Three Ingredients Serial – 3: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Blueberries

Rabbit Flapper mag

Every time I see the photos on Maureen’s blog, kiwissoar, I am completely charmed.  So when she sent three ingredients, I just had to find some kind of video that related an ingredient to New Zealand.  Luck was with me and not only did I find a video about New Zealand and blueberries, but it is partly about an American woman as well.  Now how’s that for pulling things together? It’s at the end of this post.  Thank you Maureen for the ingredients!

Next time, the set of ingredients (episode 4) will be from Alexandra of “A Scholarly Skater.”  So stay tuned for those.  Remember you can do catch up reading at the serial’s homepage.

And now, episode three with ingredients from New Zealand.  Bon appétit!

3  Chocolate, Cinnamon, Blueberries

Rabbit_Shopping-list_Episode 3As I stood up, I wiped chocolate from my mouth — I wasn’t so startled that I couldn’t appreciate that last bite of fudge!  I opened the kitchen door, and darn if Granny (mandolin blade still held threateningly) didn’t get over the threshold ahead of me.  A glance at that blade reminded me to stay on her good side.

The cottage had a wraparound porch that made the little house look a bit larger than it actually was.  I followed Granny out onto the porch.  Beside the kitchen door were two rocking chairs, a small table, and a tall metal cabinet.  Atop the cabinet were several potted herbs.  The rocker nearest the cabinet was overturned.  Underneath the other rocker I saw a set of reddish, furry hindquarters.

Cinnamon Bun!  What have I told you about those herbs?” Granny Fanny admonished, shaking a finger at the fuzzy posterior as it backed out from under the chair.

“Holy Hannah!” I cried.  I had been expecting a dog, but this was a rabbit.  It was as big as a dog; it had to be 30 inches long!  “What…  Where did you get that thing?”

Granny chuckled and hugged the oversized bunny, putting her face against its obviously soft fur.  “You naughty old bun,” she scolded the rabbit.  “The veterinarian gave him to me.  Doc Vale found him one day.  Called him a Flemish Giant Rabbit.  He said he never found out who owned the poor thing.  So Doc fixed him so he wouldn’t go around doing what rabbits do best, you know, making more rabbits.”Carot seed pkt

“And the vet ‘fixed’ it so he couldn’t…?  Applesauce, that sounds horribly painful,” I said.

“Doc says it wasn’t.  Doc Vale has all sorts of unusual training.  Things you don’t hear much about, like chiropractic — what he calls ‘noninvasive techniques.’  And he knows acupuncture.  He says sometimes he can use acupuncture instead of using dangerous things to make the patient sleep.  He said the ole bun didn’t have anything hurt but his pride.”

She fussed at the rabbit some more.  “Naughty bun.  I was afraid I’d never see you again.”  Then she looked over at me and added, “He got out of the fence and I couldn’t find him last night.”

I bent down to peer at the giant rabbit.  He had a bit of green stuck in his whiskers and I cautiously removed it.  “It looks like he’s gotten into your herbs,” I said.  I stood and looked up at the pots on top of the cabinet.  None of them contained what I had plucked from the rabbit — cilantro.  “Granny do you grow cilantro?”

“Not this year,” she answered, and then continued her story without missing a beat.  “I was so taken with Cinnamon Bun that I took him in.  He’s a sweet ole thing, and usually no trouble.  But he’s always trying to get to my herbs.  Thank goodness he hasn’t figured out how to get into the greenhouse.”

Photo credit yesterdish.com; See printed recipe at end of post.

Photo credit yesterdish.com; See printed recipe at end of this post.

“And that’s what you named him?  Cinnamon Bun?” I pondered.  “Okay, I guess his fur is about the color of cinnamon and ‘bun’ because he’s a bunny.”

A man called out to us as he walked around the corner of the cottage.  He wore a badge pinned to his lapel.  “Are you ladies okay?” he asked.  “I heard a commotion as I was coming toward the front door, so I headed on back here.  Oh, I see.  Cinnamon at it again?  I thought I got that fence fixed for you so he couldn’t get loose.”

“Oh you can’t keep a rabbit in a fence if he really decides to get out,” Granny said.  “It’s awful kind of you to help me with that sort of thing, Dabney.  Don’t think it’s not appreciated,” she said, but seemed to realize it was not a social call.  “What brings you, Detective Daniels?  Won’t you come inside?” Granny asked.

A moment later the three of us were sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea.  Granny set a large portion of fudge in front of the detective.  I looked at it mournfully as the copper popped a scrumptious square into his mouth.

