Violet Crepuscular’s Mail Bag

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Taking a break from the narrative of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular finds time to read and share this year’s fan letter.

“This is from a Mrs. Citronella Jingles in Brushback, New Jersey. I looked it up, and there really is no such places!” impermeates Ms. Crepuscular. (I am not sure about that word.) “And she writes, ‘Why don’t the men persons in your romance go around with no shirts on like the men persons in all the other romances?’

“Well, Citronella,” Violet replies, “if you ever saw my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, with no shirt on, it’d put you off the whole business for months. Yew! A horrible sight! Yeah, okay, it’d be nice if the men we see had those completely hairless torsos bulging with muscles–but then no one would bother to read romance novels if real life was like that!”

Privately, I don’t think she knows what to do. Having brought in both a hydra and a jackalope, and handed out injuries and conniptions galore, not to mention property damage–all she needs now is Godzilla.

“All I need now is Godzilla!” she confides in the reader. “The don’t call me the Queen of Suspense for nothing! I defy you to name another romance writer who dares to bring monsters into the plot! Like, who can be bothered with men with no shirts when a jackalope is gobbling up your garden?”

I believe she has escaped having to write Chapter CDLVI.

The Day of the Jackalope (‘Oy, Rodney’)

silly romance novels – Lee Duigon

“I was really stuck on this chapter,” Violet Crepuscular confesses to readers of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “Being the Queen of Suspense is hard! Why, just the other day I caught some wacko going fishing in my goldfish pond! I had to have Mr. Pitfall come over and do him an injury.”

In Chapter CDLIV the suspense builds to a crescendo. Lady Margo Cargo’s wig has caught fire. Lord Jeremy Coldsore has a quadruple fracture of the coccyx (“That’s what he gets for trying to turn this drama into a musical!” sniffs Ms. Crepuscular), the wandering cowboy, having swooned to the floor, is doing nothing, Crusty the Butler is trying to find a fire extinguisher (not aware that they haven’t been invented yet), the poor vicar’s conniptions are getting really unseemly, there is a hydra loose in town…

And the jackalope emerges from the vicar’s kitchen garden.

The Jackalope, Everything Science Knows About Them [Satire]

“I have added this TV news photo of a jackalope,” explains Ms. Crepuscular, “because it is suspenseful! I mean, the hydra might devastate the town, but at least no one will go crazy for the rest of his life just because he’s seen it–but you can’t say the same for the jackalope.”

As this fearsome bunny with antlers emerges from the garden with a mouthful of parsley, Lady Margo forgets that her wig’s on fire, although it’s still on her head, Lord Jeremy oscillates, and Crusty begins to act peculiar.

Here the chapter degenerates into a defense of alcoholic toothpaste.

Adding Suspense to ‘Oy, Rodney’

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Being “The Queen of Suspense” isn’t quite a bed of roses, Violet Crepuscular is finding out.

“Yesterday they picked up stones and stoned me!” she recalls, introducing Chapter CDLIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “They stoned me for subjecting them to too much suspense! I was lucky to get away without an injury. And this morning a couple of ’em came after me with pitchforks–for not being suspenseful enough!”

Well, she would bring hydras and jackalopes into the story… I could’ve told her a lot of readers wouldn’t stand for it. I didn’t get where I am today by bringing hydras and jackalopes into my story.

Now, everybody knows–well, everybody but Lord Jeremy and Lady Margo–that the only way to get rid of a hydra is to cut off each of its heads with a sword and then quickly hold a live torch to the stump, to keep two more heads from growing back. That’s how Hercules did it, and his method has stood the test of time–just ask anyone in Flotsam, Maine.

So there’s the hydra in the vicar’s garden, with the vicar himself rendered horse de combat by his latest conniptions, and the helpful cowboy in a swoon on the floor… and Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, comes in with a look on his face that would freeze the blood of a cactus. [Editor’s Note: I just can’t stop her.]

He is positively coruscating. “What’s all this, then?” he thunders.

The hydra, hearing this and thinking it’s Zeus, high-tails it off to the center of town.

And that’s when the jackalope swings into action.

“And that’s where I stop–hah!” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “I stop here in order to build up suspense for the next chapter. Eat your heart out, Barbara Cartland!”

Coping With a Rampaging Hydra (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“A hydra has nine heads, and every one of ’em is mean!” writes Violet Crepuscular (“Don’t forget to call me the Queen of Suspense! It’s for the marketing”), introducing Chapter CDLII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

The long-ago machinations of the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney, have unleashed a jackalope and–and, I say!–a hydra on defenseless Scurveyshire. Even now, the jackalope is loose in the vicar’s garden, noshing on yams, while the hydra, preparing to ravage the town of Scurveyshire itself, roars with all nine heads.

