. . .  cart  cart  cart  cart  wheel  wheel  wheel  wheel  BOUNCE  BOUNCE  BOUNCE  BOUNCE . . .




    a furtive glimpse behind Skeeter Kitefly’s
    thrillingly condensed scenes










  click on cartoon to view larger version

New What's

The Ups and Downs of Skeeter Kitefly

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Skeeter Kitefly's Sugardaddy Confessor

Part One
Part Two
Part Three


Skeeter Kitefly's
Titular Assets

behind the scenes

RoBynne O'Ring's








About the Author

Contact the Author


Book Covers



Site Map



Last Updated

February 26, 2005



I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.
—Python (Monty)

Putting thought to more Skeeter-as-teenager stories, I found myself deluged with ideas. The story-range rapidly extended back to take in Skeeter’s childhood, and forward to events beyond "Demon Bag Lady."  From both directions a host of characters—some new, some reassigned from old unfinished projects—swarmed upon the scene.  Time-settings were arrived at: Skeeter's mid-1959 birthdate was a holdover from her incubation period with Melissa Chicale/Peaches Beckett.  Since Skeeter was fifteen years old in "Initially Illustrated," that story took place circa 1974. "Demon Bag Lady" was a bit harder to pinpoint, but reference to the film E.T. meant it could be no earlier than 1982.  A concentration on 1983-84—the time slot formerly occupied by Hoosegow High School—seemed the natural next step.

Organizing my fast-accumulating notes in July 1990, I noted a "definite shift from 'doomed' view of Skeeter to skyrockety-intense 'supergirl.'"

During the development of "Demon Bag Lady," Skeeter's appealing plea "Won't you be my sugardaddy?" led to "There was no denying Skeeter was in need of a financial sponsor," with the latter two words bracketed.  As a character this sponsor got launched with no name, but advanced from a single "Daddy Warbucks" reference to Father Warbucks, then to Père Warbucks, and finally to PADRE Warbucks.

In my notes for new Skeeter stories, I speculated that "Padre W. works—not his dayjob—as ... a CARICATURIST—meets Skeeter in connection with? inspired to try a Skeeter comic strip?"  This cardinal concept shone a piercing light on the nature and function of "Padre Warbucks" in the overall narrative—as did my identifying him with Peyton Derente, the Wizard of Schnoz.

Originally headlining the musical You're Up Against the Wizard in 1973, the Outlandish Wizard of Schnoz ("a first-rate sorcerer, second-rate soothsayer, and third-rate exorcist") resurfaced in 1980, needing a "real" name.  Schnoz suggested the great Durante; a few altered letters produced DeRente; the demands of punniness made the first name obvious; so PAYT DERENTE stood forth—nose first, needless to say.  Two years later he made his narrative debut in Derelict Days:

Peyton DeRente harrumphed and uptilted his noseholes, made himself look asininely patriarchal. "You both had better take a good long look at me," he advised them. "Probably you’ll never see me again after today—yaas, do blanch at the thought.  But remember me, please, and remember how I couldn’t go back where I came from.  Whatever you decide to do, you have my 'blessing.' But in the end I doubt it’ll amount to more than a hill of might-have-beens; in the end, soon or late, everyone has to give up and give in."

(The similarity to Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty was of course intentional; though not till 1995 would Peyton acquire a shaven pate, egghead style; and that would be as a Warbucks/Kojak takeoff.)

At the end of July 1990 I laid out my first table of contents of The Ruby Hot Stuff: Skeeter Kitefly:

• "O Say Can You Skeet"  (set in 1965)
• "Two Points"  (1967 or '68)
• "The First of the Svens"  (1970)
• "Visions of Sugarbongs"  (1972)
• "The Initially Illustrated Skeeter"  (1974)
• "The Skeeter Cuckoo"  (1976 or '77)
• "‘That Was Sven, This Is Mao’"  (?1977-79?)
• "Altogether Now"  (1983)
• "The Demon Bag Lady of Skeet Street"  (1984)
• "Kitefly in the Ointment"  (1984)

I then added "Merely SAD" as an introductory story—"Have Padre meet Skeeter and they go off to a scary movie—the OPENER of Ruby Hot Stuff"—and resurrected Jim Midge (though not his singing and dancing) for "a rather scary story directly descended from the old Elohssa Decaftihs Shining Show."

