National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately called, is underway. I started out with a lot of enthusiasm; let’s just hope it holds out. Writing the draft of a 50,000 word novel in a single month is grueling!
While I’m slaving away at my keyboard, I’m posting a “rewind” of the original interactive mystery serial — the one where Pip and Andy came into being. I hope everyone enjoys this look back at the beginning of our 1920’s friends.
Oh applesauce! I just remembered something I need to research for NaNoWriMo… so back to work with me. Remember that I think all of you are just the cat’s pajamas! Hugs!
Three Things Serial Continued
Episode 6: Search, Cocoa, Fox
Even though Boris said it wasn’t important, I knew that it was. Whatever or whomever he saw had really shook him up. His eyes searched the crowd and everything within sight. His gaze lingered on a rich looking white-haired woman wearing a fox fur stole. After a moment he seemed to satisfy himself about whatever it was, and he looked away.
When a police car rolled up, siren blaring, I realized that the crowd wasn’t just congregating near the theatre door. Something had happened. Boris must have picked up on that before the rest of us. When the police car stopped, one of the coppers waved at Frankie and smiled.
“I know that guy. I’ll go find out what’s going on,” Frankie said and ran off before anybody could say boo.
Even though Boris said he was fine, he looked pale and twitchy. The strangeness had not escaped Mona’s notice. She was always nice to Boris, but I thought she was a little condescending about it. I knew she didn’t like his accent. She’d said as much. Sometimes I wondered if she had a crush on him, but at the same time she thought he wasn’t the “right sort” for her. What I mean is she felt conflicted. Before I knew it, Mona hurried over and made Boris sit back down inside the Studebaker. He slumped down in the seat, and she put her hand to his brow. Then she sort of looked around to see if anyone was paying any attention. Yep. She was conflicted alright.
Everyone was getting a little nervous. So I decided to put my skills to use and distract them. Well, you remember that I read palms, don’t you? I’d never done a reading for Boris, so I offered to read his palm. He smiled politely and agreed, though he seemed more interested in covertly peeping up over the car window at whatever was going on in front of the theatre.
I took his hand and placed it face up in my own. Boris had a pretty interesting palm. “Your Saturn line begins very late,” I said in puzzlement, because I knew Boris had been very successful in ballet. Then of course he was injured, ending his career. “I always assumed you must miss the ballet terribly… but do you?”
To my astonishment he gave me a sad little smile. “It is not the dance I miss.”
“Your Saturn line tells me that you have not yet found your true vocation. Your lifeline is strong.” As I continued looking at has hand, I was more and more intrigued. Boris was not at all what I expected, leastwise not based on his palm. “And you tend to accept your lover totally, despite any eccentricities or imperfections.”
My interpretation brought teasing oohs and aahs from the rest of the group. Mona looked particularly interested, and then she turned beet red.
Just then Frankie trotted up behind me. “Hey, you promised to read mine,” Frankie protested, and nudged me playfully with his elbow. “I’ll buy you some cocoa if you do.” I whispered to the fireman that Boris seemed really upset and I thought he could use a distraction.
“Did you find out anything?” Andy wanted to know. So did the rest of us.
“Sure did. There was a group of Russian big wigs here in town for some business or other. Then they came here after a fancy dinner. And then one of ‘em got shot!”
“Oh how awful!” Mona exclaimed. “Boris, is there any chance you know any of these people? After all, you were a celebrity with the Ballets Russes.”
“No. No, it would not be anyone I know,” Boris sad flatly in a tone that brooked no argument. Then he turned away and looked off into space.
The Rewind Continues
Today’s “Three Things” are from Suki in North Carolina. Among other things, she writes fan fiction. Check out her site. I’m sure you’ll be entertained.
As always you can check out the full story (thus far), or catch-up if you’ve missed an episode, on the page dedicated to it, The Three Things Serial Story. …And now let’s see where these three things take our characters…
Episode 7: Bent Key, Empty Barrel, Torn Hem
There was more commotion as the coppers went inside the Nickelodeon Theatre, nightsticks and guns at the ready. We all stood taller, trying to see what was going on — all of us except Boris, that is. He slumped down even further into the seat of Andy’s Studebaker.
“So, who got clipped?” Andy asked Frankie. However, the fireman didn’t know who had been shot, or whether the person was wounded or dead.
