Love Potion Number Zed

Prologue to Hieronymus Boosh…

First written: July 2009 (as AnitaLife)
Fandom: The Mighty Boosh
Humor, Parody

This story is NON-Slash, though it may appear to be slashy at first. It’s actually a bit of a slash parody. If you’re looking for a more…um…explicit version, this ain’t it. Howard and Vince are strictly platonic in this though they are very close friends.

Stay with me. You never know where the road will turn, and if you’re thinking you “I know where you’re going with this” I assure you that you don’t.

Legal: I am not in any way affiliated with The Mighty Boosh. I make no money from this; it’s just a hobby. These stories are merely fan fiction, and are meant to be a tribute to the show, an homage if you will.

The story behind the story:
Interviewer Jonathan Ross made Noel apologize to Julian for Vince destroying Howard’s record in “Journey to the Center of the Punk”.

This story shows what would happen if Vince were completely nice to Howard all of the time and explores how Howard would feel about it. It is also inspired by the Clover’s hit, “Love Potion Number 9”.


Love Potion Number Zed

Naboo was livid. As angry as Howard had ever seen him and far more angry than Howard could have imagined. The forever-doped, laid-back, easy-going Shaman was off his tits with rage, trading incense for incensed. Howard listened to the lecture for what seemed to be the tenth time.

“Now you’ve really gone and done it, Howard!” Naboo said, as he paced like a caged jaguar.

“I know, Naboo! Please, just help me try to fix it! I can’t take it anymore!”

“Good! You deserve everything coming to you!”

“I know!”

“I could lose my license over this!”

“Harold is idiot,” Bollo grumbled.

“Stay out of this!” both Naboo and Howard said in unison.

“This is the worst kind of magics! The worst kind!” Naboo ranted. “No good can ever come of this!”

“I know!” Howard said, weary to the bone. “Look, yell at me all you want, but we just have to set things back to rights! I can’t live this way!”

“What about Vince?” Bollo chimed in, but backed down under the glares from the arguing men.

“Sorry,” Bollo cowered.

“Can it be fixed?” Howard pleaded.

“I will have to bring this to the attention of the Council. The Head Shamans of several sections will need to be involved. Most times…” Naboo paused.

“What?”

“Love potions are irreversible! It can never be changed!”

“Oh no,” Howard whined and ran his hands over his face in desperation.

“I promise you Howard, if you ever touch my stuff again, I will turn you into a monk-fish. You can suck mud from the bottom of the Thames for 10,000 years!”

Just then the bell of the shop rang and a cheerful voice called for ‘Howard!’ in a sing-song, ‘Honey I’m home’ kind of way.

Howard cringed and groaned.

“Well,” Naboo prompted, “go to him then.”

“I can’t! He’s probably been shopping for me again. Probably bought me something nice. What will I say?”

“Say, ‘thank you, Vince’,” Naboo ordered.

“No! If I’m nice to him, he gets even worse.”

“And, if you’re mean, he’ll get sick and die of a broken heart,” Naboo informed Howard of what he already knew.

“This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me!” Howard winged.

“Look, he’s your best friend and after this, he may be your only friend. You’ve brought this on yourself and now it’s your responsibility to look after him.”

“If not, Bollo rip Harold’s arms off. Vince precious angel!”

They both ignored Bollo, but Howard hefted a war-weary shrug of resignation and gave in to the inevitable.

Howard seemed to encounter only two kinds of love in his life. One “love” would be that of no love at all. The other would be this fanatical, insane, unreasoned devotion. Bollo was right. It was Vince that was really going to suffer in the long run and it was Howard’s mistake that led him to this. They would have to work it out. Somehow.

Howard trudged down the stairs, dreading the vision he knew he would see in the shop.

Vince’s handsome face lit up with an impossibly broad grin as Howard entered the room.

“Hey, Howard!” the younger man catapulted toward Howard and greeted him with a bear hug. Howard felt awkward, but did not try to fend Vince away. If he showed the slightest bit of disapproval, Vince’s mood could swing to depression. The slightest encouragement would cause Vince to gush over him with the atomic thrust of Niagara Falls. It was a delicate balancing act and Howard did not feel equal to the task. He was sure to lose his head at any given time.

Howard regarded his once fashion bedecked mate. The boy was clad in rough, beige tweed from head to toe. He had traded his platforms for sensible Nubuck hiking boots. The laces were tied to perfection.

A pith helmet flopped at an odd angle. His once impressive coif had been hacked and tousled. It stuck out in all directions under the helmet; the concept of hair product was just a memory. He had eschewed his black tresses for a mousey brown rinse.

Though Vince’s piercing blue eyes did not require corrective lenses, he now had brown contacts. His face bore no trace of make-up.

Howard sighed inside.

“Lester is genius, Howard! I found some vintage Monk, Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and I know you are a fan of Sarah Vaughan!” Vince proffered the stack of mothball scented vinyl for Howard’s pleasure.

“Hey, hey, Little Man,” Howard chided gently and gingerly. “Go easy on those! I don’t want you breaking out in a rash.”

“Not going to happen to Vince Noir, Jazz Star! You know, all these years and I never knew how great these recordings were! Think of all I’ve been missing until now!”

“Well, there’s no argument there,” Howard told him. “Those artists are solid.”

