The End of All Decency (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“Gotcha with that title, didn’t I!” snickers Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter DCXLVII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “Well, that’s how I won my spurs–” spurs? Is Roy Rogers here?–“as the Queen of Suspense! And one of the great secret techniques of ‘suspense’ is to deceive the reader!” Not a secret anymore, though, is it?

Constable Chumley, now disguised as a ghost–really, it was much too hot inside that deep-sea diving helmet–continues to “haunt” (ha-ha!) The Lying Tart, trying to get the goods on the ritualistic poking ring rumored to meet in the pub’s back room. With the sheet over him, patrons give the constable a wide berth. Too bad he forgot to cut out eye-holes. “Aft yon burrdin cligh,” he explains.

She has forgotten about the rhinoceros in the cocoon behind the chicken coop. It seems wiser not to remind her.

Meanwhile, a reader named Mrs. Panty, from Dixieville, Manchuria, asks the question that we’ve all been asking: “What the heck is ‘ritualized poking’?”

Alas, Ms. Crepuscular is not yet ready to divulge that information. “I still haven’t found words to describe it, it’s just that awful!” she admits.

Mt. Scurveyshire Erupts (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“Kaaaa-BOOM!” writes Violet Crepuscular, introducing chapter DCXLII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “Mount Scurveyshire has erupted! The roads are already choked with refugees fleeing to Czechoslovakia.”

[Excuse me. The regular editor plotzed when he read that last sentence. He had to be locked in a padded cell for his own good. I have been named to replace him because my knowledge of history and geography is no better than it should be.]

The krikitt match goes on, though. “It’s tradition,” explains Lady Margo Cargo, in a candid aside to the reader. “Krikitt has been played here since the time of Piltdown Man. We can’t let a volcano hold us back!”

Despite the tremendous noise, Mt. Scuuveyshire has produced little more than a bump in the ground. A ragged urchin plugged the hole with his poor tattered garment.

“I do not mean a sea urchin!” adds Ms. Crepuscular. “Sea urchins are pachyderms. Or something. I mean a poor little orphan boy named Zaph-enaph-Kraputni. How is that for bringing home the suspense! I’ll bet none of you saw that coming!”

I think I’ll put a thumbtack on her chair. There is a limit to the abuse a substitute editor must take.

Volcano Threatens Scurveyshire! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Does your group have more cavities than theirs? Is it a breath mint or a candy mint? How do you get rid of waxy build-up on your kitchen floor?

The Queen of Suspense wants to know.

“As serious as these problem are,” she confides in the reader, introducing Chapter DXLIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “they do have one thing in common. They are about to become irrelevant!”

(Well, gosh, I could’ve told you that and I’m only the editor. Nobody listens to me.)

She taps Johnno the Merry Minstrel to deliver the news to Scurveyshire. Johnno is the only one who can make it rhyme. Sort of.

“We have a volcano about to erupt,/ and stifle the honest, wipe out the corrupt/, and pump out lots of lava to bury the shire:/ it’s news of the worst kind, for the whole quacking shire!” Eat your heart out, Wordsworth.

Mt. Scurveyshire has never erupted before. It’s never even been a proper mountain. If you’re looking for something like this, forget it.

Vulcanic eruption on postage stamp of Papua New Guinea Stock Photo - Alamy

The American adventurer who thinks he’s Sargon of Akkad, Willis Twombley, solemnly shakes his head and thoughtfully fires a few shots into the air. “Old Hammurabi,” he soliloquizes, “always said those volcanoes in New Guinea were the worst–you never know where they’ll turn up next.”

Still reeling from his duel with Ginsu knives, against himself (it was a draw), Lord Jeremy Coldsore stares piercingly at Twombley. “Don’t New Guinea volcanoes just stay in New Guinea?” he inquires.

“That’s where you’re wrong, old hoss!” Twombley ululates.

Here the Queen of Suspense shuts down the chapter. To create more suspense. I ought to publish her phone number.

