Rue du Doo

An excerpt.

Christmas, 2011 / No. 27
Art by Matthew Daley
Matthew Daley

It’s Paris, or scenery that looks like Paris. A bat shits on cobblestones. The bat’s a puppet. The shit’s a puppet. Count Choc-o-log strolls down the street. He’s a puppet. He sings:

Somewhere beyond the box tops,
Here am I,
I’m the Count from the breakfast cereal that you buy.
Somewhere beyond the box tops,
Here I am,
I’m the star of this special television program.
Somewhere beyond the box tops,
I am here,
I’m in stop-motion like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Someday I’ll slay that red-nosed clown
And Santa, too, and flush them down the sewers.
My show will air at Halloween and Christmastime
And I’ll be seen by billions of viewers!

“Somewhere beyond the box tops,” he sings, “here I’ll be, way down deep in the—” He slips in shit. “Shit! Shit is très, très Paris!”


“Die, mirror, die!” Count Choc-o-log hurls a shoe at a mirror. The mirror never sees it coming. The Count has no reflection; the Count’s clothing has no reflection.

The Count’s a vampire.

“Count Choc-o-log? ” Boo-Brownie blows in.

“Miserable mirrors,” the Count says. “Why put mirrors in a vampire dressing room? ”

“It’s hardly a vampire dressing room,” says Boo-Brownie, bobbing about like a blue balloon, or the ghost of a blue balloon. He’s a ghost; he’s blue. “Werewolves use it as well. And mummies. And monsters.”

“Friend? ” Franken-Fudge clomps in.

“The Count is browned off,” Boo-Brownie says.

“How many times must I shop at this department store,” the Count says, “without being able to see the suit I’m about to buy!”

“You no need mirror!” says Franken-Fudge, a Frankenstein with a pink head and hands. “You have friends. That suit suits you. Chocolate good colour for Count!”

“What would you know-nothings know about it? ” the Count says. “Ghosts can see themselves in mirrors—even though they’re see-through! Monsters can see themselves—even though they’re unsightly!”

Franken-Fudge paints his fingernails pink.

“Things would be much clearer,” the Count says, “and I’d be a chicer cerealier with a mirror, a mirror—a mirror!”

The Count sings:

I could pick a pod of cocoa,
I’d pin it to my coat,
So I’d have a boutonnière.
I could wear a real bow tie
And not a bat about to fly,
If I only had a mirror.

The Count’s bow tie flies off. It’s brown. A brown bat.

I could coif my coiffure so high,
I’d comb it up to the sky,
Or to the chandelier.
I could wear Estée Lauder,
Put on lots of paint and powder,
If I only had a mirror.

A brown chandelier. Boo-Brownie bobs about it. He holds bits of broken mirror in his hands: he’s a mirror ball. Boule miroir or Boo miroir?

Oh, me! I’d like to see my l’image inversée. I’d look at myself and never look away. I’d look and look and look all day!
If I had a magic miroir,
I’d slip into a peignoir, or something else that’s sheer.
À la Marie Antoinette, I’d see myself in my toilette,
If I only had a mirror.

Cha-cha-cha—chocolate! Franken-Fudge disco dances across brown broadloom. Dance doesn’t describe it: heel to toe, heel to toe—he walks the way all stop-motion animated puppets do, like he’s learning to walk in high heels. Fred Astaire? Fred Ascare!

“Alas!” the Count sings as the music slows. “I do not have a mirror because a mirror is a mere joke on a vampyr.”

“A friend is a mirror with hair—,” Boo-Brownie sings.

“Friend tell friend what to wear—,” Franken-Fudge sings.

“A hairy mirror? ” the Count sings. “Oh dear, oh dear, oh—” He collapses like a push puppet, which he’s not. The mirror is a puppet. It shattered in stop-motion. The shoe is a puppet. Aren’t all shoes puppets? Aren’t all mirrors?

Franken-Fudge gives him some fudge. Every ghoulish bloodsucker deserves fudge.

