James Brown’s The Payback.
“I can do wheelin', I can do dealin'!
But I don't do no damn squealin'!
I can dig rappin', I'm ready!!
I can dig scrappin',
but I can't dig that backstabbin'!”
Antony declares in departure.
“Oh, No!” acknowledges the crowd as it weeps with Antony. And as the seeds of revolution are planted, the barely audible AI implant can be heard in the in Caesar's casket: “The best friend of Caesar has spoken!”
“Oh, No!” acknowledges the crowd as it weeps with Antony. And as the seeds of revolution are planted, the barely audible AI implant can be heard in the in Caesar's casket: “The best friend of Caesar has spoken!”
Antony returns to the stage after a fashionable pause to a somber and attentive audience. Tossing the blanket from his shoulders, he screams “OWW!” rousing the masses into another frenzy.
“Egad! He left the stage in obvious distress, yet he returns apparently feeling good!” exclaims someone from the audience.
“I knew that he would,” someone less overwhelmed cynically remarks.
Antony surveys the crowd with steely eyes. He glances to the left and right noting Brutus and Cassius still notably absent and begins slowly, “Only yesterday the word of Caesar might have stood against the world. Now he lies there and no one will stoop so low as to pay him respect. But, if I were to accuse Brutus and Cassius of wrongdoing, I'd be wronging...honorable men! So instead, I'll wrong CAESAR!” He points to the casket on the stage. “I'll wrong myself. I'll wrong YOU!”
Anthony points into the audience. “Far be it from me to wrong honorable men like Brutus and Cassius. Oh, no...not me!” Antony smiles slightly and reaches into his robes. It startles the audience for a split-second, thinking it was a gun until they see him pull a document from his robes and breathe a sigh of relief. Antony gives them time to get up from the ground before continuing.
“This is Caesar's will. I found it in his closet. So...um...you want me to read it?” The crowd murmurs affirmative but Anthony pumps up the volume. “I said...DO YOU WANT ME TO READ IT?” The crowd comes back to life and screams in unison, “We will hear Caesar's will!” Antony smiles openly now. “Yeah, I thought you would,” Antony says beneath his breath. “It's good you didn't know that you were Caesar's heirs. But, if I read this, well, there are honorable men with daggers running amok up in here. So...I don't know!” But the crowd has turned against Brutus and Cassius, demanding to hear what Caesar left them in his will.
“Well...OK, if you insist,” Antony gives in. “But first, gather around and take a look at the body trauma inflicted by these so called honorable men.” He places pair of glasses on his nose and begins the examination. “You can see the entry wound here...and here...and here. No signs of a vicious struggle and few defensive wounds indicate he was likely taken by surprise. Here...this wound was made by a left-handed stroke, most likely Brutus. These haphazard, random looking slashes were probably that uncoordinated asshole, Cassius,” Antony analyzes the body like a pathologist.
"O most bloody sight! We will get revenge!" a voice rings out from the crowd.
“Wait, countrymen. Don't let me stir you up to such a sudden flood of animosity. Don't forget, the men who have done this are...ugh...honorable. I mean, we don't know what motives they may have had,” Antony feigns holding them back.
“Screw the motives, we're ready to rumble,” came another voice. “We'll burn the house of Brutus to the freaking ground!”
“Right...but do you want to hear the will first?” Antony waves the piece of paper in the air. The crowd quiets, properly motivated like the greedy little peasants they are. “Let's see. 'I, Julius Caesar, being of sound mind and body...yada, yada, yada... hereby bequeath to each and every man, seventy-five drachmas.' In addition, he has left you all his scenic drives, his private gardens and newly planted orchards. Hey, that's more than you'll get from the likes of Brutus and friends,” Antony goads them.
The crowd begins tearing down bleachers in preparation to burn the body of Caesar in honor. “Save the implant!” Antony calls after the mob as he rubs his hands together one final time and says quietly to himself, “Now let it work. Mischief, you are loose, take whatever path you want.”
“I have spoken with the tongue of angels. I have held the hand of a devil. It was warm in the night, but I was cold as a stone. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for but I will!"
A Servant enters from his blind side and Antony quickly wipes the wicked look from his face.
“Sir, Octavius has arrived in New Rome,” the Servant announces.
“Where is the little prick?” asks Antony.
“He and General Lepidus are at Caesar’s house, most likely drinking his wine and playing video games.”
“I’ll drop by while he’s in a good mood. He’ll give me whatever I want,” remarks Antony.
“I heard him say Brutus and Cassius fled the city screaming like little girls,” added the Servant.
“Like ‘little girls’? Seriously? I expected more descriptive metaphors from the likes of him,” growled Antony.
“Well, actually he said ‘Brutus and Cassius have been noted leaving the Capital's airspace at supersonic speed,’” the Servant corrected himself.
“Those engines do scream like a little girl when you hit the after burners. I stand corrected,” Antony apologized. “So I guess Brutus and Cassius caught my eulogy on-line and know they’re about as safe as an Ewok in Wookietown after dark! Bring around the hovercraft. We’re going to pay Octavius a visit.”
Meanwhile on the other side of New Rome Cinna is out for a stroll talking to himself. “I dreamed last night I had dinner with Caesar and it wasn’t a good dining experience. My gut feeling is to stay home and write but something makes we want to get out and walk around. Is that weird or just reckless?”
He is mentally writing another song when a group of Ruffians finally catch up to him. They are a portion of the vast mob scouring the city looking for other the conspirators who accidentally upon Cinna, the poet, not the conspirator.
“Let’s see: The girls a freak, a super freak, she’s super freaky, ya’ll! Hmmm,” He muses to himself before being accosted by the mob.
“Where are you going?” asks the first Ruffian.
“Where do you live?” asks the second.
“What’s you marital status?” asks the third.
“Boxers or briefs?” inquires the fourth before being stared down and backing away.
“Let’s see some ID. And answer concisely yet factually if you want to save your ass,” the three Ruffians add simultaneously.
“Here’s my ID, you silver tongued devils,” Cinna says cynically. The first Ruffian reaches out to take the ID when Cinna pulls it back. ““Who are you to be asking me anything? Look at my eyes, man! You can’t touch this!” Cinna is clearly annoyed by the intrusion.
“Unless you’re ready for hammer time, I’d get to answering if I were you!” says the first Ruffian producing a large club.
“Right! Here you go!” Cinna submits.
“Hmmm, says here your name is...Millius Vanillius? Well, you can’t fake that!” notes the Ruffian.
“Yeah, you know it’s true,” Cinna concurs.
Where are you going, Mr. Vanillius?” the Ruffian continues questioning him, face to face.
“I’m on my way to Caesar’s funeral!” Cinna complies.
“Friend or enemy?” asks a second Ruffian.
“Well, he didn’t invite me to the inaugural ball but I guess we were still friends,” Cinna remarks.
“Single or married?” asks a third Ruffian.
“Single,” replies Cinna.
“Ah, a fribbler, eh?” remarks the Ruffian.
“No, just in show biz,” Cinna answers nonchalantly.
“Where do you live?” asks the third Ruffian.
“I live in the Capital,” answers Cinna.
“What side of town?” the Ruffian continues.
“Southside. Small two bedroom condo near the Coliseum.”
“Sweet! OK, one final question...what’s your stage name?” he asks.
“You don’t know me? I thought that’s why you stopped me. I’m Cinna the Poet! Now if you have something to write on, I’ll be glad to give all of you an autograph...” but Cinna is interrupted by chaos.
“It’s CINNA!! He’s one of the conspirators! Tear him apart!” screams the mob as one.
“Whoaaaa...hang on, there! I’m Cinna the POET not Cinna the Conspirator,” Cinna protests. “I just get his mail by accident sometimes!”
“Oh yeah, we KNOW who you are, Cinna the Poet. Your songs suck!” someone in the mob screams.
“Yo, ring the bell, school’s in sucka!” screams the first Ruffian as the mob begins tearing Cinna to pieces.
“Everyone’s a freaking music critic these days! But no matter how many fish are in the sea, it’ll be so empty without me,” bemoans Cinna as he becomes just another victim of Mob violence.