“Solid! Yeah! Good word Howard! I’m going to say that all the time now! ‘Solid.’ Howard Moon has a magic way with words!”

“Well, I do at that, don’t I?” Howard agreed.

“I mean, this is geni…I mean ‘solid’,” Vince gushed. “Look at this one! ‘Body and Soul’ by Ella Fitzgerald! That’s me and you, Howard. I want to give you everything!”

“Do you?” Howard said, warily.

“Look,” Vince continued enthusiastically, “I got this field guide to the Grand Eclectus parrot. Of course you know that it’s one of the few parrots where the male bears a striking difference in coloration from the female. Made the scientists think they were two different species. Imagine that!”

Howard sighed. Vince responded immediately.

“Are you alright, Howard?”

“Yes, Vince, everything is fine,” Howard intoned.

Howard tried not to wince, but his eyes could not hide the pain of seeing his once flippant and flamboyant companion reduced to a sycophantic worshipper.

Howard’s guilt was rising in his chest. He thought back to what had led them to his place, as if re-tracing the steps could alter the past. Each memory brought more waves of pain and guilt.

Had it been a week already? It was the longest week of Howard’s life.

————————————–

Howard was lonely. It always comes back to that point. Not just lonely, but desperately lonely. Insanely lonely. Lost and lonely.

He had spent another Friday night with Lester, and while that had its merits, the music they played only served as a reminder of Howard’s isolation. Inevitably the Jazz songs blurred into some low-down dirty blues numbers, forlorn longing and loves never found. Lester even dropped a needle onto a couple of doo-wop ballads, where the singer’s plaintive plea was “Please don’t ask me to be lonely.”

Vince had done his usual Saturday night prep, which began as soon as he rolled from between his silken sheets, at noon sharp. He always asked Howard to go with him, but Howard always declined.

Howard saw no point in going to a crowded place with monotonous techno rhythms screeching into his skull, just to watch other people become inebriated, pair off and leave.

It was a senseless activity from which he derived no pleasure and it certainly seemed to be a bad way to meet anyone.

Vince would be the center of attention, as always. Girls and boys would gather around him, gyrating to the beat and each vying for his attentions. Howard had no idea what Vince would get up to from there. Vince would always reappear the next day, alone. It was a puzzle to be sure, but Howard felt it was Vince’s own personal business so he never questioned him about who, where or how many. Howard was content with his part in Vince’s life, but really, they had been friends for so long that Vince was simply a fixture of his existence.

It must have been nice to be a person who could dovetail so nicely into that nonsense, but Howard could not do it. Even if he did attend, he would stick out like a white sock in a beige shoe at a black tie affair.

On Saturday, Howard had the entire day to think. Naboo and Bollo were away on Shaman business. Howard did not get all the details, but he knew it would be awhile before they returned.

A lovely young lady sauntered into the shop. She wore sensible clothing and long brown hair. Howard tried his best to charm her. He found her so beautiful, but she made it clear that she found him repulsive with every reference he made to obscure Jazz greats and claims of his illustrious accomplishments.

Her disdain affected him, cut him to the quick. He stared at the floor of the shop for a long time after she exited with a huff, taking all the air in the universe with her.

He did not know exactly how he found himself in Naboo’s room. He watched himself paw through a bookshelf until a dusty, forbidding-looking tome caught his eye. Everything about it screamed ‘Do Not Open This Book’, including the actual sound of a voice as he picked it up that said ‘DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK!’ in no uncertain terms. He put a pillow over the thing until it stopped making a fuss.

“Love Potions” it proclaimed on its ancient cover. The disclaimer in the legal section at the front warned of any non-licensed usage.

“Forward by Saboo.

“To whom it may concern: Turn back now. Do not continue reading, perusing, scanning or otherwise absorbing these contents.

“These potions are meant only for use by licensed and trained professional Shamans, and for use only under strict supervision by 12th level personnel and only after receiving a c57d-LP9 in triple triplicate with the signed and witnessed approval of at least 17 qualified 12th level Shamans, if you can even find them since they spend most of their time engaged in whatever it is that 12th level Shamans get up to and if you don’t know already, then don’t ask because it will destroy whatever mushy cornmeal you are using as brain matter. Any other use constitutes a severe violation of interplanetary rules, regulations, and bylaws and will incur the most severe penalties, which again, you cannot even begin to imagine. Tony Harrison, this means you!

“If you are even contemplating the use of a love potion, this governing body urges you to seek an online dating service and/or the engagement of a professional companion. Believe me when I say, you will be much better off paying for your usual back alley illicit love trysts than trying to…”

Howard did not bother reading the balance of the verbose warning, but instead forged ahead to the page with the first potion. He gulped with fear, but then began going through Naboo’s stores, assembling the ingredients. He grabbed the cauldron and headed for the kitchen.

He thought he was following each direction carefully, but there were a few words he did not understand and odd instructions that left him mystified. He substituted Eye of Wombat for Toenail of Platypus. Could it make that much difference?

It took several hours for the brew to reduce to the gloppy substance it became. Howard nicked an empty ornate purple atomizer from the Nabootique and filled it with the potion. He cleaned all the incriminating evidence away to the best of his ability, and placed all books, remaining ingredients and the cauldron away as carefully as possible.

He would be ready for that girl if she came in again, or perhaps he would meet a better prospect.

