Welcome back everyone! Our previous chapter of this interactive culinary mystery was essentially part-1 of a 2-part finale. And yes — I heard the commotion when I left our three suspects of ill-doing hanging in midair (literally) and basically you along with them. I’m just wicked that way… I really can’t help myself.
When I opened my computer to write the finale, I realized that the “ingredients cupboard” was bare! However, Lord David Prosser of the the Barsetshire Diaries and the Buthidars, came to the rescue. He graciously honored Teagan’s Books by providing three ingredients for the concluding episode of Cookbook-2.
Throughout each of these interactive serials, Lord David has been among the most consistently supportive participants. I’m very proud to think of him as a friend. I hope everyone will visit his blogs and browse his collection of published books. Here are just a couple of them. Be sure to leave a Buthidar hug!
I sincerely do try to make this serial unplanned pantser fun and as interactive as feasible. So in writing this ending I let your thoughts and comments take the ending to places where I probably would never considered going myself. Without further ado, I present the conclusion to Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen. Bon appétit!
18. Conclusion – Sweet Potato, Wimberries, Worcester Sauce
With Looming Specter
The sight of Caleb Colman the cowboy looming to twice his normal height, with ruby-red fire in his eyes was enough to strike fear into anybody’s heart — including mine. The three men, suspended high in the air above the hard marble floor were screaming and writhing as if they weren’t just afraid but were also in pain.
Something brightly colored streaked through the open French doors. Cracker! She had let herself out of her cage. I should have known it was too much to expect to drive her home from the doctors Vale without her getting into or up to something. Fear for the bird’s sake stabbed my heart.
“Cracker, go back to your cage!” I said in a voice that I forced to be calm, but loud enough to be heard over the noise. So okay… that’s how I tried to sound. I think I mostly shrieked at her. For once the parrot showed good sense and didn’t try to get in the middle of everything.
“Twenty-three skidoo!” Cracker squawked with a whistle as she zoomed back outside.
Daisy turned to watch the parrot soar away. Her expression was distracted, and the look in her eyes was so faraway that I wondered if the spirit was in her right mind.
“I know you,” Daisy murmured to Cracker’s departing form. “My husband and I watched you hatch, but we made sure the first human you saw was Alastair Wong. I guess you’re all grown up now, huh? Is that why you keep coming to see me when I visit this plane?” she asked in a thoughtful tone, but the parrot had already flown out of sight.
Thunder cracked inside the mansion. The scene playing out before my eyes terrified me for many reasons. Regardless of what Henry Kingston III and the Binghamton brothers may or may not have done, I was afraid of what might happen if they were hurt or killed. I was worried about Granny and Kate Kingston — they might come back inside and be caught in the chaos at any minute. Not to mention Andy, who was right in the thick of things beside me. I was also afraid for Caleb and Daisy if either of them took things too far. I wasn’t sure what could happen to ghosts, but I was certain there would be consequences.
Daisy stood mesmerized by the display. There was an unpleasant, almost greedy look in her eyes and they glowed softly. She looked like someone with a thirst for vengeance. Based on what was happening, that thirst was about to be quenched.
Something had to be done. I didn’t know if it might cause Caleb to turn his anger on me, but I screamed at him to stop. If he heard me, he didn’t pay any attention.
“Daisy!” I yelled to be hard above the din. “You have to stop him!”
“Pip, you don’t understand,” she said in a level voice that somehow reached my ears. “Sweet Potato, I should have showed you too,” the ghost said and before I could move, her hand shot out and grabbed mine.
I staggered from an unseen impact. It was as if a huge ball of electricity had blasted through my skull and into my brain. I fell toward the polished white marble floor, but Daisy still had hold of my hand and kept me from going all the way down. She pulled me to my feet with unexpected strength. My lungs strained for air — the wind had been knocked right out of me. Spasms raked my body and I couldn’t stay on my feet. It felt as if I dangled from Daisy’s grasp.
“What are you doing?” Andy demanded of Daisy who looked at him with a mildly puzzled expression on her face.
