Brother Love 3 — A Hymn

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Brother Love promo image

Brother Love composite by Teagan R. Geneviene

Welcome back to the crossroads everyone!   

 I should probably begin with a disclaimer.  This story is not about religion, nor is it a social commentary — that’s just part of the setting.  I also want you to understand that I approach this aspect of the story carefully.  While the story includes ways that I knew well and was involved in as a child, as an adult I acquired my own unique spirituality. 

That said, last time in A Shadow, now you learned some of the backstory for the Doug Armstrong character.  Today I wanted to tell you how his character came to be. 

You already know that Dan Antion provides photos to inspire me and illustrate this story —  and that he gives me two of the “three things” that drive each episode of this unplanned serial.  Shortly after I asked Dan to collaborate with me, we had a conversation about the Brother Love preacher of the Neil Diamond song.

Dan told me about an evangelist who made an unforgettable impact on him as a young man.  The preacher had a past.  Well, that didn’t fit with my idea of the title character.  However, that preacher inspired my “partner in crime” so I wanted to use it somehow. 

Church reflected in river Dan Antion

Church reflected in the river, by Dan Antion

Our discussion reminded me of a visiting preacher I encountered as a little girl.  He was youngish, and a little doughy, with a ruddy complexion.  He was also a very large, long legged guy.  The man would preach so hard that sweat just rolled off him.  He always had a big white handkerchief to mop his face.  Then when he really got excited, he would go to the back of the church and run across the tops of the pews, sometimes even skipping one, to the front, as the congregation shouted praise!

The Doug Armstrong character is inspired by a combination of the evangelist with a checkered past who made such an impression on Dan, and this astonishing figure from my childhood.  One day soon, at his blog, No Facilities, Dan will do his own post about his inspiration.

For Chapter 3, the “things” from Dan are Fog and Fox.  The third thing is one Olga Núñez Miret suggested, “Hymnal.”

Fog, by Dan Antion

Fog, by Dan Antion

It’s time to go to the crossroads.

Chapter 2.  Doug Armstrong stopped at Birdie Devovo’s house at the crossroads moments after the lights went out.  He said he saw someone moving around on the porch.  Birdie certainly thought someone was inside.   Yet, was it odd that Doug should be there at that specific moment?  Was it random chance?  Or did it happen by design?  If so, then whose design?

Brother Love

3 — A Hymn

Fog, Fox, and Hymnal

Rusted old tractor, photo by Dan Antion

Rusted old tractor, photo by Dan Antion

Jinx soared along a current of air.  Dawn’s light touched his feathers, making the magpie seem to glow.  Watching fog roll into a low area, he knew it would be another hot, humid day.

He alighted on the rusted out remains of an old tractor.  Keen eyes watched for the first morsel of the morning, a beetle, maybe a caterpillar.

Then he heard a guitar.  The sound came from the graveyard.  All thoughts of the insect forgotten, he flew toward the music.  Jinx loved blues that much.

He perched tentatively on a spruce-pine branch.  Dawn’s light had yet to penetrate the fog to illumine the cemetery.  In the shadows below, he could make out a dark figure, sitting on a tombstone.  Long fingers reached intricate, but deeply mournful chords.

A single ray of light found a way through branches and fog to reflect on the polished surface of the guitar.  Coal-black eyes looked up at Jinx.  The musician winked.

“Here, there ain’t nobody going to care how bad you are,” he said with a motion of one hand to include the graveyard.  “So, go ahead and sing along.  I know you could if you wanted to.”

He shifted on his tombstone seat and strummed an upbeat tune.

Jinx swooped down to roost on the gravestone opposite the musician.

With a grin, he looked at the magpie.  His dark eyes never went to the frets or strings of the instrument as he played.  It was as if the guitar was part of him.  Then he started to sing.

Hot tamales and they’re red hot.  Yeah, she got ’em for sale, hey.  Hot tamales and they’re red hot.  Oh, she got ’em for sale…

*********

Morning light streamed through the kitchen window.  Motes floated along the sunbeam paths.

