Tag Archives: parody

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Eleven

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Cecelia falls for henchman Billy Doggerel.
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 cracking 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 stumble 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 wouldn’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 something.” 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 coat. “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 to point at the retreating bulk of Billy Doggerel. He nodded at them and Millicent 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.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Ten

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent.
Lady Cecelia Snob-Johnson was aghast when her butler opened the front door and there stood a large, overweight but mostly muscular man in a 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 incomprehensible.

“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.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Nine

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent.
The ballroom door opened and who should enter but Malcolm Tent who could not hide the 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 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 for the lifestyle 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.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Eight

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet.
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 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.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Seven

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet.
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 why Eddie spoke with a pronounced hillbilly accent, which was particularly odd since he had never visited the Appalachian mountains in the former colonies.

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,” 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 the prince, not me.”

“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 in 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.”

“Mal”.

“Say colm.”

“Colm.”

“Say Tent.”

“Tent.”

“Malcolm Tent.”

“Malcontent.”

“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.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Six

Unfortunately the passionate spell was broken when Cecelia charged through the door with Millicent on her heels.
“Do you feel that burp coming on yet?”

“Mother’s humor has evolved into something quite bizarre lately. You must forgive her.” Millicent motioned to the liquor cabinet. “Andy, would you care for a drink?”

Turning from his close proximity to Bedelia, he clapped his hands as though his mother had just offered him ice cream. “Ooh, I want something with lots and lots of grenadine.”

Cecelia, stuck in the middle of the room with Bedelia, kept reminding herself she must be a cordial hostess even though she was totally mystified by the young lady standing in front of her. The only comment that came to her mind was about Andy.

“I simply cannot believe the change in Lord Taylor.”

“Neither can I.”

Cecelia realized that conversation was going nowhere fast so she appraised Bedelia’s attire. “Well, you must be an accomplished horsewoman.”

“Oh, I don’t ride.” She blushed. “I’m afraid of horses, actually. No, I wear these clothes because I think they look smashing on me. Don’t you think? And mother is so pleased to see me in pants.

Cecelia, who was a champion in small talk, decided to throw in the towel on this conversation. As she walked away to nowhere in particular, Cecelia threw over her should, “She would.”

Bedelia, though beautiful, could be dense at times. Not realizing she was being sloughed off, she followed Cecelia across the room. “And I love this riding crop. I can crack it on my pants any time—you know it really doesn’t hurt—to emphasize a point in a conversation. See, like this.” She slapped her smart mauve riding pants with the crop.

“You ninny.” Cecelia rolled her eyes.

“Oh no. I’d never take a position caring for other people’s children.” Bedelia shook her head with a laugh. “I don’t know yet what I want to have as a profession, but I would never—“

“I said ninny, not nanny, you ninny!” After giving Bedelia an appropriately haughty glare, Cecelia swirled around and went into the ballroom.
Bedelia collapsed on the lounge and melted into tears. Across the room, Millicent finished concocting Andy’s cocktail which, per his instructions, had lots and lots of grenadine in it. She handed it to him and excused herself. “Poor Bedelia. I’ll be back in a minute, Andy.”

“Of course,” he replied, sipping his drink. Immediately Andy grimaced, spit the contents back in the glass, put it on the cabinet, wandered back to the oriental screen and pulled out his monocle on a stick for another inspection.

“Bedelia, please don’t let mother upset you.” Millicent sat next to her and patted her hand.

“I try so hard to be nice to her. Why doesn’t she like me?”

“Sometimes, dear, it’s not so smart to be smart.” She paused to give a knowing little smile. “Or, shall I say, a Smart?”

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Five

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet.
Andy stepped away, stopping her in mid-couplet in a vain effort to break the burgeoning romantic atmosphere.

But you’ve changed too, my dear. You’ve started to wear pants.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ve grown so strong, so butch perchance.

Bedelia pursued him like a starving man at a buffet. “You don’t remember?”

Andy made a break for the other side of the room. “You stir my embers.”

“What did you say?” She stayed right on his heels. “You do recall that day!”

Andy swirled and said in the most light-hearted manner, “No no, my dear, no memories at all.” After a pause, he stepped forward, ready for another round of terse verse.

Are you engaged? A gorgeous man has swept you off your feet?
Please tell me details, like where and when did you meet.

Bedelia moved so close she felt his breath.

