Scurveyshire’s Unexplained Paranormal Romance (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Sargon of Akkad – Lee Duigon

(Editor’s Note: We couldn’t use this cover last week because people wrote in to say they thought the man in the tube socks was Sargon of Akkad. The management regrets the confusion.)

Introducing Chapter CDXXIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular shares a letter from a reader: “Phoebe, writing from a place in  Ohio that I have promised not to mention, wishes my book would feature a paranormal romance. What a coincidence! I was only just saying, to myself and to my neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, that this book needs a paranormal romance almost as much as I do!”

To this end, she introduces the mysterious and vaguely threatening Woman in Moldy Knickers, who haunts the tool shed on the grounds of Coldsore Hall. Her ghost was supposed to have been laid to rest 500 years ago by a man who looked like Lee J. Cobb. But now the sorcery of Black Rodney has brought her back. You could look it up.

Her purpose seems to be to seduce Lord Jeremy Coldsore into a relationship that is something other than wholesome. He first sees her floating past his bedroom window, softly tapping on a set of bongo drums and grinning like a queen of Elfland.

“Forsooth!” he circumvallates. “Margo, Schmargo, I’m in love! Who is this glorious creature that floateth past my bedroom window?” He goes into a regular theme song which I will not attempt to reproduce.

“Will this destroy his chances of wedding Lady Margo Cargo?” Violet challenges her readers. I thought she was supposed to write the book. Is it fair to lay this burden on the reader? “Be sure the next chapter will include the most dramatic expostulations I can find!”

Willis Twombley’s Romance (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Livin' the Dream with Green Stamps: A 1975 Catalog - Flashbak

Editor’s Note: We are again unable to find an illustration for the Oy, Rodney cover. It was actually easier to find a Green Stamps saver book from 1960. This bodes ill for Violet Crepuscular’s book sales.

Introducing Chapter CDXXI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular cites a letter received from reader Jennifer Solstice in Bad Axe, Michigan.

“This clod of a reader,” she begins–she must be really mad–“has accused me, Violet Crepuscular, a college graduate, mind you, of ‘turning this wonderful story into a mushy kissing book–yew! Who wants to read that? And Willis Twombley, of all people! Unless you put the kibosh on him romancing Queen Victoria, I won’t read you anymore!'”

“And thus,” declares Violet, “I am corruscated to write a romance that has no romance in it! Well, Jennifer Solstice, write your own shimshing romance novel! I have real readers to attend to!”

That being said, she has barely enough space to mention that Willis Twombley and Queen Victoria are feverishly planning to elope to Abilene, Kansas–the queen doesn’t know anybody there–and open up a Greek restaurant without any Greeks. It will be an excellent opportunity for Victoria to learn to cook. And to throw Scotland Yard off the scent, they plan to call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Orestes Papadapoulos.

“I warn you, Lord Jeremey,” exclaims Johnno the Merry Minstrel, who has made a study of these matters, “this is the work of Black Rodney the medieval sorcerer. He’ll by the ruin of the entire British Empire if we don’t stop him!”

Lord Jeremy Coldsore can only sigh. He’s had a lot of practice sighing, lately.

Did we mention Willis Twombley is an American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad? We do not know whether Queen Victoria believes him.

Willis Twombley in Love (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDXIX of her epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “I am pleased to tell you that things in Scurveyshire are all back to normal!” With one exception.

Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, has fallen head-over-heels in love.

With Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria - Canada Postage Stamp

“Can’t you introduce me to her, Germy, ol’ hoss?” he pleads with his bosom friend, Lord Jeremy Coldsore. This is awkward for Lord Jeremy because his fiancee, Lady Margo Cargo, still thinks he and Twombley are the same person. Jeremy is trying to figure out whether this would be some form of bigamy.

“I just can’t do without her, Germy!” Twombley erupts. “She’s one hot filly! And I don’t think that German guy she’s teamed up with, Prince Alvin or whatever his name is, appreciates her. But if she hitches up with me, she’ll be gettin’ half of my Akkadian Empire, once I get it up and runnin’ again. Be a sport and send her this here love letter that I wrote.”

Jeremy reads the letter. It is unspeakably lurid.

“I say, old boy!” he fusticates. (What? Where did she get that word? Sounds great, though.) “I mean, really, truly, this just isn’t on! She is the Queen of England and Empress of India–and you just can’t talk to her that way! You make it sound like she’s some kind of tavern wench in one of your Wild West saloons.”

