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E9: Selected Shades of Pink

A new neighbourhood organization aims to clean up Mud Street and Gubbin isn’t impressed. Meanwhile, Stan and Betula have a talk.

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Episode Transcript

MUSIC—OPENING THEME

ANNOUNCER

The Axe and Crown. Episode Nine: Selected Shades of Pink.

INT. BAR—MORNING

Stan leafs through the newspaper.

STAN

Uh… “Nannies wanted.”

BETULA

Maybe if I knew the first thing about human babies.

STAN

Oh, hey, “Mysticorp Energy—now hiring workers for new headquarters.” Oh wait, sorry, that one’s construction too.

BETULA

Yeah, and I’m blacklisted from every guild in town.

STAN

Right. Well, maybe next week.

BETULA

I can’t believe Uncle lost me my job.

STAN

Really?

BETULA

I can totally believe Uncle lost me my job.

STAN

That’s more like it. Well, you can help me clean up around here. Pass me that tankard.

She does. He starts washing up.

BETULA

(sighs, then)

So. How’s things with your girlfriend?

STAN

Well… she’s not exactly—she’s—I mean—we’re not… Girlfriend, that’s such a social construct, you know? Is she a girl who is also a friend? Is she a friend who is a girl? Shut up, Stan. Right? I’m shutting up now. That’s what I’m doing.

BETULA

Does this vixen who stole your sanity have a name?

STAN

Aura. Her name is Aura.

BETULA

Uh huh. Is she cute?

STAN

Yeah. Aw shucks. She has this way of pouting when she’s angry. These little dimples just form right here. It sort of actually makes me want to upset her. Is that wrong?

BETULA

Sounds like she’s got you right where she wants you.

STAN

Oh yeah. Totally. And you should see her hair—- redder than an ogre’s cheeks. And she has these gossamer wings that you wouldn’t think would hold her up, at least I didn’t think so. And then she dresses in all black. Very mysterious. And, you know, her choice in makeup is a little unusual, but it’s cool. You know? She’s cool.

BETULA

Wings, huh?

STAN

Yeah. I know, right? And a tattoo!

BETULA

You don’t say.

STAN

Right on her…

(whispers)

That place where her pixie wings meet her lower back.

BETULA

You’re dating a pixie?

STAN

I mean, I haven’t actually, you know, asked her out yet. But aside from that small, insignificant technicality…

BETULA

Still. I’m happy for you, Stan.

STAN

Thanks. Me too.

Stan goes on washing the tankards.

STAN (CONT’D)

You know, I was sort of upset when you didn’t come back.

BETULA

Yeah. I know. I’m sorry.

STAN

I really like you, Betula. And…

BETULA

I like you too, Stan. Just not as a boyfriend.

STAN

No, I know. I get it. But you know, maybe I could be just your friend, who happens to be a boy. Or the other way around. That works too.

BETULA

Yeah. I’d like that. Friends.

STAN

Woo hoo! And we can totally help each other out with advice on girls. And guys! I do know a thing or two about guys, you know.

BETULA

I’ll take your word for it.

STAN

Oh! Oh! We can go shopping together! I am the best at picking out tunic embroidery patterns.

BETULA

How about just trading advice for now?

STAN

Right. Good idea. Like—hey! Brain explosion! How do I ask out Aura? Do you know much about pixies?

BETULA

Well… don’t tell Gubbin, but I may have dated one.

STAN

What! How perfect is this? See, we’re sharing! Best friends ever! What was his name?

BETULA

She. Her name was Luciola.

STAN

Her… what?

BETULA

It was back in college. I’d never been outside Trølsund, so I’d never met pixies before. Whew… she was a firecracker.

STAN

Say! Look at how dirty these tankards are.

BETULA

You don’t want to hear about it? Oh. Is this one of those human double vision things?

STAN

What? Oh, you mean double standard. No, no, it’s not one of those.

BETULA

Uh huh.

STAN

No, no. It’s totally cool. So cool that I can’t even tell you how cool, because the telling you of the coolness would not itself be cool.

BETULA

Right.

He returns to washing.

STAN

How would you even kiss? Wait… did she fly? Or would you have to crouch down? How… Oh, hey Gubbin!

Gubbin enters the bar.

GUBBIN

Stan. Betula.

BETULA

What’s in the bag?

GUBBIN

Huh? This? Nothing. Just mind your own business. Aren’t there dishes to do or something?

STAN

All done! Betula helped! What have you been up to?

GUBBIN

Oh. Nothing, just out and about.

BETULA

You don’t do “out”. Or “about”.

STAN

Yeah… What were you doing outside?

GUBBIN

What is this, the Mellurian inquisition?