He made careful note of the instructions for use, scrawling it on a piece of scrap paper. “One spray, don’t look away. Love at first sight comes with the morning light.”

Howard was regarding the potential of the potion when a customer entered the store, no one of interest, but Howard got distracted and left the atomizer on the counter. He was trying to sell a few of his Jazz records, but the customer was looking for a specific hinge for an antique box, and would have none of Howard’s pitch.

It was closing time, and Howard settled in to watch a Herzog marathon, starting with the “Incident at the Loch Ness”. During the fourth film, “Herakles” he began to drift in and out of consciousness, and decided he should drag himself to bed.

———————————————–

The next day Howard awoke to a strange new world.

“Rise and shine, you sleepy head,” a sweet, soft voice cajoled gently.

“Vince? Wha…?” Howard mumbled, trying to get the parts of his sleepy brain to work in unison. “What are you doing up? It’s not even 10 yet,” he groaned, tousling his already bed-tousled hair.

“Careful you!” Vince chided, rescuing the immaculate tray of breakfast delicacies that he had laid on Howard’s bed. The tray was resplendent with spreads, relishes, toasts, fresh butter, eggs, perfectly crisp bacon and sumptuous sausages. A delicate, lace-trimmed linen napkin served as a cozy bed for polished silver utensils. At the center, over a small white doily, a crystal vase stood sentinel offering up a single red rose. Martha Stewart would have been shamed by the flawless presentation.

“You…you brought me breakfast in bed?” Howard said, thinking he was having a weird dream.

He tried to fit the pieces together, but the puzzle made no sense. Vince awake before noon? Vince bringing him a tray in bed? Vince wearing a brown, beige and tan ensemble?

“I coddled the eggs,” Vince informed him seriously. “I hope they’re alright. If not, I can…”

“Coddled eggs are my favorite,” Howard said, feeling groggy and wary. “What’s going on?”

“What? This? Oh I dunno. Thought you might like it. Did I do good, Howard?”

“Uh, yeah, it’s fine,” Howard said. “What are you wearing?”

“Oh this? I’m going for that sort of cheeky adventure man look, rugged and handsome. Do you like it? If you don’t like it, I’ll take it off immediately!” Vince vowed.

“It’s just…”

Vince’s face fell with disappointment. “I’ll go change!” Vince panicked. “I…wait! I’ve…I’ve got something better, I know!”

“No! Vince, you’re fine! I just don’t get what you’re on about!”

“I’m not on about anything! I just thought you’d like some breakfast in bed is all!” Vince sounded on the edge of tears. “I thought you might like to see me in a new outfit.”

“Yes, yes!” Howard said. “It’s…fine…I…just let me get used to it. You look…different.”

“Is that good?”

“Ah…” Howard murmured tentatively, no sure what to say or do.

Vince hung on Howard’s every word, movement and body gesture. His big eyes looked fearful the longer Howard hesitated.

“Yes, it’s all good, Vince,” Howard lied which brought the sunshine back to Vince’s face. “I mean, nice. Good. Well done, Vince.” Vince relaxed completely, pleased that he had pleased Howard.

Slowly Howard gathered his senses. Between sleep and the shock of seeing Vince in this state, he sussed out that something was indeed extremely wrong. Finally his thoughts turned to what he had done yesterday. He frantically threw on his robe and bounded out of bed.

“What are you doing Howard? Is everything alright?” Vince asked him, again over-concerned with his every move.

“Vince, listen to me, this is important.” Vince’s eyes became wide, and he gave Howard his undivided attention, which in and of itself was out of the ordinary. Vince had no attention span for anything but fashion and never listened to him speak.

“Think! Have you seen a purple atomizer?”

“Yes, of course, Howard! Lovely fragrance! Would you like some?”

Howard blanched as Vince pulled out the half-empty bottle.

“You…you…used it? On yourself?”

“Sure, Howard! You know I can’t resist a little fragrance try on. Fragrance is the final layer of any fashion statement.”

“Oh no! This is horrible!” Howard panicked.

“What? What did I do wrong, Howard!”

“What…what did it say? One Spray?” Howard tried to remember the instructions. He found the crumpled paper and the words hit him like a wet goose: “One spray, don’t look away. Love at first sight comes with the morning light.”

“It was rather subtle scent,” Vince informed him. “I’ve used quite a lot!”

“No!” Howard groaned. “Then what did you do?”

“I came to our room, and saw you sleeping,” Vince informed him. “You looked so lovely lying there with the early sun sparkling through the blinds. I really haven’t been to bed. Been awake all night, enjoying the view,” Vince grinned in a dopey manner.

“Enjoying the view?” Howard repeated aghast with the repercussions of his actions. Howard was the first person Vince saw in the morning after he had been in contact with the potion, which meant that now Vince was hopelessly in love with him.

“Vince, there’s been a terrible mistake!”

“What?”

“You’ve lost your mind!”

“What you on about? I’ve never felt better,” Vince chimed. “Now, let me draw you a nice hot bubble bath and lay out your clothes for the day. I’ve got some hot oil for your massage. Oh, try the caviar! It’s delicious!” Vince said, and gave a familiar mischievous glance as he nipped a bit of roe.

Vince sidled next to Howard and blew in ear then sauntered to the bathroom, eager to begin his life of slavish Howard-centric activities.