“Ooh, she would be good that that!” says Twombley. “Jist send her the letter, wouldja? And watch her and me gallop off into the sunset together!”

“Lady Margo isn’t going to like this,” mutters Jeremy. It’s a cinch the queen won’t like it, either.

At this point the chapter breaks, owing to a breakdown in Violet’s antique manual typewriter. It’s also her time for baking toothpaste sandwich cookies.

Willis Twombley and the Trojan War (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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To denote the passage of a week in her story, Violet Crepuscular has refrained for a week from writing the next chapter of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. As a result, she has forgotten the number of the chapter. Her best guess is Chapter CCCLXXIV.

During the week, Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, has hardly spoken two words. His best friend, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, has begun to worry about him.

“Everything all right, old boy?” Jeremy asks. “You’ve been awfully quiet lately. You’re not worried about the chapter number being wrong, are you?”

“Nah, Germy ol’ hoss, it ain’t that,” drawls Twombley. “It’s this here Trojan War that’s shapin’ up on the horizon. Gonna be a bad one; and the Trojans are allies of mine, so I really ought to do something to help ’em. But I don’t know what. My intelligence has been kinda confused, this past week.” (You can say that again.)

“Uh… Twombley, old son…” Jeremy hems and haws, but finally gets it out, “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that Trojan War–well, they’ve already had it, haven’t they? And Troy lost. The Greeks burned it to the ground.”

Twombley stares incredulously. “You don’t say!” he cries. “You’re just funnin’ with me, ain’t you?”

“Sorry, old stick, but the war’s over and you’ve missed it. In fact, it happened several thousand years ago.”

“But it waren’t in the newspapers! Holy mackerel! Troy is burned down?” A stream of lurid and objectionable language ensues. Twombley lets out a deep breath, draws his six-gun to make sure it’s loaded, and declares, “Well, it looks like it’s time I shipped the Akkadian army off to Greece and gave them Greeks what for! Damn! I knew that weasel Agamemnon shouldn’t of been trusted! Wait’ll I get my hands on him.”

“His wife and her lover murdered him, old chap,” says Jeremy. Twombley needs some time to take this in.

“Dadburn it,” he said, “it’s this life of exile that I’m livin’, it makes me miss important things. If I was back on my throne in Akkad, this never would of happened! This adventurin’ life, it ain’t proper for a king. But I can’t give it up! I wouldn’t be on that throne for five minutes before one o’ them Babylonian hit squads found me. Look what they did to Julius Caesar! And I told him to watch out for it, too. If he’d listened to me, he’d still be in the saddle.”

Here the chapter ends. It had to end somewhere.

Twiddles, the Mud Puppy (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCCLXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular deplores the actions of a Scurveyshire mob bursting into Coldsore Hall in pursuit of Sir Robin Banks, the aristocratic thief. “I deplore the actions of the mob,” she confides in the reader, “but I have no choice but to tell the story as it unfolds.”

Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his boon companion, Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who think he’s Sargon of Akkad, can only stand helplessly by as the mob rampages throughout luxurious, ancient, legendary Coldsore Hall. By and by they grow weary of standing helplessly by, and begin to visit some of the rooms through which the mob has passed. In doing this, they discover Wet Willy, an aged footman who has been secretly living in the hall for decades.

“Didn’t my father dismiss you some thirty years ago?” demands Jeremy.

“He did,” says Willy, “but I could hardly leave poor Twiddles to fend for himself, could I?”

Jeremy recoils in horror from the sight of Twiddles, a large Canadian mud puppy. WordPress recoils in horror from showing a picture of it. Suffice it to say it’s a very large salamander with external gills, red and bushy, and a ferocious temper which moves it to snap viciously at the nearest hand.

“Ain’t he cute?” says Willis.

“You’ve been here–with this… creature–all this time?” marvels Lord Jeremy. “What have you been eating?”

“Mostly Wheaties,” confesses the aged footman. “I sneak into the kitchen in the dead of night and steal them.”

Just then they are interrupted by a lusty roar from the mob: they have captured the aristocratic thief.

Here the chapter breaks, owing to computer problems.

The misunderstood mudpuppy - MSU Extension

(Got it in after all–I think.)

Let’s Have the Wedding Anyhow! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCCLXIII of her epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular praises her protagonist, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, for taking the bull by the horns. “It’s really the only thing you can do when you’re on the horns of a dilemma!” she confides in her readers. And P.S.–Mr. Pitfall is out of jail because no one remembered to lock the door.