There’s nothing like sunshine to shake off a bad night, I thought, as I poured the last drop of Maxwell House into my coffee cup.

A pecking sound at the window caused me to turn.  I opened the window and the magpie flew across the room to roost on the open door of the birdcage.

“I thought something happened to you, Jinx.  I haven’t seen you in weeks,” I admonished the bird as if he could understand me.

Vintage birdcage, by Dan Antion

Vintage birdcage, by Dan Antion

There had always been a magpie.  My mother said his name was Jinx.  She said her mother gave him to her. 

Jinx came and went as he pleased.  Now and then he would disappear for a while, sometimes weeks or months.  Once he was gone for more than a year.

I knew magpies weren’t usually found in Mississippi.  I also knew it couldn’t be the same bird every time he came back.  The magpie would have been more than sixty years old if that was the case.  Yet he was always named Jinx.

A strawberry was leftover on my breakfast plate.  I saw Jinx eye it, so I gave him the berry.  He started the random noises that he usually made before trying to sing.  I figured he was pretty happy.

Are you washed in the blood?  Soul cleansing blood of the lamb,” Jinx sang.

“Where did you learn that song?” I asked in surprise, as if he could tell me.

I remembered it from the old church hymnal.  It was probably my least favorite hymn.

Pages of a Methodist hymnal, by Dan Antion

Pages of a Methodist hymnal, by Dan Antion

“But it’s better than the sound of hound dogs chasin’ down a hoodoo,” I muttered aloud.

A chorus of distant baying met my ears.  I got up to close the window and shut out the unpleasant sound.  The dogs probably thought they smelled a fox.  However, sometimes I thought the hounds just imagined it for an excuse to bark.

Hoodoo washed in the blood,” Jinx sang, mixing up the words.

“Maybe you should go back outside, Jinx,” I commented dryly.

The magpie flew to perch on the windowsill.

“All right, Jinx.  In or out.  What’ll it be?  I’m going to close this window.”

The magpie leaned out and looked toward the old road that ran behind my house.  Curious, I leaned as well, when I saw a Ford headed our way, on the seldom traveled road. 

It was unusual enough for anyone to take the back road, but that was also a relatively new car.  Most folks in Parliament, Mississippi couldn’t afford late model automobiles.

The car slowed and pulled into the gravel driveway.  A woman stepped out of the car.  She looked ordinary enough.  Her hair was short, curly, with thick bangs.  She walked toward the house, waving when she saw me at the window.

I went outside to see what made her stop.  Then I saw a little girl inside the Ford.  The child seemed to be struggling to get out of the car.

Fox, photo by Dan Antion

Fox, photo by Dan Antion

“Tammy, now I told you to stay in the car.  We can’t be bothering this lady,” the woman called over her shoulder.  “Thank goodness for seat-belts.  I nearly ran off the road when a fox ran out in front of me while ago,” she told me.  “Thank heaven and safety belts, Tammy wasn’t hurt.”

That situation seemed odd.  Not all cars had safety belts, and when they did, most people cut the uncomfortable things out and threw them away.

Jinx flew to the Ford and perched on the side mirror.  The girl trilled with delight.  The magpie stayed just out of her reach.

When the woman saw them, she screamed and ran toward the car.  Jinx made haste up into the branches of the magnolia tree.

“He wouldn’t hurt her,” I called as I ran behind the woman.  “He’s tame!”

“Where did he go?” the girl asked excitedly.  “He talks.  He’s a talking bird!”

“I’m sorry,” the woman apologized for her panic.  “Tammy is a free bleeder.  The least scratch and…  Anyhow, I’m sorry to trouble you, but I’ve made a wrong turn.  We’re trying to get to a revival meeting near Parliament, Mississippi.”

Hemophilia, I thought.  That would make any parent nervous.  I wonder if that’s her mother though.  They don’t seem to look much alike.

