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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Punchline

Judy sat at the top of the attic steps beside a battered old actor’s trunk, out of which spilled many colorful hats. Punch was pulling them out hand over fist, tossing them behind him with hardly a glance. A floppy, celestial blue bridesmaid’s hat caught his attention. He held it aloft as sparkly motes of dust settled along its wide brim.
“Try this one on, Judy,” he said abruptly. “Maybe someone will want to kiss you then.” He slammed the hat down so hard on Judy’s head that the brim ripped right off. Judy rubbed her neck and picked the bits of hat remains out of her hair.
“That’s not the way you do it, Punch,” she said in a peevishly shrill tone of voice.
Punch rummaged again in the trunk and this time came up with a white top hat with two purple stripes running down the sides.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he cried, as he balanced the ringmaster’s hat on top of his own jester’s crown, “we now present the amazing case of the Silent Woman!” He drew back his slap stick and swiped it through the air with all his might, aiming right below Judy’s jaw. But clever Judy had put on a necklace of Spanish doubloons, which broke the stick in two.
“That’s not the way you do it, Punch,” she screeched, although her voice held an undertone of derision.
Punch tossed away the broken stub of the slap stick and dove to the bottom of the deep dark trunk. He popped up again holding his hands behind his back.
“Have I got a lovely surprise for you, Judy!” he cried. “Now, close your eyes!”
“I most certainly will not close my eyes, Punch. What’s that you’ve got hidden behind you?” Judy barked suspiciously.
Punch turned his back to Judy, hunching over his prize, then he slowly twirled around to face her again, hugging to his chest a green fedora.
“Oh, now that is lovely, Punch!” Judy cried, holding her hands out for the hat. “I will look marvellous in it, I will!” she shrieked.
“Just hold on, now, Judy,” Punch chided her. He peeked down his chest, into the inside of the green fedora, where a seven-legged spider sat. “You have to adjust these hats just so,” he continued. “Hold still now, my dear Judy.”
Punch tossed the fedora from his chest right onto Judy’s rumple-haired head, but before Judy could lift a hand to adjust the hat, out raced the spider to spin its web round and round her head. As it swung itself about in a frenzy of spinning, the spider seemed to hum, and as it hummed and spun, Judy became quieter and whiter and when the spider was done, there sat Judy the mummy beneath Charlie's green fedora. Punch clapped and danced around the Judy mummy and shouted out in his finest swazzle twang:
“That’s the way to do it!”

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