In taking the bull by the horns, Lord Jeremy exhorts his fiancee, Lady Margo Cargo, “Let’s have our wedding anyhow! The vicar is free of conniptions, the roof of Coldsore Hall has been repaired, and why should we wait any longer?”

“But I had my heart set on wearing my grandmother’s glass eye and my mother’s pearls, and they’ve been stolen!” wails Lady Margo. She is not aware that her crusty old butler, Crusty, has hidden the jewels and the priceless collection of glass eyes in an unused wing of Coldsore Hall. He has forgotten why he did that. Nor is anyone aware that the aristocratic thief, Sir Robin Banks, is hiding out in the room across the hall from where the jewels are hidden.

“Oh, bother your grandma’s glass eye!” ejaculates Jeremy. “The eye you’re wearing now is perfectly suitable to the occasion. In fact, I rather like it!”

“Oh, Willis, you say the most romantic things!” Lady Margo cannot distinguish between Lord Jeremy and his close friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad.

The next two pages of the chapter are blank: Ms. Crepuscular has left them blank to reflect Lady Margo’s indecision. The third and last page features Violet’s own recipe for a six-tiered wedding cake with assorted toothpaste icings. As for Lady Margo, “You can’t rush these things,” writes Violet. “Many a wedding has been ruined by the bride wearing the wrong glass eye for the occasion and being consumed with self-doubt forever afterward.” Apparently this has happened in her family, but not in anyone else’s. Not that I know of, anyway.

 

A Terrifying Incident! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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(The reader is advised to read the following chapter in a very dark room, to cultivate a sense of danger. Or something.)

In Chapter CCCXLIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, the American adventurer Willis Twombley (who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad), and the vicar are making their way home from an abandoned warehouse in Plaguesby, where Lord Jeremy was to meet and marry Lady Margo Cargo, who, alas, has gone to the wrong warehouse in the wrong town.

“Sure is dark out here tonight!” mutters Twombley.

“You could take the paper bag off your head, old boy,” says Lord Jeremy. Twombley hadn’t thought of that. The reader may now turn on a lamp. “That’s better,” Twombley says.

“Halt!”

The unsuccessful elopement party find themselves surrounded by six sinister young men armed with knives and truncheons.

“We’ve got you now, tyrant!” exclaims the leader, a singularly unprepossessing fellow with bulging eyes.

“That’s what you think, buster!” Twombley draws his six-gun and presses it to the vicar’s head. “You all better mosey on out of here, pronto. One more step toward us, and I shoot the vicar.”

“I say!” ejaculates Lord Jeremy. “I say, that’s not quite fair, don’t you know.” The vicar giggles nervously.

“He has us over a barrel, lads,” admits the leader. The ambushers withdraw into the darkness of the surrounding woodland.

“Who the devil were they?” demands Jeremy.

“Babylonian secret agents,” said Twombley. “They’ve been after me for years. That’s Mesopotamian politics for you. Don’t worry, they won’t be back for a while. They haven’t cottoned on to guns yet.”

“The reader may now turn on all the lights and relax,” adds Ms. Crepuscular. “We will attempt the marriage again in a future chapter.”

Lawsuit-Happy Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Nothing much happens for several chapters, so let us move on to Chapter CCCXVI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. This chapter is notable in that it is not able to provide us with any new crepuscularities. Oops…

The Marquess of Groan is suing Lord Jeremy Coldsore because he fell ill when the roof was blown off Coldsore Hall, Johnno the Merry Minstrel is suing the Wise Woman of the Woods for being wrong all the time, and the proprietor of The Lying Tart is suing the vicar for not getting rid of his backyard wading pool, under which quite a few of the pub’s most reliable customers have disappeared. It’s bad for business.

“Maybe I just ought to shoot all these dummies who want to sue everybody,” suggests the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. “We had a whole slew of lawsuits in Babylon once, so we put all the plaintiffs to death and that made the lawsuits go away.” Twombley believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad.

“You can’t shoot the Marquess because the Queen wouldn’t like it,” replies Lord Jeremy, “and you certainly can’t shoot Johnno because we need him to sniff out Black Rodney’s cuss-bags. He found another one just this morning–right under my bed, by Jove! Besides, we still don’t know what the Wise Woman of the Woods meant by warning us of ‘the clam before the storm.'”

