Previously, on Gothic….
As I wandered that labyrinth for assistance, the momentous meeting in the library of those two giants, came back to me yet again…..
….Ayres stood and turned suddenly; “Miss Redhead! How do you do?” he said, extending his hand to an obscene statue of Pan.
In theatrical delight, Miss Redhead took it and what’s more, pinched his cheek in a startling display of familiarity.
Ayres, always the broken reed in the presence of the fair sect, fawned and chuckled.
Oblivious to all, Evil and Bananas stood regarding each other for the first time in the flesh.
“Ah, Mister Bananas, we meet at last!”…..
After a brief pause, Doctor Evil made for Bananas, taking his hand in friendly grasp, while Miss Lilly Redhead arranged herself on a chaise longue, indicating to Ayres that he should take the small pouffe at her side, which he did with lapdog enthusiasm. A small brown lapdog, it seemed to me, with liquid eyes, glossy coat and damp snout.
To my shame, the smallest barb of jealousy rent my heart asunder.
I now know that the wanton seductress had specifically chosen the unworldly Ayres as target for her charms, since he was obviously the most susceptible of our company to her mesmerising feminine deceit.
That shameful Salome, plying her blandishments, enticing poor honest Ayres to the very rim of an abyss of carnality, Byzantine in its splendour, and he, the innocent fool, eager to throw himself onto those full red lips, like a lost soul cast into the gaping maw of appalling pleasures unending…
As I say, it was only a momentary prick of envy, quickly forgotten.
Like a photographic plate, each the antithesis of the other, Evil and Mr Gorilla Bananas stood in silent mortal struggle, striving for mastery, the welfare of all mankind in the balance.
“Ghastly weather gentlemen,” said Doctor Evil, “doesn’t it ever let up in this godforsaken burg?”
"But we thought that you had somehow brewed up…" began Ayres, momentarily distracted from his unseemly tête-à-tête.
“…this weather? No. My powers do not extend that far…Yet!” Said the mad scientist, still holding Bananas’ hand in greeting and in which he now contrived to wiggle his middle finger, much to the dishevelment of my dear friend, the greatest of detectives.
"We find it bracing, actually." Said Bananas. “Perhaps, if I may have my hand back…” he continued, pulling free and wiping his hand unconsciously on his waistcoat, “…you would be so good as to have your butler show us to our accommodation.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, my hairy friend,” replied the great but flawed scientific genius, “that pleasure should be mine,” he concluded ambiguously, a malign smirk now playing upon his suave face.
Behind him, Miss Redhead and Ayres giggled at something. I was sure that the devilish Delilah had passed something into Ayres’ silly sweaty schoolboy palm.
“Oh I can’t wait to show you what I‘ve done with the rooms,” said the eager doctor. “I have placed you all together in a suite, three bachelors gay.”
“I’m not a bachelor gay,” I protested, “there’s Mrs Maroon.”
“Of course you’re not” replied the excited necromancer with a wink and a pursing of his lips.
Behind him, Miss Redhead whispered something close in Ayres ear, at which he sniggered, slapping his knee.
As a juvenile hysteria now gripped Ayres, he kicked his small Gladstone over, spilling its contents at the feet of Evil.
“Save us mighty Mithras!” wailed the fiend, as he cowered back from the crucifix the bottle of holy water and the garlic, pulling his cloak over his eyes with a flourish.
"Did you ever see anything so hideous?" He asked after a moment, stooping to pick up the crucifix. “I mean there’s something to be said for realism, but my word this is awful…” he paused, "is that Tuscan garlic? Oh please tell me it is, you know, you just can’t get anything like that round here. Peasants the lot of ‘em, and just try asking for olive oil…" he paused again “what‘s in the bottle?”
“Holy…” began Ayres.
“…Gin.” finished Bananas.
“Holy gin eh? You rogue Sir Kim! Must try that some night! Come, I’ll show you your rooms.”
But before he could, one more curious incident springs into my memory among the hundreds of that terrible adventure. We stepped from the library in time to witness the arrival of a Scotch noblewoman, Lady Samovar, the renowned Lady of the Isles. Some staff were lined up to greet the great highland personage, among them the flame haired comedian in the loud suit. She was led in by Mister McShae, whose purpose as piper on the battlements was now clear to us.
Mister McShae it had to be said, had suffered some terrible physical and mental anguish. His clothes were smouldering yet and in his arms he carried the charred remains of some faithful gun dog.
The loud checked japester threw a pail of water over him.
“Thanks Jokey.” said McShae.
Doctor Evil watched in silence, shook his head slowly, then turned to conduct the introductions.
