Recently Siobhan took up the torch and continued the “Meet My Main Character” blog tour. (Thanks again Siobhan!) She also gave us the ingredients for this week’s episode of our interactive culinary mystery. Thanks to Lord David Prosser as well. He gave us some ghostly ingredients for the Jar of Spooky Things, including Smoke and Mirrors. I hope everyone will visit their websites and learn more about wonderful books of these two writers.
I can’t believe we’re already at Episode-5. By now, several of the characters from the previous serial have made appearances. New readers, you might find the Character Recap post from Cookbook-1 helpful to get you acquainted with the personalities in the story. Also remember, there is a button at the top of this page (Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients Serial Home) where all the episodes are posted in chronological order, sans the introductions.
Wishing all of you a satisfying weekend filled with the kind of things I try to include in these stories — good food, friends — and hugs.
5. Apricots, Eggs, Wheat Flour
With Smoke and Mirrors
Greta the goat gave a coarse behhh and lowered her head, ready to charge right into us. My old friend Andy Avis and I both took a step backward, but there wasn’t anywhere to go in the timeworn shed. We stumbled into each other before we got to the door.
If the goat was going to be that cantankerous, I wasn’t too excited about trying to take her back to Doc Vale. “Greta, you just simmer down now,” I told her in what I hoped was a soothing voice.
The goat looked up at me curiously. I couldn’t imagine what was causing her phosphorescent glow, but she was a scary sight. There was a mean look in her eyes, and I wondered if she still might charge into us. Then something else caught my interest — something white was tucked into the rope around her neck.
“Is that a daisy caught in her bell?” I asked Andy, tilting my head as I tried to get a better look.
“Yeah, it looks real spiffy,” Andy quipped as he took another step toward the door, which
hung askew, dangling from one hinge. “She can wear daisies or roses, or apricots in her bell. She can put on a fringe dress and do the Charleston for all I care, as long as she doesn’t attack us!” he added in a hiss.
“No Andy, it is a daisy. A daisy,” I said, thinking I was probably off my nuts.
I inched forward. Andy reached out and caught my sleeve. He whispered for me to stay put. I stooped down, getting eye-level with the goat. It was definitely a daisy with the stem going through the loop that held the bell to her rope collar.
“Daisy, is that you?” I asked as I gazed at Greta, unsure of what result I expected from my questions. “Are you here somewhere?” I questioned, casting my eyes around the dark shed.
Greta answered me with “Behhh!”
Then the goat abruptly plopped back onto her glowing haunches with a soft thud. A human voice spoke my name.
I wasn’t sure if it came from the goat, or if the voice was just there in the shed somewhere. My hair stood on end. Andy moved close enough to take a firm hold on my arm, ready to pull me out of the shed and into the comforting light of day.
“Pip,” the voice said. “Something bad happened to me in that factory. Something so bad that I blocked out the memory even when I was alive.”
“Daisy! It is you!” I cried. “I’ve tried so hard to help you,” I apologized to the ghost. “I haven’t been able to find out anything, but I won’t stop trying. I promise. And I’m sorry… for whatever happened to you there,” I said and motioned toward the abandoned building Andy and I had been on our way to investigate for his employer. “Are you saying that it’s connected to your… your death?”
“I know you’re trying, Pip. And I am grateful,” the voice of Daisy said. “I was drawn back to the factory but I was too afraid to go inside. Yes, I feel like it’s related — not the place actually, but there is a tie.”
I jumped when Greta, the phosphorescent goat sneezed and shook her head. Then she shook her entire body, in much the same way a wet dog would, a head to tail shimmy.
The glow burst out around Greta in thousands of tiny shimmering specks, and then it was gone.
Greta had a confused look in her eyes. She walked up to me docile as a lamb, no longer a mad-eyed goat. Andy mutely handed me the rope he was holding and I tied it around Greta’s neck. Neither of us spoke as I led the goat back to Granny Fanny’s yellow Model-T.
We put Greta in the back. The goat was still meek and didn’t even try to chew on anything in Granny’s pristine automobile, which I thought was not goat-like at all. Andy kept casting surreptitious glances at Greta, but she didn’t start glowing again, or anything else.
