The Royal Wading Pool Inspector (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Violet Crepuscular, “The Queen of Suspense,” introduces Chapter DCLXXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Feel free to skip this if it’s too suspenseful.

“If you thought the vicar’s notorious backyard wading pool has stopped sucking unwary passers-by into its unknown depths,” she addresses her multitude of readers, “think again! Queen Victoria’s government–the queen herself has other things to do–has sent the Royal Backyard Wading Pool Inspector to take a closer look. It may be some executions are in order.”

We do not know the name of this inspector: he was sucked under the pool before he got a chance to introduce himself.

In his capacity of justice of the peace, Lord Jeremy Coldsore appeals to the vicar. “When are you going to let us empty that pool and get rid of it?” he demands. “Meow,” says the vicar. (Great line! I wish I’d written it.) He is currently under the impression that he’s a cat. No help there.

“They’re gonna send the army next,” opines the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad. “And after that,” he adds, “the Babylonians will invade us.”

“Has it slipped everybody’s mind that Lady Margo and I are to be married?” cries Lord Jeremy. He is trying to hide the fact that it had completely slipped his mind. Lady Margo Cargo is not amused. She has just had her wooden leg polished for the ceremony.

“Be sure to be on hand next week,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “for the exciting climax of this latest crisis!”

Promises, promises…


At Last! The Duel! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter DXLVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, author Violet Crepuscular declares “My readers are revolting!” (Ed.–I don’t know how to take this. Do you?) Apparently a cabal of readers in Scotland have formed a conspiracy against “the Queen of Suspense,” according to police in Egypt. Somebody’s gonna get locked up in the dungeon at Glamis Castle unless she comes across with the duel already.

The alert reader who has nothing better to do will remember that Lord Jeremy Coldsore has challenged himself to a duel to the death–ginsu knives at 25 paces. All of Scurveyshire turns out to watch. The sardines-in-toothpaste vendors have never had it so good.

“You sure you wanna go through with this, Germy, ol’ hoss?” asks the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad.

“Fire!” cries the referee, Constable Chumley.

“We don’t have guns!” Lord Jeremy points out.

The crowd is getting ugly. The constable shudders. Jeremy steps off 25 paces, turns, and throws the knife. It sticks in Chumley’s helmet, having missed a vital spot. He runs 50 paces in the opposite direction and throws the other knife. It bursts an inflatable effigy of a Victorian celebrity who has demanded that his name be not mentioned here.

The mayor of Scurveyshire–really, it’s none of his business–declares the duel a draw. “We don’t have any more ginsu knives,” he explains. A large dog drags him out of sight.

Next week: More suspense, every bit as riveting as this week’s!

Ginsu Knives at Dawn (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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We are at the point in Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, where no one seems to know what chapter this is supposed to be. Let us call it Chapter DXLVI. If the number turns out to be wrong… who’ll notice?

“Today,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “is the day you’ve all been waiting for!” (Speak for yourself, Vi.) “Yes! Today Lord Jeremy Coldsore will meet himself in a duel to the death with Ginsu knives!” She dismisses those who point out the anachronism. “I never accept criticism from pygmies!” she declares. “Let them flourinate!”

Meanwhile, the duel has hit a snag.

“How the blazes am I supposed to stand back-to-back with myself?” Lord Jeremy protests to the referee, one Merv Griffin (I just work here!). “You can try standing face-to-face,” Merv ululates. By now a crowd has gathered, but it is already breaking up. Someone has heard a rumor of free toothpaste crackers.

There’s also a problem with who gets the choice of weapons. The two Ginsu knives in the cookie tin look exactly alike. Jeremy cannot help suspecting there’s a cheat in it somewhere.

But you will have to tune in next week to find out!

(Editor’s Note: All in favor of bagging this whole “Queen of Suspense” thing, say “Rhinoceros.”

The Field of Honor (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I fell down and sprained my coccyx a few days ago,” Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, “but did that hold back the creative processes? You should live so long!”

Thus turn we unto Chapter DXXXVIII of Ms. Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

Lord Jeremy Coldsore has let his impetuous nature get the better of him, and has challenged himself to a duel–with sabers! He has asked the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, to be his second.

“What’re you gonna do if you go and stab yourself?” Twombley asks. He thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, but we can’t go into that just now.

“Tell Lady Margo that I died for love!” says Jeremy.

However, a snag has developed. It seems the only field in all of Scurveyshire suitable to be a dueling venue was once, and not so long ago, a cow pasture.

