Brother Love 5 — A Face

Saturday, May 25, 2019

4th n Vine Sign
Image tomfoolery from Teagan

Welcome back to the crossroads.    

As you know, the popular blogger and photographer Dan Antion illustrates Brother Love.  I try to bring Dan into some of the process of creating the story.  The “things” for this chapter led me to a scene that required some knowledge I didn’t possess — dark-haired actresses of the era.  At the time Dan was visiting his brother, Bruce, and they both took up the challenge.  Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Sometimes my life creeps into my stories, with small parallels.  I’ve been having a disfiguring allergy problem. (It’s finally a lot better, thanks.  Apparently running its dreadfully long course, just as they said.)  I guess that’s why my narrator for this story became conscious of her appearance in chapters 4 and 5.

Birdie Devovo can’t afford to dress “to the nines,” but she tries to look presentable.  She wouldn’t buy a love potion, No. 9 or otherwise.  However “nine” will come into this story a few times, now and in the future.  

Last time, the song Love Potion No. 9 sneaked into the story as I wrote.  It caused me to name a couple of the streets in Parliament, Mississippi.  I also used the song for another name (first name and surname).  Let me know if you spot it this week.

Wanted Teagan
Chris Graham’s Wanted Poster of Teagan

The reader “thing” today is from author Diana Wallace Peach at Myths of the Mirror.  Diana has been working over-time giving us monthly writing prompt images — and sharing the resulting stories on her blog. I think that’s a huge effort.  The prompts she chooses are inspiring.  I thank her for all the work she does, and for all her encouragement and support. 

At first Diana sent an ordinary thing for this story.  Then she decided that was too easy to be any fun.  What did she give in exchange?  A Taxidermied Alligator.  No really, she did.  I expected it to be quite awhile before I was able to use that, but it crawled into this chapter.  The other “things” for Chapter 5 are from Dan —  Iron and Chewing Tobacco.  

Chapter 3, A HymnAn unknown woman and a rather odd little girl stopped at the house at the crossroads asking for directions.  They were looking for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.  The woman said she believed Tammy could be healed of her hemophilia there.

Chapter 4, A Domino. When Birdie’s errands took her to the Post Office on Vine Street, police Sargent Lamar Poole was hanging up a new wanted poster.  Birdie thought she knew the face on the poster.  We’ll learn what resulted from that encounter.  Meanwhile Jinx is flying around, doing whatever magpies do.  Let’s take a look at things from a bird’s eye view.

It’s time to go to the crossroads.

Brother Love

5 — A Face 

Taxidermied Alligator, Iron, and Chewing Tobacco

Dans metal alligator
Dan actually made this alligator back in his schooldays!

Jinx perched atop the sign for the Alligator Motor Lodge.  He looked at the spot five hundred yards away where the railroad tracks crossed Highway 61.  It was another kind of crossroads.

Inside the picture window of the motel office was the establishment’s claim to local fame ― a taxidermied alligator.  A couple walked arm in arm from the motel office, pointing at the erstwhile beast.  They had signed in as Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, but anyone would have known the names weren’t real.

The pair laughed when they looked up to see a bird perching on the sign as if he sat on the alligator’s nose.  Jinx paid them no mind.

A Ford pulled directly up to one of the motel doors.  The blond woman at the steering wheel paused, watching the couple go to their room.  She briefly looked around the parking lot, as if judging whether the place was suitable.

Little girl in creepy garden
Rudy and Peter Skitterians at Pixabay

The woman already had a key.  A little girl got out of the passenger seat.  She was not strapped in, the way she had been before.

Jinx started to flutter down to say hello to the girl, but he stayed put.  He watched the woman.  Little ball-shaped earrings could be seen with her short hair.  Their facets glittered in the sunlight, mesmerizing the magpie.

“Come on, Tammy.  Stop dawdling,” the woman told the child.

“The room smells funny,” Tammy complained.

