Oh! What a glorious death it was! \n\nYou saw Dennis's eyes transform from twinkling to pained to cloudly. You do not blink and feel a stab of remorse in your chest just the same, because you are a good man. \n\nYou hear the scream of Casca's actor. You do not flinch and feel your ears ring, because you are a good man. \n\nYou smell the iron in Dennis's blood. You do not cry and feel your stomach turn, because you are a good man.\n\nYou are a good man, and [[YOU DID NOT KILL JULIUS CAESAR]].
Your body was discovered on the sodden pavement in front of the theatre the morning after the first and last showing of Julius Caesar. Some say you had been pushed off, and some say a strange psychosis had claimed you. \n\nYour cadaver and its reasons were eventually shipped off in a bag and [[CITY LIFE]] went on as usual for everyone else.\n
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Ah, Dennis, the beloved leader Julius Caesar, also the guy that barely has his lines down but everybody loves anyway because he brings donuts to rehearsals. You shake your head. \n\n“Well, I’m sure you can play the role of Caesar fine, if you asked me.” Benny laughed and wiped his mouth. "What do you guys [[THINK]]?"
"Are you suggesting something?" You ask. You know already, but you were not going to say it.\n\n"You have put in more work in this play than anyone, and yet it's Dennis who reaps the most profit?" Dustin laughs quietly, wrapping an arm around your back. "You would be great, //we// would be great if it weren't for your [[CONSCIENCE]]."
Flynn is Benny's understudy, the stereotypical bright-eyed college kid that believes a liberal arts degree will douse him in stardom and luxury. He irritated you slightly.\n\nBenny is the actor for Cassius. Although a year younger than you, Benny is a determined actor and received the daunting role of Cassius without complaint. He's the type of guy to escort little grey ladies across busy intersections and feed strays with his lunch.\n\n"Sure. [[WHY NOT]]." You reply after a slight pause.
Of course you stayed over. You lay on the bed, dozing off as you listened to the sound of the running shower.\n\nYou were almost asleep when Dustin turned off the lights and tucked himself in beside you. The smell of his lilac shampoo was comforting even as you were facing away from him, but you would never get the chance to tell him that.\n\n"I think Benny was right," Dustin said, "You could play a [[FINE]] Caesar."
"I don't think he's feeling well." You interrupted. "I'll drive him home then. Have a nice night, you two."\n\nYou leave a twenty and a few coins beside you and Dustin's plates before slipping away with him quickly.\n\nThe [[NIGHT]] air blows at your brows through the front window of the car.
However. Even though thought Dennis was a lazy leech, you have no personal hatred towards him. He was your theatre companion, even acquaintance. \n\nYou never thought yourself to be the remorseful type, but you found yourself haunted by a ghost that didn't exist yet. You could almost hear the mournful murmurs of the other cast members, how he was such a good man, how he was such a great actor, how they could not fathom having Julius Caesar without him, [[HOW]]...\n\n
"So what if it's not right?" Dustin's voice felt as if they cut into your eardrums. You want to run. You want to stay. You feel Dustin's hand tighten around your arm. You want to hold it and tear it away from you at the same time. "You wanted this so I wanted this for you, and now you are going to say you're too cowardly for it?"\n\n"I'm not a coward!" You hiss. You are wrong. You are a coward. You are a good man. \n\n"I do not know what else to call a man who wants something but doesn't have the //gall// to get it!" Dustin presses his face up close to yours, and you could smell his lilac shampoo again. \n\nIt smelled almost [[SOUR]].
Your hands are shaking. The dim lights feel sharp in your eyes. It hurts. You do not recognize your own voice. "What if we get caught?"\n\n"Get caught?" Dustin scoffed and smirked triumphantly. "Really? The one holding the knife will be the guy playing Casca and the one that should have fixed it will be the repair guys. Don't kid yourself. No one will know."\n\nYou drop your arms down to your sides. "What does it matter any more?"\n\nDustin's glare sends a cold shiver down your spine. \n\n"I'll [[DO IT]]."
"Wait, what do you mean you'll work out the details?" You turned around to face him, trying to ignore the growing lump in your throat.\n\n"Parasites like Dennis shouldn't deserve all of this." Dustin chuckled quietly. "I overheard a few of the stagehands talking about how easy it was for the trick blade to jam. Isn't that convenient?"\n\nYou shiver and whisper, "You couldn't [[MEAN]]..."
A few hurried rehearsals later, you were ready. \n\nAfter the final dress rehearsal on the night before the first show, you received a [[CALL]].
You tried to deny Dustin's implications and go to sleep.\n\nYou were unsuccessful. Your mind is noisy with curious questions and festering ambitions. Finally, you hear yourself [[ASK]] Dustin.
You didn't quite sleep that night, but rather drifted in and out of consciousness. Your ears rung with the silence. \n\nYou deserved the money. No, you deserved more than that. You deserved the fame. You deserved the opportunities. You deserved the recognition. You deserved //all// of it.\n\n//You [[DESERVED]] Julius Caesar.//\n\n
"Before the scene of Caesar's murder, you can jam Casca's blade so it won't retract." Dustin replied. "They'll either write it off as an accident or blame Casca for it. No one will suspect a thing."\n\nHe paused and grabbed your hand, squeezing it. "Isn't that what you wanted?"\n\n"Yes." You found yourself whispering, the word not having passed through your mind.\n\n"It's late." Dustin mutters and turns his back to you again. "Get some [[SLEEP]]."
