“The King is Dead, Long Live the King”
Beyond the ring they're sit as a
They seem to laugh but they're dead
Tonight's main attraction on the Circus
On and on the comedy goes...”
Sung by The Dead Clowns
“What the hell do you mean?” I think I raised my voice more than I would have liked to, but this was not anything I had in my wildest dreams, put in my plans.
“Well, Matt, you know how he was dying?”
“Well, he did.”
“Well, we were able to get the limo away from the press before anyone knew. We got him checked into a hotel without anyone noticing.”
“So no one knows he’s dead, you’re sure?” Harry asked.
I jumped in, “How did you get him into the hotel without anyone knowing?”
“I hate to admit it,” Kurt said, “But we all went in in clown makeup. We carried him like it was a bit of comedy. They all laughed; it was spooky.”
I tried to imagine it, and then decided it was better not to.
I told Kurt thanks, and keep everything under wraps till he heard from me and then hung up.
The room was an icebox of silence.
“How’re we going to pull this off now?” I asked no one in general.
No one in general said anything for a long time.
They a light came into Chester’s eyes.
“I know someone,” he suggested, “Who could maybe pull something off.”
He was a magnet for all of us now, we were desperate.
“He’s an actor I know who specializes in….well something unique,” Chester was tentative, but also internally confident.
“What?” the three of us said in unison.
Chester took out his phone and called for someone named “Barney.” Barney, I took it, was immediately available to come to the office and when Chester rang off he had a huge grin on his face.
“I’m going to have to have Barney show you on his own,” he was texting madly; “You wouldn’t believe it if I just told you. He deserves a fair hearing.”
He then called our favorite deli and got hot pastrami on pumpernickel with sweet & hot mustard and an extra dill spear each. He absolutely knew how to placate me, if no one else.
We waited without discussion for 15 minutes until the sandwiches got there. The delivery boy was in his 30’s and I would have thought it had to be Marlon Brando if I hadn’t known him to be dead.
I caught a glance between him and Chester and then the man broke out with:
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest -
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men – ”
I tried to catch my breath, but the man was Brando, right from the film. Not just visually, but vocally. His timing was perfect.
We couldn’t help but watch as he finished the speech and then we gave him deserved applause.
“This, you probably guessed is Barney,” Chester said in the formal presentation, “He is an actor known as ‘The Chameleon,’ you can guess why.”
Chameleon was right, what we had seen was not an impression, he became Brando. It was eerie.
“I’ve heard about you all,” Barney said, with his own bit of awe, “Chester has said…oh, Barney Rondell…” Barney put out his hand and shook each of ours all around the circle.
“How fast can you do one of your…impersonations?” Harry ventured.
“Depends on how much information about the subject is available. I can’t tell you how I do it; if I could, all the intelligence agencies would be over the moon to hire me to teach their agents. God knows, they’ve asked.”
That was a fear-inducing thought.
“If you can get enough information, and if we can get worthwhile cosmetics, I’m sure I can find a ‘hook’ for the job.”
“There would be a certain amount of risk,” I said and saw the gleam rush off his face, “But there would be a huge paycheck at the end of the one performance.” He was on-board again.
“When he says huge,” Chester raised his eyebrows as he spoke. Barney nodded.
We had two days to gather and show him everything about Walter Simonson that was available. Both the public and the private.
There would be very little sleep for any of us for the next 48 hours.
Ooops, 47 hours and 14 minutes.
© C. Wayne Owens