Caught Between the Hydra and the Jackalope (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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[Bottle Collector’s Note: Now you know where that delightful old figure of speech, “caught between the hydra and the jackalope,” comes from.]

Thanks to the machinations of the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney, there is a Jackalope loose in Scurveyshire. We read about that in Chapter CDL of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

Introducing Chapter CDLI, Ms. Crepuscular writes, “I have had it up to here with readers thinking they can write my book for me! I mean, why don’t I just put up a suggestion box next to my mailbox? Some horrible woman from Tobolsk, Kansas, wrote me to say I ought to put more Vikings in my book! Am I the Queen of Suspense or am I not! I know perfectly well what I’m doing!”

So the jackalope is hopping around the vicar’s kitchen garden while he and Lord Jeremy, Lady Margo, and a cowboy sit in the parlor chewing tobacco; and nobody sees the backyard wading pool give, as it were, a great thumping belch… and unleash a hydra on the vicar’s petunias. This they kind of have to notice: it’s a rather difficult animal to ignore. Hydra - Monsters - D&D Beyond

“Hsiang ya ts’ai!” cries Lady Margo, lapsing into Chinese. (Don’t ask!) The cowboy faints. The vicar lapses into conniptions. Lord Jeremy is left holding the bag.

“And now,” funambulates Ms. Crepuscular, “I will demonstrate why they call me the Queen of Suspense! Is Lord Jeremy up to dealing with this crisis? Will the hydra devour all the people? Why does Lady Margo suddenly speak another language?

“Stay tuned for the next chapter! You won’t find out till then!” One can imagine her slyly winking. “That’s how you keep ’em reading!” she gloats.

 

Violet Crepuscular’s Fan Mail (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular takes a break from the plot and inserts extractions from some of her fan mail. She is hampered in this exercise by an inability to read. Otherwise she would never have let some of these letters see the light of day.

“It’s not that I can’t read at all,” she hastens to explain. “It’s just that I can’t read stuff that people write.” We are glad she’s cleared that up. “Fan mail,” she adds, “proves that you’ve got readers.”

From Cindy Indy, Rawalpindi: “Dear Ms. Crepuscular, your novel proves to be an effective decay-preventive dentifrice when used in a program of conscientious oral hygiene and regular professional care.”

Ozzie Spore, New York: “Your book is the only thing that keeps me living.”

Ms. June Spumoni, Bad Axe, Michigan: “My pet emu bit and kicked me after I lined his cage with pages from your wretched novel.”

Tom Popocatepetl, Jurassic Park, Hawaii: “How do you spell your name?”

“I have taken some flak for the elegant way in which I got rid of the monsters that had overrun Scurveyshire,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers. She has run out of fan mail and needs to fill the rest of the chapter somehow. Harking back to her days in grade school, she writes in longhand, 100 times, “I must not waste paper.”

The Man With the Coccyx (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Another milestone: Chapter CD of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney! It isn’t every book that can boast 400 chapters. Even if some of them are devoid of content.

“The reader will remember,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “how, in Chapter 399, with Scurveyshire overrun each night by indescribably horrible monsters, the Wise Woman of the Gaol advised Lord Jeremy Coldsore to beware of a man with a deformed coccyx who is carrying a single sandal; and that as soon as he saw such a man, he was immediately to ask him a certain question, the answer to which would instantly send all the monsters back to where they came from.” And how’s that for a sentence?

Lord Jeremy’s boon companion, the American adventurer Willis Twombley–who lately has had doubts as to whether he really is Sargon of Akkad–doesn’t think much of the Wise Woman’s oracle. “It ain’t no more sense than a white pine dog with a poplar tail!” he fumes. [Author’s note: “Mr. Twombley originated this bon mot, which Edgar Rice Burroughs was to use with such telling effect in his literary classic, Savage Pellucidar.”] He is about to shoot her when Constable Chumley shambles into the gaol accompanied by a man with a deformed coccyx, carrying a single sandal, whom he has arrested for strolling down Main Street with no pants on. “Tha wicken yon forthy, M’lord,” he explains.

Lord Jeremy cannot help blurting out, “Where are your pants, man?” Followed instantaneously by the thought, “Oh, fap! That can’t be the question I was supposed to ask him! I’ve made a hash of it, by Jove!”

Ah! But that was the question! There will be no monsters on the streets of Scurveyshire tonight!

In an aside to the reader, Ms. Crepuscular writes, “As you can see, dear reader, sometimes the solutions to the thorniest problems are astoundingly simple! I thought it best to mention this in an aside to the reader.”

The man in question, blithely unaware that he has saved the town from being wiped off the earth by monsters, merely shrugs his shoulders, replying, “I am sorry, my lord, but my coccyx is in such a state that it tears apart any trousers that I try to wear.”

And here we have a chapter break: Ms. Crepuscular must clear some space on her mantlepiece for a Pulitzer Prize.