Monthly Archives: April 2015


Damn the ringing telephone. It sounded like death. Heinrich Schlosser gritted his teeth as he answered the phone.
“Is it true?” a voice whispered.
“Is what true?” Heinrich knew very well what the caller wanted to know, but he forced him to say it anyway.
“Is this the number you call—the number to let the government know—I’m a good German and I want to help my country. But is it true I will be paid? Patriotism should be rewarded, I say.”
The whiny, low voice made Heinrich sick to his stomach. The man still had not said enough. He had to say the repulsive words.
“And what do you want to be rewarded for?”
“Jews.” It was whispered as though a loathsome, disease that shall be unnamed.
“What about Jews?” Heinrich held his breath a moment. He heard sounds of hatred and disgust in his voice that might give him away. No one could ever discover he was Jewish and was working undercover at Gestapo headquarters. He closed his eyes as his voice lightened. “You know where there are Jews?”
“Two doors down,” the man said eagerly, now that the impasse had been broken. “They try to hide it, but I know. I know.”
“Very good,” Heinrich said, taking a pencil to his pad. “And the address?” After the man gave the information, he added, “And your address?”
“My address?” Apprehension entered his voice.
“Of course,” Heinrich replied. “You want your reward, don’t you?”
“Yes, of course. Patriotism should be rewarded, I say.”
After the man hung up, Heinrich passed the slip of paper on to his supervisor and then prayed the phone would not ring again that night. He tried not to watch the clock, waiting for the end of his shift. Even when his hour had come Heinrich left slowly, waiting for the others and joined them for a beer down the street. Eventually he bid them farewell and ambled around the corner. His pace quickened as he raced to warn the family the Gestapo was coming. Sometimes Heinrich would arrive in time to help them escape.
This time he was too late. He hid in the shadows as he listened to the children cry, the mother scream and the father fill the night air with curses. Heinrich cringed as he heard the sounds of rifle butts slam into human flesh. Doors on trucks slammed and engines gunned. Then silence.
Heinrich stayed in the darkness a good long time until he was sure the trucks were far away. From his memory he pulled out the second address he had written down that night, one that he had not bothered to pass on to the Gestapo command. It was only two doors down. The bell tower struck twelve, time all good Germans were in their bed. Heinrich walked along the street until he found the address of the good patriot.
He knocked firmly but softly. The neighbors must not hear. Heinrich made out the padding of bare feet coming to the door.
“Yes?” a short, balding man said as he cracked the door.
“Did you hear the commotion down the street earlier?”
“No. What commotion?”
“Come now. You want your reward, don’t you?”
The man paused. “Yes, I heard it. I want my reward.”
Heinrich pulled out a knife and quickly stabbed into the man’s abdomen, just below the ribcage and twisted the blade up. His other hand covered the man’s mouth as he began to moan.
He did not want any sounds.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Seven

Bedelia stood and turned her back to him to avoid the incoming kiss. She was afraid she would like it too much. “No, we weren’t.” Before she could evaluate his situation and how to escape the outcome she actually wanted to happen, Bedelia felt warm, masculine breath on the nape of her neck. Her eyes fluttered.

“Yes, we were.”

“How impudent!”

Andy put his hands on her slender shoulder, turned her around and went in for the kiss. “And you love it!”

Again Bedelia stepped away, and Andy ended up kissing air. She decided to confront the Man in the Red Underwear with the cold hard facts. “Is it true you plan to steal a packet of important papers from Chief Inspector Tent tonight?”

“The only thing I plan to steal tonight is your heart.” He swaggered toward her.

“I dare you try! I warn you I’m quite proficient in protecting myself with this!” She held up her riding crop.

“Oh.” His voice dripped with drollness. “Do you really think I’d let that riding crop stop me if I wanted to feel those tender lips pressed against mine?”

“How dare you!” Bedelia raised her arm to strike but he grabbed her by the wrist. She struggled only a moment, then dropped her head back, ready to be kissed. “Be gentle, please.”

“Many women would willingly give me their kisses. Why should I struggle for yours?” The Man in Red released his grip, walked to the lounge where he stretched out seductively.

Bedelia looked at her crop, went to the door and shouted into the ballroom, “Does anyone out there want to buy a riding crop—cheap? No? Oh well. Without aiming, she tossed the crop into the crowd.

The same guest who earlier begged for something to eat was beaned in the head and screamed in pain. “I’m never coming to this house again!”

“Sorry.” She closed the door and walked to the lounge. “And what makes you think I want to offer you a kiss?”

Before the Man in the Red Underwear could respond, Bedelia pounced on him and began kissing his lips with extreme ardor. He struggled to sit and up gently pushed her away.

“Please, please. As I would not steal your kisses, you should not steal mine. I give them to you willingly.”

They stared into each other’s eyes, slowly moving in for a kiss, while quite tender also smoldered with such intensity that their lips were in danger of third degree burns. When they finally came up for air they were ready for another soliloquy. Bedelia started.

You are the stars that dot the night.
You sparkle bright, you are the light.
Like diamonds in a wedding ring,
A moon-lit pond that’s glistening.
These are the images I see
In dreams of lovers, you and me.

The Man in the Red Underwear, not to be outdone in the sizzling verse category, offer his own admiration for his love.

You are a candle’s flickering flame,
A gentle glow, always the same.
You give me warmth, you make me cry
For life with you forever new until we die.

They were going in for the kiss when the door to the ballroom flew open and Inspector Tent barged in.

“Aha!” he exclaimed as though catching some street urchin with his sooty hand in Queen Victoria’s cookie jar. He rushed to the mantel to retrieve a sword. After getting his weapon, he took a proper parrying pose.

“Aha!” the Man in Red repeated. For a person who created romantic poetry off the top of his head quite easily, he wasn’t much for riposte repartee. The sword practically flew from the mantel and into his hand.