And Lord Jeremy Coldsore says, “I feel a song coming on!”

When you’re menaced by a hydra, shake your fist!

But you might be the last one on their list.

With a do derry-do doddy-do!

He manages a few dance steps to go with it.

[Editor’s Note: I can’t stand musicals.]

In  the vicar’s sun parlor, the cowboy lies on the floor in a swoon, Lady Margo Cargo’s wig has flown off again, Lord Jeremy dances back and forth, and the vicar himself has lapsed into new conniptions which take the form of cartwheels–exercises which he is by no means well equipped to carry out.

I see the last page is coming up. Yup, there it is. The Queen of Suspense has simply stopped writing.

P.S.–We are welcoming reader comments today, as long as they consist entirely of fulsome praise. It’s for the marketing.

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.

 

An Invasion of Mythical Creatures (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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[Editor’s Note: In all the excitement over Halloween, I very nearly forgot to touch base with our in-house novelist, Ms. Violet Crepuscular. Be honest, now–how many of you would have missed her?]

Introducing chapter CDL (at last!) of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Ms. Crepuscular alludes to an email from reader Konrad Adenauer from Papadapoulosburg, Mississippi.

“‘Dear Ms. Crepuscular,’ he writes,” she writes (the quotation marks are getting tricky), “‘what has happened to Rodney the Medieval Sorcerer, whom you have said is responsible for all these disturbing events in Scurveyshire? Have you forgotten him?'”

“I don’t mind if some of my readers want to gristonize my book,” she continues, “but there is a wide-spread perception that, like, anybody can be a medieval sorcerer–but nothing could be farther from the truth!

“I have not mentioned Rodney lately because he’s been very, very busy conjuring mythical monsters out of I don’t know where and trying to turn them loose on Scurveyshire! Centaurs, harpies, griffins, hydras, dragons–he’s got ’em all lined up for an invasion. But first, a test!”

The vicar has just been rescued by a passing cowboy and forced to give back Lady Margo’s wig. As they all settle down to chew tobacco, no one notices the first mythical creature to creep out from under the vicar’s wading pool.

You guessed it! It’s a jackalope, complete with horns. Half-jack rabbit, half-pronghorn antelope or white-tailed deer, these creatures are increasingly rare in Victorian England. Mythological creatures are never abundant anywhere.

Are Jackalopes Real? Inside The Enduring Legend

Anyhow, the jackalope hops off into the vicar’s kitchen garden. When someone finally sees the majestic beast, it’ll be too late!

Uh, too late for what?

“You’ll see!” chortles Violet.

‘Mopey Dick’ Strikes Back (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDL of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Now that the vicar has been cured of his conniptions–”

Whoa! Just a cotton-pickin’ minute, Violet! He should’ve been cured in Chapter CDXLIX–or not cured, as the case may be. You can’t get away with this. I know where your publisher lives! If he doesn’t bring you to heel, I’ll threaten to tell you where he lives.

[Grumbling, she returns to writing Chapter CDXLIX. This would be a stage direction, if this were a play.]

“You may recall,” she addresses her readers, “that the plan was to read aloud to the vicar the entire 900-plus pages of Mopey Dick, or, The Depressed White Whale, reputed to be the funniest book in the world. Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his fiancee, the wealthy Lady Margo Cargo, take turns reading. And when they reach Page 468…”

With a horripilating scream, the vicar leaps from his bed, seizes a handy butcher knife that happened to be lying on the quilt, grabs Lady Margo, and with a single sweep of the knife, scalps her!

Well, sort of scalps her. He never knew she was as bald as a cue-ball, owing to a childhood fixation on click beetles. So what he actually has now is her wig, which he brandishes exultantly, whooping like a greater hornbill.

“Give that back, you confounded lunatic vicar!” she fasculates. “Jeremy, make him give me back my wig–it’s cold in here!”

But the vicar dives out the window and dances about the yard. Very fortunately indeed, before he can be sucked under the wading pool, a passing cowboy manages to lasso him–

Oh, forsooth. A passing cowboy? Who just happens to have his lasso handy–in Victorian Scurveyshire?

This more than flesh and blood can bear.

Curing the Vicar’s Conniptions (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Ms. Crepuscular's Estonian Folk Tale ('Oy, Rodney') – Lee Duigon

At last! Chapter CDXLVIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, in which she reveals the funniest book ever written–here it is, calloo, callay, o frabjous day!