“Well, there wasn’t much to choose from in this podunk town.”

“That preacher said there was plenty of room for us to stay at his house,” the child countered.

“You know we can’t do that.  We need to get inside.  Get out of the car.  Now,” came the command.  “Be sure to bring the bag with your new white dress.”

“Why do I always have to wear white to services?” Tammy asked as she got the bag from the backseat.

“It’s more dramatic,” the woman answered.

A crow perched on a roof, looking down
Joe the crow in the role of Jinx the magpie, by Dan Antion

Jinx watched as she took a key that was hooked to a plastic alligator shape.  She inserted the key and opened the faded green door.

“Will he really be there?” Tammy asked.

The woman turned.  In contrast to her pale hair, her eyebrows were dark.  Her brows went up, but her eyelids lowered slightly as she gave the child a sidelong look.

“If he isn’t there, maybe we will visit that preacher at his big house.  Would you like that?” she asked in a different tone, as the green door closed behind them.

Jinx tilted his head toward the trees, listening.  Although there had not been a train, he heard the sound of something moving on the rarely used railroad spur.  The section of track stopped in a clearing on the other side of the thick stand of trees.

Then the magpie heard the distant chords of a guitar, coming from the same place.  The first time he heard the song, Sinnerman, it frightened him.  That time he flew toward the sound.


Antique Iron photo
Antique Iron, by Dan Antion

The Post Office door was propped open with an old-fashioned iron to let in the scant August breeze.  A soft current of air rustled the papers the policeman held.

Noticing how I stared at the wanted poster, Sargent Poole handed it to me rather than hanging it on the Post Office wall.

“Somebody you know, Miss Devovo?” he asked.

Lamar Poole’s tone was a tad too official.  I had the fleeting thought that maybe he wasn’t all that different from the other people in town after all.

However, my main concern was with the picture.  My brows knitted as I thought ― and thought.  Have you ever had the feeling that the memory was just barely out of reach, and that if you worked at it hard enough, you could pull it up from the depths of your recollections and out through your mouth?

“I could swear that I’ve seen that face,” I murmured, but shook my head.

The policeman relaxed again.  He even smiled a little and chuckled.

“A lot of people think she looks like Ava Gardner,” he commented.  “Maybe that’s what made her swap petty theft for grand larceny.  An attractive woman like that could talk a man out of his life’s savings.”

Ava Gardner in The Killers, 1946
Ava Gardner in The Killers, 1946 (image courtesy Dan & Bruce Antion)

The pictured woman had dark hair down to her shoulders.  After Sargent Poole mentioned it, I could see that she did bear a strong resemblance to the movie star, Ava Gardner.

Although I was sure I had never met anyone who looked like a sultry dark-haired screen vixen, I couldn’t get over the feeling that I knew the face from somewhere.

“Ruth Leiber,” I read the name on the poster.  “May be traveling with―”

Abruptly, the policeman took the poster from me as he turned.  Poole strode out the door in a huff. 

I only glimpsed it, but a man had spat a long stream of disgusting brown onto the sidewalk.

Chewing tobacco,” I muttered and wrinkled my nose.

In a few strides Poole caught up with a man. 

“Where’s your self-respect?” Sargent Poole demanded and threatened to write the perpetrator a ticket if it happened again.

Chewing tobacco tin, by Dan Antion
Chewing tobacco tin, by Dan Antion

Meanwhile, the postal clerk had worked through his line of customers.

“Can I help you ma’am?” he called to me.

Back to my own business, I quickly forgot about the wanted poster.  Those thoughts were replaced by thirst.  There was a vending machine across the street.  I decided to splurge and buy myself a Doctor Pepper.

As I left the Post Office, I paused by the beauty parlor next door.  The shop window had a picture of a fashionable woman against an Italian backdrop.  Frowning, I turned away without going closer.

