quaint: a bromance in narrative duologue

‘Ben, what is this swill?’

‘Mercutio! Well met, my coz.’

‘I’m not your coz, coz. My mother is no relation of yours, thank the gods.’

‘But could we not be coz’s all the same.’

‘By no gods shall we be coz’s.’

‘Not even by the god of wine.’

‘The god of wine? He has left this place, he is not to be found in these darkened hipster rooms. I wish the same could be said of your beard.’

‘But now you mock my beard? My fine facial art? My cock’s pride?’

‘If that is your cock’s pride then I am glad not to be a woman, for it would not tickle my quaint to move.’

‘Haha! Come now, Mercutio, I should think, were you a woman, a beard would tickle your quaint indeed.’

‘Ha, yes indeed. Were I so possessed.’

‘Possessed by my beard or possessed of a quaint?’

‘I warrant, I should like neither in equal measure.’

‘Or should you dislike both in unequal measure?’

‘I say, a man could not wear such jeans as yours, Ben, were he not unequally acquainted.’

‘Oh! So you mock my manhood and my beard?’

‘What manhood would force his coz to drink wine such as this?’

‘I confess, it is the least of their offerings. As you know I am not flush with coin.’

‘No man should be flush with coin. Paper is all a man will need, or plastic really, come to that. Coin is for the quainter sex to keep in their coin purses.’

‘Another reason for a man to find a    woman, wouldn’t you agree, Mercutio?’

‘What, for their coin purses or their quaint purposes?’

‘Indeed for both, my friend!’


‘We are joined presently by Abraham and Bal, when they finish with their duties.’

‘Their duties? Do not tell me, that is them now. How unfit they look in this wooden place. Perhaps Bal shall take this wine so that I may get a cider instead.’

‘See, you are at home here, Mercutio. Very soon that growth shall become a beard so that you may tickle many such a quaint purse.’

‘That is not so likely.’

‘That you shall tickle a purse?’

‘I have no need of facial adornment in order to secure one of those.’

‘One of those, you mean?’

‘By the wave of your hand are you indicating those dark-rooted bawds in the corner?’

‘Come, my coz, surely you find them enticing?’

‘Is that why we linger in this dump?’

‘It is true that one of my kind is taken with one of their kind.’

‘Not Balthaser, surely? He wouldn’t speak two words in a purse’s proximity.’

‘Ha, no! Indeed, not.’

‘You can’t mean Romeo, whose love is as easily won or lost as a rosy autumn leaf in the willful winds of season?’

‘But of course. Mercutio, he is smitten. His leaf does not wander in any breeze, but remains firmly fixed to its tree.’

‘Ah, firmly fixed to the root, you mean, which is the root of all such breezes and their wills.’

‘Whether it be root or wind or tree, what is that to us? He is my kin and if he is to have his rose then I shall guide him to its thorn.’

‘Or let his own thorn guide him.’

‘It’s as good a guide as any.’

‘By rose do you indicate the Rose, the very Rosaline who’s two-toned locks match offensively the glow of her pinot gris?’

‘Ha, the very one! You do not find her appealing?’

‘As appealing as a frost in the summertime. See, Bal agrees with me.’

‘He’s won over by free wine.’

‘No, Bal is not so base as that. He understands what wiles of whimsy would take a rosy love such as Romeo’s and ice it with the winds of winter before the breezes stir.’

‘You have no faith in women.’

‘I have faith in the quaint, Ben. But no, not in women.’

‘Then at least have faith in your friend Romeo, and in Romeo’s love.’

‘I shall have faith in Romeo’s love the very instant it is woken from juvenile dreams. But his prick I trust no more than your beard.’

‘So you will not help us woo the rosy Rosaline?’

‘No more than I would help you woo her master.’

‘You know of her master?’

‘I know very well of his brother, and his house which is the kin of your distemper.’

‘My distemper?’

‘Your quarrelsome distemper which is thrown into fray on the meager defense of peace. Your catty nemesis.’

‘What, she is not a Capulet?’

‘Indeed, she is so.’

‘Mercutio, you know I quarrel not without good cause.’

‘Oh indeed, such as the good cause of Bal’s honour?’

‘Do not blame silent Bal. It was Abraham’s doing.’

‘Oh yes, the thumb of Abraham. No worthier cause for which to take up arms.’

‘You mock me, you who would claim not to take up arms yourself?’

‘I would on the honour of my name and that of my friend Romeo, but not on the honour of your thumb.’

‘So you would honour the house of Montague.’

‘I would honour no house but the house in which I find honour.’

‘But you would bear arms?’

‘To catch a cat, perhaps, but woe should violence befall me at the fault of either one of your houses.’

‘Fault is a slippery thing.’

‘Indeed the fault is far less worthy than the feud, according to your masters.’

‘And one of the other is quickly assigned.’

‘And one of the other is quickly forgotten so that the feud becomes the fault itself.’

‘Such as it is. The feud shall be put to death one future day.’

‘Or shall it put to death the future of our days?’

‘Come, Mercutio, you talk of death while we drink wine.’

‘Wine such as this, which puts to death the shine.’

‘Oh, what darkness followed you here that you must shun the light of love and kin?’

‘I shun not the light of love but that which feigns the love of light.’

‘And so should Romeo shun his quaint Rosaline?’

‘As much as I shun your beard and this ungodly wine.’


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