Tag Archives: parody

Remember Chapter Twenty-Two

Previously: Retired teacher Lucinda remembers her favorite student Vernon. Reality interrupts when another boarder Nancy scolds her for talking to her daughter Shirley. Lucinda remembers Vernon decided to marry Nancy but instead was drafted. Her last advice to him was less than kind. She has a vision of Vernon right after he was shot in Vietnam.
Bertha thought hard about what Lucinda had said about how people should always be mindful that what they do today will be with them all their tomorrows. Finally she replied, “But that’s kinda hard to do, ain’t it?”
“Isn’t it.”
“It sure enough is.”
“Yes, I suppose it is.” Lucinda leaned back in the rocker, drained from her attempts to be Bertha’s teacher.
“So don’t you worry about that boy none.” She reached over and patted Lucinda’s bony knee.
“Thank you very much, my dear.” Lucinda found herself out of breath again. “It was sweet of you to comfort me.”
“Call me Bertha.”
“Very well. Thank you, Bertha.” She decided to be magnanimous. “And you may call me Lucinda.”
“Thanks, Lucy.”
“Lucinda.” Perhaps not that magnanimous. “Um, I’m sorry I wasn’t a very good sentinel, but your sister flew up the stairs and past me before I could say a word.”
“I’m sorry she didn’t let you complete the call.”
“Well, that’s life, ain’t it?”
“It isn’t my place to talk.” Lucinda wrinkled her brow. Has your sister always been so hard on you?”
“Oh yes, ever since we was little girls.”
Emma exploded through the door, put her hands on her hips and stared at Bertha. “I’ve been callin’ you to help me move the sofa in the parlor.”
“I’m sorry, Emma.” She fluttered her eyelashes. “Lucy and me’s been talkin’.”
“So. It’s Lucy now, huh? Well, I don’t care to be on first name basis with jest boarders.”
“Emma, what a thing to say.” A shy little laugh sneaked from Bertha’s mouth. “Why, I’m jest a boarder.”
“Yes, and I’m the landlady because Buster Lawrence saw fit to leave me with this wonderful house, big enough to rent rooms to make a livin’.”
“Seein’ you jest got four boarders, you ain’t makin’ much of a livin’ off of it.”
“That’s right,” Emma retorted. “And one of them ain’t even paid full rent.” She pulled a pack of cigarettes from a pocket in her worn apron, extracted a lighter from another pocket and lit up.
“I’ll pay full rent if you want me to.”
“Oh no. You’re my sister, and I love you.” She blew the smoke in Bertha’s direction. “It’s the least I can do for you since your husband didn’t see fit to leave you as well off as Buster left me.”
“Now why do you always have to say that?” Her face started turning an ominous shade of red. “My Merrill couldn’t help it if he had kidney stones. His three operations took up all the money we’d saved.”
The telephone in the kitchen rang. A moment later Cassie called out, “Mommy! It’s the fire marshal on the phone. He wants to talk to you right now!
“If I find out it was you who set the fire marshal on me I’ll slap your face off!” She went out the door, throwing an order over her shoulder. “Bertha, you git down there in that parlor and wait for me to move that sofa.”
“I should have said, ‘You’re gonna die from cancer by smoking all those cigarettes.’ That’s what I should have said to her. But it wouldn’t have done no good. She’d come back with smart answer.”
“I’m so sorry your sister acts that way.” Lucinda’s hand went to her chest.
“She causes all my fits. I jest know I wouldn’t have none of them if I didn’t have to be around her.”
“Of course. I’m sure,” Lucinda agreed in a whisper.
“But Lucy, why didn’t you back me up on them cigarettes? You know they cause cancer! Practically all the doctors say so now. Everybody knows that!”
“I’m sorry, Bertha.” She looked up to the ceiling. “I suppose I let your sister intimidate me.”
“Well, I jest thought you was stronger than that.” Bertha’s voice was filled with petty spite.
“No, I’m not strong at all.” It was as much a confession to herself as to Bertha.
“You fooled me. And I thought you was perfect.”

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Twenty-Five

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. The good guys finally get the goods on Tent. Tent accuses Andy of wearing red underwear.No big deal. Everybody’s wearing red underwear.
“If he isn’t going,” Tent retorted while pointing at Andy, “I’m not going!”

“Oh, yes you are!” Cecelia said as though demanding a recalcitrant child to come to the dinner table.

“Who’s going to make me?” His smirk was most arrogant. You and who else?”

“Oh Billy!” Cecelia swept over to her potential new lover.

“Yes, Lady Chatalot?” Billy’s eyes glowed with mischief.

Tent cast a wary eye toward his henchman and the licentious lady who was whispering in his ear. He looked at Millicent. “Lady Chatalot? What does that mean?”

“I don’t know. Maybe some secret code.”

“I think it’s dirty,” Eddie offered softly.

Billy then grabbed Tent’s arm and twisted it behind his back. “Come along, sir.”

“But Billy!” He sputtered frantically. “I thought you were on my side!”

