Many congratulations to Tim Murphy, the Geist Emerging Writer of the Month for June! Murphy's short story "Shakespeare Rogers," selected from a number of deserving pieces, stood out with its quirky narrative. Congratulations, Tim!
His real name was Roy Rogers, like that singing cowboy, but we called him Shakespeare. He said his daddy was named Roy Rogers way before that singing cowboy was named Roy Rogers, so that made his daddy’s name original. And since he was named after his daddy, that made his name original, too. But he could parley that Shakespeare... all day long.
He knew all that gobbledy-gook about the guy who talked to the skull and the one with the witches, and that crazy old king. We couldn't understand any of it. But it sounded like Shakespeare.
He lived out on Rocky Head by himself, out there in a burnt out forest in the fog, just him and the shithawks. Nobody else would live out there because when the gales blew nothing could stand up. I've seen breakers fifty feet high that make you tremble in your boots when they hit the land. You'd swear the sea would carve a channel right across the head and turn it into an island. The first house Shakespeare built blew down. You should have heard him: “Blow, winds and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow! ... that what ordinary men are fit for, I am quantified in; and the best of these is digilation!”
He just built another house.
And there’s an old gravestone out there, too. It must be planted deep because it has stood there for a hundred years, brazen, in the face of the North Atlantic. The sea polished all the letters off. Folks call it the Grave of the Unknown Sailor. Somebody must have found him back then, washed ashore. There were so many wrecks out there you couldn't count them. They racked up on Gull Rock or The Ram or The Virgins. No one survived. That old grave stone and Shakespeare were the only signs of man out there.
Shakespeare surrounded his house with big carvings he made. He carved anything he could get his hands on: rocks, tree stumps, the keel of a wrecked schooner, even broken chunks of concrete from the old wharf. They stood all over his yard and out among the charred trees. He named them all from the Shakespeare books. You had to walk by that fellow talking to his daddy’s skull to get to Shakespeare's front door. He was cut from a big boulder that Shakespeare dug up from his basement. There he stood, deep in conversation with that old head. Sometimes snow covered him so he looked like a snow-man. And there was King Somebody by the woodshed and King Somebody-else with a sword next to the well. There was a hunched-up little guy that Shakespeare called Poor Tom. The witches all stood in a circle out in the burnt woods. He carved them all and then left them wherever he made them. The moss grew on them and the shithawks shit on them.
He must have walked around in the burnt trees yapping to these folks, because nobody else around here could speak that Shakespeare talk. Seems like, somehow, they were his family, the only ones that really understood him.
Tim Murphy grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Canmore, Alberta. He is a member of Migratory Words, a writing circle in Canmore. He is currently involved in a poetry/sculpture collaboration with artist Peig Abbott, which will be shown at Canmore's ArtSpeak Festival, June 14-20, 2012.
The Geist Emerging Writer of the Month is sponsored by the Geist Foundation. Anyone enrolled in high school, post-secondary school, a creative writing program, or any related course or workshop, can be a Geist Emerging Writer of the Month.