Frankie spotted an empty barrel in the alley a few yards away and rolled it all the way to the car. Then he lifted me up so I could stand on top of it for a better view of the action, though there wasn’t really anything to see.
I hopped down from the barrel so Mona could take a turn, but my skirt got caught on it. I heard a little ripping sound and looked down in dismay at my torn hem. “Oh applesauce! This was my favorite outfit.”
Mona stooped down to inspect the damage and said that it didn’t look so bad. “I bet Tim the Tailor can fix it in nothin’ flat,” she said, meaning another of our neighbors. “Cheer up doll. It’ll be okay.” Then she took a safety pin from her pocketbook and made a passable repair in a jiffy.
When Mona finished I looked up to find all the boys staring at us. Or rather at my legs, the police and the shooting were all but forgotten. Even Boris had roused from his slump and got out of the Studebaker. Honestly! Men… I cleared my throat meaningfully. “What are you mugs lookin’ at?” I demanded and they made a big show of looking the other way.
Just then I heard the crack of “Chicago lightning” — gunfire and a lot of it, from inside the theatre. A chair crashed through the big plate glass window in front and a man jumped
through the shards. He was dressed all in black and wore a hat, which made it hard to focus on him in the dim light. He made a beeline toward the group of Russian dignitaries and grabbed that white-haired woman who was so rich looking. A car from across the street suddenly roared up, and the man in black dragged the old woman into the car before it completely stopped moving. Then it sped away.
The getaway car careened past us, mere inches away. Mona jumped back with a shriek and Andy yelled angrily at it. I heard a metallic ping and the streetlight glinted off something. I moved to see what it was. At first I thought Boris was following me, but he continued for several paces, staring in the direction the car went. He had a pained expression on his face.
“You know her, don’t you?” I said and he turned back to me with eyes that were wide and questioning, but also fearful. “The white-haired woman in the fox fur stole. You know her.”
Boris didn’t answer. He walked back to the Studebaker, and standing behind it stared at the very upset group of people and the police for a long moment. Then he shook his head and looked down at the ground.
I sighed in frustration at his silence. There was definitely something going on with him and this whole goofy mess. I almost forgot what I had been about to do… that metallic sound and the glint of light. I bent down and spotted the source. It was some sort of key. I picked it up and turned it over in my hand. It was a bent key and it was engraved with something, but it was too dark out for me to read the inscription.
What mysterious words are engraved on the key? Who is the white-haired woman? Stay tuned…
I’m really excited to have received “three things” from two different readers over the weekend. So I’m doing a mid-week post with the first set I was given. The story continues with new things from Provincial Lady.
Episode 8: Flight, Itch, Heartbreak
I was pretty sure the strange key had fallen from the getaway car. That would make it evidence, so I hurried over to the group of policemen to give it to whichever one was in charge. One of them grinned at me with a leer and muttered something I didn’t catch, but I knew nobody’s grandmother would have approved, based on the smirk on his mug. I had an itch to slap his face, officer of the law or not! A younger one pointed out the captain, so I pushed my way through to where he stood. I honestly tried to give him the bent key. I said I had something that might have dropped from the getaway car. But he just gave me a condescending laugh.
“This is man’s work doll face. It’s past your bedtime. Go on home.”
If that’s how they were going to be, those flattie cops could just kiss my… I’d just keep the key for myself. Maybe I could figure out something about it, and what was going on to boot. As I stomped back to my pals I was so mad I growled.
“Hey Pip, what’s the matter. Whatever it is, there’s no point getting sore about it,” Mona said with an empathetic smile. “Whatever those flatfoots were saying, you just ignore them.”
I sighed and nodded. Andy and Frankie hadn’t paid much attention to our exchange, but Boris had. He cleared his throat in a hesitant way, but the look in his eyes was pretty darned eager.
“You found something? Something dropped from that car as it took flight? Please, show me,” Boris asked hopefully.
I showed him the once beautifully worked key. “There is something inscribed on it, but I can’t make it out in this light.”
Boris handed the key back to me, but put his hand on my wrist in a gentle grip, like someone might do to make sure a small child didn’t move away. He hurriedly rummaged in his pockets. With a relieved breath he produced a match, which he struck across the sole of his shoe. I couldn’t help noticing his shoes were expensive looking for an out of work ballet dancer.