I loved a man once long ago and that is quite enough
For any woman’s life. It makes existence rough.

Andy held his ground, looking deep into her brown eyes.

So are you saying that your life is empty now? Tres triste. How sad.
But think of this, my dear. No man can break your heart. Be glad.

If they got any closer, they’d bump noses. Bedelia stood fast, not being the first to move away

Oh don’t you see I love a man who is so brave and true?
Please, Andy, dear, why don’t you know, it’s you, it’s you, it’s you?

Andy unperceptively shook his head, “I don’t recall.”

“No, not at all?” Her voice quivered.

“But if I did—“

“I wish you did—“

This was said in perfect unison which was quite remarkable because neither thought they’d ever be saying such words again.
“I’d wish I fell in love with you.”

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Four

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, in the middle of a crime wave in Soho. Chief Inspector Tent grills her but the Man in Red intervenes.
Lord Andrew Taylor entered with a flourish from the ballroom dressed in satin, velvet and ruffles. With mincing steps he flitted his way to Cecelia, blowing air kisses all about her cheeks and lips. “Lady Snob-Johnson!” he exclaimed before exploding into verse.

Greetings, greetings one and all.
Andy Taylor’s at the ball.
I lived too many years in dreary old Wales
But now I’m back and into sales!
I do it all, design, cut and sew,
Dress designer, young man on the go!
Andy’s back in town and selling gowns!
He’s turning London upside down!
A shop in Soho and sales are so so.
But I’ve only begun ‘cause there’s money to be won.
My dad is proud. I lead the crowd.
Mommy’s impressed. I made her a dress!
Andy’s a dandy ever so randy!
I want a giggle so watch my tush wiggle!

Cecelia could not believe her eyes, nor her ears. How could an evening filled with such high society promise go down the toilet so quickly? She stuck the tray of liver goo in Andy’s face. “Canapés, canapés. No one will eat my canapés. Come on and be a sport. Eat one of my canapés.”
Andy turned to take a dramatic pose by the fireplace. “You know, historically we Taylors have always made dresses. That’s how we got our name and entered nobility. My ancestor was the dressmaker to the great queen herself.”
Millicent stepped forward. “You mean he was—“
“Yes,” Andy went straight to the punchline. “Elizabeth’s tailor.”
With a canapé gracefully tucked between her thumb and forefinger, Cecelia entreated Andy, “Come on and be a sport. Eat one of my canapés.”
“Thanks just bunches, but mumsey, daddums and I just had the yummiest din-din. I couldn’t eat a thing.” He raised his palm just in the nick of time to avoid getting lump crammed down his throat.”
“If you’ve just had a large dinner, you must feel a tremendous need to burp—“
“Mother!” Millicent tapped Cecelia’s shoulder. “Don’t be ridiculous!”
“You think I’m the ridiculous one?” She started nodding in Andy’s direction. “Take a look at –“
“And stop pushing those canapés on your guests!” Millicent swung her around by her elbow. “Get rid of them!”
“But where?”
“I don’t care!” she said in exasperation. “Put them on the floor behind the screen.”
While Cecelia hid the tray of canapés behind the oriental screen, Millicent took Tent by the arm and displayed her best Snob smile, inherited from her famed grandfather.
“Chief inspector, you might want to meet some of our guests,” she cooed. “I’m sure you’ll find them quite fascinating.”
“I don’t know,” he replied grinning at the cast of characters in the library. “I’m rather enjoying the show in here.”
“I said, move it!” Millicent lost her charm in a flash. “You too, Mother!”
Millicent tightened her grip on Tent’s arm and grabbed Cecelia by the hand and forced both of them out the door. In the meantime, Andy drifted over to the oriental screen, extracted a monocle on a silver stick and bent over to examine the flub dub more closely. With uncertain steps Bedelia approached Andy, only to find herself talking to his extended posterior.
“Andy, I can’t believe it’s you.”

“Bedelia, darling! It’s just been oodles and oodles of time since we last met.” Evidently he was so captivated by the screen that he kept his backside to her.
“Yes, when you left for Wales with your family.” Bedelia was not used to seeing this side of Andy’s personality, yet she could not draw herself away.
“We did have jolly good times back then, didn’t we?” He took a step closer to the object d’art. “Oh, what a divine oriental screen! Japanese or Chinese, which do you think?”
“You were the first boy I ever kissed.” Her tone was tinged with romantic melancholy.

