29 November 2007
In which an unfortunate fellow is slain by a King.
As I finally took my seat in the theatre’s auditorium, next to my man-servant Botter, the curtains rose on what was going to prove to be an unforgettable show – for all the wrong reasons.
First on were the chorus girls, with whom I had already had the pleasure of acquainting myself with earlier. It was something approaching a miracle that they were still able to dance with such vigour and energy, following the rigourous pumping I had bestowed upon their collective fundaments mere moments ago.
While the ladies high-kicked their way across the stage, I found myself growing increasingly irritated by a gentleman sat in front of me, who was wearing a top hat of such ridiculous height that it was marring my view of the scantily-clad strumpets. I tried my best to angle myself so I could better enjoy the ladies’ rather raunchy act, but it was to no avail.
“Sir!” I hissed, tapping the fellow on the shoulder. “Sir, may I just politely ask that you remove your hat, please. It is rather obscuring my vision, and I do so wish to enjoy the show in full.”
“Bah!” scoffed the man. “I shall do no such thing sir. And if that displeases you, I suggest you go and boil your head.”
I looked at Botter, who silently implored me to refrain from carrying out any further action that may disrupt the evening, but my mind was made up. I was not going to let this fat-headed buffoon get away with speaking to me in such a manner.
“Sir,” I said, leaning forward, “I shall ask you again. Remove the hat, or I shall remove it for you.”
“Pah! I should like to see you attempt such a feat, sir!” the odious chap blustered.
I leant back, smiled at Botter, then in a flash I grabbed my trusty cane and thrust it with great force into the man’s hat. The stick easily penetrated the headwear, and with the hat thus skewered, I lifted it off the brute’s head and then flung the offending article behind me, into the recesses of the auditorium. The gentleman was less than pleased with my actions, but was quickly silenced when gently I informed him that next time, I would aim for his stupid, fat head.
Next up on the bill was Madam Norksag and her Musical Stoat Chorus. This was a most unusual act, wherein Madam Norksag arranged stoats of varying size upon a table, and then yanked upon their tails with considerable force, resulting in a differently-pitched squeak emitting from the creature, depending on its size. Madam Norksag led her stricken stoats through some frankly awful renditions of popular music, including a terrible version of ‘Rule Britannia‘ that was so awful it made me wonder whether Norksag was attempting some kind of stoat-based treachery upon our glorious nation.
Finally, the squeaking subsided and Archibald the Entirely Adequate strolled onto the stage, dressed smartly in a tuxedo, a top hat perched at a rather rakish angle atop his head.
“Good evening, ladies and gentleman,” he crooned. “Prepare yourself now for some high-class conjury, guaranteed to leave you awe-struck and amazed! And if you are not sufficiently awed, I will personally give you your money back!” He grinned, and thrust his hand into the air and then, to hushed gasps from the audience, plucked a pound note out of the air.
“What manner of devilry is this?!” the troublesome gentleman in front of me cried out. “It is the work of Beezlebub, I tell you!”
“Do shut up, you tiresome old vagina,” I whispered in his ear. “Or else I shall make your balls vanish.”
The man harrumphed and spluttered, and sat back down. Archie continued on with his set unperturbed, trotting out an array of tricks and deceits, from vanishing cards to producing doves out of nowhere, all of which were unequivocally entirely adequate. Finally, Archie approached the front of the stage, and addressed us all as one.
“Ladies and gentleman, I shall now need a volunteer from the audience, to partake in my latest and greatest magic trick – the Card of Death!”
The irksome fellow in front of me scoffed once more, then turned to his companion and in a hushed tone said, “Hmph! Whichever fool dares go up there and dabble in the Dark Arts, it shall not be me!”
Upon hearing this, I could not resist but ramming my cane firmly into the back of the miser’s chair, causing him to leap up with alarm. Before he knew what was happening, Archie had spotted the man and singled him out as his makeshift assistant. Despite his vocal protestations, the man was led to the stage by one of the ushers, and led up to Archie’s side. I allowed myself a small smile of sweet satisfaction.
“Now, sir, we have not met before, have we?” Archie purred, clearly in his element.
“I should bally well say not,” the man grumbled, clearly out of his.
“Very well, than we may proceed. Sir, behold these playing cards,” Archie continued, smoothly fanning out a deck of cards in front of the man’s face. “Are they, or are they not, a perfectly ordinary pack of playing cards?”
“Hm,” the man huffed, closely inspecting the cards. “Egads! No! They are razor sharp!”
“Exactly, precisely and absolutely correct!” Archie beamed. “They are razor sharp, ladies and gentlemen…razor sharp!”
To further demonstrate his point, Archie then hurled a card at a nearby board. The card whizzed through the air, then came to a sudden stop, one corner fully embedded in the wooden surface. The audience murmured their approval.
“Now, sir, if I may ask you to pick a card…any card!” Archie instructed the man, who was looking increasingly uncomfortable with each passing moment. The man hesitated and deliberated, then drew a card out from the pack. “Now don’t show it to me!” Archie exclaimed. “Just make a note of which card it is, and hold it up so that some of the audience may verify your selection!”
The man held up the card towards the audience, some of whom craned their necks to try and determine which card it was. It was the King of Spades.
“Marvelous!” said Archie, happily. “Now slip it back in the pack there – no, don’t let me see it! – that’s it, very good. Now, sir, I must ask you to stand over there, by the big board. That’s right, over there…”
The man walked over and stood in front of a large board, which had a large target painted on its surface. The fellow regarded the board quizzically, then turned to face Archie.
“I say what the devil is – ” he began, but was interrupted by Archie.
“IS THIS YOUR CARD?” Archie boomed, hurling one of the cards with full force at the gent. Before the wretched chap could answer, the card had found its home. Unfortunately for the unwitting accomplice, that home was in his forehead. The man looked up, and regarded the King of Spades now resting firmly in his skull with a mixture of shock and awe.
“It…it is my card,” the man croaked, as blood began to trickle down his face. Then he fell to the floor, lifeless.
A hushed silence filled the auditorium, until one man stood up, applauding loudly.
“Bravo!” he cheered. “BRAVO!” He continued to clap furiously, until he realised he was applauding all by himself, at which point he sat down again pretty sharpish. Archie, meanwhile, was frozen, his eyes not straying from the bloodied body of his volunteer.
“Where in buggeration are the management?” I whispered to Botter. “They ought to be doing something about this!”
“Um, milord,” Botter said. “You are the management, remember? You bought this whole, entire theatre earlier!“
“Oh yes,” I replied. “Bollocks.”
I rose up out of my seat, and then groggily staggered down the stairs towards the scene of the crime. Once there, I struggled onto the stage, and faced the still-stricken audience. I coughed loudly, and smiled.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” I began. “Is there a doctor in the house?”
- Lord Likely.
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