STAN

Just asking. Oh! Did you see the big hoarding they put up last night across the street last night?

GUBBIN

Hard to miss.

STAN

Betula and I were trying to figure out what they were working on. I think it’s a third storey!

GUBBIN

Don’t know, don’t care. I want that woman and her make-believe bar off my street.

STAN

What, you mean Dorothea? She’s actually really nice once you get to know her.

GUBBIN

Oh, so you’re buddies now? Surprise, surprise.

STAN

Dorothea’s got big plans. Even beyond the Badger and Bucket. Did you know she’s forming an alliance of all the businesses along this side of the river? I told her we’d join. We just have to clean up a few things.

GUBBIN

I knew it. She’s taking over.

STAN

No. It’s to build community, improve the neighbourhood… That’s what the the ELBO District Coalition is all about.

BETULA

Elbow District?

STAN

That’s the name of this neighbourhood.

GUBBIN

Thought it was called “Mud Street”.

STAN

It stands for East of the Lookout Bridge Overpass.

BETULA

And the W stands for…?

STAN

There’s no W. It’s just E-L-B-O.

GUBBIN

See, they can’t even spell.

STAN

You guys are missing the point. ELBO is about renewal. Breathing new life into a beloved old neighbourhood.

GUBBIN

Ooo, look at the developer talk. I see why you like her.

STAN

Look, we just want to make the neighbourhood nicer.

GUBBIN

See, that’s the problem. You make a place “nice” and suddenly people want to live here…

STAN

Oh. Goodness. People. Gosh. Don’t want any of those living here.

GUBBIN

And the nicer it gets, the more they want to come here. And they start trying to outbid each other. Until only the rich people can afford to live in the nice place and everyone else gets sent packing. That is what’s wrong with “nice”.

BETULA

What do they mean by renewal? What do they actually do?

STAN

Well, one, they’re lobbying the mayor for more town guards in the area to crack down on illegal activities.

GUBBIN

Illegal activities? Right here in the “ELBO”? Surely you jest.

STAN

No, it’s rife with crime! There’s muggings, there’s graffiti… yesterday some guy tried to sell me spiked gingerbread. And “crennies”, I think? I have no idea what those even are.

BETULA

They’re crenulated spirits. They’re this alchemical thing. Back in school, people used to take ‘em when they were studying for exams.

STAN

Oh yeah, those! You literally like, speed up, right?

BETULA

Right. Well, I don’t.

GUBBIN

Yeah, sure, you’d never partake.

BETULA

I’m too big. The smaller you are, the more it speeds you up. Heh… when Luciola took them she was pretty much in three places at once and…

STAN

Well! Anyway. That’s one thing we won’t have to worry about if Dorothea gets her way.

GUBBIN

Every mayor that comes in says they’re gonna clean up the streets.

STAN

Yeah, but the ELBO District Coalition is serious. And get this—they’re going to offer money to places that want to renovate…

GUBBIN

And they’ll be charging how many hundred percent in interest?

STAN

Their rates aren’t that bad. But they do have to raise money to pay for all the improvements. As Dorothea says, “Membership has its privileges. And its dues.” Here.

Stan produces a flyer.

GUBBIN

Is this for real?

STAN

See, members get discounts from local suppliers. Look at this—half price on pink paint from Squigley’s Pigments!

GUBBIN

Just what we need.

BETULA

Yeah, that sounds very you, Uncle. Why only pink paint?

STAN

Well, there was this decree for the Queen’s big birthday celebration. Every building within sight of the Palace had to be painted in royally approved shades of pink.

GUBBIN

That was months ago.

STAN

Right, but it’s still in force. A direct decree from the Palace, and you do not want to mess with the Bailiff’s Office. The fine for having an off-colour building is still four hundred crowns.

BETULA

Four hundred?

GUBBIN

It was a pretty expensive birthday party.

BETULA

(scoffs)

Queens.

STAN

But with the discount, the paint should only run us about seventy-five.

(he turns over the flyer)

I’m thinking maybe the Salmon Sunrise would look good. Or Flustered Flamingo.

BETULA

Ooh. I kind of like Iced Raspberry.

STAN

That might clash with our sign. What about the Presumptuous Coral?

GUBBIN

Uh. No. No painting. We’re not within sight. You can’t even see the Palace until you’re halfway down River Street.

STAN

But the discount!

GUBBIN

No painting. No pink!

From outside comes the sound of wood splintering and giving way with a massive crash. Betula and Stan rush to the window.

STAN

Whoa!

BETULA

Kriispar flekkin! What was that?

GUBBIN

Uh. No idea.

BETULA

The new hoarding across the street just fell down.

STAN

Oh my gosh! Is anyone hurt?