“En garde!” Tent issued forth in a challenge.

“En garde!” Once again red boy went with the traditional reply.

Bedelia, still seated on the lounge, was aghast. “Oh no! Not that! Don’t hurt him!”

Each man stopped to look at her. “To whom are you speaking?”

“Um, both!” She shrugged and smiled in awkwardness.

“I thought I taught you a lesson earlier!” The Man in Red began with a lunge.

“You know what they say. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” Tent maneuvered as he deflected the incoming blows until he was facing the open doorway to the ballroom. “Look!” He pointed to the party crowd. “A woman is being mugged in the bandleader”!

“You can’t fool me with that one again.” The Man in Red refused to turn his attention away from the inspector.

However, Bedelia stood, went to the door and gasped. “But there is a woman being mugged in the ballroom!

That observation stopped the duel in its tracks as the two men joined her at the door. “What?” For two people who didn’t like each other very much, they were learning to speak in unison quite well.

“Oh. No.” Bedelia shook her head. “My mistake. It’s only an extremely voluptuous woman trying to scratch her back. It’s nothing. Continue.”

“Hey! Another sword fight!” a random voice shouted out from the ballroom which ignited a stampede for the doorway which created a logjam of sorts.

“Dammit! I can’t see!” another voice bawled.

The duelists pranced around the library as the crowd applauded more rounds of thrusting and blocking. The Man in Red abruptly stopped to point at Bedelia. “Miss Smart-Astin! Your pants are unbuttoned!”

“What!?” The dirty old man turned to look, his eyes filled with lustful anticipation.

His red-festooned opponent kicked him in the posterior, knocking the inspector down, causing him to drop his sword. Deftly the younger man swooped the weapon up and for only the slightest of moments held it beneath Tent’s chin.

“You fool me, shame on me. I fool you, shame on you.”

Bedelia double-checked her trousers. “Why, I’m buttoned,” she announced in amazement. Then she approached the Man in Red. “But you didn’t kill him.” By this time she was totally confused, astounded and sexually aroused.

Adroitly he put both swords in one hand, dipped Bedelia with the free arm and kissed her passionately on her pouty red lips.

“The Man in the Red Underwear is no villain. Remember that.” He stood her up and walked toward the open window. He paused long enough to add, “By the way, tell Lady Snob-Johnson I shall return her swords tomorrow.”

The crowd gave him a rousing ovation as he went through the window. The partiers returned to the ballroom where the band was belting out a tune with a syncopated beat. At the same time, however, Millicent led Eddie to lounge, threw him down and pounced on him, smothering him with kisses. Cecelia carefully closed the door and marched toward the inspector who was having quite a time of it getting to his feet. After all he was much older than he appeared to be.

The Bunker

Furrowing his brow, Adolph Hitler pursed his quavering lips as he tried to form words. Eva Braun held his shaking hands as they sat on a sofa in their bunker beneath the streets of Berlin. Bombs exploded overhead, causing them to jump.
“So, I am not God?” His voice was soft and uncertain.
“No, my darling.” Eva’s hands cupped his sagging jaw. Her fingers then glided across his cheeks, pausing over his puffy eyelids. “When we first met you didn’t have bags under your eyes. What are we going to do with you now?”
“And I was not meant to rule the world?”
“No, you were not meant to rule the world.”
“Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
“No one wanted to make you unhappy.” Eva wiped the tears from her eyes.
“They didn’t mind telling me I was not a good artist.” He glanced around the room, looking for something that was not there. “I would have much rather been a good artist than God.”
“Of course, my darling, but you must understand the people who said you weren’t a good artist were not the same people who didn’t tell you you weren’t God.”
“But all those people shouted for me to rule the world. I saw them. They filled the streets. They filled stadiums. They saluted. They called out my name.”
“They were wrong.” Eva paused as she reached for a bottle of pills. “We were all wrong.”
“Then all those people didn’t have to die. All the young men on the battlefield, all the Jews, Gypsies—“
“No, they should not have died.”
“I can’t understand why I wasn’t told.” He looked into Eva’s eyes. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I love you. I tell you anything you wanted to hear.” She fumbled with the lid on the pill bottle. “Now I must tell you something that will make you very unhappy. It is time for you to take this pill. Don’t worry. I am going to take a pill too. We shall leave together, as we lived together.”
“I always believed I knew what was right and wrong. It was so simple. Now, you’re telling me I didn’t know right from wrong.”
“No, my darling. No one knows right from wrong. No one knows good from bad. We just live the best we can. And now it is time to die the best way we can.”
“Die? But God cannot die—but I am not God, am I?” He forced the palms of his hands into his eyes, trying not to cry. “I still don’t understand how I could make such a mistake. I pride myself on never making mistakes.”
Eva put the pill to his lips and with love pushed it through to his tongue. She reached for a revolver. “Use this. In case the pill doesn’t work.” She kissed him and put a pill in her mouth. “In a few minutes you won’t have to worry about any of this ever again.”

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Six

By the time Bedelia returned with a bobby, the Man in the Red Underwear had mysteriously disappeared in the heavy London fog, Inspector Tent had retreated to a corner to lick his wounds and the crowd had settled back into a nice, boring existence of dancing to proper waltz music. Cecelia and Millicent made a convincing argument to the bobby that Bedelia had merely mistook a prearranged entertainment as a real duel. He bowed and made a quick exit.

“Who wants some fish and chips?” Bedelia called out.

Men abandoned their dance to dash for the bags of food. A minor brawl broke out and half of them ended up rolling on the ballroom floor trying to grab fried fish fillets from each other’s hands. Curiously, Lady Snob-Johnson grinned and leaned in to speak to Millicent.

“Remind me next year to order fish and chips.”

Before Millicent could reply, Bedelia grabbed her around the shoulders. “So was that actually the Man in the Red Underwear?”