"New travels fast, but cowards travel faster!" Anthony laughs, as he heads to Caesar's former residence to meet with Octavius and Lepidus in preparation of creating a triumvirate government. They also begin assembling a list of who's been “naughty and nice” and prepare to raise an army.
"Let us do so; for we are like a bear tied to a post, surrounded by many enemies like barking dogs," says Octavius. Antony ponders the statement and agrees, but warns the young upstart Octavius not to be so goddamned descriptive all the time. Anthony doesn't particular care for General Lepidus, but understands that he is just a tool in the truest sense of the word, both colloquially and functionally.
As the three sit around a table and ponder who shall live and who shall die, they come to Lepidus’ brother. “Your brother must die, too. What do you think about that, Lepidus?” asked Anthony, probing Lepidus’ loyalty.
“Sure, whack the prick! He owns me money anyway,” Lepidus answers nonchalantly.
“Consider him whacked,” notes Octavius as he highlights his name.
But Lepidus demonstrates his wily nature by adding, “So, uh, what about your sister's son, Antony?”
“He's history, too,” says Antony. “Look, I'm marking him off. But, why don't you go to Caesar's house and get the will. We might have to cut a few more people out, if you know what I mean."
Lepidus nods acknowledgement. “So where will I find you, here or at the Capital?”
“Just text me, genius...geez,” Antony loses his patience. As Lepidus leaves, Anthony questions Octavius about the use of this slow old man.
“That guy just doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the technology. He is only fit to be an errand boy. What are we sharing power with him for?” asks Anthony.
“You thought he was good enough to pick his own brother to die, you arrogant son-of-a-bitch! Now you’re telling me he’s not fit to rule?” Octavius jumps back.
“Don't sass me, boy! I've been around a lot longer than you have. So what if he’s had a lot of experience and honors? He just does what he's told, not the mark of a leader in my book,” Anthony scans the list as a distraction.
“Yeah, well, you can think what you want, but Lepidus is a tried and true solider, and dependable,” Octavius is undaunted.
“Dependable? So is my freaking horse! And all he gets is hay and a pasture to run around in. Why don't we just make it part of the ruling council, too?” Anthony struggles to dominate the argument.
“Yo, Anthony...don't we, like, have ENOUGH enemies?” Octavius refuses to go easily.
“I’m just saying...” Antony replies.
“Well, I’m just saying don’t let Lepidus hear you calling him a horse or you’ll find yourself with your head in a bucket of water and him pulling it out asking, ‘Do I look like a Clydesdale to you, jackass?’” Octavius warns Antony.
“Really?” Antony ponders the consequences.
“Seriously, I’ve heard some things,” Octavius informs him. ‘He spent 30 years in Back Ops, you know.”
Anthony considers the downside then acknowledges, “Duly noted. By the way, I've got a surprise for you.” He drops a small metallic cylinder on the table. Having obtained the implant from Caesar's ashes, he plans to have it installed into Octavius to raise his IQ a bit as well as allow him to be able to access the Republic supercomputers as the legitimate heir of Caesar.
“Get prepped for surgery, Octavius! I'll finish here,” orders Antony.
“Will you be needing me for the rest of the scene,” asks Octavius on the way out the door.
“No, I’ve got this,” replies Antony.
Later that day the triumvirate begins to assemble their armies. However, Brutus and Cassius aren't having any of that and quickly raise an army of Clones and Droids to defy them. It wasn’t a particularly efficient fighting force, but it looked awesome in the news clips. Meanwhile, the Triumvirate takes more practical approach of conscripted men in armor carrying big weapons.
The scene transitions to a large armed camp hidden in the hills and hollers of West Virginia where Brutus is waiting for Cassius, bemoaning a cooling in their once torrid relationship. He is forced to admit that after killing Caesar, the thrill is gone.
Lucilius comes to Brutus bringing news that Brutus elicits with a silent wave of his hand indicating, “What now?” before asking out loud, “So is that Caesar’s army I see on the screen heading this way to bust my chops?”
“Yep. And worst news. Pindarus is here to tell you Cassius is coming,” replies Lucilius. About that time, Pindarus strolls into the command center.
“Cassius’ war plan looks good on paper, Pindarus, and the emails read well. But after seeing him get his ass handed to him on the battlefield, that war plan could have been written by 100 monkeys with typewriters. If that incompetent old bastard has got enough guts to come up here and explain what the hell he was thinking, I guess I’ll have to be satisfied,” says Brutus unemotionally.
“Oh, I’m sure he’ll be here. Cassius may not be much of a strategist but he is all about the pomp and protocol,” groans Pindarus.
“So how did Cassius treat you when you went over to his camp, Lucilius?” Brutus inquires quietly.
“Oh he was polite enough, but a little on edge. Not the light-hearted conversationalist he used to be,” observes Lucilius.
“Murder will certainly ruin your sense of humor. There are no tricks in plain and simple faith; but hollow men, like horses, hot at hand, make gallant show and promise of their mettle. But when they should endure the bloody spur they get all bummed out!” Brutus lapses into a soliloquy before coming back to reality. “So, is Cassius here yet?”
“Yep!” answers Lucilius pointing to his right.
“Oh, great!” Brutus smacks his forehead.
Cassius arrives amid great fanfare and fussing, prompting Brutus to invite him to his private quarters so that the armies do not hear them bickering. Once inside, the two accuse each other of being less of a friend since they've been on the run.
“What is your problem, Brutus? You've been bad mouthing me since we left the Capital,” Cassius grumbles.
“Me? You're the one that's been selling offices in your future Administration to people for cash,” Brutus throws off his remark with a shrug.
"Money? It’s a hit. Don’t give me that goodie, goodie, good bullshit! Ever heard of lobbyists? It's just business, don't sweat it,” Cassius laughs.
“Don't sweat it? Money, money, money, money! Money! I'd rather bay at the moon than to be a party to corruption like this. For the love of money people will lie, rob, they will cheat. For the love of money, people don't care who they hurt or beat!23
“Some people got to have it.23 And, you know...you yourself could be a lot worst off, if you catch my drift,” Cassius utters under his breath just loud enough for Brutus to hear.
“Don't threaten me, Cassius. You're all high and mighty now, but just a few days ago, you were, ‘Please, Brutus, help me kill Caesar...I can't do it all by myself!’ A whiny little be-yotch!” Brutus growls and glares at Cassius.
“BE-YOTCH?" Remember whom you're talking to, you little pussy! I'm a more experienced solider than you'll ever be!” Cassius spits back menacingly.
“You? No, you are not,” Brutus says calmly.
“I am too.”
“You are not!”
“AM TOO!” Cassius screams, veins popping out on his forehead.
“Don’t stroke out, old man! And keep spitting on me like that and we'll see how you roll! Besides, you wouldn't get in Caesar's face like this if HE were still alive,” Brutus replies.
“Yeah...well, you're not Caesar, either!”
“Really? Well, your mother didn’t care last night!!” Brutus pushes Cassius to the edge.
‘My mother’s dead and that’s a pretty desperate remark. Lame even by your standards, but if you want to go all Def Comedy Jam up in here, get a microphone, junior!” Cassius challenges Brutus, while taking off his jacket.
“You need to check your meds, Cassius. That's just crazy talk and you know it. You are a better soldier than me? I don't think so.”
“I said ‘older’, not better,” Cassius backtracks a bit.
“No, you didn't. You’re just quibbling now,” Brutus smells blood in the water.
“Yes, I did!”
“Your head is so far up your ass, you’re your own tapeworm!” notes Brutus
“No, I‘m not,” Cassius disagrees.
“Yes, you are! I’m not aware of too many things, but I know what I know, if you know what I mean,” Brutus continues the rote exercise in hostility, but Cassius cuts him off.
“Stop it! Why are we fighting?” Cassius asks.
“Uh...let's see? You're a corrupt politician, mediocre general and an asshole? Yes, I believe that's it,” Brutus retorts with a foppish wave of his hand.
“What I am is what I am. You what you are or what?24 Meanwhile, we've got the entire army of Octavius, Anthony and Lepidus to fight,” Cassius tries to bring Brutus back to reality.
“Well, should I blame the officers? Or maybe, I should blame the priest? Or should I blame the poor foot soldier, who's left to make the most from least?” asks Brutus.
