“Go away, can’t you see I’m crushed. It’s too late.”
“It’s never too late. Here, I found this big chunk and …” the man paused as he carefully placed the piece he had picked up near the base of the wall, “…I think it goes right here.”
The speaker gingerly bent down in an effort to get closer to the ground without crunching any more of the myriad of shell pieces scattered around him.
“Forget it,” moaned the object of his compassion.
“Not until you tell me which one of the stories about you is true. I’m not going to let you ooze away until you do.” The soldier, for that’s what he was, put another piece in place.
“Well, there’s the one about the cannon. They say the Roundheads were giving the Royals a really rough time of it…”
“I know about Kansas City, but who do the Roundheads play for?” came the feeble interjection.
“Save your strength and let me finish.” Not waiting for a reply, the man continued to talk and to look for pieces that fit the broken puzzle lying on the ground.
“Anyway, the Roundheads had laid siege to Colchester and the Royals had mounted this huge cannon on the wall beside the church bell tower. Course the wall couldn’t stand up to the constant battering. The Roundheads took out the tower and the wall—down came the cannon. The Royals couldn’t put it back together no matter what they did.”
“Nope, that’s not the story I grew up with.” The shattered shell on the ground took a ragged breath. Keeping himself together, what little there was left of him, was getting harder.
“Then you were the one-eyed gunner who was up there firing the cannon?”
“Nope, not him either.”
The soldier scooped up some yellow matter and gently placed it inside a cup-like bit of skull.
“At least this stuff is prettier than what I usually have to collect,” he said to himself, thinking of all the grey matter he had been exposed to during his military career.
“What was that?” said the dying orb.
Embarrassed that he’d been heard, the man quickly moved to the next question.
“Okay if it isn’t that one, how about the one about this Cardinal Wolsey who couldn’t manage to get King Henry a divorce, so he lost his job at court and got sent down to his country home in disgrace.”
The disaster lying on the ground, grunted. “Do I look like a prince of the church to you?”
“Well,” admitted the soldier, “not now. But you did fall from a high place and end your career badly.” He carefully applied a bit of spit to his repair job.
“Yuk, be careful where you put that,” exclaimed the victim.
“Then you have to be Prince Humperdinck, right?” his helper continued.
“Now that’s a yoke,” came a weak laugh. “I told you I wasn’t a Cardinal, and now you want to make me a prince?”
“Well, the story fits, doesn’t it? They say there was this prince from some obscure country in Europe who liked to walk along the walls of his father’s castle. Trouble was, he must have been given to daydreaming or something. Anyway, one day he fell off. Broke every bone in his body. Does that sound familiar?” For a moment, the man thought the poor creature beside him had finally passed. There was no sound, certainly no movement, from the mangled mess before him.
“Hey, Humpty, answer me. You can’t quit yet,” the soldier urged.
“Why not?” came back the answer. “You know how the story ends, so why bother with the futile repair job. Just let me go.”
“Because I don’t know how the story started. My mother always said I had a curious streak. You know; taking clocks apart to find out how they ticked …”
Humpty laughed. “Now I know why you’re insisting on fixing me. Tell me, how many pieces were left over after you got your clocks back together?”
“Ah, Humpty, come on, tell me. We’re running out of time here.”
“Alright, alright. Then maybe you’ll let me die in peace. It’s the bar story.”
“Yeah, a Humpty Dumpty was a drink made of brandy boiled in ale.”
“No cannon or cannoneer?”
“Nope, just falling down drunk.”
“I’m shattered,” sighed the soldier.
“No, I’M shattered. Now will you go away and let this story finish?” replied the egg.