Finally, Andy cleared his throat. “Err Pip?” he began hesitantly. “Did that goat… I mean when we were back there in that shed, did that goat umm glow?” he asked and I
nodded my head in answer. “And did she umm… Did the goat talk?”
So, I thought, that was what had gotten his goat — har-de-har! I wasn’t sure of the answer myself, and I said so.
“Whether the voice came from Greta or somewhere else, it was Daisy, the ghost girl I
told you about. It wasn’t just smoke and mirrors,” I told him.
We decided not to mention anything to the doctors Vale when we returned Greta to them. Neither Andy nor I had much to say on the drive there. Heck, what could you say after witnessing a glowing goat and talking to a ghost?
As soon as we arrived, Veronica insisted that we come inside for a bite of lunch, or dinner as we called the midday meal back then. I don’t know if it was an emotional reaction to what had just happened, or if we were really hungry, but neither of us could refuse.
One of Vincent’s veterinary clients had paid them in eggs — lots of eggs. Veronica had cooked several quiches made with freshly caught crab-meat. It was a delicious meal. The Vales insisted on sending an entire basket of eggs back home with us too. Like I said, it was a lot of eggs.
Marshal Moses Myrick was still convalescing at the Vale residence. Veronica said he could have a visitor for a few minutes. The last time I saw him, the marshal was a frightful sight. He truly had been at death’s door. I wanted to introduce Andy to him. Andy wrote science fiction stories, and now screenplays out in Hollywood. He had already expressed an interest in the G-man from a screenwriter’s point of view. However, Veronica seemed concerned about overtaxing her patient. So while I went upstairs to visit the marshal, Andy took the basket of eggs out to Granny’s Model-T.
As soon as I entered the cheery bedroom, Moses Myrick gave me a bright smile — and Cracker the parrot squawked and scolded me. Mr. Myrick laughed and said the parrot missed me. That touched my heart and I quickly brushed away a tear. I missed Cracker terribly, but didn’t want the marshal to feel bad about the fact that she chose to stay with him rather than me.
Veronica, in doctor form, shushed the bird out of concern for her patient. Cracker alighted on my shoulder and started preening a strand of my bobbed hair. That was something she used to do when she was concerned or agitated about me in some way.
“Bad bird!” Cracker chirped loudly, apparently scolding me for not being there with her as she maintained her watch over Marshal Myrick.
To the parrot everyone was a bad bird if she scolded them, no matter their species. The admonition got a chuckle from me, and a loud laugh from Moses. The G-man grabbed his middle when he laughed though. He winced with pain that was sharp enough to cause his face to blanch.
As you might imagine, considering she could fly, it was difficult to get the parrot to leave a room if she was not of a mind to comply. Cracker was still on my shoulder, so Veronica gave me a meaningful look with a motion of her head. I knew what she meant. Quickly I blew a kiss to the marshal and stepped out of the room.
Cracker gave an irritated sounding whistle. “Come on sweetheart,” I told the bird nonchalantly. “Let’s go to the kitchen and find you a treat.”
I hurried down the stairs, hoping the parrot wouldn’t fly back to the marshal’s room and make a noisy protest. The door was shut, but the parrot could make an extremely loud commotion if she chose. However, Cracker lifted her wings a bit to keep her balance, but she didn’t try to go back to the sick room.
She cut her eyes over to me when I reached the bottom of the stairs. “Sneaky, sneaky,” Cracker muttered, letting me know I hadn’t fooled her a bit.
“Maybe there are sunflower seeds,” I suggested consolingly, and the mention of her favorite treat kept the parrot quiet.
Once in the kitchen, Cracker glided to a cabinet that had shiny new and complicated latch. I chuckled. That must be where her treats were kept. The parrot had proven devilishly clever, and able to open almost anything she chose — particularly her cage!
A soft yip caused me to look down. I hadn’t heard Veronica’s poodle come into the room. Cotton seemed to recognize the treat cabinet too and she stood on her back feet and did a little pirouette. That encouraged Cracker’s impatience and she started pulling at the latch with her beak.