“I had to show her,” Daisy told Andy, but then she seemed to finally notice my state. “Oh my goodness!” she cried and seemed more herself. “Oh Pip, I’m so sorry Sweet Potato! I just meant to show you the same things that I showed Caleb. I guess that’s the difference between doing that with a ghost and with one of the living. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” she said with tears of contrition streaming down her face.
With that extraordinary physical strength, petite Daisy lifted me in her arms as if I were a small child. She carried me past a table where someone had been making Bloody Marys. When she turned, my foot knocked over a bottle of Worcestershire sauce. I remembered Andy calling it Worcester sauce, and how we playfully argued about which was correct back in Florida.
Daisy carried me to a sofa and gently deposited me on it. With a worried expression on his face, Andy handed me one of the Bloody Marys. He said that it wasn’t brandy, but maybe it would help. I managed to take a couple of sips.
All the drama continued around us, buffeting winds, screaming, crying. I lay back on the sofa, because I wasn’t able to even sit up. I tried to speak but my brain was too scrambled for me to chain two words together. So whatever I meant to say came out as gibberish. You’d have thought I was speaking in tongues or something. I couldn’t think straight either. It was as if every thought I’d ever had competed for dominance in my mind. And my head hurt. Bad.
Finally one thought lodged into a clear spot in my mind. Then another fell into line. My brain was sorting the memory Daisy shared with me all in one electric blast, and putting things into their proper sequence. In my mind I watched events unfold as if I stood looking over Daisy’s shoulder. However, I felt most of it as if I had actually been her. It happened like this…
Daisy was having the strangest cravings — particularly for wimberry pie. She had even put on a frock the same shade of blue as wimberries. Yes, Daisy thought she was pregnant. She was bursting at the seams to tell someone the news, but she wanted to be certain. However, she really did have to tell someone. Surely, she thought, it was permissible if her best friend was the first to know. She just couldn’t tell Henry until she had no doubts about it. It would break his heart if it turned out she wasn’t really expecting a little one after all.
Mattie Maddox was in the expansive, well lit kitchen when Daisy divulged the news to her best friend. Daisy was ecstatic, and Mattie was so happy for her that she cried and hugged her.
Then young Henry burst into the kitchen. He sent Mattie hopping to some urgent errand that he said his father needed right away. But Daisy could always tell when the young man was lying.
After the kitchen door closed behind Mattie, Daisy turned to him. “Henry… You heard,” Daisy had said and it wasn’t a question.
As gently as she could, Daisy finished breaking the news to Henry III that he would have a younger sibling. She knew that despite how well “King Henry” tried to raise the boy, he had a bad attitude. Young Henry’s face turned red and a vein at his temple throbbed. He stormed out of the kitchen without a word.
Then she heard the French doors open. She heard Henry’s friends come inside from the terrace — the Binghamton brothers. Daisy heard him shouting to them about her being pregnant. In his anger he threw a crystal vase to the marble floor and shattered it. The vase was an anniversary gift from her husband.
Daisy went out into the foyer to settle the young men down. Bradley Binghamton stood near the door. By the look on his face he had heard Henry III yelling and stopped there, deciding whether he should go back outside. Byron was near the stairs with Henry. Egging Henry on came easily to Byron, and the more the two boys talked the madder Henry got.
She approached the young men and tried to smooth over the situation. But they turned on her. They said the most horrible, unspeakable things to her. She couldn’t keep her tears back and Henry and Byron laughed as she wept. Henry pushed her shoulder causing her to stagger backward. He called her a whore and things that were even worse.
Daisy fled up the staircase in tears. Young Henry bounded up behind her, taking the stairs two at a time. He continued to yell at her, to berate her for the life he felt she was taking from him by giving his father another child.
At the top of the stairs he grabbed her arm as she was about to run down the hall to her sitting room. Henry was in his late teens. He was as tall as his father, thickly built, and strong. Daisy couldn’t pull or twist free of his grasp. The pain and humiliation caused by his words turned to anger when he seized her arm.
Being manhandled was something Daisy could never tolerate. She was livid when he grabbed her. She drew back her hand, and with every bit of her strength behind it, she swung to slap his face. But he saw the blow coming and reflexively pushed her away.
