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.
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.]
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.
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.]
Violet Crepuscular introduces Chapter DV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, with an extensive list of flaws in her neighbor, Mr. Pitfall’s, character. “He’ll eat your toothpaste sandwich cookies and then just leave you!” she laments. “Or else he’ll just stick around and bug you!”
So much for Chapter DV.
In Chapter DVI, while the American adventurer Willis Twombley is still organizing a safari, the rhinoceros has again crept out from under the vicar’s backyard wading pool and returned to digging burrows all around the property. Twombley would see the brute if he only turned around!
“Someone’s going to fall into one of those burrows and break a leg!” excalibrates Lady Margo Cargo, who already has one wooden leg (upholstered) and would rather not have two. “Quick, darling–there it is!”
Twombley can scarcely conceal his disappointment. “Gol-durnit, honey-child! That ain’t no African rhino!” He wipes the tears from his weather-beaten cheeks. “Hell’s bells, that’s an Indian rhino! Which means I can’t use this here safari: gotta send ’em all home–” some of them have come all the way from Zanzibar, they’re that desperate for work–“and recruit Indian men for a shikari!”
“Couldn’t you just…er… shoot the rhino, now that he’s here? Oooh, he’s digging up my gladiolus! Will you please just shoot the bloomin’ rhino!”
Twombley floxerizes. “No can do, dearie! The rajahs get mad if you shoot their rhinos without their permission. Gotta find the rajah and square it with him. And then go about hiring new bearers and beaters.”
Lady Margo screams (they heard her in Detroit), “There are no flaming rajahs in Scurveyshire!” The chapter ends before she can have full-fledged conniptions.
Violet Crepuscular, best-selling romance writer and The Queen of Suspense, is earning a little pocket money by selling a kit “positively guaranteed to make you the king of comedy in your neighborhood!” she declares.
Each Violet’s Witti-Kit includes a big nose with mustache and glasses, a whoopee cushion, one of those things that goes “Bzzzzzt!” when you shake hands, a squirting daisy, a transparent plastic ice cube with a fly in it, and an exclusive four-page pamphlet, “My Favorite Jokes,” by Marvin Fundahl, whoever he was.
The price will make you laugh, too: $24.95 plus postage, handling, and crime suppression. Buy any three chapters of Oy, Rodney and get a 30-cent coupon! (I think it’s for wheat germ.)
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.
Very few epic romance novels can carry the ball for 500 chapters. But Violet Crepuscular’s Oy, Rodney has racked up 499. She prefers Roman numerals: CDLXXXXIX.
We are launched into the chapter by a warning not to deal with stained teeth by painting them over with Wite-Out. “Mr. Pitfall tried that once, and was sick for two months. Parts of him actually fell off.”
In Chapter CDLXXXXIX, we are abruptly returned to the vicar’s back yard–where his carnivorous wading pool awaits another victim. This victim will be Dr. Pendergast, the vicar’s rival in love and chess. They once played a game of chess to decide which of them would marry a woman called “Killjoy Kate.” Dr. Pendergast lost and had to marry her. He blames the vicar.
Now he sneaks into the vicar’s back yard, looking for Iron Age remains. Suddenly–
ZAP! Was that a gigantic chameleon? We don’t know! It shot out from under the wading pool and almost in the same instant shot back in, wrapped around the unfortunate Dr. Pendergast. The last we hear of him is a desolated cry of “Holmes! Holmes!” Or was that someone else?
“If you do wind up with stained teeth,” adds Ms. Crepuscular, in a footnote to the climax of the chapter, “you need more toothpaste in your diet! Try it on your sausages! You’ll be amazed by the results.”
Violet Crepuscular, author of the epic romance Oy, Rodney and self-anointed “Queen of Suspense,” now has a real title to hang on her wall.The Brmytsov suspender factory in Vorozhnyrmytz, Kazakhstan, has honored her as “Queen of Suspenders.” [Note: the model in the pictures is not Ms. Crepuscular.]
Ms. Crepuscular has declined to comment, although neighbors say they have heard her “yelling and breaking things.” “Queen of suspense, not suspenders!” she has reportedly exclaimed. “I don’t even wear suspenders!” [Lewd expletives deleted.]
A dinner will be held in Ms. Crepuscular’s honor at the Restaurant of Tasty Joy, on the skirts of Myzhnytskquoe Mountain.