This fanfiction was inspired by Dana Sherman's comment that I tortured poor Scott too much in my "Happy Homecomings" resolutions. I took a good look at the stories and realized that she was right. I also decided to go in for some spoof, since my other stories were pretty heavy. Here is the result...
Disclaimer: The characters in this story don't belong to me. They belong to WENN's own king, Rupert Holmes. No infringement is intended.
Italics denotes thoughts
Both parts are set the night after the events of "Magic"/"In the WENN Small Hours"
"No...yes...no, well, he sure sounded like he was crazy, Mr. Medwick. Lunar ticks! He...no, I didn't see Victor Comstock, either, unless you count the photo in the hallway. Victor Comstock died in the London Blitz. Everyone knows that. Well, everyone who's been in America for the last two years." Scott Sherwood had to hold the phone as far away from his ear as possible. He spent most of the day attempting to explain Cutter Dunlap's behavior on "Agitato Alert" last night to Mr. Medwick. He'd asked Betty for help with the situation, but she had complained of a headache late that afternoon and went home early.
It was eleven o'clock when Medwick finally decided that he was tired of bellyaching about his canceled show. Scott offered him a nice, safe sitcom about a nice, normal mom-dad-sister-brother family to make up for the incident. That calmed the sponsor down. Medwick had eight children and seventeen grandchildren. Anything involving children and/or families went over big with him.
'A Book at Bedtime just went on the air when Scott received another call. This one wasn't as pleasant as kindly but timid Mr. Medwick. The smooth, snobbish voice was the last one he ever wanted to hear. "Mr. Sherwood, have you looked at your budget recently?" it hissed.
Scott rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Oh, hello, Mr. Pruitt." Rollie Pruitt was the bane of his existence. He was the station's own villain, a man so menacing that the staff's "affectionate" nickname for him was "The Satanic Santa". Pruitt was a grouch, a miser, a skinflint, and ugly to boot. He couldn't seem to get it through his thick skull that being GLOBE's major stockholder didn't mean he was entitled to run all of the company's holdings. Half the time he acted like he was WENN's station manager. Pruitt hadn't made an appearance at the station since Christmas. If Pruitt ever appears at the station again, it will be too soon, Scott thought grumpily as Pruitt gave him an earful about how much the fashion show he had put on last week had cost.
"Do you know how much money pretty things cost these days," the accountant barked.
"Not on my salary, but I have the feeling you're going to tell me," Scott sighed.
And tell him he did. For twenty whole minutes. Scott spent most of those twenty minutes trying to avoid snoring into the phone. He slammed the phone down on its cradle when Pruitt was through ranting. It's a good thing he doesn't know about the Victor Comstock Memorial. He'd personally feather and tar me if he was aware of the fact that I embezzled from the sponsors to create it! Scott could imagine the gleeful expression on the accountant's face if he ever found out that Scott had done something so blatantly illegal. It was a frightening thought. Pruitt doesn't care about Victor Comstock. I'll wager he didn't know him any more than I did. He didn't know him the way the staff here at WENN knew him. All he cares about is the money in his pocket.
He turned his mind from his phone conversations to Betty. She had been acting strange all day. The lovely scriptwriter seemed fine last night when they caught the Nazi saboteurs, but when he came in this morning after leaving Cutter Dunlap at the hotel with Jeff, she looked spooked. She was so pale that he couldn't help but note that she appeared to have seen a ghost. She gave him the cold shoulder for the rest of the morning. He just couldn't understand that girl. Maybe she saw the ghost of Victor Comstock. He smiled at the idea.
He turned up his radio and listened to the Book at Bedtime broadcast. Jeff was in great voice as he read Betty's exciting adaptation of "Robin Hood". Scott rested his head on his hands and closed his eyes, allowing his mind to drift off into fantasy......
Baron Scott Hood of Pittsburgh Woods was riding home at last to his own castle from the Crusades. Let King Victor and his men handle the gristly stuff, he thought. A guy could lose his hide trying to plunder the African lands! No, he'd be happier here, reunited with his people and his beautiful and intelligent Maid Bettian, the king's ward.