The detective had been making a list of everyone who was at the Bijou when the man died.  I thought the guy had been bumped off, but nobody had used the word “murder” yet.  The police were investigating because no one seemed to know who the man was.  Granny asked if it had been a heart attack, since his death was sudden.

“The medical examiner said he choked.  They took a couple of blueberries from his windpipe,” Daniels said, but he sounded doubtful.

English: First blueberries of the season.

English: First blueberries of the season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Dabney,” Granny began in an apologetic tone.  “I don’t think he would have died from choking on a blueberry.”

“Miss Fanny, to be honest I don’t think so either,” the detective said as he took a sip of tea.  He made an appreciative sound as he set the cup of Darjeeling on the table.  “But they can’t find anything wrong with him.  Except of course for being dead.”

I kept thinking about the cilantro on the man’s shoes.  It still made me feel foolish, but there was just something hinky about it.  Since I already felt like a sap for wondering, I asked in a roundabout way.  “Was there anything… strange about him?  I mean odd things on his body or in his pockets, or maybe his shoes?”

Dabney Daniels, Savannah Police detective had the nerve to laugh at me!  I glared at him.  “Well, was there?” I demanded, my cheeks heating.

He chuckled again and looked at Granny.  “She’s definitely your granddaughter.”  Then he turned to me and apologized.  “No ma’am.  I wasn’t at the scene, but I haven’t been told of any odd circumstances.”1920s flapper thinking

I was silent for a moment, trying to decide whether or not he was being condescending.  He eyed me closely and then looked down at a list on a sheet of paper.  “You were there, weren’t you, young lady?  I gather you saw something that didn’t seem right to you.”

He was going to think I was silly, I knew.  With a sigh I placed the cilantro I took from Cinnamon Bun’s whiskers on the table and pointed.  “There were bits of cilantro all over his shoes.  He must have been some place where somebody was using a lot of cilantro right before he came to the theatre.  Right before he died.”

I got the patronizing reaction I expected…

***

Blueberry farming video

Recipe from a 1920 edition of the Swayzee (Indiana) Press, advertising Royal Baking Powder.

Fanny’s Royal Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients

2 ¼ cup flour

4 t Royal Baking Powder

1 t salt

2 T shortening

1 egg

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

2 T cinnamon

4 T seeded raisins

Sift 2 tablespoons of measured sugar with flour, salt, and baking powder. Rub shortening in lightly. Add beaten egg to water and add slowly. Roll out 1/3rd inch thick on floured board. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Roll as for jelly roll; cut into 1 ½ inch pieces. Place with cut edges up on well greased pan. Sprinkle with a little sugar and cinnamon  Bake in moderate oven 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from pan at once.

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

To Me — From Me, a Limited Release

veil_of_sky_open_1 copy

Atonement, Tennessee – Now Available

Tah-dah!  I finally self-published “Atonement, Tennessee,” which I wrote last year for National Novel Writing Month.

Publishing this novel is a gift to myself.  gift boxTwo other times this year I planned to release this book, and then I got so discouraged that I did not.  I know that working full time, and spending at least 20 hours a week on other essential personal endeavors, that I don’t have time to do “indie publishing” right.  It’s really a full time job with the promotional stuff.

However, I realize that I’m not self-publishing for the same reasons as other people.  So I’m just going to do what little I can, and for my own reasons.

After I did all the exhausting work…  I have to tell you that I was as thrilled as any kid on Christmas morning to see my book for sale at Barnes & Noble [online only of course]!  That’s when my mood changed from exhausted to kind of excited!  Shortly afterward Amazon/Kindle finished whatever it is they do for “approvals” behind their great Oz-like curtain.

Anyhow, I even have an “author page” at Amazon. No, that’s only a fraction of what other indie authors would be doing — I know that.  All those other things are part of what discouraged me out of doing this in March, and again in October.  This “limited release” is what I’m able to do, so I hope you’ll share my joy in the fact that I accomplished that much.

So here’s my Amazon author page.  I hope you’ll check it out:   http://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

Wishing you every blessing of any holiday you hold dear,

teagan

Three Ingredients Serial – 2: Mandolin, Chinoiserie, Wimberries

1928 green kitchen adToday I feel like we’re getting to sneak a peek inside a Christmas package, because my friend Joye shared with us her semi-secret recipe for Fabulous Five Minute Fudge!  You’ll find the recipe at the end of this episode.  I wish I had been able to make WordPress fancy-up formatting do the recipe justice… but all I could manage was something plain.  Well, there’s nothing plain about Joye’s fudge, so enjoy!

These three ingredients took my mind to things that added to the character of Granny and the setting of her kitchen.  I hope you’ll enjoy this second episode of our new “interactive” serial.