Henry III never had learned to think things through. They were standing at the top of the stairs when he pushed Daisy. She toppled all the way down the long curving staircase to the marble floor below. Slowly blood started to spread on her skirt. It was a lot of blood.
“We have to get her to a doctor,” Bradley Binghamton told the other two boys as he hurried over and knelt beside Daisy.
“No!” Henry said. “My dad will find out.”
“He’ll find out anyway!” Bradley told him.
“No… No, he might not,” said Byron. “I know somebody. He took care of a girl once for me.”
They carried Daisy to a car, but by then she had lost consciousness. She woke to the harsh smell of ether and a foggy head, and a lot of pain. Looking around she saw that she was in a place that was sort of like a surgery, but not like one should be. It wasn’t very clean, and the space around her was too large. It echoed like a warehouse. Then she remembered hearing of a doctor who did free work for the poor at the old warehouse. It had been used as a hospital in wartimes long ago, so it was usable for that purpose.
She heard an unfamiliar man talking to someone. “I couldn’t save it,” he said. “But you didn’t want me to in the first place, did you?” he said with a trace of a sneer in his tone. “Anyhow, she’s lost a lot of blood. You need to take her on to the hospital. You should have taken her there straight away. I don’t have the equipment or the skills for this. I’m afraid she still has internal bleeding. She might not last the night,” he said as Daisy drifted back to incoherence.
Daisy had proved them wrong. She lived through the night and for a few weeks after that. Her husband had his own physician examine her. The man shook his head gravely and would not discuss his prognosis in front of her. However, Daisy already knew. She could tell her days on earth were limited. She could tell something inside was damaged, something the doctors of that day didn’t know how to fix.
She never told King Henry what his son had done, but sometimes she thought he knew anyway. She tried to get strong again as she lay in a bed next to a beautiful golden and aqua stained glass window in a quiet place where Henry took her to convalesce — he was determined that she would recover, especially with the right environment. He couldn’t accept what the doctor said.
Daisy tried to be happy for Mattie’s sake. Mattie never left her side. She tried to be strong for Henry, to smile and be vivacious so he would feel better. She was secretly afraid that if he saw how weak she really was that he’d stop loving her.
Finally a day came when she gazed at the luminous colors of the window and surrendered. At that point the memories that belonged to Daisy drifted away from me, and I had my own thoughts once again.
Chaos still ensued all around me. It took much longer to tell about Daisy’s memory than it did for me to actually get my wits about me. Double-sized Caleb still held the three men hanging high above the floor and they still cried out in pain.
After a moment I started to feel a little more in control of my body. I took another sip of the Bloody Mary and its spiciness was heartening. I looked toward the staircase where Henry Kingston III was suspended in midair. I found my voice.
“Somebody has to do something before Caleb completely loses control of his temper,” I said. “Daisy, you have to stop him,” I repeated.
“The spirit woman looked abashed. After what she’d been through, and decades of searching the great beyond for the awful memory of it… I figured it would feel pretty good to see someone taking revenge on your behalf. I couldn’t resent her for momentarily considering vengeance.
Daisy vanished and then reappeared across the room to stand in front of Caleb. She reached up and placed her hand on his arm. Caleb looked down at her seeming irritated for a moment, but his face softened as he regarded Daisy. He returned to his normal size, but the demon-red glow didn’t leave his eyes, and the men still hung in the air, although their screams had toned down to whimpers.
“No ma’am. It’s not right that you finally got a good life, after how hard thing started out for you when you were just a child — it’s not right that these men should be the cause of your dying and go unpunished for it,” Caleb said.
Her hand rested on Caleb’s chest. I was sure Daisy would never intentionally hurt anyone. She hadn’t meant to knock me down with an electric shock; she just didn’t know how to handle her new strength. But I wondered if there was still a part of her that wanted payback. Maybe Caleb felt that from her.
The spirit woman hesitated, but she squared her shoulders, affirming her resolve. “Caleb, it isn’t for us to judge. These men are each guilty in different ways and to different degrees. However, it isn’t for us to decide their punishment. It simply is not right,” she told him in a sincere voice.
