A man sat at a tea-table, under the trellis in his yard. Little flowers rested delicately around him, and he took advantage of their close proximity by leaning ever-so-slightly backwards to smell them. In his hand, he held a copy of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. He tossed it onto the table and stared at it hopelessly. He had his notes open in front of him, but he wondered if trying to teach this play to high school sophomores was more than he had bargained for. His students had enjoyed their time with Romeo and Juliet, but the plot was so universally known and the movie renditions aligned so closely that he was sure that less than half the class actually read the play.
That’s okay, he thought to himself. Shakespeare’s works were meant to be seen and heard – not read. This didn’t fully convince him – although it did make him feel slightly better. Teaching symbolism and poetic devices to 15 year olds was akin to torture, even if they were honors students taking his Shakespeare class as an elective.
Finishing his last sip of tea, Cooper – or Mr. Marlow as the students called him – decided he ought to take a break from his work for a moment. His hard work over a school holiday certainly merited him some leisure time! He pushed his chair back, and stared for a moment at his worn, brown penny-loafers. He reached down a flicked away a fleck of dried blood from the top of them.
“Hmm. Don’t know how I missed that” he said to himself aloud. He rubbed his broad, bearded chin and looked toward his home office. A break, he thought to himself. You’re taking a break. Don’t go in there, or you’ll come out feeling murderous. At this thought, he had a bit of a chuckle and said to himself, “What else is new?” But, he had promised himself a break from work – and a break he would have.
“Come on, Achilles!” Cooper called out. It took less than 30 seconds before a big, brindled Great Dane came lopping towards him. Achilles let his tongue hang out, and looked at Cooper excited for a walk around the nearby lake.
Cooper took great enjoyment in saying, “Achilles, heel!” at the curb, checking the road for cars before crossing.