“Well, Jack the Ripper, won’t you come on over and rip out the power lines of your love! Your philosophy is of no use if you give place to accidental evils,” muses Cassius. “Philosophy is a walk on a slippery rock!”
“So choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep!24 Pontificate if you must, Cassius, but I noticed YOU took the Droid army and left me with the Clones.”
“What? You WANTED the Clone army! Wasn’t it you complaining that, ‘the Droid army is too impersonal? ‘I need feedback’, you said, until I gave you the goddamned Clone army! And now you’re complaining?” Cassius berates Brutus for his indecision.
“I didn’t know they were going to be Clones of Jethro! This is an army of idiots,” complains Brutus.
“I’m not feeling the love here, brother,” Cassius notes quietly.
“I just don’t like your faults, Cassius,” Brutus dials the hostility down a notch.
“A friendly eye would never see such faults, Brutus,” Cassius says, eyes cast downward as he kicks dust bunnies and shuffles from foot to foot.
“A flatterer’s would not, though they do appear as huge as high Olympus,” replies Brutus.
“Come, Antony and young Octavius. Revenge yourself alone on Cassius. For Cassius is weary of the world: hated by everyone he loves, tolerated by his brother, checked like a slave, all his faults observed, recorded in a notebook and posted on-line for all to see. Go on and strike me down just like you did Caesar. I know while you hated him worst, you loved him more than you ever did me,” Cassius declares sadly. “Who am I, what and why, 'cause all I have left is my memories of yesterday. Oh, these sour times,” Cassius utters out an open window to be carried throughout the camp.
“Don’t blow obtuse imagery up my butt and expect me to buy it! Do what you will, but your dishonor is humorous, carrying anger like flint bears fire,” Brutus is unmoved.
“’Cause nobody loves me, it’s true,” Cassius continues.
“Just stop it...” Brutus warns Cassius when their argument is suddenly interrupted. Their commotion is now heard just outside Brutus’ quarters, and as is customary, each camp has its own Fool and a resident poet to break the tension with wry observations and non-sequiturs.
“Let me in to see the generals,” says Foozy the Poet. “They’ve got some grudge going on between them!”
“I wouldn’t go in there if I were you,” warns Lucilius.
“Nothing but death itself shall stay me,” the Poet announces as he brushes past Lucilius and enters the quarters to act as peacemaker.
"For shame, you generals! What do you mean? Love, and be friends, as two such men should be; For I have seen more years, I'm sure, than ye," the poet recites. Both Brutus and Cassius look at one another for a few seconds, then back at the Poet.
“Well, that sucked, Foozy,” Cassius sneers out loud.
“Guard, take him here out and have him executed,” Brutus adds with a definitive hand gesture.
“Come on you,” a guard says calmly as he grabs the Poet by the shoulders and ushers him away.
“What’s it take to get a decent poet in this Republic?” Brutus asks rhetorically. Then turning his attention back to Cassius, “But he did break the tension. OK, maybe I have been a little hard on you. But, I've had a lot of grief in the past few days. My wife Portia died a few days ago,” Brutus explains.
“Really? What happened?” Cassius asks.
“Well, you know she has acid reflux like I do. I took all the meds with me when we fled the city. And you know how she likes her hot wings!” Brutus paints an unnecessary picture.
“Yeah, you both do,” Cassius notes. “Watching you two destroy a bucket of hot wings is like watching time lapse photography,” Cassius offers an external observation. “Locusts have nothing on you two!”
“We prefer to think of it as a guilty pleasure,” Brutus moderates the mental image.
“Guilty pleasure? More like a food orgy! You two make gastro-intestinal distress a lifestyle,” Cassius continues to prod.
“Do you mind? Back to Portia, she’d read about an ancient remedy using bicarbonate of soda,” Brutus chokes back a few tears.
“Then what happened?” Cassius asks, biting his nails.
“Portia never was very good at measuring things...so she apparently mixed too strong a solution, drank it and...just exploded!”
“Exploded?” asks Cassius in disbelief.
“Exploded,” acknowledges Brutus.
“Is that just a fancy way of committing suicide?” Cassius probes.
“More like an industrial accident,” Brutus surmises.
“That just doesn’t seem right, Brutus. People don’t go around just exploding for no reason. Spontaneous combustion maybe now and then, but there’s got to be more to this story. Where did you hear it?” Cassius is cautious.
“Cable news reported it last night,” Brutus clarifies the sources of his notions.
“The news said your wife exploded and you bought it? Brutus, have you lapsed into complete catatonic gullibility?”
“OK, OK have you ever considered that Antony and Octavius just had Portia whacked? I heard they’re doing it all over the city. Maybe she didn’t explode but rather...” and Cassius makes a cutting sound as he slides his finger across his throat symbolically. “General Lepidus can be a son-of-a-bitch sometimes!”
“That’s not making me feel better, Cassius,”
Brutus explains. “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.”
“I know, I know, I know...” says Cassius.
“ Only darkness every day,” Brutus continues.
“I know, I know, I know...” agrees Cassius in monotone. “Oh, Brutus, I’m so sorry. Here, how about a hug?” Cassius offers support.
“Don't touch me, man!”
“Got it. So did anybody get that explosion on camera?”
“Oops, sorry! Hey, who do you have to kill to get some wine around here?” Cassius tries to change the subject. Brutus pushes a button on the console and Lucius enters with wine.
“Merlot? We only have Shiraz in my camp!” Cassius slugs down a huge gulp. “Keep it coming, dude!” Cassius gestures for a refill.
“Let’s bury this unkindness and get smashed,” suggests Brutus.
“Hey, Lucius, won’t you come on over, hook me up to the power lines of your love!”25 Cassius holds his wine glass up for another refill.
Brutus mutters underneath his breath, “Keep drinking like that, King Guzzle and I’ll have to either jumpstart or tow you away.”
A short time later, Messala enters with news from New Rome. Brutus beckons him in.
“I heard on cable news that Anthony and Octavius are kicking our asses on the way to Philippi. They said there were at least a 70 senators put to death,” Brutus tells Messala.
“Oh, you already heard that? I heard 100 senators. Maybe you can blame the newsman on your satellite TV.25 OK, how about this...your wife is dead,” Messala tries to find news Brutus hasn’t heard already.
“I’m aware of that, Messala,” Brutus replies through clinched teeth.
“Right. Did you hear about the explosion?” Messala queries.
“Dammit, man, have you no tact?” Cassius glares at Messala until he quietly backs away. An awkward few seconds of silence later, Cassius and Brutus resume their strategizing.
“I think we ought to strike while the iron is hot and march to Philippi before Antony raises an even bigger army," Brutus suggests to Cassius.
“Philippi? Italy?” asks Cassius.
“No, right here in West Virginia,” clarifies Brutus.
“Is that on the Tygart River?”
“Yes, just south of Grafton,” replies Brutus.
"What a hellhole!" remarks Cassius. “I say we let Antony wear his men out looking for us.”
“I disagree. The people between here and Philippi are no fans of Antony and crew. If we stand at Philippi, we can cut off Antony’s armies from a fresh supply of recruits since he doesn’t have a Clone and Droid army like we do. We can kill two birds with one pig. What we can’t win through superior strategy we can accomplish through attrition,” Brutus lays out his ambitious plan.
“Sounds reasonable. OK, we'll meet at Philippi. “Well, I need to get back to my camp anyway. We've got a big battle coming up. I need to whip those Droids into shape,” Cassius flexes his muscles figuratively. “Goodnight!” Cassius departs for his own camp.
“Goodnight, Lord” both Titinius and Messala take their leave.
"God, I thought they'd never take their leave," Brutus says to himself. “Yo, Lucius, where’s your guitar? I need some cheering up!”
“Um...I’ve got it around here somewhere,” Lucius replies groggily. “I haven’t seen it since that gig in Kansas. I don’t remember anything about it except for those wayward children and all that dust in the wind. I put it down for the roadies to load, then I close my eyes only for a moment and the guitar’s gone.”
“Kansas? We’re not in Kansas anymore. Why are you slurring your words anyway? You’re either tired or stoned. Which is it?” queries Brutus.
“Neither, I’m just fine. Oh, there’s the guitar! The roadies must have packed it with the booze. Want me to stand guard all night or play you some show tunes?” Lucius asks.
