Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Strange Plots 20


Strange plots of dire revenge.
Titus Andronicus, 5.ii

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.

This call and response pounded in Andrew Titus’s head day and night. The Lord giveth. The Lord had certainly given to Titus: given him the election and the ordination to be a minister of His wrath. And the day of His wrath was coming, burning like sinners in the lake of fire. But Our Lord had also said be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Titus was being harmless, oh so harmless. To the world he was weak, while he waited for the day when the wisdom of the serpent would spring loose and make the wicked fall into their own nets.

The Lord taketh away. When he had first seen his Lavinia lying broken and bloody on the floor of the barn, her face a pulp, the soul within him had cracked. When he saw the blood between her twisted legs and found her undergarments askew, inside out, the horror running in his veins turned to fire. No one must know. No one must see her like this. Scooping her up, he rushed her to the car and laid her in the back seat. She must go to Roanoke, to the hospital, to the best doctors. Titus tore down the mountain, every curve, every jolt, a spur to more speed. Haste. He must make haste.

Yes, he must confess: in his haste, he had erred. The doctors were somber as they spoke to him. Lavinia should not have been moved. Her spine… Well, they were doing all they could. And there was serious concern for the brain. The gynaecologist, too, was reticient. It was too early to tell.

It was quickly established that Titus had been in Roanoke that afternoon, during the time Lavinia had been attacked in Titusville. That, along the realization that she would not die, was enough for the city police. Let the local authorities take up mountain crime.  Her clothes were released to Titus, and he was encouraged to get some rest.

Sitting on a bench in the hospital lobby, he clutched her dress, the very one he’d bought her in Roanoke months earlier. How sweet she had looked in it at church. But why had Lavinia worn her nice dress for a day at home? Had she gone into town? He examined the garment, forcing himself to study the smeared blood. He passed it through his hands, feeling the fine gauzy fabric, the elegant stitching, the stiffness in the pocket. He put his hand in the pocket and pulled out an index card. On it, scribbled in pencil in Lavinia’s precise hand, was a recipe for “Mrs. Sanders’s Meat Pie.”

He must not be hasty. He must think. He must wait. “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth,” he murmured. “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

Months passed, but he waited. He gave it out that Lavinia had fallen, that she was paralyzed, that she could remember very little of her accident. He was careful never to suggest that anyone else had been to his farm, that Lavinia’s accident had been anything but an accident. He must suffer the tares to grow among the wheat until the harvest was ready. He had nine months until he knew which shade of McGrath must die: red or black.

Nine months to observe the wages of sin. Aaron Moore had the sleek oily look of a man who had feasted on stolen bread. It was no part of Titus’s business to hand, so he said nothing, but the mayor ought to look to his household and his own wife. At the other extreme, Demetrius seemed to live the life of a hermit. He sat rigid in church, eyes straight ahead, his attention fixed on the Word of God. His sin was ever before him, and he trembled for the judgment to come.

Titus could wait, and he could pray, and he did pray night and day: “Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.”

He would destroy the seed, and he would root out the evil from the land. The misbegotten child of wickedness must reveal its father, and then it must die.

And one summer day the call came summoning Titus to Roanoke, neutrally worded so as not to alert anyone who might be listening on the party line, and he drove into the city to receive the word of judgment. At the hospital, he was ushered into a room. Lavinia had been carefully propped up in her bed, and the nurse, standing beside her, had moved her arms into position to cradle a tiny child, swaddled and bonneted.

“Look, Daddy,” she said in her slow new voice, but it was a voice of wonder, “This is my baby girl. I named her Helen.”

Titus’s hands trembled as he took the little creature. As he looked down at her, her new face wrinkled and fell. She tossed her head in minute rage, disarranging her bonnet, revealing a shock of red hair.

For a moment he saw, not the seed of wickedness, nor an innocent baby, but red-haired Allan McGrath extending his hand in peace across the gate, a moment before he was shot. Before Titus shot him.