Milicent glanced about the room and directed Bedelia to the library. Eddie followed by the faithful puppy that he was. She carefully shut the door behind them.
“ Yes, that was the Man in the Red Underwear.”

“How exciting!” Bedelia beamed with bobby soxer glee until she remembered she should maintain a modicum of civility. “I mean, how terrible that such a criminal should invade the sanctity of your home!”

Millicent nodded knowingly. “You can’t judge a criminal by his appearance. Speaking of appearances, you know Andy may be different than he appears.”

“In my deepest heart of hearts I still love Andy.” She shook her head and took a few steps away. “But after seeing him tonight, I don’t know.”

Eddie loped up and put his arm around her shoulder. “Why not? He’s a prince of a fella. Uh no. I’m the prince, ain’t I? I keep fergittin’ that.”

“Eddie, shut up.” Millicent pushed him toward the lounge. “Bedelia dear, what’s wrong?”

“If only I could fall in love with someone brave and dashing.” Her eyes softened in wistfulness. “You know, the way Andy used to be.”

“You mean, like the Man in the Red Underwear?” Millicent asked teasingly.

Before Bedelia could answer, Inspector Tent opened the door. In the background, the orchestra was playing a rodeo hoedown. Eddie jumped from the sofa, grabbed Millicent and began a muscular polka, breaking into rhapsodic verse.

Hey, that’s my kind of music! I love that sound! Let’s go to town!
We git low down! Go round and round! Do si do rodeo hoe down!

And with that Eddie and Millicent polkaed into the ballroom. Tent carefully shut the door, leaving the library ominously quiet. He approached Bedelia with a smile that was more menacing than endearing.

“My dear Miss Smart-Astin, I must apologize you had to be upset by the appearance of that terrible criminal.”

As he came closer Bedelia eased away toward the liquor cabinet. “Oh no. That’s quite all right.”

“No, it’s not all right.” Tent chose to ignore her attempts to escape. “It’s my duty as chief inspector of Scotland Yard to protect young ladies from the likes of him. Especially beautiful young ladies.”

Just as he was going in to grab her hand so he could kiss it, Bedelia picked up a bottle of brandy, using it as a sort of barricade to his advances. “Would you care for a drink, chief inspector?”

“No, thank you.” Tent took the bottle from her hand and returned it to the cabinet. “But I would care for something else.”

What better time for a torrid verse of seduction and resistance? Bedelia began with a palm in Tent’s face, but with eyes filled with ardor.

Nyet. Not yet. Before we lust, at first we must begin the dance of hot romance, the Russian tango!

Tent accepted the invitation and placed his arm around her slender waist.

Not one for fussin’ but the Russian? Don’t you mean the Argentine?

She adjusted her stance and stared straight ahead.

The Argentine is so routine. Don’t bore me with the Argentine.
I want it vulgar from the Volga, so stop your fussin’, it’s time to Russian!

They began to glide across the library floor, reciting in unison.

Let’s do the Russian tango! Let’s go as far as we can go!
Oh go, girl, go! Oh go man, go! Let’s do the Russian tango!

Being the chief inspector, Tent never strayed far from his intentions of yearning and then interrogation.

And while we’re dancing cheek to cheek and let’s drink some booze
And I’ll suggest while we’re chest to chest, that we go on a cruise.

Bedelia stopped in the middle of this pas de deux to glow with excitement.

Oh how divine! Yet I draw the line, no marriage talk—

This entirely broke the spell for Tent, sending him back into prose. “What?”

“You said go on a cruise.” She crinkled her cute little nose. “That sounds like matrimony.”

“It’s just a little cruise. Don’t stand on sanctimony.”

Bedelia put her hands on her tiny little waist. “Then what do you mean?”

Now this did put Tent into a bind. An immodest proposition loses all of its luster if the gentleman has to spell it out in minute detail. Instead, he punted and returned to his previous dance position. “Let’s tango!”

Before they knew it, they were slithering across the floor again.

Let’s do the Russian tango! Let’s go as far as we can go!
Oh go girl go! Oh go man go! Let’s do the Russian tango!

For practical purposes Tent decided to forgo pursuing his dalliance and practice his interrogation skills.

Let’s talk instead about the man in red, who do you think this cad could be?
He must have friends to meet his ends. He must have two, or maybe three.

I know you’re right, it’s such a frightening thought but they are here tonight.
It’s Millicent, her mom Cecelia, and her hot steady, dumb Prince Eddie.

Tonight, you see, is coming for me a packet of some great import.
I’m sure the man in red will want to steal this serious report.

You have my word I’ll watch this world of gaiety and vice.
I’ll tell you when they make their move. The man in red will pay the price.

All this criminal investigation talk made them amorous again.

Let’s tango!
Let’s do the Russian tango! Let’s go as far as we can go!
Oh go girl go! Oh go man go! Let’s do the Russian tango!

Before they could go any further, Bedelia snapped her fingers and looked into the inspector’s eyes. “Should I keep an eye on Andy, too? Do you think he’s a member of the conspiracy?”

“Naw,” they said in perfection harmony.

The door opened which broke the romantic atmosphere beyond repair. An oddly dressed man, bent over, entered the room. He bowed deeply, displaying the worst looking white-haired toupee ever worn on an English gentleman.

“Excuse me, sir,” the bent over man wearing the bad wig croaked.

“Yes, what do you want?” Tent had a time of it trying to control his exasperation.

“There’s a gentleman at the door to see you, sir.”

Tent’s eyes widened. “That might be my—what I’ve been expecting.” He turned, smiled and took Bedelia’s hand. “You’ll never know how much I value your intelligence.” He kissed her knuckles. “Your cooperation.” He kissed her wrist. “And your friendship.”