Howard collapsed on the floor next to his bed. This could not be happening. What else could he do but grovel to the one person from whom he was trying to hide his transgressions. Now he would have to go to Naboo, tail between his legs, and beg for help.

——————————

After the shouting had subsided, Naboo took off once again to confer with his fellow Shaman. Howard was left to fend for himself against the barrage of potion-induced love. Actually “shouting” for Naboo meant he was speaking only a tad above his normal level, but it was every bit as effective as a full-blown yell.

Howard was to mind the store. Naboo gave him a set of instructions and some money to run an errand for him while he was gone, but Howard could not get away. Vince clung to him with the vigor of poison ivy. He watched his every move and offered assistance for the most mundane things.

Vince was waiting on him hand and foot. At first Howard thought he could get used to it, even enjoy it, but it was all wrong.

No arguments. No banter. No bickering. Vince simply agreed with every word he spoke.

He listened attentively to Howard’s lengthy diatribes about Jazz trivia. Howard got tired of the sound of his own voice. Without the old Vince there to roll his eyes and tell him to ‘get stuffed’ from time to time, it was painful.

Howard suggested that Vince go listen to some electro nonsense, but Vince would have none of it.

“I threw all that rubbish away, Howard,” Vince told him.

“What about Blueberry Cage or Le Morte de Bergamot or whatever band you front for this week?”

“I’m done with that. I only want to do jazz with you. Cool jazz.”

That evening they sat in the store watching a documentary about the life of the anteater. Normally Vince would be off straightening his hair or retouching his make-up or reading an article in Fashion Fast Forward Magazine regarding the merits of the shambolic nature of Neander-girrrl vs. the discipline of Haute Couture.

“Can I get you something, Howard?”

“Ah, no, thank you, Vince,” Howard attempted.

“Are you sure?” Vince persisted.

“Yes, I’m fine!” Howard said, a little too testy.

Vince sulked for a bit, but it bought Howard a few moments to think.

“Howard,” Vince finally broke into Howard’s thoughts. “Are you…are you involved with someone else?”

“What? No!”

“I mean, it would be good to know exactly where I stand with you.”

“Vince, I don’t want to discuss this now,” Howard retorted.

“I see,” Vince deadpanned.

“No, you don’t see!”

“There is someone else.” Vince accused. “You are just leading me on.”

“Oh for the love of… Vince, I’m trying to tell you, what you feel for me right now, it isn’t real!”

“Ah,” Vince said, becoming sullen. “So, when I feel this deep love for you, it’s trivial to you. ‘Not real’ you say.”

“Everything you’re feeling was because of a love potion! It wasn’t even meant for you!”

“You had a love potion, meant for someone else?” Vince calculated.

“It’s not like that!”

“Who is it?” Vince demanded. “Who was it meant for?”

“No one!”

“It’s Naboo, isn’t it?” Vince insisted, his voice rising.

“That’s ridiculous! Vince, listen to yourself!”

But, Vince had swept out of the store and gone up to their room, slamming the door with a resounding smack, and causing a few knick knacks to plummet from their shelves and meet the floor in pieces.

About a half hour later, Vince reemerged from their room.

“Howard,” he began tentatively. “I’m sorry for the way I behaved.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Howard said quietly, dangerously. The telly was off. The lights were off. The normally colorful shop appeared to be painted with murky gray watercolors.

While Vince was upstairs, Howard had come to a conclusion, a horrible conclusion.

“It won’t matter much longer,” he told Vince.

“I just want to say, if I have to, I’ll win you,” Vince vowed.

“That’s nice, Vince,” Howard said, a freakish look on his face. Vince could not see that his friend had morphed into Johnny from The Shining. Had he known, he would have fled for his life.

“Vince Noir will not let Naboo or anyone else, take you away from him!” Vince pledged.

“Come here Vince,” Howard said calmly. A formidable kitchen blade glinted behind his back, reflecting the light of the full moon that shone through the front window.

“Oh, Howard,” Vince said as he plunged toward Howard, locking him in a tight hug.

“Soon it will all be better, my Vincey,” Howard said in an eerie tone. “It will all be better for both of us. You’ll see. Shhhhh.”

Howard let himself relax for a moment in Vince’s grip. He raised the deadly blade, poised to strike the smaller man first, with the plan of turning it upon himself. If Vince were dead, Howard felt that he would have no reason to go on.

Murder-suicide was his plan, but a sudden flash of memories washed over him. He could see every moment they had spent together, everything they really were to one another. Images splashed through his mind, stunning him with feeling.

He could not hurt Vince in any way, not ever.

For a split second, Vince realized something was terribly wrong, but could not react. The bell to the shop rang, and the lights barged on as Howard threw the blade down as if it had suddenly become molten hot. It clanked to the floor with loud report, like a cannon.

“I think I’m going to be quite sick,” Saboo announced with his baritone tones. “These two are nauseating without the aid of love potions and that is on a good day.”

“Howard! What the…What are you doing?” Naboo yelled. “Don’t kill Vince!” Bollo growled and started to charge to protect Vince, but Naboo gave him a signal that kept him from attacking Howard.

“What? Kill me?” Vince’s voice cracked as he backed away with fright from Howard.

“Thank the stars!” Howard exclaimed heavily with relief. “Do you have anything that will end this?”

