All The World’s A Stage

“You have been dogged in your pursuit for an exclusive, so here it is—contrary to popular belief, I owe my new-found stardom to her. She, my biggest fan. But before all that, there are facts you need to understand about me, as well my recent rise to fame.

“I had to adapt a different persona, you see, one that would allow me reintegration back into society. I had grown stale, my message old, ineffective. I had lost my edge, and I admit now, for all your viewers, that I was too proud to see it. As an artist, I committed a grave mistake—I failed miserably in keeping with the changing times.

“So I went back underground. I played the small circuits and as I did so, I painstakingly recast myself. Gone was the haughtiness that once defined me. A humble thing, I developed a greater sense of self. Who I was. Who I was supposed to be. Slowly, dependent only upon word of mouth, I attracted a new following. One by one, they came to me. They came to see my performance.

“Excuse me, water? Ah, thank you. I was quite parched. Where was I? Yes. My performance…

“My act had grown dull, my song repetitious and as such, people had become blind and deaf to me. I realized I needed to restore their senses. So I worked diligently in those early days of my rebranding. How was my experience? Well, I very much cherished playing to the midnight crowds of those speakeasies in New York and LA and all their sordid elements. The sharpness of booze in the air, the apparitions the haze of nicotine induced, and the scores the martini shakers orchestrated in the background. It became a breeding ground for inspiration.

“I began gaining notice then, as you know. I became the new thing. I emerged from the underground. Reinvigorated. Restored. The decision was made for me to tour.

“Do I remember the first time I saw her? How could I not? New Zealand. The very first night of my tour,  my very first tour. There she swayed…first row…the crush of a thousand bodies at her back. I found her easily. Her eyes spoke to me. Those wayward eyes, longing to be saved. She attended every show, I later discovered; all  of them, worldwide. Wait, please, I will stop you right there—she was not among my groupies. That was beneath her.

“As time progressed, and my prominence flourished once more, her affinity for me became very public knowledge. Yes, yes, of course she cultivated it. She grew it into an unabashed thing, so much so that even I read about it in the tabloids long before we met. It was only a matter of time. Much like everything else about her, she hardly kept it secret. The money she had spent following me became a media sensation, partly due to individuals such as yourself who payed heed and partially embellished the reports to enliven them a bit, eh? Perhaps she had been irresponsibly flippant, the way she spent her inheritance, but mind you, she chose her cards from the deck, no one else. A socialite, a celebrity, she wanted for nothing. Nothing, save for what she craved. And what she craved was…well, that is where my story leads, does it not?

“I sought the grandeur of celebrity status too, don’t misunderstand me; coveted it actually. But after time, I realized it was not enough on its own. I required an additional outlet. A vessel. And so it happened that she became the one. My verse then was one of twisted tongues. I was still feeling my way through the obscurity, struggling in my acclimation as I climbed up fame’s ladder, and yet, she understood me, my language. She clung to my every word. Through my notes, I gave her meaning but through her, I found reason. Together, we adopted a purpose.

“As a result, I manipulated the lottery to choose a deserving fan. You seem so surprised, but what else was I to do? The time had come to expand my reach. The time had come to mainstream my call. She presented my quickest avenue, and she knew it as well. Rest assured, my management team frowned upon this exploit. ‘Twas bad enough I plucked followers from the crowd, they reasoned, but this? I took it all under consideration. I did my due diligence. Earlier in my existence, I had been too proud, but I learned my lesson well. This was a necessary thing.

“She knew the contest was hers alone to win, and she rejoiced. Soon after the formalities of the announcement, the photo opps were arranged, the talk show circuits scheduled. She was always one for smooth talking. In fact, I fondly recall her first press conference. Silently, I stood in the shadows at the back of the room, my disguise a masterful getup. And I admired her, the way she commanded the attention of all, the perfect tilt of her chin, the exquisite swivel of her hips. I admired her for all her casual simplicities, a facade so carefully constructed. One society had lionized. My decision had been the right one, I realized at that moment. I had played my cards equally as well, and my time of canonization had come.

“Pardon me? You mention it seeming far too orchestrated on my part? Please, allow me to clear up an inaccuracy — I may have skewed the winning result, I may have bankrolled the cable networks to further promotion, but it was she who picked the moment, the venue. It all came together, a perfect storm of elements. Timing is everything in show business, is it not? Sequenced and sparkling, she took her hometown stage to thunderous applause. The house lights dimmed. The stage lights rose, and she shone. For a fleeting moment, I must admit, a pang of jealousy struck my bones. Indeed, she commanded their attention.

“But I commandeered their souls.

