Ah, thought I might be done with Arthur Scott Bailey’s forgotten 1915 novel, did you? Fair enough. But I did take some time last month to riff the tenth chapter of this little story, and posted it to Usenet for the good old times. And now? Let me share it here. I don’t promise to go riffing the remaining ten chapters of the book, but, we’ll see what I do get to in time.
Some recaps for those who’ve joined late.. Fatty, our nominal hero, is a raccoon. He wants to eat. His author is torn between punishing him for this and letting him get away with it. He tried to eat goshawk eggs, and got attacked by a goshawk. He’s tried to eat turtle eggs, and got away with it. He tried to eat squirrels. He got scared by a “tramp raccoon”. He tried to eat a fishing lure, to the delight of Farmer Green. And he has eaten green corn, successfully. Farmer Green’s son tried to catch him, unsuccessfully. And then tried again, chopping down a tree. But this failed, thanks to the presence of other trees. Who tries to catch Fatty Coon this week? The answer might just surprise you!
> FATTY RACCOON AND THE MONSTER
CROW: My favorite bubblegum psychedelic band!
> One night Fatty Raccoon was strolling along the road that wound
> through the valley.
MIKE: His evening constitutional is when Fatty has all his best songwriting ideas.
> He was in no hurry, for he had just left Farmer
> Green’s apple orchard, where he had bolted all the apples he could
> possibly eat.
TOM: [ As Fatty ] Oh, narrator, you sweet innocent child.
CROW: He means the farm ran out of apples.
> The night was dark and though it was not very late, all
> the country people seemed to be in bed.
MIKE: [ As country person ] ‘Yup! See me in bed? That’s me!’
CROW: ‘Me too! No need to come check!’
> There were no farmers driving
> along the road.
TOM: They’d already harvested this year’s crop of potholes.
> Fatty had it all to himself. And so he walked slowly
> homewards. It was then that the terrible monster almost caught him.
CROW: Well, that’ll happen.
> This is how it all happened.
MIKE: If you believe the *official* account.
> There was a br-br-br-r-r-r in the
> air. Fatty really should have heard it long before he did.
TOM: [ As Fatty ] OK, so it’s a sound, then?
MIKE: [ As Narrator ] Of course it’s a sound! What else could it be?
TOM: [ As Fatty ] I thought it was maybe a chill in the air? Like you were being metaphorical?
MIKE: [ As Narrator ] Why would I start being metaphorical on you?
TOM: [ As Fatty ] You’re the narrator! You can do what you want.
> But he had
> eaten so many apples that he had begun to feel sleepy;
CROW: Oh no, Snow White!
> and his ears
> were not so sharp as they should have been. And when at last Fatty
> heard that br- r-r-r it was quite loud. He was startled.
TOM: But you never expect a pack of feral leaf blowers.
> And he
> stopped right in the middle of the road to listen. Fatty had never
> heard such a sound before.
CROW: The heavenly host calling to give Fatty the good news of oleomargarine.
> The strange animal was on him before he knew it. Its glaring
> eyes blinded him.
TOM: [ As a nervous Fatty ] ‘Sc … sc … science?’
> And if it had not screamed at him Fatty would never
> have escaped. It was the terrible screech of the monster which finally
> made Fatty jump It was a frightful cry — like six wildcats all wailing
MIKE: It’s terrifying but it’s also kinda metal.
> And Fatty leaped to one side of the road just before the
> monster reached him.
CROW: It’s Johnny Appleseed and he’s MAD!
> The great creature went past Fatty like the wind and tore on
> up the hill. He seemed to be running so fast that he could not stop.
MIKE: Is this *our* Fatty?
> Fatty could hear him panting as he climbed the sharp rise of the road.
> Fatty Raccoon hurried away. He wanted to get home before the
> monster could stop and come back to look for him.
TOM: Weird feeling like Fatty’s doing the right thing here.
> When Fatty told his mother about his narrow escape Mrs. Raccoon
> became much excited. She felt sure that Fatty was not mistaken, for
> had she not heard that strange cry herself?
CROW: Mrs Raccoon thinking back of monsters who ran past her in her youth …
> There it was again! Woo-ooo-ooo-oo-o! It began low, rose to a
> shriek, and then died away again.
MIKE: Is it the Creeping Terror?
> Mrs. Raccoon and Fatty climbed to the very top of their old
> poplar and gazed down the valley.
TOM: That tree’s only pop’lar in its own clique.
> "Look, Mother!" Fatty cried. "He’s stopped at Farmer Green’s!
CROW: I wonder what Farmer Green’s name is in the raccoon tongue.
MIKE: You mean like, does it translate to green as the color or green as in inexperienced?
CROW: Right, that sort of thing.
> You can see his eyes from here!"
MIKE: [ Waving eagerly ] Howdy, eyes!
> Mrs. Raccoon looked. Sure enough! It was just as Fatty said. And
> that horrid call echoed across the valley once more.
TOM: [ As Mrs Raccoon ] Looky there! A gen-u-ine 1915 Dort Motor Company Rampaging Monster! Don’t hardly see them anymore.
> Farmer Green stuck his head out of his chamber-window, to see
> what the man in the automobile wanted.
CROW: [ As Farmer Green ] A travelling salesman joke? I’m sorry, I don’t know any.
> "Where’s the nearest village, please?" the stranger asked.
MIKE: [ As Mrs Green ] This isn’t the village?
> after Farmer Green had told him the man drove his car on again.
MIKE: [ As Mrs Green ] No, take me with you!
> From their tree-top Fatty and his mother watched the monster
> dash down the valley.
TOM: On Dasher! On Dancer!
> They knew he had gone, because they could see
> the gleam of those awful eyes.
MIKE: o/“ There ain’t no way to hide those awful eyes … o/“
> "Do you suppose he ate up Farmer Green and his family?" Fatty
> asked in a frightened voice.
CROW: Fatty, there are ways to interact with people besides eating them.
MIKE: Deaf ears, Crow.
> "I hope so," she said. "Then perhaps there’ll be no more traps
> in the woods."
TOM: But without traps how are we going to keep the woods’s tree population in control?
> "But who would plant the corn?" Fatty asked.
CROW: The … the Little Red Hen?
> Mrs. Raccoon did not appear to hear his question.
TOM: Serious moment of growing-up as Fatty learns his mother’s fallible.
[ To be continued, someday, I suppose. ]