He said and did what was appropriate, but he was shaken to the core, seized with doubt. This baby was innocent, as innocent as Allan McGrath had been. Titus had already killed a blameless man once, and it must not happen again. The innocent must not suffer, as Lavinia suffered, as Allan McGrath had suffered. There must be no more murder, for the sake of this tiny Helen. She must not bear more sorrow than had already been inflicted on her, before she was born.

It was not until he was driving home that he was able to think clearly. He had indeed shot Allan McGrath. Executed him. Titus had executed Allan McGrath as an indictment on the whole McGrath clan for the death of his son Quintin. And if he could shoot point-blank a McGrath who was personally innocent, did he not have the courage to wreak vengeance on the McGrath who had personally violated and maimed his daughter? For the Lord was a zealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

But perhaps if Titus killed the iniquitous father and removed his evil from the earth, his sin would not affect the third or fourth generation. Lavinia’s daughter would have a fresh new start. Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out. Helen would be a Titus, not a McGrath.

At home, Titus sequestered himself in his house and devoted himself to prayer and fasting. Show me, O Lord, your will. If I am to work your vengeance on the McGraths, give me a sign. For a week he prayed, paying no attention to news from town that the Mayor’s wife had given birth, that her child had been deformed, that it had died. God be praised. One less McGrath in the world.

And then, the sign came, clear as the knock on his door late at night. Opening it, he found Mayor Sanders and Demetrius McGrath on his doorstep in the sweltering darkness, the Mayor twitching, jittery with adrenaline, the boy streaked with summer sweat.

“I don’t know who to turn to but you, Titus,” rasped the Mayor, “but I think you’ll be willing to help me, when you know.”

In the back seat of his car was Aaron Moore, bleeding, bound, and gagged, eyes glittering in the light of the Mayor’s flashlight.

“I caught him breaking into my house,” Sanders explained. “I didn’t feel that I could take him to the police station, or they might ask why he’s bleeding. But I didn’t think I could just release him.” His politician’s smile was a mere rictus. “And so I’m asking you to hold him here for me, in your barn.”

“You thought that the police would question why you struck a colored man breaking into your home?” Titus refused to be moved by Sanders’s obvious distress. “And why is it that you turn to me, Clayton Sanders?”

The Mayor was too destroyed to hem and haw. “You’re a man who demands strict justice, above the demands of the law and the courts. If I take him to the police, they’ll question him.”

“And what will they learn?”

The reek of desperation was strong on the Mayor as he clutched at Titus. “I dug up the grave in the backyard. I needed to see my child, do you understand? But it wasn’t there. There was no body. Aaron Moore stole the baby and hid it somewhere.”

“Why would he do that?” Titus asked, impassive.

“Because it was his.” Demetrius spoke for the first time, pale but resolute. “If Aaron Moore goes to the police, everyone will know about my mother’s disgrace.”

“Oho.” Andrew Titus was very still, but a fire seemed to be flickering at the edges of his aloofness. He turned deliberately to Demetrius and looked at him for the first time. “And you, boy, do you disapprove of this wantonness of your mother’s? Do you renounce the sins of the flesh?”

“I do, sir,” said Demetrius, afflicted with conviction. “I believe that God will punish the evildoers.”

Andrew Titus clapped him on the shoulder. “You’re right, boy. And you shall be a minister of his vengeance.” He turned to the mayor, his former sleepiness suddenly transformed into action. “I will help you, Clayton Sanders. What do you want done with this adulterer?”

The mayor was wild-eyed. “He must disappear. He must be silenced. No one must know.”

“And so he shall,” Titus decreed. Then he drew himself up and declared the word of the Lord upon Aaron Moore. “They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.”

The weight of the wrath of the Lord hung heavy upon the farmyard, bowing the heads of the men. Then Titus strode toward the barn, all business.

“We’d best go in my truck,” he said. “It has more room for supplies.”

Deep in a cornfield, in the midst of the midnight rustling, Titus crouched beside the figure bound to a pole and buried up to his chest, and pulled the dirty gag from his mouth.