“There is a mortal,” Count Choc-o-log says, flinging the fudge aside, “a magical mortal, the most magical mortal of all. This wizard will make me a mirror. There is nothing he cannot conjure. Angels appear to him. Angels dictate books to him. He can foresee the future in a crystal ball. Elizabeth I of England consulted him on her court and her country. Shakespeare turned him into a character called Prospero. Spenser wrote of him in the The Faerie Queene. Ben Jonson wrote a play for him—The Alchemist.”

The Count’s bat comes back carrying the wizard. He doesn’t look like a wizard. He’s a boy with bad skin. And beady eyes. And a barrel chest.

I’m the boy. I’m not magical. The monsters don’t know it yet.

I’m a puppet. I don’t know it yet.

“I am Count Choc-o-log,” the Count says, “the mascot of the delicious breakfast cereal that bears my name.”

My face is frightened.

The Count sings:

Bienvenue au rue du Doo!

Boo-Brownie and Franken-Fudge sing:

“Tra-la-la, tra-la-la, tra-la-la-la-la-la-la!”

“From now on you’ll be history,” the Count sings, “you’ll be history, you’ll be history! We’ll glorify you every day! You’ll be a bust in the mirror musée!”

The Count:

“Boo-Brownie, welcome the wizard!”

“I represent the Boo-Brownie brand,” Boo-Brownie sings, “the Boo-Brownie brand, / the Boo-Brownie brand. / And on behalf of the brand of Boo, / I wish to welcome you to rue du Doo!”

The Count:

“Franken-Fudge, do you have something to say? ”

“I am the Franken-Fudge friend for you,” Franken-Fudge sings, “friend for you, friend for you, / and if you want to be friend of Frankie, too, / I wish to welcome you to rue du Doo!”

“Boo-Brownie and Franken-Fudge are cereal mascots, too,” the Count says. “Boo-Brownie’s cereal is blueberries and chocolate; Franken-Fudge’s is strawberries and chocolate. They do not sell as well as mine. They look bad in the bowl—the toilet bowl! Boo-Brownie turns poo blue; Franken-Fudge turns poo pink.

“Count Choc-o-log,” he says, “the cereal, is chocolate, and as such makes poo the darkest, dankest shade of brown—poopier than poop itself. Poopy like a chocolate log, like eggs and butter and sugar and semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa and cream and cream of tartar and vanilla extract, blended together and cooked for an hour and thirty-three minutes at—oh, but enough about baking! Say something magical and mysterious!”

“Puppets!” I shrink away. “You’re puppets! Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! Puppets! Puppets!”

Fade to brown, then fade in on—

I come to. I fainted before the fade. A puppet is in the dressing room with me. He’s dressed like a nineteenth-century French poet.

“Marshmallow? ” I say.

Non,” he says, “I am Marshmallarmé. Stéphane Marshmallarmé, a puppet and a poet, a poet and a puppet—a poupoète! You are a puppet, too.”

“What do you mean? ” My left eye falls off.

I shriek.

“Poopy? ” I say.

Non,” he says, “I said ‘poupée.’ It’s a puppet en français.”

“I’m a puppet in French? ” My eye is plastique.

“You’re a puppet in Le Mal Marché, the department store for puppet monsters. It’s where Count Choc-o-log buys his wardrobe. It’s not Bergdorf Goodman, but Bergdorf Badman. It’s on the rue du Doo.”

“Scary? ” I say.

Non,” he says, “I said sucré, les monstres sucrés. The Count, Boo-Brownie, Franken-Fudge—all the mascots from monster cereals shop here.”

“They’re not real!” I say. “They’re cereal!”

My eye’s a choking hazard.

“They’re real poupées,” he says. “Count Choc-o-log rules Monstermartre, this part of puppet Paris. He rules it with Bataille, who brought you into the store. Bataille is his bat. And his tie.”

“Besides being a poet, I am a fashion critic. I pen and publish a paper devoted to doings at Le Mal Marché—Le Dernier Cri, I call it. The Count? What a wit. He calls it Le Derrière Cri.”

“I cover the Haunted Hair Salon,” Marshmallarmé says.

“Antoine is the salon’s chef coiffeur.