The last time I asked to get my hair done there, they told me there wasn’t an opening available for two months.  Yet as I was leaving that day, a woman walked in and was waited on immediately.

With a sigh, I told myself my hair was too curly to ever wear a European bouffant like Sophia Loren.  All they had ever managed to do with my hair was the poodle cut, favored by Lucille Ball, I thought with dissatisfaction.

A paper blew against my Keds.  I bent to pick it up.  It was one of those mimeographed flyers for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.  It made me think of the unknown presence in my house, and the smudge on my PanAm calendar.

Dr Pepper bottle, by Dan Antion
Dr Pepper bottle, by Dan Antion

I felt a chill.  Although in the heat and humidity of an August day, that didn’t last long.  I took a nickel from my change purse and went across the street toward the drink machine.

“Miss Bird Lady!” a child’s voice called.

I turned to see Tammy dart out of the beauty parlor and into the street.

The breaks of an oncoming car screeched.

End Chapter 5.


Real World Notes

Magpie Trivia.  Magpies can hear the sound of grubs and worms under the ground.  With that in mind, I figured Jinx could easily hear a guitar on the other side of some trees.

1950s Hair Styles.  Hair trends for young adults broke free of the more conservative coiffures of the World War II Era.  Names for the styles ranged from whimsical to glamorous, including European bouffant, the duck tail, the pixie, the pompadour, the poodle cut, as well as the simply named short and curly. 


Thank you kindly 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.


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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.

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102 thoughts on “Brother Love 5 — A Face

  1. Just dropping by to say hi to one of my favorite ladies…mostly writing these days, but feel guilty i don’t visit blogs more often… Just wanted you to know I enjoyed this stop – your story reads so very well, and I know you’re not going to let the little girl get hurt. Always wishing you the best, Teagan. You tell good stories! ♥

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another great installment!! Love it! Also wanted to let you know I finished Atonement in Bloom last week…loved it and can’t wait to see what you do with Lillith’s xxxxx! Keep the writing coming!! (Redacted.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed it, Jacquie. Is it a spoiler if I say there is no Death character? You’ve mentioned it before. Similar to TV disclaimers, *no animals (or little girls) are harmed in (the creation of) this story.* 😀
      Although who knows what trouble Tammy will get into. 😉 Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another great section, Teagan. I have my thoughts about Tammy and her mother. And Jinx is splendid. I’m smitten with him.
    I love the way you weave your “things” into your chapters. So entertaining!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much Mae. LOL, I’m sure you’re onto me about that. It’s about the only thing that I have figured out though! 😀
      I love using the “things” from readers to make the story interactive — and because it lets me promote others. But the things really are important to the story-line. Some of the “things” inspire settings (like the alligator motel). Others inspire characters (Dan’s photo-thing of the church inspired Doug). Some drive the actual plot. Although I can’t see the whole voyage, Gris gris bag and the number nine combined to put the story on an unexpected heading. Nine just keeps coming back…
      Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on No Facilities and commented:
    Did we find out whose face was on that wanted poster? What’s up with the woman and the little girl? How significant was “Love Potion No. 9?” What’s Jinx up to? – You know you want the answers, so head on down to the Crossroads.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    I have been a bit busy offline the last few weekends and have been remiss in catching up with Teagan Geneviene’s latest serial Brother Love.. now in episode 5.. as always all the ingredients for a spicy feast… there are threads dangling provocatively waiting to be pulled. Some richly created characters being masterfully manipulated into position for the next episode and don’t forget the alligator….

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Well, that was fun, Teagan. I didn’t think you’d have any difficulty with a taxidermied alligator even though I tried to challenge you. The alligator key chair was a nice detail too. I’m glad I didn’t miss this episode! A great read. Hugs, my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dear Diana, your alligator “thing” was all in good fun — and I had a great time with it. Thanks so much for reading, and for coming out to play.
      I know you have a huge amount of work (of all sorts) right now. So please take good care of you. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You keep everyone hanging, Teagan, and make marvelous use of Dan’s photo prompts. I loved the little alligator hanging from the motel room key and the antique iron holding the post office door open. Fabulous.