And now — episode two…  Happy reading, and bon appétit!

2.  Mandolin, Chinoiserie, Wimberries

“Now you just calm down, Sweet Pea.  I know it was a terrible thing to behold, but it’s going to be all right,” Granny said as she sat me at the kitchen table.  “Why you’re shakin’ like a leaf, Pip!”

When I got back to her cottage, she had already brewed tea and produced some lovely fudge as if by magic.  Somehow Granny had already heard about what happened at the Bijou.  She dusted an imaginary speck from the green and white gingham table cloth, and then placed a Chinoiserie tea set on the table in front of me.  The dishes were done in a shade of sea green a little darker than the checks of the table cloth, and they were decorated with blue chrysanthemums.Grannys teacup

I gazed absently at steam rising from the cup of Darjeeling tea while Granny pulled out a white ladder back chair and sat down next to me.  My grandfather had made those cane bottom chairs himself.  My Pops had a set of them too, except those were stained wood rather than painted white.

Tracing my finger around the rim of the teacup, I spoke without looking up.  “I remember this tea set.  Have you always had it?”

Granny gave me a downright wicked, mischievous smile and even wriggled her eyebrows.  Then her expression turned fond and she chuckled.  “Almost always.  They were a gift — when I was a very young woman.  They were actually from Mrs. Wong’s grandfather,” my grandmother told me.

Surprised, I looked a question at her.  “He was a widower.  Yes, he was interested in me.  Oh Pip, are you surprised that a man besides Grandpa was interested in your Granny?” she said with a smile.  “If ever I was going to be attracted to an older man, it would have been Photoplay teacupAlastair Wong the elder.  He was a fine man.”

Now that surprised me.  But the unexpected was to be expected with Granny Fanny.  She was full of surprises.  I bit into one of the delicious pieces of fudge on my plate.  Granny’s fudge was enough to make me forget anything upsetting.  While it melted in my mouth I looked at a jar on the table.  Unfamiliar handwriting proclaimed it contained wimberry preserves, with Crickhowell Cottage printed at the top of the label.  I remembered Granny had a pen pal in Wales and thought it must be from her.

“So that would have been Alastair’s great-grandfather,” I said, trying to make an effort at conversation.  Granny nodded with an expression of reminiscence in her light blue eyes.

She poured more tea.  “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked gently, and I knew she meant the killing at the Bijou.

“I don’t know who the man was.  It just seemed so strange and out of place that he had bits of cilantro all on his shoes.  And I feel like there must be something wrong with me for being stuck on that thought,” I confided.

“Oh Sweet Pea,” she began.  “It’s normal to get focused on some odd thing or other when something awful happens.”  She paused and pursed her lower lip while she thought.  My Pops said I did the same thing.  “I do admit it seems odd though,” Granny said while she poured more tea into my cup.

Ma Kettle Ax2Granny moved to the counter and began tidying up.  I noticed she had dismantled her mandolin.  The whetting stone was beside the newly sharpened blade.  Granny always said you were more likely to cut yourself on a dull knife than with a sharp one.

Abruptly a huge thudding noise made me jump from my chair.  Granny suddenly had a dishtowel in her hand with the sharpened mandolin blade held like a weapon.

***

Fanny’s Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge

Ingredients

  • · 1 – 12  ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces (2 cups)
  • · 2/3  cup sweetened condensed milk (one-half of a 14-ounce can)
  • · 1  tablespoon water
  • · 3/4  cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
  • · 1  teaspoon  vanilla

Directions

1.  Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water.

2.  Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and spread it into a 9×6-inch rectangle, or drop mixture by rounded teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet.

3.  Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1-1/2-inch squares. Makes 24 pieces

Yield 24 pieces

Prep 5 minutes; chill 30 minutes

Nutrition Facts (Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge)
Servings Per Recipe 24,
cal. (kcal) 112, Fat, total (g) 7, chol. (mg) 3, sat. fat (g) 3, carb. (g) 14, fiber (g) 1, pro. (g) 2, vit. A (IU) 49, sodium (mg) 11, calcium (mg) 30, iron (mg) 1, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Three Ingredients Serial – 1: Geoduck, Cilantro, Red Wine

It’s my great pleasure to welcome you to episode-1 of our new “interactive” story, The Three Ingredients Serial.  Remember that you, the reader, are driving the story by sending three ingredients that I will include in the episodes.

When we did the Three Things Serial, the things you sent inspired the characters and the setting.  I decided to keep one Cat-menu Episode-1character from that story — Pip, the narrator.  With this new sort of culinary mystery, who knows what Pip will get into?  Only the “ingredients” can say.

