Whence Inspip Fled

Nobody knew whence Inspip fled. He was last seen at one end of Sawdust Bridge, but it was a fugitive sighting. It was not clear whether he was at the pointy end of the bridge or at the pointier end. Whichever end it was, one moment Inspip was there, and the next he was not, and nobody knew whence he fled.

In the days before his fleeing, it was said of Inspip that he was in the doldrums. But this was a mishearing. He was not in the doldrums, but on the doll drums. He was pounding out a hotcha boohoocha beat on a tiny drumkit usually played by a doll, its arms controlled, puppet-style, by strings manipulated by an adept. Inspip snatched the drums from the doll and popped them in his pocket and took them to his lair.

Nobody knew where Inspip’s lair lay. There were rumours that it was concealed in the shadows under the pointier end of Sawdust Bridge. Others had it anent the Blister Lane Bypass. After Inspip fled, the sheriff organised a posse to search for the lair. It proved fruitless, like the sheriff’s diet. “I once ate an apple,” said the sheriff, “Never again! Now I know how Eve felt.” He was a fallen man, the sheriff, unlike Inspip, who was not.

A trail of scattered talc led to a barge moored on the filthy canal, but this proved to be a red herring. (See Nashe’s Lenten Stuffe, Thomas Nashe, 1599.) Nonetheless, the barge was ransacked and turned upside down in the hunt for clues. They found a doll’s drumstick, a chicken bone. Was the chicken killed by Inspip before he fled? The posse fell upon an outlying barn. Hence the well-known song The Sheriff’s Posse In The Barn, with its hotcha boohoocha beat and emotionally wrenching lyrics and twangy guitar part.

In the end it turned out that Inspip fled where eagles dare, armed to the teeth and calling himself, by turns, Broadsword or Danny Boy. The name Inspip was erased, even from his metal tag. Such is the mystery of the patron saint of chicken-stranglers, there is not even a memorial plaque on Sawdust Bridge, either at the pointy end or at the pointier end.

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