“Make a sound and you’ll regret it,” he said, softly, deadly.

Aaron started on a stream of choice profanity, but Titus clamped his jaw shut with sweaty fingers.

“The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things,” said Titus. “I am a man of infinite patience, Aaron Moore, but the Mayor and Demetrius may start to wonder why I’m not coming back to the truck just yet. If you cooperate with me, I may come back tomorrow and let you go.” He released Aaron’s mouth.

“Free me now, Andrew Titus,” croaked Aaron through cracked lips, “and I’ll tell you anything you want to know. Otherwise, you’ll get nothing from me.”

Titus extracted a bone-handled knife from his pocket and drew it lazily over the tip of his finger.“I believe you’ll tell me what I want to know regardless,” he said, wiping the blood on his other palm.

Aaron blinked fiercely against the sweat dripping in his eyes. “I’m not afraid of pain.”

“You will be.” Titus held the knife under Aaron’s chin. “But I think you’ll tell me because what I want to know will cause me pain. What happened to my Lavinia?”

Aaron’s face glowed with a sheen of malice. As he spoke, low and venomous, Titus listened stoically in the dark .

“You did what I asked, so I will grant you this,” he said. “I’ll wait to cut out your tongue until after you’re dead.”

Back at Titus’s farm, once out of the truck, Demetrius fell to his hands and knees and was sick on the ground.

“Leave him here tonight to clean up,” said Titus to the Mayor. “Go home to your wife. Tomorrow night, here, she and I will talk peace terms between the McGraths and Tituses.”

“But she just had a baby a week ago,” the Mayor protested, his hysteria bubbling closer and closer to the surface. “Is she even allowed out of bed? She could still be bleeding.”

“Women aren’t that fragile,” said Titus. “She’ll come.” He placed a hand on Demetrius’s shoulder, almost affectionately. “Demetrius will help me make the place comfortable for her, won’t you, son?”

As the mayor rumbled down the driveway, Titus steered Demetrius toward the black house.

“Come, boy,” he said. “Come on inside and I’ll show you what I have in mind for tomorrow.”

But Demetrius pulled away, though at great cost, and faced Titus squarely. The only thing visible was his white face, mask-like in the dim light of the moon.

“Andrew Titus, I must confess to you.” His agony drove him to his knees. “If I die in my sin, the Evil One will drag me straight to hell.”

Titus laid a hand on Demetrius’s head and gently forced it back so that Demetrius was looking up at him. “Yes, my boy,” he soothed, drawing a bone-handled knife out of his pocket. “I know.”

The next day, Titus worked feverishly. He fumbled through the unaccustomed task of mixing pie dough, consulting a battered book of recipes. For the filling, he followed the recipe for “Mrs. Sanders’s Meat Pie”, which he had painstakingly transcribed from the card found in Lavinia’s clothes. The original he had stored with her things in Roanoke. He could not bear to look at her handwriting while he minced and mixed.

By evening, anticipation had tuned Titus’s taut nerves to a jangling sharpness. He stood at quivering attention on his porch to welcome Tamar as she set careful heavy foot out of the Mayor’s car.

“You have never been to my home, ma’am,” he said, offering her his arm with eager care, “but I pray that this will visit will mean the end of conflict between our families.”

Tamar did not accept his arm. She clung to the car door and swept surveillance over the farmyard, the porch, the front windows. “Where is my son?”

Titus, humble Titus, was quick to assure. “He’s inside, ma’am, and a valuable lad he is.  I could not have made ready without him. A fine boy, you ought to be proud of him.”

She lumbered past the hands extended to help her, creaking up the front stairs without the assistance of either man, husband or foe. “I want to see Demetrius.”

Titus rushed to open his front door to her.  He bustled about the farmhouse chamber which served as both living room and dining room, offering Tamar the cushioned chair at the head of the table, trimming oil lamps and setting them about the room, straightening the pretty knickknacks that Lavinia had made to cheer the house.

