“What is your policy on refunds?” the octogenarian in the hound’s tooth mask asked.
“It depends. Is the book defective?” I responded.
“Are there any pages missing?”
“Is there excessive underlining or crayon marking?”
“None of that either.”
“Then what seems to be the problem with it, sir?”
“It’s not the story I remember.”
I must confess, he had my interest. “How so?”
“It’s different.”
“What book is it?” I asked him.
“You bought a copy of ‘Hamlet’ here and it’s not the same play you know.”
“It might be a trick of the memory. I’ve reread books years later and found aspects of the story that I didn’t remember.”
“It’s a completely different work,” he asserted.
“Give me a frinstance.”
He pondered that for a moment, then answered.
“Polonius is missing. There’s no Polonius.”
“What? Polonius is not in the play?”
“Completely AWOL.”
“He serves a significant purpose. He has to be there.“
“No Polonius,” he insisted.
“Then who is Ophelia’s father?”
“Some guy named Ralph.”
I wasn’t going to let this guy play me. “Show me.”
“Show you what?”
“Show me the play.”
“I don’t have it. It’s at home.”
“Why would the editor’s change Polonius’ name to Ralph?” I asked him.
“To make it easier for the reader.”
“Does Hamlet still kill him with a sword?”
“Actually, he uses a box cutter.”
“I really don’t think there were any box cutters in 12th century Denmark,” I advised.
“The cover did suggest that the play was adapted and updated for the 21st century reader to render it inoffensive.”
“For that, they removed Polonius?”
“Well, he is a senior, and therefore expendable. And that’s not all. Claudius now runs a social media empire, Laertes is a drug addict, Gertrude has a female lover, the Ghost is a hologram, and Ophelia runs a daycare that is under investigation.”
“What about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?”
“You don’t want to know what they get up to. And the gravedigger still sings, but he also twerks.”
“Don’t tell me they took out Hamlet’s famous soliloquy?”
“No, they are completely aware of it’s importance, so they made it a text. ‘2BRNT2B’.”
“What about the ending?” I asked. “How did they handle all the killings?”
“Easy peasy. They bring in a mediator and go into binding arbitration.’
Now I was curious to read the play myself.
“Bring in the play and I’ll give you a refund.”
He shifted a bit and looked out the window.
“On second thought, I may have enjoyed the story more than I first thought. Can you find out if the publisher has updated ‘King Lear’?”