Tammy obligingly held out a copy of the same mimeographed flyer that was left on my door.  Inside the car I noticed the back seat filled with pillows and blankets, a drink box and other things.

Antique globe showing the Mississippi Delta, by Dan Antion

Antique globe showing the Mississippi Delta, by Dan Antion

I walked beside the woman when she went to open the car’s trunk.  She extracted a stuffed animal and handed it to Tammy.  I looked down at the license plate.  I didn’t recognize the county name, but I never did know much about the world beyond my home.

“You came a long way just for a revival service,” I remarked.

The woman looked at me with desperation in her eyes.

“They say Brother Love has healing hands.  Last year Tammy got hurt at school.  She nearly died from a cut that wouldn’t have needed more than a Band-Aid for another child.  The hospital bills took everything we had.  But I couldn’t sell the car for one without seat-belts.  I just couldn’t take the chance,” the woman explained through a nervous smile.

I was pretty sure those two were on their own, without much help from anyone else.  I certainly knew what that was like.  So, I invited them to come into the house for something cooling to drink.

Birdie Devovo's house as imagined by Dan Antion

Birdie Devovo’s house as imagined by Dan Antion

“Do you have any hot tamales?  They’re red hot!” Tammy asked a whimsical seeming question of which only a small child would think.

I laughed in surprise.

“What?” the woman turned to the child and asked.  “Honestly I don’t know where she gets these things.  She doesn’t even know what a tamale is.

Maybe Tammy could have seen into the kitchen window.  She looked at the house and then at me.

“I like July better than August too,” she told me.

The woman had the restless expression of someone who wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else.  I had seen the look in my mother’s eyes all too often.  I wasn’t surprised when she declined my offer of refreshments.

Ready to Travel statue Dan Antion

Ready to Travel, by Dan Antion

I wondered if they had the same PanAm calendar that hung on my kitchen wall.  How else would Tammy come up with that comment about July and August?

As the Ford got back on the road, I looked toward my kitchen window.  The calendar wasn’t visible from the spot where the car had been.

From the branches of the magnolia tree, Jinx started singing Washed in the Blood again.

The sound of the Ford’s engine faded into the distance.  I liked the July calendar better than August, but how could the child know? 

I had an uncomfortable feeling that I couldn’t quite describe.  It was making me irritable.

“For pity’s sake, Jinx.  Sing something else,” I said.

Hot tamales and they’re red hot.  Oh, she got ’em for sale,” the magpie sang.

End Chapter 3.

***

I gave Dan the added challenge of choosing just the right image for Birdie’s house.  It needed to reflect the location, Birdie’s status, and her economic level.  Plus, since I had already mentioned her porch and screen door, that needed to be included.  Dan really rose to the challenge.  He did a fantastic job with the yellow house image you saw above. Kudos, Dan!

Here’s Dan’s Thursday Doors post about Birdie’s house.

Real World Notes — A Hoodoo

When used as “a hoodoo,” in this story the term does not mean a religion or practice.  “Chasing down a hoodoo” was a phrase John Fogerty used when he wrote the song Born on the Bayou.  Fogerty said, “(A) Hoodoo is a magical, mystical, spiritual, non-defined apparition, like a ghost or a shadow, not necessarily evil, but certainly other-worldly.”

***

Heartfelt thanks for reading 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.

***

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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.

 

124 thoughts on “Brother Love 3 — A Hymn

  1. Pingback: My Time Machine – #SoCS – No Facilities

  2. I loved Chapter 3, Teagan. So colorful and interesting with Tammy and the calendar. I’m intrigued by what may come next.

