Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Welcome back to Jazz Age Wednesdays. Today’s episode of Hullaba Lulu brings us to Chapter 8 of the series. Rob Goldstein is back with more gorgeous images and videos (Click here for the entire collection of videos.)
A glimpse into my writing process
Even though this is a diesel-punk fantasy, I try to add some real world tidbits for you. Lulu seems to like to dance. Early on she did a bit of the Camel Walk. This time she’s doing an American dance which was born in Harlem, New York City in 1928 — the Lindy Hop.
This chapter has a bonus fourth thing. I really try to stay true to the three things as they are sent. “Pittura Metafisica” was supposed to be one of the Chapter 7 things (last week), not “Bubblegum.” However, the scene I imagined for that artsy term was too long to fit into that chapter, so we have Pittura Metafisica in Chapter 8. I didn’t want to leave a thing behind, so today there’s a fourth thing — Route 66.
Previously with Hullaba Lulu
Lauren vanished on the tilt-a-whirl. Gramps tried to go after her, but Valentino restrained him.
“You can’t reach her! The tilt-a-whirl never goes to the same destination twice!” Valentino repeated. “What if that wasn’t even Lauren?”
The ground trembled. I heard a loud bang! Behind us the giant Ferris wheel lurched. The A-frame structures holding the wheel collapsed.
The great wheel rolled inexorably toward us..
It’s time for Chapter 8. I think I hear Valentino’s trumpet.
Chanel No. 5, Pittura Metafisica, Videophone
and Route 66
The screech of twisting, tearing metal overwhelmed every other sound. The great Ferris wheel, free of its frame rolled forward, crushing everything in its path.
In the distance I saw Tom Driberg running toward Valentino’s train. The group of men in dark coats, the ones Tom told me were Russian spies, blocked his path. Tom turned on his heel and made for the tilt-a-whirl. In a flurry of lights, the ride came to life again, spinning impossibly fast, just as it had when Lauren vanished. A moment later Tom was gone.
The group of men didn’t see what happened. They made a quick search of the ride’s cars and moved on. I heard one of them say something about “a distraction.” They turned away as if they heard something and then moved further into the park.
Movement caused me to look at the gilded fortuneteller booth. Ask Sipsing was written in bright red script across the top. Inside the window I saw a pair of knees.
Rose had prudently hidden inside the gypsy fortuneteller booth, folding herself up as well as she could. As she squeezed out of the booth her purse caught on the latch and was pulled open. I saw that it contained an expensive bottle of Chanel No. 5, complete with a ribbon and gift tag. I would have bet anything the name on that tag was Tom Driberg.
Valentino turned to the mechanical fortuneteller and commanded, “Deal the cards. Keep dealing until I tell you to stop.”
I didn’t think automatons worked that way. I started to tell him that you had to ask it a question. However, sure enough, the “gypsy king” automaton started dealing the cards.
Beside the Wheel of Fortune, the automaton dealt the Tower and the Chariot. Valentino nodded sharply.
“Sipsing, you can stop,” he muttered and the automaton stilled. “Our chariot awaits,” he said calmly, as if there wasn’t a giant wheel headed toward us. “We have to get back to the train. This entire area has become unstable.”
The great Ferris wheel continued to careen through the amusement park. As it neared the main gate, we hurried to the train.
Metallic clattering caused us to turn. Dynamite and Boob-boom dragged the gypsy fortuneteller automaton ― still inside his booth ― to the train. Valentino looked aghast.
“Dynamite, what in the Sam Hill are you two doing?” I asked.
“Miss, we could not leave Sipsing behind. He is no ordinary automaton,” Dynamite drawled.
“Yes, Miss. His casing is golden like an angel-bot. Plus, he already had a name!” Boom-boom added as if that cleared up everything.
The train’s door closed behind me. I watched through the small window as the huge wheel crashed through the main gate. The amusement park sign split in half and the pieces sailed toward the train. I ducked reflexively, but it didn’t seem to strike the train.
Valentino’s trumpet played wildly. The uninhibited notes wrapped around my consciousness, seeping into my soul. I shivered as goosebumps appeared on my arms. I looked out the window again and the great wheel was mere feet away. There was no way the train could get out of its way in time.
Notes of a passionate refrain seemed to swirl from the loudspeakers. I felt the ground tremble beneath the train. In the distance some of the structures in the park collapsed. The Ferris wheel came closer. It looked like I could almost touch it if I were to lean out the window.
The trumpet’s notes flared to a crishindo. The train abruptly lurched with such force that the motion knocked me to the floor. All I could see beyond the window was a blur.
The train sped along. I didn’t know where we were headed. My wits were scattered after everything that happened in Atlantic City, whichever Atlantic City it might have been. Gramps retired to his sleeper car. I figured my grandfather needed some privacy, so I asked Dynamite to check on him, instead of going myself.
Rose, Pearl, and I headed for the automat. My pals said they weren’t hungry, but I talked them into going with me. The passages in the train seemed different. Pearl said she hadn’t noticed, but Rose agreed. It seemed to make her nervous and she kept looking over her shoulder.