It was strange being back in Pittsburgh Woods after his long journey. There was so much that he didn't recognize...like that sign attached to a great oak tree with an arrow. The piece of parchment stated...
Scott frowned. He knew that there were some changes, but since when were the taxes that high? King Victor himself couldn't afford to pay that! He didn't recall the king hiring any Sheriffs or right hands. There was something rotten going on in the state of Wenningham, and darned if he wasn't going to find out what it was.
He galloped on and nearly ran over a plump woman walking and singing down the road. She was simply dressed and carried nothing but a guitar. He got off his horse and helped her to her feet.
"Sorry about that, ma'am," he quickly apologized, "but you were walking in the middle of the road."
The woman's sunny smile never left her round face. "Oh, that's all right, young man. It was my fault entirely. Sometimes I get so involved with my music that I don't see where I'm going!" She shook his hand vigorously. "My name is Eugenia-a-Dale of Altoona. I'm a wandering minstrel. I go wherever folks listen to music. That's the kingdom of Wenningham right now."
"I'm heading to Hood Castle at the edge of Pittsburgh Woods." Scott admitted. He gave her the charming smile he always used on females. "Why don't we journey there together? Wenningham is just beyond Pittsburgh Woods."
The good-natured minstrel beamed. "Wonderful! I so tire of traveling alone! It would be nice to have someone besides myself to chat with."
Scott led his horse and Eugenia-a-Dale followed along beside him, sometimes singing one of her pretty songs. She told him of the many changes that had taken place while he was gone. The Sheriff of Wenningham had taken full advantage of the king's absence and taxed the people day and night. Scott spoke of his many adventures, of his ancestral home, and especially of Bettian.
"You sound like you're in love with her," Eugenia-a-Dale interjected in the middle of Scott's description of Bettian's beauty and creativity.
"Well..." Scott didn't really know how to respond. It was just as well. They arrived at the edge of Pittsburgh Woods to find little more than a large clearing where Hood Castle should have been. There was nothing. Nada. Not so much as a stone. Scott tossed the reins to the startled Eugenia-a-Dale and ran into the clearing. He threw up his hands in annoyance. "Ok, this has gone waaaayyy to far! A castle doesn't just get up and walk away! There has to be something..."
"Maybe we're in the wrong place," the puzzled minstrel suggested. "Or the wrong country."
"Do you think I can't remember where my own home is?" growled Scott.
"It's gone for taxes, my boy," an aged voice replied. An old man dressed all in rags shuffled out from behind a tall maple. "The Sheriff took everything. Or maybe everything took the Sheriff?"
"Why, it's Old Eldridge, my most loyal servant," gasped Scott. "Who's the Sheriff? What happened to Hood Castle?"
"The same thing that happened to us," added a Brooklyn accented voice. A woman and a man joined them in the clearing. They were an extremely odd pair - a tall, buxom redheaded woman and a short, middle-aged, balding man. "Welcome to what's left of home, Baron," the woman continued. "I'm Willahema Scarlet, but you can call me Willa for short."
"Nahh, I'm the short one," joked her companion. "They call me Little Mack, for obvious reasons."
Another man shyly joined them. He was a small, pale creature wrapped in a clergyman's cloak. "Oh, yeah, and this is Friar Foley, of our local parish." The little friar bowed. "He's taken a vow of silence."
Willa went on. "The Sheriff took everything we own for these stupid taxes of his. Simply put, we're broke. Everyone in Wenningham is broke. There ain't a plugged nickel left in the whole land."
"Not everyone is broke," a gentle voice corrected Willa. "The Sheriff and his assistant are making more money each day."
Scott let out a yelp of joy and swept the newest arrival in his arms. "Bettian, thank goodness you're alive!" he exclaimed.
Bettian was dressed in the garment of a male peasant. "I borrowed these clothes from C.J, the page at the palace, when I heard that you were back in Wenningham. I have to warn you. The Sheriff has a price on your head. King Victor went missing in Africa and the Sheriff took his place. He claims that the tax money is going to help Victor, but I know that he's lying through his teeth. He doesn't care if Victor lives or dies. All he cares about his the size of the treasury."
