It’s early morning. Alexander wakes bleary-eyed.
At the end of his bed, a short square man wearing riding boots dances on tiptoes. He’s dressed in a French eighteenth century military uniform; his right hand is tucked into his jacket.
Who the fuck are you? Alexander asks. He rubs his eyes. Are you THE Napoleon?
THE Napoleon? What do you think I am – a fucking bistro? I’m Napoleon Bonaparte.
But you’re dead.
I live forever in the minds of those who long to be as great as Napoleon.
Why are you dancing?
Napoleon pirouettes. I’m always on my toes.
Can’t you keep still?
Napoleon sits on the bed.
You are small, aren’t you? Alexander observes
You dreamt of help. Napoleon leaps off the bed. Now you are rude. I go.
No, please. Gosh. Sorry.
You have problems, yes? Napoleon asks.
We have a plague; thousands and thousands are dead and dying; bloody nuisance just after I won the General Election.
Napoleon stamps his feet. Huh! You’re no soldier. You need to think like a soldier. Thousands are dead and you’re worried? Phuff! Nobody knows how many were killed in my twenty-three years of wars; some say five million, some say seven. Forget shedding crocodile tears. Be decisive, be a soldier, be brave.
I want to be honoured, loved, a hero, like Churchill.
Listen. If you build an army of a hundred lions and lead like a dog, the lions will die like dogs. But if you build an army of one hundred dogs and make yourself a lion, all the dogs will fight like lions, and you will win. Churchill was a lion. Are you?
Of course I’m a bloody lion! Trouble is, I haven’t got dogs, just pussycats pissing in litter trays. Useless fuckers keep letting me down. I’m going to get a shower.
As Alexander is dressing he turns to Napoleon and asks, Which tie should I wear? The light or dark blue? So hard to choose. So much easier when nanny was in charge.
How did you reach such heights?
I follow Monsieur Pangloss.
Voltaire’s Pangloss! He is a delusional idiot.
It would be perfect if all was for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. No fun and frolics. I’m cuddly, funny, Falstaff. I’m poor. I even have to get someone to pay for my hols. Imagine that! We should have let Covid take its course, until we’d cleaned out the old, the infirm, black and ethnic minorities, rough sleepers, vagabonds and asylum seekers. Bloody busybody scientists sticking their oars in! Survival of the fittest, what?
Napoleon claps his hands. That sounds more like a soldier. The survivors will be safe and you will be the leader you have always longed to be.
They would hate me. I want the love of the rich and poor alike, to be revered in history.
Merde! You’re all noise and bluster – empty as a brass drum. Adieu, Narcissique.
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© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.