“Yes and no,” Naboo said, enigmatically. “Saboo will explain.”

“Of course. First let me say, Howard TJ Moon, you are an idiot!”

“I know that Sir,” Howard cringed. “I’ve been told that many times before,” he sniveled.

“Shut up!

“It has taken the West Council, the North East Council, division A and G as well as several Covens from Bristol, Croydon and South Wales to decide upon a course of action. Since there is no antidote, potion or remedy for what you have brought down upon your friend, only one solution has been put forth.”

Howard gasped at the words “no antidote, potion or remedy”. This could not be.

“Execution…” Saboo began gravely.

—————————————————–

“No way!” Vince interjected vehemently, thrusting himself in front of Howard. “You can’t hurt my Howard!”

“Please kill me!” Howard whimpered. “I’ve given all I have to give!”

“Silence pig dogs!” Saboo commanded, forcing Howard to stifle his cries.

“Execution is unfortunately not an option. The Council has decided to present Moon with one course of action and only one. Naboo? If you will.”

“Howard, this is yet another love potion,” Naboo said as he proffered a small vial of toxic-looking neon orange liquid to the taller man.

“But, he doesn’t need another love potion! He’s off his nut as it is!”

“Not for him, you idiot! For you!”

“What?” Howard asked, not comprehending.

“If you take this, you won’t care that Vince is a total tit, in fact you’ll like it,” Naboo informed him.

“Is that it? That’s all you great magic geniuses can come up with?” Howard exclaimed in frustration.

“Don’t push your luck with us, Leeds boy!” Saboo threatened. “For violations of this magnitude, we could punish you both for all eternity. I can make that happen with one phone call.”

Saboo snapped out his cell phone and hit the speed-dial. “Harrison, target the two mortal idiots in the Nabootique for eternal punishment, but wait for my signal.”

“Wha…” came Tony Harrison’s drunken reply. “You want me to signal you when you get to the Nabootique and you have punch to drink?” he slurred.

“Shut it, you fool! Must I do everything around here!” Saboo snapped, as he walked off still trying to make Harrison comprehend a simple order.

“What will it be Howard?” Naboo asked. “Or are you going to try to kill him again?”

Howard looked at Vince, the innocent victim of all of this, who just seemed to be puzzled by everything. At least that was normal.

“The only way out is through, Howard,” Naboo counseled.

“What does that even mean!”

“I dunno. I read it on the back of a cereal box.”

Howard felt he had explored all his other options. He tried adjusting to Vince’s new persona. He had tried to get Vince to behave like his old self. He had gone so far as to contemplate their mutual death. None of it worked. There was nothing for it then but to do what the Shamans offered.

He no longer cared about himself. If he accepted their solution, at least Vince would be happy again.

“Give it here then!” Howard took the liquid.

“Wait, it’s got to be just the two of you!” Naboo said, as he and Bollo crammed their bodies through the door with alacrity.

“Right,” Howard said, screwing up his meager courage. “OK then…Vince.”

“Yes, Howard.”

“I just want to say, I’m sorry for all of this. I never meant for you to be hurt, but Howard Moon isn’t one to shirk from his duty. I’ve done this, and now I’ve got to make amends.”

“Howard, do you love me?” Vince asked plaintively.

“I expect after this I will …” Howard downed the swirling orange glop in one swig, and then made sure he was looking at Vince.

—————————————————–

Howard stared at Vince and stared again, afraid he would fall in love with a Tiffany lamp or a Canada Goose wall decor if he looked away.

“Well, I guess it’s official, then, Vince, isn’t it?”

“What is?”

“I, Howard TJ Moon, do indeed love you.” He screwed up his face at the thought, not feeling any different about Vince than he had before the draft.

Vince looked at Howard, but could not help the smile that was breaking at the corner of his lips. His eyes belied the imp that he was being toward Howard.

“Do you, Howard?” Vince asked, as the laughter reared itself in his chest and a few derisive sniffs worked their way through his nose.

“Well, I don’t feel any different, but I expect these things take time.”

“Do you want to kiss me now, Howard?” Vince taunted quietly.

“I suppose we could try that…hang on.”

Howard became aware of several faces staring through the front window. He cocked his head and narrowed his eyes at Vince. Finally the group shuffled back into the shop, laughing scathingly at Howard.

Vince doubled over, barely able to breathe.

“What’s going on?” Howard demanded. “What is wrong with everyone?”

“Did you see the look on his face?” Saboo asked Bollo.

“Look worth it all,” Bollo chuckled. “Even putting up with Vince playing at loving Harold!”

“What are you talking about? What’s happening here?”

Vince laughed so hard his sides ached.

“Oh, you went right for it, Howard!” Vince chided and pointed at Howard. “Every step of the way, you fell for it!”

Vince aped his own performance, “I’ve got the massage oil for you Howard? Would you like another cuppa, Howard? Is the bath water the right temperature, Howard?” He broke into peals of uncontrollable laughter, and was joined by a chorus of the others who were in on the joke.

Howard was at a complete loss. His puzzled expression prompted Naboo to explain.

“I knew what you did, Howard,” Naboo scolded. “I knew you were in my room, rummaging through my books like a randy hyena. I have Shaman’s Alpha Alert Service. Have to while living with you idiots! I never know what you’re going to get up about when I’m not looking and I can’t afford a baby sitter.”