Amid the sobbing from Henry and the Binghamtons I abruptly heard that old pop-fizz sound. Maestro Martino knelt in front of my sofa. He inspected me more closely than I thought was proper, but I knew the ghost chef was concerned if he had picked up even a fraction of my fears. Maestro could do that, at least where I was concerned. He could detect strong supernatural activity, and it somehow helped him home in on me.
Once he was satisfied that I was unharmed Maestro became agitated all over again. “Signorina o Signore, this is far too dangerous. You must leave at once!” he insisted. “Signore, get her away from this place!”
However, Maestro’s caution was immediately followed by a double-pop-fizz and the ghost chef was no longer alone. A man — no, I corrected myself, a ghost in heavy white satin robes stood behind him. A looming specter towered over them both. That was the tallest man I’d ever seen. He wore pale buckskin clothes with turquoise stones decorating them. He had flowing black hair with two white feathers tucked into one side.
“Che peccato! Maestro Martino, you should be ashamed. Is this how you repay my gift?” demanded the short ghost.
“No, no. Your Imminence, please do believe me. I would not piss you off again!” Maestro said.
I was shocked by the Maestro’s choice of words, because I remembered how he told us he came to be cursed.
“But — you see, the short of it is that I pissed off the Pope! And this predicament is my fate,” the ghost had said with a mournful look.
Wide-eyed I looked at the three newly arrived ghosts. I wasn’t Catholic, but I wondered if I should try to get up and curtsey or something. I didn’t know how to act in front of a live pope, let alone a dead one. And who was the guy in buckskins? I knew less than nothing about how to behave in front of a Native American authority-figure-seeming ghost.
Movement beyond the French doors caught my eye. A tremendous cow with long curving black horns paced impatiently, pawing the ground with her steel hooves. Her red-eyed stare turned to me and she snorted fire. I jumped and looked from the demon cow to the tall black-haired ghost. I understood then that he was the one who controlled the ghost-rider curse.
Surely, I thought, that powerful spirit’s presence would register with Caleb. However, the cowboy remained transfixed in his determination to take revenge on Daisy’s behalf. Maestro followed my gaze. In an instant Maestro Martino stood between Caleb and the objects of his retribution. The cowboy glared uncomprehendingly at the chef.
“Hey, cow-poke!” Maestro yelled at Caleb in a passable western drawl that finally got his attention. “Incredibile! Non fare lo stupido! What stupidity! Do you mean to waste the gift I sacrificed and bestowed upon you?” he demanded in his usual Italian accent. “Basta! Stop this at once if you have any respect for this woman,” Maestro said indicating Daisy who stood looking up at Caleb with pleading eyes. “Would you give up eternity with this woman to satisfy your thirst for the blood of her enemies? You see the foolishness of that, no?”
Caleb looked at Maestro Martino so angrily that I feared for the ghost chef’s life. I had to remind myself he was already dead. After what seemed like a long internal struggle, Caleb’s shoulders relaxed. Then Henry Kingston and the Binghamtons, suddenly freed from the magic that held them aloft, rushed toward the marble floor.
Maestro’s eyes bulged and he whirled to face the falling men. He held out his arm and snapped his fingers. Their descent slowed. Or rather it slowed until they were about five feet above the floor and Maestro let them drop unassisted the rest of the way. All three landed quite uncomfortably.
Daisy approached the new, very official (not to mention powerful) seeming specters.
“Please,” she began, looking angelic in the flowing white wedding gown she still wore from reminiscing about her marriage. “Please don’t punish Caleb. He only wanted to protect me. It’s my fault. I didn’t act quickly enough to stop him before he went so far. I know that I could have if I had tried sooner. So this is my fault, not his,” she pleaded.
By then Caleb was behind her. He took off his Stetson and bowed to the two dominant spirits. Then he insisted that he was the one responsible, not Daisy.
