Thanks for coming back everyone! I’m sorry I couldn’t provide an episode last weekend. So before I introduce the new episode, here’s a little treat to get you back into a 1920’s mood.
The ingredients for today’s episode are from Catherine Wolffe, a writer who (like me) enjoys experimenting with the various genres. But whatever the style of story, Catherine’s characters follow their dreams.
Thank you Catherine, for today’s ingredients. Remember everyone, you can do catch-up reading on any of the episodes at the serial’s homepage. Just click the button at the top of the page. Now for Episode-19.
“Here darling, have a soda cracker,” Veronica Vale insisted as she handed me a saucer of crisp crackers. Despite being born in a southern state, her voice held a continental tone from many years studying and working abroad. “They have lovely sea salt on the tops. They’ll help calm your stomach,” she said encouragingly.
It was such an odd feeling. I can barely describe how I felt. It hadn’t been long since I woke up with a headache, an upset stomach, a foggy brain, and giant holes in my memory. For several hours I encountered people and had to stop and think about who they were, though they clearly expected me to know them… most people anyway.
I recognized Granny Fanny right away, despite the unexpected circumstance of watching her get off the back of Vincent Vale’s motorcycle. When Alastair Wong found me I heard his voice before I saw him. I had to first place the voice, so it didn’t seem like it took as long for me to remember who he was when I saw him. Hank Hertz was mostly a question mark in my mind. I had a vague memory of him and radio equipment. I knew he was Savannah’s youngest police officer, but that was about all.
This is what it would be like to live a silent movie, I thought. Talkies had not been around terribly long. Binghamton’s Bijou theatre in Savannah still showed more silent films than talkies. My hearing was fine, but the fogginess of my memory made me feel like I was in an old silent movie without a narrator or even intertitles. Walking a ledge with uncertain footing, not sure who might pull me to safety or who might push me over the edge, I met everyone I was supposed to already know with caution and distrust.
Then there were the ones I couldn’t remember at all… The scowling police detective, Dabney Daniels — I still had no memory of him period. Neither could I remember the man in the makeshift hospital room, a Federal marshal, Moses Myrick. I remembered being worried about him, but I couldn’t remember him.
“Pip… are you okay? You don’t look so good,” he said awkwardly.
I was saved from the need to make polite conversation by a commotion from the marshal’s room. “Badbird, badbird!” Cracker the parrot squawked, clearly agitated.
Veronica ran to the little room with Hank right on her heels, apologizing for leaving the patient unattended. “He’s a grown man and should know better,” the surgeon muttered.
From where I stood I could see the two of them catch an older man just before he fell to the floor. However, I couldn’t hear what they said to one another above the cacophonous ranting from Cracker.
“Stubborn old man…” Granny muttered from behind me.
I turned to look at my grandmother. She hadn’t had much to say, but she watched me like a hawk. It made me feel like she was waiting to see if I was going to sprout a tail or grow an extra nose. After an intent look she nodded, as if confirming something to herself.
“Feeling a little better now, Sweet-pea?” she asked and I nodded silently. “I’m sure your memory will come back. Are you certain there’s nothing else wrong? Not keeping anything from us are you?”
“No, Granny,” I said reassuringly. “My head still hurts, and I’m a little queasy. It seems like things are beginning to come to me quicker now. Most things anyway. I don’t remember anything about the marshal in there, except being afraid he might die,” I said waiving toward the little recovery room. “And I don’t remember anything at all about that sourpuss detective. And the younger one, Hank… I sort of remember him, but I feel like I’ve forgotten most of the things about him.”
Granny patted my hand and then gave it a little squeeze. “Don’t fret, Sweet-pea. You haven’t known Hank Hertz very long and the place where you met him was pretty traumatizing. Come to think of it, you might connect a lot of what you know of Dabney and Moses to things that are upsetting or frightening — or both. Maybe that’s why you don’t remember them. I’ll discuss it with Veronica and see what she has to say.”
I nodded again and watched as Granny rinsed a bowl of rich red strawberries and dusted them with powdered sugar. She put them on a tray and headed toward the recovery room, motioning for me to go with her.
“We’d best let that stubborn old man see for himself that you’re unharmed. Else he’ll break his fool neck trying to get out of bed,” she told me with a small smile.
The red sunset gave way to a clear night. The moon was bright as we rolled Marshal Moses Myrick in a wheelchair from the laboratory/animal hospital building to the main house. The Vales would have several overnight guests, as both doctors insisted we all stay until morning. They wanted all their patients under one roof.