“She kisses better than you do, sir,” he informed his former boss.

“But, Billy.” Tent was getting really desperate by this point. “You don’t know how I kiss!”

The very thought caused Billy to grimace. “Sorry, sir. I don’t care to find out.”

“Oh dear, Billy, but you may have to go to jail too.” Cecelia went to him and tenderly stroked his filthy cheek. “However, your good deed in bringing Tent to justice may weigh with the judge.”

“That’s all right, Lady Chatalot. It won’t be the first time I’ve been in the slammer.”

Cecelia blew a kiss to Billy as he manhandled Tent out the door. “I’ll be waiting, with canapés.” She followed them to the front door and graciously opened it for them.

Millicent grabbed Eddie by the elbow. “Come on, Eddie. The party’s almost over. Let me walk you home.”

. “No wait. I almost got it.” Eddie was hunched over in a most unseemly manner, still trying to unbutton his pants.

Millicent slapped his hands to make him stop as they walked out the door. “It doesn’t make any difference now.”

“No, really, I almost got it. I swear I got on red underwear. Just like you told me.”

By the time they made their way through the ballroom, Eddie finally unbuttoned his pants and dropped them, only to reveal forest green tights. Very Robin Hood.

A voice in the crowd called out, “Is that guy wearing green underwear? I’ve never seen anything like that before! This is the weirdest party I’ve ever been at! I like it! Let’s be sure to come again next year!”

Back in the library, Bedelia snuggled close to Andy as he pulled up his pants. “Can you ever forgive me?”

“Never!” A rakish grin spread across his face. “You will have to spend the rest of your life begging me.” He paused to kiss her. “And begging.” Another kiss. “And begging.” Yet another kiss.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the end of the tale of Andy, Bedelia and the rest. If you liked it, please drop a dollar or two in my tip basket above.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Twenty-Four

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. The good guys finally get the goods on Tent. Tent accuses Andy of wearing red underwear.
If you’re not wearing something red you might as well be stone cold dead!
‘Cause red is taking center stage! It’s right for any age! Bright red is all the rage!

Cecelia got right into the chief inspector’s face to wag a finger.

You’re such a dud and not a stud because you always dress in black.
And you should know some other things, you clueless old sad sack.
Don’t pink! It stinks!

Millicent stepped forward to snap her fingers.

Don’t blue! It’s flu!

In the spirit of the emotional riot occurring in the library, Bedelia broke out of her prim and proper mold.

Yellow? Hell no!

Andy caught on to the general mood and made his own offering.

Don’t green! Obscene!

As usual Eddie tried his best but stumbled on the rhyme.

Don’t purple! It’s burple!

Cecelia added another for good effect.

Don’t orange! It’s—
Orange, orange, no rhyme for orange.

Eddie patted her on the shoulder.

Oh, that don’t matter. I rhymed purple!

She nodded, ignoring Eddie’s advice.

Actually, orange is a shade of red so I suppose orange is acceptable.
So if you don’t wear something red, you might as well be stone cold dead!
We hear the Queen might make the scene and wear the current fashion rage!
‘Cause red is taking center stage. It’s right for any age! Bright red is all the rage!
We said not beige, and, damn not white, it’s such a fright, it’s red that’s all the rage!

“What do you mean?” Tent narrowed his eyes in suspicion.

“I got on red underwear too!” Eddie tried to unbutton his trousers but without success. At the palace he had his personal valet to perform such intricate duties. He began to stumble around the library in an attempt unbutton them.

“And I have red underwear!” Millicent lifted her dress to reveal bright red lacy leggings.

“And I!” Lifting her gown, Cecelia revealed tights of more a dark crimson nature.

Bedelia put a finger to her cheek and smiled naughtily. “Come to think of it, I’m wearing red underwear too.”

In anticipation of making the lingerie preference almost unanimous, the heroes turned to look at Billy.

“Don’t look at me.” He shrugged and winked at Cecelia. “I don’t wear no underwear at all.”

“Be still my heart!” Lady Snob-Johnson swooned.

Eddie ran to swing open the ballroom door. He hollered at all the other guests who were in the middle of a proper waltz by Strauss.

“And you folks out there! How many of y’all have on red underwear?” He pointed at a lady closest to him. “You there, ma’am. I bet you got on red underwear!”

“Eddie!” One must wonder why anything Eddie did still shocked Millicent.

“Hitch up yo’r dress and let us see red!”

Millicent resorted to corporal punishment by slapping his face. “Eddie! Stop it!”

“Oh. Sorry.” That was the first time that Millicent was ever physically abusive. He kind of liked it. “You can keep yo’r dress down, ma’am.” He then decided to try again to unbutton his own pants and show his red underwear.

“As you said, inspector,” Millicent said smugly, “you have a date at headquarters.”

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Twenty-Three

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent woos Bedelia. Andy woos Bedelia. Cecelia woos Billy. The good guys finally get the goods on Tent.
“You may have me, but as my last act as chief inspector of Scotland Yard I will arrest the Man in the Red Underwear!” Tent’s voice was filled with unbowed haughtiness.

