William Shakespeare once said, "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" Now, two things strike me about this statement:
1) I never knew Shakespeare was a king, but I guess he must have been, otherwise why would he say such a thing? I was never schooled in the succession of the English monarchy, but he must be in there somewhere. I know he's not William the Conqueror because he looks too fruity to conquer anything, but I'm sure they've had dozens of Williams on the throne over the centuries.
2) I never really understood what he meant by that -- that is, until just now.
I was out gallivanting on my horse, as was my wont, taking pains not to seem like I was gadding about. If there's one thing I abhor, it's people gadding about on horses. Gallivanting, however, is a different thing altogether. You can take my word on that.
Anyway, while I was out gallivanting in the fields I came across some people who, unlike me, were steedless. They appeared to be gathered together for some purpose so, parting the crowd as I made my way through it, I pulled up alongside the one I took to be the leader. As he was standing on a wooden box, we were able to see eye to eye, but only literally.
"I say, good man," I said. "Why is this group assembled thus?"
"None of your beeswax," said he, "and I'm not your man, good or otherwise."
"I didn't mean to imply that you were," I said. "It was just a turn of phrase."
"Well, you can turn your phrase and the horse you rode in on around and get the hell out of here," he spat.
Unaccustomed to being spoken to in such a manner -- or spit at -- I held my ground (or rather, I held my horse's reins and it held the ground for me).
"Do you have any idea who you're speaking to?" I asked.
"No, do you?" he replied.
"Of course I know who you're speaking to. You're speaking to me! And I know exactly who I am!"
"That's nice. Are you going to leave?"
"No, I'm not. You're going to have to apologize first."
"Apologize?" he snickered.
"Yes, apologize for being so--"
That's when he jumped me. I'm ashamed to admit it, but he took me entirely by surprise. Within seconds he had wrested me from my saddle and we were rolling around on the ground, egged on by the assembled crowd. I managed to land a few glancing blows, but close combat was never my strong suit. My opponent had no such deficiencies, however, and it quickly became apparent that I was receiving the pummeling of my life.
Once I managed to roll free and make it to my feet, but to my alarm my beloved Rosebud was nowhere to be seen. Either she had run off or one of the spectators had taken her away. I didn't have time to formulate a third possibility before my assailant grabbed me by the shoulders and spun me around.
We were face to face again, but now he towered over me as I shrunk under his withering gaze. Frozen to the spot, I waited for the beating to recommence.
"You know what?" he asked rhetorically. "I actually do know who you are. And even if I didn't, I would know what you are."
"What's that?" I stammered.
"You're the haves. You're the captains of industry. The ruling elite. The people who think nothing of paying $20 to have somebody else park your luxury car while you eat a $50 steak at a fancy restaurant in the city. You're the enemy. Before you arrived, I was talking to these people about rising up against you and your kind, using our superior numbers to overpower you."
"You mean violent revolution?" I furtively looked for an opening in the crowd. I found none.
"No, no," he said, reassuring as he could be. "I was speaking in terms of organizing politically, starting a grassroots campaign, fighting the system from without and within."
"Oh. Well, if that's the case, then there's no reason for the two of us to continue this embarrassingly one-sided bout, is there?"
"No, none at all."
Hearing that, I relaxed, breathing a huge sigh of relief.
"No," he continued, "I've decided to let my followers have some fun with you now."
So saying, he stepped aside and I was felt the eyes of the crowd on me. It was at this moment, while I looked certain death right in the face, that I thought of Shakespeare's words and realized that -- had I kingdom like his instead of a chain of retail superstores -- I would have gladly given it up as well. But it's much too late for that.
I have no mount and I must flee.