We entered a very long compartment that I had never seen before. The entire length of the extended car was covered in murals done in a strange surreal style. Intricately detailed vignettes were tied together by a dark line that went from one end to the other. Closer inspection showed me the line was a road, with tiny highway signs denoting Route 66.
“What kind of art do you call this stuff?” I asked. “It looks like some sort of zozzled dream, but I like it. Horsefeathers, it’s so detailed!”
“That’s probably why you like it,” Pearl quipped. “Speaking of which…” she added removing a flask from her garter. “After all the scary stuff, I could use a jorum of skee.”
“Attagirl,” I responded when she passed the flask to me.
“The style is known as Pittura Metafisica,” Valentino answered.
The enigmatic man stood in the shadows. He held a paintbrush and palette. I supposed the mural was his work.
Pearl offered him her flask and commented, “That sounds like Italian.”
“You are correct, Pearl,” he added but stopped short. “Lulu, what are you doing?”
“It looks like I could walk right into the painting, just stroll into that bizarre dream,” I told him, mesmerized. “It just moved! I saw someone run down that street!”
Hand outstretched, I stepped toward the painting. Valentino dropped his art tools and lunged to put his hands around my waist, pulling me back.
“It looks like you could walk into it because sometimes you can walk into the painting. You don’t want to do that. It’s the most insanely dangerous thing anyone could do,” Valentino said heatedly.
His eyes bulged and a vein throbbed in his neck. It was the first time I had seen Valentino rattled.
Later, I swallowed the last bite of a hotdog as I left the automat. My Mary-Jane shoes clicked on the floor as I did a rock-step-triple-step of the Lindy Hop. I saw Valentino up ahead. He didn’t see me because he was messing around with some whatchamacallit that was part of the train.
The big orthophonic Victrola in the train’s control room blared out “Toot, Toot, Tootsie! Good-bye.” An angry look flashed across Valentino’s face. He hurried into the control room and the music abruptly stopped in the middle of another toot.
Naturally I wanted to know what would make him mad like that, so I quietly followed him into the room. I stopped in the shadows just inside the door.
Valentino opened what looked like a large brass compact. It was about the size of a dinner plate.
“You! Haven’t you made enough trouble? What do you want?” he spoke to the big compact.
I moved closer for a better look. A voice came from the brass thing. It was not familiar, but I had the unpleasant feeling that I should know that voice. Valentino shifted his stance and I had a clear view of the thing he held. It was a videophone!
There was an article about videophones in Science and Invention magazine, but I never thought I’d see one in person. Moving silently, I finally got into a position where I could see the person on the videophone. I recognized her. It was the woman from the tilt-a-whirl. It was Lauren, my mother.
“What I want is for you to tell my old man to beat it! You know I’m done with that life. You’ve got a lot of gall, letting him on your train. He’s got nothin’ I want, including the brat. Unless you’ve brought Priscilla back from the dead, I guess the redhead I saw was her. I’m going to blouse. Anybody who knows what’s good for ‘em won’t try to follow me. Understood?” Lauren said from the videophone.
My mother didn’t wait for a reply. She broke the connection.
Valentino seemed to sense my presence. He turned to face me.
“Lulu… I’m sorry you heard that. Although, maybe it’s best that you did.”
I shook my head, stunned at the vehemence of Lauren’s words. It made little difference that I was already pretty sure my mother was pure evil. (Chapter 4)
“I’m just glad Gramps didn’t hear it,” I murmured.
This Wednesday is a challenging workday for me. So I might not be able to attend comments as quickly as I’d like. However, I hope you’ll still leave a comment.
Real World Notes
Pittura Metafisica: Marked by a strong sense of solitude and melancholy, the uncanny and dreamlike urban spaces and enigmatic iconography were typical of Pittura Metafisica or “Metaphysical Painting.”
Route 66: Opened in 1926. For some fascinating tidbits you might not know, click here.
Videophones: Were first invented all the way back in the late 1800s, but they were refined in the 20s. For more click here.
Chanel No. 5: In 1921, a very clever designer and businesswoman created a scent that revolutionised the way women smell. About a 100 years later, Chanel No. 5 is still the world’s most iconic fragrance.
The Lindy Hop: Here’s how you do the foot-work!
I hope you’ll click over and check out Rob’s blog. You’ll find more fabulous images there. He’s not just a brilliant artist, he’s also an advocate for several important causes.
Horsefeathers! I’ve got to admire Lulu for her composure and for being well-adjusted. They escaped that rogue Ferris wheel unscathed.
Stay tuned for more spontaneously written fun. The things driving Chapter 9 are Jukebox, Star of David, and Bloshies. What would you do with those things to further this story? Applesauce… Right now I have pos-i-lutely no idea what I’m going to write…And what the Sam Hill is a Bloshie?
Where will that swell diesel-punk train will go next? I’ll see you at the station when Valentino’s train rolls up next week!
Thanks for visiting. You’re the cat’s pajamas!
Now some shameless self-promotion for my other 1920s books — the original “three things” stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka 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.
Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
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