“Franken-Fudge has his hair done there. He’s a strawberry blond, but without the blond.

“Boo-Brownie has his hair blown out and dyed blue. Sometimes he wears bangs or a bob or a bouffant. He always wears a boater.

“Hair is dead matter. Hair is the ghost of hair. The Count has worn the same style always—hair piled into a pair of peaks, like a couple of Dairy Queen dipped cones, or Hershey’s Kisses.”

“How does it stay up? ” I say.

“Chocolate mousse.”

“I cover the Haunted Cosmetics Counter,” Marshmallarmé says.

“Choclette is the counter’s chef cosméticienne.

“Franken-Fudge doesn’t need blush, but he wears it anyway. His head’s a strawberry. He has seeds.

“Boo-Brownie is bonkers for blue eyeshadow. He looks like he’s made of blue eyeshadow; like he’s the ghost of blue eyeshadow.

“Men expire; cosmetics do, too. Monsters wear makeup that’s gone bad. Testers teem with germs. After a vampire’s used your lip gloss, it’s garbage. The Count prefers an evening palette—brown.”

“Who makes monster makeup? ” I ask.

“Cover Ghoul. Maybooline.”

“I cover the Haunted Couture Atelier,” Marshmallarmé says.

“Franken-Fudge will wear anything pink.

“Boo-Brownie’s a ghost in a blue shirt. He’s the ghost of a blue shirt. What size shirt does a spiritualist wear? Medium.

“Cocoa Chanel sews suits for the Count. He wears her exclusively. She’s more than his seamstress: she’s his screamstress.

“Like all vampires, he can become a bat. When he changes into a bat, his suit must shrink to size. When he changes back, his suit must change back, too. The cloth’s woven from vampire bat fur. And a lot of elastic.”

“Who sews Boo-Brownie’s shirt? ”


“The Count is despicable,” he says. “Contemptful of his fellow monster mascots. Contemptful of the staff at Le Mal Marché. Contemptful of his coiffeur, his cosméticienne, and his couturière. Contemptful of the puppets of puppet Paris. He lives in Sucre Coeur cathedral as if it were his castle—it’s sucrelège! He reserves his cruelest contempt for the children that consume his cereal. He murders boys. He loves to murder boys. He’s the most murderous cereal mascot since Gilles de Raisin.

“He didn’t murder you yet. Pourquoi pas? ”


Count Choc-o-log comes into the scene and sings:

I’m here to see the wizard,
This wonderful wizard of ours,
I hear he is a wonderful wiz
With wonderful wizard powers.

With Boo-Brownie and Franken-Fudge behind him, bopping to the beat, the Count continues his tune:

I hear this wiz is fantastique,
He’ll make me a miroir magique,
Because, because, because, because, because—
I have the gall of a Gauloise!

“You’re awake, wizard,” the Count says.

“Wizard? ” I say. “I’m Derek. Derek McCormack.”

“Derek McCormack? ” the Count says. “That is not your name. Your real name is John Dee.”

“My name is Jonathon Derek McCormack,” I say. “Mom and Dad call me Jon-D. It’s my nickname. I’m from Peterborough. I go to Peterborough Civic High School. I’m a teenager!”

“That’s some wizard,” Boo-Brownie snickers.

“I like Snickers!” Franken-Fudge says.

“You’re John Dee!” the Count says. “The great wizard of Elizabethan England!”

“No,” I say.

“No one says no to me!” The Count’s so cross, his eyes are crossing.

“I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken.”

“Mistaken? I don’t make mistakes!” The Count’s hair stands straight up. He’s that mad. As is his hair.

“I don’t know anything about being a wizard,” I say. “I’ve played Wizard, the board game. I own Merlin, the electronic wizard. I’ve eaten Alpha-Bits—there’s a wizard on the Alpha-Bits box, isn’t there? ”

“Wizard, you will make me a magic mirror so that I may see myself reflected!” He rises off the rug. For a moment he’s a marionette. The strings are almost see-through. There are nine.

“And if you don’t, then I will eat you for breakfast and shit you out before lunch!”