Scott was about ready to explode. "I'm supposed to be in charge of Wenningham in King Victor's absence! We made a deal! Is there any way that I can talk to this Sheriff and tell him what I think of him?"
"Well," Bettian admitted, "There is one way..."
Scott and his five friends crashed Sheriff Pruitt's party that night. The young page begged them not to go in, but Scott paid no heed to the lad. There were whistles from the men for Willa and from the ladies for him. He felt like he was the grand martial at a parade. Wenningham Palace blazed with a thousand lights. The Sheriff himself, a large, ugly man swathed in fine velvets and linens, sat at the head of the dining table. To his right was a dowdy middle-aged woman wearing a simple gray velvet dress. To his left was lovely Maid Bettian and her gossipy lady-in-waiting Gertrude. Scott told his companions to enjoy themselves, and they did. Willa sat near a group of admiring earls, the friar helped himself to the dessert cart, Eldridge chatted with Gertrude, and Little Mack tried to strike up a conversation with some of the prettier ladies. Scott settled in front of the Sheriff. He helped himself to a chicken leg off of the Sheriff's plate.
The Sheriff grabbed the chicken leg back. "I thought I said no gate crashers! There are important people at this party and I don't need common rabble making a mockery of my social image!"
"I'll let you do that," Scott grinned. "I bring these party-goers in the name of King Victor and Wenningham. I wish you'd remember that name more often, say, when you're raising the taxes to fifty percent."
Sheriff Pruitt smiled slimily. "Well, if it isn't Scott Hood, the former Baron whose titles, lands, and castle had to be sold for back taxes. Your reputation as a con artist is famous, Hood. You can shoot a deer at three hundred paces and charm the birds and the women equally with that smile of yours."
"How about we make you a deal," Little Mack asked when the ladies proved unresponsive.
"Yeah, we'll leave your big whoop-de-do if you give us all the money you stole from us," added Willa. Friar Foley nodded in agreement, his mouth full of pastry.
"I didn't steal that money. Taxes are perfectly legal, especially when they're going to help our dear departed leader."
"Oh, come on, Pruitt! You have no intention of using that money for anyone's benefit besides your own. You're putting the dough in your own pocket. It would do the king and his people more good if it were spread around," Scott insisted.
"You're one to talk about lying," the Sheriff snarled.
"The Sheriff has bread dough in his pocket?" asked Eugenia-a-Dale between gulps of orange juice.
"He means money. Moola. The green stuff," Willa explained.
Scott turned to his beloved Bettian. As he did, he purposefully knocked the gravy boat onto Pruitt's lap. The Sheriff leaped up and began to hop around. His aide, Guyina of Cosgrave, tried to clean him off and just ended up dancing along with him. It was quite a sight. The guests were rolling with laughter. Bettian and Scott remained silent, holding hands and dreaming about worlds that only lovers know.
"Oh! My outfit! My reputation!" wailed the Sheriff of Wenningham. "GUARDS!!!! GUARDS!!!! Get these nuisances out of the castle! I declare Scott Hood and his five friends outlaws and pests!"
"That's the signal to get outta here," Scott reluctantly let Bettian's hand go and made a dash for the door. As Willa and Little Mack chopped the door down, he bowed at the still fuming Sheriff Roland Pruitt and the applauding ensemble. "Oh, would you look at the time! It was a barrel of laughs, but we really must be going." They made it out the door as twenty of the Sheriff's men pursued them.
They lost the soldiers in the Pittsburgh Woods. They knew the woods, the guards didn't. They set up a crude camp and prepared to turn in for the night. Scott was cooking a venison steak that he had shot over the campfire when he came up with an idea.
"I've got it!" he roared so loudly that Friar Foley jumped five miles.
Eugenia-a-Dale stopped strumming her guitar. "Got what?"
"The Sheriff will never give up that money willingly, so we'll take it unwillingly." Scott explained.
The others looked at him as if he'd grown a second head. "Steal? From the Sheriff of Wenningham? Scotty, are you feeling ok?" asked Willa.
