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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Looove

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Fic: A Joke Too Old for Memory
Lemony Snicket
lizzie_marie_23 wrote in rosnguil
Title: A Joke Too Old for Memory
Crossover with Waiting For Godot
Characters: Guildenstern, Vladimir, Estragon, Rosencrantz, Lucky
Summary: Gogo wants to travel again and Ros is ready to stop. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Word Count: 1794


 

Estragon kept telling Vladimir that he would leave him behind and stop hanging around for Godot, but neither of them believed it. Where exactly did he think he would go? He wasn’t even sure he could manage without someone else to help him think. So he would never be able to escape.

And then, one evening after Godot didn’t show up, he did escape. He was about to get into his regular ditch to sleep when a brown-haired man with a preoccupied air bumped into him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. I was looking at the stars. Have you ever noticed that sometimes night comes out of nowhere?”

“All the time! One minute it’s bright and the next you can only see the moon and stars. But only when you’re really starting to enjoy the afternoon, is the thing. When you want the night to come quickly, it takes forever.” He paused thoughtfully. “I wonder why that is.”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out,” his new companion answered, then held out a hand. “It’s nice to meet you! I’m Rosencrantz,” he said brightly.

“My name’s Estragon,” said Estragon, “but you can call me Gogo. Most people do. Well, most people I know. Or rather, one calls me Gogo, one calls me boy and the last doesn’t say much of anything.”

“Now half the people you know call you Gogo,” Rosencrantz answered pleasantly. “I Say, is it alright if I sit in your ditch?”

“It’s not really my ditch, since the land is Pozzo’s. But the road belongs to everyone, so you should be allowed to sit in your own ditch. I suppose.”

 “Thanks. Your logic is very sound,” Rosencrantz commented as he sat down to unlace his boots.

They sat together in silence, which Estragon finally interrupted. “Why are you here?” he asked, though he wondered if it mattered, since they wouldn’t even remember each other in the morning.

“I don’t know. We’ve been walking for a long time – days and days, it feels like. Though it’s odd – I remember plenty of mornings, but this is the first night. Anyway, these boots – ouch!” he yelled as he shook some rocks out of his left boot, “- These boots are a bit too loose, so my feet are killing me.”

Estragon grabbed it and began to try it onto his own foot. “So you’ve traveled a lot, haven’t you? I used to travel with Didi everywhere, but now we’ve stopped.”

Rosencrantz nodded. “We’re going all over Europe because we were sent for. Problem is, neither of us can remember where we’re supposed to go. So right now we’re wandering until someone recognizes us. Or the other way around.” He squinted at Estragon. “Did you send for us?”

“I don’t think so. Unless your name is Godot. Who did you say your companion is?”

“I didn’t,” he answered with a grin, “but since you ask, it’s Guildenstern, not Godi- Godenst- whatever you said. Those boots look great on you, by the way.”

“Thank you. They fit like a dream. And I think I know where you can get some replacements.”

“Oh really?” Rosencrantz was happy to hear it.

“If you go down the road about half a mile you’ll come to a place with a tree and a rock.”

“I’ve seen hundreds of trees and rocks,” he complained. “What makes these any different?”

“Oh, you’ll know the place,” he promised. “There’s nothing else there. Anyway, that’s where Didi and I wait for Godot. You really can’t miss it. I left a pair of boots there because they were too tight. I was getting blisters. You can have them if they fit.”

Rosencrantz suddenly stood up and began taking off his jacket. “I have an idea!” he said, and Estragon cleared his throat. “No, not that, you dirty old man! But you want to travel again and I’m ready to stop travelling. Well listen to this…”

***

“Let’s try this again,” he said. “You’re Rosencrantz and I’m Guildenstern and we--”

“But I thought you were Rosencrantz.”

“I was Rosencrantz, but now you are. The point is that we play Questions.”

“How?”

“How do you think?”

“Is this all?”

“Does it need to be more?”

“But doesn’t it get old?”

“What?”

“Doesn’t it get old?”

“Repetition – point for me. Aren’t you having fun?”

“I suppose, but--”

“Statement! Two-love. What were you saying?”

“Does it count if I wasn’t done with the question?”

“Do you want me to move it back to one-love?”

Rosencrantz thought about this but couldn’t figure out how to answer that with another question, so he just nodded. The man wearing Estragon’s old clothes smiled kindly and motioned for him to continue.

“How long have you – we – been playing?”

“How far back can you remember?”

“That long?” Rosencrantz couldn’t hide how impressed he was. He remembered all the way into last week!

“Longer.”

“Statement! One-one. How do you know, if you can’t remember?”

The other man frowned, opened his mouth, paused and began again. “Have you ever woken from a dream only to find that real life continued right where you left off?”

He had, as a matter of fact, but Didi never wanted to hear about the dreams. “It’s like that?” he said tentatively, but pretty sure he was beginning to understand.

“Not at all! Why did I ask that?” the other one shouted in frustration.

“Rhetoric. Two-one. So what do you mean?”

“Oh go on and take the whole match. You deserve it.”