“You’re kind of a dim bulb right now. Call in some of the other men to guard my quarters tonight,” Brutus tells him.
“Varro! Claudius! Get in here!” Lucius orders with sudden clarity.
“Did the governor call for my release from service?” asks Varro as he rushes headlong into the room.
“No. You and Claudius sleep on the couch over there while I put together a better war plan. Lucius,
can you play me a memory? I'm not really sure how it goes, but it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man's clothes!” Brutus makes a song request.
“Well THAT certainly narrows it down,” says Lucius in a low voice. “Sounds like a piano tune to me,” he gripes to himself before trying out an original composition. He strums a few haunting chords and sings, “All our times have come. Here but now they’re gone...” and he promptly falls asleep playing it. When Brutus finally notices Lucius asleep at his instrument, he tucks a blanket around him. “Carry on my wayward son. There will be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more,”10 he whispers before returning to his book. He is determining where he left off when the lights dim and he is startled by an eerie sound. He turns and sees the ghostly apparition of Caesar.
“GAAAH!!!” Brutus screams.
“Hello, you rat bastard. Going to Philippi, are we?” great Caesar's ghost asks with a smirk.
“Is that a serious question? You've been standing there, blowing out candles, sending chills down my spine for a few minutes now. You know exactly where we're going,” Brutus says defiantly.
“Then, you’d better fear the goddamned Reaper because I'll be seeing you soon at...Philippi,” says the apparition before disappearing. Brutus wakes Lucius in the corner who confesses to hearing or seeing nothing before nodding off again mumbling in his sleep, “Hey, who knocked my guitar out of tune?”
“I guess it could just be stress,” Brutus talks to himself. “Yeah, that's what it is...just stress... a mere figment of my imagination...one too many hot wings...yikes!!!” Brutus jumps a foot as a ghostly finger taps him on the back.
“Hey, it's me again, you bosom serpent! Tell Antony I said ‘hello’ when you see him...at Phillippi!” And with finality and an implosion of air, the ghost disappears again.
Having an intense dislike of apparitions, Brutus downplays the notion that the showdown at Philippi might be his final curtain. After all, the disinformation coming from the spirit-world these days is rampant. This was not the time for faulty intelligence. If intelligence from the Netherworld were all it was cut out to be, Caesar would still be alive, right? “Right?” he asks out loud.
Brutus waits for the inevitable. One beat, then two pass before a quiet voice whispers, “Actually, that’s where you’re wrong, Brutus. If I had freaking LISTENED, I’d still be alive. But, you’ll be along shortly. We’ll have an eternity to debate the irony of all this,” says Caesar’s ghost diminishing to a sinister whisper.
“Everybody wake the hell up!” screams Brutus. Varro, Claudius and Lucius jump to their feet, half-asleep.
“So, did anybody else see that ghost?” Brutus asks.
“Ghost?” asks Lucius.
“As in spirits in the material world?” asks Varro.
“The very same,” Brutus defines the apparition.
“What happened, my Lord?” asks Lucius.
“Well, the door was open and the wind appeared. The candles blew and then disappeared. The curtains flew and then he appeared,”29 explains Brutus.
“He who?” asks Lucius.
“Caesar, that’s who!” clarifies Brutus.
“He was here...and now he’s gone?”29 asks Lucius.
“That’s pretty much it,” acknowledges Brutus.
“40,000 men and women experience this sort of similar hallucination everyday,” offers Varro.
“This was no hallucination! It was a real live...or DEAD ghost,” Brutus insists.
“The way the war is going, maybe it thought this was a dead man’s party! Uh...sorry...I’m still half asleep, my Lord,” apologizes Claudius.
“You’d BETTER be talking in your sleep, mister!
Lucius, you go back to sleep. You other two, go tell Cassius to get his army ready to rumble,” orders Brutus. “And bring me back some hot wings!”
Varro and Claudius take the nearest hovercraft and speed off in the direction of Cassius’ camp.
“Those are dead men walking, you know,” says Claudius.
“I know. Let’s get the hell out of here before we become as they are...”29 replies Varro.
“And here they come! We’ve got them right where we want them, Antony. You said they’d stay up there in their fortified enclaves in the hills but here they come. They intend to take us on at Philippi before we strike first,” notes Octavius observing through the drone sensor interface of his AI implant.
“Yeah, I’m hacked into the computers in the command center, their email and Twitter accounts. I know what they’re up to. They’d rather be somewhere else, but they think they can just come down here with a bunch of bogus bravado and freak us out. And that’s not happening,” replies Caesar.
A messenger rushes into command room. “The enemy is trying to start up some crap out here, sir! Their generals are here to talk. Here are their coordinates for the meeting.”
“Octavius, take your troopers to the left of their position. We’ll go out there and do the courtesy talk before we kill them all later, as is tradition,” says Antony getting his armor.
“I’ll take the right, thank you very much,” Octavius replies curtly.
“Why are you so damned contrary? You’ve been a real pain in the ass since you got that implant inserted,” Antony shakes off the insult.
“I haven’t crossed you yet. But, I will,”
Octavius answers without emotion or regard. “I’m the guy with the implant, you know!” he adds, tapping his head.
The hover troop transport takes them to within a half mile of the position relayed for the meeting. From there they proceed on foot. Antony and Octavius endure another awkward few minutes of silence as they and their contingent of Troopers march to the meeting coordinates. Of course, Brutus and Cassius are there to meet them. As they approach, Antony informs Octavius, “No, you can’t kill them now,” with a hand gesture, palm down, adding a wagging finger.
“Ah, greetings, Citizens! Words before destruction, eh?” Brutus feigns jocularity.
“Since you love words so much, I’ve got one written on this projectile right here, you son-of-a-bitch!” Octavius spits the words at Brutus.
“Good words are better than bad shots, Octavius,” says Brutus in an exaggeratedly bored voice.
Antony enters the verbal jousting match. “In your bad strokes, Brutus, you give good words. Witness the hole you made in Caesar’s heart, crying, ‘Long live! Hail Caesar!’” Antony displays archaic oratory skills that make Brutus shutter into silence.
“Antony, how good a shot you are is unknown, but as for your words, they can suck the honey right out of a bee!” Cassius chimes in.
“I’ve got so much honey, the bees envy me, you semi-literate bastard! And those bees can still sting you in the ass, Cassius!” Antony shoots back.
Brutus regains his wits thanks in part to notes he’s written on his hand. “Yeah, but I don’t hear bees buzzing around, so they must be soundless, too. Just like you were when you came in begging for your life. Good thing you held your tongue, else you wouldn’t be here now waving the bloody shirt,” Brutus brings up old dirt.
“Oh, no you didn’t just go there! When you were hacking on Caesar like a side of beef you revealed your true character. You showed your teeth like apes and fawned like hounds after bowing like a rock star’s entourage, kissing Caesar’s ass! And Casa, that big pussy, didn’t even do it face to face. He sneaked around behind and stabbed him in the back. Don’t flatter yourself as the hero in this little tragedy, dude!” screams Antony outraged
“You can thank yourself for having to listen to that smack, Brutus. You shot the sheriff but you didn’t shoot the deputy. He wouldn’t be standing here today if I’d had my way!” Cassius utters the ultimate conversation killer.
“Well, pump up the jam, let’s just get this party started!” Octavius jumps back in, hand on his weapon. “If you can’t take a little conversation, how about something a little more physical? This isn’t over until all 33 wounds you inflicted on Caesar have been avenged. And probably then some, but I’ll figure that out after I kill all of you bastards, or else die by traitorous hands!”
“ Octavius, Octavius, Octavius. You cannot die by a traitor’s hands unless you brought them with you. I don’t see any traitor’s around here. Cassius, do you see any traitors?” Brutus goads the brash young Octavius.
But, Octavius just will not shut up. “I see one right over there!” he takes the verbal bait.
“Where, over here?” Brutus points to his left.
“No, over a little. Right there. No, too far. OK, right there. No, back left...” Octavius’ AI unit temporarily malfunctions into an odd obsession.
Antony slaps his forehead and mutters, “Crap! Not again!” Meanwhile, Cassius puts an end to Octavius’ random ranting.
