Tag Archives: Sargon of Akkad

How to Exorcise the Vicar’s Backyard Wading Pool (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Violet Crepuscular introduces Chapter CCCIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, with remarks that have nothing to do with it.

“I am thrilled by the Bell Mountain Trivia Contest posted on this blog yesterday by Byron the Quokka. But that first question is an easy one! Where does the best wine in Obann come from? Connecticut, of course! I do hope Byron comes up with some harder questions soon.”

As to the chapter, we find all of Scurveyshire on the verge of total panic. Who will be the next to be sucked under the vicar’s backyard wading pool? Many of the townspeople have already packed their things to leave. Averse to seeing his entire shire depopulated, Lord Jeremy Coldsore resorts again to the wise counsel of the Wise Woman of the Woods.

“There is only one way to break the spell on the wading pool,” she tells him. “If a man who is the seventh son of a seventh son, and adept at morris dancing [Editor’s Note: You’re asking me why they need an expert morris dancer?], stands with his back to the pool and, without looking, throws an orange beach-ball over his head so as to land in the midst of the pool, Black Rodney’s curse shall be no more.”

“Where am I supposed to find a man like that?” Lord Jeremy cries.

“Seek him on an island off the coast of Scotland,” intones the Wise Woman of the Woods.

“There are hundreds of islands off the coast of Scotland!” protests Jeremy.

“This island is shown only on a map hidden in a church that is no church.”

Jeremy finds this somewhat disheartening. His friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, who believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad, attempts to comfort him.

“Germy, ol’ hoss, you don’t want to take oracles too serious,” Twombley matriculates. [Editor’s Note: What???] “Back in Akkad we had dozens of oracles, and all they ever did was try to outdo each other, confusing people. But things always turn out easier than they let on.”

“But how am I to go about this business?” Jeremy wails.

“Search me, ol’ hoss!”

Here the chapter ends with another knock on the door from Ms. Crepuscular’s hometown police.


Trouble in Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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I am happy to report that Byron the Quokka has returned. He was not able to squeeze Ms. Crepuscular through the bars of the holding cell, but he did succeed in rescuing the manuscript, along with a note from Violet to her readers. We quote:

“My dear readers, it’s really too silly for words, my being in jail like this for the sake of a few harmless toothpaste rolls which I eat all the time and have never gotten sick! True, Mr. Pitfall ate all two dozen of them–but it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t stop him. And it’s not like he’s died or anything! The doctors expect him to be back on his feet in just a year or two. My thanks to Byron the Whatchamacallit for saving my manuscript! The detective who read it said he would surely destroy it, as a service to world literature. Yours sincerely, Violet M. Crepuscular.” She will not tell us what the M stands for.

Moving on, we now have a Chapter CCCI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, which is somewhat below her usual artistic standard–or anyone else’s, for that matter. In this chapter, all of Scurveyshire, led by the few survivors of the Peasants Benevolent Assn., is in an uproar. They have assembled at Coldsore Hall to yell at Lord Jeremy.

“They’ll skedaddle, ol’ hoss, if you let me shoot a few of ’em,” offers the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. “Back home, them Elamites was always tryin’ to riot their way into my palace.” He thinks he is Sargon of Akkad. “But they always gave up when my archers started usin’ ’em for target practice.”

“I’m dashed if I can see my way to that, old boy,” expostulates (I just work here) Lord Jeremy. “If they’d just stay away from that deuced wading pool in the vicar’s back yard, they wouldn’t get sucked under it in droves.” He finally placates the mob by promising to get rid of Black Rodney, the medieval sorcerer responsible for all these objectionable happenings.

“How you gonna do that, Germy?” wonders Twombley. “Him bein’ a ghost and all, and havin’ just blown half the roof off’n your house, I mean.”

Jeremy smiles slyly. “But we now know what he’s afraid of, don’t we?” he replies. “Antimacassars! We’ll drape antimacassars over all the shire!”

Here the chapter breaks off. She had to stop writing, Byron reports, because the jailer was coming to take her for a walk. He had only time to gather up the manuscript and, as he put it, “vamoose!” The quokkas have been watching a lot of old Westerns lately.


