Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Welcome back to Jazz Age Wednesdays. Last time I posted part-1 of a story I wrote because Hugh Roberts, of Hugh’s Views & News, asked me to participate in his new feature series. (Click here for Hugh’s post.)
Lately the real world has provided an over abundance of the “s” word. Take that anyway you want, but I meant stress. Stress drain. It leaves me depleted of… well everything. When that happens it’s extremely difficult for me to write, as this story proves. I spent two weeks of my writing time developing a simple short story. I finished it last week, but I didn’t manage to make it short enough for one post, but today we have the conclusion.
Pip and Holding On
After parking the Model-T, I walked with Miss Olive inside the echoing halls of the grand building, making sure she got to the right office. It seemed like we waited at least an hour for someone to come to the desk. However, the clock insisted that only ten minutes had passed. I had never seen a secondhand creep along so slowly. Someone finally came to help Miss Olive.
Yes, I admit it. I was bored that easily. There were no distractions in that room. Nothing to occupy the mind, no magazines, zipola. Maybe it was all my fidgeting, but the elderly woman took pity on me. Miss Olive told me it would be fine if I went to look around outside while she attended to her business.
I exited city hall and strolled a short distance down the sidewalk. A commotion caused me to turn back. A high-pitched call split the air. A man screamed. I heard Hank Hertz yelling.
When I looked up I saw the reason for the uproar. The hawk we saw earlier had snatched Charlie’s little Chihuahua! The raptor had caught the ruffles of the tiny dog’s dress. Chichi dangled by her frilly dress, as the hawk flew high above the street.
Two statues representing art and commerce adorned the fourth-floor balcony of city hall. The hawk alighted there, Chichi in tow. Charlie kept up his shrill scream so long I wondered where he got all the air.
Hank ran from the other side of the street toward the three arched entries of city hall and disappeared inside. I went after Hank. I didn’t see him anywhere, but I heard the pounding of his shoes on the marble floors. I followed the sound.
I was breathing hard when I stepped out onto the fourth-floor balcony. Maybe the hawk was spooked by all the yelling from Hank and Charlie Chilton. Some of the people on the street were yelling too. It flew erratically, hampered by the weight of the dog, as it flew from the statues up to the clock on the sixth story.
(You can read the chapter of Murder at the Bijou that included Charlie and Chichi here.)
I leaned against one of the statues trying to catch my breath. Thankfully that also put me in a shadow. It was already getting hot outside.
The hawk stopped on the minute hand of the clock as it pointed at twelve. Worse than the Chihuahua suspended high in the air, Hank Hertz had climbed out onto the face of the clock. The bells gonged as the clock struck nine.
Savannah’s youngest policeman cautiously stepped onto the hour hand. Hank stretched up toward the vertical minute hand as far as he could, trying to reach the dangling dog. However, the hawk flew back down to the statues. Hank made a grab for Chichi, but lost his balance and started to fall.
Hank grabbed onto the huge minute hand of the clock, scrambling to get his footing.
The Chihuahua struggled as the hawk glided down. I stood stock still. If the hawk saw me it would fly away with the little dog. Or it might drop her. That would be awful too. Horsefeathers, it would be horrible if Hank fell from his predicament to the pavement 140 feet below. What was he thinking?
The gears of the clock and the metal of the minute hand groaned. Hank’s weight pulled it downward.
Slowly I tilted my head to look up at the statue against which I leaned. Chichi saw me and renewed her struggle for freedom. The hawk was preoccupied by Hank’s presence on the clock.
But what if it looks down? I worried.
I heard the scrape of Hank’s shoes as he scrabbled against the face of the clock for a foothold but found none. Metal moaned as the minute hand moved again.
Involuntarily I gasped when Hank lost his hold. The hawk heard me.
Chichi yipped, tiny legs working furiously.
Hank managed to grab onto the railing below the clock face. I held my breath as he swung one leg up over the banister.
The Chihuahua’s ruffled dress ripped where it was pierced by the hawk’s talons. She sagged as her dress tore.
Hank finished pulling himself to the relative safety of the ledge behind the stone railing. I heaved a sigh of relief.
Then the hawk launched itself from the statue. The awkward burden of the dog caused the bird to bob downward as the frilly dress continued to rip.
I was never any good at catch. However, the bird was directly above me. As the fabric tore free and the little Fido fell, I put my hands out and caught her.
“Lord have mercy. Paisley, you are a sight. Your headband is all catawampus and that short skirt looks like you slept in it,” Miss Olive told me in a half-scandalized tone, but then she chuckled and waved her hand.
To my surprise, Miss Olive was sharing a cup of tea with a stranger. Looking at the scene you would have thought they were old friends. The man looked like a traveler, probably on his way to Union Station. A suitcase sat at his feet with labels from England, Ireland, and Wales. He spoke with an accent that sounded kind of British to my ear.
When the man finished his tea, Miss Olive dumped the tealeaves into the saucer. Her wrinkled face squinted into even more creases as she peered at the pattern of the leaves.
“Miss Olive, do you see great things in my future?” the stranger asked lightly with a kind, patient smile.
“I see happiness for you,” the very old woman told him. “That’s a great thing, Mr. Roberts. I’m just a little puzzled that the main thing I’m seeing is not you. It’s one of your descendants. A brilliant novelist. He’ll be called Hugh.”
As a footnote, “Charlie Chilton” never looked anything like handsome actor Ramon Novarro, pictured above with his chihuahua Chiquita. Sorry Charlie. For more about the Savannah City Hall dome, click here.
Thanks for visiting. You are pos-i-lutely darb!
PS: Of course, I have to show you the links to the books about Pip and her friends.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, 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, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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