“May I present a lady from your part of the world Dr Maroon. She sailed yesterday by steamer.”
“Oh,” I encapsulated, "did you come by Barra?"
“No, McBraynes.” she replied.
“Badoom tish!” Exclaimed the ginger Jester.
Mr McShae flinched.
“Struck by lightnin’," he said, “if it wasnae fur mah apparatus, I’d be deid!”
“Oh well, that was lucky,” said Ayres.
“Lucky? Whit waas lucky about it? Ma bag iss in tatters! Ma chanter is shot and ma drones are reekin’!”
“I thought he was walking funny,” I hypothesized.
“Ay thang yew” exclaimed the red haired vaudevillian needlessly.
At last we came to our quarters. While Ayres stayed in close confab with the Lady in Red and I took the opportunity to pour some welcome refreshments, Doctor Evil took Gorilla Bananas on a tour of our sleeping arrangements.
I could see on their return that my remarkable friend was far from pleased.
“Good, good.” smiled Dr Evil, “I knew you’d appreciate my efforts Mr Gorilla Bananas. I like to make everyone feel at home, here at Castle Alucard.”
When they had gone, and we three were at last alone, it was Bananas, not the evil doctor, who appointed us our rooms.
“The nerve of the man” he stuttered in a tight lipped fury.
“Maybe he’s just trying to be a good host,” I replied in confusion. "He is American after all."
“No Maroon, he’s insulting us, trying to upset my faculties with his foolish little stratagems.” stated that master of deduction.
“Anyway, you’re in that room Maroon.” he said, indicating the relevant door.
I must say, I was rather pleased with it. Dr Evil had indeed done his homework. It had a low hammock covered in zebra skins slung among a bamboo climbing frame. There was also a trapeze and a pneumatic tyre suspended from a roof beam. Two gigantic bunches of bananas (my favourite fruit) and a colourful African mural on the far wall, finished off the splendid billet.
When I expressed my delight to Gorilla Bananas, he merely snorted, momentarily baring his teeth.
Not for the first time, was I confused by the superior workings of my remarkable friend’s intellect, but I held my peace and joined him and Ayres in our little drawing room for a tincture or two before we dressed for dinner.
I found my associates discussing the charms of Miss Lilly Redhead.
“Simply enchanting.” said Ayres.
“She’s certainly something.” said Bananas.
“You’ve changed your tune Ayres, what was all that vampire rot you were spouting in Baker Street?” I contested.
“Maroon, Maroon,” smiled Ayres, waving my challenge away with his hand, “A sophisticated lady like that can have an effect on a man far beyond reason. I was momentarily unhinged by her presence, her allure, her charisma, her…”
“Cleavage” said Bananas unkindly, “be careful of the Red Lady, Ayres. You could fall under her spell.”
“Yes,” I added glibly, “we wouldn’t want her biting your neck.”
“She can bite my neck if she wants to,” mumbled Ayres with a dreamy smile.
“What was that?” demanded the amazing ape, a shadow of concern falling across his noble visage.
“In fact, she can bite me anywhere she wants,” Ayres continued, with an unpleasant little laugh.
“I don’t like the look of this, Maroon” said Bananas seriously.
“I might bite her back,” muttered Ayres, ignoring us.
“Her back? Really Ayres, I don‘t think…” I remonstrated.
“He means ‘in return‘.” explained the astounding ape. “What did the Lady pass to you in the library Ayres?” he continued, “some trinket, some occult amulet perhaps, yes?”
“Why, nothing…I don’t know what you mean Bananas…can’t a fellow….it’s mine…and you can’t have it!” shouted the indignant Ayres, his hand moving to his jacket pocket.
“Follow my lead Maroon,” hissed Bananas, “ and be prepared to offer any assistance. This is worse than I thought. We may already be too late!”
Gorilla Bananas now stood to his full imposing height and stretched out his palm.
“Give it to me.” He commanded.
Ayres stamped his foot and withdrawing his hand from his pocket, threw the object straight at Bananas.
“Take it then, you beast” he ejaculated.
With a shrieking jungle lunge, the primate pounced on protesting Ayres and dragged him in a flail of arms to the en-suite facilities, the only hope of salvation for Ayres now, was that a thorough hydropathic douching would douse the infernal flames that threatened to take hold of his weak debauched mind.
Before I followed, I stopped to look at the thing now resting on the rug.
It was a small tin disc fastened to a pin.
It read ‘I heart Lilly‘.
“How curious.” I thought, as I rolled my sleeves and headed for the washroom.
Thus then were the antecedents set for the fracas in the lavatory.