“You jack-ass, you’d only be so lucky for us to just kill you and that carnival barker you brought with you right here,” Cassius blurts out.
“Now, now Cassius. Don’t write a check your ass can’t cash,” Antony cautions the old man.
“Let’s go, Antony, we’ve heard enough! If that’s the way you want it, then that’s the way you’re going to get it! If you want a fight today, then we’ll see if you have the stomach for it!” Octavius hurls his final threat and turns to walk away. Antony follows, but not before smirking at Brutus and whispering, “I see dead people!”
“Oh, it’s on!” Cassius declares. Brutus and Cassius depart aboard their separate transports to the same encampment without a further word. Messala and Lucilius follow their respective lords their separate ways as they contemplate the energy inefficiency of not carpooling.
“Messala, this is my birthday and I’m a little bummed out,” Cassius notes after landing. “Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile, sunspots have faded and now I'm doing time.”
“Birthdays are like that, my Lord,” Messala fakes sympathy with perfection.
“Whatsoever I've feared has come to life and whatsoever I've fought off became my life,”32 Cassius muses.
“I’m not sure what that means, but what happened?” asks Messala.
“I fell on black days,”31 Cassius replies.
“Excuse me?” asks Messala
“I fell on...black days,” Cassius repeats.
“Then let us leave this place. Why fight if you’re really not in the proper frame of mind?” Messala asks.
“I want to know that this could be my fate32,” Cassius answers. “Ravens, crows, and kites fly overhead looking down upon us. Those are not good omens, my friend. Our army lies waiting to give up the ghost, and I’m not feeling particularly lucky,” Cassius rambles on.
“That’s just crazy talk, Cassius. But, it’s your birthday, you can cry if you want to,” consoles Messala.
“No, I feel better talking to you. I sure don’t mind a change.31 Thanks, Messala”, Cassius says before walking away.
“It was nothing, sir,” Messala replies.
With all the strange omens and odd signs going on, Brutus is also obviously disturbed that a battle will actually ensue at Philippi that will result in his death.
“This may be the last time we talk, Brutus. So, what are you going to do if we actually lose this battle? Brutus, Brutus, what you gonna do? What you gonna do when they come for you?” asks Cassius.
“Well, I won’t be going to Disney World, that’s for sure,” Brutus replies.
“Would you let them parade you through the streets of New Rome like a hot air balloon?” asks Cassius.
“It always comes back to my digestive issues, doesn’t it?” notes Brutus mildly annoyed. “No matter, I may never see you again until after we finish the work we began during the Ides of March. Then perhaps we’ll look back on this moment of doubt and trepidation with a smile. That is unless we’re dead, of course. But, no, I won’t let them take me alive. Nobody naw give ya no break, police naw give you no break, and no soldierman naw give you no break,”32
Brutus answers with finality.
Cassius smiles. “Farewell Brutus. If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed. If not, this parting was well done,” replies Cassius.
Brutus gets into a nearby hovercraft. “By the end of this day, we’ll know what the day brings. Up, up and away!” Brutus departs in cloud of dust.
After he arrives near is own encampment, he hands a set of orders to Messala written in longhand on a notepad. “Give these to the officers and tell them to get moving!” Brutus orders.
“Paper? That’s a mite Old School, even for you, Brutus,” Messala notes.
“Antony has hacked our computers, you idiot! Deliver the word!” Brutus orders. And the battle ensues. After much mutual destruction, Brutus obtains a partial victory this day against Octavius’ forces. Then Brutus loses it at the end as Octavius’ forces push back with a vengeance. The battle ends undecided.
Cassius observes from afar as the battle begins to go badly and Brutus’ forces get dominated like a like a small market basketball franchise. He idly kills a young officer he mistakenly accuses of retreating.
“This little pussy was turning back, so I slew him and took away his retreat,” says Cassius confidently.
“I think he went back for his cell phone, Cassius, but that’s neither here nor there,” replies Titinius, observing the battle through binoculars. “Well, that’s just a cluster of crap! Brutus’ Clones kind of jumped the gun with the looting,” notes Titinius. “Yeah, they really are stupid! They should have circled back using your Droid army for cover after he smashed Octavius’ forward line”, Titinius continues his analysis until a stern look by Cassius silences him.
“That’s just great,” remarks Cassius sarcastically putting down his binoculars. “Now we’re surrounded by Anthony’s army.”
“There’s good news and bad news coming in from Brutus’ camp,” Titinius reads a text message on his phone.
“What’s the good news?” asks Cassius.
“Brutus is killing large numbers of the enemy,” Titinius replies.
“Great! And the bad news?”
“Octavius is reanimating them and using them as zombie shock troops!” answers Titinius.
“It’s all over except for the sockdolager now. I’ll never hear the end of it...say, is that MY camp on fire over there?” asks Cassius.
“That it is, sir!” replies Titinius just as Pindarus runs past.
“Ruuuuuun, my Lord! Antony’s right behind me and boy is he pissed!” Pindarus yells over his shoulder until called over by Cassius.
“Slow down! It’s hard to make out who’s who down there with all this smoke, so I want you to take a hovercraft and see whose army that is,” Cassius orders Titinius.
“Oh, I can see fine from right here, and I’d start running if I were you,” Titinius starts to back away.
“Just go and make sure, OK! Good Lord, do I have to do everything myself?” Cassius berates him. “And Pindarus, get up there on the hill and keep an eye on him.”
“Which hill? This one here or that one over there?” he asks.
“ANY HILL!!! I mean, it’s my birthday, why can’t you people just humor me for once?” Cassius gripes.
“Aw, well happy birthday, Cassius! Happy birthday to you...happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear...” Pindarus stalls for time.
“JUST GO!!!” Cassius bellows.
As Pindarus takes his position, Cassius asks for a play by play of the action. Peering through the binoculars, Pindarus updates Cassius.
“Titinius is making good time...uh, oh, he’s surrounded. He’s trying to outflank them and OOOHHHH! Game over!”
“Craaaaaap!” exclaims Cassius. “So what was all that cheering I heard on his microphone about?”
“That wasn’t cheering, that was growling!”
“But, it sounded like they were yelling, ‘Yeeeaaaaaa’”, Cassius tries to clarify what just happened.
“Just their accent, sir. What they were really saying was, ‘Grrrrrr’,” Pindarus tries to explain.
“Pretty sure, sir.”
“Um, listen Pindarus. I want you to do me a little favor.”
“Another one? Right now, sir?” asks Pindarus.
“I need you to run me through with this sword,” Cassius explains.
“Don’t wait to answer; here, take the hilts and when my face is covered, as it is now, guide the sword,” Cassius requests as he prepares himself.
“I’d really rather not, sir. The men might take it the wrong way...” Pindarus hesitates.
“I’ll set you free!” Cassius negotiates.
“OK, I’ll do it. Can you send that mass email right now?” asks Pindarus. “Just to make sure there are no misunderstandings?”
“Done!” Cassius grants Pindarus’ freedom with merely a “send” button. “OK, now take the sword and run me through with it!”
“I thought this was just ceremonial,” Pindarus examines the sword up close.
“Well it still has it functions. It harkens back to the old days when one wished to kill silently. In recent times it’s been used as a noble way to commit suicide. Being a traditionalist, I...Owwwww...you stabbed me!”
“Sorry, sir. I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“I said to wait until I covered my face like this and then...Owwwww!”
“Your face was covered, sir.”
“But, I’m not ready yet. OK, wait for me to cover my face again and...OWWW! Goddammit!!!”
“Sorry, sir. I expected you to cover your face quicker. I was trying to, you know, make it a surprise.”
“Well, it was a surprise all right. Now don’t stab me again until I’m ready. OK?”
“OK, sir.” Pindarus waits patiently for 30 seconds or so until Cassius looks out from under his cover.
“So what are you waiting for now? Oooowwwww! Oh, that’s the heart, alright!” Cassius staggers backwards.
“Surprise, sir! So, are we finished here now?” asks Pindarum as Cassius topples over. “Well, I guess we are,” he exclaims, tossing the sword over his shoulder, looking left and right before hastily fleeing the scene.
