the Copperpot conundrum

Merriweather Copperpot had a penchant for attention. He also had a ravenous appetite for the grandiose and wished to be smothered in praise for it. He spent most of his life in pursuit of getting everyone else to like him as much as he liked himself, with a kind of Oscar Wilde sense of self-infatuation.  

One particularly sweltering day he set out in his favorite blue bowler hat and a pair of brass welding goggles in search of investors for his latest project. Copperpot used a bull’s horn to proclaim his message to everyone within earshot. He’d positioned three tear-shaped metal blades helically around a spiked metal axis [1] mounted them to a small shepherd’s hook that dangled from a round base circling his hat. A cog … a thingamajig … was connected to the lower gear spindle by an oval leather strap so the pedal rotation also maneuvered the blades. The most pleasant breeze on his face kept the drips from streaking down that proboscis he called a nose. Perhaps the whole to-do could have been avoided had he left the tweed tailcoat at home.


Copperpot had no idea what a picture of frowzy perfection he actually portrayed. Riding a penny farthing down the main thoroughfare invited many an onlooker to envy his frock. The young provocateur knew of his admirable profile and chucked it all up to jealousy. “Let them look,” he thought. “They know a fine gentleman when they see one.” He even imagined hearing one of the more proper young ladies whisper, “Now, there’s goes Dapper Dan.”

With great adherence to its moniker, the bicycle was quite a boneshaker. It quaked his nether region like it had never been convulsed before, and he tried to maintain his balance, cursing its wrought-iron frame and wooden wheels along the way. Pedalling the bugger made the talus of his right foot ache with strain. He’d once driven a quadravelocipede [2] in his younger years but fell off and fractured his femur, vowing to never mount a unicycle again.

Merriweather’s brother, Aloysious, was just as much taken to braggadocio and claimed to be the genuine inventor of the dandy-horse, although everyone knew him as the liar he was. He purported his patent have been stolen after an especially raucous interlude with a fevered prostitute hell-bent on revenge for non-payment of her services. He’d driven himself to the brothel on a similar hobby-horse of his own power but was awoken several hours later being instructed by the business’ proprietor to leave the premises.

The Madam said that manner of spirits were not allowed in her establishment. She shook an empty glass bottle over his head, and the sole remaining drop of clear liquid dropped onto his forehead, jolting him into a blurry flashback of downing shots and laughing like a hyena. He’d drunk an unknown substance from a brandy snifter with the aforementioned woman on the previous evening. If only he could remember her name, he’d have contacted the proper authorities about the theft of his invention’s legal rights papers from his coat pocket.

Little did he realize at the time a visit to the apothecary would be in order, an elixir necessary to rid himself of what the prized pig had left him. First she quivered his basket like it had never been assailed, and then she traded his prize possession for a social disease that stayed with him for the duration. Poor Ms. Copperpot would also eventually suffer his affliction, as misery loves company.

The Copperpot brothers met their final undoing at the hands of the local constabulary. Upon their return to the house of ill repute they ran afoul of one John J. Livermore, an officer of the county government, who happened to be in the next room when the men confronted a dance hall girl recently returned from Montmartre. In the process of their shakedown, she’d yelled for help as the victim in what appeared a rough breakdown of an ill-fated love triangle. Special Officer Livermore fired twice without asking questions, for which the young woman was eternally grateful.


Genevieve Lallement was soon to depart for America with her brother, Pierre, who was leaving his job at the Michaux Carriage Works [3]. She would miss The City of Lights, especially the Eiffel Tower, but knew better things awaited them in New England.


 This is a random work of fiction that sprang from seeing a picture online of a man riding a penny farthing in an Independence Day parade in Springfield, Missouri.


[1] Thank you, CBS, for The Big Bang Theory! (



This post was created with the prompt “ravenous” at Studio 30+.   Studio30


    • Thanks, Marie! It was kind of a crazy mix-up, huh? I’d never heard of a penny farthing before, so I looked it up and went from there! The last dude was for real, though. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s