What The Dickens
WHAT THE DICKENS
By Francie Scanlon
It’s the bicentennial of my birth. It’s actually the real reason that the City ofLondon
was selected to host the Thirtieth Olympiad – that’ll teach ‘em not to call me a hack writer
and slaughter just about every vestige of my existence such that 200 hundred years later there’s
barely an alley, a bar stool, a place to memorialize my memory anywhere in The City of London.
But I’m back where I was configured as the original Rock Star of the nineteenth century –
namely theUnited Statesand more specifically,New York.
I am presently travelling in the most eastern section of the Rockaways,Queens,New York,
precisely Far Rockaway. There’s a street that bears my name,Dickens Street, and I’m informed by
reliable sources that it is here – in the middle of the nineteenth century – that Victorian Bayswater
was first realized as the ‘Hamptons’ of its day.
But I haven’t returned for a mere frolic – I am a man on a mission.
As I wrote in THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER – “Allow me to introduce myself – first
negatively.” But that was so many decades ago and now is now.
I am in pursuit of a character that is known to occupy the eastern part ofLong Island. His
presence is reputedly endless, effortless, eventful and energizing. You think: Why is it that when
men lie they say the nicest things. Forsooth truth finds its face in many a blood-pudding.
But I will not be distracted from my pursuit. When I left this Life – a mere one hundred and
fourty two years ago – my legacy-in-chief has devolved into completing my finale oeuvre – THE
MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. Parlour games have sprung up all over the globe opining with ribald
Inaccuracies as to who was the killer. Indeed my own Son, Charles, allegedly has stated that I told
him that Jasper was the murderer. Nothing of the sort bears any semblance to even a second-hand
truth. The ultimate verite in all this: never leave anything unfinished before you go; better to burn
the incomplete than have it over-dressed with complete ineptitude thereafter.
My purpose all so unsublime is to supply a conclusion for THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD.
To that end, I seek the one and only actor of his time [recall I was one in mine] to portray Dick
Datchery. I have learned that this man once contemplated a loathsome Fate: he intended to go to law
school. Fortunately the Art Muse compassed a different course for this Soul and he now can peruse
the vagaries of divorce from the comfort of my sundry novels.
But how I digress: if I truly am the man who invented Christmas then he is the man who
single-handedly re-invented The Golden Globes – ‘til “30 ROCK” nothing they did had any significance,
or so that’s the talk on the other side.
My interest in the macabre has been so totally fertilized by my passage from this form – if I
once were the ‘Inimitable Boz’ then this individual – a/k/a JACK DONAGHY – is the East Egg’s ultimate
preservationist – in every important realm.
What can be done with this man’s endless font of renewable energy? Daresay I ‘wise’-Alec
let no no-sugar diet disturb your Destiny – get on with it – “Here’s The Thing” – play “Words With
Friends” all you want; wake up the sleepers in the bleechers at the New York Philharmonic; erect a
120-foot wind turbine on your Amagansett patch of Earth; but above all – be the Aesthete of your
ultimate Destiny – let me re-cast you as DICK DATCHERY.
Only you can complete THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD! We’ll cast/shoot/edit it just in
time for the Hamptons International Film Festival 2012. What better tribute to myself can be veritably
Of course as I’ve done my homework I know you have competing interests – for example, an
upcoming cocktail party to support the life-saving work of the “Physicians for Responsible Medicine”
is being hosted by yourself and your new Bride, Hilaria Thomas. [There’s a part for her, too, rest
But if you really care about me and my Life in the Hereinafter certainly you realize that this is a