“Well, call me the breeze, I’m just moving down the road!” screams Pindarus gleefully. “I’m gonna get in my car, drive away, drive so far, no one’s gonna find me! Put my foot on the gas, accelerate, drive so fast, no one’s gonna catch me!”
Meanwhile, Titinius miraculously reappears, freed by Antony’s men to return with a proposal. He happens upon Messala.
“Yo, Titinius, over here. Looks like Brutus has the best of Octavius for now, but Cassius is screwed!” Messala informs Titinuis.
“Where’s Cassius, Messala? I’ve got good news for him,” asks Titinius.
“I left him up there on the hill with his slightly embittered man servant,” notes Messala. They walk to the place Messala mentions, but alas Titinius arrives too late to save poor Cassius, his dear friend.
“Hail, Cassius, after we do the prisoner exchange with Octavius, we should be OK...holy crap! Hell, Messala, what just happened? Somebody killed Cassy!” screams Titinius.
“You bastards! “ Messala shakes his fist in the air before realizing there is really no one to blame. “Um, is that him?” asks Messala.
“That WAS him! Cassius is no more. Oh, setting sun, just you sink tonight in your red rays, so in his red blood Cassius’ day is set. Mistrust of the success of my mission has done this deed,” bemoans Titinius.
“Offhand, I’d say someone with really bad knife skills has done this deed,” mutters Messala examining the random hack wounds on the body. “Listen, Titinius, pull yourself together and I’ll break the bad news to Brutus”.
As Messala leaves, Titinius addresses the dead body of his friend. “Why did you send me out, brave Cassius. Didn’t I meet your friends? Didn’t they put this wreath of victory on my head and ask me to give it to you? OK, maybe I should have texted you, but I didn’t think you’d misconstrue things this badly. Here, I’ll put this on your head and...Whoa! I almost cut myself. Let me put the knife down before I...oh, crap...” moans Titinius as he slips mortally onto the knife. “Well, damn it all! Cassius’ knife has found Titinius’ heart, too! I knew this thing was a goddamned safety hazard!” He gasps as he lies down next to Cassius and dies.
Suddenly there is a call to arms and Brutus, Lucilius, Flavius and Cato waltz into the camp.
“Where’s the body, Messala?” asks Brutus.
“What’s left of it is over there. Titinius is mourning it or whatever it is he does,” replies Messala
“Whoa! Titinius is face is up, dude! X’s for eyes, sleeping with the fishes! He’s deceased, expired. He is no more!” Brutus notes morbidly.
“Yeah, he’s dead, all right,” Cato restates the obvious.
“Caesar, you bastard! Your spirit walks abroad and turns our swords in on our own selves,” Brutus waxes poetic.
“Titinius was a boob,” remarks Cato before noting Brutus’ nasty glare at the sophomoric slight. “Brave Titinius!” Cato then feigns bored compassion while inspecting his manicure. “Look, he put a little hat on Cassius’ corpse! Isn’t that just adorable?”
But, Brutus is in no mood to be assailed by this young upstart’s snide comments. “I’d cut you down to size, you young punk, but you’re already down there,” Brutus whispers to Cato menacingly. He then turns his attention to eulogizing Cassius.
“Are there still two living Romans like these two? The last of all the Romans, farewell! It is impossible that Rome will ever bring up anyone like you. Friends, I owe more tears to this dead man than you will see me pay. I will find time, Cassius; I will find time. Come then, and send his body to Thasos; His funeral will not be held in our camp, in case it would spook the troops. I mean, look at him. He’s a mess. Lucilius, come, And come, young Cato, let us go to the field, Labio and Flavius wage our battles on. It's three o'clock, and, Romans, still before night we shall tempt fate in a second fight,” Brutus finishes reading the prepared message from the teleprompter and the crew departs for their own camp. After a fashionable interval, Brutus, Messala, young Cato, Lucilius, and Flavius enter their own camp like a posse of sad sack zombies.
“People! At least hold your heads up like you still have a pair. I mean, damn! I’m almost embarrassed to be seen with you!” Brutus declares rubbing his forehead, then exiting more despondent than he was when he entered the scene.
“That asshole...who does he think he is, anyway? I am the son of Marcus Cato, ho!” Cato snorts. ”At least I’m out there doing my own battlefield P.R. This is free advertising for a career in politics. Maybe I can design and wear my own logo, then you can get some shots of me taking on a half dozen of Antony’s men. Who’s with me? Don’t you know who my father is?”
An unknown voice offsite responds, “Yeah, you’re Marcus Cato’s useless, good-for-nothing spoiled brat son. So what, Ho?”
“Who said that? Come on...show yourself!” Cato challenges the shadows. There is a flurry of blurred motion then several of Anthony’s heavily armed and armored storm troopers uncloak from their invisibility field. Cato and Lucilius suddenly find themselves surrounded.
“Lookie here, I done caught me a gollum!” exclaims one trooper, obviously a local conscript.
“Whoa, that’s waaaay better than a Droid army!” Cato expresses awe then tries to slip away before being stopped in his tracks. Lucilius meanwhile, tries his hand at deception.
“I’m Brutus. Diplomatic Immunity! Yeah, that’s me. Marcus Brutus!” says Lucilius nervously.
“Right and I’m Santa Claus!” says one trooper.
“I’m the good looking one, I get Immunity first. Rome uber alles!!” says Cato.
“Unless you’ve got a pot of gold hidden around here, I’d shut the hell up short-stuff!” warns another trooper.
“I am NOT short, thank you very much! Studies show that taller males receive quicker promotions and greater compensation than their shorter counterparts...” but his reply is...cut short by a laser blast to the torso.
“What the...I can’t feel my legs! Oh, there they are...still standing there! That is not good,” the young Cato notes before he dies.
“You ain’t tall anymore, you political genius!” snarks Lucilius in the process of being captured while still pretending to be Brutus.
“Surrender or you die, too,” orders the first solider.
“Oh yeah? Well just kill me! Boy, are you going to be in trouble for killing Brutus...yeah, that’s right, Brutus in the house!” Lucilius bluffs.
“OK. Have it your way,” the second soldier moves forward laser in hand. The sound of the weapon powering up catches the attention of the first soldier.
“Uh oh...maybe we’d better take this one prisoner,” the first soldier cautions.
Then right on cue, synthesized trumpets sound, indicating the approach of the general. Droids tip-toe ahead tossing synthetic rose-petals and Antony enters the scene.
“Room ho! Tell Antony, Brutus is captured,” sounds the second solider, quietly putting his weapon away.
“I'll tell him the news myself,” says the first solider. “Here comes the general now. ‘Brutus is captured, Brutus is captured, my Lord!’”
The second solider rolls his eyes and silently mocks the first with silent mouth motions of, “Brutus is captured my Lord.”
“Really? Where is he?” Anthony turns to look square in the face of a chuckling Lucilius. Anthony slaps his own forehead and remarks exasperated, “Oh geez, people. How many times have I sent that email around with the picture of Brutus? Work with me here! I don’t send out these things for my health, you know. Open the damn things up!”
Anthony then addresses the captive. “O.K. Lucilius...where IS he?”
“Safe, Antony, Brutus is safe enough. No one’s ever going to take Brutus alive. He’s sly as a fox. Your high technology storm troopers won’t help you, Sith Lord. Ah, Ha, Ha, Ha, Haaaaa!”
“Actually, we’re the good guys. The Sith simile you selected is more suited to summing up that sad sack Brutus and his murderous ilk of savages,” Antony parries.
“Alliteration be damned! Your Jedi words tricks don’t work on me! I was using it as a metaphor!” spits Lucilius.
Antony points to the man they’ve captured, gesturing with his forefinger. “This is not Brutus, friend.”
The first soldier berates second soldier. “I told you that, idiot!”
“Oh, no you didn’t, mister ‘I’ll-tell-the-general-myself.’ It was all your idea, remember?”
But Anthony continues, oblivious to the personal feud brewing. “But, I assure you, a prize no less valuable. Keep this man safe, Give him all kindness; I would rather have such men as my friends than my enemies. Go on, and see whether Brutus is alive or dead. Oh...and by the way...hook up Lucilius here to the Mind Sieve.”
“No, no...not the Mind Sieve...anything but the Mind Sieve....no...nooooooo...!” Other soldiers drag Lucilius away kicking and screaming.