Tamar clutched the arms of the chair and lowered herself gingerly onto the seat. “Come to the point, Titus,” she said, sitting bolt upright through sheer force of will. “I am too old to play games with you. Where is my son?”

Titus stood across from her at the other end of the table, his little speech prepared and rehearsed. “We have overseen much fighting, you and I. And who has suffered most for our pride? Our children. Let us end this, once and for all.” He fetched from the sideboard a rustic pie and set it before her with twitching hands. “A peace offering, ma’am, while we talk.”

The bone handle of the knife he cut with was so discolored that Mayor Sanders  privately resolved to cut his own piece separately. Titus set a large slice on a plate before Tamar, savory juices oozing from under the thick paste. The hunger of the new mother was on her. Reluctant to eat under Titus’s roof, she still could not resist taking a bite. Then she stiffened.

“This is my meat pie,” she hissed. “You stole my recipe, Andrew Titus.”

“I borrowed it from my daughter,” said Titus. “She had the recipe in her pocket when she had her fall. I thought it too generous of you to let her have it, and since you hold it so closely, I felt myself honor-bound to say nothing. Won’t you tell me how I did?”

It was hard for Tamar to recover from the shock of her own recipe. She took another taste.

“Your flavors are off,” she said.

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” said Titus with obsequious glee. “Perhaps I’ll get it right with practice. Here!” he said sharply to the mayor, who was about to serve himself a slice. “This is entirely for the new mother. She must eat to keep up her strength. You see, ma’am,” he continued to Tamar, who was now eating greedily despite herself, “I’ve heard all about your baby.”

“Have you,” mumbled Tamar around a mouthful of pie. “I doubt it.”

“Yes, your child with Aaron Moore. Come, come, we’re all adults here,” he said, as Tamar choked and tried to rise. “There’s no need to play the innocent. Aren’t we here to make peace? In fact, I want to congratulate you on your double accomplishment. There are not many women who become a mother and a grandmother in the same week.”

Only Tamar’s eyes moved, tracking Titus’s every gesture as he roamed about the room.

“Yes, a grandmother!” he beamed. “I see I’m the first to give you this happy news. Your grandchild was born in Roanoke. I’ve seen her and held her. A little girl.”

“See here!” the Mayor objected nervously. “What are you talking about?”

Titus and Tamar, locked in their private war, paid him no heed.

“You see, Lavinia gave birth too,” Titus said, his voice growing ever gentler and more menacing. “Such a striking child, with that red hair.”

“Where is Demetrius?” Tamar’s stillness was no longer shock, but the tensing of an animal at bay.

“Such an honest boy.” Titus leered at the memory. “He was good enough to tell me all about how you and Aaron Moore encouraged him to pay attention to my daughter. Such loving attention. God in his mercy has seen to it that she remembers nothing, but now I know.” He loomed over Tamar now. “Yes, I know.”

“How dare you, Titus!” squeaked the mayor, frightened out of his depth. “My wife and I are going home.” But again, he was unheeded.

“Where is my son?” Tamar moaned. “Where is Aaron?”

“Haven’t you guessed? They’re with you now.” The light from the oil lamp flickered madly in Titus’s eyes. “They’re inside you, as close as your heart. Did you like your meat pie? Did you enjoy my little additions? Just for you, I added a new ingredient — tongue.”

Tamar rocked in her chair, keening and crooning to herself.

“Would you like to see your Demetrius?” Titus roared. “Come hold him!” He yanked open a closet door, and a red-haired body tumbled out and flopped on the floor. Its gory face stared blankly at its wailing mother, the throat gaping in a hideous smeared grin.

“Aaron Moore regrets he can’t be here in person,” Titus crowed over Tamar’s clamor, and the retching of the mayor, “but now you’ll always carry a bit of him with you too, now that you’ve eaten him. See that knife? It’s the one I used on both of them. And I’m going to use it on you.”

