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.