Recently I wrote about engaging in fisticuffs with the blank screen. This seemed to strike a chord with quite a few people. Makes sense, because pretty much everyone who reads a blog is a blogger/writer, too, and can relate. Probably accounts for why so many of us write about writing. But I digress.
In the wake of that post, I wanted to revisit something from Rothchild’s Parlor, which those who read this post know was an experiment involving regular battles with the blank screen. And, more importantly, without a battle plan. Which a lot of you implied was not at all the best way to go about it.
I chose this bit about the catapult because I’m happy with how it turned out, even though I had no idea what I was going to write about when I began. My love of dialogue combined with the fact that I think I’m not bad at writing it combined with the fact that Rothchild is nuts (and maybe so am I) led to a first draft that was 100% dialogue. The narration was added afterwards. Which might not be too hard to figure out, even had I not told you. Here it comes…
The Rhinoceros Catapult
I was passing Rothchild’s parlor door when I heard knuckles rapping upon it from within.
“Buttersnout!” came the muffled voice of Rothchild.
It was half past six in the morning. I had just gotten dressed and was on my way down to the kitchen to put the kettle on.
“Buttersnout, I know you are out there. I can hear you aging. Enter at once.”
I sighed heavily, then dug two fingers into my vest pocket for the passkey and unlocked the door. I found Rothchild standing with arms crossed, naked but for the red and white striped stockings that ended at his elbows.
“Morning, Your Majesty.”
“I am not Your Majesty, Buttersnout. I am Sir Rothchild.”
“Good morning, Rothchild.”
“And how does this morning find Sir Rothchild?”
He put his red and white striped stocking covered fists on his hips and stomped a foot upon the floor.
“What took so long, Buttersnout? I fear you were ignoring me, padding by on your little cat feet.”
“Sir, it is not customary for the one inside to be knocking. Typically it is the other way round, and I was a bit confused. I beg your pardon.”
“Buttersnout, His Majesty is in need of some items. His Majesty Sir Rothchild. Do you understand?”
“I am at your service,” I said, taking one of the blankets he’d been sleeping on and draping it round his shoulders. “I fear you will catch a chill, sir.”
“Sir Rothchild,” he said, eyes blinking, clutching the blanket tightly about his chest in his little red-and-white-striped fists.
“Of course. What do you require, Sir Rothchild?”
“A rhinocerous is clearly required, Buttersnout. Clearly. That much at least should be obvious.”
“Should it, sir?”
“I do beg your pardon. Why is a rhinoceros required, Sir Rothchild?”
“For the catapult, of course. Are you dense?”
“The catapult, Sir Rothchild?”
“Yes, Buttersnout, the catapult you intend to construct!” he said, a bit testily.
“I am afraid I was not aware of any such intention on my part, sir.”
“So you agree?” he said brightly.
“I don’t, Sir Rothchild. Agree to what?”
“Fine. I shall have Littlejohnson build it. Just fetch the rhino.”
“Sir Rothchild, I foresee multiple challenges in the acquisition of a rhinoceros.”
“Name even one.”
“Well, for one they are not indigenous.”
“Of course they are.”
“I mean not indigenous to these parts. Round here. Locally.”
“Ah. No matter. You have contacts, don’t you? You do. You have Zanzibar.”
“In truth, it is Dr. Littlejohn who is acquainted with Zanzibar. I myself have not had the pleasure.”
“The pleasure of what?”
“Sir Rothchild, are you in fact requesting that I have the doctor call on this Zanzibar fellow for the purchase of a rhinoceros?”
“Purchase, capture, thieve, I care not what verb you put to it. What I am asking, I mean what His Majesty Sir Rothchild is asking, Butterlips, is, yes, for a rhinoceros to be standing here with us all quite soon. The biggest and fattest one to be had. Better make it two. Yes. Because I believe the catapult ought be of the his-and-hers variety. A double catapult it will need to be, if it’s not too late to revise the plans. One male, one female, together they shall go sailing majestically through the atmosphere, crashing rhinocerosly upon their target. If you don’t have them, these rhinos, these glorious and massive projectiles, then you know who does. You know him who knows him who does. Fetch me rhinos for my catapult, Buttersnout. Is that clear?”
“Indeed. May I ask why?”
“A certain lady who recently visited needs her comeuppance.”
So, what do you think? Not bad for not having much of a plan for the blank screen? Or does it suck? Not enough narration? Too silly? Not silly enough? I’d love to hear any feedback you care to offer.