The Wedding’s On Again (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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And so we come at last to Chapter CCXC of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Nothing happened in the preceding two chapters except for the installation of Babylonian antimacassars, imported by the London firm of Dombey & Son, on all the furniture in Coldsore Hall. “I am sorry that took up two whole chapters,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in her readers, “but there’s a lot of furniture in Coldsore Hall and I just couldn’t help it.”

Assured that the antimacassars will keep him safe from the malign spirit of Black Rodney, the medieval sorcerer who has been persecuting him from beyond the garve (who can resist such a typo?), Lord Jeremy has plunged into rescheduling his wedding to Lady Margo Cargo. He hopes his Aunt Petunia and her husband, Lord Gromleigh, Marquess of Grone, will give him a vast amount of money as a wedding present.

“You really must stay for the wedding, Aunt!” he urges her. “You and the marquess will be the guests of honor.”

“But Jeremy, my dear–I don’t know where my husband is!”

This is a difficulty. Lord Gromleigh has a habit of hiding in unusual places so he can jump out at people and scare them.

“Oh, he’s just hiding somewhere, Aunt. He’s sure to turn up.”

“But he’s been gone two days!”

With the help of Johnno the Merry Minstrel, Jeremy’s close friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley starts a room-to-room search for the missing lord. “I tell ya, Germy ol’ hoss, I don’t like this!” whispers Twombley. “The old coot might of hidden in some place that he can’t get out of. This is a big house with a ton of hiding-places in it. What if he laid hisself down in a cedar chest and then couldn’t get it open? Or maybe he ain’t here at all! He might of run away. You never know what one of them peers o’ the realm might do.”

“I don’t see how we can have the wedding with the Marquess of Grone having misplaced himself somewhere in my house!”

“I remember when this happened at the king of Ugarit’s palace: his brother-in-law, the high something-or-other of Phoenicia, got lost in the palace and they never could find him, not even with fifty or sixty servants lookin’ up and down for him.” Twombley sighs. Believing himself to be Sargon of Akkad, he finds these memories of ancient times to be rather bittersweet. “We’ll keep lookin’, but don’t get your hopes up.”

Here the chapter abruptly breaks off with a barely coherent recipe for toothpaste rolls.


A Celebration Spoiled (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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We skip over two chapters dealing with scrubbing all the mud off Lady Margo and putting her to bed, and notifying Lord Jeremy Coldsore that his fiancee has returned from wherever she was. She has not told anyone that she was in the Plaguesby jail. Those two chapters were very badly written.

In Chapter CCLXXVII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Lord Jeremy has proclaimed a holiday to celebrate Lady Margo’s return. This time he first consults the Wise Woman of the Woods before proceeding with his plan.

“Go right ahead, my lord,” says the Wise Woman of the Woods. “This time absolutely nothing will go wrong. Your troubles are over!”

And so all of Scurveyshire gathers on the village green to play swallow-the-pebble, to drink copious quantities of ale, and rejoice for Lady Margo and her upcoming wedding to Lord Jeremy and his friend, Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad. Lady Margo believes them to be the same person and gets flustered when she sees them both together.

The merriment is interrupted by the sudden arrival of an ominously tall figure clad in an unimaginable (I wish she would stop using that word!) black cloak, out of which peers a dreadful papier-mache skull.

“Hear me, Scurveyshire!” bellows the stranger. “It is me–I mean I–Black Rodney! Woe to all of you! From now on, no happiness will ever be allowed again in Scurveyshire! You are hereby cursed, all of you!”

For Lord Jeremy, this is just too trying for words. “This is just too trying for words!” he exclaims, “and it’s time we put a stop to it.

“We have an ancient law in Scurveyshire, you villain, dating back to a time before the Romans came and made a hash of things. A native king named Porky decreed a law that anyone who brings bad news should be immediately put to death–a law which I, as justice of the peace, do now invoke. Black Rodney, I sentence you to death!”

“It’s about time!” mutters Twombley. He draws his Colt revolver and shoots the black-clad stranger where he stands. As the figure collapses on the sward (“I am so happy I finally got to use that word!” remarks Ms. Crepuscular, in an intimate aside), no one hears Jeremy mutter, “It really ought to have been a hanging, old boy.”

But wait! As all gather round the fallen sorcerer, it is soon discovered that the black cloak and the dreadful mask are… empty! Empty!

“I break the chapter here,” explains Ms. Crepuscular, “to heighten the suspense.”


