Memoirs of a Madman
Below the quiet midnight streets of Venice lay the underground dungeons. In the darkest of these cells sat a man awaiting his trial and what would surely be a death sentence….
I sat in my cell, listening to the sound of dark, murky water slowly trickling in through the Venetian canals. ‘Great to be home’, I thought to myself cynically.
“I held the world in the palm of my hand once,” I spoke aloud to no-one in particular.
Unexpectedly a voice-seemingly out of the Aether; answered back. “Go on; I should like to know the tale of such a feat.”
I welcomed the distraction of conversation in the less than accommodating dark confines of my cell. If for no-one’s sake but my own I decided to recount the events leading up to my incarceration; some would call it the memoirs of a madman….
It was dark and cold; I stood outside an abandoned church listening to the obnoxious ramblings of the world’s greatest fool.
“Why!?” Rodrigo wailed. “How could Desdemona marry the moor? How I Hate Othello!”
“Cease your wailing friend I have a plan to get back at him.”
“You Iago? But you are in serviced to him, what possible reason could you have to hate the moor?”
“The damn black devil has shunned me! He hath promoted that intolerable fool Cassio to lieutenant. I’m the one most deserving of that position, but instead he gives it to a brown nosed scholar without a shred of battle experience! And what’s more I suspect that he’s been sleeping with my wife.” ‘Quite frankly I’m not surprised,’ I thought to myself.
“Oh what should I do Iago!?”
“Go announce the news of Desdemona’s marriage to her father Signor Brabantio. He’s sure to annul their union; meanwhile I’ll head over to the inn where they are staying.”
With a silent nod Rodrigo dashed down the deserted streets. I walked off jingling the sack of newfound coins in my purse. I smiled ruefully, run my foolish pawn, run….
“My lord Othello, congratulations on your nuptials.”
“Ah honest Iago, your congratulations are much appreciated,” Othello smiled patting me affectionately on the shoulder.
How I hated smiling at that man… Suddenly I heard a noise down the back alley, I assumed it was Rodrigo with Signor Brabantio but I was sadly mistaken. It was that intolerable Cassio who came running towards us.
“My lord Othello I bring an urgent message from the Duke! He requests your presence at tonight’s meeting about Cyprus.”
“I understand. Than we must leave immediately, come Iago.”
I was about ready to follow him when at last the ever-tardy Rodrigo showed up with Brabantio in tow.
“Othello!” he bellowed. “What have you done with my daughter?!”
“I apologize if I’ve upset you Signor but I must go. His grace the Duke has summoned me this evening.”
“He summoned you and not I? Well I suppose I must accompany you than; but I assure you the Duke will agree with me on the matter of your lascivious marriage.”
As we made our way to the Duke’s residence I noticed that Othello managed to remain annoyingly calm even though Brabantio’s men held him at sword point.
“I have received word that a Turkish fleet is presently on route to Cyprus. I propose we send the moor and a small fleet of our own to quell the situation, I assume there are no objections?”
“None your grace,” the senators said in unison.
“Ah Othello welcome,” I heard the Duke say upon our entrance.
I didn’t much care for the reasoning’s of Othello’s summons so took it upon myself to be excused from the room. I approached Rodrigo slowly as not to arouse suspicion. “Now before you say anything just listen. I suspect that the Duke would have Othello make for Cyprus, here’s what I’d have you do-“
“What’s the point Iago; I have not the funds to seek passage to Cyprus.”
“That is why I’m saying to put money in thy purse. The lady will soon get tired of the moor believe me and when she does she will want a nice gentleman to attach herself to. Someone perhaps like…”
“Yes exactly! Put money in thy purse Rodrigo, but be careful that none recognize you when you arrive in Cyprus.”
“Very well, I shall sell all my land if I have to!” He ran off with his tail between his legs like a love-struck pup. I stifled a laugh; ‘this is almost too easy….’
I stood at the harbour; in a far-off corner enshrouded in darkness quietly seething in my anger as I watched the moor embrace his wife. The war in Cyprus was over before it began; the Turks had drowned in the storm that plagued the surrounding seas. ’It simply gives me more time to carry out my revenge.’