The Mystery of the Vicar’s Wading Pool (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“As any schoolboy might expect,” writes Violet Crepuscular, the Queen of Suspense, in Chapter DXXVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “Scurveyshire has its share of cold snaps!” The exclamation point is added to make it more suspenseful. Read all about in in Violet Crepuscular’s manual, How to Write Good ($22.98 plus postage).

Ah! But what no one expects is that during this horribly cold snap, the water in the Vicar’s backyard wading pool has not frozen over! (More suspense.) And late that chilly night, peering out her bedroom window with binoculars to see if anyone is daft enough to be running around with no clothes on, Lady Margo Cargo, sweeping her lenses back and forth over the forbidding arctic landscape, suddenly spots the ungainly monstrous head of a monster popping up from the water in the middle of the pool. But when she sweeps back, the head is gone… with only a few baseball cards left floating on the surface.

If only the telephone had been invented already! She could roust Constable Chumley out of bed to come over and investigate. She could rouse her crusty butler, Crusty, but he has threatened to shoot her if she wakes him. You can only get so much mileage out of being the richest widow in Scurveyshire.

Here the chapter ends abruptly, doubtless to build suspense. Please don’t ask what happened to Chapter DXXVII. There are some things mankind was never meant to know.

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

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Introducing Chapter DII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular delves deeply into Willis Twombley’s preparations for a safari. The reader will recall that a rhinoceros has been seen coming out from under the vicar’s backyard wading pool; it is feared that the unpredictable beast will terrorize all of Scurveyshire. The rhino has also been seen digging a burrow that extends back under the pool.

Ms. Crepuscular offers a spirited defense of her art. “In my spirited defense of my art,” she writes, “I utterly reject, contemn, and floccinate all those who have taken it upon themselves to assert that rhinoceroses never burrow, I must be thinking of chipmunks or woodchucks.

“Fie! They should all get cooties! A murrain upon them! Notice that not one of those ingrates–” she means her readers–“ever even mentioned poor Lord Jeremy, held prisoner by Constable Chumley’s mother, the Lithping Knight Thir Lanthelot!” [Challenge to readers: Go ahead, I dare you–read that last sentence aloud, to anybody.] “How quickly they forget! How little they care!”

Getting back to the safari (if we can!), the first thing Twombley does is hire a guide. This is inexplicable to me, but I suppose Ms. Crepuscular, the Queen of Suspense, has some dark suspenseful design in mind.

“I’d also like to hire an interpreter,” he soliloquizes, “in case we run into any of those tribes that don’t speak Swahili.”

No one around here speaks Swahili!” Lady Margo protests.

“Bags of beads and glass jewelry always come in handy, too,” he muses.

Stay tuned. This could actually get silly.

The Big 500th! Go, Go, Go ‘Oy, Rodney’!

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This is exciting beyond words! Violet Crepuscular has achieved 500 chapters of her epic (not to say immortal) romance, Oy, Rodney. Who else do you know who’s written a book that’s 500 chapters long? And it isn’t even finished!

We are having a huge gigantic party at Phoebe’s house–just follow the easy WordPress directions to get there.

You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a caterer who could provide toothpaste-filled twinkies.

Meanwhile, introducing Chapter D–I don’t know, does that look funny?–of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Ms. Crepuscular takes up a brand-new plot threat. (“Threat”? Surely I meant “thread.”)

“Several persons of unquestioned veracity have reported seeing a large rhinoceros in the vicar’s back yard,” she writes. “Rhinoceri are not native to Scurveyshire.” She has provided a picture for those readers who do not know what a rhinoceros is.

Greater One-Horned Rhino | Species | WWF

The beast has been seen emerging from under the vicar’s wading pool and burrowing back down under it as only a rhinoceros can burrow. “The situation is increasingly porous,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “Only Sir John Squoles understands the situation–and Constable Chumley has locked him up!”

It’s getting so the Queen of Suspense is finding her own books too suspenseful to read. “Sometimes she has to have Mr. Pitfall read them to her while she cowers under the sink,” reports Hack Writing Tonight.