Yet More Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I write this chapter under some duress,” Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, introducing Chapter CCLXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “My neighbor Mr. Pitfall has forgiven me for poisoning him, but I fear he has developed some rather strange ideas about our relationship. I have written this chapter to distract him.”

Deeming it a potential public relations bonanza, Sir Henry Smedley-Foover has lent one of his life-size Iguanodon concrete pull-toys to Scurveyshire Village as a sacrifice to whatever entity lurks under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard. Its enormous weight has required the combined efforts of every able-bodied villager to haul it into position by the wading pool.

“O, evil entity that lurks under this wading pool,” Sir Henry intones, with the whole village looking on and the vicar complaining about the damage to his lawn, “accept this sacrifice of our deluxe Iguanodon pull-toy, retail value 1,458 pounds and 13 shillings, and release your captives!”

“This is stupid,” mutters Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad. Lord Jeremy Coldsore shushes him. “It’s the only way we’ve got to get Lady Margo back!”

For a full six hours, nothing happens. Just as everyone is preparing to go home before being called upon to drag the Iguanodon away, the pool gives a noisy shudder and out from under it struggles Constable Chumley–alone, without his bearers and askaris. He does look considerably the worse for wear.

“Constable!” cries Lord Jeremy. “Where the deuce is everybody else?”

Chumley replies in his quaint rural dialect which no one understands. “They be fair luftin’ all aboot yon cleefer blawn, m’lord!” he gasps. “Us fennies a reet great meshter.”

“I think he’s trying to say that unimaginable perils done ’em in,” says Twombley.

“But where is Lady Margo?” wails Jeremy. “Have you not rescued her?”

“Throck us nigh bittle ‘ee, m’lord!” The constable faints.

Meanwhile Lady Margo has finally emerged from the dreaded Scurveyshire Fens, never having been under the pool in the first place. Hopping all this way on one foot has gravely depleted her strength.

“I’m sure to be late for my own wedding!” she gasps.

At this point Ms. Crepuscular is interrupted by a peremptory pounding on her door, and most retreat to her hiding-place behind the sofa.


The Looming Curse (‘Oy, Rodney)

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Having been warned by the Wise Woman of the Woods to beware of a man with one buttock, Lord Jeremy has ordered Constable Chumley to find such a man and arrest him; but as we see in Chapter CCXL of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, this proves to be a rather difficult assignment.

“The constable’s already found four men with only one buttock,” reports Lord Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, “and one fellow in Farfield with none–and there’s a guy in Plaguesby who has three buttocks. Poor Chumley ain’t sure what he ought to do about it.”

“Well, arrest them all!” cries Lord Jeremy. “If a man with only one buttock shows up at our wedding to Lady Margo, it’ll put a curse on the marriage!”

“This thross’ll be yer flomin’ gragg,” mutters the constable, as he attempts to carry out his orders. He is concerned that the Scurveyshire jail is getting overcrowded.

To make a bad business worse, Lady Margo Cargo has begun to see this as a “reign of terror” launched by her prospective bridegroom. “I shouldn’t want our marriage to be remembered as a bad time for the shire, dear,” she says. “And, you know, it’s a funny thing about curses: the harder you try to avoid a curse, the more certain it is to overtake you.”

“That’s not funny!” growls Jeremy.

So now the jail is full to bursting, no room for the prisoners to sit down–not that the man with no buttocks can sit down, as we understand the act of sitting down–and the talk at The Lying Tart is beginning to turn nasty.

“Don’t worry about it, Germy,” Twombley consoles his friend. “We always had a whole lot of curses goin’ around in my Akkadian kingdom–” Twombley still thinks he is Sargon of Akkad–“and we learned to pay ’em no heed.”

“And that’s probably why there’s no more kingdom of Akkad,” growls Jeremy under his breath. He has never been married before, and the whole thing so far has been something of a disappointment.


‘Beware!’ (Oy, Rodney)

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“Now that the story makes sense,” writes Violet Crepuscular, we can proceed to Chapter CCXXXVIII of her epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, in which Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, prepare for their wedding to Lady Margo Cargo–who thinks they are the same person, and is troubled when she sees them together.

“It gets awfully confusing sometimes, Sargon, dear,” she confides to Twombley, who believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad.