For a moment, Tamar clutched her stomach in agony. Then she rose from her chair like a banshee and screamed to fill the house, an unearthly wail of horror and grief. Titus roared with triumph at the sound.

Tamar seized an oil lamp and threw it at his face. “Burn!” she shrieked as the lamp exploded and flames dripped down his face and chest onto the floor. “Die!”

Titus, screeching like a stuck pig, did not beat the flames off his body. Hands ablaze, he seized Tamar and wrestled her to the table. Inch by struggling, fiery inch he forced her head down and ground her face into the pie. Fire flowed across both of them as they struggled, setting the tablecloth and the carpet alight. Suddenly Titus gave an inhuman bray and dropped Tamar to the floor as he arched in new pain. From his back protruded a bone handle. The Mayor, shaking with his single burst of bravery, sobbed and fainted.

Titus staggered through the smoke toward the door, but stumbled and fell as fingers trapped his leg. Tamar, her red hair now singing and crisping around her flaming face, hauled herself up his writhing body. Their screams rose and blended in weird overtones as she grasped the knife and wrenched it from his body. Blood spurted from the wound and sprayed over her, doing nothing to douse the flames.

With a horrific effort, Titus rolled himself over. Tamar had managed to pull herself to almost standing, still holding the knife. Maternal blood was dripping down her legs.

“Kill me!” Titus howled from cooked throat.

Tamar raised her blazing arm and hurled the knife. End over end it rotated, striking and shattering a windowpane. The pane shattered and then imploded as the rush of fresh oxygen created a backdraft that blew the room into a consuming inferno. The rage of the fire finally drowned out all other cries.

Luke Titus and the sheriff stood looking down at the four charred bodies that had been pulled from the remains of the house. Luke fingered the sooty knife he’d picked up. The sheriff contemplated the state of the house, the state of the bodies, and the Mayor’s automobile in the yard.

“I’d say accidental death,” he murmured.

“Accidental death,” Luke Titus agreed, burying deep in his mind the memory of his father shooting Allan McGrath.

Luke Titus stood looking down at the bed where his scarred immobile sister lay sleeping. He looked down at the child in the bassinet, her red hair beginning to curl in wisps against her creamy forehead.

“We tried contacting your father,” the nurse explained. “This institution is not equipped to care for infants. The child cannot stay here anymore. It must go to a home. Where is her father?”

“Dead,” said Luke, burying deep in his mind the memory of the smoking ashes of Demetrius McGrath.

Luke Titus knocked on the door of a dreary farmhouse outside of town. A haggard man opened it and stared at the bundle Luke held.

“How’s she doing today?” Luke asked.

“Poorly,” said the man, stepping aside to let Luke in.

In a rocking chair by a window, a woman was bent almost double, clutching her aching breasts. Luke knelt by her and held out the baby.

“I brought you something, Maud,” he said.

Maud looked at the child, then away. “It’s not my baby.”

“No, but she needs to eat. Her name is Helen.”

Maud took the whimpering infant and unfastened her dress, and for a moment both woman and child shrieked, one in pain, the other in confusion.

“She’s had a bottle. She can’t nurse,” Maud said through gritted teeth.

“She’ll learn,” said Luke, standing.

“Where’d you get her?”

Luke hesitated. “Lavinia’s.”

A gleam of life flickered in the woman’s eyes. “You don’t say. Miss Priss herself. No wonder Daddy sent her away so fast.” She tried to coax the infant back on to her bursting breast.

At the door, the man said, “But Lavinia’s alive?”

“She can’t care for the child.” A rustle of money, changing hands. “I’ll be back to see her now and then. Treat her as your own. You’re all the family she has now.”

As he drove away, he buried deep in his mind the memory of the existence and damnation of Tamar McGrath.



Jocelyn said...

What with this and the endless horrible descriptions on our news of the volcano victims at Whakaari, I'm filled with shock and horror.

Merry Christmas, anyway.

Maria Johnson said...