Cecelia, Millicent and Eddie were shocked. “You will?”

“Yes!” He turned dramatically to point at the lounge. “I arrest you! Lord Andrew Taylor!”

The accusation broke momentarily his concentration on Bedelia and he reverted to his dressmaker affectations. “Oh inspector! How quaint! How droll! How divine! You’re bringing the giggles out of me!”

“Do you dare drop your pants and let us see your underwear?”

“Here!?” Andy stood and swished over to Tent. “Oh inspector! I don’t know what to think! I mean, I hardly know you.”

“Cut the act, Taylor. I’m on to you.”

“Ooh! I don’t know what you mean!” Andy futilely feigned feyness one last time.

“Drop ‘em.” He sounded like a boot camp instructor ordering a recruit to do twenty push-ups.

Bedelia, Eddie, Cecelia and Millicent broke into poetry tinged with a sense of urgency.

Don’t do it, Andy, it’s a trap to catch you with your trousers down.
So keep them up, don’t give the chief inspector cause to send you to jail!
He has no proof no way to say you are the Man in the Red Underwear.
It’s just his word against the word of everyone so don’t you dare
Reveal your underwear so he can cart you off to jail.
But if you do, don’t fret, don’t stew, we’ll pool our dough to make your bail!
Don’t drop your pants! You got no ants! So under no dire circumstance
Don’t drop your pants!
Don’t be naïve. It’s not the time to wear your heart upon your sleeve.
Remember Tent is the real crook; so don’t you let him off the hook.
He’s the one that’s criminal. We must be sure he’s off the street.
We’ve worked so hard, we’re almost there. He’s down and out. He’s almost beat.
We all love you, you’re our best friend. We’ll root for you right to the end.
So keep your trousers ‘round your waist. Please take your time, no need for haste!
Don’t drop your pants! You got no ants! So under no dire circumstance,
Don’t drop your pants!

Andy stared into Tent’s eyes, squared his jaw and dropped his pants, revealing red underwear.

“Come along, Lord Taylor. We have a date at headquarters.” Tent took Andy by his elbow.

Eddie stepped forward. “Excuse me, chief inspector.”

“Yes, what do you want?”

“Why do you think Andy is the Man in the Red Underwear?” One might supposed that Prince Eddie was, indeed, the dumbest person in the British Empire, but a rare intellectual glint in his eyes made one pause.

“Because he’s wearing red underwear, you idiot!” Tent retorted.

“Is that yo’r only evidence?”

“Of course not!”

One who loved to be in the middle of any conversation, Cecelia added, “What other evidence do you have?

“Miss Smart-Astin just announced, ‘I’d know that kiss anywhere!’ You are the Man in the Red Underwear!”

Millicent smiled broadly, a sign that she knew what Eddie was trying to present as Andy’s defense. “Bedelia, darling, do you remember saying that?”

“Me? Why I never said such a thing.”

“Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!” Tent paused, realizing he had lapsed into schoolyard behavior. “I still have him in red. That is evidence enough.”

“Wull, that ain’t no evidence at all.” Eddie nodded to the others indicating it was time for an all-out poetry performance, starting with Cecelia.

It’s plain to see you have no fashion sense, you dummy Malcolm Tent!
No one in London doesn’t know
That all the best dressed jills and joes
Are wearing red from head to toe!

Everyone else—except Tent and Billy, of course—came forward.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Twenty-Two

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent woos Bedelia. Andy woos Bedelia. Cecelia woos Billy. The good guys finally get the goods on Tent.
In the meantime, Bedelia pulled away from Andy, an air of recognition engulfed her body. She was so filled with rhapsody that she broke out in verse right then and there.

I’d know that kiss anywhere! You’re the Man in the Red Underwear!
Those lips! Those hips! They say you care! You’re the Man in the Red Underwear!
How could I have been so blind?
You’re the man that’s completely kind!
It was really dumb of me, I have to say!
It’s clear to see you love me! You are not–

Andy was equally aroused by romantic compulsion and kissed her again which piqued Tent’s curiosity immensely. Billy was licking his lips remembering the hot kiss Cecelia had laid on him. Eddie opened the packet, but Millicent and her mother snatched it from his hands and began to read.

“Does it tell us everything we need to know?” Cecelia asked.

“More than enough,” Millicent replied. “Tent and his gang will be in prison a long time.”

Bedelia pulled away from again and regaled the group with the second verse of her revelation.

I’d know that kiss anywhere! You’re the Man in the Red Underwear!
Oh Andrew dear, please hold me near, tell me you forgive my frowns.
I thought you loved to sew those gowns!
But you’re the bravest man in town!
Only you can make me feel this way!
How on earth could I doubt you’re not–

Andy kissed her once more which would lead one to believe he was trying to stop Bedelia from revealing his scandalous persona.

Taking as imperious tone as he could muster, Eddie stepped forward and pointed at Tent, “Chief Inspector Malcontent—“

Andy and Bedelia stopped their amorous lip lock to look at Eddie and correct him in perfect unison, “That’s Malcolm Tent!”