“Even you must remember how I emerged to the hush of that crowd…I certainly do. The air carried a charge, crackling and alive. It reminded me of the days I honed my skills in the many speakeasies; those dark basement bars where the patrons employed fake names and no one would be missed. I looked out over the rows, those endless, churning rows. I raised my hand. I have come for you, I said. Then dropped it to a roar. I never lost the knack to work my flock over. I always worked them to a froth.

“She turned to me, lips moving, but from which came no sound. I love you. In all honesty, I loved her as well. But she was never to know that. She had become my vessel, nothing more. Yes, some still accuse me of seducing her. To that, I respond she had merely succumbed of her own accord.

“She nodded toward the paparazzi, cognizant of her perfect, final pose. Those eyes…those crypt-pallid eyes…they fluttered. And as the flashbulbs burst, I drew my forefinger across her throat and listened as she sang the most rapturous of songs.

“So my stardom I indeed owe to her. She has allowed me to take residence in every home in America, across the world. My popularity has soared. I have never been more in vogue. Revered, as it were. Death, a rock star at last.

“Oh, you are quite welcome. No, this has not been a bother in the least. I do not often grant interviews, but you have been quite diligent in securing time with me. Strange, how much of her I glimpse in you. Are we still live? Good. Good.

“I would greatly love to hear your song.”

~ Joseph A. Pinto

© Copyright 2016 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.


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About Joseph Pinto

Author of the poignant novella Dusk and Summer (2014). Horror author of the novel Flowers for Evelene (2005) as well numerous published works of dark fiction. Member of the Horror Writers Association. Cofounder of the Pen of the Damned. Rumored lycanthrope. New Orleans Saints fan. Pancreatic cancer advocate. New Jersey dweller. Twitter: @JosephAPinto Share his unique spin at Indulge in Pen of the Damned with Joe and the Damned at

29 responses to “All The World’s A Stage”

  1. adeleulnais says :

    love it, thank you Joseph.


    • Joseph Pinto says :

      Hello, Adele, and thank YOU for taking the time to read ‘ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE!’ I’m glad you enjoyed it🙂 We truly appreciate you supporting Pen of the Damned the way you do🙂


  2. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    A great first person, single speaker tale, Joe! Even though he loves his job, I guess he’s not willing to do it for free, huh? lol (little Ugly Kid Joe humor there). Great story of a second fall and rise for the Morningstar! Five demonic-minions up!!😀


  3. Angel with dirty wings says :

    uamhnach ! i ndáiríre taitneamh as léamh agus fiú thaitin an french fear buile é! bravo fear !


  4. deidremeyrick says :

    Excellent story! Not just in the content, but the craft… the way you carried the singular 1st POV as an interview without actually including dialog from the interviewer and kept [at least] this intrepid eavesdropper’s interest piqued–well done! As for the story itself, I envision the captive audience as unwitting yet fully willing Stockholm syndrome victims. Now we know the real purpose behind the mind/soul suck of social/pop media!


  5. Magenta Nero says :

    great tale Joe, very well told, you had me guessing until the end.


  6. zkullis says :

    Nicely done Joseph!

    This tale was as fun to read as it was intriguing. I started thinking I was listening to the Dark Lord himself, but was so involved with the build-up and crescendo of the relationship that I stopped trying to guess who was speaking and just the story carry me to the end.


  7. Hunter Shea says :

    Very different. Love the way you told the story. As always, excellent job!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE by Pen of the Damned’s Joseph Pinto


  9. Christopher A Liccardi says :

    Even Death needs a rebranding from time to time. Well play, Joe. Well played indeed. How glad I am that I don’t resemble anyone Death may already know😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. blazemcrob says :

    Great story, Joe! This stage is a lot more true to life than any one ever written about by Shakespeare.



  11. Thomas Brown says :

    Reblogged this on THOMAS BROWN and commented:

    Resonant storytelling from Joseph Pinto for this week’s Pen of the Damned tale!


  12. Thomas Brown says :

    Hi Joe, this was is truly magnificent. It reminded me very much of a Poppy Z. Brite story, although I can’t remember the title off the top of my head. Music and soul seem to go hand in hand – what a wonderful way to explore the macabre marriage! Excellent stuff.


  13. jonolsonauthor says :

    I really enjoyed this one. The little interruptions, like him being offered water, really helped to add to the image that he was being interviewed. Overall it makes one wonder how Lucifer would have to recreate his ‘image’ and ‘method’ of interacting with our world in this day and age. Well done, Mister Pinto! I tip my hat to you sir!


    • Joseph Pinto says :

      Thank you, Jon! I was actually writing about none other than the Grim Reaper itself, but I suppose, based on one’s views, that Sir Death and Lucifer could be interchangeable. Regardless, I’m happy you enjoyed the little details I threw in to ‘enhance’ the imagery of an actual interview🙂


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