She withdrew her hand before he could kiss any further. Tent took the muted rebuff gracefully and retreated from the room. Bedelia wandered to the other side of the room to stare out the window into the foggy London night. The man in the bad disguise ran behind the screen and began tossing items of his costume up, over and every which way. Bedelia was in the mood for another soliloquy.

Alas, my heart in torn in twain—or is it thrain?
Inspector Tent’s so suave and yet so old.
He’s everything a girl should want but let me be bold.
He’ll be stuck in a rocking chair while I’m still pretty young.
And then there’s my old sweetheart when love had just begun.
He’s handsome, kind and gentle too but one thing I must say.
Lord Andrew Taylor seems to have changed, oh hell I think he’s—

A voice bellowed from behind the screen, “Okay, who left the canapés on the damn floor?”

Bedelia furrowed her porcelain-like brow, shook her head and continued in iambic-pentameter.

I must admit there is a third I might could love.
The Man in Red is heaven from above.
He is so brave, exciting but a criminal.
And I have vowed to bring about his fall.
I need a way to take the best traits of all three.
But then again could one of them love me?

The Man in the Red Underwear made a grand entrance from behind the screen, looking dapper in his red tights and red blouse opened to his navel. It would be more than any girl could bear except for the fact the tray of Lady Snob-Johnson’s canapes were stuck to his left foot

You are fair! A gem so rare! True blue and square!
I love your hair! I am the Man in Red Underwear!

He tried valiantly to recite his themed poetry but the tray ruined the moment.

“It’s you! Bedelia ran to the door and opened it. “Oh chief inspector!”

The man in red underwear followed her, his left foot clanging on the hardwood flooring. “You don’t want to do that.” He wedged himself between her and the door, closing it carefully, not making a sound. “If Chief Inspector Tent came in here now I might have to leave—“ He tried to step toward the window but was stopped because Bedelia stood on the tray. They both looked down. She giggled and lifted her tiny foot.

“Oh, excuse me.”

“And then you’d never know if you could fall in love with a brave, dashing, exciting criminal.” He wore that irritating smile when a man knew the lady standing in front of him had the hots for him.

“It wasn’t very couth of you to eavesdrop on my private thoughts.”

“Do you expect a criminal to be couth?” He pressed his advantage.

Bedelia turned swiftly toward the liquor cabinet. “Would you care for a drink? No, I suppose it isn’t necessary to offer a drink to a criminal, is it? Then I don’t care if you want a drink or not.”

“Do you know you’re beautiful when you’re confused?” That retort would have been much more effective without the clanging of the tray on his foot.

“How did you get in here?” She looked around the room. “You didn’t hurt that old man, did you?”

“No, he’s just fine.” To prove his point, he spoke in the old man’s voice. “The Man in the Red Underwear is my friend.”

“You scoundrel!”

“A charming scoundrel—“ He looked down at his foot. “Excuse me for just a moment, will you?”

“Of course.” Bedelia made herself comfortable on the lounge as the man in red pulled the tray from his foot.
“Ah, that’s much better. Where was I? Oh yes. A charming scoundrel, you must admit.” He sat on the lounge, leaning forward to kiss Bedelia, but the tray got in the way. “Care for a canapé?”

“Not since you stepped in them.”

“Well, what am I supposed to do with them?” Our hero was getting quite perturbed.

“Why don’t you put them under the chaise lounge?” she offered.

“Splendid idea!” He slid the tray under the lounge and again leaned into Bedelia’s cherubic face. “We were about to kiss, weren’t we?”

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Five

Lady Cecelia Snob-Johnson was aghast when her butler opened the front door and there stood a large, largely overweight but mostly muscular man in filthy shirt, coat and trousers and with enough dirt under his fingernails to start an herb garden. His sweaty face shone through the dust of the street which had landed on his broad brow and thick cheeks.

“Pardon me, sir. Whom did you want to see?” Her eyes fluttered.

“I want to see me boss.” His Cockney accent was on the verge of being indecipherable.

“And who exactly is—as you put it—your boss?”

“Chief Inspector Malcolm Tent.”

“Ah. He is in my library with my most intimate friends. Follow me.” She tossed a question over her shoulder, “And whom shall I say is calling?”

“Billy Doggerel.”

Lady swept into the library with Billy following close behind. She could swear she could feel his ale-infused breath on the nape of her neck, which aroused feelings from long ago. She motioned to Tent.

“Chief Inspector Mal Content, a mister William Canine-erel is here to see you.”

“That’s Doggerel, mum,” Billy corrected her. “I ain’t got no pedigree. Me old man was just a plan old son of –“

“Um, yes, Billy, right over here.” Tent motioned for Billy to join him by the window on the far side of the room.

Cecelia was left motionless—well, not completely motionless. She did have the wherewithal to close the door to the ballroom. She could not help herself. She whispered to herself another soliloquy while visions of Sampson Elias Johnson danced in her head.

Sexy Billy, you make me silly; your big belly makes me squeal.
You’re completely covered with dirt.
Your hair is slicked down, your teeth are brown.
But I love your swagger; it makes me stagger.
I love the sneer upon your lips. Come on baby, grab my hips!
You’re a naughty boy, I can tell. Come on, baby, ring my bell!
You must lead a life of crime. You’re going straight to hell.
Your hot body makes me sweat so I’ll go to hell as well.
Who cares that we belong in worlds so far apart?
You know you got the tool to fix my thumping heart!
You’re nothing but a baboon that needs a tamer.
If a girl gets out her whip who the hell could blame her?
Big dirty Billy, I’m your filly.
Big dirty Billy, I feel silly,
Be the master of my dreams.

Millicent broke her revelry when she touched her mother’s arm. “Are you all right? Mother, who is that person?”

“I don’t know, but I would wager he hasn’t had a bath in a month.”

“I agree.”

“I would like to give him a bath.” Cecelia’s breath became labored.

“What!?” Millicent’s mouth flew open.