“This is ridiculous!” Jeremy fostulates. “I refuse to fight a duel in a field that used to be covered with cow-poop!”

Then he says, “Hah! Unless I’m very much mistaken, I’ve got him on the run!”

Twombley withdraws to The Lying Tart for a gin and hair tonic. There he finds Johnno the Merry Minstrel composing “Ye Olde Ballad of Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s Affaire of Honour.” News travels preternaturally fast in these rural communities.

Lord Jeremy’s Accursed Slippers (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Violet Crepuscular, the Queen of Suspense, has sent me an email in lieu of a new chapter of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

“Dear Mr. Dugong,” she writes (this is gonna be hard on me, I can tell), “your slipperational vexations are nothing compared to Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s! He, too, can never find slippers that fit, plus he is handicapped by having two left feet. The only slippers he can wear are the Accursed Devil Slippers that his great-great-etc.-grandfather, Sir Reginal De Borscht, brought home from the Crusades (not that he got any farther than Wallingford before he turned back).

“The last time Lord Jeremy wore these slippers, his entire gumball collection melted into a shapeless mass that attracted multitudes of rats…” And so on. What good this is supposed to do me, I have no idea.

Yes, those Accursed Devil Slippers bring bad luck! Sir Reginald, the last time he wore them, fell into the only moat in Scurveyshire. There were signs posted all over the place, warning pedestrians not to walk into the moat, and a crier posted to cry “Stay back from the moat, you stupid lubber!”–but he fell in anyway. He died 64 years later.

Meanwhile, we have not received Chapter DXXXVI of Oy, Rodney and I’m not hearing any great demand for it. I knew this would happen.

Ms. Crepuscular’s Revenge–and a Lesson in Evolution (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter DXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Well, we visited Johnno the Merry Minstrel in the hospital on Wednesday and I need hardly describe the occasion. Let us move on with the story!”

Lord Jeremy is still up a tree, menaced by a rhinoceros below. In yonder Coldsore Hall, they’re having a wild party and no one wants to go out and help the poor sod in the sauerbratten tree. But Jeremy has hit upon a novel solution to his predicament.

“I shall evolve!” he confides in the reader, bypassing the author altogether. “I am not going to do whatever Violet Crepuscular says I should do anymore! I shall evolve a pair of wings and merrily fly off to another tree–and so long, Mr. Rhino!” To get the evolutionary process started, he begins to flap his arms.


These exertions cause Jeremy to fall out of the tree. Instantly the rhino jumps on him, then thrusts him through with its horn, tosses him twenty feet into the air (a nasty fall, that!), sits on him, runs over him 15 or 20 times, and then wanders off to lay some more eggs.

Jeremy rises with a groan. It’s no use complaining to me, I didn’t write this schleck. I think Ms. Crepuscular’s intent was to teach her fictional characters a lesson.

Desperately wounded, Lord Jeremy crawls to the front door of Coldsore Hall and tries to whisper through the mail slot…

Trust the Queen of Suspense to leave you hanging there.


Return to Coldsore Hall (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Suddenly we find ourselves at Chapter DXIV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy Rodney… without a trace of Chapter DXIII. We wonder what was in it.

“I am not to blame for chapters missing from my book,” she confides in the reader. “All faxaltation aside, the important thing is that Lord Jeremy, having made his hairbreadth escape from Mom’s Dungeon, now finds himself back in the familiar embrace of Coldsore Hall.” She hastens to add, “‘Embrace’ is a figure of speech! Us authors use them all the time.”

It might be nice if she used a plot from time to time. I just work here, what do I know? Last we heard, a burrowing rhinoceros was making a shambles of the gardens in the vicar’s neighborhood. The latest development there…

“Well shut my mouth!” exclaims Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad. He and Lady Margo Cargo are organizing a safari. He points to the earth, to three or four roundish white objects. “Y’know what those are?” Lady Margo does not know. Her upholstered wooden leg is giving her trouble.

“Those,” he proclaims, “are rhino eggs! We have found the rhino’s nest! I found one in Ohio once, but there was something wrong with it. Only chickens came out of the eggs.”

“This is a calamity which no mortal flesh should have to bear,” Lady Margo says.

The chapter ends before Lord Jeremy can actually re-enter his ancestral home. This is either a stroke of literary genius or merely running out of time.

Rhino on the Rampage! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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We left Scurveyshire last week with a rogue Indian rhinoceros digging burrows all over the place, Willis Twombley outfitting a “shikari” because an African-type safari simply won’t do, and Lord Jeremy Coldsore locked up in a tower by Constable Chumley’s mother.

