Wednesday, September 27, 2017
On Saturday, I was honored to be the guest of the enchanting Esmé — The Recipe Hunter. I’m sharing that post today for Jazz Age Wednesdays. I hope you’ll click over and say hello. Thanks again, Esmé! That post is below.
It was a recipe for fun when I wrote Three Ingredients I — Murder at the Bijou. Although, I’m afraid I was not all-together in my element at a cooking blog. I used to think I was a pretty good cook, but that was years ago. Now I don’t see myself that way.
My readers drove the story by sending three things (or ingredients) that I included in the serial episodes. Those random “things” drove every aspect of the stories. Since the second serial was a culinary mystery, the things were ingredients. People kept asking for the serials to be in book form. Finally I’ve obliged… at least with the first two.
Since I’m not much of a cook any more, I’m brought the first chapter of Murder at the Bijou to share at Esmé’s blog instead of a cooking post. As I said, it’s spontaneously told, and set in the Jazz Age. Here goes!
Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I
A culinary mystery with “ingredients” sent from readers everywhere.
Chapter One — Geoduck, Cilantro, Red Wine
Several 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.
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 geoduckdishes 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.
Posters 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.
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.
End Chapter 1
I hope you enjoyed this peek into the world of my unflappable flapper, Paisley Idelle Peabody (aka Pip). It was a pleasure for me to meet Esmé. I’m sure you’ll enjoy a visit to The Recipe Hunter as well. It’s pos-i-lutely fabulous.
I’ll be looking for you this weekend in Thistledown! Hugs.
If you want to know more about this series, here is a review by Chris the Story Reading Ape of the first book.
Thanks so much for visiting. You’re the berries!
Copyright © 2017
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.