“Many pardons General... but what exactly is the ‘Mind Sieve’?” asks the first solider, with a whispered “suck up” coming from the second solider.
“Oh, nothing really. Just a 21th century wide-screen television without high-definition playing re-runs of ‘MASH’ and ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ Anthony explains. “Usually gets ‘em talking quicker than physical torture. Go tell Octavius how everything turned out,” Anthony slaps the soldier on the shoulder.
“Yes, sir. I’ll send a secure transmission immediately.” As Anthony walks off, the second solider mocks the first with, “I’ll do it IMMEDIATELY, sir.” A brief flash of light catches Anthony’s attention, but as he turns, he notices only ONE soldier standing there, next to a pile of smoldering ash. “Sorry, sir...misfire!”
Brutus, Dardanius, Clitus, Strato, and Volumnius rest on a rock watching computerized projections of the battlefield. The drone strikes aren’t going well now that Octavius’ AI unit has enabled him to take control. And the rock is hard.
“So which color are we on the display again?” asks Brutus, confused by the dozens of icons flying across the screen in rapid succession.
“We’re the red ones, sir,” Clitus answers. “Both of them.”
“Damn, damn, damn!!! Whose idea was it to use those walking armored troop transports again?”
“That would be you, sir,” answers Strato. “As I recall, you were heavily influenced by some turn of the century movie and Cassius misappropriated a lot of defense funds to have those built in his district.”
“Damn, damn, damn!!!!” Brutus slams his fist into the console, sending shards of glass and sparks across the ground. “They’re just targeting the transports at the knees!”
“Looks like Caesar’s bookies are running the War, sir!” notes Strato.
“What a gong show! Come, poor remains of friends, rest on this rock,” Brutus composes himself. “What’s our status?”
“Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that my ass still hurts from sitting on this rock. Oh yeah, Statilius signaled with the transponder, my Lord, but he did not come back. He is captured or killed, sir,” reported Clitus. Brutus holds his head in his hands then an idea crosses his face. He turns to Clitus.
“Sit down...Clitus.” Brutus struggles with the name, unable to make direct eye contact. “Have you ever considered changing your name? Kind of hard to have a successful military career with a name...like that,” Brutus suggests.
“What’s wrong with my name?” asks Clitus.
“That’s neither here nor there...killing is the word. It is an action when it is practiced. Listen, Clitus,” Brutus stumbles once again. “Can I just call you ‘Bob’ or something like that?”
“Well, I always did fancy another name,” said Clitus.
“Great, what is it?” asks Brutus eagerly.
Brutus pauses a few seconds then drops the train of thought. “Where was I? Oh yeah, killing is the word. It is an action when it is practiced. And speaking of practice...” Brutus beckons Clitus closer and whispers into his ear.
“What? My lord, no, not for the whole world! I mean, I want to get promoted but I won’t do that!” protests Clitus.
“OK, OK! Just a thought...I mean, it’s late, we’re all probably are going to die, anyway, just a little...distraction, that’s all.” Brutus back-pedals. “Quiet then, no words.”
“I'd rather kill myself,” Clitus continues. “May I be suspended from a tree by my foreskin rather than endure such an indignity...”
“OK, I get it! You just don’t fancy me. Let it go!” Brutus waves off the comments as he approaches Dardanius instead.
“Uh...listen, Dardanius!” Brutus leans over and whispers to Dardanius. The expression changes on Dardanius’ face from curiosity to discomfort.
“What...should I do such a thing?” Dardanius blurts out loud.
“I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?”
Brutus mutters frustrated as he walks away into the darkness to relieve himself of a little flatulence.
“Oh, Dardanius!” Clitus exclaims in disbelief. “What request did Brutus make to you?”
“The same one he made of you, Clitus,” Dardanius explains.
“You weren’t seriously considering it, were you? I didn’t know you swung that way, Dardanius,” Clitus replies still in shock.
A puzzled look from Dardanius changes into sudden realization and he goes further to explain. “No, you moron...he wanted me to kill him, Clitus. Look, he’s meditating now. What exactly did he ask YOU to do?”
“Nothing...nothing worth mentioning,” Clitus gets off the subject. “Now that noble vessel is so full of grief that it runs over even at his eyes,” he redirects the conversation.
“I wouldn’t get too close to him because that’s not the only thing that noble vessel is full of,” Dardanius warns. And he isn’t about to let the previous misconception drop. “You know, Clitus...if you changed your name to ‘Spike’ or something, maybe this kind of weird stuff wouldn’t happen to you...”
“THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH MY NAME! Now, Titinius...there’s a name with issues,” Clitus protests, as Dardanius just bites his lip. Meanwhile Brutus solicits a favor from Volumnius.
“Come here, good Volumnius. Listen to a word,” Brutus calls out. But Volumnius pretends not to hear, quickly shuffling away. Brutus sticks his fingers into his mouth and whistles. “Volumnius...hey, Volumnius...yeah you! Can you come over here for a second?” Self consciously, Volumnius comes to Brutus with his head down as if nothing is wrong.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear you, sir. What says my Lord?” Volumnius tries to make nice, shuffling from foot to foot.
“Why, this, Volumnius!” Brutus whips a sword out as Volumnius averts his eyes. As he glances through his fingers cautiously, Brutus stands there tapping his toe.
“You’ve heard something, haven’t you?” Brutus asks.
“It’s a small camp, sir,” Volumnius offers offhand.
“Listen to me. The ghost of Caesar has appeared to me. Once is Sardis and two different times at night, here in the Philippi fields. I know my time has come.”
“Really? Oh, is that a relief! Not the part about your time being at an end, but I thought for a minute you were just wanting to get your freak on! But, as for the dying part, I mean, say it ain’t so, my Lord.”
“Quit sucking up, Volumnius. I am sure it is the end of my time. You see the world, Volumnius, the way it goes; our enemies have driven us to the pit. It is more worthy to jump in ourselves than to wait till they push us,” Brutus waxes poetic before regaining his composure and losing the lucidity. “You know, Volumnius, the two of us go way back. It is only because of that old friendship, I ask you take this laser pistol and blow me to bits.
“Whoa! That's not a job for a friend, my lord. What about the immortality of your name? All the photo-ops while your body lies in state, a pile of dust, well, that’s not fitting of a great man.”
“What do you suggest then?” Brutus asks.
“Oh, I don’t know. What if I take one of the hovercrafts and run you over with it? Reconstruction techniques the way they are today can fix your body up good as new so you’ll look good in the box. But the physicians won’t be able to revive you. Win, win!” Voluminius announces with false enthusiasm.
Brutus ponders the offer then shakes his head. “No, that would make my death look like an accident. Great men do NOT go to their demise ‘accidentally’,” Brutus replies.
Volumnius looks around and points to a large branch on the ground. “I could whack you in the head with that,” he suggests.
“No, Volumnius, that would make it appear that my men were disloyal to me and I was struck down from behind. Not a death becoming of an immortal name,” Brutus declines the offer.
“Hmmmm...this is tough. I could push you down that hill over there. You’d probably break your neck and all would assume you suffered your fatal injuries in battle. Struck down by your enemies,” suggested Volumnius.
“No, that would make it appear I was fleeing capture, not a death becoming of a great man,” muses Brutus.
“I suppose I could slowly flay you alive in what appears to be a ritualistic killing,” ponders Volumnius.
“No, that would cast a cultist flair to our entire movement...wait, what!?” notes Brutus suddenly.
“Nothing! I don’t know where that came from. Suppose you tell me. Obviously you have something in mind?” Volumnius gives up.
“Well...you could take my ceremonial sword here, hold it by the hilt, while I run on it. All would know I died by my own hand...so to speak.”
“Oh, gag! That is just morose. I suppose I’ll have to pull it out of you afterwards, too. You know the gross sound that’s going to make? I’ll need therapy for life. I think you ought to reconsider the big branch over there. Quick thud...no muss, no fuss. Besides that ceremonial sword probably isn’t even sharp...” Volumnius take the sword and runs his finger across the blade, nearly severing the digit.
“Oh, ow.” As he puts the bleeding finger in his mouth, the awkward scene is broken by the sound of screaming.
