Ms. Crepuscular Gets Lost (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“A writer must never allow herself to be distracted,” declares Violet Crepuscular, the Queen of Suspense. This is because she has lost track of what chapter she’s writing in her epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

“Really, it was Mr. Pitfall’s fault,” she writes, blaming the whole thing on her neighbor. “You know the man is hopelessly in love with me. He used one of my recipes to bake me a batch of what were supposed to be toothpaste-filled cupcakes. I ate one–and the next three days are now a total blank to me!”

So she has settled on No. DXXIII for the chapter she is currently writing. Let’s see… The rhinoceros has spun a cocoon behind Dr. Weezle’s tool shed, the royal handwriting inspector has come and gone… and Constable Chumley has auditioned for the title role in the Scurveyshire Players’ production of Hamlet.

That’s how “To be or not to be” turns into “Ay wee yearnted far thither.”

Potrick the Jovial Shepherd (there are two jovial shepherds in Scurveyshire) thinks the constable should write his memoirs. He is also working on his imitation of Alan Hale, the American movie actor who has yet to be born. Potrick is good at things like that.

What? No Oxyartes? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter DIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, author Violet Crepuscular (“the Queen of Suspense”) apologizes for having failed to introduce Chief Oxyartes.

“I am contrifusiated!” she confesses. “Chief Oxyartes would have tied the whole plot together! He would have resolved everything. Another half a dozen chapters, and I’d’ve been done! Free to go on to the next book!” (Oy, Rodney 2: The Interminable.) “Alas and alack and woe! The notes I jotted down for Oxyartes somehow wound up as the paper in my home-made fortune cookies.”

Meanwhile in Chapter DIX, Constable Chumley meets Jerrold Coelocanth, the Man with the Unpronounceable Word.

“Dith yon borda maken silphlessness?” the constable inquires.

To which Mr. Coelocanth replies, “Ygglth pkaa.” Chumley arrests him for public lewdness, even though they’re not in public. “Hir miggle mine gulph,” he would explain to Lord Jeremy Coldsore, justice of the peace. He says it anyway, not noticing that Lord Jeremy isn’t there.

Jeremy is still being held by Constable Chumley’s mother as a prisoner of love. He has scrawled pleas for help on his dinner plates and hurled them out the window to many of Europe’s most famous rivers. One washes up in Johnno the Merry Minstrel’s back yard, up against the bird feeder.

[We don’t have the rest of this chapter. She’s turning the place upside-down, looking for notes on Chief Oxyartes. I’m the editor and I have no idea who that dude is. I am reasonably sure we can get along without him.]

How They Almost Lost Chumley (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Chapter CDLXXXXIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, finds Constable Chumley clinging by his rapidly-weakening fingertips to the brink of a cliff with a hundred-foot drop while Lord Jeremy and the constable’s mother–you will remember she was disguised as Thir Lanthelot the lisping knight–discussing how they might save the poor chap from falling onto the jagged rocks below.

What a sentence! I dare anyone to diagram it.

The constable pleads, “Mum! M’lord! Ith woogen ye minndle!” Meanwhile the constable’s mother asks, “What tipped ya off I was a dame, big boy?”

(Oh, now, just a cotton-pickin’ minute! I refuse to sit here and edit and publish such twollop. If the characters are going to start talking like a 1930s gangster movie, I’m out of here.)

“Some of you have complained about the constable’s mother’s choice of words,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “In fact, I have received death threats–as if those could scare me! Obviously the readers are ignorant of the art of stymphalianism, which allows fictional characters in any genre to talk like a 1930s gangster movie. Edward G. Robinson isn’t the only one allowed to talk like Edward G. Robinson! But in deference to my readers’ philistine tastes in literature, I’ll give this a twenty-three skiddoo from now on.”

How much longer can she keep poor Chumley hanging?

The Useless Sheriff of Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDLXXXII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular (“the Queen of Suspense”) writes, “I find it necessary to introduce a character whom I had hoped to do without. I give you, dear reader, fair warning: this here is a very scary person!”

This would be none other than The Useless Sheriff of Scurveyshire, appointed to his position by the queen herself, in a bout of uncontrolled giddiness. Descended from Saxon nobles who never amounted to anything, the Sheriff is Useless because of his habit of colliding with stationary objects in plain sight. He walks face-first into trees, trips over horse-troughs, stumbles into ponds, and abuses his authority.

And he has learned that Constable Chumley, whom he hates maniacally for no reason, has had a life-altering experience that has rendered him inarticulate.

“Although I never editorialize about the characters in my book,” Ms. Crepuscular says, with a reckless disregard for truth, “I have to say that the Sheriff is a real stinker. The fact that he has an extra nose on the side of his head does not make him any more appealing! Yech! He looks like some kind of Cubist portrait!”