Our first three ingredients were sent by Mary J. McCoy-Dressel, romance writer extraordinaire.  The very first ingredient had me doing research — but that’s part of the fun.  Would you know what to do with a geoduck?  Here’s what I did with it.

Enjoy the ride, and bon appétit!

The Three Ingredients

A culinary mystery with “ingredients” sent from readers everywhere.

1:  Geoduck, Cilantro, Red Wine

Biju theatreSeveral cars were already parked in front of Binghamton’s Bijou Theatre for the big local premiere.  I spotted an empty parking space and hit the gas to pull my grandmother’s Model-T up to the curb.  The car was old as could be, but Granny babied it like a child.  It looked brand new, all the way to the brightly painted yellow spokes at the wheels.  As I got out I made sure the sign she tied to the car door was straight.  It read Granny Fanny’s Goodies.

My grandmother had become insistent that I mend my flapper ways and at least learn to cook.  Pops wasn’t about to refuse her when she decided I should leave Florida and move up to Savannah, Georgia to live with her.  “Until you become a passable cook,” my father said, and it had sounded like a prison sentence.  However, Savannah was a bigger city than I realized, and “Jazz Age” business was flourishing.  I secretly liked the town, but it wouldn’t do to let Granny or Pops know that just yet.

As I carefully stacked containers of fortune cookies I heard someone with a faintly British accent call my name.  “Over here Pip!” Alastair Wong called and waved cheerfully.

The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England.  Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes, like the one for the enormous clams, the geoducks.  Alastair had helped the filmmaker locate an ancient and huge one that had been used in the making of the movie.  Though I couldn’t imagine how they made it look so gigantic, the things were certainly ugly enough to star in a monster movie.yoengs-chinese-restaurant

Alastair’s family owned the local Chinese restaurant, simply called Wong’s.  His slogan proclaimed “You’re always right with Wong’s.”  I hoped he was right to invest in so much advertising for this movie.  The chefs at the restaurant were so busy making geoduck dishes that he’d asked Granny to handle the fortune cookies.  I chuckled to myself when I thought about the “fortunes” she wrote for them.

I helped Alastair and his mother arrange the fortune cookies and the geoduck items.  It actually looked inviting the way they’d prepared it.  But I still couldn’t make myself take a bite…  Mrs. Wong giggled at the expression on my face.  At least she wasn’t offended.  Soon we had the food ready for the guests of the premiere of “Night of the Killer Clam.”

People gathered around the food tables as soon as we were ready.  As they chose hors d’oeuvres they joked about eating the movie’s monster villain.  Then they started opening their fortune cookies and reading the carefully printed messages inside.

“Neither a whistling woman nor a crowing hen ever come to a very good end.”  (Be yourself.)

“Every dog should have a few fleas.”  (No one is perfect.)

“You’ll be happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.”  (Don’t worry about what’s happening.)

I blushed when Alastair Wong looked askance at me.  All I could do was shrug helplessly.  Granny Fanny insisted on writing what she thought of as proper fortunes, though they weren’t exactly … traditionally Chinese.

Mrs. Wong, Arabella, laughed out loud, startling me.  She usually had a sweet girlish giggle.  Alastair rolled his eyes heavenward.  At least they had a sense of humor about it.

Arabella poured goblets of red wine for us and we toasted the movie and good food.  We would miss most of the film’s premiere, but Mr. Binghamton gave all of us several free passes each, so knew I could come back.

crab monsters 2Posters of swooning a woman in the embrace of a shocked but dashing man decorated the Bijou’s entrance.  A little girl looked quietly at a poster of the monster clam.  Then she suddenly shrieked, pulled away from the woman who held her hand, and ran.  “Flannery!  Come back!  Wait,” the woman called and ran after the child.

The music began inside the theatre and everyone cheered.  I heard muffled dialogue, but I couldn’t make out the words.  I started helping the Mrs. Wong and her son cleanup and gathered Granny’s empty cookie containers.  Then I jumped when I heard loud screaming emanate from the Bijou.

“Wow!  That must be some scary movie!” Alastair commented.  Then a woman and a man ran from the theatre.  The Wongs and I looked at one another, puzzled.

Something was clearly wrong.  As I walked toward the entrance, I saw the door to the ticket booth was open.  I noticed a flashlight and picked it up, as I hurried toward the commotion.  Inside the theatre the screen showed what appeared to be a fifty feet tall clam, with a hundred feet long…  Applesauce, I didn’t know what to call it!  Something like an elephant’s trunk was slowly attacking a building.

