Chapter 5 – January 7B

A voice commanded from a man standing in the distant front row. Start in five minutes. The man dropped into a seat, only his head now barely visible to the members of the Bark Bay High School fencing team.

“Everyone knows the story, right?” Mr. Jacobs’ voice was an urgent whisper.

“Sure.” Two seats to Mr. Jacobs’ right, Double-J made no attempt to lower his voice. “Hamlet sees a ghost, says hey man, I’m your old man, and I was murdered by my brother. But Hamlet, instead of going out and getting revenge, killing his uncle, he goes around talking a bunch of nonsense.” The Bird, sitting four seats away, saw Double-J throw his right hand dramatically into the air. “To be, or not to be.”

Mr. Jacobs cleared his throat. “That’s — one interpretation.” Double-J lowered his hand, then tilted his head back against the wall.

“We’re studying ‘Julius Caesar’ in English this year.” It occurred to The Bird that Annie’s explanation probably wasn’t necessary, since Mr. Jacobs taught English at the school. “We study ‘Hamlet’ next year.”

“Really?” Butch sounded worried.

“Only CP.” Butch sighed in relief at Rune’s explanation.

Rex leaned forward in his seat, his head high above the seats. “Is it a good idea to talk about the play before we see it?”

Mr. Jacobs replied in what seemed to The Bird his Coach Dan voice, definitive and assured. “For this play, yes.”

“And it’s what they did, back in Shakespeare’s time.” Rune, sitting in the row in front of The Bird, had turned his greasy red head so that he could easily make eye contact with everyone. “Outside the theater, they’d post the plot of the play, so people could read it before it started. They called it the argument. Back then, they didn’t worry like we do about ‘ruining the surprise.’ All they cared about was the performance.”

A dismissive snort spurt from Double-J’s upturned nose.

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