The Disappearing Man (story)

Genre: Fiction
Word Count: 100

The Disappearing Man

For the hundredth time, he recognizes this as the moment he loses her.

She looks out the window at the restless pecking of a wren, relaxes into its movements.

He sees the colors drain from his world, like an old timey flick on a spool ticking the moments until the screen fades into flecks of black and then, THE END.

It’s the moment to bow out, without fuss. It’s just a social experiment, marriage, though it’s lasted five years.

“Let’s skip the play and stay home,” she says, turning, and he, seeing the colors return, says, “I’m not going anywhere.”


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A Common-Place Jotting: Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

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The Merchant of Venice (2004), Michael Radford, director

Act III, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice enters a new arena of combat, not one of economic or social gain, but that of love, when Bassanio, a Venetian gentleman and suitor to Portia, comes to try his hand at winning her hand. Like all the rest who have already tried, he must choose the correct casket that holds the portrait of the fair Portia, or else lose all further opportunity to wed her (by the terms of her late father’s will).

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But out of fear that he will fail in this endeavor, Portia, who loves him dearly, tries to dissuade him and trust to a future time. But Bassanio will not be kept from the object of his love with any further delay.

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Bassanio: Joseph Fiennes, The Merchant of Venice (2004)

BASSANIO
Promise me life and I’ll confess the truth.
PORTIA
Well, then, confess and live.
BASSANIO
“Confess and love”
Had been the very sum of my confession.
O happy torment, when my torturer
Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
But let me to my fortune and the caskets.

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Portia: Lynn Collins

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A Common-Place Jotting: The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 9

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

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Michael Radford directed The Merchant of Venice (2004), with Antonio Gil as the Prince of Arragon

In this scene from The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare has the Prince of Arragon, one of Portia’s many suitors, guess which of the three caskets (gold, silver, lead) contains her portrait. Leading the prince to them, Portia says:

Behold, there stand the caskets, noble Prince.
If you choose that wherein I am contained,
Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized.
But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
You must be gone from hence immediately.

After contemplating all three, the Prince of Arragon chooses the silver chest:

I will not choose what many men desire
Because I will not jump with common spirits
And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
Why then, to thee, thou silver treasure house.
Tell me once more what title thou dost bear.
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
And well said too—for who shall go about
To cozen fortune and be honorable
Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume
To wear an undeservèd dignity.
Oh, that estates, degrees and offices
Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honor
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
How many then should cover that stand bare!
How many be commanded that command!
How much low peasantry would then be gleaned
From the true seed of honor! And how much honor
Picked from the chaff and ruin of the times
To be new varnished! Well, but to my choice.
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
I will assume desert.—Give me a key for this,
And instantly unlock my fortunes here.

Opening the casket, he finds not Portia’s portrait, but a picture of a fool’s head and a letter which reads:

“The fire seven times tried this,
Seven times tried that judgment is,
That did never choose amiss.
Some there be that shadows kiss.
Such have but a shadow’s bliss.
There be fools alive, iwis,
Silvered o’er—and so was this.
Take what wife you will to bed,
I will ever be your head.
So be gone. You are sped.
Still more fool I shall appear”
By the time I linger here.
With one fool’s head I came to woo,
But I go away with two.—
Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath
Patiently to bear my wroth.”

— William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 9

A Common-Place Jotting: Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 7

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

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Michael Radford directed The Merchant of Venice (2004), with David Harewood as the Prince of Morocco

In this Act II, Scene 7 of The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare has the Prince of Morocco, one of Portia’s many suitors, guess which of the three boxes (gold, silver, lead) contains her portrait. “The one of them contains my picture, Prince,” Portia tells him. “If you choose that, then I am yours withal.”

On the gold box are inscribed the words: “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” Placing his worth as high as that of Portia’s, he chooses the gold box and finds within this note written by her father:

All that glisters is not gold—
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscrolled
Fare you well. Your suit is cold—

*glisters is the 17th c. synonym of glitters