“Whoever.” He cleared his throat and proceeded with a proper English accent, a miracle long prayed for by the royal family, “I, Prince Edward, by the authority of Granny Vicky—I mean, Queen Victoria of England—do hereby arrest you on charges of—of—“

Unfortunately the miracle was not permanent and soon he was floundering and looking around for help.

“Extortion,” Cecelia provided the correct judicial terminology.

“–of doin’ folks dirty. Here’s the evidence to prove it!” He pointed to the packet now in Millicent’s possession.

“Yes! We have the money and a note from the merchant!” Millicent’s eyes flamed in righteous indignation.

“Yup. Yo’re done for,” Eddie said.

“And besides that, you’re a terribly impolite guest at a gala,” Cecelia added a zinger which was intended to crush his sense of social decorum.

Bedelia’s face expressed supreme bewilderment. “You mean you were the villain all along?”


“Then you didn’t mean all those things you said to me?”


The situation finally dawned on her. “Then you didn’t really want to take me on a cruise?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that.” Tent’s smile was crooked and on the verge of vulgarity.

“But I don’t understand why I didn’t figure it out, since I am the illegitimate daughter of the recently retired chief inspector of Scotland Yard?” Bedelia shook her head.

“Because your father was stupid! He never solved a case in his life!”

“Oh. Maybe that’s why.” She walked slowly to the lounge and sat, her entire self-image in shambles.

Andy, dismayed by his true love’s mournful sighs, joined her, putting his arm around her in consolation.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Twenty-One

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent woos Bedelia. Andy woos Bedelia. Cecelia woos Billy. There’s a whole lot of wooing going on.
Before Cecelia could finish her proposition, Tent, Bedelia, Millicent, Eddie and Andy enter from the ballroom, swinging and swaying to a ragtime beat. After Andy closed the door, the music faded away, and the gang settled into more sedentary forms of partying.

“Billy! Come here!”

Everyone jumped because the inspector forgot to use his inside voice.

“Just a minute, boss.” He gobbled down the last canapé. “You sure do know how to cook, Lady Chatalot.”

Cecelia smiled seductively. “Oh, that’s just one of my many talents.”

“Billy!” Tent was losing his patience, if he had any in the first place.

“You can cook some more for me later.” He licked his thick lips and then stood. “Comin’, boss.”

Tent led Billy over to the window to discuss their business matters away from prying eyes. Andy, Eddie and Millicent joined Cecelia at the chaise lounge to compare notes while Bedelia took a devil-may-care pose by the fireplace and tried to keep an eye on everyone.

“Did everything go according to plan?” Tent whispered.

“Aye, boss.” Billy nodded and handed Tent a packet.

“What’s this?” He opened the packet, expecting to find a wad of bills but came a letter along with the payoff dough.

“A note from the merchant,” Billy replied.

Tent’s eyes widened as he read the letter. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

Billy was right on his heels as they began their escape. “Aye, boss.”

When Tent opened the door, a rousing rodeo hoedown blared through, knocking them back on their heels. Eddie jumped on the lounge and clapped his hands.

“Hey that’s my kind of music! I love that sound! Let’s go to town with the rodeo hoedown!”

Cecelia grabbed Billy, Millicent took Tent by the elbow, Andy put his arm around Bedelia, and they began to prance around the room, following Eddie’s every command.

We git real low down, go round and round! Do si do the rodeo hoedown!
Yell yee haw, like your ma and pa with all your might!
Stomp your feet, clap your hands and hoedown through the night!
Gals line up to one side ‘cause that’s what you do.
Gents line up facing gals, even Billy too.
We’ve had fun, but now it’s done. Tune out the racket.
I’ll tell you just when to try to grab that packet!
Go Milly, boo Billy, why don’t you get bent!
Go Andy, you’re dandy! Stop that Inspector Tent!
Milly’s mom, you’re the bomb! Stay by Billy’s hide!
The packet, we got the packet! Hooray for our side!

At one point or another during the reel, every participant had hold of the incriminating packet. When Bedelia snatched it from Andy, Cecelia–like a bat out of hell—swooped in, grabbed it and handed it forthwith to Eddie on the lounge. Cecelia planted a huge wet kiss on Billy, distracting him from knocking Eddie from his perch and retrieving the object of everyone’s desire at that moment. Bedelia, in her misguided allegiance to the chief inspector, tried to go after the packet again as well, but Andy wrapped his arms around her and smothered her in smooches.

“Curses!” Tent thundered.

“Yes, I know!” Millicent retorted in triumph. “Foiled again!”

Eddie jumped down from the furniture and waved to Millicent and Cecelia. “Come on, Millie! You and yo’r maw help me figger this stuff out!”

Reluctantly Cecelia pulled away from Billy, whose eyes had taken on a romantic glow which probably had never been there before. “I’m sorry, my dear. I’m needed elsewhere. I shall return.”

