Tag Archives: parody

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—“

“Mother!”

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!”

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Sixteen

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. She’s popular.
Bedelia stood and turned her back to Andy 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 a party in 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 push 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. It was quite tender but also smoldered with such intensity that their lips were in danger of third degree burns. When they finally came up for air, the lovers were ready for some more poetry. 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 another 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!”

“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, creating 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.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Fifteen

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 her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent threatens Cecelia’s daughter Millicent. Tent woos Bedelia.
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 to stare out a 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 that a man wore when he knew the lady 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 one 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 Fourteen

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 her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent threatens Cecelia’s daughter Millicent. The man in red saves her.
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?”

Millicent glanced about the room and directed Bedelia to the library. Eddie followed like 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 bobbysoxer 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. Then he broke 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 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.

Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Thirteen

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 her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent threatens Cecelia’s daughter Millicent.
A tapping at the window interrupted this terribly tense encounter between Tent and Millicent. Tent walked over, opened it only to find an excruciatingly plain woman wearing what looked like a costume from an American Civil War melodrama. He could not see her face because she kept flapping a fan across it.
“Is this the party with the man in the tight red underwear?” she said in a high squeaky voice.
Tent looked over his shoulder at Millicent. “I think it might be.”
She scrambled over the window sill into the library, almost knocking Tent over as she began to flounce about the room. “So bring that hunky stud! I hope his chest is bare!”
“Who invited you?” he demanded.
“You’re so rude! I know. You’re a Yankee dude!”
“English!”
“Just as bad.” Molasses dripped from her Southern tongue. “You oughter watch your mouth ‘cause no one tells the Colonel’s daughter what she oughter do!
“Excuse me, ma’am, your behind is obscene. I do believe your problem is too many sweet pralines.”
(Author’s note: Yes, yes. They’ve broken into rhyme. There’s no reason for it.)
“And don’t you dare imply I’m fat, you mean old so and so,” she spit back. “You’ll find your skinny ass in boiling hot water. Don’t piss off the Colonel’s daughter!”
“Excuse me, ma’am, I don’t give a damn!”
She walked over to Millicent shaking her head. “Ooh! What he said!”

“Excuse me, lass, remove your ass!”
“Daddy’s goin’ to be so mad!”
Tent put his hands on his hips in exasperation. “Don’t you know who I am?” He put his right hand over his heart. “I am Malcom Tent, chief inspector of Scotland Yard! And I intend on arresting the Man in the Red Underwear tonight!
“So you want to see the red-hot man as eagerly as me?”
“Yes!”
With extreme dexterity and adroitness, the person threw off the dress and wig, revealing that it was not a woman at all but indeed the Man in the Red Underwear.
Millicent pointed at Tent, tattling on him just like he were a mean little boy in school who had just pulled her pigtails. “He’s trying to blackmail me with a letter I wrote to Eddie into revealing your identity!”
“That’s not very nice.” The Man in the Red Underwear apparently was from England, as evidenced by his talent for understatement.
“So what are you going to do about it?” Tent retorted, sounding more and more like a mean little school boy.
The Man in the Red Underwear glanced to the mantle of the fireplace, noticing two crossed swords. “This!” He grabbed one of them and took a proper fencing position. “En garde!”
Tent rushed to the mantle, grabbed the other sword and took his own intimidating stance. (Please remember that these swords belonged to Sir JohnBob Snob so the worst either could inflict upon the other is maybe a little booboo which would turn black and blue the next morning.)
Millicent clapped. “Ooh, this is going to be good!” She ran to the door and swung it open. “Hey, everybody! Look here! Fight!”
“Finally! Some real entertainment!” Cecelia exclaimed.
“Quick, mother! Get our pom pons!”

Right! “Cecelia clambered up the grand staircase.
Bedelia almost spilled her rum punch. “A fight? But that’s against the law! I’m going to get Scotland Yard!”
As she ran out the front door, a lone male voice, possibly the same person who pleaded for some real food earlier, called out, “Bring back a couple bags of fish and chips!”
Tent and the Man in the Red Underwear lunged and parried their way from the library to the center of the ballroom. The orchestra broke into a rousing rendition of “When the World Was Turned Upside Down.” (This is a really obscure historical joke. Look it up and then you’ll laugh.)
“Look! Tent dramatically pointed into the crowd. Is that someone actually eating one of Lady Snob-Johnson’s canapes?”
The Man in the Red Underwear turned his head in that direction. “No! You’ll throw up!”
Tent kicked him in the rear, knocking him to the floor. “Ha ha. Fooled you.” He aimed his sword at the red-clad chest. “So ends the brief career of the Man in the Red Underwear.”

As the crowd let out a collective gasp, Millicent jumped on Tent’s back.
“Quick! To your feet!” she yelled.
In a single, graceful bolt, he was up and grabbed his sword.
“Get off my back, you silly woman!” Tent growled.
“Yes, our side must play fair even if he doesn’t,” the man in red announced.
The guests applauded politely and whispers of “Good show, very proper” made their way around the room. Millicent dismounted the inspector’s back as charmingly as possible, considering the circumstances.
Cecelia broke the brief atmosphere of civility as she slid down the bannister, her arms filled with pom pons. She tossed pairs to Millicent and Eddie. All three gathered in front of the orchestra which switched tunes and began playing the Iowa Fight Song. After all, she said they could play any song in the world, even ones that hadn’t been written yet.
Tent and the Man in the Red Underwear resumed their fencing match, while Cecelia, Millicent and Eddie went into their cheerleading routine.

We love our pretty pom pons as much as we love chocolate bon bons!
Let’s make it loud, show we’re proud by beating on our tom toms!
Gimme a red!
The crowd roared, “Red!”
Gimme a Under!
“Under!” they loudly repeated.
Gimme a Wear!
“Wear!” They almost took the roof off with that response
Put it all together and what have you got?
Red Underwear! Red Underwear! Red Underwear!
The Man in the Red Underwear shows up everywhere!
So if you’re bad and are a cad, you better beware!
Two bits!
Four bits!
Six bits a dollar!
All for red underwear
Stand up and holler!
Since they were already standing, Cecelia’s party guests jumped up and down, waving their arms in the air and grabbing each other in inappropriate places.

You got to be a dashing hero and don red underwear
If you want us to cheer for you and shake our bouffant hair!

The Man in the Red Underwear finally flipped Tent’s foil from his hand which landed at Cecelia’s feet. She quickly picked it up and investigated it to make sure no harm had befallen her family heirloom. In the meantime, the man in red held his sword at Tent’s throat and motioned for him to turn over the letter.

“Curses! Foiled again!” Reluctantly Tent pulled it from his pocket and handed it to Millicent who quickly ripped it to shreds.

“Millicent, what was in that letter?” Cecelia asked.

“Nothing, Mother.”

“It must have been something or else why all the bother?”

Millicent turned to the crowd and threw up her arms. “Come on, everybody! One more time!”

The guests joined in.

The Man in the Red Underwear shows up everywhere!
So if you’re bad and are cad, you better be aware!”

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.