All New Serial: Brother Love — 1 A House at the Crossroads

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Brother Love promo image

Brother Love collage by Teagan Geneviene

Happy weekend, everyone! It seems like such a long time since I did an “interactive” serial with reader participation.  Well, I’m finally back with a new spontaneously written, pantser story done in my “Three Things” way of writing.  I’m delighted to bring you the first installment today!

Blogger Dan Antion collaborates with me on this new story.  He provides photos to inspire me and illustrate the posts.  He also gives me two of the “three things” that drive this unplanned serial.  The third thing comes from you the reader!

Some of you read the original introduction I posted recently, when I shared how this idea began about a year ago.  I’ve revised it to fit this collaborative effort and include the first three things.  Now that part is Chapter 1 — but first I have the Prologue.  On a whim I added a character that suddenly came to mind. Like I said, this is full-on pantser storytelling.

This time, all three things will be from Dan, but after that I will start including reader “things.” 

Oh, and I went pos-i-lutely off the rails and narrated the last part of the prologue as an extra bit of punishment. The sound bite bar is at the end of the prologue and before chapter one.

Without further ado, I present to you…. Brother Love.

Brother Love 1

Prologue — A Sinnerman

Dead Trees mysterious area snow roadside Dan Antion

Mysteriously dead trees, by Dan Antion

On a moonlit night, a dark figure sat on the corpse of a fallen tree.  He touched the narrow brim of his Trilby style hat, pushing it back from his brow.  Patiently he tuned a guitar.  Long fingers deftly twisted the tuning knobs.  Wooden pegs would have been typical.  These were made of ivory.

No, they’re not just ivory, they’re made of bones, Jinx silently reminded himself.  I wonder if they came from one of the old graves here?

Any grave stones were long gone, if there ever were any in the first place.  Only the town’s oldest residents knew the clearing near the crossroads had been a graveyard.  Even they wouldn’t have been able to say whether it was a potter’s field or an old Choctaw burial ground.

African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery

African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, by Dan Antion

With head tilted, Jinx waited eagerly for the music he hoped to hear.  For a moment he thought he should give some encouragement, ask for a song.  Yet discretion seemed the better course.  Jinx remained quietly hidden in shadow.

Those graceful long fingers caressed the guitar’s neck, and then tested the sound at each fret, every chord.  Casually a thumb strummed across the strings. 

Excited, Jinx leaned forward toward the vibration of the music that emanated from the guitar’s sound hole.

Jinx had positioned his hiding place so he could also see the crossroads.  Yet he didn’t notice the approach of the powerfully built man.  Jinx was too intent in his anticipation of the music.  His heart skipped a beat with surprise, but he didn’t move a muscle.

Foolish! Jinx mentally chided himself.  This is no place to let your guard down.

He watched the approach of the big man in fascination.  Sweat soaked the armpits of the white shirt.  The heat and humidity of an August night in Mississippi didn’t bother Jinx, but Doug Armstrong had never gotten used to the climate.

Preacher inside a church, back turned

Photo by Dan Antion

Long strides slowed as Doug approached the figure who sat in a relaxed pose on the fallen tree.  Though his manner was reluctant, it seemed clear that the encounter was not by chance.  Even so, Doug stopped well out of arm’s reach.

Doug Armstrong mutely watched the man as he finished tuning the guitar.  The sweat of the big man’s brow glittered in the moonlight.

Jinx thought Doug perspired more than most men.  Although he had good reason to be in a nervous sweat.  That place, the crossroads, the dark figure ― Doug would have been stupid to relax.

Abruptly, those dark, graceful fingers stopped strumming the guitar.  He held it out to Doug, offering the instrument.  Armstrong took a step backward.  His arms remained stiffly at his sides.

The other gave him a kind smile.  He chuckled softly.  Then mischief glinted in his coal black eyes and he played the guitar and sang.

With the first words of the song, Doug’s face blanched.  He turned to walk away.  He moved faster and faster until he ran through the night, away from the crossroads.

Guitar head stock BW_Simone Pixaby

Simone at Pixaby

“What about you, magpie?” the musician called up toward the trees.  “Care to come down here and sing with me?”

The figure went back to the song that seemed to frighten Doug Armstrong away.

