The Mysterious Mr If, Part the Eleventieth

Another unwonted extrusion from my subconscious. This one has forensic clue-mongering dimly derived from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, I suspect. I recall creating If’s mysterious clue messages by elbowing the keyboard and then using spell-check to reconfigure the resulting alphabet soup into slightly more cohesive word soup (after chopping the strings of consonants into word-sized nuggets with the space bar). This was fun, because it meant the next plot point had to somehow follow on from a phrase created completely at random. If you have a tendency towards linearity or cliche, as practically all screenwriters do, going by our output, I recommend this approach.

And don’t worry — Howie will return in our next exciting installment. Now read on…

EXT. UNIVERSITY BUILDING – DAY

A wisp of smoke curls from inside the bottle bank.

MR. IF (OS)

I expect you’re wondering why I’ve called you all here today.

INT. BOTTLE BANK – DAY

If and his ballerinas stand shoulder to shoulder. The girls muck about with empty bottles in a vague, abstracted way. If puffs a cheroot.

MR. IF

Every revolution has to start somewhere. Strauss had his Batcave, Napoleon his Tracy Island, and Popeye his Radio City Music Hall. This will be my Fortress of Pulchritude, where slowly and surely I shall draw my plans against existence.

An empty Irn Bru bottle drops into the bank with a –

INT. BLUE MUSEUM – DAY

CLUNK. Netherbow enters the museum, still in his mourning gear, hat clamped on head. He scans the room. No signs of life. Sheena is not at her station.

INT. BACKROOM, BLUE MUSEUM – DAY

He finds her in the back, loading a Victorian police pistol.

MR. NETHERBOW

Ms McQueen! Lay down your arms forthwith! Henceforth! Withhence!

SHEENA

No chance. I need home protection for my home. If the Lothian and Borders Police can’t stop my cat from being costumed at will, I’ll have to take matters into my own hands.

MR. NETHERBOW

This is unfeasible! Unhand that handgun post-haste! Host-paste! Effective immediately!

They struggle.

Netherbow’s hat falls off, revealing DAISY HAIR. Literally, daisies sprouting from his scalp. He looks frightened and ashamed.

MR. NETHERBOW

Don’t look at me! For I was once as you are now!

Sheena looks sympathetic but confused.

TURNER (V.O.)

“Egg tower mouth doo go jet wren.”

INT. TURNER’S OFFICE – DAY

Turner gazes upon If’s mysterious note.

TURNER

There’s no use approaching this thinking like coppers. This is a nonsense case we’re dealing with. We’ve got to think like slavering loonies or not at all. But even a bampot follows some kind of logic, however warped.

PC THROWER

They say a madman has the strength of ten.

TURNER

Oh do shut up.

He stares at the note. He circles a phrase – “Go jet wren” with his pen. He picks up a phone book. Opens it at W. Runs down the page with his pen – finds a Jethro Wren. Underlines.

EXT. HI-RISE ROOFTOP – DAY

The city sprawls before us like a model in a top-selling gentlemen’s magazine.

Atop this roof is either a big birdcage or a small aviary.

Pigeons flutter and coo, then: Turner and Thrower appear.

TURNER

Mr. Wren? Mr. Jethro Wren?

Turner enters the birdcage, bangs the door on something inside. He looks at it. Thrower follows and trips over it.

A fat CADAVER with a model of Concorde stuck in its forehead.

TURNER

Something in his mouth.

He removes a small speckled egg. Compares it to the note from If’s harpoon.

TURNER

“Egg tower mouth doo go Jet Wren.” It’s unfolding as if in a dream.

Inscribed on the egg in a spidery hand, the words EAT ME.

TURNER

Got a spoon, Thrower?

PC. THROWER

Sir?

TURNER

Never mind.

He cracks the egg on Thrower’s head.

PC. THROWER

But sir – isn’t that destroying evidence?

TURNER

Can’t make an omelette…

He tears the sundered shell. A CHICK chirrups and gets born.

TURNER

Something on its leg.

He unfurls a tiny MESSAGE. Thrower is astonished. Magnifying glass time. Turner reads:

TURNER

“Skin jury the chef use if huge germ.”

PC THROWER

But how – ?

TURNER

Interesting.

PC THROWER

Sir…it was INSIDE…how – ? Sir?

The copper’s face: perplexity.

To Be Continued…

4 Responses to “The Mysterious Mr If, Part the Eleventieth”

  1. The still at the top is remindful of the tableaux vivants in Ruiz’s L’Hypthese du tableau vole

  2. That’s because it’s a tableaux vivant based on Max Ernst’s Woman with a Hundred Heads.

    Reminds me I must make time for The Mysteries of Lisbon…

  3. You must indeed. It’s a masterpiece.

  4. I’m sure!

    During Fiona’s ill health we’ve been mainly watching pre-codes, a big subtitled thing will have to wait, even though she usually likes Ruiz a lot.

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