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, darlin’,” he replies. “It’s only ancient Akkadian magic, which I got to do because there’s a lot of Babylonian secret agents after me. Jist remember that I’m only Sargon when I’m me.” This answer satisfies her. Whether it satisfies the reader or not remains in question.

But wait! Lord Jeremy has received a cryptic warning from the Wise Woman of the Woods–written in Old Estonian, for security’s sake. Twombley translates:

“Dear Lord Jeremy, how are you? I am fine. It’s me, the Wise Woman of the Woods.

“Beware the wedding guest who has only one buttock. He will put a curse on your marriage! You must take decisive action to stop him.”

Responding with alacrity (a word I seldom get to use), Lord Jeremy orders Constable Chumley to arrest everyone in Scurveyshire who has only one buttock. “Frae the decken with a crooster, m’lord,” replies the constable. He makes a beeline for the pub, The Lying Tart.

“Unless I am much mistaken,” says Lord Jeremy, “this is more of Black Rodney’s work. But it ought to be pretty easy to find a man with one buttock.”

“I knew a man like that in Dodge City,” Twombley recalls, “but I bet it ain’t him.”

Ms. Crepuscular concludes the chapter with a recipe for wood.

 


Ms. Crepuscular’s Note to the Reader (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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We are startled by Chapter CCVIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, in which she sets aside the story and addresses the reader as “a fellow pilgrim on the long road of making sense of a world full of biscuits.” It goes downhill from there.

“Dear Reader,” she writes, “it has come to my attention that, in my efforts to present this epic tale, I have neglected its beginning. This will never do. And so, while we wait for Lord Jeremy Coldsore to learn how to get around on two left feet, the result of a misapplied regime of one-legged jumping jacks intended to cure the gunshot wound in his right foot, I find I must backtrack. So without further ado, I offer this.”

Chapter IA. How Lord Jeremy Coldsore Came to Befriend Willis Twombley

Willis Twombley, a globe-trotting American adventure who believes himself to be Sargon of Akkad, has occasion to pass through Scurveyshire, where he stops for several invigorating drinks at the local pub, The Lying Tart. He is soon joined at his table by Lord Jeremy Coldsore, master of Coldsore Hall, scion of a family that obtained noble rank just in time for the Crusades.

“I say, old chap,” opens Jeremy, “if you don’t mind my saying so, you look a bit down in the mouth. One should never drink alone, you know. Permit me to keep you company, to buy you another tankard of rich brown Scurveyshire ale, and listen to whatever you care to tell me. I perceive by your barbarous accent that you are an American. I am Lord Jeremy Coldsore, of Coldsore Hall.”

“Pleased to meetcha, Germy. Willis Twombley, that’s my name–but only temporary, like. Ditto my being an American.” Twombley’s eyes twinkle in a way that would move anyone else to find an excuse to leave suddenly. He lowers his voice. “Fact is, I’m really Sargon of Akkad, a great king. And not thinkin’ it enough that they stole my throne out from under me, those dadburned Babylonians are tryin’ to plant me six feet under.”

“Good heavens,” says Jeremy.

“They been followin’ me everywhere. They almost caught me in a crummy little place called Peedle, somewheres between Russia and Portugal. Had to shoot my way out. I came here because there ain’t never been no Babylonians seen in your neck o’ the woods. I need a rest!”

Impulsively, Jeremy invites the Akkadian/American to stay a few days at Coldsore Hall. “I’m in rather a sticky situation myself, old thing. The only company I ever get anymore is creditors. My ancestors left me with a lot of unpaid debts, and the creditors are trying to take over Coldsore Hall, ancient suits of armor and all. So I can certainly sympathize with you, losing a whole kingdom and all.”

“Germy, I believe I’ll take you up on that!” Twombley drains the tankard in one gulp. “Maybe we can sort of help each other. I’ve had a lot of experience discouragin’ varmints who want to grab your home sweet home.” He twitches his threadbare drover’s overcoat to reveal a pair of massive six-guns holstered to his belt.

“And that, Dear Reader, is how it all began!” writes Ms. Crepuscular. She goes on to complain about an editor who tore up her manuscript and threatened to have her arrested.


“I Love You, Stupid!” (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Chapter CC of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, is a real pistol. I’ve heard of a reader in Caithness, Scotland, who actually enjoyed it.

