Tag Archives: silly romance novels

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.


The Plankton Kid (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“I am much distracted,” Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, “by police officers digging up my back garden. I am sure I haven’t buried any bodies there! But I must proceed to Chapter CCCV of my epic romance, Oy, Rodney.”

It seems the editors of Upholstery World have gotten wind of Lady Margo Cargo’s handsomely upholstered wooden leg, the only one of its kind in England, and sent a reporter to interview her. He arrives at her luxurious country house just as she is about to serve tea to her two fiances, Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his friend, the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. She thinks they are the same person. When she sees them together, she think she needs new glasses.

“Madam, my name is Archibald Cruxley and I am a reporter for Upholstery World–” But Twombley interrupts him.

“Well dog my cats–a reporter! You must be here to ask me about my famous shootout with the Plankton Kid!”

“Er, really, sir, I’m only here to interview–”

“I know, I know–it’s hard to believe!” cries Twombley. He digs into his back pocket. “But here’s a picture to prove it!”

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Everyone stares fascinatedly at the array of plankton. “All them little critters–that’s why he was called the Plankton Kid,” explains Twombley. “He had all of Dodge City eatin’ out of his hand, till I came along and plugged him.”

“What was he doing with all that plankton?” wonders Lady Margo.

“Don’tchu fret yore pretty little head about that, honey! It was sort of a callin’ card–every time he shot someone, the Plankton Kid used to stuff some plankton up his nose.”

“I say!” Lord Jeremy explains. “Wasn’t that dashed disrespectful to the dead?”

“Not the victim’s nose. His own nose–he stuffed it up his own nose,” Twombley elucidates.

Ms. Crepuscular breaks in with some harsh words for the police, who have just uprooted her begonias.


Lady Margo Hires a Detective (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Coldsore Hall needs a new roof, people are packing up to flee the shire, and Lord Jeremy has to find the seventh son of a seventh son (who must also be an expert morris dancer) to lift the curse off the vicar’s backyard wading pool. Does that say “Pick me up and read me!”, or what?

Welcome to Chapter CCCV of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Chapter CCCIV didn’t get written because the police came over to take samples of Ms. Crepuscular’s toothpaste. The less said about that, the better.

As the richest widow in Scurveyshire, Lady Margo summons up enough public spirit–and money–to hire Sir Ranulph Toadsome, London’s premier consulting detective (Sherlock Holmes is still a schoolboy). Sir Ranulph is only some two feet tall, but people pretend not to notice that.

“The seventh son of a seventh son, expert morris dancer, lives on an island off the coast of Scotland which only appears on a map in a church that’s not a church.” Sir Ranulph sums up the case. “And you need him as soon as possible! Is that the mission?”

“In a nutshell, Sir Ranulph,” Lady Margo replies.

“You got it, shorty,” says the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. Lord Jeremy kicks him in the shin. Sir Ranulph Toadsome glares hypnotically.

“The last man who called me that died in Broadmoor,” he declares. He is, of course, referring to the notorious high-security psychiatric hospital; but Twombley thinks he means an almost equally notorious township in New Jersey. He is about to say something about that when Lord Jeremy kicks his other shin.

“Cases like this only appear to be difficult,” Sir Ranulph says. “To the experienced deductive reasoner, they present only slight difficulty. In the meantime, why don’t your people just keep their distance from the wading pool?” To this question no one has an answer. They are not big on answers in Scurveyshire, these days.

“I must break the chapter here,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “and clean up the mess those loutish policemen made of my bathroom. As if there could be anything wrong with my toothpaste!”


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.


A Traveling Salesman Calls (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Now out on bail, Violet Crepuscular introduces Chapter CCCI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney:

“Dear readers, I am out of durance vile by virtue of my editor, who paid $900 bail just before the publisher fired him. The judge ate one of my toothpaste rolls and is not only still alive, but has also expressed doubt that I have poisoned anyone on purpose. This has enabled me to continue my novel in peace!”

In this chapter, a traveling salesman named Elston The Traveling Salesman, finding Scurveyshire added to his route, visits The Lying Tart. Mr. Elston sells paper cutlery. He used to sell ordinary steel cutlery, but found that to be unworthy of his talents as a salesman. He relishes the challenge of selling paper knives and forks. His wife and children are starving, but he is unaware of that.

Having stood a round of drinks, Mr. Elston proceeds to sell several sets of deluxe paper cutlery. The locals, meanwhile, bring him up to date on Scurveyshire’s current troubles. People are still rather miffed about all those peasants being sucked under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard.