“Yes, me Lady Chatalot.” He attempted a deep bow which did not come across as suavely as he might have hoped.

Millicent stopped in her tracks and looked quizzically at her mother. “What did he call you?”

“Never mind.” She waved at Eddie. “Look in the packet.”

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Twenty

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent woos Bedelia. Andy woos Bedelia.
A part of Bedelia was pleased to have aroused such a high level of jealousy in Andy, although she was dismayed with the way he articulated it. She was sure she had never heard the word “oodles” escape his lips before today. Brushing her concerns aside, Bedelia decided to press on with the jealousy ploy. “There’s more to marriage than mere physical attraction.”

“Of course. Like friendship. Friendships formed when nothing else mattered except being friends.” He paused to stare into her lovely eyes, but quickly giggled and looked away. “But I really don’t remember things like that.” Unable to resist temptation he turned back to her and whispered, “But if I were in love, I would want to be in love with you.” Andy was going in for a kiss when he heard the unmistakable clip-clop of Inspector Tent’s boots. “Wouldn’t it be peachy if we could go shopping together? I’d just love to pick out some material to make you a dress. He scrutinized her. “I don’t think pastels.”

“Would you care for another dance, Miss Smart-Astin?” Tent asked in a tone quite unsuited for the content of his proposition.

“Yes, inspector, that would be— “Her voice trailed off in unrequited longing.

Tent opened the door just as a male voice rang out, “Not another bloody tango!”

Both Bedelia and Tent beamed as they go into verse.

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!

They slinked out of the library in a sultry embrace. Andy glanced at the others and shrugged before engaging Cecelia in a dance clutch and followed them. Eddie and Millicent grabbed each other to join the crowd. The community spirit of ballroom dance did not last long, however, as Cecelia noticed Billy entering the front door. She quickly greeted him and led him into the library, shutting the door behind her, breathing deeply from the exertion of the sensual frolic.

“Where’s me boss, ducks?” Billy asked.

“You didn’t see him in the ballroom?” Cecelia approached him, like a cougar entrapping its prey. “He was dancing with Miss Smart-Astin.”

“Naw. I didn’t see nobody.”

“May I offer you a—“she hesitated provocatively “–glass of wine, Mr. Canine-erel?

“Naw,I don’t want no sissy wine.” He stood his ground, even stepping closer. “And stop callin’ me that stupid name. Me name’s Billy Doggerel, and I’m proud of it. If you can’t call me Billy then go—“he offered his own pregnant pause “–fly a kite.”

“All right, Billy.” She smiled seductively. “I just love it when a man is forceful. My late husband Sampson Elias Johnson could be quite forceful.” Cecelia nearly swooned from the aroma of his breath. “Would you care for some beer? I’m sure the servants have some in the kitchen, somewhere.”

“Not now, ducks. I’m on business.” He stepped toward the door. “Maybe later, if yer lucky. Now where’s me boss?”

“Yes, your business.” Cecelia sat on the lounge and patted the cushion next to her. “Please, Billy, come sit with me. I’d like to talk to you about your business.”

Billy rolled his massive shoulders forward with indifference and smiled. “Well, if me boss ain’t around, I wouldn’t mind takin’ a load off me feet.” He sat next to her on the lounge.

“You know, Billy, it’s never too late to turn from a life of crime.” Cecelia leaned in to inhale the full luxuriance of street rabble stench, which almost made her swoon.

“Who says I lead a life of crime?” He winked and smiled, revealing a mouth filled with yellowed teeth.

“Of course, you don’t.” Cecelia hit at his bulk playfully. “But if you did, you might prefer working for me instead.”

“That sounds like fun.” He paused to give her the once over. “Maybe I could call you Lady Chatalot, ‘cause you do like to chat a lot, doncha ducks?”

“You know me all too well, Billy.”

“So what would you have me doin’, Lady Chatalot?”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe taking care of my chess board, my checkers and mah jong tiles.” Her hands made a pass across her ample bosom. “You know, all the things people like to play with.”

“You mean I’d be Lady Chatalot’s gameskeeper?”

“Yes, lover, what a novel idea.” Curiously enough, Cecelia caught the reference to this novel which hadn’t been written yet. Perhaps she connected telepathically better with Billy than Inspector Tent. “Of course, I’d have to bathe you first.”

“This is a big body, Lady Chatalot.” He puffed out his chest. “There’s a lot of dirt on it.”

“Oh, Billy!” The sexual badinage overwhelmed her, and she grabbed Billy and thrust her tongue into his mouth.

He aggressively leaned into her as though they were going for two-out-of-three falls when his foot wandered under the lounge and bumped into the previously hidden tray of liver-tinged delights.

“Me foot’s stuck on somethin’.” He leaned down to pull out the damaged goods.

“The canapés!” Cecelia gasped. Of all times to be reminded of her horrible culinary skills.

Billy shoved one into his mouth and started chewing. “Not bad. Did you make these, Lady Chatalot?”

“Yes I did.” She looked at tray.” But it looks like someone stepped on them.”