“You knew I had…”

“Tried to make a love potion? Yes. And failed—miserably. This is Shaman stuff, Howard. It takes training and ability. You have neither. I think you made an ipecac is all.”

“A what?”

“Makes you throw up.”

“Worst attempt at a love potion since the Tulip mania debacle of 1637, when whole nations went mad over a flower bulb pyramid scheme.” Saboo scoffed loudly. “Harrison would have done a better job, and he is a Mongoloid.”

“Do you want me to cause eternal punishment to anyone yet?” Harrison chirped from Saboo’s phone.

“NO!” everyone yelled vehemently in unison.

Howard’s chest seemed to be crushed upon itself. The realization of what just happened…it could not be.

Vince knew about the love potion and played him for a fool. The entire thing was a ruse, just to teach him a lesson about messing with Naboo’s things. Point taken, but did it really have to go so far?

“Oh come on Howard,” Vince said, as he began to calm down. “You had it coming. It was just a joke.”

“I see,” Howard said, not the least bit amused. “Another joke at my expense.”

“Let that be a lesson to you,” Naboo said as forcefully as possible.

“I’ve learned quite a lot from this,” Howard said, leveling his glance at Vince in particular. “I’ve learned who I am around here. I understand that now.”

“Don’t be like that, Howard,” Vince attempted, knowing in his bone marrow that he had gone too far, again.

Did it matter to Vince that he was willing to give up his own sanity just to take care of him? He drank the Shaman’s offering, accepting his fate, just to make sure Vince would be all right. That detail would be lost on Vince.

Howard could no longer speak, not to Vince, not to any of them. From Naboo, Bollo and this Saboo, he could expect to be ill-used, but from Vince? Vince had wronged him in the past, but never had it been so calculated and mean. Howard felt his heart-break, seeing Vince in a new, unflattering light.

Howard turned quietly and steadily walked out the door. Vince called after him but Naboo held him back.

“Let him stew for a while Vince.”

“Yeah, but…Oh! I’ve seriously got to change!” Vince scratched his chest and padded off, no longer able to stand his apparel and hair. “I hope no one saw me looking like this!”

Howard wandered off alone into the chilly night, still in shock and stinging from what had just occurred. He thought he could hear Sarah Vaughan crooning “Mean to Me”, but it could have just been his imagination.

Thanks for reading!

continued in Hieronymus Boosh…

Annotations and Discussion

The following is the best review I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting. @JanieHop is insightful and thorough. She pointed out things that I had not even thought about when I was writing. My comments are in rust. Quotes from the story are in italics.@JanieHop’s comments are in purple.

I can never thank @JanieHop enough! You’re the absolute best!

Chapter One

  • The forever-doped, laid-back, easy-going Shaman was off his tits with rage, trading incense for incensed. Nice use of “off his tits,”

I try to capture some of the British-isms used throughout the show. Being British is one of the DNA, core aspects of the Boosh. So, even though I’m an American, I at least ATTEMPT to get that “sound”. Character voices are very important to me and I try to get that whenever I can.

  • and fabulous pun with incense vs. incensed.

Thanks! I’m happy about that.

  • It’s great whenever the Shaman rules and regulations come into play.
  • Howard seemed to encounter only two kinds of love in his life. One “love” would be that of no love at all. The other would be this fanatical, insane, unreasoned devotion. Ah, that is true, isn’t it? I mean, Howard has an open invitation to a love shack in Acapulco, and as for Black Lake, he’s better not go back there anytime soon.

Chapter Two

  • I’m suddenly very interested to see Vince done up like Howard and vice versa. Let’s hope that happens in the movie…

That would be funny. More on this in a later fic. They spoke about how odd body swap stories seemed to them. I wonder if they’ve seen “They’re Out of Their Minds” on “Farscape”. It’s one of the most entertaining body swap stores, since of course Star Trek TOS’s “Turnabout Intruder”. (Talk about an Old Queen. Shatner wiggling his hips is worth the price of admission!)

I think if they do go that route, it will be creative and original. The Boosh can take old  material and make it fresh and wonderfully odd.

  • The Grand Electus parrot is a good symbol for Howard and Vince’s relationship, I think. They’re meant to be together, but they don’t “match.”

Yes, I think that’s why I love them so. Looking at my life and times one thing that sums it up is “Eclectic”. The Grand Eclectus is a neat metaphor for the Noel/Julian and Vince/Howard relationships. And I’m into so many things, music, shows, art, craft, knitting, etc. It’s a good  moniker for me. (I’m sure they call me Grand Erec… if my haters are at all creative). Nah.

Chapter Three

  • He had spent another Friday night with Lester, and while that had its merits, the music they played only served as a reminder of Howard’s isolation. Inevitably the Jazz songs blurred into some low-down dirty blues numbers, forlorn longing and loves never found. Lester even dropped a needle onto a couple of doo-wop ballads, where the singer’s plaintive plea was “Please don’t ask me to be lonely.” You know, until I read this, I never appreciated why jazz, blues and doo wop were the perfect music for Howard. He alternately wallows in and takes pride in his supposed solitude, and these genres are ideal for taking sorrow and making it into something artistic. Wow, I sure missed that…I’m glad your fic pointed it out! I can see Howard sitting there, tormented, while Lester unfailingly chooses the worst possible records for a lonely virgin to hear!