“Siamese, I’ll wager.”
The moment was ripe for another round of poetry, and Bedelia went for it. I never will forget your touch one sultry summer day.
The mem’ry of you gentle hand will never fade away.

Andy finally took an erect posture, turned and fashioned an icy glare.

Why no I don’t recall that July day, the lilacs in the air I don’t recall
And how the sun shone in your hair, I don’t recall at all.

Bedelia would not be put off by his air of indifference.

I fell in love. You were my hero so serious and grave,
But now you seem so changed; in fact you seem so—

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Three

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, in the middle of a crime wave in Soho. Chief Inspector Tent grills her but the Man in Red intervenes.
Malcolm Tent finally untangled himself from the cape. Taking a moment he looked under the fabric to find a stuffed turtle, which had created the illusion of a hump. How infantile. Tent stood and stomped around the chaise lounge, obviously furious that his dignity had been defiled. Cecelia was not intimidated.

“And now, Chief Inspector Malcontent—“

“That’s Malcolm Tent,” he corrected her with irritation. It was one thing to be pushed down on his rump and be covered by a cape with a fake hump, but quite another to have his name repeatedly mispronounced.

“I must request you leave my home immediately.”

“I will not! I’m expecting to receive—“ The inspector stopped. He stammered about a bit, leaving an unbiased observer to assume he was about to let the cat out of the bag about something either highly unethical or socially irredeemable or both. “I’m expecting to receive all the respect and hospitality due my office.”

“And why should I do that?” Cecelia held both of her chins as high as possible.

“Because if you throw me out I’ll tell everyone you’re nothing but an old gossip!”

“Very well. You may remain.” She wagged a bejeweled finger in his face. “But don’t expect me to be very nice.”

Millicent entered from the ballroom with a tray of canapés. Cecelia immediately put her finger away and turned to smile innocently at her daughter.

“All the guests have arrived,” Millicent announced, looking down at the tray with a disdain that should be reserved for pigs in a blanket. “The canapés are rotten, as usual.”

Cecelia’s mixture of dismay, disappointment and frustration launched her into another soliloquy.

What can I say? I make some really lousy canapés.
The word around town, you can’t keep them down.
The recipe has anchovies and nice sharp cheddar
And chicken liver, just a sliver so thin. I make it to please.
No matter what I do, my guests still claim they taste like poo.
I must find ways to make much better trays of canapés.

Tent tried to escape back into the ballroom. “I swear you make me pull out my hair. I don’t care! I just care about the lair of the Man in the Red Underwear!”

Cecelia placed herself in front of the doorknob.

I still remember it made my day when Lily Langtry stopped by to say,
“Cecelia dear don’t be so sad. These canapés can’t be all bad.”
And she ate two right away but turned an awful shade of gray.
And then in a poof my friend went woof which through the roof.
She said just give the rest to me and off she flew in a hustle
To force feed them to that man trap slut, her enemy Lillian Russell.
Canapés, canapés, they won’t eat any of my canapés.
Come on and be a good sport. Eat one of my canapés.

“No, thank you.”

“No, I insist.” She took one of the canapés from the tray and crammed it into the inspector’s mouth before he could make another protest.

While Tent made a valiant effort to masticate the inedible glob, Millicent handed the tray to Cecelia.

“Here, Mother. No one in the ballroom wants one.”

“Are you sure?”

“Most of them were at Lily Langtry’s last week and –“

“Never mind.” Her ladyship sighed.

Bedelia Smart-Astin, the daughter of same Hardesty Astin, whom Cecelia had disdained only moments earlier, entered from the ballroom and took a jaunty stance, displaying her nifty riding outfit, the pants a flattering shade of mauve. “Millicent!” She waved her crop proudly over her tightly woven chestnut colored hair.

Millicent rushed to her and hugged her. “Bedelia, darling!”

Cecelia was clearly displeased to have a relative of one of her gossip victims invading her social event of the season. She marched over and stuck the tray of liver drops under Bedelia’s nose. “Canapé, my dear?”

“How sweet of you, Lady Snob-Johnson, but I’m watching my figure.”

“Too bad.” Cecelia receded to the chaise lounge where she considered for the briefest of moments eating one of her concoctions herself.

