Eric Smith


I wanted this job badly. Appleby had gotten the last celebrity. I’d have given anything to be there upon the stage with them. Yes, it was true the celebrities get to wear the fancy gowns, are the centre of attention and get to speak the last words of the event. I merely would be there in humble clothing while attending them, and of course there was no tipping allowed. Still, I wanted to do this performance with all my soul. Finally Appleby, the senior man of that stage, acquiesced and the job was mine.

The fans were many on the day. Mostly cheering though as always a few hecklers were in the crowd. The grounds attendants cleared a path to the stage. A couple of young girls rushed the star of the show, but were easily held back by staff.

I hated my hat. It was black and covered too much of my face. Really, it obstructed my view from the ceremony and the fact that I had to go shirtless made the whole thing a little too much of spectacle for my taste. I always preferred to adorn leaning toward dignity. Still, the audience loved it that way and we were here to give them something special.

The celebrity was elegant, they usually are, I myself would be much more nervous but composure seems to come with the station for the famous lot. This was my chance to attach myself to their coattails – my fifteen minutes of fame near the limelight. I could tell the crowd wanted me to do a little ditty so I turned to the side showing my muscles and grinning.

Then it was her turn to speak. She was poetic and evoked majestic resonances that left the audience speechless. The silence was my cue.  She performed the ending in the French style – on her knees centre stage, body upright to the skies and then she added a new twist, she held her arms out extended, as far as they might go, fingertips reaching wide to stage left and stage right. The audience gasped, holding their breath as the final act climaxed and signalled to go mad wild.

I did my job. Too bad there was no tipping. She could have afforded to give me a pretty penny. Yet, contrary to popular myth we only use a single blade and giving money to me would get no particular favour. My swing was true and the Queen’s head rolled bloodily to the feet of the fans in the first row. The throng erupted. The cheers were not for me, but the people could not help looking at me as I did my job, though I reckon many just focus on the axe itself.

The beheading was executed, no pun intended, precisely. This was the grand finale so I let the screams of the audience soaked into my very being and took it all as compliments. Granted the part I played was small, yet key. In the excitement some of her highnesses’ blood dripped on my new shoes and ruined them. I had purchased them especially for the occasion. Noticing that I lost concentration for a moment from all the praise of my work. Everyone then was charging the stage to get a look at her severed body. It was not me they were really interested in, just the results of my swing.

I had done my first royal. Overall it was the second in the last three years. Who knew there maybe a third soon? Maybe Appleby would be ill that day and I could go at it again?

I really wish we could swing the double bladed axe. I could add a little theatre by whirling it between the dull and sharp ends. Wouldn’t hurt my paycheck either, but then again it would probably still be no tipping allowed.