Saturday, June 2 2018
Hello, everyone! No, you’re not confused — this is not Wednesday. However, my Saturday post this week looks a lot like Jazz Age Wednesdays. Rob Goldstein and I have been having so much fun with the diesel-punk series, Hullaba Lulu, that it’s hard to believe the first chapter premiered March 21st. So I thought I’d use my weekend post to write a chapter that’s sort of a review.
I’m using one item from the next set of “three things” that Rob sent to drive the story. So I’ll call this Chapter 9.1. My quirky image above has some hints about what’s to come in the future. That said…
… All aboard!
The engine gave a steady pulse that seemed to underlie everything. It reminded me of a heartbeat. I focused my hearing, trying to listen only to that vague background sound as I walked down the corridor in Valentino’s train. When I came to the door of the dimly lit control room someone grabbed my arm and pulled me inside.
“Shhh!” Pearl hissed. “You’ve got to see this.”
My fair-haired friend motioned to the Ouiji board that was connected to the stationary angel-bot in the train’s navigation controls.
“Oh, I saw it do that the first time,” I told her. “But there was a lot of messy ectoplasm then. It’s still pretty keen.”
Still holding my arm, Pearl tiptoed closer to the board, watching the triangular planchette. My grandfather and my other pal, Rose, stood near Valentino. I noticed several of the angel-bots who performed various tasks and services on the train had gathered at the back of the room. They leaned forward in what appeared to be anticipation, clicking softly to one another.
Moving steadily, the planchette pointed to the letters C, O, T. Then it made a jiggling move before pointing to T again. The quiet clicking of the angel-bots gradually increased in volume. The triangular device then pointed to O and N, with a slight pause before returning to C again.
I saw Valentino’s lips curve to a little one-sided smile. The angel-bots started to bounce up and down on their toes when the planchette finished spelling out the word Club.
“The Cotton Club? Is that where we’re going?” Rose queried.
It was obvious that the angel-bots were eager to go to the famous night club, but I wasn’t. I hoped to visit some far off, exotic place. This train adventure was probably the only chance I’d ever have to do go someplace like Paris, or Tokyo, or maybe Istanbul, or something.
“Back to New York already?” I asked in disappointment.
The mysterious man who simply named himself Valentino had made no promises. He offered to take us away from the seedy characters who showed an unhealthy interest in Rose.
I first saw the group of men in a Ford and thought they were revenuers. That was also the night we met Valentino. Later I learned those men were actually Russian spies, who were trying to get that Tom Driberg to work for them again. Yep, Tom the journalist was a spy. Tom said the Russians meant to nab Rose, whom he called Margosha, as leverage. He also claimed that Rose used to work with him as a spy. I still wasn’t sure of that was true about Rose, but an uneasy feeling in my gut said it was so.
Valentino’s train was not an ordinary machine. It whisked us to Atlantic City so fast that it seemed impossible. However, it turned out that place was not the amusement park we had visited many times. It was a weird version of the Atlantic City we knew. Anyhow, Tom Driberg and those Russian spies managed to tag along. They tried to grab Rose, but she got away.
I glimpsed my unlamented mother, Lauren. She abandoned Gramps and me when I was small. I wrote-off my mother long before that day. Everybody deserves the chance to be around decent people — even me. However, seeing her was very upsetting to my grandfather.
The tilt-a-whirl in the park was doing crazy things. Laruen jumped onto it and disappeared in its flashing lights. Later, when the Russians cornered Tom Driberg, he also used the tilt-a-whirl to get away. We didn’t know where either Lauren or Tom may have gone. I was fine with that.
Valentino kept Gramps from following Lauren (his daughter). He said it was impossible for the tilt-a-whirl to go to the same place twice, so Gramps would not be able to catch up with her.
Meanwhile the entire amusement park became unstable. Buildings started to collapse. The great Ferris wheel broke free, demolishing everything in its path. The huge wheel careened toward us. We all escaped on the train, in the nick of time, leaving the Russian spies behind. Who could say what happened to them, but no one seemed to think they would be able to follow us.
