Sunday, April 17, 2011

Three Bindle Stiffs Audio Recording

This was originally posted a few weeks ago. It followed a challenge to use one hundred unusual words in one story. After several requests, I've stayed up past midnight trying to record a coherent audio version of it. You better damned well enjoy it.

There were three bindle stiffs at the docks - let us call them Jackanapes, Factotum and Callipygian, for that is what they were. A homeless threesome, gathered by the loquacious Jackanapes, a louche scofflaw, supercilious about himself and curmudgeon to all other matters.  Factotum was his manservant, as a factotum must be to someone, an aimless ragamuffin with nothing beyond size to his credit. More interesting than this oaf (and more interesting to the oaf) was the bodacious Callipygian, one lady concupiscent and rivaling Factotum as a flibbertigibbet.

Now Jackanapes proposed some minor skullduggery as pertained to the Captain’s Quarters, a local tavern. Within was an ill-gotten goblet, periwinkle festooned with opals and inscriptions of ancient Australian gobbledygook. It simply begged liberation. Liberation into Jackanapes’s possession, of course.

The Beerkeep, once a bold and raffish scalawag, was now pusillanimous and lackadaisical, scarcely lifting his head from the countertop. His wife, let us call her Harridan, was less easily hoodwinked. A cantankerous termagant, heart tainted by broken promises, face tainted by carbuncles of particular effluvium, and given her abstemious nature, not too pleased about living in a bar. The Beerkeep was broken, for if he complained she was no longer a nubile sylph? Well he didn’t have the washboard belly of the swashbuckler she’d married, either.

So our mendacious tatterdemalions infiltrated on Discount Ale Night. Callipygian strutted across the bar and whispered obsequious debauchery into Beerkeep’s good ear. Into the left, she osculated. Broken men are so easily finagled.

Meanwhile Factotum elbowed through the crowd like a willy-nilly whirligig, knocking the pint and the hat from a haberdasher. The haberdasher caterwauled, and Factotum responded with brazen fisticuffs. Our ignoramus spun him widdershins, spilling the gallimaufry from his cup. Gawkers flocked with hullabaloo. The ribaldry instigated such a kerfuffle that even Harridan peered its way. So was the plan: to obfuscate by infidelity or ruckus.

Harridan shrieked for her poltroon husband and barged in to squelch the catawampus, only to be struck by a flailing hat-seller. She was knocked to the floor while the Beerkeep was drooping to the bar top.

Amidst the folderol, Jackanapes slithered behind the bar. He paused an instant to bask in the resplendent chalice – then skedaddled. For you see, his hornswaggle was on four people, not two.

The conspirators didn’t remark Jackanapes’s absquatulating immediately. The Beerkeep was looking for tongue before Callipygian came wise. Poor Callipygian and Factotum looked at each other flabbergasted; neither had prognosticated his exit, nor their own exit strategies. Beerkeep roused and squawked that his spiffy cup was gone, and the crowd doubled in size with accusations of subterfuge. Imbroglio flummoxed our lummox, while Callipygian babbled defensive rigmarole.

Perspicacious Harridan recognized that while they might be in cahoots, it was cockamamie balderdash that they’d carried off the cup. They looked as lugubrious as Harridan on her wedding night, and neither had any goblets bulging underneath his or her corset. Pushing through the ballyhoo she took each by an ear, twisting and demanding explanation. She’d forgive their peccadillo in return for their mastermind. They responded with mumbling and borborygmus.

Malarkey, she accused. Hadn’t they served hortatory to these shenanigans? To play Jackanapes’s factotum for so long and left clueless?

Factotum let out a paroxysm of obloquy. Their original hideout. The docks! With boats to abscond, or as Callipygian hypothesized, merchants to entice. Sooner than Harridan could summon a steed, rambunctious Factotum tossed both ladies over his shoulders and bolted for the seaboard.

Now Jackanapes possessed a foible of confidence. At safe distance, he gallivanted and lollygagged, whistling orotund tunes and regarding the foofraw of his ill-gotten doohickey. What fortunes flagitious life afforded.

So taken was he by his own hijinks that he was tackled higgledy-piggledy from behind. Two ladies and one ex-factotum began beating him about the head and shoulders. They were at loggerheads immediately, and at the fusty hoosegow ten minutes later, one man incarcerated on two counts of “jiggery-pokery and maleficence,” and a farrago of lesser charges. He was left with no cups or opals, only a two-bit pettifogger to hear his hokum. So was his comeuppance.

Harridan’s comeuppance came up at auction for the stupid cup. Proceeds went to her own copacetic hodgepodge of a juice bar and a dance parlor. Her star dancer took in a wealth of tips, and they were both generous to the hulking (if dull) bouncer. She hired her own husband two months later as Juicekeep, after her competition put him out of business. There may be a word for that sort of thing, but I don’t know it.


  1. That was effing brilliant! My daughter and I listened together. She loved the closing line. I bow to the Wis-Master. #baskinginbrillianceface

  2. Linguistic Gymnastics gold medalist John Wizwell!

  3. Very nicely read! I think I would be tongue tied if I attempted it. Fun story! I followed most of the story, some of the words I will have to look up.

  4. The last line got a hearty laugh out of me. Nicely done... this must have been exhausting to write!

  5. A very brave man indeed ... not only to write such a tale of skullduggery (with dictionary close at-hand) but to attempt an oral recitation... bravo, sir!


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