Cecelia shook her head, coming back to reality. “In the interest of a cleaner world, of course.”
“Of course.” She rolled her eyes. Millicent had not seen her mother swoon like this since the last time the chimney sweep made his yearly visit.

“Excuse me, Millicent dear, but I have an irresistible impulse to get to know this person better.” Not waiting for a reply, Cecelia wandered over to the window on the pretense of straightening the curtains.

Millicent returned to Andy and Eddie at the chaise lounge to continue their plans to snatch the packet from the chief inspector. Tent and Billy looked out the window as though they were entranced by the gas street lights.

“Is everything arranged for tonight?” Tent asked.

“Aye, boss,” Billy replied, nodding his head. “I pick up the packet in ‘alf an ‘our.”

“Good, then bring it back to me.”

Bedelia returned to library, wiping tears from her eyes and then cracked her crop against her pants, which, for some odd reason, which can only occur in a bunch of silliness like this, caused everyone else to freeze. This allowed her to go right into a full blown soliloquy.

I’ve had my cry. Now is the time to act. I must in fact
Discover the identity of that red under-wearing rat.
That will impress our properly dressed lady Cecelia.
A deed the whole town will likely cheer, hip hip hoorah.
Let’s see who can this villain be, could he be in this room?
The suspects are before me now, it’s easy to assume.
The illegitimate daughter of the recently retired chief inspector of Scotland Yard
I’m on the job, I’m more than smart, I’ll never rest until that man’s behind jail bars.

Now who can I suspect? Old Malcolm Tent, oh no, not he.
He was so loyal to my dad, a villain he could never be.
I don’t know who this person is—
He’s so filthy I don’t even want to think about him.
And our dear host, what can I say—
Lady Cecelia loves to gossip and bray.
She would tell all that she’s the one in bright red underwear.
Of course I’m not the one I’m looking for, I know my underwear!
And Millicent wants Eddie’s body—
Too busy for red underwear.
Dear Eddie’s much too dumb—oh dear, he lost his shirt!
Which leaves the dandy, my sweet Andy—
He can’t be the man in red. He’s much too randy.
But never fear I know he’s near, that man in underweer—wear!

Bedelia turned to leave, paused to look back and then cracked her crop against her pants again which caused everyone to unfreeze. (Don’t try to figure it out. Go with the flow, so to speak.) She closed the door with an unexpected bang which caused Cecelia to lose her balance and stumbled into Billy.

‘Ey, watch it, ducks,” Billy warned her.

Cecelia rubbed her hands up and down his thick arms. “You are a solid beast, aren’t you?”

I ain’t no cream puff, if that’s what ya thought.”

“If I fancied any notions that your bulk was anything but hard muscle I was mistaken.” A school-girl grin danced across her face.

Tent tried to wedge himself between Cecelia and Billy. “Lady Snob-Johnson, my associate and I are trying to carry on a private conversation.”

“Oh. Well. Carry on.” She broke out in giggles. “I wouln’t mind carrying on with your associate myself.”

“Thanks. Yer kinda cute too, ducks.” Billy winked.

“You think so? I mean, I do have a grown daughter, you know.” Her hands went to her cheeks, as though trying to smooth away the wrinkles.

“Lady Snob-Johnson, given your propensity for gossip, I must ask you.” Tent finally nudged Billy out of the way. “Did you just overhear anything?

“You mean you were talking? All I saw was that beautiful chest heaving up and down, up and—“

“Billy, get out of here before she starts to hyperventilate!” Tent ordered.

Before he took his leave, Billy clucked Cecelia under her chin. “Anything you say, boss. ‘Ey, ducks. I likes the ones that’s been around the block a few times. You know what I mean.”

Impulsively, she followed him as he walked to the door. “Will I see you again, soon?”

“If yer lucky.”

Before he could open the door, Billy found Andy blocking the way.

“Yoo hoo. Excuse, me, sir.” Andy tried fluttering his eyes, but his coquette skills were not up to par with those honed by Cecelia.

“Yeah, what do ya want?”

Andy tapped at the lapel of Billy’s lapel. “I was just curious how you managed that divine shade of brown on your jacket.

“It’s dirt.” Billy shoved Andy out of his way and left.

“How original.” Andy took out a lace hanky to wipe his hands.

Cecelia rushed up and spun Andy around. “Lay off of him. You hear me. He’s mine!”

“Anything you say, dearie.” Andy looked over at Millicent and Eddie and pointed out the door at the retreating bulk of Billy Doggerel. He nodded at them and Milicent nodded back in agreement. Eddie was too busy picking his nose to notice anything important going on.

Cecelia rushed to the front door to wave at Billy as he went down the stairs. “Until later, mon amour.”

The orchestra members began tuning their instruments which brought Cecelia back to reality.

