The Day They Stopped the World… in Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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For one day of the year, every year, without fail, everything stops in Scurveyshire. Just comes to a total halt.

For this is the day the Royal Handwriting Inspector visits Scurveyshire to inspect everyone’s handwriting. It is an ancient custom going back to the days of the otherwise forgotten Anglo-Saxon king, Herb Meyer.

All right, inspection’s over–everybody back to work!

“These local traditions are incrostical,” writes author Violet Crepuscular, glossing over her failure to provide a Chapter DXXI for her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “Back in Henry XI’s time, anyone who failed to pass the handwriting inspection was denied the use of a sandbox.”

Anyway, the only thing that happened while this stupid inspection was going on was that the rhinoceros spun her cocoon behind Dr. Weezle’s chicken coop and is now dormant. And spies from Babylon, unfamiliar with the customs of rural England, stuck out like sore thumbs because they continued working while everyone else stopped–so it was no difficult matter for Willis Twombley to shoot them after the inspectors left.

Wait’ll all those rhino eggs hatch, though! They don’t call Violet the Queen of Suspense for nothing. She pays them to do it.

Chaos at Coldsore Hall! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter DXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular, the Queen of Suspense, told us how Lord Jeremy Coldsore, locked out of his ancestral hall by roistering servants who think it’s still the 18th century, fell off his perch and was gored and trampled by a rhinoceros. All 213 bones in his body were broken. “That will teach him to try and evolve wings,” writes Ms. Crepuscular.

A week later he’s up and around. The American adventurer, Willis Twombley, who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, has used his six-gun to re-instill decorum in those wild and crazy servants. “Jist leave it to me, Germy,” quoth Willis. He needs to shoot only two of the servants before the others get the message.

This is all told in Chapter DXX. Chapter DXIX is too puerile and improbable to be reproduced here. Even Violet thinks so. “I have written a chapter too puerile and improbable to be reproduced here,” she writes. Send her a check for $3.98 and she’ll send you a summary of the chapter.

Meanwhile the rhinoceros, having laid several clutches of eggs, is now preparing to spin a cocoon in which to spend the winter. It will be a rather large cocoon.

 

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.

Oops!

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.

 

Treed by a Wild Rhinoceros (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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No publisher has ever asked Violet Crepuscular, “Write us a Thomas Harris! But you’ll still be paid like a Violet Crepuscular.” But what does she care? She has incriminating photos of the publisher.

Turn we unto Chapter DXVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, and we find Lord Jeremy Coldsore still unable to get into Coldsore Hall. His servants all make like they don’t know who he is. They are having a wild party. And now the poor devil’s up a tree–

Literally: he has been chased up a tree by the same rhinoceros that’s been burrowing under the vicar’s backyard wading pool and laying eggs in his phlox bed. Ms. Crepuscular takes great pains to describe the tree and include botanical notes–but who are we to criticize the Queen of Suspense? I think it’s supposed to be something called a West Indian Sauerbratten Tree.

The rhinoceros overturns a tool shed and lays a clutch of 15 eggs where the edger used to be. Out of the main house charges Johnno the Merry Minstrel.

“Beast!” he jallops. “Knock over my patron’s tool shed, will you?” He has forgotten how large and dangerous a rhinoceros can be. We shall join him, in the next chapter, at the hospital.

[Postscript by Ms. Crepuscular: My use of the word “jallop” has been called into question. But I do not argue with ignormuses.]

‘Oy, Rodney’ Wins Literary Prize!

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Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, has won the Pokeweed Township Prize for Literature. The township committee has thanked Ms. Crepuscular for putting up the prize money.

But to return to the exciting story itself, in Chapter DXVI, Lord Jeremy Coldsore finally plucks up the courage to re-enter his ancestral home, Coldsore Hall, from which he has been absent several days, detained in a dungeon by the Lithping Knight Thir Lanthelot, who is actually Constable Chumley’s mother in disguise. Lord Jeremy has forgotten where he hid the spare key.

Williams the third under-footman answers the door. He has forgotten what his master, Lord Jeremy, looks like. He thinks Lord Jeremy is selling salve. “There is no one home,” he says-shutting off the sounds of frantic revelry within by shutting the door in Lord Jeremy’s face.