During this uncongealed period other ideas arose, were combined and redivided, laid aside and taken up again.  The first numbering of chapters (as chapters) took place in October 1990, with "Ruby Hotstuff/ Skeeter Kitefly" becoming the closer:

•  1.   "Merely SAD"
•  2.   "O Say Can You Skeet"
•  3.   "Sister Sadie What Have You Done"
•  4.   "The First of the Svens"
•  5.   "Visions of Sugarbongs"
•  6.   "The Initially Illustrated Skeeter"
•  7.   [a "date-&-dance" story, set in 1977]
•  8.   "Elohssa Decaftihs"
•  9.   "'That Was Sven, This Is Mao'"
• 10.  "The Skeeter Cuckoo"
• 11.  "The Demon Bag Lady of Skeet Street"
• 12.  "Kitefly in the Ointment"
• 13.  "Ruby Hotstuff/Skeeter Kitefly"

The fundamental structure of Skeeter Kitefly was now in place, despite "Two Points" being temporarily removed, "The Skeeter Cuckoo" not having yet found an identity (as "Angelmaking"), and there being a six-year gap in the plotline.  The chapters themselves would continue to be laid out and written as independent stories, giving the narrative an episodic quality that would eventually require remedial treatment.  For the time being I made Skeeter—about to begin telling the story of her life—warn Padre Warbucks: "I jump around a lot."  ("I'll take that into consideration," he replies.)

"This isn’t Educating Rita, you know, I don't want a 'tutor,' I don't need a 'tutor,' I've been going to college for the last six years on and off, and I don't want to learn how to talk like a lady so I can work in a flower shop either.  Understand?  I don’t expect you to teach me anything—"

"Mmph. You and a hundred others each semester."

"What I want is, is like a confessor.  Yeah!  What a shame your name's not Edward—see, that's an educated kind of joke, right? ... What I really need—"

"Is for me to be your own personal sugardaddy confessor."

"Ex-ACT-ly!  You got it!  Ooh I just can’t wait to spill my guts and tell you all about my hard, hard life ... So," she said, "is it a deal?"

Peyton sat back and picked up his tumbler ... Take on Skeeter Kitefly, be her Padre Warbucks for better or for worse, a blessing or a curse; and all he'd have to do, no matter what she did or said or thought or felt, was . . .

And in return . . .


That’s artful of her...

As work proceeded over the next year, "Two Points" was restored along with the date-&-dance story "Bonum Vivant" (later "Little Artful Antics"), plus new chapters "Surrogate Fun" (later "Fine Lines") and "Since My Last Confession" (returning us from Skeeter's past history to the present day, i.e. 1983). 
Then several "bridgeworks" were added to cover gaps in the overall storyline, or to unburden chapters clogged with exposition.  These bridgeworks included "The Marble Orchard" (later "Buying the Farm"), "Spookacious," "Projectile," "The Clearing Stage," "Otherwise" (itself later unburdened via "Really Weird Dreams"), "Liquid Ditty," and "No-Nazz."

"Spookacious" introduced The Dough Girl, Pamela Pillsbury.  She and Skeeter were to some extent twins—their characteristics having coexisted (1984-88) in Melissa Chicale/Peaches Beckett.  Now high school classmates and overarch rivals, their close resemblance stoked the girls’s mutual antagonism.  Pam reappeared in "Projectile," as did Sally Whistletoe in a sizable cameo.

In January 1992 I divided the Skeeter Kitefly novel (then twenty chapters) into four parts:

• The Connections  (Chapter I, "Merely SAD")
• The Confessions   (Chapters II-XV, "O Say Can You Skeet" to "Kitefly in the Ointment")
• The Confusions    (Chapters XVI-XIX, "Since My Last Confession" to "Angelmaking")
• The Conclusions   (Chapter XX, "Ruby Hotstuff")

By this time the newly-written chapters were becoming so lengthy, and so intertwined with earlier entries, as to discourage their being submitted to literary magazines as stand-alone stories.  "ELOHSSA DECAFTIHS" weighed in as the longest Skeeter chapter yet; and as a traumatic turning point for both our heroine and her bass-ackwards mystery man:

She rolled on Secret, tended to her teeth, brushed her hair a little, put her glasses back on—and found an ashen face staring back at her, immobile, from the mirror.  Heeeere's Jimmy.  No longer the Fairest Sven of All.  He looked like a disappointed something-seeker who'd tripped over an unseen obstacle and, in doing so, had let the something he was seeking go astray.