I switched on the flashlight.  A small group of people were clustered below the stage.  When I drew near I noticed a trail of green bits on the floor.  Between the people, I saw a pair of wingtips with the soles facing me.  The green bits were all over the bottoms of those shoes — and the feet that wore them weren’t moving.  I pushed my way into the circle.  The man stretched out on the floor didn’t seem to be breathing.  I took a mirror from my purse and held it under his nose.  There was no fog from his breath.  One of the people started calling for a doctor, but I was sure the man was already dead.cilantro

Soon a man with a medical bag, along with the theatre owner — Mr. Binghamton, and a policeman pushed me out of the way.  I stooped down and touched my fingers to the little green bits the dead man had tracked on his shoes.  I shone the light on it and sniffed.  Cilantro.

——-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgNR-nAlWaw

The Three Ingredients Serial: Copyright © 2013

by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

No part of this book/text/blog may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

What’s Next? New “Interactive” Serial

Cooking kittyThree Ingredients Serial

What’s next?  Thanks to everyone who sent “votes” on what you wanted to do next – now that we reached a conclusion in the Three Things Serial storyline.  It was a three-way tie, appropriately enough!  So I’m going with the one that is the biggest challenge for me.  (Yes, I’m just twisted that way.)  Also I think I chose the tie-breaker that will give you, the reader more creative ways to send “things.”

To break the tie, I chose to do a culinary mystery.  This subgenre was new to me.  If you’re not familiar with it, here is a goodreads link to several such novels.

Our next reader-participation-driven story will be The Three Ingredients Serial.  I’m putting you back in the driver’s seat.  The “things” will become ingredients.  This time I’m asking you to send three ingredients, which is not too different from sending three things.  Now, those ingredients can be all sorts of food related things – not just recipe ingredients.  Or if you’d rather — you are welcome to send a recipe that I would feature at the end of the post.

So please leave comments, telling me your Three Ingredients!  I’m excited to see where they take me.

Can’t wait to hear from you,

teagan

PS:  The illustrious Alexandra of The Scholarly Skater has just nominated me for two awards. The “Internet hugs” abound, and I’m delighted to participate.  So please take a look at her very interesting blog.  Thank you Alexandra — mega-hugs to you.

Three Things Epilogue

1920s FanCan you believe this serial began with Oscillating Fan?  That was our very first “thing.”

In case you felt like there was a bit too much unresolved, I’ve written an epilogue for our little 1920’s story.  I expected that the characters readers would be most curious about are Frankie the Fireman and Mona the Movie Star, even though Pip is nearest to my heart as the narrator.

So for those who like things nice and tidy, here’s a bit more.

Epilogue

“Are you sure you won’t stay here in Sarasota for a while?” Mona pleaded.  “You don’t have to breeze off. Ca d Zan-1 Bepa told me that Mr. Ringling asked you to stay as long as you want.  There aren’t many places where you could get free room and board.  And there aren’t any at all as beautiful as Ca’d’Zan!”

I looked down at my hands and shook my head mutely.  I promised to stay until after the party Mable Ringling was throwing for her friend, Countess Babikov.  However, everything I saw in and around the gilded mansion brought me unhappy thoughts.  I was so disappointed in Frankie and all his cousins.  How could they kidnap anybody, let alone a sweet old woman like Bepa?

Lucille Ball teenaged 1What I overheard didn’t sound like Frankie wanted to commit those crimes, but nonetheless that’s what he did.  Maybe when he saw that Flavio and the twins were going to prison, I hoped maybe he would straighten up.  Maybe.  But how could he reform himself when he was going to spend years running from the law?  Ringling’s G-man friend told me that it might not be as big a deal, since they didn’t take Bepa across the state line.

He hinted around that if Frankie turned himself in that Countess Babikov would be willing to let the charges against him “go away.”  Wealth and power had arms as long as those of the law.  But the coppers would demand that Frankie testify in court against his cousins, and I knew the fireman wouldn’t do that. Besides, whether the police detective believed me or not, I didn’t know where Frankie was, and I didn’t expect to hear from him.

“Come on Sweet Pea,” Mona cajoled.  “Cheer up.  Bepa and Mable want to take us shopping for glad rags to wear for their swanky soirée.  It’ll be the bee’s knees!”

I smiled and told myself to join in the fun and not bring everyone else down with me.

When we stepped 1925 Emanuel Haldeman-Juliusinto the hallway I could hear Andy pounding away at his typewriter.  The events that broke my heart had inspired Andy to write an original screenplay.  He wasn’t unfeeling, quite the contrary.  He was just too creative not to put it all on paper.