Lord Jeremy Coldsore has endless difficulties with Dr. Fanabla’s regime of jumping jacks, prescribed to heal his injured foot. He has to be tied in to a harness hanging from a tree, which is the only way he can do one-legged jumping jacks: a painful and troublesome procedure. He is also waiting for the other ingredient in his cure, earth from the grave of a regicide, to be shipped from a supply house in Bucyrus, Ohio. He cannot be married to Lady Margo Cargo, the richest widow in Scurveyshire, until he can stand on both feet.

“I still can’t think of any regicides who were buried in Ohio,” he complains.

“That’s where you’re wrong, ol’ hoss,” says his friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. Twombley still thinks he is Sargon of Akkad. “This stuff comes from the grave of a dude named Watson, who murdered a man who claimed to be the rightful Lost Dauphin of France.”

Twombley lapses into nostalgia. “I once visited the grave of King Bill, who was king of a little one-horse town on the Euphrates, Utu-Mashtu. He got killed playin’ strip poker with some crooked Amorites. I never had no use for Amorites.”

Meanwhile, Lady Margo is getting uneasy about her wedding. “I can’t understand why Lord Jeremy’s foot won’t heal!” she says.

“I can’t understand why you’d want to marry that loony in the first place,” says her crusty old butler, Crusty. “Why don’t you marry me instead, you old bat?”

She is shocked. “Oh, dear! Why would I want to do that?”

“Because I love you, stupid!”

“Oh, Crusty!”

“And stop calling me Crusty! You’ve been doing it for 36 years and I’m sick and tired of it! My name is Adelbert.”

“Adelbert?” She can hardly believe her ears. “I didn’t know your name is Adelbert. And titled ladies don’t generally marry their butlers, Crusty–I mean Adelbert!”

“Batty old cow!” mutters the suitor. “Well, think about it! Meanwhile, it’s time for my trombone lesson.” Crusty is teaching himself the trombone. Honk! Ooomph! Blaaaap! It is really quite intolerable, and it places Lady Margo in a state of confusion.

The chapter concludes with a recipe for cat food sandwich cookies.


The Return of Lord Nodule (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Lord Nodule, former Justice of the Peace for Scurveyshire, has threatened to interfere with Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s wedding to Lady Margo Cargo, and is rather miffed that the wedding keeps getting postponed. In Chapter CLXXX of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, he has just returned from an inspection of the Andaman Island penal colony.

“They do things right, out there,” he says. “The place is a regular hell-hole.” To make his point more telling, he bounces up and down on a pogo stick. The owner of the local bicycle shop fears that this may start a fad and impact adversely on his business.

“Germy, we got to do somethin’ about old Nodule,” says Jeremy’s friend, Willis Twombley, the American adventurer who thinks he is Sargon of Akkad. “What say I plug him one?” He flourishes his trusty Colt. It goes off accidentally and shoots Lord Jeremy in the foot.

“Now see what you’ve done!” cries Lord Jeremy, hopping on his uninjured foot. “How am I supposed to get married on one foot?”

“I’m awful sorry, ol’ hoss. Well, maybe it’ll grow back. I seen that once. The king of Assyria cut off his foot while he was peelin’ onions, and eventually it growed back. ‘Tweren’t as good as the old foot, but he could hobble around on it okay. But that’s why they ain’t allowed to sell onions in Assyria.”

Lady Margo has a better idea. “You should have the bad foot amputated, my dear, and replaced with a nice new wooden one, beautifully upholstered, like my leg.” Her upholstered leg has a bad habit of falling off at inopportune moments, but Lord Jeremy is too tactful to mention that.

Lord Nodule hops all the way to the hospital on his pogo stick, just so he can threaten Lord Jeremy some more. “I can hardly wait for your wedding night!” he sneers. “Will I have a surprise for you!”

So Twombley shoots him. They explain it away as a pogo stick accident. Constable Chumley is sympathetic. “Many’s the loor in a fathin’ veeth,” he says, quoting a wise old Scurveyshire proverb.

“I promise to present the wedding as soon as Jeremy’s foot is healed,” Ms. Crepuscular reassures her readers. “Meanwhile, the next chapter will tide you over with a pleasant little folk tale from Estonia.”

We can hardly wait.

 

 


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