They still wanted to keep an eye on Hank, and he certainly wasn’t trusted to drive alone with his recent head wound. Veronica made him use the radio to let his parents know he was okay but would be staying there for the night. The marshal wouldn’t be up and about for quite some time to come. And everybody kept looking at me. It was getting annoying. “I’m fine,” I said repeatedly, but the evaluative looks continued.
Granny said that she left enough food for Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit. So she accepted the invitation to stay. It had been a long and disturbing day, and no one wanted her to drive so late at night. Me? I didn’t seem to have any choice in the matter. I sat down with a cup of chicken broth and soon felt up to eating a little something. I succumbed to the temptation of the luscious strawberries.
When I heard an automobile outside I jumped half out of my skin. I supposed I was pretty upset by the whole ordeal. Vincent was almost at the door before the two sharp taps of the doorknocker banged against my still aching head. It was that detective. He carried a large parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. He placed it on a table.
“Miss Fanny, I stopped by your house after I finished working, just to make sure you and Pip were okay. When nobody was home, I figured you ladies decided to spend the night here. Then I saw this package on your front porch. I had to check on the marshal and Hank anyway — for my report,” he said casually, but I got the impression he was hedging something, and I saw Veronica smirk. “So I decided to bring the package with me,” he explained.
“Don’t worry Dabney,” Granny Fanny told the detective with a pat on his arm. “Veronica says Paisley’s memory will come back. But between the bump on the head, whatever she was drugged with, and all the recent frightful events, it might take some time. Pip will surely remember you before long,” she added and raised her eyebrows in an encouraging expression.
“What? You don’t know me, Pip?” the detective turned to me and said in an astonished tone. “I knew you were acting odd, but I thought that was just from… from what had happened. You really don’t remember me?”
I reflexively drew back from his intensity. I swallowed hard. My eyes widened as I tried to think of what to say. Veronica tilted her head and pursed her lips as if she wasn’t sure what to make of the detective’s reaction. Vincent and Hank both seemed mildly puzzled, but Hank also looked a little hopeful for some strange reason.
“You knew me though, didn’t you Pip?” Hank asked standing straighter.
“Well… sort of,” I said. He seemed to deflate a little, so I hastened to add, “I remember you being a wiz with the radio.”
When I said that he put his shoulders back. His eyebrows went up for a second when he looked at the detective. Once again, I wondered about expressions and body language of the people around me. Hank’s reaction seemed almost competitive, and I couldn’t imagine why.
Granny leaned over the large brown package. “Oh, it’s from Eunice’s Uniforms!” she exclaimed. “This should be the outfits Moses told me to get to cater that fancy reception,” she paused and saw that everyone was looking at her. “You know, the one where he was going to have the st…” she paused and looked sheepishly at Daniels. “It is okay to mention that in front of the Vales, isn’t it? And after being on the scene of the ambush, Hank should probably know too.”
The detective sighed. “Miss Fanny…,” he began. Daniels shook his head and looked at his highly polished Florsheim shoes, but then he spread his hands as if admitting defeat. “It’s of no consequence now. With the marshal out of commission, we’ll be calling it off,” he said.
As he spoke I remembered standing outside the parlor in Granny’s cottage, with Cinnamon Bun beside me, as I listened to a conversation between my grandmother and an unseen man. I remembered feeling surprised and somewhat distrustful to realize that man apparently had known Granny for a long time, but I had heard nothing of him. Although I couldn’t put a face to the memory, I was sure that man was Moses Myrick.
Meanwhile, Granny unwrapped the package. She removed two waiter’s uniforms. They were fancy all right, black pants with a black satin stripe down the sides, and white tuxedo jackets. Then she grinned like a ‘possum when she saw the next two uniforms. Each had a white tuxedo jacket, but they were longer and cut for a woman. The jackets were paired with very avant-garde black wide-legged cuffed trousers with a satin stripe, similar to stripe on the men’s pants.
I always thought there might be a bit of a flapper in Granny’s heart. I couldn’t stop grinning. Veronica, the very definition of a modern woman, clapped her hands in childlike delight when she saw the women’s uniforms. The men just looked confused.
“If I’m going to cater a shindig like that one, then Granny’s Goodies is going to have a distinctive and modern look,” she said with an emphatic nod of her head. She picked up the second woman’s uniform. “Come over here Pip and try this tuxedo jacket on for size,” she told me.
As Granny held out the white coat something fluttered to the floor. I stooped to pick it up but my hand froze before I even touched it. A jolt went up my arm when I looked at the rectangle of paper. Another playing card. It landed face down. One word was written across the back of the card. Beware!
The detective took out his handkerchief and carefully picked up the card. He held it up for everyone to see. It was the queen of clubs.
How It’s Made – Saltine Cracker
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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