James Holden: Oh, The Indignity

He stood on the edge of the pit, looking down at the freshly excavated bones – all that was left of the body he had inhabited many years ago. A figure ambled up, kicking loose dirt into the informal grave below.

“I was two months short of dying at the same age as Jesus, you know,” he said to the newcomer.

“I always said your messiah complex was your biggest problem.”

“I don’t think it was my family with the messiah complex. All those Holbein paintings and plays by Shakespeare,” he said rolling his eyes theatrically. Kneeling down, he stared into his skull’s empty sockets. “And look at that spine. Being honest, do you see anything that suggests I had a hump?”

The other man smirked. “You know, Richard, in my experience it’s the victors who get to write history. Or at least commission the people who do.”

“Then how did you end up being seen as such a miser?”

Richard’s companion had suddenly clenched his fists. Wherever he went, the other man eventually appeared, ready to taunt and prod and try to lord it over him. But over the years, Richard had become ever more tolerant: for here was someone equally bewildered by the modern constraints on monarchical power. Besides, he could always take solace in reminding the other man he wasn’t as well remembered as his son or grandchildren.

“Do you know what the final indignity is, Henry? That I was buried in a bloody car-park.”


About James Holden

Brought up in Yorkshire, James has washed up on the shores of London. He spends his days working as a political geek. His short stories have previously been read by the Liars League.
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