“Didn’t hurt ‘em none.” He stuffed in another one.

“You really like my canapés?” Cecelia’s face lit.

“Do I detect a ‘int of marjoram?”

“Why, yes.” Her hand impulsively went to his face to stroke his stubbly chin. “My, my, you do have a sophisticated palate, Billy!”

“Me ol’ mum used marjoram in everythin’ she cooked.” He swallowed hard as his eyes filled with tears. “I miss ‘er.”

“Oh, did your mother pass away recently?” She then stroked his cheek.

“Yeah, me ol’ man shot ‘er.”

Cecelia sat up in surprise. “How dreadful!”

“She tried slippin’ arsenic into ‘is meat pie. ‘E tasted it and blew ‘er brains out. I got me delicate palate from me ol’ man. Now ‘e’s in prison and I’m all alone.” Billy dissolved into sobs, hiding his head into her bosom.

Cecelia rocked back and forth as though she were comforting a baby. She whispered a spontaneously composed lullaby.

Billy dirty Billy, now don’t you dare cry.
Your own lady will make your eyes dry.

Even though she was romantically aroused, she had not forgotten her purpose and her allegiance to Lillie Langtry. “Um, Billy dear—you don’t mind if I call you dear, do you?”

He pulled a stained handkerchief from his back pocket to blow his nose. When he finished he looked soulfully into her eyes. “Me Lady Chatalot can call me anythin’ she wants.”

“Billy, dear, I have a business proposition for you.”

He looked around conspiratorially. “I’m all ears.”

“Frankly, I know that you have a packet to give to Chief Inspector Tent tonight. Now, if you give it to me instead—“

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Nineteen

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent woos Bedelia. Andy woos Bedelia. The good guys let Cecelia in on the plot.
Inspector Tent and Bedelia entered from the ballroom, breaking up the conspiratorial atmosphere in the library. The fearless foursome huddled around the chaise lounge.

“Lady Snob-Johnson,” Tent announced, “I’d be more careful about the household help if I were you. Your butler turned out to be the Man in the Red Underwear.”

She fluttered her eyes ingenuously. “You’re quite mistaken. My butler is seventy years old and weighs two hundred and fifty pounds.”

“I didn’t mean your real butler was the Man in the Red Underwear. But the Man in the Red Underwear was masquerading as your butler.” He paused a moment, thinking of a pun and congratulating himself for being so clever. “A sort of red butler.”

“He’d have to use a lot of padding.” Cecelia didn’t catch the joke because she rarely read American novels that hadn’t been written yet.

“Has a packet been delivered for me in the last few minutes while I was dancing with Miss Smart-Astin?” the inspector asked.

The quartet exchanged knowing glances.

“No,” she replied, her eyes all aflutter again.

“May I pour myself a glass of wine? The dancing has made me quite thirsty, and the rum punch being served in the ballroom is a bit too sweet.”

Cecelia’s left eyebrow went up. She was not accustomed to her guests being so totally honest. Decent people lied about the quality of refreshments. Recovering, she managed a wan smile. “Help yourself.”

“Miss Smart-Astin, would you care for a glass wine?” Tent inquired as he pointed to the cabinet of beverages.

“Why, I think I would, inspector.”

“Do you mind if I pour out white?” His eyes strayed. “There’s been way too much red this evening for my satisfaction.”


After handing Bedelia her drink, Tent held up his own in a mild toast. “I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed our dance.”

“Thank you.” She blushed, like a shy rosé. “You’re much too kind.”

His crooked smile took on a predatory slant. “Do you know you’re even more beautiful up close?”

“Oh my. Are you trying to sweep me off my feet?”

“That’s not a bad idea.” He leaned in to press his advantage. “I know our ages are vastly different, but there are such things as May-December romances.”

Taken aback from this tactic, Bedelia was left with no recourse but to break out in verse.

You don’t look old, dear Malcolm Tent. You have no gray hairs on your head.
You took care of that problem by applying dye on them instead.
You don’t look old, oh no not you, the fittest at Scotland Yard.
But when you look across the room your eyes are squinting hard.
Don’t mind that you are just a few years younger than my Dad.
And all your family members now are dying off, how sad.
But you’re not old, inspector dear, that’s one thing you can never fear.
So catch your breath, ignore that Mister Death is lingering near.
I can’t accept your marriage plea. I really need more time.
And is it wise to compromise to wed one past his prime?
In truth, I’m drawn to one who has more physical attraction.
I can’t deny he drives me to the edge of mad distraction.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact your character is strong.
It’s just that I can’t risk the chance your life won’t be that long.
But you’re not old, inspector dear, that’s one thing you can never fear.
So catch your breath, ignore that Mister Death is lingering near.

Andy, from his position near the lounge, noticed how intimate Tent and Bedelia were acting, and he felt compelled to cross the room so he could break up the apparent tryst. “Bedelia, darling! Have you seen the grenadine?”

Tent’s eyes wandered beyond Andy to focus on Cecelia, Millicent and the young shirtless prince. “What are they huddling about?”