The sulfuric scent of the match tickled my nose. He took the key from me and held it near the tiny fire of the match, turning it this way and that. I don’t think I had ever seen anybody look so intently at anything.
“Can you tell what it says?” Mona asked.
Just then he gave a gasp as the matched burned down and singed his finger. Boris handed the key back to me. Without a word he walked away. The look in his eyes spoke of old and deep heartbreak.
How different our food supply is from what it once was! A friend at work became very interested in the many unexpected things that lurk in our groceries. She thought about serious questions, like “Where does it come from?” and “What goes into it?” The answers were much more complicated than “From the grocery store” and “Seeds, sunshine, and rain.” It can be hard to run down the answers to those questions, and in looking you will often find the phrase “genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”
With its 1920’s setting, the characters in our Three Things Serial didn’t have to worry about such things. Food was simpler for them. Since this post is also a continuation of our story, I won’t delve further into the GMO topic. However, here is a great link with lots of well-presented information. It’s supplied by Laura in Virginia, who also gave me three old-fashioned-food “things.”
As always, you can do catch-up reading for the entire story at the Three Things Serial Story page. And now another episode…
9. Aspic, Empty Milk Bottles, Ice Cream
The coppers weren’t letting anybody inside the Nickelodeon Theatre, and there didn’t seem to be anything else for us to see there. We loaded back into Andy’s jalopy and went for ice cream to kill some time.
I put the bent key carefully into my pocketbook while I listened to my friends discuss what had happened. Mona hadn’t gotten a very good look. About all Andy had seen was a commotion around the group of Russian dignitaries when the car paused beside them. But Frankie, being the tallest in the group, had seen the white-haired woman get nabbed; pulled into the getaway car. Andy, ever the screenplay writer, was coming up with some wild theories about the whole thing. The Russian hadn’t said a word, but the more Andy speculated, the more worried “Boris the Ballerina” looked.
Within a few minutes we were all ordering our favorite sweet treats, unsettling thoughts pushed aside for the moment. I commented that I wasn’t sure if I should get anything, since Frankie had brought me that yummy gelato earlier in the evening. But what the heck! Mona the Movie Star, who carefully watched her figure (though not as carefully as Andy the Astronaut watched it) was aghast at my appetite. But she laughed it off.
“Honey, don’t worry. You can make up for it tomorrow. I’m going to make a nice tomato aspic. You can come by for lunch tomorrow and share it with me,” she said.
I tried to look enthusiastic about Mona’s offer. I hope I looked more optimistic than Boris. He was positively peaked. I suggested he get a Coca-Cola float — that should pep him up. He agreed almost absently, but within a few minutes it seemed to be doing the trick. Boris looked more like himself, and everybody was having a good time.
Later when we were all stuffed with ice cream and sodas and syrupy goodness, Andy dropped Frankie off at his place. The fireman teased me that I still hadn’t read his palm, but he was a good sport about it. Then the rest of us went back to our pseudo “office” homes. (Who cared if we lived in what was supposed to be office space, as long as the rent was cheap!)
Andy pulled right up to the front door, and we got out of the Studebaker, Boris stopped in his tracks, looking up at his windows. A light was on. I knew he wouldn’t have left it that way. He took a quick step toward the front door, but I grabbed his arm to hold him back. There was definitely something bad going on in the Russian’s life, and I didn’t want to see him rush in and get hurt.
Just then Andy put the car into gear to go park it. The Studebaker backfired. I jumped. Mona shrieked. Boris whirled toward the sound. The light went out in his apartment — I mean office.
I shoved Boris as hard as I could; pushing him into the shadows of some decorative bushes when the sound of running feet met my ears. Then a man in dark clothes rushed past us. He seemed to realize someone was there. He gave a look over his shoulder in our direction, and that caused him to stumble over some empty milk bottles that Tim the Tailor had put outside. When the man turned, the light caught something metal in his hand. Was it a gun?
“Oh Applesauce!” I exclaimed as Boris broke loose from my grasp. “Come back, I’m afraid he has a gun!”
However, Boris was already gone.
Oh applesauce! What will happen to Boris when he charges unarmed into the night after criminals who have guns? Tune in next weekend!