The winning entry in the 15th annual Faux Faulkner parody contest, “As I Lay Kvetching,” David Sheffield’s answer to the literary question: What if William Faulkner had written a script for the Three Stooges?
“As I Lay Kvetching, by William Faulkner — Stooges Episode .1632; Revisions by Mort Freberg, Abe Shineman, Paul DeMarco,
Curtis Ney; Eighth Draft, August 12, 1941.”
By David Sheffield
INTERIOR: THE COMPSON HOUSE — DAY
She (the old woman, Mrs. Compson) had spent the better part of the morning waiting for them (the workmen) to arrive, yet they had not come; and when at length they drew the wagon into the yard and tied the mules beneath the scattershot shade of the water oak and climbed down amid the dust and moiling dogs to survey the house, she perceived to her dismay that they were stooges: two of whom were brothers (Moe and Curly Howard) and a third (Larry Fine) who claimed no part of their lineage but who was nonetheless of their ilk; come to wait, slack-jawed and splayfooted, before the great stair which led to the room where she (the old woman, Mrs. Compson) had retired; come with paints and pots of glue and damask wallpaper to cover them (the walls) afresh, while she (the old woman, Mrs. Compson) could only pray that they (the stooges) could refurbish and thereby sanctify it (the foyer) which now suspired with the age-old effluvia of honor and sacrifice and obduracy, still redolent with the wretched sweet scent of inviolability which they (her father and her father’s brothers, whose boots these stooges were unworthy to suck even so much as the laces of) had impressed into the very grain of the cypress balustrade upon which he, Moe, the eldest, now knocks — not obeisantly, not malevolently either, but indolently. Hearing no response, they break into something resembling song:
LARRY: Helloooo ....
CURLY: Hellooooo ...
ALL THREE: Hello!
CURLY: Nobody’s home. Let’s break for lunch. Nyuh, nuyk, nyuk.
MOE: Ix-nay! Put that away, numbskull!
Then Moe, aiming his extended fore and middle fingers, thrusting them into Curly’s eye sockets, heedless of the pain or even the surcease of sight this might inflict.
LARRY: Hey! He didn’t do nothin’!
MOE: Oh, yeah? Sez who? (This is not for you to judge or even acknowledge, this grievance between Curly and me, but is an old blood enmity which only we Howards can comprehend, while you, being a Fine, cant begin to plumb the depths of it. That is it. We are Howards and you are only a Fine, and being a Fine, you are not fit to regard us with anything more than sullen trepidation.) Now get going, lame brain. We got work to do.
CURLY: La dee, la dah ...
At last it is Curly who picks up the plank, rough hewn and smelling of sweet gum, and — feeling the weight and heft and fiber of it — swings it innocently (bending to retrieve the tool, the ball-peen hammer dropped casually on Larry’s toe) and feeling the awful force of the blow as it (the plank) catches Moe upside his head and hearing the dreadful thunk of wood against bone and sinew, a sound the like of which he has not heard since his uncle (Irving) took them (Curly and Moe) to the park where he (the uncle, Irving) slapped with the blade of an oar the rotting rind of an overripe musk melon.
MOE: Spread out!
With his pliers Moe grasps his brother’s nose, twisting his nostrils inside out.
CURLY: Woob, woob, woob, woob, woob.