Ms. Crepuscular suspends the action so she can tell the reader, “This took an extraordinary among of research! At length it narrowed down to a choice between two books, both published in 1858: A Brief Narrative of My Captivity Among Dubious Presbyterians, or A Lady’s Bad Time and the much more famous work by the man known only as “Pumpkinhead,” Mopey Dick, or The Depressed White Whale. One of these, if read to the vicar, will cure his conniptions. The other will make them worse–much worse! Which one is right? Which one is the funniest book in the world?”

Her solution to the problem is simplicity itself. Resorting to the nearby Home For Persons With Conniptions, Ms. Crepuscular reads to the patients. Before anyone gets better or worse, the authorities drag her back outside by the ankles.

With even more simplicity, she flips a coin. Mopey Dick, all 962 pages of it, is to be read to the vicar. If it doesn’t work, he’s liable to scream, leap out of his bed and through the open window, and run around in his nightshirt until he’s sucked under the wading pool.

“It’s going to take a while to read this,” Violet crepusculates to her readers, “so tune in next week to see what happens! Heh-heh, they don’t call me The Mistress of Suspense for nothing!”

[Editor’s Note: I have read several chapters of Mopey Dick and I don’t think it’s funny at all. And Dubious Presbyterians is equally devoid of humor. A six-year-old telling Irish jokes would be more chuckle-inducing than these brainless tomes.]

So What Is the Funniest Book in the World? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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I can hardly describe the fever pitch of anticipation  which gripted me all week, as I waited for Violet Crepuscular to unveil “the funniest book in the world.” They have to read it aloud to the vicar to cure his conniptions–but what could it be? Is it Baby Talk Made Simple? The suspense was killing me! Well, they don’t call Violet the Mistress of Suspense for nothing…

Imagine my disappointment, therefor, when I opened the email yesterday to read the latest from Ms. Crepuscular… and found…. this.

“I have hit upon a very nice dessert made with toothpaste and croutons,” she writes. “It’s a kind of pudding that cleans your teeth while you’re chewing the croutons that are in it. It does use up an awful lot of toothpaste, but what’s life without some luxury?”

So what’s the confounded funniest book in the world? (I’m warning you, Violet! Don’t you dare skip over it–“Now that they’ve read the funniest book in the world and cured the vicar’s conniptions…” We’re onto that trick–don’t even think of trying it again!)

In an aside to the reader, who is still waiting for Chapter CDXLVIII to begin, Ms. Crepuscular folasticizes, “Doubtless some of you are still waiting for Chapter CDXLVIII to begin, and eager to know just what is the funniest book in the world! Anyone can think of dozens of books it might be. I always thought Moby Dick was a scream. My neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, thinks it’s The Hand-Made’s Tail.

“So I will set aside the narrative–not on the back burner, that’s got my toothpaste pudding on it–for a week, to give you, the reader, the opportunity to say what you think is the funniest book in the world! Don’t bother to mention anything by Dean R. Koontz–he always cracks me up.”

 

The Funniest Book in the World (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDXLVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, or, A Gentlewoman’s Malady, Violet Crespuscular–

Wait! What’s this “or” business? Since when is there an “or”?

“The subtitle,” Ms. Crepuscular explains in  a series of smoke signals, “is a staple of Victorian literature. I don’t know why I haven’t been using one!”

Be that as it may, in this chapter, none of Lady Margo Cargo’s folk remedies has sufficed to halt the vicar’s conniptions. “I have never seen more disgusting conniptions in my life,” says Lady Margo.

In desperation, Lord Jeremy Coldsore consults the Wise Woman of the Gaol, formerly the Wise Woman of the Woods; but she prefers the gaol.

“Ah, yes, conniptions!” she festiculates. “Constable Chumley has kept me well-informed of the vicar’s conniptions. They are of a special kind–Smythe-Peddington Conniptions, named for the first doctor who was unable to cure them. Fortunately, I know exactly how to cure them! And the method is simplicity itself. So simple, the patient will practically cure himself.”

“So what is this method?” cries Jeremy.

The Wise Woman lowers her voice and, almost whispering, replies, “You must read him, aloud, the funniest book in the world! That’ll stop the conniptions.”

“Excellent!” Jeremy exclaims. “And what is the funniest book in the world?”

She shrugs broadly. “So what am I–the London Times Review of Books? I haven’t read a book in 30 years. And that one wasn’t funny.”

MUCH LATER THAT DAY… A search of Lady Margo’s copious library turns up only one book that might be amusing, in a way: Baby-Talk Made Simple, by Benjamin Franklin.

“It’s our only hope!” says Margo… TO BE CONTINUED!

(“There! How’s that for heightening suspense?” crows Violet. We sigh in unison.)