J. Griffin Hughes
The Three Billy Goats Gang
Updated: Jan 28, 2021
The above scene, "Slowly I Turned" a classic Three Stooges sketch, is one of those odd bits of culture that I picked up when I was a kid, even though it was old even when my parents were little. I'm very curious what millenials would think of this sort of structured, Vaudeville-derived comedy. Probably, some would find it absolutely hilarious the same way Nat "King" Cole crooning old standards lights up my soul. Some of us are just nerds.
I went looking for this clip as research for the scene below, which I wrote last week for and just deleted from my novel-in-progress. The Red Wraith: Legacy of the Hood draws its inspiration from noire and superhero comic books, hence the characterization of these comical criminals using an overt gimmick for their identity.
The character they are kidnapping here, Eddie, is a junior crime-fighter who has not yet taken on his own secret identity, and this scene, which takes place on the night of his high school graduation party with other Titan City upper-crust youths, is setting him up to display his skills. He will break from his bonds, subdue the crooks, and set the others free before the police or The Red Wraith have to intervene.
As they bound and hooded Eddie, the three goat-masked waiters bickered with each other. With the pillowcase over his head, he didn’t know which voice came from which, not that he could tell much about them in their matching uniforms and identical masks.
The first voice came high and whiny, child-like almost. “I told you we oughta block the door.”
“And raise suspicions?” The second voice had a gravelly, grating quality. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
And the third voice came pinched and nasal. “Yeah, besides, now we got another millionaire brat to ransom off to his rich folks. We’re gonna be rolling in it!”
“Well, I don’t like it,” said the first. “What if this fancypants here told his friends he’d be right back?”
“And what if you told us you’d be right back, wise guy?” said the second.
“What are you trying to say?”
“I’m saying, if you got a problem with this job, you see the door right there.”
The third voice chimed in. “Yeah, except you take a step toward it and you’ll be leaving on your back instead of on your feet, you got it?”
“That’s right,” said the first again. “Feel free to leave any time you want, but you’ll be a few quarts lighter if you do.”
“All right! All right!” the first voice protested. “You don’t have to get so rough! I was just saying--”
The third voice cut him off, “And you can stop saying!”
Eddie took advantage of their spat to prepare for his escape. Very subtly he swelled his lungs with air and kept his arms from behind pinned too tightly behind him. It would give him fractions of an inch worth of wiggle room later, and a fraction was all he needed.
“You got the ransom note?” the second voice asked.
“Sure do,” the third voice answered and he read aloud. “If ever you want to see your kids alive, bring a hundred thousand for each to Pier 38 at midnight tomorrow night. No funny business. Signed, The Three Billy Goats Gang.”
“That’ll put the fear into ‘em,” chirped the first voice, who Eddie figured had to be the Baby Goat.
“Darn right,” said the nasal third voice, apparently the Middle Goat.
“You brats better hope your folks pay up,” growled the Biggest Goat, “Or else, you might find yourselves at the bottom of the Robinson Street Bridge. And don’t you know there’s trolls down there?”
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