Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Laugh When the Characters Fall Down

... “Tomorrow night you plan to take your disgusting little harp-plucker to see – and murder – an important person.  As you said in my drawing room on the night you murdered me, a ‘very significant person’.  Tell me now who your target is.”
            “I daren’t,” Stoat choked out.  Fear was sobering him.  “I daren’t, they’ll kill me.”
            “Mr. Turpin,” I called to Edmund Serious, “point your gun at the Baron’s head.  On the count of three, if he has not named his target, blow out his brains.”  I looked Mr. Serious carefully in the face and I winked.
            “Please, don’t,” pleaded the Baron.
            “One!” I counted.
            “I’ll do anything else,” he whimpered.  “You can have the gold, I am ruined, anyway.”
I nodded at Serious and he nodded back, his eyes grim above the scarf that masked his mouth.
            “No, please, don’t kill me!  I want to help, I’m just afraid!  Please, can’t I do something else?  Anything else, what!”
            I winked at Serious again.
            Bang! the gun fired.
            “You idiot!” I yelled at Edmund Serious.
            “Edward, Prince of Wales!” shrieked Baron Stoat, cowering in the hansom.
            “Blast, I missed!” cursed Serious.  “Bloody cheap pistol!”

*   *   *

Sometimes you just have to write a pratfall, by which I mean comic screw-ups and physical comedy.

The above excerpt is from The Case of the Devil's Interval.  The Baron Stoat is complicit in multiple murders and participant in a plot to commit more.  Francis (the first person narrator, who is the ghost of a ten-year-old boy) and his idiot adult sidekick, Edmund Serious, here interrogate Stoat.

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