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Theater founder Clyde P Riddlesbrood

The unexplainable story of our Founder

The mysterious face of Clyde

Some have persistently engaged in a dangerous curiosity about who Clyde P Riddlesbrood is...and where exactly he came from. It is an intriguing tale and, I must be truthful, there is no easy way to tell it. Much of the story can be found in the elusive “Longest brochure in the world”, that is if you can find a copy. I will, however, dispense a slightly abridged version of the story and if you have a few idle moments on your hands, by all means…read on.

The Mysterious and Supernatural Event

Many years ago, on a cold October night, I was working in our black box theater organizing and tidying up. As I fiddled about I found my thoughts drifting to a problem that had been nagging at me. I knew that it would be useful to have a mascot for the theater. A character that would be easy to recognize, unique and might symbolize the spirit of the little company. I, and the other actors, were quite perplexed on what it should be or what this character might look like, yet we knew that it had to be special.

Fatigued, I looked down at a pile of old discolored costumes concentrated at my feet. A carnavaleque assortment...Worn, threadbare yet somehow special. Each charged with the energy of hundreds of performances. An idea snuck me--and as the notion congealed in my head my mood became more and more delighted. The costumes, laying all over the floor had inspired me. These old garments, well past their prime, could be used. Perhaps they had not been discarded for a reason. Perhaps they could live again as our new mascot!

Dye would be needed to combine them into a new whole. To forge this fabritine accumulation into a fine-spun alloy; purple dye seemed most appropriate. I used the only large container I could find, a large wooden tub, more like a barrel cut in half. Then I realized that there was no way I could make enough boiling water to fill it.

So I decided to try a novel, though decidedly more dangerous method. I pulled the grill into the house, turned on the gas and began heating up a collection of stones and brick fragments on the flames. As I had recently painted the walls a dark color to create a somber rehearsal space, the light was dim and difficult to see by. The quarters illuminated by a tall torchiere lamp with a single bare bulb and the light thrown off of the burning propane.

Once the rocks smoldered for a spell, I tossed a few into the water unleashing a wild torrent of steam into the air. The water quickly heated, as did the room; filling with humidity like a makeshift sauna. Surely this is the kind of thing men do only before they are married!

I then dipped all of the attire into the tub, immersing and mixing them completely. As they slowly absorbed the tincture, their individuality faded away. No longer were they individual items but subservient parts of a greater whole. After stirring the mass for some time in the hot dye I grew weary of the task. I pulled out the coat first and hung it on an old coat rack to dry. I started to walk from the room, when a strange noise touched my ears.

The dripping pattern, which had been slow and steady, had increased, and a new cloud of vapor poured into the space behind me. When I turned back, an incredible spectacle was unraveling! The dark purple coat was alive! Climbing in the air as hot pigment flowed from its tattered hems. The empty contours began to billow and distend; it's form divulged only by volume. Grasping the antique like a battle standard, it willed itself upwards, the flames roaring behind it like a pagan brazier, casting it's tall disjointed shadow across me.

The gloves, bound together by a twine-unknotted…and while one hand grabbed the rack tightly, the other heaved more wet fabric from the bath and drew it over an invisible shoulder. A hemp belt, like a thick snake slithered around its core as a matted wig, untangling itself, bubbled forth from the creatures collar. What was unfolding, complexifing before me?

In shock, I fell to the floor while the raiment writhed around the metal stand. As it stood up to full height, it began to twist, and contort itself, wringing out the dark Tyrian tannin. First tightening, then going loose, all the while heat and steam rose from the soaking form. Whatever it was that I beckoned here, slowly reached over and seized a heated rock from the fire. A fierce throw plunged the stone into the waters, releasing a huge column of steam that enveloped all. With a spectral grip, it tore more of its wardrobe from the boiling basin; heaping and hoarding the scalding mass into itself.

Fully formed by now, it's boots, shifting as if testing their new weight. Still cloaked in shadow, a glove took hold of the last item remaining, a curved hat, and set it upon his ratty weave. Slowly it stepped out of the tub, out from its womb of vapors, aiming its eerie will…so much that I feared the look of its purple eyes, and so closed my own. When again I opened them out of fear and part curiosity…he captured me in his gaze. His white face was grinning, smirking at me like a cheating gambler. His long three pointed goatee sagging from his chin. A taunt silent mouth merely a clever distraction from its screaming eyes. Only as I dared to move did he commune a cracked muffled laugh; a throatless sound more like weak breath smothered by damp rags then to speech.

The Creature Speaks

"Greetings." He spoke without moving, as if a mind could exhale. No sooner had I heard him did the creature smile and make a low, mordant bow. The room was hot, muggy and the fleece I wore clung to me with an uncomfortable clamminess.

"I could use your help, whoever you are." My false confidence annoyed the creature. Then in one loud lurch he slammed the metal rack down and using it-dragged himself toward me.

The entity looked me up and down, paying particular interest to the symbol embroidered proudly on my chest. A figure, suspended from an x; three tines at its left hand, three spheres at its right. I wondered to myself, "Is it possible this monster knows my emblem?

"Shhhhhhhhhh!" He commanded as the mist swirled about his soggy robes. "I am no monster you fool, and that emblem is not yours but mine!" I was terrified, and tried to form a pathetic response when he stopped me again.