“But this is absurd!” remarks the salesman. “Why, it would be the easiest thing in the world for all of you to get together and simply drag the pool away!”

This strikes most of the customers as a most irresponsible saying, probably motivated by an evil quirk in Mr. Elston’s character.

“That’s exactly the sort of thing a witch would say!” exclaims a jolly toper named Ernest Phinrod. In no time at all the entire company is convinced that Mr. Elston is a witch, in league with the spirit of the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney. An impromptu taproom court immediately sentences Mr. Elston to death.

“You must not judge them too harshly,” Ms. Crepuscular admonishes her readers. “The good people of Scurveyshire do the best they can in spite of their massive ignorance. Most traveling salesmen do get out of Scurveyshire alive. Mr. Elston was merely one of the unfortunate few.”

As Scurveyshire’s Justice of the Peace, Lord Jeremy Coldsore is not informed of the incident until after it has been concluded.

“There’s likely to be a spot of trouble over this!” he muses fretfully.


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.


That Business with the Mob of Peasants (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCXCIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, “Let me confide in you, dear readers! I do wish Mr. Duigon had not said I was ‘in jail’! I was merely helping the police with their inquiries. They are trying to discover who, if anyone, poisoned Mr. Pitfall, and they now suspect everyone in the neighborhood–he is that unpopular. I hope they realize now that my toothpaste rolls couldn’t make anybody that sick!” She is a little miffed that none of the police officers was willing to try one himself.

Moving on to the chapter, she describes the grief and horror that overwhelmed all Scurvyshire when Mr. Percy Puce, F.R.S., the shire’s Resident Genius, disappeared below the vicar’s backyard wading pool as the result of a fall from a clandestine sliding board. Don’t ask me if that’s a suitable adjective for a sliding board. I just work here.

Provoked beyond measure, a mob of peasants armed with torches and pitchforks assembles at The Lying Tart. Why they should want torches in broad daylight is mystifying. Maybe it’s just a thing that mobs of peasants do.

“We’ll destroy the vicar’s wading pool if it’s the last thing we do!” vows the mob’s ringleader, button collecter Oswald Backdraft, Official Ringleader of the Peasants Benevolent Association. The mob rushes off to the vicar’s back yard and that’s the last anybody sees of them.

Hours later, word of the incident reaches Lord Jeremy Coldsore at Coldsore Hall, where they have just put the Marquess of Grone to bed.

“We’re going to run out of peasants at this rate!” ejaculates Lord Jeremy. (“It’s a perfectly permissible use of that verb!” insists Ms. Crepuscular. I just work here.) “Constable Chumley, you ought to have prevented this disaster!”

“Huish, M’lord, I deagle fair maundery this fleethin’,” parries the constable. He rushes off to The Lying Tart to see if he can find any clues at the bottom of a tankard of ale.

This still leaves five chapters, I think, to be written before catching up to Chapter CCC, which Ms. Crepuscular has written out of order. “I pledge myself to accomplish this,” she writes in a chapter-ending footnote, “provided I am left in peace!”


That Business with the Sliding Board (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCXCII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “I shall now indulge in a flashback, to tell you, dear readers, all about that lamentable business with the sliding board.” It isn’t really a flashback, because she is now writing chapters out of order. And her editor has not returned her phone calls.

It seems that Scurveyshire’s resident genius, Percy Puce, F.R.S., the Resident Genius, has deduced that although considerable danger lurks below the vicar’s backyard wading pool, “Up on top, within the pool, one is perfectly safe. If only one had some means of entering the water without coming too close to the edge of the pool, one would be able to enjoy a refreshing swim.” The water in the pool is less than a foot deep, but Mr. Puce has some unusual ideas about swimming.

In the dead of night, Percy has workmen come and erect a sliding board just a few feet from the pool. They are too drunk to contemplate the danger of this enterprise. With the sliding board in place, the genius scrambles up the ladder, pauses for a moment at the top to strike an heroic pose, then races down the board as fast as his legs can carry him. “He has learned this trick by observing his pet hamster,” Ms. Crepuscular confides in the reader.

Alas, he slips on the ramp, his feet shoot out from under him, and his body describes an impressive arc through the air as he lands with a crash on his coccyx.