Suddenly, Clitus runs through the area screaming, ”Run, run, my lord, there is no waiting here!” Both pause, look left and right, then go back to their dialog.
“Yeah, we keep those swords sharp in case we run low on battery power in our side-arms. Kind of a tradition held over from the early 21st century.” Brutus takes the sword and sticks it in the ground. “Pick it up, Volumnius and do the deed, you wimp. Farewell to you, and you, and you,” Brutus says his goodbyes.
Volumnius bites his lips but hesitates to take the sword. He looks down at Strato, feigning sleep. “Strato, you have been asleep all this time; otherwise I could have talked you into this,” says Volumnius under his breath.
“Farewell to you too, Strato.” Brutus continues. “Countrymen, my heart rejoices that still in all my life. I met no man who wasn't true to me. I shall have glory from this losing day. More than Octavius and Mark Antony will gain from this evil victory. So fare you well at once, for Brutus' tongue has almost ended his life's history. Night hangs on my eyes, my bones want to rest having only worked to reach this hour.”
“I hope I’m not supposed to be writing all this down, Brutus,” Volumnius protests, only to be distracted once again as Clitus runs back through the area from the opposite direction.
“You guys still here? What part of ‘RUN’ do you not understand. “Run, my Lord, run!”
“Go! I will follow.” Brutus orders. “Wait, not YOU, too, Volumnius! Damn, damn, damn!” Clitus, Dardanius, and Volumnius flee the area leaving Brutus alone with a waking Strato.
“I ask you, Strato, stay by your lord. You are a fellow with a good reputation; your life has some taste of honor in it.”
“Whatever, Dude,” Strato replies while lighting up a mysterious archaic cigarette.
Brutus continues. “Hold my sword, and turn away your face, while I run upon it. Will you, Strato?”
“Sure, O.K. What if we stand over there on the hill? That way everybody gets to witness the end of a great man.” Brutus nods as Strato takes his place at the edge of the hill overlooking the camp.
“Good idea. Farewell, good Strato. This is the end, beautiful friend. This is the end, my only friend. The end. Our elaborate plans, the end. Of everything that stands, the end. No safety or surprise, the end,” Brutus says his final piece and begins his run at the sword. But at that precise moment, Strato gets a call on his cell phone. He briefly turns away, sword still in hand, as Brutus runs past him and flies screaming off the hill, tumbling down head over heels, lurching to a stop at the bottom as he slides into a large rock. As he lies on the ground unconscious and dying, neck broken and skull crushed, his spirit eyes briefly glimpse the ghost of Caesar standing over him laughing hysterically.
“You have become as we are, Brutus,” says Caesar’s ghost.
Brutus’ last thought is, “Caesar, now be still, I did not kill you with half as much resolve. Damn...damn....damn...,” and he dies.
Strato stands on the hill motionless. “No, Morrisonius, I do not know the keycode to the doors. Um, can I call you back?” he remarks on the phone before putting it away. After he looks to both sides, he tosses the sword down the hill and slips quickly away into the darkness, just as Antony, Octavius, Messala, Lucilius, and their armies come upon the broken body of Brutus. In a strange twist of fate, the sword is somehow lodged in Brutus’ midsection, an eerie artifact eliciting an artificial assumption from an arbitrary aim.
Snaking his way into the scene, Octavius pokes the body with the toe of his shoe. “Ewwww! Who’s that?”
“That’s Strato’s master,” snitches Messala, before cackling like the Witches of MacBeth.
“Yo, Strato! Yeah, you! Come down here. Where is your master?” An incredulous looks crosses Stato’s face, until he realizes he is expected to wax poetic of the obvious. He clears his throat.
“Free from the bondage you’re going to get, you squealer,” Strato snipes at Messala. Then he turns his attention to Antony. “You conquerors can only make a fire out of him now, for Brutus only conquered himself. No other man has honor from his death.”
Octavius laughs out loud. “Ah, Ha, HAAA!!! Was that the guy we saw falling down the hill? Did you see him hit that rock? Now that’s the way Brutus should be found. Hey, did anyone catch that on a camera phone? Anybody? We can post it on EeeYewTube. AH, HA, HAAA!” Octavius remarks, enjoying the moment.
As Lucilius turns back to the broken body of Brutus, he self-consciously addresses it more solemnly. “Thanks a lot, Brutus, you have proved my words true. You can’t do anything right, you loser!“
Octavius seizes the opportunity for a humanitarian gesture. “I will take into my service everyone who served Brutus. Yo, Strato want a job? Hey, get the hell off the goddamned phone!”
“Oh, sorry...sure, if Messala will recommend me to you,” says Strato with superficial manners.
Messala, wrinkles his brow in contemplation than asks, “How did my master die, Strato?”
“Um...I held the sword and he ran onto it,” Strato replies after figuring out Messala probably hasn’t figured out the truth just yet. Octavius grins at him and winks, knowing full well that’s not quite the truth.
“Octavius, then take him. He performed the last service to my master. It’s a dirty job, but somebody had to do it,” Messala barely chokes out the words to seal the deal.
“I’ll take him. I can always use a good PR person,” Octavius agrees.
Meanwhile, Antony uploads a pre-prepared speech from his holo-phone, the holographic teleprompter displaying the words in thin air directly in front of Octavius and Antony.
“What’s that?” asks Octavius.
“We’re going on air to inform New Rome the War is over,” Antony announces. “I’ll read the first part, you read the second,” Antony replies.
“I’d like to read it over first,” Octavius protests.
“Listen, kid, you’re not exactly the most beloved politician in New Rome right now, so trust me. I’ll handle the PR, you take care of the drones. Deal? Now use that thing in your head to secure me a satellite uplink,” Antony takes charge.
“Fine. Uplink in 3...2...1!” Octavius counts down. Antony faces his holo-phone and begins.
“This was the noblest Roman of them all:
All the conspirators, except only him,
Did what they did because of envy of great Caesar;
He alone, out of a generally honest thought
And the common good of all, joined them.
His life was noble, and the elements
Were so balanced in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’”
Antony plods on and on before acknowledging Octavius.
Octavius clears his throat and cues the teleprompter to continue. “I’d like to say a few words, too, for the record. Ahem!
Let us treat him in accordance with his virtue, with all respect and rites of burial. His bones shall lie within my tent tonight, (Wait...what? OK, I’ll just move on). His bones shall lie within my tent tonight just like a soldier, treated honorably, so call the army to rest and let's go, to share the glories of this fortunate day.” Octavius then defers to Antony.
“How’s all that sound, guys?” Antony asks. The unanimous thumbs-up is all he needs.
“OK, Octavius. Send!” Antony says.
“Done,” Octavius acknowledges.
“You do recall, Antony, that Brutus killed Caesar, right?” Octavius obviously resents the honorable eulogy he and Antony were traditionally obligated to deliver.
“Brutus did wrong but he did it for the right reason. All for Rome, nothing personal.” Antony lets go of the past.
“I disagree,” retorts Octavius. “Brutus carried the weight of personal ambition on his shoulders like a huge stone. Then things got out of control. And when you loose control, you'll reap the harvest you have sown. And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone. And it's too late to loose the weight you used to need to throw around. So your ambitions drown and you go down, all alone, and smash your head on that stone,” Octavius points to the broken body of Brutus resting on the immovable object that finally halted his political momentum. “I is spoken!” his AI unit grammatically incorrectly adds for enigmatic emphasis.
Antony stands his hands folded solemnly in front of him, head slightly bowed. He looks up calmly and replies, “The moon is rising, Octavius. Some men live their entire lives in eternal moonlight, their dimmed, diminished perception beguiling them into questionable actions. The cold-hearted orb that rules the night removes the colors from our sight. Red is gray and yellow, white. But we decide which is right and which is an Illusion,” Antony responds in kind.
“Dude,” is Octavius’ sole reply.
“So, it’s settled?” Antony asks Octavius.
“Not quite,” Octavius replies before turning to the troops. His AI wirelessly addresses the assembled soldiers in a booming voice.
“Anyone got video of him rolling down that hill?” he projects across the landscape.
“Got it, sir!” yells someone from the ranks.
“Uploading...now! Sweeeeeet!” chuckles Octavius.
“OK, now, it’s over!”
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