Dejectedly, I went to the automat. I dipped a celery stalk from my bloody mary into a tiny bowl of horseradish before loudly crunching it. Then I stirred a little more of the grated spicy root into my drink. I loved the automat on Valentino’s train. The cocktail was so delicious that I almost forgot why I went to the vending car in the first place.
Valentino told us to be sure and go to the automat to get money from a machine there. We’d need it at the Cotton Club. I was sure I had enough mazuma to pay my own way, but horsefeathers, if he wanted it to be his treat, I’d let him.
I did the Camel Walk over to the currency exchange machine, but dancing didn’t cheer me up like it usually did.
Opening the chrome and glass door of a compartment, I removed an envelope of cash. When I examined it, I noticed the dollar bills were wrong. Where the pyramid on the back should have had the Eye of Providence, it had an Eye of Horus instead.
Then I realized that just as Atlantic City had not been the same city I knew, New York City was likely to be sideways too. That’s what Sipsing the Gypsy king fortuneteller-bot said at the amusement park when I asked him if we’d gone back in time ― sideways.
As I placed the packet of money into my beaded handbag, I heard the soft clockwork clicking of angel-bots behind me. Wicky, Wacky, and Woo bounced on their toes in what could only be excitement. I tried to say something nice to the angel-bots, but my heart wasn’t in it.
“Yes, Miss. We love the Cotton Club. Dynamite is going to sing. He doesn’t know it, but we’ve made sure Hot Ginger will be there to hear him,” Wacky told me in a conspiratorial tone.
I had to smile at the housekeeping bot’s Bronx accent. It seemed so out of place, but that’s what I liked about it. It was wacky to fit his name. I had named several of the angel-bots. A quick impulse caused me to base their names on the song, Back in Nagasaki. It turned out that they were ecstatic about getting names.
The angel-bots opened the same compartment that I had just emptied. As if by magic, it contained three more envelopes of currency. I decided I really needed to learn more about Valentino’s train. Then a disconcerting thought came to me.
“Do you notice anything… funny about this money?” I asked the trio of angel-bots. “I mean on the pyramid? It’s not counterfeit or anything is it?”
“No, Miss. The automat gives us the correct currency for whatever place the train stops,” Woo assured me in her Chinese sounding accent.
It was intriguing that despite the fact that the angel-bots looked mostly alike, their voices were apparently unique. I asked Woo about hers, and if she came from China.
“No, Miss. I my voice comes from Shanghai. But in that Shanghai Night Raid 1931 happened in 1921.
Just then Boom-boom walked into the automat. He was as excited as his fellow bots about going to the club. Woo quickly told him my concerns about the funny looking money.
“Not to worry,” Boom-boom told me in that posh British voice. “It’s not a trick from the Bolshies or any of those Russian spies who followed us to Atlantic City. The automat never fails to provide the correct provisions,” he added with a half-bow.
I had to give a nod to one of my favorite anime series, Night Raid 1931. The artwork in it never fails to amaze me.
Real World Notes
About the “bloody mary”
Is there any wonder we often have trouble communicating? The English language can be so subjective and confusing. As a career technical editor and writer, I often tell people to choose a style and stick with it. The Chicago Manual of Style has the clearest rule for cocktail and food names: Don’t capitalize these terms unless the names literally refer to the city or person. For example, Chicago says don’t capitalize “swiss cheese” unless you mean cheese that comes from Switzerland. Also if you follow the Chicago rules, you wouldn’t capitalize “irish coffee” or the “french fries.”
San Francisco artist Rob Goldstein is taking a break from the illustrations for Hullaba Lulu. He’s worked very hard, and is having some well deserved time away. Rob has also made several videos for the “Lulu-verse” — and in doing so, he has created a soundtrack for the series, filled with Roaring Twenties songs. You can see the entire collection of videos here.
If you haven’t gotten on the train, you can catch up by clicking the Hullaba Lulu category on the right side of the page. You’ll meet Lulu, her Gramps, friends Rose and Pearl, and some other characters as they begin a journey with an enigmatic man who only calls himself Valentino. Listen for the trumpet’s call and the conductor’s announcement, All aboard! That’s here each week for Jazz Age Wednesdays.
Thanks for taking time to visit. I love your comments, so be sure to say hello. You’re the cat’s pajamas!
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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
Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein
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