Meanwhile, the constable tries to tell Lord Jeremy about his life-altering experience as an undercover investigator. But the only bit that Jeremy understands is “Miphlum hite yon braithy callapop, m’Lord.” It is not very illuminating.

Stay tuned for more suspense! If we can find some.

Chumley Undercover (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“Chumley Undercover!” “It sounds like a mega-hit, a TV crime series!” ululates Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CDLXXVI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney–“like one of those BBC things!”

Yes, Constable Chumley has gone undercover. This is to be distinguished, Ms. Crepuscular points out, from going under the covers, which he has also done upon occasion. He has never quite forgotten the stories his mother told him about Old Breechie when he was a “wee foondy.” It is those stories that sometimes drives him under the covers. “Mav, ye horthern a drate ribble,” he admits.

As we drift into Chapter CDLXXVII, we still don’t know why the constable has gone undercover. Ms. Crepuscular believes that not telling us will heighten the suspense. “That’s why I’m the Queen of Suspense!” she vulcanizes. We thought it might have something to do with Mr. Bigcheeks turning out to be a lineal descendant of the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney, but it seems the constable has never met or even heard of Mr. Bigcheeks, despite the fact that both men have lived in Scurveyshire Village all their lives and it’s really quite a small village. (Free toothpaste-filled cupcake to anyone who can diagram that last sentence. I tried and my hair fell out.)

And, as if by magic, we arrive at the threshold of the next chapter not a whit the wiser for having read this one.

Constable Chumley’s Quest (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Violet Crepuscular introduces the pivotal Chapter CDLXXV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, with another letter from a reader.

“I would like to introduce the pivotal Chapter CDLXXV of my epic romance, Oy, Rodney, with this here letter from a reader, a Mrs. Helen Popeye of Erythromycin, Ancient Greece,” she writes. Oh, Violet. “This here?” “Here is what she says.

“‘My Dear Ms. Crepuscular’–that’s me–‘I have been wondering what has become of my favorite character, Constable Chumley. Don’t tell me you’ve replaced him with that windbag, Donald Duck! Or whatever his name is. Holy cow, we don’t even know the constable’s first name!'”

Violet answers, “I can now reveal to you that Constable Chumley has gone under cover to pursue a dangerous and critical investigation of something-or-other. Let him explain it to the readers in his own words.

“‘Mon Geckle-esh me hearties voy calabash–alas, yin gubrick!'” And so on. The constable’s explanation is not a hit with most readers.

“As for his first name,” funambulates Ms. Crepuscular, “he has always been excruciatingly embarrassed by it–so much so, that he actually introduces himself as ‘Rocky’ when a social situation demands it. If he ever thought my 4 million readers were reading his first name, he would round up 12 Welsh bards to put a curse on me!”

Here the chapter ends abruptly–something to do with baking meat-and-toothpaste pies. The management takes no responsibility for the apparent collapse of Oy, Rodney‘s plot. We’re sure Ms. Crepuscular will be back to form in the next installment.


An Astonishing Discovery (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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What is it that Constable Chumley has discovered in the unmapped depths of Scurvey Forest?

Introducing Chapter CDLXII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular chides her readers, “If you think you can do this, you’re welcome to try! All of a sudden everyone’s a writer!”

The constable’s feverish report has extyrolated all Scurveyshire. Left untended in his bed, the vicar sleepwalks perilously close to the ominvorous backyard wading pool. The hydra turns right onto Bottleby Court and gulps down a 6-year-old boy playing with a hoop snake. And as the slowly (or not so slowly) panicking crowd gathers around the constable and Lord Jeremy Coldsore, the jackalope polishes off the last of the vicar’s durian fruit.

Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, resolutely straps on his six-guns. “If Chumley says he’s seen a wee forthing, then he’s seen a wee forthing–and somebody’s gotta go out there and shoot the whole gang of ’em.”

“I’ll go with you,” says Lady Margo Cargo, hopping about on one foot because her upholstered wooden leg was damaged in the fire. “My father always suspected there was something like this in the forest. Our old housemaid Peggy saw it once, and spent the next 40 years in hysterics.”

Here the chapter wanders into a recipe for toothpaste sandwich cookies.

Constable Chumley’s Quest (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Constable Chumley is searching for caecilians–the legless, blind, secretive amphibians of the tropics, expected to descend on Scurveyshire in great ferocious masses in response to thousands of people squeaking squeaky toys.

“So begins Chapter CDXLI of my immortal, epic romance, Oy, Rodney,” author Violet Crepuscular crepusculates upon her readers. On second thought, there seems to be something oddly wrong with that sentence.