Millicent took Bedelia by the elbow to guide her to the chief inspector. “Bedelia, let me introduce you to—“

“Of course! Malcolm Tent! We’re old friends!” She thrust her hand toward him.

“We are?”

“Don’t you remember me?” she said and then, by the sheerest of coincidences, broke into rhymed iambic-pentameter also. There must have been something in the air.

Mom didn’t marry Dad and that’s okay with me.
She had the cause, whatever it was, but she still loved me.
She told me always to wear pants and never heed those who say can’t.
I’m better than boys so I treat them just like they’re toys.

“I don’t care, ma’am,” Tent muttered. “Give a damn, ma’am! Ticker’s dam, ma’am!”

His protestations did not deter her at all.
Now Daddy dear married last year a girl named Dumb.
I think Marie is not too bright but sweet as a plum.
My Mom decided from the start to keep the family name of Smart.
So Marie decided that she would do the same thing too.

Tent could see this coming a mile away. “So she’s called—“

Marie Dumb-Astin.
Marie’s hyphenated name won such acclaim that I
have done the same to show the world my family pride.
Which I know will be long lastin’ and I became Bedelia Smart-Astin!

Cecelia swept over to her daughter to whisper in her ear. “Why did you invite her to my party?”

“I invited Bedelia because Lord Andrew Taylor wanted to see her,” Millicent replied.

“Andy’s back in town?” Pleasure erupted across Cecelia’s face. Now she had a genuine social elite attending her party. “I approve of the Taylors. Andy was such a charming, athletic, handsome young man when his family moved to their estate in Wales.

“I must warn you,” Millicent cautioned her mother. “Andy has changed quite drastically.”

The Man in the Red Underwear Forward and Chapter One

Forward
The Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with absolutely no purpose except to make the ready break out in giggles. There are hints of parody of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores, but not enough to get in the way of a good time.

Chapter One
In the waning years of Queen Victoria’s reign—let’s face it—the party scene was a big bore. What could you expect? The old broad was still wearing black fifty years after her husband Prince Albert died. She could have at least gone to purple. Nothing seemed to amuse her, so it was left to her subjects to take up the slack and cut a few rugs, so to speak. Lady Cecelia Snob-Johnson did her part by throwing a fling-a-wing-ding every year at her brownstone in a semi-elegant section of London.
Now no one exactly knows how Cecelia managed to get the title of lady. She didn’t come from the best of families. Her father, JohnBob Snob, held sway in the theatrical West End of town for years, and rumor had it that Victoria knighted him after one particularly lascivious production of Romeo and Juliet. This was, of course, before Albert kicked the bucket. So if JohnBob was a lord, his daughter had to be a lady, a lady without any money but a lady nonetheless.
The financial situation brightened appreciably when Cecelia caught the eye of coal magnate Sampson Elias Johnson. She got a twofer with old Sampson Elias. He was rich and built like his biblical namesake. In fact, Cecelia couldn’t keep her hands off him and by their first wedding anniversary she gave birth to her beautiful daughter Millicent. However, Sampson Elias believed in not asking his employees to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. So he hacked and hewed right alongside his miners. He dropped dead from some nasty lung ailment before he could sire any more children. This left Cecelia wealthy but no love life and no social standing. High muckety-mucks never forgave poor Sampson Elias for having coal stained hands as he lay in state at Winchester Cathedral.

Nevertheless, Lady Cecelia Snob-Johnson never gave up hope that her annual gala would bring the social acceptance she so craved. Everything had to be spit-polished and dusted. Her ballroom glistened, and her library was impeccable. It was in the library where she hoped she could bring her immense power to seduce her detractors to its full potential. The guests slowly arrived, and the orchestra began warming up. No matter what else anyone could say about Cecelia, she put out the bucks to buy the best musicians in town, for at least one night.

To calm her nerves, Cecelia dashed from the ballroom for one last inspection of the library. She ran her fingers across the mantel and pleasantly found no dust. Looking up, she made sure her daddy’s fencing swords—believed to have been the very weapons from the production of Romeo and Juliet which prompted the Queen to knight him—were securely affixed above the mantel. In the middle of said mantel was a small framed photograph of Lily Langtry, the only person of high society who liked her. Cecelia gave the picture a quick kiss for good luck. Next she went to the far corner where an ornate oriental screen stood. Cecelia was particularly fond of the expensive flubdub because it was the last thing Sampson Elias Johnson bought her before dropping dead. He may have had dirty fingernails but he knew how to treat a dame right.