I really want to give Howard a well rounded motivational base for what he’s about to do. The thing that makes Browning’s
“Devil Doll” work for me is that Barrymore’s character has complete motivation for shrinking people. Without that, it would just be another nutty mad guy doing mean things just because.

I think at this point, I have Howard making the potion and it’s obvious that he doesn’t have a clue in the world what he’s doing.

They used the plot device of getting into Naboo’s stores twice, so I feel I screwed up there a bit, but then again, it is something they do. They didn’t have any learning curve from the FIRST time they got into Naboo’s stuff, so why should Howard have learned from it?

  • Even if he did attend, he would stick out like a white sock in a beige shoe at a black tie affair. I can imagine Howard rattling off that simile in conversation.

Thanks! I like that line. I’m proud of that line.

  • Ah, how I enjoy the idea that Saboo would be in any way involved with a book of love potions. J Despite being highly attractive, IMHO, he’s so frosty that you wouldn’t expect him to stand for anything romantic at all. Hmm…I think Saboo’s been spurned in the past.

That was a great moment. I started writing that, and suddenly I could “hear” Saboo’s voice. Then it just rattled off.

Chapter 4

  • “I coddled the eggs,” Vince informed him seriously. I actually can’t read this with a straight face. Just the idea of Vince saying this as though it were a matter of grave importance… XD
  • After getting used to how faithful your portrayals of the characters are, it really is so unusual to see Vince like this. No wonder Howard’s confused at his strange behaviour.

I had a would-be beta reader tell me that Vince was out of character in this, esp w/ the crying etc. I could tell she was 1. skimming it. 2. not getting it. The whole point is that Vince is NOT himself. Oh well. So much for the critiques!

I could NOT have hit the reader of the head more that he was Under the Influence and NOT behaving as himself. Oh well. J, you’re the first person in 7 years to really GET what I’m doing!!!!

  • Random: I imagine the potion smells like a body splash I got in Japan. It comes in a purple bottle, has a subtle scent, and it’s called “Love and Peace.” Considering I was in Japan when I got into the Boosh, I may even have been wearing it when I “fell in love” with the show – ha!

Lattice of Coincidence. I used to have a perfume in a bottle like that. The scent was gross, but then I don’t like fragrances like that. It seemed like something that would attract Vince.

  • This is such a spot-on parody of slash. Another stereotype: there’s always one coquettish little male Lolita in the relationship, never just two sensible guys. You’ve also got the self-deprecating, teary-eyed Vince down pat.

Heretic! You’ll get in trouble with the three or four slashers that actually get worked up over these opines.

Yes, that’s exactly it. And, NOT just in Boosh to be sure. That’s what is so monotonous about slash in general. Same stuff, different fandom. Hurt/Comfort. Crying. Does he love me? Geez, if they’re gonna write that stuff, leave off the soap opera and just get to the porn, will ya?

  • Now he would have to go to Naboo, tail between his legs, and beg for help. I think the second Naboo sees him, Howard won’t even have to say anything before he gets the usual, “What’ve you done?!” Choose your words carefully, Howard…

The last thing he wanted to have happen. True to sitcom plot device. I was raised on 60’s sit-coms. Sad really.

Chapter 5

  • That evening they sat in the store watching a documentary about the life of the anteater. Normally Vince would be off straightening his hair or retouching his make-up or reading an article in Fashion Fast Forward Magazine regarding the merits of the shambolic nature of Neandergirl vs. the discipline of Haute Couture. So true to the show. Howard and his documentaries, Vince and his fashion magazines. I feel like Neandergirl is a character who would fit well into a Boosh episode. Perhaps she’d be in a Rudy and Spider story? Then the bongo-player would finally have met his match.

My dear departed used to work for Saks Fifth Avenue and Neandergirl was something in some fashion mag that we were making fun of. It was so silly and they took all that stuff so seriously.

I also used to study Fashion Illustration. I was never big on that carp. “I don’t buffet about in the winds of fashion.” I just stay the way I am, and people catch up to me. (Gotta use that for Howard.)

I think this theme of the fashionista theme is big in England for shows. Cat on Red Dwarf. Absolutely Fabulous. Interesting thing.

  • “You had a love potion, meant for someone else?” Vince calculated. Ooh, you’ve stepped in it there, Howard.
  • Given Howard’s behaviour when they were stranded on the desert island (which I always reckoned, due to Milky Joe’s appearance in the epilogue, was not entirely a coconut milk-induced vision), it’s actually believable that he could turn so dark and desperate here.

I think it works, since Boosh can take twists and turns.

But, the moral of the story was that IF Vince was not who he is, if he were NICE to Howard, if he were more like Howard, the two of them would reach critical mass.

  • Murder-suicide was his plan, but a sudden flash of memories washed over him. He could see every moment they had spent together, everything they really were to one another. Images splashed through his mind, stunning him with feeling. He could not hurt Vince in any way, not ever. Beautiful.

Yeah, that’s me being somewhat mushy. Close to some slash, where they characters are very sentimental, but I think sometimes no matter how much they abuse each other, when something BAD really happens, they are in each others’ corner 100% in their own dopey way. I don’t know if that would really  happen in the show, but I do like it.