Skeeter felt in no hurry to turn around.

She tried edging further away, squeaking aloud at the sudden touch of cold sink on her bare belly.  What is the MATTER? she wanted to ask again, but an amazing colossal stuPENdous YAWN was taking possession of her mouth, and when it reached apogee—

—Jim sank a hand into her thick head of fizzy-frizzy saffron hair—

Hey! Skeeter was thinking, and Ow and This isn’t funny at all

when Jim burst forth spitting fire like some forkchinned Viking god of old, bellowing "WAKE UP!!" from multiple heads in Skeeter’s pain-blurred senses, "WAKE UP!!" as he twisted her bodily round with his right hand, raising the knotted-knuckled left on high—

"'That Was Sven, This Is Mao'" (the very first Skeeter prose vehicle, though completed a couple of weeks after "Initially Illustrated") waxed and waned over the years.  Originally it was to end with Skeeter meeting Padre Warbucks; at another point it incorporated the Jim Midge story.  "Sven/Mao" took on a calculated vagueness, deliberately blurring the period 1980-83: "Skeeter fearing transience and passing-forgotten because of 'sins' (frivolity, flightiness) ... rather shallow before, certainly not introspective; now flounders in the deep end."

So abundant had the "Demon Bag Lady" drafts been that they furnished a separate hospital-and-health-club tale back in June 1990—"Kitefly in the Ointment," featuring the "punk-haired, sly-eyed girl" RoBynne O’Ring.  Over two years in the making, "Ointment" proved recalcitrant when draftwork began and had to be set aside for a month.  During this interlude I reread all the completed chapters, listing themes and common threads together with needed corrections and alterations.  In the process several chapters got retitled and rewritten.  Returning refreshed to "Ointment," I injected a sizable dose of "Skeeter with Castanets On" (here epitomizing Skeeter’s fear of burnout) and brought the chapter to completion a week later.

By way of contrast, "Since My Last Confession" took a mere eighteen days to write.  Here we returned to present-day 1983, and to Peyton's point of view for the first time since "Merely SAD."  Skeeter’s confessions are over and we have moved into "The Confusions."  Among its most confused was Peyton's "ex-everything" Joyce Finian, whose sad story in "Fine Lines" surpassed "ELOHSSA DECAFTIHS" lengthwise and depthwise:

Get some therapy from qualified professionals.  Actually that sounded fairly sensible—Joyce seemed to agree—arrangements were made—he drove her to the first session, stayed in the waiting room reading a review of The Stunt Man over and over while she broke the ice and tested the water—and came out radiant, full of resolve, intending to go cold turkey, you could do that with cocaine, it was all psychological, she would recover scot-free and be good, he'd see; he would be proud of her.  She'd be proud of herself.  And bursting with pride they went back to his place and made genuine love for once, dispensing with the you-now/me-now to chase after simultaneity.

All it took was a little discipline.

She would be good and disciplined and never touch the stuff again.

Or at least cut back.

Control her use.

Go for days, weeks without it, not acting like an addict.

She wasn't.

She WASN'T...

In "The Conclusions" Peyton hits upon the idea for the comic strip Ruby Hotstuff, using Skeeter's life "as a BASIS for Art—giving the life a focus ... and himself an outlet and vehicle."  In which Ruby gets her own sugardaddy confessor, Ty Kuhn, who in turn would create an author named Fred who would write stories about Li'l Bitsy, the girl of his dreams; and so on and on ad infinitum:

each Him creating an artistic vehicle as a gift for each Her, who in turn had already made Him a present of Her life to be artistically vehicularified.

"Ruby Hotstuff" was completed in June 1993.  The rest of the year was given over to a combo-revision of all twenty-three chapters, patching them together into a single cohesive document.  Further rewritten, repolished, and reprinted on New Year’s Eve 1993, The Connections, Confessions, Confusions, and Conclusions of SKEETER KITEFLY weighed in at 98,500 words—an ominously onerous count, yet one pertaining to a bona fide full-length novel FINISHED and DONE WITH.

Or so I thought at the time.

Return to Episode 2                                                                    Proceed to Episode 4 of Compactification

The Skeeter Kitefly Website
Copyright © 2002-2004 by P. S. Ehrlich;
All Rights Reserved.                                 
                                                            Return to Top