Oh, sinnerman, where you gonna run to?  Sinnerman where you gonna run to?  All on that day!” he sang and played.

Jinx burst from his hiding place and flew home as fast as his wings would carry him. 

***

1 — A House at the Crossroads

Baseball, Excited, and Pickles

House at a crossroads

Antranias at Pixaby

In the summer, leaves hung down so far, they almost reached the sweet-smelling grass on the ground.  Moths clung to the screen, attracted to the kitchen light.

Earlier that day, sitting in my little house at the crossroads, I listened to the sharp crack of a bat hitting a baseball from the ballgame that had started up in the field next to the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  People cheered their teams and made happy sounds.

From the other side of the tracks, I heard the bell of the First Methodist Church up in the town.  When the breeze was right, I could hear the Wurlitzer organ as the choir practiced.  Folks were excited about that organ.  I preferred the sound of their old piano.

The two churches were on either side of the town.  The crossroads lay between the two.  Nobody from either of them ever came to the house at the crossroads.  Neither group wanted anything to do with Birdie Devovo. By the way, that would be me.

Church reflected in river Dan Antion

Church reflected in the river, by Dan Antion

When the sun finally hid behind the horizon, the heat remained.  I fanned myself futilely with a mimeographed flyer.  It did nothing to alleviate the heat of the night, and the cloying odor of the ink turned my stomach.

I stared at the wet circles on the formica tabletop as the ice melted in my glass of sweet tea.  Absently I wondered if some pickle juice would remove the rings.

At last a breeze! I thought with a sigh.

It rustled the pages of the Pan Am calendar hanging on the wall.  August exclaimed “Back to Hawaii” and boasted a man and woman disembarking a plane while greeted by hula dancers and musicians.  That scene was too far-fetched for my imagination.

I liked July better.  It showed a couple, suitcases in hand, laughing and walking fast.  Yes, I liked that one best.  They could be anyone, going anywhere… maybe the girl could even me.

PahAM to Hawaii ad

Pan Am ad 1960s

The mimeographed flyer floated on the breeze from the table down to the cracked and faded linoleum floor.

For the umpteenth time I wondered who came all the way to the outside of town to leave it, but I was glad I missed them.  They left the ad on the front door.  Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show, it read.

Thunder rumbled faintly, very far away.  Maybe there would be rain.

Or maybe not, I thought as I put the damp glass to my forehead.

It had been hot and humid for so long that the heavenly rumble seemed like an empty threat.

I crawled half-under the table to pick up the flyer.  The kitchen light flickered and popped, causing me to bump my head.  Then all the lights went out.

The screen door creaked open.  Normally it would bang shut, but it closed softly. 

At the sound of footsteps, I scrunched the rest of the way under the table.

***

Real World Notes — Hats Back in the Day

I was torn between two different hats when I wrote the prologue. So, in these notes, I’ll share both.  Since I imagine K.C. Collins in the part of the (as yet) unnamed figure with the guitar, I went with the Trilby he often wears in his role as Hale on “Lost Girl.”

KC Collins

K.C. Collins sports a Trilby

Trilby Hats.  The Trilby style has a narrow brim and might be made from rabbit hair, tweed, straw or wool, and pinched on both sides with an indented crown.  The front brim is snapped down, but the back brim is turned upward.  The trilby may be finished with a ribbon and a feather.

The Trilby hat was used in a 1894 illustration for the novel “Trilby” by George du Maurier.  The novel was an international success.  The heroine was named Trilby.

Many say the Trilby is a bastardization of the Fedora.  However, others believe it modernized the look of men’s hats.

Pork Pie Hats.   A small round hat with a narrow and curled brim, finished with a ribbon is known as a pork pie hat.  The crown is either flat or slightly domed, with a crease running along the crown perimeter.  As you may have guessed, “pork pie” is a term used to describe hats symbolically resembling the culinary British pork pie dish.

Early in the 20th century, film star Buster Keaton immortalized the hat for men.  He owned more than 1,000 of the hats in his lifetime.

A slightly enlarged style of the pork pie became popular during the Great Depression of the 1930s.   It was preferred by Frank Lloyd Wright and jazz musicians.  Its popularity grew again during the 1940s.