Ms. Crepuscular loses no time in getting involved in a controversy with reader Nikita Khrushchev of Bismuth City, Minnesota. The reader has insisted that there were no proper squeaky toys during the Victorian Era.

“This poltroon, this overcooked frankfurter, this podiatrist in sheep’s clothing–this squirming mealworm, this potted plant that affects human speech!–this annoying little nit!” she writes. “Obviously he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“Has he never heard of poetic license? Sheesh! History records that the first reliable squeaky toy was created by the Swedish tent-maker, Elvira Madigan, in 1372. It was then put on the shelf until the 20th century, when the worldwide demand for squeaky toys manifested itself. Jumpin’ Jiminy,” she expostulates, “all these illiterate boobs out there who think they can be writers!”

But none of this is getting us to Constable Chumley, is it?

The constable is searching high and low for any caecilians that might have infiltrated into Scurveyshire. He is going house to house, explaining to puzzled homeowners, “Ay dankle yon frought yair doddening.” Johnno the Merry Minstrel reminds him not to waste time searching for caecilian footprints. “Och! Be dander!” cries Chumley. He has, alas, been using almost all his time searching for caecilian footprints.

That’s as far as Violet has got this week. Not even a loaf of pound cake with home-made toothpaste filling can lift her spirits.

Jailbreak in Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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[Editor’s Note: I cannot find the image of a book cover that is usually displayed with an ‘Oy, Rodney’ episode. The closest I could come was this picture of a Tanystropheus–which I admit is not that close, but what can one do?]

Chapter CDXXXII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, finds Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his fiancee, Lady Margo Cargo, both locked up in gaol, Constable Chumley having arrested them for reasons best known to himself. But behind the scenes, Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, is plotting to break his mistress out of gaol.

All he needs is an elephant.

“Only an elephant is big and strong enough to break down the wall of the gaol so Lady Margo can get out,” he confides to Constable Chumley (of all people). Chumley happens to know where he can rent an elephant. There’s a man in Plaguesby who keeps a few in his stables.

Having rented the elephant and fortified her with a swallow of grog from The Lying Tart, Crusty and the constable turn her loose on the wall. Neither of them has remembered to forewarn Lady Margo, who is almost killed when the elephant batters down the wall.

“Hurry up, you lazy old bat!” cries Crusty. “Before the police come!” He then remembers that Constable Chumley is already there. They have to help Lady Margo out of the rubble–she will need a new upholstered wooden leg–and Crusty helps her hop back home.

In the adjacent cell, Lord Jeremy is beside himself.

“You just wait until the next time you ask me for a raise!” he bellows at the constable. “You copepod! You wretch!” Only then does it dawn on Chumley that he may have done something not strictly in accord with normal police procedure. He apologizes with genuine exfoliation (her word, not mine!).

“Ayn yerk nee fluzzin’, M’lord!” he groans.

“Oh, forget it!” growls Lord Jeremy.

Will the Queen Elope with Willis Twombley? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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[Editor’s Note: Ms. Violet Crepuscular is mad at me for switching over to this book cover to illustrate the latest installment of Oy, Rodney. Well, confound it, I can’t find the regular cover anymore! This one will have to do. It’s very much in the spirit of the thing.]

Introducing Chapter CDXXII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular reminds the reader that Queen Victoria is about to elope to Abilene, Kansas, with Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad. Word of this has reached Lady Margo Cargo and threatened her impeding nuptials with Lord Jeremy Coldsore–she thinks he and Twombley are the same person and resents her fiancee cheating on her with the Queen of England.

In desperation–and you have to be really desperate to do this–Lord Jeremy turns to Constable Chumley. “Please see what you can do to salvage this mess!” vocalizes Lord Jeremy. The constable replies, “Aye, thar forthin yon cusster, M’lord!”

Making an appointment to confer privately with Lady Margo, Chumley explains to her: “Favvin’ yoster me kippens, Lady me Lad, ye netter by swelvin’ a quarn?” She gives her enthusiastic consent to this proposal. With this to sustain him, the constable arrests Twombley and forces him to bathe in the ice-cold duck pond in Scurveyshire Common. Passersby are appalled.

But just as the constable hoped, this does the trick! Twombley is practically killed with cold by the time Chumley allows him to come out of the water. Passersby turn away, unable to bear the sight.

“Well, that’s froze the romance right out of me!” truncates the American. “Now I wonder what I ever saw in that there queen of yours! But you’re lucky I didn’t shoot you, ol’ hoss.”

“Mizzen yair frocken, sir!” says Chumley. Willis sighs deeply. “One cannot but agree!” he concedes.