Poisson d’Avril Revisited

“Il y a un poisson dans ma boisson!” the Countess of Arcadia shrieked, and indeed, there was a fish in her coffee.

(Don’t worry, darlings, it was only a rubber fish.)

“I warned you about trying to get the better of me, darling,” I smirked.

Penny (you remember Penny, darlings – my lovely niece who fancies herself at once a Countess with regal airs and also a Dickensian street urchin, likely to drop the first consonant from words, pronounce ‘th’ words with an ‘f’, and utter the phrase ‘please, sir, can I have some more?’ from time to time) has an annoying habit of honouring this day — which I prefer to think of as March 32nd, thank you very much — by pulling some sort of mischief on me, traditionally while I sleep.

So it was, dear sweet readers, that I did delve one yard below her mines, and blow her at the moon! Oh, ’tis most sweet when…

Serioiusly, Helena? More Hamlet references?

I cannot help it, darlings, and I pray thee pardon me — much as I love that handsome Prince of Denmark, my heart doth bleed for poor Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.

You mean good Rosencratz and fair Guildenstern?

Yes, them too. But on with the tale.

What I did was wake up early (one has to wake up early to surprise Penny) and insert a rubber fish — purchased days ahead of time and selected for its realistic wiggling qualities — into her morning coffee.

“Did you know that the French call the victim of an April Fool’s Day prank a poisson d’Avril, Penny?”

Penny grimaced, and introduced me to a brand new voice — Crazy Eyes Penny, late of Chicago circa 1925.

“You shouldn’t ‘a messed with my coffee, see,” she said, sounding like a cross between Jimmy Cagney and Chief Wiggum. “That wasn’t smart, see. Maaa, see. You’ll never take me alive, copper! Maaa, see.”

“I think I prefer the urchin,” I remarked, turning away. “Anyway, there’s a certain species of clown fish that, if there is a sexual imbalance in their school, will change sex in order to even out the numbers.”

“Maaa, that’s quite the prank, see. But not as good as the one I pulled, see.”

I turned and Penny was grinning like a masochistic lunatic who’s just been told it’s ECT time.

“What did you do?” I asked, gently at first, and then, as the panic began to slowly set in and adrenaline flooded my veins, more forcefully. “What did you do, Penny?”

Penny just sat and grinned at me, assuming the pose of a smug thug under interrogation.

“I ain’t talkin’, see. Maaa, see. I ain’t no stoolie. You’re gonna have to beat it out of me, copper, and I don’t think you got the stomach for that, do ya? Maa, see.”

They say that epinephrine, the chemical produced from fear, smells coppery, like old pennies.

Who says that, Helena?

Quiet, you. I’m telling a story here, and as of this telling, I have still not discovered the prank, so I’m in a heightened state of anxiety, and you don’t want me to get angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

Okay, Bruce Banner. Don’t Hulk out on us. Jeebus.

“What did you do, Penny?” I demanded.

“You’re asking the wrong questions,” Penny whined, stepping out of her 1920’s gangster voice. “You have to ask me where I was on the night of such and such, and where I got the hootch. Oh! And then ask me for everything I know about Fat Tony!”

“What do you know about Fat Tony?”

“I don’t know nothin’, see! I ain’t talkin’, copper! Maaa, see.”

I sighed. “So I’m not getting anything out of you, is that it?”

“Maaa. You’re not as dumb as you look, copper!”

“Well, then, I’ve got to get ready for work,” I said, doing my best not to let her promised prank pose a ponderous puzzle for me to solve.

“You do that, see. Maaa,” Penny said, and then added, sans gangster voice: “Enjoy your shower.”


I may never be able to shower again, darlings. Who knows what horror awaits me?


Love Penny? Love Shakespeare? Hate Shakespeare but love Penny? Like, really love Penny?

A Shakespearean style play, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia,  is now available!



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