One of the things that the slashers are missing out on is what constitutes a real relationship. They seem to think that love means holding hands and staring into each others’ eyes. Nope. Sorry. Maybe they will find that kind of Valentine’s Day card love someday and I wish them well.

One of the best “relationship” moments in the show is when Howard is going on and on in the van and Vince is reading  a magazine, ignoring his every word.

  • There you are, Saboo, you little ray of sunshine. Condescending and bitter as always! XD

What was cool was as I was writing that I began without Saboo in mind and then I “heard” voices (yeah, I know). I could “hear” the way he would say it. Richard Ayoade is such a wonderful presence. I know they wanted him for Bainbridge, but I’m glad to have RA as Saboo. For someone who often plays beneath his attractiveness, Richard is very beautiful as Saboo.

  • I get the feeling that the only real joy Saboo gets in life is condemning people to death for magic-related crimes…

Chapter 6

  • “Please kill me!” Howard whimpered. “I’ve given all I have to give!” I like that you referenced familiar dialogue from the show, but didn’t copy it word-for-word. People either ignore the characters’ catchphrases or overuse them, but this is a great spin on Howard’s usual plea.

Thanks! My pride! I like to do that, and it makes sense. It’s impossible to write fan fic without some references to the series. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen “Howard. Howard. Howard.” etc. plagiarized. If possible, I’d like to reference the show but add some sort of twist. This is one of Howard’s most infamous catch phrases, so to use it verbatim is just not what I want to do.

  • I love that Saboo went to the trouble of announcing that there would be an execution, before immediately going on to say that it wouldn’t be happening. He just likes saying “execution,” I think, and striking fear into people’s hearts.

I like my cliff hangers.

  • I think I enjoy Saboo and Tony Harrison’s banter almost as much and Howard and Vince’s. Nice to see some of it here!

I adore those two together.

  • He no longer cared about himself. If he accepted their solution, at least Vince would be happy again. I think that’s real love: Howard caring more about Vince’s happiness than his own. It’s a platonic love, but it’s fierce. 

I think Howard might do this, but I’m not sure. The whole story hinges on this, so I guess he has to!

  • “Howard, do you love me?” Vince asked plaintively. Cue the Old Gregg flashbacks that leave Howard crumpled and weeping on the floor…

Vince trying to lead Howard down the garden path; goading him to get himself into more trouble.

Chapter 7

  • I like that we can already get a sense that Vince is messing with Howard. He doesn’t abruptly switch off the deception. He just starts finding it harder to keep a straight face.

Good! That was the intention. Slow reveal.

  • Finally, a story in which a non-magic person fails at doing a spell/making a potion. Why is it that non-magical characters are always able to successfully conjure something up from a magical person’s book of spells? It should fail at least some of the time, shouldn’t it? Anyone can read a book about something, but if everyone could do as they’d read, why isn’t everyone a Shaman? It makes sense that Howard would screw up a potion, especially after substituting some of the ingredients. That, and he doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to pulling off such remarkable feats.

Good! Ya picked up on that! THANKS!!!! Of course Howard can’t do anything right! He was totally careless when he made the stuff. “Well, eye of newt vs. wing of bat. Who cares?” I think I put enough foreshadowing in there. I like when writers leave bread crumbs but you don’t necessarily know it at the time. I’ve been able to do this in a couple places.

I like that Naboo says he made an ipecac. Love that exchange. (Hey, I don’t write this…it appears on my laptop and I upload it to ff dot net)

  • The last bit of this chapter, when Howard realizes how everyone fooled him, is very moving without being an angst-fest. I think we’ve all had that kind of day, when we think the world’s ganging up on us, or that we’ve been betrayed by a friend. It’s just become too much for Howard right now.

I don’t know if Vince could actually keep up the pretense for a whole week, but if he did, I think it would be mean enough for Howard to be upset.
Howard’s whole motivation is to gain approval, but it seems he gets the opposite.

  • I like that Vince realizes that he’s messed up here, but he doesn’t go bounding after Howard or, to quote The IT Crowd, begin “crying like an actress.”

I don’t care WHAT fandom it is, the characters are always extra “womany” and off crying. “Does he love me? Did I go too far? Did I make him hate me? Oh no, he’s not gay, and now he hates me, boo hoo!” And it’s usually always so stupid, like if the characters would just level with each other they would end up together.

  • He still puts fixing his appearance over attempting an apology, at least for the moment. Of course, it’s sweet to think that he’s playing that jazz record, or is it really just in Howard’s head?

mmm, I did leave that ambiguous. I don’t think Vince is playing it, but it may be.

I did not expect that this story would not really end. But, I felt like it was the perfect reaction that Howard would have.

THANKS for understanding what I’ve written! It’s so nice that someone actually GETS me! I just don’t write what most of the fans like in most fandoms so reaction to my stuff has been tepid at best. Most people seem to like slash, so when I write these stories that AREN’T the same stuff they just skim it. Oh well. I’m not changing.

The second best review I got at Fanfiction.net was:

“beck”
2009-07-15 . chapter 7

Hey, wow. This is really really great. I pulled this up at four in the morning, expecting a load of complete crap, and I’ve got to say that I’m very impressed! Even got punctuation and everything. This goes a lot deeper than Boosh would, but that’s what fanfics are for, and you did a really ‘solid’ job on it.
Genius!
Thank you Beck!
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