    The first two things that came to mind for future episodes were Coke and a Harley-Davidson motorcyle. That’s probably not helpful, but at least they were both around during your time period.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s great to see you, MaryJ. Oh, those are terrific things! Where I grew up, any “soda” was called a Coke. If you were ordering somewhere, and you said you wanted a Coke, then you would be asked what kind of Coke? Because one might mean a Sprite or even a Ne-hi Orange. There were huge metal cases filled with ice and all the soft drinks, for out door occasions in the summer. “Coke” will certainly help set a scene.
      Tummy rubs to Gibbs and Ziva. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

      • I have fond memories from childhood when the family would stop at the Big Boy restaurant for lunch and I could order a cherry Coke. Cokes were cokes in my neck of the woods, but it makes me smile that it was the term for all sodas in your area. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, yes, Shoney’s Big Boy drive-ins! (Other areas had something other than Shoney’s or just plain Big Boy.) What a hang out that was. My favorite was their cherry-lemon Sprite. And a slim Jim. And a hot fudge sundae…
          “Coke” being a generic term caused no small amount of confusion for out-of-towners at restaurants.
          Have a smooth coast down the other side of the midweek hump.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jan. I’m delighted you enjoyed our collaboration. Maxwell House and Folgers… just the names make me hear the sound of an old percolator.
      I know my time-frame for the setting is vague, but 1965 (invention date) is stretching it. I’ll use “Spaghetti” and give you a shout out when it comes into the story. 🙂
      Hugs on the wing.

      Like

    • Thanks so much, GP. These serials are a lot of work — both creative and otherwise. It’s the interactions they create with other people that make them so very worthwhile. Not to mention the fun creative challenge.
      The things Dan gave me for next week are “Round Domino” and the number “Nine.”
      Right now I have Birdie headed into Parliament to the Post Office. I’m not sure which reader “thing” will be there. 😀 Many thanks for visiting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous episode, Teagan. The yellow house is perfect. I love how you are weaving characters and new and old stories together. Will Jinx and the little girl have a connection? So many wonderful “what if’s”.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love the way you’re able to write from the perspective of a bird with a fully formed world view. The discussion of how the story emerged brought back memories of revival shows from childhood in South Carolina. Your skill as a writer is always impressive, Teagan, and Dan is doing a splendid job with the images.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Rob. That means a lot to me.
      About the meetings, even as a child I was fascinated by the behavior of people (adults) in church and particularly in those revival services.

      About the bird, I really enjoy writing from an animal’s point of view. With Jinx, I’m holding back, because I am still uncertain about precisely *what* he is. Yes he is a magpie, but at this point, I don’t know if he is more than merely a bird. As for the written part of the story, I intend to leave everyone wondering at least a little about that and about the guitarist too. That’s part of the mystery of the story.

      Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robbie. Ha! I didn’t expect the child either. Not even a little. Then Dan and I were bouncing photo ideas around, and I saw that I needed her to move the story along. Even then I didn’t realize she would be sick, but suddenly that fit perfectly. I’m not sure if her role will extend the duration of the serial, but she will be back.
      Thanks for coming to the crossroads. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

    • Hi Staci. Thanks for making it out to the crossroads. I know it must be a busy weekend. I’m relieved that you can see some threads. That’s the difficult part early in a story that is as completely unplanned as these serials are — laying those threads in the first place. I appreciate your encouragement. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I continue to be drawn in to your wonderful story. I’m immediately taken by Tammy and her mother. Hope to see more of them.

    Then there is Jinx. Loves music as much as I do. 😂 I’m making my own stuff up. Could he really be a sixty year old Jinx instead of a different bird except for the same name? Fictional and magical.

    Happy Saturday. See you next week at the crossroads.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jinx got some nice lyrics added to the hymn. Hot tamales are my favorite. Thinking about evangelists with checkered pasts, and sweaty, theatrical preachers, I’ve experienced a fair share over my lifetime. Many years ago it seemed like being an evildoer who was pulled from the darkness into the light of salvation was a necessary credential to be considered a legitimate evangelist — It maybe still. Sweaty theatrics can make for great entertainment. An interesting tidbit about old hymns, is that master hymnodists/poets like Isaac Watts (1674-1748, wrote 750 hymns) and Charles Wesley (1707-1788, wrote more than 6,000 hymns) mostly wrote hymns in fixed metrical patterns. The fixed meters made it so the same hymn could be sung to various popular melodies and the words fit to each tune. Examples of fixed meters include: Common Meter — alternating lines of eight and six syllables per line. Long Meter — all lines are eight syllables, and Short Meter —first, second and fourth lines are six syllables, while the third is eight syllables. Have a great Caturday.
    .