Introducing Chapter DVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “In introducing Chapter DVIII of my epic romance, Oy, Rodney, I take the opportunity to introduce both a new character–and a new dimension to the plot!”

This woman has no mercy on her readers.

And so we meet Johnno the Merry Minstrel’s long-lost cousin, Jerrold Coelocanth, best known as “the Man with the Unpronounceable Word.” And if you think that’s bad, you should hear him try to say “hypoteneuse.”

As he enters the great public square of Scurveyshire Village, he exclaims, “Fbthhiw!” A statue of Mr. Spock falls off its pedestal. We are at liberty to wonder what it was doing there in the first place.

Meanwhile, his desperation increasing by the hour, Lord Jeremy continues to write messages on dinner plates and throw them out the dungeon window to various notable European rivers. Today it’s the Danube. “Alas, poor prisoner of love!” he caliphritates. (Take that, Mr. Spell-Check! Thought you knew it all, did you? Got that one past you, though, didn’t I? … Okay, I feel better now.) He has forgotten to include the dungeon’s address in his messages.

Next: The Return of Chief Oxyartes

Rescuing Lord Jeremy (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Lord Jeremy Coldsore is infatuated with a ghost, The Woman in Moldy Knickers, who died 600 years ago but–so it seems–has been reactivated by the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney. This puts at grave risk his marriage to Lady Margo Cargo.

Introducing Chapter CDXXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular, in a confidential aside to the reader, muses, “What have I gotten myself into? The ghost can only be laid by a man who looks like Lee J. Cobb, and there is no such man in Scurveyshire. Lord Jeremy’s friends are desperate to rescue him and save his impending marriage–but how do I write my way out of this?”

She unexpectedly finds a solution in a letter from an avid reader, Mrs. Phyllis Gillis, who has been prospecting for gravel in Turkmenistan.

“Once I adopted my pet whelk, Lawrence, I had no more time for hopeless love affairs with ghosts and could turn my attentions to more productive enterprises,” Mrs. Gillis writes. Ms. Crepuscular loses no time in sending Johnno the Merry Minstrel all the way to Baffin Island to obtain a pet whelk for Lord Jeremy. As a bonus, the whelk does bear a faint resemblance to Lee J. Cobb.

By this master stroke, Rodney’s evil spell is utterly defeated. Lord Jeremy now ignores The Woman in Moldy Knickers when she flits past his bedroom window.

“I don’t know what I ever saw in her!” he funambulates. “Those knickers–disgusting! Here, watch my whelk creep around the aquarium! I can hardly wait to show her off to Lady Margo!”

Molluscs have always been a big deal in Scurveyshire. Much more so than dogs or cats. Lord Jeremy has named his pet whelk Stuart.

Will the marriage now go forward?

“You’re asking me?” writes Ms. Crepuscular.

[Editor’s Note: Sorry, but all the available pictures of whelks just look like sea shells.]


That Woman in Moldy Knickers (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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We join Chapter CDXXVI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, in progress. That means she hasn’t finish writing it. And she has left Chapter CDXXV blank to denote that nothing in particular happened. I hope she’s all right.

As the new chapter opens, we have Constable Chumley, Johnno the Merry Minstrel, and the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, holding a secret meeting to decide what to do about Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s sudden infatuation with the ghostly Woman in Moldy Knickers. They have been arguing for two solid hours over what to use as a password to open the secret meeting. Nobody wants to fall back on “Our Secret Password”–much too easy for any villain to figure out and use against them.

Finally Johnno comes up with “Mghawlwhg.” “It’s perfect!” he crepusculates. “No one will know how to pronounce it.” But this hope is dashed when the constable pronounces it easily. It turns out he says that all the time.

“Boys, we ain’t getting nowhere without a password,” Twombley says. “If we don’t come up with somethin’, Ol’ Germy’s marriage to Lady Margo will jist go belly-up! And I’ve got a stake in that, bein’ as she still thinks Germy and me are the same buckaroo.”

Eventually they discover that Chumley can’t say “catsup bottle,” so that’s the word they’ll use. The constable accepts it philosophically: “Aye, thurrup’s a frizzin baggy,” he declares. One cannot but agree.

That brings them to wondering if it will do any good to point out to Lord Jeremy that the Woman in Moldy Knickers has been dead for going on 600 years.

“To heighten suspense,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “we will take that up in the next exiting chapter!” When she gets around to writing it, of course.