The Man with One Buttock (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDLXXXXV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “The reader will surely remember, a few hundred chapters ago, how a man with one buttock came to Scurveyshire and was taken for an oracle of bad things to come. Well, this man, Sir Charles Squole, has since–”

STOP! I can’t stand it! What about Constable Chumley hanging from the cliff’s edge by his fingertips? You can’t just start babbling about some guy with one buttock!

“This is what being the Queen of Suspense is all about,” adds Ms. Crepuscular. One of these days she’s going to go too far.

It seems Sir Charles Squole has invented a backyard trampoline and has been looking for a place to set it up. People don’t like his funny walk, so he tends to favor places like the Cliffs of Doom, where there’s not likely to be anyone about to bother him.

This time he should have looked up to the top of the cliff, but didn’t. Instead, he goes ahead and sets up his trampoline at the base of the cliff–

Just as the last of Constable Chumley’s strength gives out and he loses his grip, and plummets screaming toward the jagged rocks below–

But he lands on Sir Charles’ trampoline, bounces straight back up the way he came, and has the presence of mind to land on top of the cliff. Saved!

[Audience boos vociferously. People demand their money back.]

“I see I’ve offended the dullards out there,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “Well, tough nooggies for them! I’m writing romance here,” she exsanguinates, “not a fossing physics textbook!”

I am not going to ask about the lisping knight who turned out to be Constable Chumley’s mother.

The Whole Shebang Collapses (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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I knew this would happen. It was inevitable.

Violet Crepuscular has lost the thread of her story.

Last week we had Chapter CDLX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, dealing with a colossal match-fixing scandal in Scurveyshire’s Boxing Day Boxing Tournament, It looked like the entire shire was going to go backrupt. And there was still that business of the hydra and the jackalope.

And yet suddenly, inexplicably, we find ourselves at Chapter MMMMMCDLXIIXIX, somewhere around the year 800,000 A.D., with giant crabs dominating the landscape and humans forced to share cardboard boxes with their cats.

“Bet you never saw that coming!” Ms. Crepuscular cuckolds her readers.

This really is the limit. It’s not like Ms. Crepuscular’s is the most demanding audience in the world. Indeed, they are content with practically nothing. Just don’t let air out of their tires, and they’ll hail you as a literary giant.

Violet, you’d better get back on track or I’ll have no alternative but to shut you down, “Queen of Suspense” or not. The last thing I need is mobs of Oy, Rodney fans throwing stuff at my bedroom window.

Don’t you push this thing too far.

A Romantic Romance–‘Oy Rodney’

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Ah, at long last! Chapter CDLVI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, ‘Oy, Rodney.’

Let’s see, where were we? Um… something about a hydra terrorizing the town of Scurveyshire, and a jackalope eating up the vicar’s kitchen garden…

And yet when we turn the page and finally get to Chapter CDLVI, what do we see, what do we read about, but a whole bunch of… kissing? Smooching? Making whoopee? Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Ms. Crepuscular explains. “I have been inundated with tadpoles–or rather, comments by readers–demanding to know when there’s going to be some romance in my romance. I really don’t know why I said ‘tadpoles.’ Do you? So what’s wrong with opening a chapter with Lord Jeremy and Lady Margo kissing as they dance?” She pronounces it “donce.”

Well, the last time we saw them, just a page or two ago, Lady Margo’s wig was on fire and her upholstered wooden leg had fallen off, and Lord Jeremy was trying to tap-dance with his two left feet and making a hash of it; and in the same little room we had a cowboy stretched out on the floor, dead to the world, and the vicar’s conniptions. And now it’s dancing and kissing?

On the High Street of Scurveyshire, Ms. Crepuscular informs us, the hydra is now eating people. Johnno the Merry Minstrel is horse de combat (“That’s Frentch, you peasants!” she interbreeds) after trying to cut off one of the hydra’s nine heads–the wrong one, as luck would have it.

Join us next week for more drivel from the Queen of Suspense!

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!”