He’s not . . . not an evil man. Not exactly. It’s just that he was, he is, willing to celebrate the end of anything. He is a bon vivant with an entourage of witty and vicious followers. He specializes in predicting bad endings. Divorces, deaths, the sinking of ships, the collapsing of world economies, the final performance of long-running musical comedies. His record is impeccable. It is said that if Mr. Jules Vernon Quigley is seen leaving the scene of virtually anything, that anything was undoubtedly doomed. In an interview with Life Magazine in 1967, he said quite explicity, in reference to himself, that those who are not mistaken can make no mistake.

There was, therefore, a certain irony, when Mr. Quigley’s run of accurate predictions of failure came to a sudden end. Many people who might have thought more of themselves were pleased, so very pleased, to watch Quigley fall.

It was a peekaboo summer, the kind where things catch the eye and then disappear suddenly. Fashions were unpredictable, entertainment surprisingly good, the beaches were clean and the children did not fight over their doodley-doos, calling instead to Nanny to bring it here and give us a song, there’s a good nanny. Nanny would bring the doodley-doo out from the pocket in her deep apron, where she’d put it away after a series of unpleasant incidents involving six-year-olds, nine-year-olds, and several weeping toddlers.

The name of the movie was Nanny and the Island of the Doodley-Doos. It was released on June 8th, roughly one week into summer vacation and 6 days before the children would begin to be bored and ill-mannered. Mr. Quigley did not see the movie – he did not have to, he said, he could smell it even from a great distance. 

“The beyond is still out there, as on tiptoes here we stand,” cried our young hero, clutching the doodley-doo in his hand. Behind him the sad father figure leans into the wind, still thinking of the maiden he’d left far behind. He imagines her living in a foreign palace, stroking a tiger head pillow, alone and lost in a strange kingdom, waiting for release.  All in all, the very type of revolting movie premise that Quigley’d never been wrong about before.

The tale of the doodley-doo, though, had a mysterious staying power.

(This is “found” fiction – grab a handful of books off your shelves, choose some phrases at random, use them in a quick writing exercise. Not a way to make “done” writing, but good for warm-up.)


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