We are startled by Chapter CCVIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, in which she sets aside the story and addresses the reader as “a fellow pilgrim on the long road of making sense of a world full of biscuits.” It goes downhill from there.
“Dear Reader,” she writes, “it has come to my attention that, in my efforts to present this epic tale, I have neglected its beginning. This will never do. And so, while we wait for Lord Jeremy Coldsore to learn how to get around on two left feet, the result of a misapplied regime of one-legged jumping jacks intended to cure the gunshot wound in his right foot, I find I must backtrack. So without further ado, I offer this.”
Chapter IA. How Lord Jeremy Coldsore Came to Befriend Willis Twombley
Willis Twombley, a globe-trotting American adventure who believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad, has occasion to pass through Scurveyshire, where he stops for several invigorating drinks at the local pub, The Lying Tart. He is soon joined at his table by Lord Jeremy Coldsore, master of Coldsore Hall, scion of a family that obtained noble rank just in time for the Crusades.
“I say, old chap,” opens Jeremy, “if you don’t mind my saying so, you look a bit down in the mouth. One should never drink alone, you know. Permit me to keep you company, to buy you another tankard of rich brown Scurveyshire ale, and listen to whatever you care to tell me. I perceive by your barbarous accent that you are an American. I am Lord Jeremy Coldsore, of Coldsore Hall.”
“Pleased to meetcha, Germy. Willis Twombley, that’s my name–but only temporary, like. Ditto my being an American.” Twombley’s eyes twinkle in a way that would move anyone else to find an excuse to leave suddenly. He lowers his voice. “Fact is, I’m really Sargon of Akkad, a great king. And not thinkin’ it enough that they stole my throne out from under me, those dadburned Babylonians are tryin’ to plant me six feet under.”
“Good heavens,” says Jeremy.
“They been followin’ me everywhere. They almost caught me in a crummy little place called Peedle, somewheres between Russia and Portugal. Had to shoot my way out. I came here because there ain’t never been no Babylonians seen in your neck o’ the woods. I need a rest!”
Impulsively, Jeremy invites the Akkadian/American to stay a few days at Coldsore Hall. “I’m in rather a sticky situation myself, old thing. The only company I ever get anymore is creditors. My ancestors left me with a lot of unpaid debts, and the creditors are trying to take over Coldsore Hall, ancient suits of armor and all. So I can certainly sympathize with you, losing a whole kingdom and all.”
“Germy, I believe I’ll take you up on that!” Twombley drains the tankard in one gulp. “Maybe we can sort of help each other. I’ve had a lot of experience discouragin’ varmints who want to grab your home sweet home.” He twitches his threadbare drover’s overcoat to reveal a pair of massive six-guns holstered to his belt.
“And that, Dear Reader, is how it all began!” writes Ms. Crepuscular. She goes on to complain about an editor who tore up her manuscript and threatened to have her arrested.