“I have no idea. Why don’t you join them?” He pushed the inspector in their direction. “I’m sure they’d just love your company.”

With his erstwhile competition now distracted by the others by the lounge, Andy smiled ingratiatingly at Bedelia.

“You wanted a drink with grenadine?”

“Grenadine?” He was taken aback. “I hate grenadine—I mean, I adore grenadine but not just right now.”

“You don’t want a drink?” Her instinctive skills to analyze bizarre situations left her for the moment.

“No, I’m afraid that was a ruse to talk to you.” Andy glanced at the inspector. “To keep you from that other man.”

“He proposed.” She took a quick sip, her head poised with confidence.

“Proposed what?” He too succumbed to dull comprehension.

“Marriage, sort of.”

Andy’s mouth flew open. “You turned him down, I hope.”

“And why should I?” Her tone was couched with a challenge for Andy to make a counteroffer.

“Because—because he’s old and has oodles and oodles of wrinkles.” Even though he knew that sounded ridiculous, Andy tried valiantly to disguise his embarrassment.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Eighteen

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent woos Bedelia. Andy woos Bedelia. The good guys let Cecelia in on the plot.
Just then the door opened and Andy entered performing his best tango moves in perfect timing with the music. He closed the door, took the picture of Lily Langtry from his jacket pocket and presented it with aplomb to Cecelia.

“Lily!” She held the picture to her breast. “Oh, I’m so pleased.” Cecelia returned it to its place of honor on the mantle and turned back to Andy. It was as though a light had gone off in her head. She pointed at the picture and then at Andy. “So that must mean you’re the Man in the Red Underwear!”

“At your service, Lady Snob-Johnson.” He bowed deeply.

“Oh good! I’ve always liked your family. So, you’re not—happy?”

“I don’t think thut’s the word—“ Eddie didn’t finished because Millicent put her hand over his mouth.

“Not even giddy,” Andy assured her.

“So what we want you to do is notify us immediately upon Billy Doggerel’s arrival,” Millicent instructed her mother. “We’re sure he will have the packet on his person.”

“And what a person.” She started swooning again.

“Please, Mother! This is important.”

“All right. But I think I’m in love. Oh dear, does this mean he’ll have to go to prison?”

“I’m afraid so,” Andy said.

“Oh well, this is my punishment for exposing Millicent to danger.”

“Shall we bring Bedelia into our confidence?” her daughter asked.

“Yes!” Andy beamed.

“No!” Cecelia glowered.

“Why not?” Eddie scratched his head.

“Mother’s lost her head over the fact Bedelia’s parents were never married.”

Millicent should have known better than give a logical explanation to Eddie about anything, because he immediately went to Cecelia and carefully looked at her face, both ears and the back of her head.

“It’s right thar.”

“What is?” Cecelia fluttered her eyes in annoyance.

“Yo’r haid.”

“Why, of course it is!”

“Millie jest said you lost it, but how could you lose it when it’s still on yo’r shoulders?” Yes, he was really that stupid.

“Shall we return to the business at hand?” Andy smiled, trying to overlook his friend’s irritating observations.

“Yes, please.” Cecelia was ready to move on also.

“If we let Bedelia into our confidence then she’d know I’m the same man who’s always loved her,” Andy tried to make his point.

“Unfortunately, I think mother is right,” Millicent offered as sympathetically as possible. “Bedelia has fallen under the chief inspector’s spell.”

“I don’t know what a fine young man like you wants with a girl like her, anyway,” Cecelia told him.

Andy decided the only way to express his feeling for Bedelia to Cecelia was through poetry.

She’s a flower, her petals smooth.
I want to touch and make her move.

“Oh, Andy.” Cecelia smiled sweetly. She finally caught it.

Eddie leaned over to whisper to Millicent, “Psst, Millie, that part about her bein’ a flower and him wantin’ to touch her petals and watchin’ her move, I think that’s kinda dirty.”

“Eddie, shut up.” There were even limits to Millicent’s patience.

“We must catch Tent with the packet tonight.” Andy circled the room deep in thought. “I doubt another merchant will cooperate with us if we fail.”

“So we must be very careful to see in which pocket the inspector puts the packet,” Millicent agreed.

The four of them recited in unison.

Let’s plan the plan as only we can plan to foil old Malcolm Tent,
We must catch him red-handed with that most incriminating packet
Completely filled with allegations and evidence to back it.

“What will he do with it when it arrives?” Andy asked.

“He’ll put it in his pocket!” Millicent replied with a snap of her fingers.

“So we must watch which packet in his jacket he will put the packet in.” Cecelia nodded.

“Then we must snatch the packet from the pocket in his jacket,” Andy said.

“Yes that is what we must do.” Eddie was so pleased he know what was going on.

“He has a charm upon a chain in his left front pocket,” Millicent remembered. “I felt it there when I jumped upon his back before the fencing match.”

“Well, you felt him up purty good, didn’t you?” For an amiable dumb guy, Eddie was capable of jealousy.