“Stop it Caleb!” Daisy cried. “I couldn’t bear it if they made you a ghost-rider again! I’ve been so alone. I was unprotected and fending for myself throughout my childhood. I only had King Henry for what seems like a short time, and we were happy, but then I was adrift and alone all over again. If anyone is punished for this, it has to be me. I can’t bear to see anything happen to you,” she said and then looked down at the floor, apparently unable to meet the gaze of the spirits surrounding her.
The ghost in the white satin robes narrowed his eyes and his lips curled inward making a thin line of his mouth. I thought he looked downright petulant, but I certainly wouldn’t have said so. Maestro exchanged a look with me and gave a barely perceptible shake of his head. Was I really that transparent?
When the black-haired ghost spoke, his voice came as a bass rumble so deep I felt it vibrate from my ears to my toes. I had thought he’d be fierce and furious, but he spoke in a very matter of fact tone. With a shrug he said, “I see no wrong done here tonight.” He tilted his head, raised one eyebrow and looked down at the white robed spirit. “Do you?”
The other specter’s mouth twisted in an unpleasant expression. Then he rolled his eyes at the much taller spirit, spread his hands and shook his head that he did not.
“However,” continued the buckskin clad spirit with a slow smile. “I think you could be of service this night, old friend,” he added a suggestion.
At that moment Granny Fanny stormed through the open French doors. She was fit to be tied, and Kate Kingston was right behind her.
“What do ya’ll think you’re doing in here? I never heard such a racket in all my life! We could hear ya’ll all the way down at the gazebo! Why, your ruckus scared Kate’s cat so badly, I thought we’d never catch poor Marie Antoinette to put her skin medicine on her,” Granny said without taking so much as a single breath.
Kate Kingston was carrying Antoinette the Maine Coon cat. Her arms relaxed at the shock of seeing her devastated living room and foyer, and she let the cat jump down. Antoinette walked over to the group of ghosts and delicately sniffed their feet. The cat looked up at the collection of spirits, gave a satisfied purr-meow, and sauntered up the stairs and out of sight.
Mrs. Kingston’s gaze fell on the ghosts; they were all powerful enough that anyone could see them unless they just chose not to be seen. For a moment she looked at them in doe-eyed amazement. Then she fainted dead away.
My grandmother took in the chaos around us, the furniture overturned by the blasting wind and the struggles of the three men, the shattered lamp, and my own tousled appearance. She glared at Maestro Martino as if it was all surely his fault.
Then my grandmother saw all the other ghosts.
Granny’s mouth snapped shut with a pop.
Flower petals in white, pink, and yellow floated gently on a breeze that kept them aloft and scattered in the air. The petal cloud gracefully drifted down the stone path of the terrace that began outside the library of the Kingston mansion. The petals glowed ever so softly in the moonlight as they slowly moved among us, magically suspended in the air.
Notes from a flute filled the night air. The beguiling strains of music were calming yet uplifting. The music and the flower petals seemed to encircle our small group as we stood on the terrace. The petals exuded a sense of positive warmth, pleasure, and togetherness to all who were present.
Cracker the parrot swooped away from her perch on a magnolia tree and zipped uphill and out of sight. I heard her squawk, “Dainty Dish! Attagirl!”
A moment later the beautiful parrot glided down the path at an unnaturally slow speed. Strands of pink, yellow, and white blossoms trailed behind her as if they were extensions of her long tail. The flowers streamed gracefully behind Cracker during her magical approach. The parrot alighted on a blossom decorated perch beside the white robed specter.
Cowboy Caleb Colman strode slowly to stand beside them. I thought he looked strange without his Stetson hat. But he was a fine figure of a man — or rather ghost. He stood tall and straight, handsome beyond anything mortal. He still wore western clothes, but they were different from his work clothes, nicer — and they were shimmering white.
As the moon steadily crept lower in the sky, the unseen flute played a loud trill that came from the top of the hill. All eyes turned in that direction. Daisy appeared; a vision in glowing diaphanous white. I thought she could have been a moon goddess as she effortlessly drifted toward us.