Holy Moley! The light touch you used at the beginning of the story certainly didn't set up expectations for the ending. I didn't get Titus Andronicus until you used the pull at the top of the chapter head. Granted, after the last Christmas story, I shouldn't be surprised. What's next year? Mac and Beth host Christmas at their house but their company is just dead to all their hard work?

mandamum said...

OK, that was awesome. Terrifying and disgusting, and I'm not sure whether it confirms me in not reading the source or makes me want to take the plunge after all, but you did an amazing job pulling me in and making me care, so much that I couldn't look away from the bloodbath. Powerful writing. Whew. That'll be a lot for Vin to work his head around - a counterpoint to the meltdown in the corn maze.

Christine said...

But *will* he and Erin actually figure it all out? I mean, I guess they might find the original index card Lavinia wrote the recipe on and get suspicious, but it's a bit of a jump from that to "Titus must have baked Aaron and Demetrius in a pie." So I don't think they'll find out, which is honestly for the best. I mean, judging by Erin's reaction to learning about the rape, I'm sure she really *would* throw up and/or pass out if she learned about the pie. Plus, it would make things difficult since Vin's family still makes the pies every year, and Vin and Erin might not want to anymore but wouldn't have the heart to tell anyone why.
I had difficulty with this chapter, because once I realized what was going to happen to Demetrius I was so disgusted and in dread at how Tamar would react that I had to stop reading multiple times before I could finally force myself to finish reading it (which I only did because I was too invested and interested in the story by this point to never know what happened). Once I read it, though, it actually wasn't as bad as I was expecting, which was a relief.
I'm really glad Demetrius repented.

mandamum said...

I agree they probably won't figure it ALL out, and that would be for the best... But the basic lines of the "make peace" dinner burning everyone down, and perhaps the "human sacrifice" which has at least the weight of lore behind it (and maybe something in the historical record, since Titus wasn't there to dig him out again) and still the rape.... That's what I was seeing Vin struggling with. Have Vin's & Erin's ancestors done too much violence to each other to just shake it off? Is the 5th generation far enough removed??

I too am glad Demetrius repented - esp since he must have known it would have such a cost in a Titus house.

Christine said...

Yeah, I guess they could try and find a historical record to confirm that Aaron was killed, since they aren't sure of that at the moment. And I guess they could further fit the legend together with the peace dinner. I think everything else you mentioned was stuff they already knew last chapter, though. I mean yes, they definitely weren't done working through their issues related to what they realized, but I'm not sure we're going to get to see them add any more trauma to their problems before they kiss and make up at Christmas Day Mass, if only because next installment is the last. So I think this installment was primarily for our own horror, not Vin and Erin's. I'd certainly love to be wrong though, as it'd be interesting to see how they'd react to some of this!!

Christine said...

(Okay, so here's another Hamilton parody which I wrote today, with some Les Mis mixed in for flavor. You, uh, might not want to read this one to your kids, as the topics obviously may be hard to stomach. Hopefully it isn't in poor taste to write things like this, but 'if I don't laugh, I'll cry' or what have you.)

Dear Helen, what to say to you?
You have your father’s hair, but you won’t have his surname

When you came into the world, I saw red
And it sealed his fate

The Lord let me find him
That I might see him
Safe in Hell

I’ve dedicated every day to revenge
Feudal strife has always been my style
In just a while, I’ll cut him down, cut him apart
And they thought they were so smart

You’re your mother’s only consolation
I’ll bleed and fight for her, I’ll get revenge for her

If this house has a strong enough foundation
I’ll pass it on to you, that’s the best that I can do
The rest will have been burned away
Today, today…

I am a fire and knife-wielding preacher
And there are things that the Scripture on sin will teach you

It takes some serpent genius to best preserve honor and respect
When he dies, I’ll use the pie instructions
He’ll have no legacy to protect

Revenge doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints, it kills and it kills and it rapes
And we keep feuding anyway
They laugh and I cry at her “fall” and they make dumb mistakes
Since if there’s a reason a recipe for pie
Was found the day her innocence died
Of course I’d discover it…