In front of the screen was a chaise lounge, large enough to accommodate a seductress and her victim. After fluffing the pillows on the lounge, she decided a small libation to stiffen her resolve so she went across the room where she poured herself a drink from the stylish cabinet suitably equipped with her ladyship’s favorite liquors. She turned to look at Lily Langtry’s photograph and toasted her in anticipation of a successful evening. Cecelia then decided to break out in a soliloquy in rhymed iambic pentameter, a habit she had inherited from her father.

Each year I give a party for the people of great wealth and world renown.
They’re kings and queens and dukes and earls and ladies in their gowns.
Oh hell, I might as well get real—those snooty types, they always turn me down.
I love the party life, it fills me with delight, the razz and the matazz.
I want to prove I have more charm than any of those high class rotters has.
This year I asked Prime Minister Lloyd George who rudely had the flu.
Instead I got Scotland Yard’s Sir Malcolm Tent so I am truly blue.
My daughter Millicent invited Victoria’s grandson so he’s a prince.
He should be quite a catch for any gala’s list, but he is dull and really dense.
I love the party life, excitement and romantic light.
I want to fall in love at least for just one night.

Invigorated by her pitiful attempt at poetry, Cecelia returned to her ballroom, a large space bedecked with gold, crystal and mirrors which looked quite sad because so few people were in it. Her daughter Millicent, wearing a brilliant blue satin gown with startling décolletage, worked the crowd, smiling and offering a tray of canapés. The social pickings were so slim that the arrival of Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard Malcolm Tent made her heart flutter for a moment. But only for a moment because he was dressed in a drab black suit frayed around the edges. He also lacked an aptitude in personal ablutions. He needed to decide whether he wanted a beard or to be clean shaven. In his current condition he was neither. Cecelia breathed deeply and swept across the dance floor and locked arms with the inspector.

“Oh, chief inspector, I am so pleased you could attend my annual gala,” she gushed. “It’s the highlight of the social season for the poshest inner circles of London upper class.”

“I don’t care,” he muttered.

Cecelia leaned in to catch what he said. “Pardon?”

“I don’t pardon.” Tent appraised her in askance. “The Queen pardons. I merely arrest.”

“No, I mean, I was asking what you said, Sir Malcontent,” she clarified.

“My name is Malcolm Tent,” he clearly articulated. And I’m not a sir. More’s the pity. Anyway, I said I don’t care. Forgive my bluntness. I’m obsessed over the shop robberies in Soho.”

Cecelia’s eyes lit with excitement. “They are quite bizarre. According to reports in the Times, a man in disguises exposes himself in—oh, dare I say it—in red underwear!”

“An exhibitionist, quite obviously.

“And then he commits robbery!” Her breathing became quite labored, as though she were reading aloud a penny dreadful novel. “And he’s so handsome, according to reports. And evidently well bred, by the cut of his tights. Aristocratic. How could anyone so high be so low in Soho?” Cecelia realized the dozen or so other guests in the ballroom had stopped milling around to listen in on their conversation. This sense of sudden importance made her cheeks flush. She was sure she was on her way to social acceptability. She raised her voice so all around her could hear. “How is the investigation going?”

“So so.”

“Exactly how much has he stolen?”

“And why are you asking so many questions?” Tent matched her volume decibel for decibel.

The mood of the guests noticeably changed. She could decipher some of the mumblings as, “Yeah, why does the old busybody want to know so much?” and “Who does she think she is, interfering with Scotland Yard?” Cecelia realized she needed to gain the confidence of Inspector Tent in privacy so she gently pushed him toward the library door.

“Inspector, you must see my photograph of Lilly Langtry in the library. She autographed it herself. It’s quite fascinating.” Once Cecelia had him alone behind closed doors, she began her confession which, because she was unusually nervous, came out in iambic pentameter.

You know I love the party life, but one thing I adore.
Some juicy gossip makes me want to roar. Tell me more!
You got dirt on the upper class? You bet your ass
I want to know who’s doing what to you know who.
Who’s spending money faster than they make it on the job
And I’ll tell you which royal prince is nothing but a slob!

Tent headed for the door.

I swear you make me pull out my hair! I don’t care!
I just care about the lair of the man in the red underwear!