The Chihuahua Who Saved Noel Coward

He strolled through the Plaza Hotel lobby looking quite natty in his brown tweed suit, bowler cocked slightly on his balding head and swinging his cane. With a flourish he signed the register.
Nov. 17, 1958. Noel Coward. London, England. Penthouse Suite.
His plans were to spend the rest of the afternoon in his suite, attend the world premiere of Mrs. Stone!, his musical adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. He would then host a cast party in the penthouse. The guests would beat a hasty retreat after reading dreadful reviews from all the major newspapers of New York. Noel Coward, one of the most successful writers of British comedy, then would go to the balcony, finish drinking the last of the champagne and step into the void of midnight.
“PeePee! PeePee! Come back here!”
Coward winced as he recognized the inimitable screech of his leading lady, Ethel Merman. He turned to see a Chihuahua scurrying across the marble floor followed by Ethel, her bosom flouncing and her bracelets clanging. Before he knew it, he felt scratching at his trousers.
Save me from that bitch! Please! Please! Please!
Coward was convinced; his extreme depression over the audacious failure of his play had pushed him over the brink. Why else would he consider suicide or think he heard a Chihuahua talking to him?
Pick me up, you idiot!
Resigning himself to madness, Coward picked up the dog which immediately starting licking him in the face.
Thank you! Thank you! I always knew you were a nice man!
“Noel! You caught that naughty little dog!” Ethel said as she walked up, her arms outstretched.
“Of course, Ethel, darling,” Coward said with a purr. “Anything for my star.”
Don’t hand me over to that bitch!
Ignoring the dog’s pleas he gently placed the Chihuahua into Ethel’s arms and bowed with grace.
Damn you! I hate you! No! No! I love you! Take me back! You’re the one I want! I hate you! I love you! I could love you if you give me a chance! Is any of this working on you?
Coward imagined everyone else in the lobby thought the dog’s pleading sounded like the typical yipping of a Chihuahua. It probably was, he told himself as he turned to the clerk and finished signing in.
I’ll get you for this, bitch! Yeah! I talking to you, bitch! No! No! I don’t mean it. You’re a wonderful humanitarian! Kind to old women, children, beggars and little dogs!
Soon Ethel and her Chihuahua were in the elevator, and Coward sighed in relief. A few moments later he took the same elevator to the penthouse suite and settled himself at the baby grand piano with the score of Mrs. Stone! in front of him. Most of the music was all right, passable, but the final song was no damn good. Mrs. Stone throws her room key down to the street where a shadowy young man picks it up and comes up to the apartment to do who knows what to her. Ethel, in a terrible blonde wig, blasted away every rehearsal trying to sell it. He knew she realized even she could not give that song away with free tea and crumpets.
He played the melody over and over again, trying to figure out what was wrong. It had to be sad but not maudlin. It had to express the emotions of an over-the-hill movie star who was never going to be loved again. And the lyrics. They were impossible. They were dripping with self-pity. Who wanted to listen to that?
A soft scratching at the door interrupted his thoughts. When he opened it, Coward saw Ethel Merman’s dog, staring up at him with his enormous Chihuahua eyes.
I forgive you. With that he pranced into the room. Nice digs.
“So pleased you approve,” Coward replied acidly as he shut the door and walked back to the piano. He sat down and returned to playing his music, hoping an idea would spring into his mind.
You know that song is really crappy?
He stopped abruptly and picked the dog up and stared him in the face. “Now see here,” he paused. “What the deuce is your name?”
PeePee. That’s because I’m the best hung Chihuahua on the eastern seaboard.
“Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but Ethel named you Pepe, a common Spanish name. In her infinite stupidity she mispronounces it.”
No way! Oh. Hmph. That sounds like something that stupid bitch would do. Damn. I feel like a fool.
Coward could not stand to see the little dog so disappointed. He hugged him close to his cheek and placed him on the piano bench. “But, it could mean the other thing. Actually, you do have rather impressive equipment for a dog of your breed.”
Thank you. PeePee licked his hand. You’re a very nice man.
“I really don’t understand why you don’t like Ethel,” Coward said. “She’s quite sweet. And she truly adores you, don’t you know.”
I know. She’s all right. But look at these honking ears I got on me. The way she jangles those bracelets. And that damn voice of hers! It’s enough to split my eardrums!
“Well, I have to give you that.” Coward returned to playing the piano. “So you think my song is crappy?”
You bet. It’s supposed to be about this old broad who ain’t getting laid, right?”
“How perceptive.”
Okay, this old broad wants it bad enough to throw the key down to any guy on the street. The last thing she’s going to sing about is love. Poor me, nobody loves me.
“And your point is?”
She don’t want love. She wants to get laid. Sex, that’s what she wants!
“And what, pray tell, would you know about sex?”
Hey, I’m PeePee, the best hung Chihuahua on the eastern seaboard. What do I not know about sex? When the old broad takes me to Central Park and puts me on the ground, I have my choice of the bitches.
“Not all, I’m sure.”
Yeah, I mean all. Those Great Dane bitches can’t get enough of PeePee.
“Great Danes, oh, come now.”
Listen, you get a running start, jump, grab hold of the tail with both legs and, humpity, humpity, humpity, it’s showtime.
“Very well, since you’re the expert, what would you recommend?”
First off, get real with the words, man. She don’t want love. She wants sex. Hot sex. Sweaty body to body action.
“Very well.” Coward took a pen and started scribbling some new lyrics. He stopped and looked at them. “You know, this isn’t half bad.”
What do you expect? Hey, I’m PeePee. Now the music. Start out easy and soft, you know, like foreplay, then it gets faster and harder. Maybe ease off a little then. Make ‘em want it. Then slam bam thank ya ma’am. That’ll get butts out of the seats clapping.
Coward wrinkled his brow as his hands furiously pounded the keys. “I think you’re right.” After a few moments of passionate inspiration, Coward notated his new song on composition paper. Only a loud rapping at the door interrupted him.
“Noel! Is PeePee in there?”
Oh God, it’s the bitch.
“Just a minute, Ethel,” he called out as he finished his scribbling. “Come in, darling.
“PeePee! You bad little boy!” She marched to the piano and picked up the dog.
“Ethel, my dear, you must look at your new final number.”
“New song? On opening night? You must be crazy!”
He played it through a couple of times as she read the lyrics. Coward knew he had won her over when he saw tears forming in her eyes and she clutched the dog.
Watch it, bitch! You’re squeezing too tight!
“Oh Noel,” she gasped. “It’s a miracle. I haven’t sung anything this good since, I don’t know, when I was first on Broadway.”
“Don’t ruin the moment by comparing me to Cole Porter, darling.”
She put the dog down. “Go run and play, PeePee. Mommy and Daddy have got to practice this song.”
They rehearsed the rest of the afternoon until she was comfortable with every nuance and key change. Ethel gave Coward a big hug, picked up PeePee and left. He walked to the penthouse balcony and smiled. He might not have to jump after all.
That night, Coward watched from the wings. No one left at intermission. That was a good sign. The audience loved the choreography. They even laughed at the jokes. And the songs were, as he anticipated, bearable. The finale was upon them. Ethel, in her blonde wig, went to the window, threw down the key and turned to the audience. Then the music began. For once in her career, Ethel did not belt out a song. She barely croaked. Coward watched the audience members sit up and lean forward.
“Nobody loves me, so what?
Nobody wants a movie star that’s old, that’s what.
So I don’t care, I don’t want love.
I want sex!
I want to feel hot flesh next to mine!
I want sex!
I don’t want love!
I want to feel his sweat!
I want to feel his body pressing against me!
From now on this is the way it’s going to be!
Forget about love!
I want sex!”
For a moment the theater was quiet, and then it erupted in applause. Everyone was screaming and jumping up and down. The stage hand was about to bring down the curtain when Coward grabbed his arm.
“Don’t you dare.”
Ethel Merman, the queen of dramatic curtain calls, did not smile broadly and extend her arms to accept the audience’s adulation. She just stood there and cried. And cried. And cried for fifteen minutes. The crowd loved it. It loved her. Finally, someone screamed out, “Author! Author!”
Ethel rushed to the wings and dragged out Coward and planted a big kiss on his lips. Then she smiled and gestured to the old man of British comedy theater. Okay, he thought to himself, jumping from the balcony at midnight definitely was no longer on his schedule. Suddenly PeePee ran onto the stage barking. The audience even applauded him. Ethel bent down to pick him up, kissed him and handed him to Coward.
“He’s yours now,” she whispered. “After all, you gave me my career back. The least I can do is give you my dog.”
PeePee licked Coward’s face as he took him from Ethel.
“Thank you,” he said, nodding to her. Then he looked at PeePee. “And thank you.”
Don’t thank me, man. I had this planned all along.
“No, really. Thank you for saving my life.”
Hey, I’m PeePee, the best hung Chihuahua on the eastern seaboard. That’s what I do.
Coward held PeePee up with both hands toward the audience which screamed even louder. He then held the dog close to his cheek.
Why what?
“Why did you choose me?”
PeePee sniffed him.
You have the scent of a slight incontinence problem. I like that in a man.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Before Bedelia had time to inquire of Millicent what she meant by that statement, Prince Edward, the handsome but stupid grandson of Queen Victoria, bounded through the door wearing a huge grin but, as usual no shirt under his tasteful evening jacket. He headed to Andy who was stealing furtive starry-eyed glances at Bedelia.