A light stream of smoke carried a pleasing aroma to us. I thought it was sage with other floral scents I couldn’t identify. Then I heard the rhythmic sound of drums, softly beating. The tall black-haired specter suddenly appeared, standing before Caleb and Daisy. His counterpart bowed to the couple, made a motion with his hands. He spoke something I didn’t understand. I supposed it was Latin. Then he made another motion with his hands and backed away.
The tall ghost spoke words that were reverent and beautiful as he united Caleb and Daisy. It’s just impossible for such glorious phrases to come out of my flapper mouth, so I won’t try to repeat what he said. Just know that he spoke words that you felt with your soul as much as you understood with your mind. His speech touched every heart. I cried. Granny Fanny cried. Andy Avis cried. Maestro Martino sniffled and then burst out blubbering and sobbing so hard that the white robed ghost had to pull him aside and console him.
Cracker flew over and perched in a spot that allowed her to face me. I could have sworn there was a tear in the parrot’s eye too, but that wasn’t possible. Was it? When another tear rolled down my cheek, Cracker hopped over to my shoulder and preened a strand of my hair, trying to comfort me. I stroked the feathers of her back and she nuzzled her head behind my ear.
The flower petals had floated among us throughout the ceremony presided over by the two high ranking spirits. At another trill of flute music the petals began to swirl. They gently whirled all around us, and tickled when they touched my skin. They grew in number as they lifted above our heads, making a cloud that rose higher and higher into the sky. Then it exploded into a twinkling starburst.
A faint clip-clop caused me to turn. Caleb’s horse, always impressive, was transformed into a shining white magnificent steed. Tiny blue sparks lit the paving stones as he pranced toward the couple. The horse whinnied softly and shook his silken mane.
Then the horse lowered his head and shoulders. Caleb lifted Daisy easily onto the steed’s back and held her steady as the horse stood. Caleb leapt onto his horse’s back in an effortless bound. They trotted the length of the uphill path, blue sparks flying as the horse built up speed. Then the horse made a mighty leap and they soared into the sunrise.
I gasped in amazement. Just when I thought they were gone I heard a whinny above my head. I looked heavenward and saw Caleb wave his white Stetson in salute. Daisy gave a genteel wave of her hand and threw something down to me. I reached out reflexively to catch it. It was a bouquet of white daisies and red roses.
“Those are for Mattie if you please, Pip,” Daisy called to me. “Tell her I’ll always remember her,” she said. Then another bunch of flowers dropped and I had to move fast to catch them. “And these are for you. Remember me Pip,” Daisy called.
Caleb added his voice. “Remember us!” they said together.
The supernatural glow from the two spirits increased three fold. The white horse made an intensely bright streak as they traversed the sky, blue sparks from its silver hooves glittering the breaking dawn.
Remember them? Of course I would remember Daisy the Dainty Dish and Caleb Colman the Cowboy. I was awed by the perseverance, communication, and trust they had shown throughout the time I’d known them. Then I realized those were three ingredients for success or happiness, or maybe both.
To celebrate the conclusion of A Ghost in the Kitchen, I’m including two different Bloody Mary recipes.
Video: Bloody Mary Cocktail Recipe from the 1920’s
Recipe: Homemade Bloody Mary
Recipe and photo credit: Vintage Cooking.com
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
2 teaspoons celery salt
Wedge of lemon
2 Jiggers (3 ounces) best quality vodka
Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Several shakes of Worcestershire sauce
3-4 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
8 ounces tomato juice, chilled (I recommend Sacramento Gold)
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
¼ tsp. celery salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Mix both the kosher and celery salt in a shallow flat dish.
Rub the rim of a 16-ounce glass with a wedge of lemon and dip the glass into the dish so that it clings to the rim.
Fill glass with ice.
Add vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce.
Stir in the tomato juice with a long spoon.
Add horseradish, sea salt, remaining celery salt, and pepper.
Stir again and serve this drink recipe with a wedge of lemon.
You may also add a dill pickle, olives, or a celery stalk. Serve with a beer chaser on the side, if desired.
Makes 1-16 ounce serving.
Skeiks and Shebas, stick around. These interactive serials are not over and done. During National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I will rerun the original story, The Three Things. Then in December we will begin another all new serial. So stay tuned!
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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