“So I won?” He hadn’t won anything since grape-picking by the Rhône, so this surprised him.

“Guildenstern’s better at this than I am,” he admitted.

“You said you were Guildenstern.”

“I was only Guildenstern so you could learn to be Rosencrantz. I’m afraid I wasn’t very convincing. He always knows the right questions to ask.”

“So who are you then?”

“Estragon, but you can call me Gogo. Look at the clothes I’m wearing. And you are Rosencrantz.”

This made sense. “If you’re sleeping in the ditch, where will I go? There’s not room for both of us.”

“You share a room with Guildenstern in that inn over there.” Estragon gave him directions and a bag of coins. “You’ll need the money to get in,” he explained and tossed one more at Rosencrantz, who caught it easily.

“Heads,” he said, and went on his way.

“That’s good luck!” Estragon yelled after him and watched him go until he couldn’t see him anymore. He settled into his new ditch and tried not to think about how much it reminded him of a grave.

***

In the morning he couldn’t remember his name or why there was a man in the bed across from his. “Rosencrantz?” he tried, not at all sure he was right.

“No, it’s Guildenstern,” the other answered in the measured tones of someone who’s repeated the same words hundreds of times before.

“Oh. Good, that means I’m Rosencrantz,” he concluded happily. “Guildenstern, what do you remember?” he asked, suddenly panicked that he couldn’t remember anything.

“We were called,” he answered tiredly. “And now we’re here.”

***

“How was your night?” Vladimir asked like he did every morning. It was both habit and a way to pass the time.

“It was okay, except for the pirates that attacked.” Vladimir was used to tall tales, but this was far more than he expected.

“We’re nowhere near the sea. Where would you get pirates?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Estragon answered lightly, “Pirates could happen to anyone.”

***

He woke up in terror yelling, “Didi, help me! I had another dream! It was terrible!” He calmed down as he was held in the arms of his companion, but had another moment of panic as he realized they were the wrong arms.

A moment later he wondered why he had thought that; this was his lifelong friend. “Shh, shh,” he soothed. “It’s me, Guildenstern. You’re fine, you’re with me. Though I’ve never known you to have dreams. One needs a memory and an imagination for that, and you have neither.”

“But I did dream, and you were there, I think.”

“You’re not going to give this up, are you? What was your dream?”

“It’s starting to fade away, but it feels like I’m waiting for the punchline of a joke so old no one remembers how it goes.”

He thought he remembered the feeling, but he just asked, “Oh? And how does this joke start?”

Rosencrantz faltered – he hadn’t expected a follow-up question, though he should have. “I’ve forgotten,” he moaned and hid his face in his hands.

“It’s probably a knock knock joke,” Guildenstern mused. “But instead of a door, it’s shutters.”

Rosencrantz had still been Estragon for this, so he missed the reference, but he made a brave effort anyway. “Why? Is it so we can see who’s knocking before they see us?”

“No, the messenger already knew who we are – it began this whole thing – look, don’t you remember?”

“No,” he answered honestly.

***

Lucky’s thinking reminded him of someone else who thought complicated things and used long words to explain them, so he didn’t mind listening at first. For some reason he couldn’t remember, it felt like home.

But when, quite by chance, he said something about probability, he suddenly remembered flipping coins with Guildenstern. He felt terrible for leaving his friend behind and wondered if he even noticed the switch.

It was all too much! With great effort, Estragon tore the thinking hat from Lucky’s head and flung it away. The resulting silence drowned out any more worries he might have had.

***

“We seem to be on a boat,” said Guildenstern.

The water was so blue he thought he could drink it. “Are we on the Red Sea?”

“Nowhere near it. We’re headed to England, so we must be on the North Sea.”

“Oh.” Rosencrantz was disappointed for some reason. “I thought it was our honeymoon.”

***

“If you’re quiet, you can hear the voices of the dead,” Didi told him, so Gogo listened. “It’s almost like feathers.”

“Or a boat,” he answered without knowing why.

The other man looked at him curiously. “Not like leaves?”

“No. Leaves are alive. Why would it sound like leaves?”

“It’s just that you usually say ‘leaves’. Why a boat all of a sudden?”

“I don’t know!” Gogo was confused so he was almost in tears. “You’re headed in one direction forever. Something like that. No, it’s no good. I’ve lost my train of thought!”

***

As the noose was put around his neck, he wondered if Vladimir and Estragon ever saw Godot.

***

“Well, shall we go?”

“Yes, let’s go.”

“Now you see me,” he recited out of the distant mists of memory, “Now you--”


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(Deleted comment)
I am happy to deliver, because the two sets of people (three if you count Lucky and Pozzo, or four if you count Alfred and the Player) are so similar, yet so different and they'd get along marvelously well. Or interestingly, at the very least.

Yay, so glad I wrote in character! I was a bit worried I didn't have their voices quite right.

And now I leave you with a thought: what if the Boy from WFG is actually Alfred? That would be really neat, except by extension Godot becomes the Player, which means that even if he does show up, they might end up wishing he hadn't.

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