“Hey Andy! Granny Vicky jest talked to me—“ Eddie stopped abruptly when he noticed Millicent, who had sprang from the chaise lounge and was headed his way. “Oh. Hey, Millie!” For some reason, official spokesmen from Buckingham Palace could not explain, Eddie spoke with a pronounced hillbilly accent, which was particularly odd since he had never visited the Appalachian mountains in the former colonies of America.

Andy turned to the prince and ogled him through the monocle. “Oh, Eddie, I just love the way you’re almost properly attired.

Bedelia resumes bawling, burying her head in the tufts of the lounge.

“I fergot to wear my shirt ag’in!”

“Don’t tell anyone,” Andy advised him. “Maybe everyone will just think you’re being stylish. Skin is in.”

Bedelia began kicking her feet in frustration. Millicent gently lifted her from the lounge and guided her toward the door. “Don’t take on so, dear. Let’s go into the ballroom. Maybe you’ll find a nice jockey to talk to.”

After they left the room, Andy relaxed his posture and held his head in his hands.

“Yes, sir.” Eddie saluted Andy.

“You don’t have to call me sir, Eddie. After all, you’re Prince Edward, grandson of Queen Victoria.”

“Oh yeah.” He let out a humble chuckle. “I keep forgettin’ that.”

Millicent returned, shaking her head. “Poor Bedelia. She’s so distraught over mother, and the only jockey present had his teeth kicked out by a particularly irritable racehorse. I’m letting her have a good cry in my room. She said she’d rejoin the party when she felt better.” Looking up she noticed Eddie’s attire and rushed over to rub his bare chest. “I just love it when you forget your shirt.” This launched her own saucy soliloquy.

Sexy Eddie, you’re a flirt, forgetting to wear your shirt.
And you got a tight hard belly which makes me turn to jelly.
Your big chest is better than all the rest.
Your bulging arms have their own special charms.
You’re Queen Victoria’s hunky grandson,
One day you will be the king but for now I want that thing!
Someday I want to wear your ring but for now I want a fling!
Good looking Eddie, be my steady.
And be the beefcake of my dreams.

Millicent finally came to her senses, pulled away from Eddie’s torso and forced herself to concentrate on Andy.
“Bedelia is trying so hard to be friends with your mother,” Andy bemoaned.

“I know. I love mother dearly, but she is a snob.”

“Of course, she’s a snob,” Eddie butted in. “Warn’t her pa the famous actor—“

“Please, Eddie,” Millicent said, “I think we’ve milked that joke for all it’s worth.”

“I was just about to tell Eddie that I’ve convinced several shopkeepers to admit to me privately that the chief inspector—“

“Malcontent.” Poor Eddie. He so wanted to be part of the conversation.

“No, no, Eddie,” she corrected him. “That’s Malcolm Tent. Say Mal.”


“Say colm.”


“Say Tent.”


“Malcolm Tent.”


“Millicent, let it go,” Andy whispered in her ear. “He’s never going to get it.” Turning back to Eddie, he smiled sympathetically. “As I was saying, Malcolm Tent has been extorting massive payments to keep his henchmen from robbing them. Of course, the shopkeepers are grateful to the Man in the Red Underwear for thwarting the robberies in the past few weeks.”

