As some of you know, National Novel Writing Month began at the stroke of midnight, November 1st. This is my second year to participate… and silly me… I follow the rules. So I’m limiting how much time I spend on our Three Things Serial. That said, let’s get on with the story.
Okay… I freely admit to being a cat person. So I imagined doing something really cute when a friend in Albuquerque sent three things, one of which was “kitten.” However, the things didn’t take me to anything as sweet as a kitten. But that is the point of letting the words all of you send drive the tale. I don’t know what the story is going to do until I begin writing with the things you send.
Even so, the minute I read the word “kitten,” I had a 1920’s kitty on my mind, and went on a quest to decorate this post with one. That tangent led to the “history” part when I stumbled upon a lovely woman holding a Siamese cat. It was Anna May Wong, a very interesting actress from that era. Her history and accomplishments fascinated me enough that I had to include her here. Do you think she should make a cameo appearance in a future episode our story?
As always you can do catch-up reading where the entire story is housed on one webpage. And now… episode 25 of our little 1920’s story…
25. Kitten, Fake, Comfort
My eyes strayed to the Art Deco pottery jug into which Ringling had casually dropped the bent key. Had he been a little too offhanded when he did that? What if his nonchalance was fake? I shifted my gaze to the circus millionaire and found him looking at me. I knew it might be foolish of me, but I couldn’t stop myself from blurting out my thoughts.
“That’s no ordinary key,” I said. “It might be to Ca’d’Zan, but it’s no door key.”
Everyone became silent, except for Pear the hedgehog, scrabbling inside his lunch pail carrier. I turned to Countess Babikov. By the expression on her face, I knew the direction of my words didn’t give her any comfort. It was obviously meant to be a distraction when she turned to Mona and indicated the tin lunch pail.
“Dear! What have you in that box? I hear a tiny creature moving around. Is it a kitten?” she asked Mona.
It was a feeble attempt at diverting me and the white-haired woman must have realized that, because she blushed and glanced over at me. However, I was not diverted. My mind went to that very eventful night when the countess was abducted, and later the group of us returned home to find Boris’ place being burglarized. I remembered the broken vase and speculating that a key might have been hidden inside. At the time I wondered if Boris had a key to match the bent one that was dropped from the getaway car. Once again I considered the same idea — and I voiced the thought.
Ringling and the countess looked at each other in a silent exchange. She drew an unsteady breath and looked up at him from her spot on the beautifully upholstered sofa. “John, I am more worried than ever for my grandson’s safety. If these young people can tell us where to find him… Can you bring him here? Please?”
I couldn’t imagine anyone refusing the tortured look in the woman’s eyes. The circus magnate was not immune to her gaze. Frankie shifted his feet in a nervous way. Mona sat in silence. She licked her lips and looked from the fireman to me. After all, these people were strangers to us. Boris kept us at arm’s length, but he was our neighbor and a friend, if not a really close one. We had already concluded that he was in some kind of trouble. But did these people have his best interest at heart? And why did my friends seem to want me to make that decision, I wondered in dismay.