GUBBIN

‘Course no one’s hurt. It’s Sunday. No one on site.

BETULA

What about the security guard?

GUBBIN

He’s probably around the other side of the building.

BETULA

Probably!

STAN

I’m gonna go check.

He rushes out.

BETULA

What did you do, Uncle?

GUBBIN

Nothing! I did nothing to that hoarding.

BETULA

To the hoarding.

GUBBIN

But on my way past, I did notice they got a big pitchwood beetle infestation. Serves them right for using cheap imported lumber.

BETULA

You wouldn’t have anything to do with the sudden appearance of these beetles.

GUBBIN

They’re there naturally! Pretty much any piece of pitchwood in the world is full of ‘em. There’s just no way you can stop them, just slow them down.

BETULA

Or speed them up.

GUBBIN

Now why would someone want to do that?

Stan returns.

STAN

It’s okay, no one’s hurt. But the hoarding all fell down… and you guys are not gonna believe what was behind it.

BETULA

Try us.

They all peer out the window.

GUBBIN

Yeah, let’s see. Wait, they took all the walls off.

STAN

Exactly! The Badger and Bucket is the first of a new concept in patio pubs! The entire bar is a patio! It’s like having a pie without the crust! And then icing on top of where the crust would be! And ice cream put on top of the icing—

GUBBIN

A patio. That’s it?

STAN

This was totally my idea. But so much cooler!

GUBBIN

Yeah. Great minds think alike.

STAN

But who would build the hoarding so rickety that it would just come crashing down like that? Someone could have been killed!

BETULA

Yeah, Uncle. Who indeed?

GUBBIN

I dunno. And in my neighbourhood, too. Stan, you better alert the Armpit Coalition.

STAN

ELBO.

GUBBIN

Shameful.

BETULA

I’ll say. Causing damage, giving illicit potions to the pitchwood beetles…

STAN

Giving the what to the what?

GUBBIN

I have no idea what she’s on about.

BETULA

Every board in that hoarding is full of beetles, apparently. So what would happen if you, I don’t know, let’s say, fed those beetles crenulated spirits?

GUBBIN

Preposterous.

STAN

They’d probably go nuts and eat everything. Wait. You think that’s what happened?

BETULA

I have my suspicions.

STAN

But who would do a thing like that?

BETULA

(clears her throat)

STAN

Gubbin! No. You didn’t. You didn’t. Did you? You didn’t!

GUBBIN

I can neither confirm nor deny any involvement in such things…

STAN

Oh… geez! What if they finish eating all the hoarding, and they’re still hungry? Did you think of that? What if they come over here looking for more?

GUBBIN

Nah. These are oak beams. They wouldn’t touch ‘em! And pitchwood beetles like it dry. They’re not gonna cross all that mud.

BETULA

See? Nothing to worry about. Uncle’s got it all worked out.

There’s another huge crash from across the street.

BETULA (CONT’D)

Yup.

GUBBIN

Now what?

STAN

Oh my gosh.

BETULA

That was the old shack next to the Badger and Bucket.

STAN

I’ll be right back.

He heads out again.

BETULA

So. Do you figure it was made of pitchwood too?

GUBBIN

Yeah. Probably.

BETULA

You don’t sound so sure this time.

GUBBIN

Uh, I’m just hoping no one got injured.

BETULA

Well, why don’t you go out and help Stan check?

GUBBIN

I think maybe I’ll get a pail and go wet down the mud in front of our place, just to be on the safe side, you know?

As he does, Stan returns.

STAN

So, good news… Looks like no one was in there. And it’s vacant too. The bad news is, the beetles are still on the move.

BETULA

Nice one, Uncle.

STAN

But the other good news is, between the two, we’ve got an amazing view!

GUBBIN

Oh! Whoa!

STAN

Look, you can see the north shore, and then all the way up to the palace.

Pause.

GUBBIN

Ohhh, dammit.

BETULA

The palace, huh?

STAN

So the other other good news…

GUBBIN

Uh, fifty percent off pink paint?

STAN

If we join.

GUBBIN

Ugh.

BETULA

So. Salmon, or Flustered Flamingo?

MUSIC—CLOSING THEME

ANNOUNCER

The Axe & Crown!

Starring Hugo Jones, Art Carlson and Marisa King.

Written and directed by Sean Howard and Eli McIlveen.

Recorded in Toronto at Trench Recordings.

Sound design by Eli McIlveen.

Produced by Sean Howard.

The Axe & Crown is a Forgery League production. To find out more, visit forgeryleague.com.

Want something else fantastical to listen to? We love the sardonically witty epic The Once and Future Nerd. Look for it wherever you listen to podcasts. We’ll see you next week.