I said my farewells to the lord and lady as they departed to their bedchambers than purposely approached a lone man hiding on the threshold. Sporting slightly longer hair and a comically large beard Rodrigo looked stunningly ridiculous. This is what passes for a disguise? “Listen well friend, I plan on getting Cassio intoxicated. Once he is I want you to start a fight with him, in his irrational state he’s likely to jeopardize his position.”
He nodded silently, but he was obviously wary of the idea.
“No need to worry, once this is accomplished Othello and Desdemona’s marriage is sure to fall apart.”
I left Rodrigo, instructing him to lay low and walked over to Cassio with a bottle of wine in hand. “Evening lieutenant, how about a drink to relax? “ I could barely stand to look at the bastard.
“No thank you I don’t drink, I think alcohol is nothing but trouble.”
“Come now tonight is a celebration, do not blame the alcohol blame the men who abuse it.”
Reluctantly Cassio took the glass and downed it in one go. A few drinks later chaos ensued. With Cassio shamed and stripped of his position revenge would come swift and easy. That night I retired to my room with a satisfied smile on my face….
I awoke to the sound of knocking at my door, it was Cassio. I was expecting this.
“Honest Iago may I ask you for advice. You are close to Othello are you not, tell me please how can I fix the mess I made!?”
He sounded absolutely pitiful, I loved it. “Friend I suggest going to his wife, she already seems to fancy you. If anyone can sway the moor’s mind it would be her.”
He bowed his head in thanks, ready to try anything to redeem himself no matter how slim the chance. Yet Cassio came to him for advice, the one who was responsible for his current predicament. It was laughable; appear the loyal servant but be the usurper…
I sighed into the infinite darkness, “The following events brought me ever closer to my goal. I slowly filled the moor’s mind with poison and jealously; the more I whispered in his ear the more he distrusted and mistreated his poor wife. She was innocent and pure as a woman could hope to be, of course that didn’t matter to Othello once I’d planted my seeds.”
I heard the resounding crack echo in the hallway and then Desdemona running down the hall weeping. My plan was going better than I had ever imagined….
“How shall I murder him Iago?” Othello was already convinced of the illicit affair his wife and Cassio committed but the handkerchief and the devil’s shameless bragging pushed him off the edge.
“I shall take care of Cassio my lord, have faith in me.”
“Get me some poison; I shall be rid of the witch before she can convince me otherwise.”
“Do it not with poison sir strangle her in her bed, for even that she has spoiled.”
“Yes; a fitting end for the both of them.”
I watched Rodrigo close in on Cassio on my instructions. I’d had a close encounter with him earlier, but ever the gullible fool I’d managed to convince him to do my dirty work. Though incompetent as ever he only managed to inflict a grievous wound on Cassio. As Cassio ran screaming I snuck up on the fool and stabbed him through the chest.
“Apologies but your usefulness as a pawn has simply been outlived.” He flashed me a final pathetic look before slumping to the ground dead.
I stumbled upon the chaos of my loathsome wife screaming hysterically at the sight of her dead mistress; strangled by her husband on my suggestion.
“He did it! That evil snake poisoned the mind of the moor and killed innocent people! I cannot tell you what is worse; the black-hearted cur who devised this scheme or the ignorant devil who murdered the woman he loved because of his lies!”
Before anyone had a chance to react I plunged my knife into her heart; forever ridding myself of her. Of course at this time Cassio walked in painfully alive and I was seized without hesitation.
Othello looked at me sadly, tears in his usually calm eyes. “Why Iago, just tell me why.” His voice was strained and hoarse.
I glared up at him in one final act of defiance; “I will not, you will never know why.”
Othello picked up the knife lying bloodied on the floor and slit his throat with it; crumbling on the blood soaked sheets next to his wife.
“After that I was hauled off here and imprisoned. Now you know my story; did it manage to sate your curiosity?”
The voice did not answer; the cell was utterly quiet again. A harsh metallic clanking filled the air as his cell was opened. Dawn had broken, it was time for his sentence to be carried out. Large rough hands hauled him to his feet; he did not resist. For the first time he had the chance to take in the diminutive space in its’ entirety with the little light daybreak had provided. It was completely empty and devoid of any other occupant.
He was dragged through the dank, dirty halls laughing madly all the while; a sound that would chill you to your very core.