“There are going to be studio big wigs here all the way from Hollywood,” Mona said.  “Andy is determined to finish his story before the party so he can pitch it.  He hasn’t slept a wink since it happened.  I expect he’ll be moving to California.  I really think his ship is on its way in.”

“And you Mona?  Has Boris warmed up any?  It’s obvious that his babushka adores you,” I said.

Mona blushed prettily.  “Oh, I don’t know Pip.  Maybe.  I think Boris is a man who needs to take things slowly.  I liked the countess the minute I met her, and after getting acquainted with Bepa, I think she’s the cat’s pajamas.  So I’m willing to give this situation more time.  Maybe I need to slow down just a little bit too.  I’m going to stay here for the winter and maybe take trapeze lessons from some of the 1920s circus acrobatsperformers.  They were encouraging me to when Andy and Ringling told them about the short film,” Mona confided.

The butler walked up to us.  Yes, they had an honest-to-God butler.  Can you believe it?  I was surprised and apprehensive when he said there was a phone call for me.  He led us to a sitting room with a phone.  It was my father.  I had sent a telegram to him so he’d know that I was alright, figuring he’d get wind of the shootout in the newspaper.

“Pops, how are you?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Yes, Mona is fine too.”

“Granny?  Is something wrong with Granny?  … Oh thank goodness.”

“What?  Cooking?  Pops, you know I can’t even boil water.  What do you mean that’s the point?”

“Yes, I know how Granny is when she sets her mind on something.  But I’m a modern woman.”

“No, I don’t want to learn to cook!  Flappers don’t pin all their hopes on being a good cook and housekeeper.”

“But…  Oh come on Pops!  I love Granny, but I don’t want to live there…”

“Pops…  But…  Pops please!”

***

The Beginning

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leB3Ewm7qtc

1920s Dance Party

***

Three Things Conclusion: Part 3

Here it is, everyone — the conclusion to this storyline. Forgive me for making this episode a good deal longer than usual, but I New Movie magwanted to do it justice. After all it’s the conclusion to our Three Things Serial.

I don’t kid myself that this serial is literature. From a technical standpoint it hasn’t had the structure for that.  However, I was determined to let the things all of you sent drive every aspect of this story — the characters, the setting, and the plot.  So naturally there are jumps and jitters in the plot — it’s the nature of writing the story in this “interactive” way.

It has been a great pleasure to have everyone contribute.  I sincerely hope you will do the same with the next incarnation of “three things,” whatever form that takes.  Your participation is the most important thing.

Now hang on to your hats because here we go!

Three Concluding Things Episode 30, Part 3

Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx

I tossed and turned in restless dreams before I finally awoke in the “wee hours of the morning,” as my granny would say.  The one that woke me was disturbing.  Throughout the dream I heard the music of the harpsichord.  Boris stood in front of a huge version of the carved medallion I had seen inside the ornately decorated instrument, the emblem of a dragon resting above a shield showing banners with crosses. In the dream it was all solid gold.  I clasped Frankie’s hand in a grip so tight that my fingernails dug into his skin, but something pulled him from my grasp.

Life Flapper BatA knight in armor wearing a priest’s collar (bizarre yes, but you know how dreams are) entered the room to give someone last rites.  The dragon climbed down from the shield.  I was afraid it would breathe fire and kill us all, but it opened its maw and consumed everything, including Boris and Frankie, in its giant jaws, even the room was gone. Only the knight, the gold shield, the harpsichord, and I remained. We were at the far end of the rose garden.

I cowered beneath the harpsichord and watched as the knight-priest gave the dragon last rites.  Then the knight dropped a large gold pyx on the ground.  The pyx opened and the dragon shrank down and got inside the receptacle.  The knight parted the vines of the climbing roses and disappeared, taking the pyx with him.

Then I woke and sat up in bed.  I paced my room, trying to shake off the dream.  From my window I could see the rose garden in the moonlight.  A light flashed in the distance.  It flashed several more times, in what seemed to be a pattern.  This unexpected sight only added to my unease.  A number of people lived on the property.  I told myself that it was likely just someone who’d been out late at a speakeasy.  However, I knew I wouldn’t go back to sleep.  So I slipped into my robe, lit a candle, and headed downstairs, meaning to go to the kitchen and make some warm milk.

I walked into the dark music room as a shortcut to the kitchen.  Maybe I was still unnerved from the 1922 Sat Postdream, but when I heard a door open I blew out my candle and ducked under the first thing I saw that was big enough — the harpsichord.  “Just as I did in the dream,” I thought with a shudder.

My head bumped against the underside of the harpsichord.  “Ouch!” I thought. “That didn’t feel like wood.”  I put my hand to the spot and my fingers met cold metal, a round shape.  However, I didn’t stop to think about it, because I heard footsteps.