"Not just from the Sheriff," Scott went on. When he had a great plot forming in his brain, nothing could slow him down. "From all rich nobles. We'll rob wealthy folk who travel through Pittsburgh Woods and give the money to the peasants in the name of King Victor. Kind of like a fund."
Scott thought of Bettian and her great admiration for her guardian and Wenningham's true ruler. "Very exciting."
Eldridge seemed to read his mind. "What of Maid Bettian? She would like the idea of us helping the king, but I don't think she'd like where the money was coming from."
Scott shrugged. "I'll explain it to her tonight. Maybe I can convince her to help us."
Little Mack seemed genuinely interested in the idea. "Yeah, I can see this working. I mean, most of those royal folks have it coming to 'em, right Friar Foley?" All the clergyman could do was nod.
"Count me in," Willa Scarlet agreed. "I ain't got nuttin' betta to do. 'Sides, I'd love to see the look on ol' sourpuss Sheriff Pruitt's face when we clear him outta everything he's got."
"Me too," added a smaller voice. C.J, the page from Wenningham Palace, emerged from the woods. "The Sheriff fired me when he found out that I let you in the palace. I'm an orphan. I have no money and no place else to go," the youth explained sadly. "I followed you here in the hope that you could use me."
Scott nodded. "We're gonna need help, and lots of it. Willa," he ordered the tall woman, "I want you to round up the bravest and best fighters you know. Little Mack and C.J, go with her. Tell them to bring all the weapons they own. The rest of you watch the camp."
"Where are you going?" asked Eugenia-a-Dale.
"To Wenningham Palace. I have an audience with Maid Bettian."
Maid Bettian was both surprised and amused when she saw Scott climbing up her balcony. Or at least, attempting to. He wasn't doing very well. "Need a little assistance, Romeo?" she asked.
"It would be nice if a certain maid could do more than wisecrack. A guy could break his neck doing this!" he grumbled.
The girl helped him into his room. He immediately explained his scheme in great detail. Eldridge was right. She didn't approve.
"The idea of you aiding the peasants in the king's honor is both a heartfelt and noble gesture, but not your way of acquiring the money! You'll be arrested or killed or both!" she exclaimed.
"Only if we're caught," Scott reassured her. "My friends and I know Pittsburgh Woods like the back of our hands. We'll easily be able to hide from Sheriff Pruitt and his men."
"It's not just that," insisted Bettian. "It's the stealing. Stealing is wrong. There must be some legal way for you to make cash for the masses."
"What's a few thousand g's to the well-to-do set? They don't need the bucks. People like C.J and Willa and Eugenia-a-Dale do," Scott shot back.
Bettian considered the plan, then hesitantly said "I'll do it, Scott, but only because it's for the good of our people...and our king. I'll help you in any way I can."
"Wonderful!" Scott exclaimed. "I need you to write me a letter each week describing the goings-on at Wenningham Palace. It'll keep me informed of the Sheriff's movements. C.J will deliver it to me."
"You want me to spy on Sheriff Pruitt and his aide, Guyina of Cosgrave?" Bettian queried incredulously. "But that would be committing a crime, too!"
"Aren't overtaxing already poor folk and usurping power also crimes?" Scott reminded her. "Wenningham doesn't belong to the Sheriff. It belongs to King Victor, you, the citizens, and me! Pruitt has no right to be doing what he's doing. He's only making more capital for himself, and I don't find that to be a capital idea."
The two conspirators were interrupted by the sound of footsteps and the voice of Gertrude. "Bettian, your bath is getting cold, and running water hasn't been invented yet to fill it up again!"
Bettian gave Scott a gentle kiss on his cheek as he made for the balcony. "Scott, I still believe that your plan is foolish, but...God bless you!" She then went to handle Gertrude. She'd make up some silly lie about reciting a poem out loud to amuse herself.
Scott stood dazed for a few moments before he remembered that it would be unwise to be discovered here. He headed for the woods, silently vowing never to wash his cheek again. When he and Bettian could get back into close quarters, they'd continue the whole romantic gunk thing, but for now, he had bigger problems.
Go to Robin Sherwood of Pittsburgh, Part II!
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