Cecelia put forth, “So he won’t put the packet in the pocket with the locket.”

“He carries a revolver in the right front pocket because all chief inspectors carry one in that exact same pocket.” Andy furrowed his brow retrieving information from his memory.

Cecelia shrugged. “So he won’t put the packet there—“

“For fear he might cock it,” Millicent said.

Eddie tapped her shoulder. “But in the ballroom I saw him lookin’ at a pawn ticket.”

“Then he may well have pawned away his company revolver,” Andy hypothesized.

“I didn’t feel it when I was on his back.” Millicent shook her head.

Andy looked at each member of their little cadre. “So he just might have put the packet in the jacket pocket that held the revolver—“

Millicent continued the thought, “Without fear he would cock it—“

“Because he had to hock it!” Cecelia completed their deduction.

“Oh please! I’m getting’ dizzy!” Eddie had to sit on the lounge to stop his head from spinning.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Seventeen

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws a society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent woos Bedelia. Andy woos Bedelia. They fight over her.
Cecelia walked over to Inspector Tent and extended her hand so he might steady himself and finally make it to his feet. Once he was eye to eye again, Lady Snob-Johnson withdrew her hand and spoke in her haughtiest tone. “Excuse me, Chief Inspector Tent, but I wish to speak to my daughter and Prince Edward in private. So will you and Miss Smart-Astin kindly leave the room?”

“But of course, kind lady.” He gave her his best deep bow with a flourish, although by the time he reached the nadir of his gracious genuflection he observed her well-endowed posterior heading for the ballroom door.

As Cecelia opened it, a blast of tango music invaded the library which caused both Tent and Bedelia to brighten significantly. They quickly assumed their dance positions and proudly spouted in unison and slithered into the ballroom.

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!

Cecelia closed the door and crossed to the lounge. “My dearest Millicent, I owe you an apology. I let my emotions carry me away.” She stopped abruptly when she noticed the writhing on her furniture. “What on earth are you doing?”

“Oh, um. I was just giving Eddie a massage,” she explained as she leapt to her feet, straightening the wrinkles on her lovely gown.

“Is thut whut you wuz doin’? I thought you wuz tryin’ to turn me on. And you wuz doin’ a good job of it too!” Eddie raised himself on his elbows and displayed a crooked grin.

Millicent cut him off and turned to face Cecelia, feigning interest in her comment. “What were you saying, Mother?”

Cecelia looked back and forth from her daughter and Victoria’s grandson and decided discretion was the better part of valor; therefore, ignored the embarrassing activity on her chaise lounge. “I was apologizing for putting you in that unpleasant situation earlier this evening.”

“Think nothing of it. I found it quite exhilarating.” Millicent smiled as she attempted to return her hairdo to its proper manifestation.

“No, I shan’t forget it. I shall try to redeem myself. And I know exactly how to do it. I overheard something you might find interesting.” She took her usual posture when about to impart a particularly juicy bit of gossip. “Well, do you remember when that awful William Canine-erel came in to see Chief Inspector Tent? He was that terrible, dirty, hulking man.” She seemed to be fading into her own realm of erotic fantasy. “You know, just like those hairy, muscular animals that work on the streets. Those ignorant, filthy, sweaty, gorgeous men with their bulging muscles—“


Her daughter’s shocked admonition brought her back to reality. “Oh. Well. Yes. Anyway, he spoke to the inspector and I happened to hear him say that a merchant in Soho—“

Millicent turned sharply to look at Eddie at the mention of the site of the recent crime wave. “Soho!”

“Ho ho!” Eddie stood as a flash of recognition crossed his dull face.

“–was going to make a payment to the inspector tonight and Mr. Canine-erel would bring the packet here.”

Millicent grabbed her mother’s hands. “Mother, this is very important. You must swear yourself to secrecy.”

“Must I?”

“Swear on your picture of Lily Langtry.” Millicent looked at the mantle and frowned when she saw that the picture was missing. “Where’s Lily?”

“The Man in the Red Underwear took it away so that nasty Malcolm Tent couldn’t steal it, “Cecelia explained. “Don’t worry. I’m sure he’ll return it.”

“I know he will.” Millicent nodded knowingly. “But for now, swear on the memory of the autographed picture of Lily Langtry that you will keep what I tell you a secret.”

“Is it that serious?”

“Yup, it’s thut serious,” Eddie assured her.

“Very well, then. I swear on Lily Langtry. So ahead.” Cecelia was almost drooling in anticipation. “What is it?”

“Queen Victoria has commissioned Eddie and me to investigate the recent robberies in Soho.”

“Ho ho!” Now why Prince Eddie thought it clever to repeat his nonsensical rhyme no one will ever know. It wasn’t important anyway.

“We have reason to believe Chief Inspector Malcolm Tent is forcing merchants to pay to keep his henchmen from robbing them,” Millicent pronounced.

“I knew there had to be a good reason why I didn’t like that man.”

“And Andy is helping us,” Millicent continued in a whisper.

“Him! I don’t believe it!”