Back to the Practical Joker
Constable Hoegy becomes part of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Barrachois Police. I have an idea that he’s going to grow in stature as his experience starts to build and the stories evolve. I also have the feeling that he will remain a practical joker.
I don’t always describe my characters very carefully. I figure the reader will make them look the way the want, no matter what I say. Sure, I’ll give a sketch: tall, dark-haired, brown eyes – but that’s about it.
But I know what Hoegy looks like, as I mentioned in my earlier blog post: ‘An Incorrigible Puppy.’
The model for Hoegy was an actor of my acquaintance – we’ll call him Matthew: dependable, intent on doing a good job, but also a determined subversive. Some called him a practical joker; others, a theatrical terrorist. The funny thing about practical jokers is that they start wars. Small retributive wars, but determined wars, nonetheless. Soon, no one is safe.
I had directed a Sherlock Holmes play, The Valley of Fear, in which Matthew had a large role in the second act. He was not in the first act, so I cast him as the corpse that was displayed on stage. Stuffed dummies look just like what they are, so whenever possible, an actor plays the recently deceased. In the best tradition, I had arranged that much of Matthew was hidden by a sofa.
His chest (the bit that the audience really wants to see go up and down because dead bodies don’t breathe) was thus hidden, as were his face and his arms. When Inspector Lestrade entered the picture, there was much discussion about what the deceased man had down that day, including the interesting tidbit that he had cut himself shaving.
Well, once safely opened, Matthew decided that the shaving business was a goldmine. He started with a gash across his throat and escalated from there. Now remember, only the other actors could see this. They never knew what to expect and some of the younger players had a hard time keeping composed (laughing on stage is known as ‘corpsing’ for obvious reasons).
A week later, having exhausted all his other visual treats, Matthew tore up some Kleenex into about 40 little squares, drew a spot in the centre of each with a red pen, and then stuck them ALL OVER his face. He got into position before the curtain went up, face thus adorned, and with a disposable razor in one hand and an aerosol can of shaving gel in the other.
The actor playing Inspector Lestrade, an old hand who had had enough, bent down as he examined the corpse, took the shaving gel from Matthew’s hand, and then filled both of Matthew’s nostril from the can. Lestrade did all this without missing a beat or dropping a word.
Matthew’s lower half had to remain still for the next thirty minutes, as his upper half tried desperately to remove the stinging gel. The war had ended and Matthew had lost spectacularly.
Will Hoegy ever lose at CID in Barrachois?