***

Heartfelt thanks for being here for the first episode of Brother Love!  If you want to participate by leaving a “thing” to be included in a future episode, please make a comment.  Remember this is a mysterious story, set in rural Mississippi of the late 1950s to early 1960s. 

I’ll meet you at the crossroads again next Saturday!  Hugs on the wing.

***

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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 ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

130 thoughts on “All New Serial: Brother Love — 1 A House at the Crossroads

  1. Pingback: Brother Love 2 — A Shadow | Teagan's Books

  2. Sorry I’m so late Teagan! WordPress decided to remove you from my list again…boo. I love the mood of this story and can’t wait to see where it goes. I never knew there was a hat made from rabbit fur. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a treat! As always you’ve come up with a setting and characters that are inspired and unique and I already feel as though I know them. Love the mystery of the man at the crossroads and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh oh, I sense trouble blowing on the wind. The crossroads is a strange place under normal circumstances, but you’ve created a gem here, Teagan. I can’t wait to see how it grows from chapter to chapter. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. well done – and thanks for the audio track – such a great inclusion.
    and one little feedback – there is some distracting background noise in the track – two sounds actually – and not sure if you used a mic – but just thought I’d mention it

    Like

      • oh it was not like a mistake (to me) I just thought I would mention it because it is not that hard to remove background noise – and so sorry if it came across wrong – because seriously – adding that was brilliant.
        for many reasons – like we get the personal nuances of the voice – and all this flavor.
        and today it seems many of us have reading fatigue (I noticed that with my books – people stil ask if I am offering audio versions soon – and whew – hope to eventually) –
        and so please know that i know this is a free-flowing project – and so far so great –
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You are off to a banging start!! This story doesn’t have any light intro – it’s already full of ‘undercurrents’ and of course your trademark cliffhanger ending! Nice work, Teagan!! I’m already impatient to read more 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Inese, welcome to my new serial! Yes, the story has a two part inspiration. My original idea (a year ago, when I didn’t have time to write it) was inspired by Neil Diamond’s song. When the idea came back to mind this year I was also inspired by the old blues legend of Robert Johnson. However, the story will be another urban fantasy, just set several decades ago. You’re far too kind about the narration, I blush. ^^’ Huge thanks for visiting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Remember what I told you many months ago about kindness, Rob. It’s not a charity or insincere. Kindness is one of the most important things in the world, one of the greatest qualities a person can have. ❤ 🙂

          For the rural Mississippi setting (since you've spoken to me once, you can probably tell) that I ladled on the accent much thicker than I would really speak. But it felt right for this story. I'd love to be able to narrate the whole thing. Maybe when the story is finished.
          Great big hug, my friend.

          Like

  7. Teagan, my name is Ginger. I am not a blogger, but I do follow a select group of blogs, one of which is Dan’s No Facilities. I clicked on his link to your blog and I was hooked by, “a dark figure sat on the corpse of a fallen tree”. Nope, didn’t take much persuading to get me on board!

    Dan’s photos, which he shared in an earlier blog, intrigued me, and I wondered where in the world they would take you. This whole process is fascinating, and I can’t wait to see where you two creative thinkers will take us. This is going to be a fun ride, and I hope you don’t mind a non-blogger tagging along.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome Ginger! I’m delighted that you are part of this story from the beginning! No one has to be a blogger, not by any means. Mentioning their blogs just gives me an easy way to give folks a shout-out. If you want to leave a “thing” for the story, you are certainly welcome to participate too.
      Thanks for mentioning that particular line/scene. That’s great feedback for me.
      Once again, a big warm welcome to you. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

    • Hi MaryJ! I really appreciate your specific feedback. I meant the word “corpse” to create a feeling along with the visual. So I’m delighted to know that I did. While I typed it out right away, for some reason I went back to it at least three times, deciding whether to keep the word.
      Thanks very much for being part of this story from the beginning. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michael. I’m so happy that you enjoyed this first part of the new serial. I realize some parts (where the “culture” comes into the setting) may sound strange to you. So feel free to ask any questions you want. That will be good feedback for me.

