I have a confession to make. Even though my love of books is well-documented and perhaps even an addiction, I still have trouble with some of the old classics. Perhaps it’s just my modern impatience, an unwillingness to let a plot unfold slower than we’re all used to, or maybe they simply don’t have enough pictures. Whatever the case may be, I happen to be of the opinion that many of the classics are in need of editing. With this in mind, I’ve decided to offer a Cliff Notes-type version of a well-known classic, just to show how whittled these tomes could really be.
A Tale of Two Cities
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and if you can’t figure that sentence out, then you’re a bigger idiot than Sydney Carton, who somehow * PLOT SPOILER* manages to get himself beheaded in the original story.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England. This, of course, has no bearing on the subject whatsoever, but I thought I’d throw it in so I’d look sophisticated and as wordy as the dickens.
This is the story of two cities, probably why the book is named thus, and tells of their mighty struggle in the inexorable march of time as they go forward through the darkness and wildly raging storms of turbulence, which threatened to rip the very fabric of civilization asunder. Okay….where was I? Ah, yes.
“’ark!” says the Cockney carriage driver, his breath misting about in the late night air. “Which one o’ you blighters ‘as a breath mint? Me breath is mistin’ about in the late night air.”
“Shut up, Joe,” shouts the passenger, Mr. Jarvis Lorry. “I’m sick of your blasted rattling…say, you’re right! You do need a breath mint! Why don’t you whip into this conveniently located Amoco station and grab a pack of peppermint Mentos?”
Once the errand is completed, the carriage continues its journey, but gets lost in the fog and drives down a very deep well.
“Blimey!” says Joe. “’Tis dark down ‘ere!”
Mr. Lorry coughs delicately. “Have another Mentos.”
Meanwhile, the French Revolution is in full swing and an army of revolutionaries storms the Bastille (pronounced Bar-chilly-omnibus), and begins randomly slaughtering the young and innocent. Three years later, the revolutionaries are in control of France and are killing anyone they view as an enemy.
These events matter little to Joe and Mr. Lorry, of course, because they are still languishing in the bottom of the well and, by this time, having finished off the Mentos, are getting extremely hungry.
Noticing a gleam in Joe’s eyes, Mr. Lorry casually mentions that he has been a life-long junk food addict, and therefore very fatty and unpalatable. Joe becomes thoughtful.
Back in France, the aforementioned Sydney Carton, who is in love with Lucie Manette, is going to the guillotine (pronounced galoshes) in order to save the life of a rival suitor, Charles Darnay. Darnay has been arrested by the revolutionaries and is scheduled for execution, but Carton sneaks into his cell, changes clothes with him, and allows Darnay to leave under his name.
Historians and literary critics have long puzzled over Carton’s mysterious actions. Why would he allow a rival for Lucie’s heart to escape from prison, knowing he himself would be executed in his stead? Many believe that Carton loved Lucie so much that he was willing to step aside, since he knew Lucie loved Darnay more than he. Yeah, right. My personal opinion is that the man was a complete and utter moron.
To back up this claim, I have recently uncovered an old journal in a Nashville antique shop, written by none other than Mr. Charles Darnay himself. I shall relate the last chilling entry.
1792, October 15th
Moo-hahahahahaaaaaa. Chortle, chortle, snicker! *cough* I fooled that idiot Carton into switching clothes and allowing me to leave the cell. He was under the impression that I would return within the hour, bearing Big Macs and large fries. The fool! As soon as I was out of the gates, I took the girl and fled.
Well, that’s my little tale of two cities–see how neatly I tied that in? Oh, and if you’re ever walking by a certain well in England, why not drop down a few Mentos?