The sliding board itself slides under the pool and disappears. Howling with pain, Mr. Percy Puce disappears, too. The appalling character of the scene penetrates the workmen’s drunken haze and they rush back to The Lying Tart to tell the tale and quaff more ale.

Ms. Crepuscular is interrupted in her artistic endeavors by two police officers pounding on her door.

Editor’s note: I couldn’t find a suitable picture of someone taking a running start and then falling off a sliding board. It isn’t done that often.


One of the Skipped Chapters of ‘Oy, Rodney’

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Turn we now unto one of the chapters skipped over by Violet Crepuscular in her mad rush to Chapter CCC of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Constable Chumley, with Lord Jeremy Coldsore, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, and Johnno the Merry Minstrel peering over his shoulder, at the start of Chapter CCXCIII, is picking the lock so they can search the attic of Coldsore Hall for the missing Marquess of Grone, Lord Cromleigh or whatever his name is. Sheesh, what a sentence!

“Yeer, us’ll see now,” Chumley mutters, “that’s a fithul bricken yairst…”

Click! The door is unlocked. The constable begins to turn the knob–

“By Jove, the attic’s the only place where we haven’t put in any antimacassars to fend off the spirit of Black Rodney,” Johnno is about to point out. But before he can admonish Chumley to be careful, a tremendous explosion nearly hurls the whole group back down the stairs. “Kaboom!” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “I have always found, in describing an explosion, that ‘Kaboom!’ is preferable to ‘Blasto!’ or ‘Boom!'”

When the smoke clears, the door is hanging from a single hinge and half the roof of Coldsore Hall has been blown off. Lord Jeremy, briefly contemplating the cost of repairing it, faints. Twombley just manages to grab him before he tumbles down the appallingly long flight of stairs.

“We never put any antimacassars in the attic,” Johnno remarks.

“A little late for that, ol’ hoss!” parries Twombley.

The constable’s helmet has disappeared, his uniform is in tatters, his hair disarranged, and his face awash with soot. “He looks rather like Wile E. Coyote after one of those Acme sticks of dynamite blows up in his face,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, in an intimate aside, “but of course I can’t mention that because it would be an anachronism.”

The attic is now in considerable disarray. If the missing peer is there, does he still live?

“I shall divulge that in the next chapter, breaking off here to heighten the suspense,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. She has forgotten that this has already been divulged by her writing Chapter CCC before Chapter CCXCII. So there’s no suspense to speak of.


The 300th Chapter of ‘Oy, Rodney’

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In her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular has skipped from Chapter CCXCI to Chapter CCC. “I crave the reader’s indulgence,” she writes, “and I promise to go back and write those intervening chapters as soon as the police stop coming around here to investigate the toothpaste rolls I made for Mr. Pitfall. It was not my fault he ate too many and is now in intensive care at the hospital. Besides which, Chapter CCC is a milestone which I wanted to reach as soon as possible.” Of course, she could have written it first and saved herself the trouble.

This is how we wind up with half the roof blown off the top of Coldsore Hall, the Marquess of Grone found crouching behind some old steamer trunks in the attic with his hair frozen straight up from his scalp, babbling about the ghost of the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney, stealing his pocket watch, and a whole mob of Scurveyshire peasants, armed with torches and pitchforks, disappearing under the vicar’s backyard wading pool. We have no idea how any of this happened.

Chapter CCC opens with the marquess in bed and Lady Margo Cargo bending over him with a can of fishing worms. He thinks she’s Queen Victoria, with whom he once played Chutes and Ladders.

“Please, my lord, try to concentrate!” Lady Margo coos. “Tell me what these things are, wriggling around inside this can.”

“I’m sorry, Ma’am, Your Majesty, but I am allergic to frumpweed and I wish you would remove it from under my nose,” whimpers the peer of the realm.

“Is he any better today?” asks Lord Jeremy Coldsore, standing in the doorway and doing his best to strike a dignified pose despite having two left feet.

“Oh, much better!” cries Lady Margo. She and Lord Jeremy cannot get married until the stricken peer recovers. “As you can see, those frozen hairs are falling out and his eyes have stopped rolling. But he’s still confused about certain objects.”

“My aunt is still weeping in the garden.” Lady Petunia, the marquess’ wife, has been weeping steadily ever since a piece of the chimney fell on her. And of course there was that business with the sliding board.

“I showed this chapter to my editor,” Ms. Crepuscular interjects, “and he says it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. He is a great believer in skipping chapters. And now I have to stop because the police are at my door again.”

 


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