The Lord helped me invite them
That I might see them
Dead in my house

I’m willing to wait for this
I’ve been waiting nine months for this…

[Just let them]
Wait for it!
Of the situation I’ll hold all control!
My plans will be unstoppable, my revenge will be original!
And there’ll be a reason Tamar’s still alive
When most of her sons have died
She’s going to eat one of them…
He’ll die and she’ll eat him (and Aaron)…

Flames truth tend to obfuscate
But in the picture they’ll paint, red paint will reveal his mistake
When Demetrius confessed to his crime
He may have been the first that day to die*
But I’m the one who burned for it…
I died and I burn for it…

And if there’s a reason
For our descendants to be alive
When all of us consumed by hate have died
They’ll have to search for it…
Are they willing to search for it?...

*after Aaron (probably?)

(Working Title: ‘Dear Helen, the World is Wide Enough to Wait for Stars’??)

mrsdarwin said...

Wow, Christine, you're on fire! (Though not literally like some people in this installment.)

Even I don't know know how Vin and Erin would get to this level of information, so it's mostly so that the reader can piece everything together -- the God's eye view, if you will. And I"m glad to spare the modern characters, because it's too awful! I want the story to have a happy ending. :)

Titus Andronicus is really a downer, but I really don't recommend watching the Julie Taymor movie if you don't want to be entirely icked out. I saw that twenty years ago and some of the images are still fresh in my mind, and I wish they weren't.

JaneM said...

Well I just want to say that it says in Deuteronomy that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation but it also says that Gods love is carried down to the thousandth generation of those who do good.... (Some translations are better than others....)

Mary said...


Christine said...

Thanks! :) This was the most fun I've had writing a parody. Though I realized after I published it that a) I should've written "they've painted", as presumably Tamar's portrait wasn't done posthumously, b) I could've thrown something about not mincing words into my first paragraph (though it may have made the pie puns too obvious), and c) I should've switched "truth" and "tend" (obscure sentence structures tend grammatical correctness to obfuscate, apparently).

I'm really looking forward to the next installment. After this one, I think we could all use a good dose of Hallmarkesque sappiness. :)

As for what movie version not to watch, I personally probably don't need to worry about that; I read the Wikipedia plot synopsis so I could understand what you were parodying, and I think that that by itself was plenty violent enough for me. I suppose I might read the play at some point, but I think I'll leave any movie versions there are for others to enjoy (or not, as the case may be!!).

Brandon said...

I've been stuck grading, so I only just now had a chance to finish this. That was definitely a different kind of Hallmark story. It's been ages since I've read Titus Andronicus; there was something familiar about the story, but I didn't place it (and couldn't be sure it wasn't just a generic sense of tragedy) until the epigraph.

Structurally I see why you had to have so much emphasis on the frame; I had thought it was a little odd that so much of the story was devoted to it, but this installment makes it clear just how much that is needed to mediate everything. And this definitely sharpens the interest in what happens to Vin and Erin.

MrsDarwin said...

I still have one more installment to go! I'm going to close out the frame, and I'm halfway through the last section. It's just that my 2yo has become a madman recently and doesn't let me get any writing done. Yesterday he toppled two shelves, including a loaded bookcase, and then clung to me and fussed in the evening; this morning he didn't like the cup that I poured his milk in so that he could have milk and brownies as a reward for pooping in the potty for the first time, so he threw it and it burst open. In the meantime, one night an adolescent had a crisis, another night one came down with a weeping fever, and people have needed to stress about finals. I will run mad.

There's not much you'd get from reading Titus itself that Wikipedia wouldn't do just as well for you. The main hallmarks (IF YOU WILL) are rape and mutilation, revenge killings, and of course The Pie. Aaron the Moor is one of Shakespeare's most sinister villains, intelligent, angry, and merciless, but is he worth reading through Titus Andronicus? I don't know.