IV – THE MAGIC CASHBOX

IV

At the former Royal Castle atop a verdant hill – once Royal Hunting Grounds – once real people are now actors talking through elaborate costumes. Only Pulcinella, the mask, is as unreal as he once was. We linger a bit while, in the big room, King Charles V and his son Philip (not yet King of Spain) look at the scene through the eyes of Titian with what seems little amusement. They must certainly have other concerns with their Empire on which the sun never sets – they look out the big paned windows, at palm trees and magnolias, at the old town down below and the Bay, the mountains, Capri and the Vesuvius (you don’t see it now, you just know it’s there, which is a typically Neapolitan thing you’re told.) In another room a lady-in-waiting of some Crown Princess tells of how good the Kings are (were) and how many good things they do (did) and how much they love (loved) their people. Coy about the romantic escapades of the Queen, excited about the King who likes to mingle with the fishermen at the docks – unwinding, 18th-century style. The court, she says, is assembled in the Royal Palace downtown, facing the docks and the port and the dormant volcano, and looks out its big paned windows shaking its one head at the king’s odd behavior. She likes it, though; she’s one of the people. So kings look out, the court looks out, the city looks out, till the sound of coins tingle in the fancy plumed cap to stipulate a due return for these professional productions of professional actors – even though that does break the illusion and horses’ hoofs in the distance are just tourists being trotted around, not unclogged, smog-free roads and boulevards, on which the sun does set eventually behind acrobatic high-rises on winding paths up and down once lush bountiful hills.

THE LITTLE GIRLS WERE STANDING IN LINE

Ps 70

The little girls were standing in line beside the dressing rooms. 4 to 8 years old. They wanted to be kissed by Prince Charming. Prince Charming was a gay guy – behind the curtains, he was writing texts to his boyfriend telling him about the situation. “How did I get myself in this fix? I’ve got to kiss all these kids – yuck!I’m an actor, for god’s sake!”

The performance hadn’t started yet and the little girls were getting restless, their tiny hands squeezing their mother’s and father’s in anticipation, who were thinking, along with some introspective actors, that those little creatures had no idea Prince Charming was not who he was, and their suspension of disbelief – only one actor thought of this – didn’t even exist. 

There was no disbelief and, therefore, no suspension.

Prince Charming put the phone down, tossed the curtain aside and made his entrance with his charming smile upon his face.

The little girls fired up.