At this point Ms. Crepuscular interrupts the story.

“I feel it incumbent upon me to remind readers that today is November 6,” she writes. “I need hardly explain its significance!” So she doesn’t.

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.

The Lost Chapter of ‘Oy, Rodney’

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First she lost her notes on Chief Oxyartes, whose appearance on the stage would have climaxed Oy, Rodney with a bang you could’ve heard in South Amboy, NJ (where big bangs make them nervous).

Now all of Chapter DXI, “the Dixie Chapter” of her epic romance, has gone missing.

Author Violet Crepuscular confides in the reader: “I find it necessary to confide in the reader–the gremlins have been at me non-stop! It’s enough to fulgorize you. No one ever said it’d be easy, being The Queen of Suspense! But does it have to be so hard?”

Nothing daunted, she declares her intention to proceed to Chapter DXII as if nothing has happened.

“Now I must conduct the reader to The Big Scary Woods, a little-known corner of the great forest that breathes down Scurveyshire’s neck,” she writes. No one from Scurveyshire goes there, it’s too crowded. (Strike that! Strike it, I say! She will not be permitted to steal jokes from Yogi Berra.) Actually, no one goes there because it’s freakin’ dangerous. In the barely recognizable Village of Evil dwell men and women who look enough like giant frogs to be giant frogs. (Now she’s stealing from H.P. Lovecraft! I want out of here!)

Here the chapter abruptly breaks off. The five toothpaste cupcakes that she had for breakfast seem to have disagreed with her.

Jailbreak! (Oy, Rodney)

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Suddenly we are in Chapter DXI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. No signs of Chapter DX. Reconstructing the lost chapter from subtle hints in this one, we conclude that Constable Chumley’s mother has given up being The Lithping Knight Thir Lanthelot and gone on a world cruise; and Chumley and Jerrold Coelocanth, got into a shouting match that no one else understood.

“Ye fitthick skurn!” (That sounds nasty!–Ed.)

“Ooblz glquuwe!”

“Yar, soth varny yir buckers!”

“Mnng Cthulhu!”  And so on.

Also in the lost chapter, Lord Jeremy Coldsore escapes from Mom’s Dungeon and winds up fleeing from the hounds in a wooded tract in southern Transylvania. I am at a loss to explain how that could have happened.

Ms. Crepuscular takes a moment to speak directly to her readers, all four of them.

“I am taking a moment to speak directly to my readers,” she writes, “because I have failed to find my notes on Chief Oxyartes and am therefor unable to produce a climax and finish my book. Sometimes Brownies get into my house. Maybe they took the notes. I am on the verge of phrognostricating!”

As for what actually happens in Chapter DXI, it may be that the less said about that, the better.

 

What? No Oxyartes? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter DIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, author Violet Crepuscular (“the Queen of Suspense”) apologizes for having failed to introduce Chief Oxyartes.

“I am contrifusiated!” she confesses. “Chief Oxyartes would have tied the whole plot together! He would have resolved everything. Another half a dozen chapters, and I’d’ve been done! Free to go on to the next book!” (Oy, Rodney 2: The Interminable.) “Alas and alack and woe! The notes I jotted down for Oxyartes somehow wound up as the paper in my home-made fortune cookies.”

Meanwhile in Chapter DIX, Constable Chumley meets Jerrold Coelocanth, the Man with the Unpronounceable Word.

“Dith yon borda maken silphlessness?” the constable inquires.

To which Mr. Coelocanth replies, “Ygglth pkaa.” Chumley arrests him for public lewdness, even though they’re not in public. “Hir miggle mine gulph,” he would explain to Lord Jeremy Coldsore, justice of the peace. He says it anyway, not noticing that Lord Jeremy isn’t there.

Jeremy is still being held by Constable Chumley’s mother as a prisoner of love. He has scrawled pleas for help on his dinner plates and hurled them out the window to many of Europe’s most famous rivers. One washes up in Johnno the Merry Minstrel’s back yard, up against the bird feeder.

[We don’t have the rest of this chapter. She’s turning the place upside-down, looking for notes on Chief Oxyartes. I’m the editor and I have no idea who that dude is. I am reasonably sure we can get along without him.]

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