You could hear the beating of your heart over the hustle of the other actors. You could swear that it was about to crack your ribs and crush your lungs. \n\n"What do you mean I put YOU up to it?" You whispered. Your voice feels unfamiliar, feeble. "You wanted this, and this is wrong."\n\n"[[SO]]?"
How You Died That Day
The spotlights hurt your eyes now. They never did before. You want to run away, but you know not to because you are a good man. You are not a coward. You are not a coward.\n\nYou kneel before Caesar... No, Dennis now. It is the anticipated scene, but yet for very differently reasons for everyone.\n\nThen. You hear Casca's shout.\n\n"[[HANDS, SPEAK FOR ME]]!"\n\n\n\n
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Benny is the actor for Cassius. Although a year younger than you, Benny is a determined actor and received the daunting role of Cassius without complaint. He's the type of guy to escort little grey ladies across busy intersections and feed strays with his lunch.\n\nFlynn is Benny's understudy, the stereotypical bright-eyed college kid that believes a liberal arts degree will douse him in stardom and luxury. He irritated you slightly.\n\n"Sure. [[WHY NOT]]." You reply after a slight pause.
There was always this certain electric energy in the theatre before a show. Everyone was a little drunk on the culmination of their efforts, except for you. You watched the hurried application of make up and costumes from a corner, a cold sweat forming in your palms.\n\n"Come now. People will start asking questions if you keep that up." \n\nBut really, do you think you're [[RIGHT]]? Or [[WRONG]]?
//God, they would not mourn like that for you!// You refused to think so, but only because you knew it was true.\n\nThe [[MORNING]] came a little later that day.
Yes, you were. You were a good man. You were doing what was best - what was best for you, what was best for Dustin, what was best for everyone. You were a good man. \n\n//Right?//\n\nNo. \nNo. \nNo. \n\nYou are wrong. You are not a good man. There is no blood on your hands but there is red behind your eyes and between your ears and it is absolutely everywhere.\n\nWhat you are doing is wrong. You are [[WRONG]].
You sighed and squeezed the wheel, thinking out loud. "They could have taken it the wrong way."\n\n"I don't care," says Dustin. "What could they do?"\n\n"You know how word gets around here. You've got to be careful with what you say." Your words were harsh, perhaps a little more condescending than you expected them to be.\n\n"Whatever." Dustin replied. "Are you [[STAYING OVER]]?"
"I think it would work out." Flynn added while nodding vigorously. "You've been subbing for him for awhile so I bet you have all his lines down already."\n\n"Of course." Dustin muttered, sipping a beer. "The guy has the [[HIGHEST-PAID]] role and yet never shows up for practice..."\n\n"What was that, Dustin?" asked Benny.
"Conscience, huh." You mutter hesitantly. "I know he doesn't deserve any of what he's getting, but..."\n\n"Allow me to work out the details." Dustin interrupts you, "Get some rest for tonight. You'll need it for tomorrow's matinee."\n\nDo you [[ASK]] or do you [[GO TO SLEEP]]?
But you are wrong.\n\n~The End~
Your fall did not begin that night. It began a month ago. The regulars of the theatre anticipated the production of Julius Caesar to be a striking hit. You did the same. \n\nAs luck would have it, you happened to be the understudy of the actor for Marcus Brutus, who recently broke his tailbone on a set of stairs and rendered himself immobile. So, the [[ROLE]] fell onto you.
The city was everything you appeared to be - lovely, cheerful and bursting at the seams with young, dauntless potential. Everyone that visited praised its sunny days, cool nights and most of all, the dashing talents who filled the evenings at the city theatre with sincere soliloquys and sly rhymes. \n\nYou [[DESPISED]] this city.\n
"No. We're not doing this." You whispered sharply. "This feels wrong. We need to finish the show."\n\nYou felt Dustin's hand grab your arm as he spins you around. You flinched slightly as you met his glare. \n\n"This //is// wrong. Did you expect anything else?" Dustin hissed, "Did you think it was perfectly right to think yourself worthy of someone else's role? Did you think it was perfectly right to put [[ME]] up to something like this?"
It's from Dustin, one of the make up artists.\n\nHis sharp voice filters through the dusty speakers of your phone.\n\n"[[BENNY]] asked us if we wanted to go to the diner with him and [[FLYNN]]. What do you think?"\n\n
"So, how's the role coming along?" said Benny through a mouthful of vegetarian burger. He had never touched beef again after watching some documentary with baby calves.\n\n“Good,” you reply and slap Benny's back playfully. “Still not as good as our Cassius now.”\n\n“Oh stop it. You’ll worsen my rosacea.” Benny laughed and rolled his eyes. “I didn’t see [[DENNIS]] again today. What a guy, huh?”\n\n\n