“What makes me angry is that the actual robbers then turn around and report to the arriving bobbies that they kept the Man in the Red Underwear from committing the crime,” Millicent said in frustration.

“The problem, however, is that the shopkeepers don’t want to risk testifying in court against the chief inspector,” Andy added.

(Author’s Note: Now you folks better remember this. I know it’s dull, but it’s very important. It’s called plot exposition.)

“Yeah, Granny Vicky thought it was strange when Soho all of a sudden started havin’ a crime wave,” Eddie said.

“That’s when she asked Eddie and me to find out what was behind it all. I mean, no one would suspect the Queen of asking Eddie to do anything so important.”

“And when you contacted me I was glad to come to the aid of two dear old friends.” Andy nodded to each of them.

“And to reacquaint yourself with another old friend?” A minor teasing tone entered Millicent’s voice.

Andy nodded and took a few steps toward the fireplace. “I miss Bedelia desperately. And I hate this masquerade. It’s turned her against me.”

“But it’s necessary to delude the chief inspector into thinking you’re no threat to him.” Millicent tried to console him.

“I know, but Bedelia thinks I’m—“

“Happy?” Eddie interjected.

“That’s not quite the word we’re thinking of.” Millicent raised an eyebrow.

“Since I have opened my dress shop in Soho I have been able to ingratiate myself to the baker next door. I buy all his pastries at the end of the day to hand them out to the children on the street. He agreed to include in his extortion payment packet a note to the chief inspector asking for a delay in the next payment. He will carefully detail the entire operation. One of Tent’s henchmen will pick up the packet tonight and if I’m not mistaken he will deliver to him right here at the party. If we can get our hands on that packet, we can put the inspector away.”

“Where?” Eddie asked innocently.

“What?” Andy wrinkled his brow.

“You said you wuz goin’ to put the inspector away. Away where?

“Hopefully, the Tower of London,” Millicent replied.

Eddie nodded. “Oh. I’ve had some relatives there.”

“But why do you think it will be delivered here?” Millicent inquired.

“I have discreetly followed the henchman from the bakery after he picked up the payment, and he has always gone directly to Tent. Since Tent is here tonight, I think the henchman will be knocking at your door any second.”

“That makes sense,” Millicent agreed.

“Yeah, and prob’ly pounds too.” Eddie nodded vigorously. “Maybe a few crowns and farthings.”

Andy and Millicent turned to glower at him. He cowered like a whipped puppy.

“I’m sorry.”

Andy shook his head and continued talking to Millicent. “Do you think we should bring your mother in on our plan?”

“Oh no,” Millicent replied. “She loves to gossip. She’d tell everyone she’s working undercover for the Queen of England.

“Wull, whut kind of work could she do under the bedcovers?” Eddie made another valiant effort to be part of the conversation.

“Eddie, will you please shut up!” Millicent immediately regretted snapping at her beau, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, which brightened his face considerably.

The door to the ballroom opened and who should enter but Malcolm Tent who could not hide his suspicion in his eyes. “Oh, there you are. I noticed you were missing from the party.” He stopped abruptly when he noticed Eddie’s bare chest. “Young man, you’re not wearing a shirt.”

“I’m jest bein’ stylish.” Eddie stuck his chin out with pride.

“Skin is in.” Andy stood uncomfortably close to the inspector, his eyes roaming up and down all over Tent’s body.

Tent quickly stepped aside. “So. What have we going on here? A conspiracy?”

“We don’t have a conspiracy.” Eddie emitted a laugh that would not be allowed in Buckingham Palace. “Yo’re the one who—“

“Oh Eddie!” Millicent had to think fast before Eddie spilled the beans. “You have such a fabulous body! I can’t keep my hands off you!” She pushed him back onto to the chaise lounge and jumped on top of him, planting kisses all over his face.

Andy again sidled next to Tent. “Oh that Millicent! She’s so loyal to the royal family.” He stroked the lapel of Tent’s coat. “I think black is sooo sexy.”

“Egad!” Tent moved away as far away from Andy as he could without jumping out the window. It was his turn to break into a soliloquy.

As chief inspector Malcom Tent my name commands respect
But that won’t pay the way of life I have come to expect.
So that is why I am so sly to run a protection racket.
Tonight’s the night I clinch the deal with the contents of that packet.
Those meddling fools are in the way of that I have no doubt.
I got to stop the man in red before he finds me out.

Andy, Eddie and Millicent converged on the lounge with their own serious patter.

We’ll work and work to save the dough earned by the innocent.
We will not rest until we lock up mean old Malcolm Tent.

The inspector was so engrossed in his own thoughts he didn’t notice their collusion.

I worked the streets for all those years. I made all those arrests.
I never got the fame I earned even though I was the best.
The shopkeepers will pay the price of Astin’s sin of pride.
I worked the system so complete and all from the inside.
So that is why the villain in this pastiche is plain for all to see.
In fact this story is pretty dull without the likes of li’l ol’ me!

After he finished his soul searching, he turned back to the group to observe their cozy situation on the lounge.

Noticing that Tent was noticing, Millicent leaned back into the prince. “By, the way, Eddie, have you talked to your grandmother yet about our marriage?”

“Gosh, I’m sorry, Millie, honey. I keep fergittin’.” Eddie stood and slapped himself for being so scatterbrained.

Millicent went to him and patted his bare chest. “That’s all right. First we’ll teach you to remember to wear a shirt, and then we’ll work on your remembering to ask for permission to marry.”

“Shirt, marriage,” he repeated in earnest.

Millicent reinforced her request with positive incentives. “Shirt.” Kiss. “Marriage.” Kiss.

Tent interrupted their lesson. “Pardon me for being so bold, Prince Edward, but why do you talk like that?”

“Talk like what?” Perhaps it was Millicent’s training methods, but Eddie responded in the Queen’s English.