      Ha! Yes, I put the paint, brushes and rollers away for this weekend. The weeding is on hold too, because I’m having a bad allergic reaction. I could frighten the creature from the black lagoon if he saw me! LOL.

      Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Teagan! Thank you, i will do, if in need. But is great. A good choice to rest this weekend, the color bottle will not fly away. 😉
        Hope you will overcome the allergic reaction, as long keep away from the chemicals. Best wishes, Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Teagan, I am a new follower lured over by Dan Antion. I am glad I am here at the beginning! I am excited to follow along on your journey.

    As for a thing, an old cardboard hand-held church fan might come in handy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh my, what energy, and loved the feel of this Teagan.. I hope dear friend you have settled into your own new place now.. And loved listening to your voice!… I often listen to Audio books and could listen for ever to your voice..
    Sending LOVE your way Teagan… Special hugs from an absent friend.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sue, it’s always such a pleasure to see you and receive your encouragement. Oh goodness, you are so very kind about the narrated snip. I’ve always wanted to narrate one of my books.
      Rob had told me that I have a “soft” southern accent. Some people think I don’t have one at all. Vowels are a dead giveaway though. A three letter word like the name Pat, can take five symbols before it finishes leaving my mouth!
      I always say it comes and goes. The accent *goes* completely when I’m in full business mode. It *comes* when I’m feeling playful, or very relaxed, or in the company of a similar accent.
      Since this story is set in the rural deep south, I slathered it on quite a bit thicker than I naturally speak. Still, like I say — it comes and goes.

      I’m gradually getting settled, meeting neighbors, and making the cottage my own. I’m dealing with a bad allergic reaction to the weeds I’ve been stubbornly pulling most days. My eyelids and arms and hands (it got down inside my long gloves) are broken out, and the allergic feeling inside the chest and throat (and sinuses). Otherwise, it’s going well. I finished painting my bedroom/bathroom, and the tiny living room. I still have the rest of the house to paint. My agoraphobia is still a problem, but I’ve made a little progress with it. As a friend reminded me, the fact that I’m going outside at all is progress.
      I’m so happy you came to visit this new story.
      Love & hugs from across the miles!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fabulous that you are making progress, and sorry to hear about the weed allergy, I am allergic to certain weeds when gardening too, and I can not pick the Kidney beans I love to eat, because the leaves bring me out in a rash too.. So good to hear you are decorating and getting to know people..
        And that Southern Drawl….. is beautiful.. Being English, I hear it.. But then my English is far from the Queens English and my accent is very pronounced as being a mixture of Derbyshire and Yorkshire…. While I think I speak English LOL.. When listening back on any recording.. I have a broad accent.. Big smiles..
        I have not been around much on WP of late Teagan.. And was so pleased I landed on the story today..
        Have a Super Week.. Much love my friend ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Off to a fantastic start. This story gives me the feels. Heightens all my senses. Hopefully we’ll see more of Birdie Devovo. I always cheer for the outcast. Looking forward to next Saturday.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m probably tempting fate by drawing attention to it but… I lost the remaining tatters of my sanity and narrated the last part of the prologue as an extra bit of punishment. The black sound bite bar is at the end of the prologue and before chapter one. (It’s not an ad.)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree with Dan about the heat remaining after dark. You can feel it coming up from the ground like fingers trying to escape the earthly bonds. (jeez, where did that description come from?)

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m hooked, Teagan. This story already feels right. I’m in the south, it’s hot and something is not right. I love the line about the heat remaining after the sun is gone. I’ve only experienced summer in the south one time, but yeah, the heat remained. I’m curious to see the magpies role in this story.

    Thanks for inviting me to work with you. I can’t wait to see where your taking us. I hope you have a great weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s music to my ears, Fraggle! Camera is a terrific thing for this story. Hmmm I could go really spooky with that. 😉 I’ll give you a shout out when I use it. That’s one purpose of making the story “interactive” — so I can give a mini promo to other bloggers.
      Now, I’m off for a round of shopping at local thrift stores with my friend from the next town. Maybe I’ll find even more inspiration there. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great opening, Teagan! Mystery, supernatural, music, hats… And Dan’s images are perfect. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of things but… Hymn book? In case you need it. Looking forward to the next episode.

    Liked by 2 people

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