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Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Sheiks and Shebas, welcome to Jazz Age Wednesdays!
My November is off to a pos-i-lutely neon-bright start! There is something in the wind about Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I but that is all I can say right now…
November 1st is the kickoff of National Novel Writing Month*, and yes, I opted in for that insanity again. However, I’ll give an update on that this weekend, with the Thistledown Hiatus post, since that is the reason why the serial is well… on hiatus.
Now, let’s get to the Jazz Age!
Halloween was only yesterday and I’m still feeling that spirit. So, I am sharing a ghostly tidbit from the not yet “book-ized” 1920s serial, “A Ghost in the Kitchen — Three Ingredients II.”
Pip and the Potent Poltergeist
The fizzy purple vapor dissipated and I found that my eyes had not deceived me. A strange, semi-solid man bowed before me. I was too stunned to think. It seemed like the purple mist befuddled my head. I gradually became aware of one other thing, a shrill unpleasant sound that went on and on…
“Andy!” I cried, suddenly becoming aware again.
My dear old friend Andy Avis, was screaming like a school girl. I grabbed his arm and shook him. He stopped screaming. For five seconds. Then he screamed right into my face.
I felt like slapping him — only partly to bring him to his senses. However, riotous giggling shocked both of us to silence. The ghost stood in the kitchen bent double with laughter. Apparently he found Andy’s reaction most amusing.
As seems to happen to me in times of stress, one detail stood out to me more than anything else. I turned to Andy but pointed to the apparition.
“You can see him?” I said, and I wasn’t sure if it was a question or an accusation.
I had been told that though I hadn’t known it, I had the gift for seeing spirits. I was also told that Granny Phanny could too, but my grandmother had suppressed the
ability. However, as you might expect, not everyone could see ghosts. So I was surprised that Andy was able to see the spirit sitting sprawled at Granny’s kitchen table.
Before I took another breath I whirled on the ghost and demanded, “How can he see you?”
The apparition who had materialized from the gaudy bottle of spirits sobered. He stuck out his lower lip in an exaggerated expression of consideration that I had a feeling was a habit with him.
“Well, I am one powerful poltergeist, Signorina!” he said between hiccupping giggles. “It’s no effort for me to let anyone see me, and sometimes they do whether or not I’m intending it,” the ghost told me.
I thought poor Andy’s eyes were going to pop right out of his head.
The spirit looked longingly at the food on the table. Andy and I hadn’t even started our meal. He licked his lips and sighed.
“Err… Would you care for anything?” I asked, knowing that after all, Granny would expect me to be a good hostess. Then I gave my head a shake. Had I really said that?
“I rarely partake. Sometimes that doesn’t turn out so well,” he said, but his eyes never strayed from the food. “But if I could just take a whiff,” he said leaning toward the table — and closer to Andy.
With a blanched face and panicked eyes Andy staggered backward. There was nowhere for him to go, so he bumped hard against the table. The ornate wine bottle wobbled precariously at the edge for a moment, and then it crashed to the blue and white tile floor. It shattered into dozens of pieces.
The ghost shrieked.
Andy shrieked when the ghost did.
I shrieked at both of them to stop their shrieking!
“Yes! No! Both!” he replied, rapid fire in his strange accent. Then he gave a giddy giggle. “Thank God that gaudy bottle is no more! Can you imagine making your home in such an ugly vessel?” he commented. “However I must have something, or there will be… consequences. Ah! Symbol of the wisdom I should have had in life!” he exclaimed when he saw the carved wooden owl clock. “This will do,” he said even as he held the clock to his chest and then disappeared.
The clock dropped the short distance to the counter, landing with a wobble and a clunk. Andy and I looked at each other in stunned silence. A moment later the spirit remerged from the owl clock. He sprawled into one of the white ladder back chairs my grandfather had made. That was when I noticed the Renaissance era garb beneath his apron.
“Bene! What a relief!” he said and lifted his brimless toque to mop his brow, or at least I thought the chef’s hat was called a toque.
I leaned closer, wondering if ghosts could sweat.
“If you didn’t like the bottle…” I began, but wasn’t sure how to ask what I wanted to know. “Well, how come you’re — ” my words failed me so I pointed to the shards of the purple bottle.
“Ah Signorina,” the ghost began. “It is a poignant tale. I was chef to the Patriarch of Aquileia at the Vatican. I always preferred the pun as a form of humor, and the Pope, he shared this with me. However, one evening we served dinner to a plethora of patrons, speaking Punjabi, Parsi, and Philippine. I presented a perfect prawn pasta… Perhaps something went awry with the translations… But — you see, the short of it is that I pissed off the Pope! And this predicament is my fate,” the ghost said with a mournful expression.
I marveled at the poltergeist’s capacity to use the letter “P” so many times in one sentence. I gave a hard blink to clear my mind. Then I looked from him to Andy, with no idea what to say or do next. However, Andy found his voice.
“You’re not a genie then? You really are a ghost?” Andy asked. “Too bad. Granting wishes would have been a great ice breaker,” he joked, abruptly loosening up to my surprised relief. “We don’t have to rub the owl clock’s belly to get you to come out, do we?”
The poltergeist gave Andy that pursed lip expression, but then laughed heartily slapping his knee. “No, young patron. I can come and go as I please, so long as I bind myself to an object. And mind you, I can’t be without one for more than a moment. However, I tend to lose track of the time. When I went into that gaudy bottle, I was in a great hurry, but that’s another story. Anyhow, I think I was intoxicated on the noxious potion, so I did not wake for some little while. Then you uncorked the bottle, and the rest, as you say, is history,” he said with a hiccup.
My nose wrinkled at the thought of being inside a bottle that smelled like that one had. I said it must have been awful. The apparition burped, blushed, and excused himself, making me think he might have become intoxicated from being cooped up in the wine bottle.
“Ah, one gets accustomed to the aroma,” he said affably. “But now you speak of such… do you have any rum? I do have a preference for the spirit, tee-hee!” he said with a giggle, inordinately pleased with his joke that a spirit would like spirits.
When I explained prohibition, he looked very downcast. He somehow hiccuped and burped at the same time. Then he made a shocked comment about the state of things that would allow such a law. Andy and I agreed enthusiastically.
I finally found my manners and thought to introduce myself and Andy. The ghost bowed again, with a slight wobble. “My great pleasure, Signorina o Signore. I present myself, Maestro Martino. Please do me the honor of calling me Maestro,” he said with a flourish.
The end… or the beginning. It depends on how you look at it.
I hope you enjoyed this snippet from A Ghost in the Kitchen. Yes, you’re right — that means there’s another novel on the way for Pip! As you see she is reunited with her pal Andy.
Now I engage in the requisite shameless self-promotion… Here are links to the books about Pip and her friends.
Thanks so very much for visiting. You’re the cat’s pajamas!
Copyright © 2014 and 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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