From my hiding place I saw a large pair of feet and I recognized Frankie’s shoes.  I felt like a silly goose for hiding — it was only Frankie!  I thought mischievously about popping out to scare the stew out of him.  But something held me back.

More footfalls brought a familiar voice.  Flavio.  “We’ve looked everywhere else,” he said to Frankie.  “It has to be down there.”

“We’ve already checked that hidey-hole from top to bottom,” Frankie said in an exasperated tone.  “The Priory must have moved it.  Or laid out all this as a red herring,” he added as I watched his feet shift.  “Do you really think it could heal the dead, like the story says?”

Flavio snorted.  “Of course not.  But it’s made of solid gold.  All the legends say so.  Our Order in Europe would pay a king’s ransom to get their hands on the gold Pyx of the Knights Hospitaller.  Their grudge against the Russians goes back to the Pyx1600’s.”

“The old woman wouldn’t give up any information,” Frankie said.  “I told you it was wrong for us to grab her. I don’t think she knows anything, despite the Order saying the old count’s grandfather inherited it.  That was a long time ago; anything could have happened to it,” Frankie added and stepped closer to my hiding place.

He came right over to the harpsichord.  Frankie sat down on the bench, causing it to creek.  I scrunched up into as small of a ball as I could manage and held my breath.

I heard the sound of Flavio moving toward the doors that opened out onto Mable’s rose garden.  “Boris knows; I’m sure of it.  But he’d die before he told the Order anything about the Knights Hospitaller and especially about the solid gold pyx,” Flavio practically spat.  “It’s ‘protected by a dragon’ and that’s the only dragon we’ve found.  Come on.  We’ll check one more time.  Fred and Fedel are already down there.”

Silent Detective Movie coverFirst I thought of the dragon in my dream.  Then I remembered the one on the carving in the harpsichord.  The shield also had a knight’s helmet.  “It’s protected by a dragon,” Flavio’s words echoed in my mind as the French doors opened quietly and the two men went outside.

Their footsteps sounded on the path.  I knew they must be going to the hidden spot where I’d watched them disappear behind the climbing roses the day before.  I thought about all that mysterious talk about the Order and the Knights Hospitaller, and I remembered the odd tattoos I saw on all the Fabros when they were fishing.

Applesauce!  What the devil was going on here?  My heart rejected what my head had figured out.  With an icy knot in my stomach I knew that Frankie and his cousins were responsible for the break-in at Boris’ place, and worse — the abduction of Countess Babikov.  No wonder they found the bad guys so fast.  The two men they brought for Ringling to hand over to the G-men were either expendable associates, or another group that was after the valuable gold pyx.

I gulped, feeling sick.  I crawled out from under the harpsichord and ran out into the rose garden.  My slippers weren’t made for the outdoors, but at least they didn’t make any sound as I hurried toward the climbing roses.  In the light of the full moon I could see a gate beneath the vines.  I pulled the latch and cringed when it squeaked.  I took a deep breath and stepped beyond the gate.  Then I felt an arm around my waist and a hand over my mouth.1920s Cosmo Feb

My muffled scream hardly made a sound.  I heard “Ssshhhh!” and it had an oddly familiar sound.  “Shush, Pip,” Andy whispered.  “It’s me and Boris.  Now you’ve got to be quiet, okay?”

I nodded and he moved his hand and let go of me.  I turned accusing eyes on the two men.  Boris shook his head “No.”  In a voice so soft I could barely hear he said, “This is dangerous Pip.  You don’t understand what’s happening.”

With a sigh I told him that I actually did know what was going on.  “At least some of it,” I whispered.  “But where is the dragon?”

Boris looked shocked, but Andy gave a little smile.  “I told you she was a smart cookie,” our little Astronaute man told him.

In answer Boris switched on a flashlight and shone it upward.  The beam of light revealed a small windowless stone building.  Above the door was an emblem of a dragon.  He turned off the beam but motioned toward the door.  “Your friends are part of a group that followed me across Europe.  They think I have a valuable artifact.  It does not belong to their…” Boris hesitated, probably looking for the right word in English.  “It doesn’t belong to their group, but they desire it none the less.  It is a feud, you see?”

When I nodded he continued in hushed tones.  “My ancestors were part of an organization, a priory.  Your friends, their maiden-n-knightancestors were in an opposing group.  But their group still survives.  They are not nice people.  They think I can lead them to this artifact.  I would have given it to them, or anything else they asked to save my Babushka when they abducted her.  But I did not have it.  I don’t know if it still exists.”