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m enjoying the story, Teagan. I like the way(religious and folk) magic is just part of daily life and taken for granted. The tone of the story is compelling and the mystery just right. I can hear the southern twang as I read. Great job!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Excellent use of Dan’s photos – your intriguing words add to the charm of his photos. I guessed wrong on the house photo – but you’re right, that’s a perfect house to use for your story. Nice job!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I was hoping the house would be the yellow one. It’s just perfect! Dan is playing a big part in where this story is going because his photos are driving your prose. You two are a great team.

    So now we have mysterious Tammy in the mix. And her mom looking for a miracle cure from Brother Love. And how can you not love Jinx?!! And he can sing to boot!! Can’t wait to read the next chapter. This is fun!! 🤗
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so happy that you are having a good time with this story, Ginger. You’re absolutely right that Dan is playing a big part with the photos. When I saw that he was determined to find a house for Birdie (and realized the vast difference between his neighborhoods/area and a poor community in Mississippi), I put him in charge of picking any house that felt right to him. As always, he went all out.
      Then greedy woman that I am, I let him pick from my finalists on the list for Tammy’s name. I obsess with name research. I knew I’d spend too much time on it. So for some types of characters, I use a government (public) database that will show me what names were given to children in a particular year and state. That also lets me give some real world accuracy to the names used in a setting. I picked my top 10 (or so) and had Dan make the final choice.
      Hugs on magpie wings!

      Like

    • Hi Joanne. Isn’t that house just perfect? It had to be hard to find something to fit the rural Mississippi setting — in Connecticut! (Or thereabouts.)

      This story started out feeling different from anything else I’ve done. So I’m trying to keep it that way. I’m delighted that you’re enjoying it. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for the Saturday morning pick-up Teagan and Dan, this should keep me fueled for what is going to be a long day. Off to share so others can find the wonder of you. 🙂
    Wishing you both a wonder-filled weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Even though I see some of your insights and ideas, you never fail to amaze me with the story. I love the way this chance meeting is filled with mystery, history and Jinx. I think I’m going to like him a lot. I’m so glad the house works. I can already see Jinx going in and out of the window. I like how you wove the music into these episodes, and your hitting some of my favorites.

    I’ll see you next week at the crossroads. I can hardly wait.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Dan. You can probably tell that I needed the encouragement today.
      Thanks again for all the work and thought you put into selecting Birdie’s house. It’s perfect. Also thanks for helping choose Tammy’s name. I didn’t want to give her existence away in the intro today.
      Yes, Jinx is going to be fun, I think. Hugs on magpie wings.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Poor Tammy, can you imagine being an energetic child and a free bleeder? JInx is a super cool character! My dad in the 70s I guess it was put seatbelts in an old car. He was convinced of their life saving abilities. As I child, I just thought they were restrictive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Priscilla. I have a vague memory of meeting a boy (when I was a child) who had hemophilia. He seemed so unhappy. He was home-schooled before that was a trend.
      I never had to use a seatbelt as a child. Yes I can imagine they felt restrictive. You wouldn’t be the only one to think so. I had a friend (adult) who had a touch of claustrophobia. She couldn’t deal with seatbelts (and got tickets when it became law) — or pantyhose.
      Thanks for visiting. Hugs.

      Like

  13. A fabulous episode, full of mystery, and the background to Jinx is fascinating. Thanks for using my word today. I had read Dan’s post and was wondering about which of his suggestions you’d go with. Your choice is perfect and I’d spotted it as well. I look forward to more (and wonder about Tammy. Is she only passing by?) Have a great weekend, Teagan!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Pingback: Are You Good? – #SoCs – No Facilities

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.