“My six-gun’s gettin’ rusty, ol’ hoss,” Twombley complains. He suspects Lord Jeremy, his bosom friend, still harbors some resentment against him for accidentally shooting him in the foot, which is why he now has two left feet. He remains unable to dance properly.

Ms. Crepuscular suddenly shifts gears, subjecting the reader to her recipe for toothpaste icing for chocolate grass cake. “Mr. Pitfall will soon be released from the hospital,” she adds, “and I want to surprise him with it.”

A Letter from the Detective (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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When we last heard of the two-foot-tall consulting detective, Sir Ranulph Toadsome, he was headed north to Scotland to find the seventh son of a seventh son, an expert morris dancer, the only person who would be able to lift the curse from the vicar’s backyard wading pool. Now we hear from him again, in Chapter CCCVIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

Lady Margo Cargo, excited to the point of not noticing that her wig is on sideways, reads the detective’s letter aloud to her fiancees, Lord Jeremy Coldsore and the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, whom she thinks are the same person, and also to a casual passerby who looks like a Prussian entomologist.

“‘Dear Lady Margo (she reads), I have found not one but three men who are each the seventh son of a seventh son, and also expert morris dancers, and I will send them to you upon receipt of their train fare.

“‘You will, however, have to take care in dealing with them, because, by a family quirk that is rather difficult to explain to the layman, all three happen to be each other’s uncles and are extremely sensitive about it. Do not, under any circumstances, offer them any kind of food, and be especially careful not to make any small talk involving uncles. If you can avoid doing either of those things, you will have no trouble with them. Yours truly, Toadsome.”

The casual passerby mutters something in German and abruptly takes his leave.

“Isn’t this wonderful news?” exults Lady Margo. “At last we’ll be rid of Black Rodney’s curse. And then all we’ll have to do, Lord Jeremy, my dear, is find proof that you aren’t already married to someone else.”

“But I am not married to someone else!” cries Jeremy.

“I was, once,” mutters Twombley, “but she was one of those slippery Mede gals and I had to send her back. Every time you tried to hold her, she’d just squirt out of your hands.” Mr. Twombley believes he is Sargon of Akkad.

“We shall let the matter rest here for the nonce,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “and take it up again at another nonce.”

An Important Message from the Author (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter XX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney

What? Chapter XX? I thought we had Chapter CCCV last week! Why are we suddenly on Chapter XX? Violet Crepuscular explains.

“Dear readers, I am sure I have a Chapter XX in the appropriate place, between Chapters XIX and XXI, but I cannot recall that there was that much to it. So I might as well rewrite it here, and use it to help you to understand my difficulty in proceeding to Chapter CCCVI.

“In digging up my garden, the oafs from the police turned up some oddly-shaped stones with peculiar markings on them; and as a result, my whole back yard is now being dug up by all these men in pith helmets and I am forbidden to interfere.

“They say the funny stones are the ruins of some Carthaginian thingy and thus a major archaeological discovery–and the government expects me to fund their research! I don’t understand this. They say the squiggly marks on the stones are inscriptions of some kind, but all it seems to say is things like ‘Put this stone in such and such a place’ or ‘For a good time, visit Cindy.’ Meanwhile they’ve made a pig’s breakfast of my yard! I do not propose to invite them in for sandwich cookies.”

Moving on to Chapter CCCVI, what little there is of it, we find Archibald Cruxley, ace reporter for Upholstery World, rather cast down by his failure to interview Lady Margo Cargo about her upholstered wooden leg, the only one of its kind in all of England. He has not been able to stem the flow of Willis Twombley’s reminiscences of famous gunfights in America. Nor does he like the way Mr. Twombley waves his six-shooter every which way for emphasis.

“Man, I thought Ur was a rough town, all full of Chaldees who’d shoot you just to see if their guns was loaded!” Twombley believes he is Sargon of Akkad, on the run from Babylonian usurpers. “And there was fast times in Philistia, too! But there wasn’t none of ’em could hold a candle to Dodge City. You shoulda see what happened when Murderin’ Mike McGurk came to town! Did you know he was a Ghurka?”

On and on he goes. Lady Margo listens intently, lost in fascination. Lord Jeremy Coldsore listens somewhat less intently. And Mr. Cruxley isn’t listening at all. He is thinking he made a serious error in his youth, when he decided not to be a beggar.