“Now Cracker, you leave that alone,” I chided the parrot.
She fluttered to the floor and sat beside Cotton. Then she gave an imploring squawk. “Who’s your daddy?” she repeated her favorite phrase while bobbing her head.
Vincent had done a good job with the parrot-proof latch. I had to figure out how it myself, since I’d never seen one like it before. As I fiddled with the odd latch, I was distracted by the voices of Andy and the veterinarian outside. I turned to look out the kitchen window. Vincent was showing Andy his motorcycle.
Cotton became over excited upon hearing the unfamiliar voice of Andy. I didn’t see the poodle when we came into the house, so she hadn’t met Andy yet. I tried to quiet the dog, but she just yapped that much louder.
The agitated dog got the parrot excited and one of their games ensued. They vigorously chased each other around the kitchen. Their antics were entertaining, and I couldn’t help laughing. However, I knew it was only a matter of time before they broke something, or worse, disturbed Doctor Veronica’s patient.
I tried to shush them, but to no avail. I gave Cotton a dog biscuit. She broke it in half with her teeth, but dropped it on the floor in favor of chasing the parrot.
Then it happened. Cotton leapt amazingly high into the air, nipping at the parrot’s
tail feathers. She actually had her mouth on the brightly colored plumage, but it
slipped out as Cracker flew. The bird looped around the room. I don’t know what she had in mind, but Cracker skidded the length of the longest countertop. Then she collided with a canister of wheat flour.
The metal container sailed heavenward. I moved toward it, arms out to catch the summersaulting canister. I almost had it. Then I stepped on a piece of the dog biscuit and slipped. My bottom hit the floor around the same time the flour container hit my head. The aluminium canister might have hurt me if it hadn’t been empty by then. Yes, it was empty because its contents had poured all over me.
However, as the canister struck, so did inspiration. Doused in wheat flour, I lay prone on the floor. I didn’t even twitch. My motionless body immediately got the attention of the cavorting animals. I felt Cotton’s cold nose sniffing my ankle. Cracker pulled my hair and chirped, “Whose your daddy?”
Fortunately my face was turned toward the doorway that opened onto the rest of the house. I cracked open one eye when I heard footsteps. Veronica appeared and gasped. However she saw me wink at her and knew I was unharmed, albeit flour covered and unmoving. I saw her mouth twist as she tried not to smile at the poodle and the parrot. They continued to sniff and investigate my immobile form.
When I heard the kitchen door open, I figured the game had gone on long enough. Vincent and Andy came into the room. I slowly rose from the floor, a white covered mess. Vincent gave me a puzzled expression. I hadn’t thought about what I must look like, all dusted in white, until I saw Andy’s face.
Wide-eyed and white as a sheet, Andy Avis screamed.
Veronica gave my friend an understanding smile. I was thankful that she controlled the laugh that was undoubtedly on her lips, because I wouldn’t want Andy to be embarrassed. After all, he had shrieked like a schoolgirl when he saw Maestro Martino. And there he was, coming close to repeating that performance.
Vincent gave him a lopsided grin. “Calm down man. Anybody would think you’d seen a ghost.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. Apparently neither did Andy. He, Granny, and I agreed to keep the existence of the ghost chef to ourselves. However, I suspected Veronica might know something about Daisy. I knew Granny had been upset about things after the big shindig when Daisy last allowed me to see her.
For most of her life, Granny Fanny had been in denial about her gift for seeing spirits. She had probably said some things to her friend Veronica as she tried to understand what was happening to her as she realized there was something “odd” about Daisy, the ghost woman. Veronica might have pondered enough possibilities to make her inquisitive.
Andy and I stared at each other guiltily. Veronica looked from him to me and back again. Surgeon and researcher, her eyes narrowed as she considered us.
Cracker fluttered to the table and looked up at me covered in white flour. The parrot tilted her head to one side curiously. “Dainty Dish!” she squawked the other name for Daisy.
Veronica’s eyebrows went nearly up to her hairline.
Video: Easy Grilled Fruit-Food Network
Roasted Apricots with Ginger
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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