“The pyx,” I said.

Boris tensed and looked at me suspiciously.  Andy drew a sharp breath.  “I heard them talking just now,” I said feeling annoyed by their distrustful reaction.  “I wouldn’t be out in the night wearing my robe and slippers if I were meeting up with a bunch of crooks now would I?” I said dryly.

The Russian breathed and relaxed.  Andy smiled and put his arm around my shoulders in a little hug.  “Did you see any more of them coming?” he asked Boris.

“No.  It doesn’t seem that anyone else will be joining them,” Boris answered.  “The back door is secured?”

Andy gave a smile so wicked that it surprised me.  “You bet-cha,” he said.

Then Andy and Boris lifted a heavy iron bar out of the vines and dropped it across the door with a loud G-men Posterclang.  Shouting ensued from inside the little stone building.  Boris calmly stepped back into the rose garden and used his flashlight to signal toward the mansion.  Then a big commotion came from Ca’d’Zan as a dozen of Ringling’s men hustled toward us.  In the distance I heard a whine that soon became the wail of sirens.  So, the police were on the way too, I realized and the sick feeling returned.

I thought about the young twins, and Flavio, and especially about Frankie.  This was not something I could bear to stick around and watch.  I told the guys that I was cold and turned to go back inside.  But I looked up at the dragon above the door and something fell into place in my mind.

“What is it?” Andy asked, noticing the strange expression on my face.

I tilted my head as the epiphany dripped through the crannies in my mind.  “They said ‘It’s protected by a dragon’ and this,” I pointed to the dragon above the door, “is the only dragon they could find.  But there is another one.”

By then the men from the house reached us.  They parted to let a man with a hat and a badge through.  So, one of the Feds was already there.  Apparently Mr. Ringling or Countess Bepa, or both had their own suspicions.  “You folks should go back up to the house,” he told us.  Then he seemed to recognize Boris.  “Your grandmother is very upset.”

Boris looked like he would protest.  I looked at him and Andy.  “Well, personally, I don’t think I can bear to see this,” I said.  I didn’t know I was crying until I felt a tear fall from my cheek to my neck.  I brushed at the tears, irritated that I would cry about something that never was.  “Frankie in with these kidnappers?  I must be a stupid bimbo.”1920s PhotoPlay

Andy took my elbow and Boris limped at my other side as we walked back to the mansion.  I didn’t look back.  I just couldn’t.  Inside the music room we found the Ringlings, Countess Bepa, and Mona.  The women were in their dressing gowns, but Ringling was dressed.  I had a hunch he was ready for what happened.  He was pretty darned shrewd.

A gunshot rang out.  Then several more cracked the predawn silence.  “Frankie!”

Boris caught my arm to keep me from going outside.  Ringling had a gun in his hand and he moved to a place where he could see farther into the rose garden.  He squinted into the moonlit shadows.  The sound of feet pounding the path was followed by the voice of the Fed.  “The big one got away.  I’m not sure if I hit ‘em.”

I was too stunned by everything that happened that night to know what to say or do.  I stood mutely looking into the darkness. Frankie on the lam from the law! I wondered if he had been shot.  I wondered how he could betray all of us.  It was clear that he and Flavio had gotten close to Mona and me just to have access to Boris.

“Pip, this is serious business,” Boris said in his accent.  He looked at me intently, making me bring my chaotic thoughts to the moment.  “What were you saying about there being another dragon?”

The comment caused Bepa and Ringling both to start.  “The harpsichord,” I said.  “Look at that medallion inside it by the pastoral scene.”1920s Style Book

“That’s very observant of you dear Pip,” the countess said.  “But there is nothing behind that.  I have already checked.”

“Not behind it,” I said.  I took the flashlight from Boris and I crawled under the ornate instrument.

The light revealed a metal circle where I had bumped my head earlier.  It had the look of a sort of maker’s mark, like something the craftsman might have put there.  But it also looked like…  If I were to twist it just so… that it would come out.  So I gave it a little twist.  A moment later I crawled out from under the harpsichord with a round box, decorated just like the carving inside the lid, with a shield and banners.

I held out the solid gold pyx.

It was heavy and obviously worth a fortune.  It was hard to believe that men would plot and hurt one another for hundreds of years over something like the object in my hand, no matter how beautiful or valuable.  However, Boris and Countess Babikov were pursued halfway across the world by men trying to find the gold pyx.

I shook my head thinking about everything that had happened.  There were just three things that I knew for sure.  One – I was dog tired.  Two – I didn’t want to have any more weird, and maybe even prophetic dreams.  And three…

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

There would always be at least three things to keep my life interesting.

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