"The question you would be wise to ponder is "From where do I come?" He adjusts the dripping hair under his hat. The nylon threads absorbing none of the dye, allowing small beads of purple sweat to drip from the ends. "I come from a place both near and far. So distant is my home if you walked for a billion years you could not reach it. Yet so near, it is closer to you than your own skin!" He raises his hand to the point of one of the hooks branching off the coat rack, touching it threateningly. "A place so deadly real within, but from without…it is scarcely a wisp."

"Clyde? Or do you prefer Riddlesbrood."

The steam, still weekly circulating beneath its garments swirled into tight clouds pretending solidity. It leaned over, snatching another stone from the grate, and sank it into the tub; releasing a new nebulous mist.

"You have a false perception of the worlds. Every daydream, every idea is potential existence. How do you think anything is made? All is created by consciousness, some greater some smaller, but all matter, all substance begins in sentience. "Although his words seemed to make no sense at all, the truth of him seemed self-evident. He had come from me…my imagination, as if my mind were the forge; and my lungs…the billows giving it breath. The wraith leaned into the coat rack like a timeworn wizard, the metallic staff a prop in more ways than one.

"Ghost! Hallucination! Are you real?" I asked hurriedly.

"Real? That much depends on who is watching. Name me what you like, but do not stubbornly deny my origin." As if punctuating his words, he wielded his gloved hand, closing it slowly into a fist, releasing a steady weep of violet. "Most ignore their buried fantasies…dismissing the characters in them…all assuming of course that these forces are but figments. They dare not believe that these beings-dreamed…these unseen specters…are brooding, frustrated intellects gazing at them through the drywall. But they do. "

At this point it closed in on me, it's steamy breath condensing on my face. After he said those words I stood silently facing the thing for perhaps a minute of two. Neither moved; neither spoke. We merely shared a bit of time and space together. There was a heightened sense of coexistence not unlike watching big cats in a cage; both knowing without saying, that were it not for the bars one of the pair would be food.

"Tell me more." I said. He raised his arms up as if casting a spell, his gloved hands moving as if suspended by invisible strings.

"Thoughts are the seeds of worlds! If abandoned, entire domains are devoured by chaos. And if misapplied, they create devourers of you. These truths you have seen already. So. Why are you idle? " He raised a glove to wipe the fog from his round spectacles. "You have auditioned, received the part, learned your lines and are standing on the stage, will you not now act? You think me unreal, but when the mountain wakes anything is possible-even me." It sees the script I had been writing on a nearby shelf, and picks up some of my notes, warming them within his grasp. If it is possible for a fleshless face to smile, I believe it did so.

"It's nothing." I said. "worthless scribbles."

He became visible angry at my comment, and for the first time stood firmly on his own volition; thrusting the rack into the air like a trident, taunting the heavens.

"No!" It roared loudly. "Heed my dooms! Fear is like rain pouring down from the unreal. From clouds effortlessly able to become both everything yet nothing; from such formlessness does ruin rain, too roar down and soak the earth!" He next pointed the rack toward me like a pike barring my escape. "You must strive…That our Riddlesbrood players be fanatically dedicated to such…and to delight. You must creep silently into their hearts, pitch your tent, and once there-practice these grinning arts. Those who spy your movements shall leave with much inspiration and be filled with uncommon energies to face the drudgery of the days beyond. But be ever mindful…The brood, must always perch dangerously where the laugh justifies the means." The flames in the grill begin to sputter as the gas runs dry; the firelight dancing precariously around the dark walls. Boldly, I push the pointed hooks of the weapon away, surprising myself with my own coolness, and surmising that he was growing weaker.

"I don't find this funny anymore." At this, he began to chuckle weakly, distantly as if his very sentience was slowly riven from the nappy menagerie…drifting away with the mists. "Life is no laughing matter, but humor slips through defenses, and under suspicions, and so it will be your design to try." The steam dissolves further and the cool of October intrudes into the room. "Follow this, and good shall betide you."

"You're leaving?" I asked, as the flames finally cease.

"Bring me a crowd and stir them to laughter. And you…" He said, as he once again lifted the old rack and spoke to it as if it could listen. "You old hood hanger, you were here to support me on this, my birthday. Forthwith you are mine and shall serve no other." It then seemed to address us together.

"With you both by my side, I will always have somewhere to hang my hat!" At this, the noble essence leaned onto the metal post and collapsed onto it, but not before adroitly tipping his headpiece to me and resting it on a hook. He then quietly deflated, leaving only a cool puddle of dye on the floor and his damp violet costume draped upon the heirloom.

The image of this, the golden rack agleam with wetness overhung by those dark perplexing garments, reveals the real origin of the companies colors and why, to this day, they remain purple and gold.

I stood there motionless, stunned and half expecting the 'get-up' to do just that; but it merely hung there in silence. A powerful sense of foolishness overcame me, as I knew I could never confirm what had just occurred. The best I could do is write it down, and hope that those who read it would not think me mad!


The End?

RTC Founder Ryan Douglass Long


What is 'The Longest Brochure in the World'?
If you are interested in finding out more about this enigmatic tome, stay tuned.
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