    As with everyone else, I am a fan of the magpie and hope little Tammy has a chance to wear the white dress. Another great episode that leaves me wanting more!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Once again, dear Teagan, you’ve left us hanging. I do hope the child doesn’t get hit by the car! And the people of the town should be ashamed of the way they treat our girl! Lots of clues scattered throughout this episode. I’m loving Jinx! As everyone else above said, there are lots of unanswered questions in this segment! Great writing and great help from Dan!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so very much, Jan. Plus, I’m delighted that you like Jinx.
      Even though it wouldn’t be that many words or pages in a book, we’ve been going over a month. So I tried to give reminders of the first episodes.
      You’re right — Dan is doing a spectacular job! Enjoy this holiday weekend. Hugs on the wing! 🕊️

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Why does Tammy always have to wear white to services? Inquiring minds want to know :). And that face … who does that face on the wanted poster belong to??? With all my questions, I will definitely be back for more. Thanks for another wonderful episode.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great heavenly days! Somebody finally picked up that breadcrumb. Thank you Jill! I realize the opening probably was forgotten with the sound of screeching brakes at the end, but I was beginning to wonder. 😉 LOL.
      I appreciate you spending part of your weekend here. Hugs on the wing! 🕊️

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wondering how to put a smile one your face? Just drop by Teagan’s place. My new slogan for your blog because seriously, you just made my day (week, month, maybe my year). Thanks dear friend for being you. And as a bonus every time I visit your blog I get to ‘Follow’ you all over again because WordPress kindly keeps Unfollowing bloggers for me with consent and without my knowledge. But I will always click ‘Follow’ again and again.
    Hope this weekend treats you well, dearest Teagan (hope it’s a long, relaxing weekend for you).
    Mega I Will Follow and Hope the last 3 months have been wonder-filled hugs xoxox

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dear Donna, the WordPress gremlins are wreaking havoc with everyone… as if it wasn’t already enough trouble to maintain a blog for as long as we both have.
      Thanks so much for spending part of your weekend here. Hugs on the wing! 🕊️


  11. This is moving as if it’s a sultry thunderstorm gaining momentum as it weaves its way through the characters lives. Seriously loving this, Teagan and loved the beauty salon clip. They wouldn’t recognise a beauty salon now, would they? xxx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What a beautiful description, Adele! Thank you.
      Ha — wasn’t that video a hoot? Maybe I should have saved it for next week, but I couldn’t resist. They’d faint if the saw one of those pedicures with feet-nibbling fish!


      Liked by 2 people

  12. Ooo, I loved reading all of this week’s episode, but especially the story from Jinx’s point-of-view. I wonder where that music is coming from he now seems so keen to discover.
    I feel ever so sad for the way the people in the beauty parlour treat our lead character, Miss Devovo. I know exactly how she must have felt. And that unknown ‘presence’ in her house sent a shiver up my spine again, Teagan.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Hugs to you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s always a delight to see you, Hugh. Thank you for this detailed feedback. Yes, sadly, Birdie is an outcast. Between the local superstitions about the location of her home, and the scandalizing behavior of her mother.
      I’m happy you are enjoying Jinx. We’ll see whether he gets to sit still and listen to his favorite blues next time. Hugs on the wing! 🕊️

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Another nail biter, Teagan. I like your word creaptatude. It covers this episode nicely. Can’t imagine staying at a place the uses an alligator as a symbol. (Key fob, green door. Yikes, come on.) The room smells funny sums it up. Dan is doing a great job. I like his alligator. Can’t wait until next week. Glad your allergies are doing better.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha, I do like to make new words, John. I’m glad you liked it. I’ve said the word “creep” so much that I had to come up with some kind of variation. Now if I can just keep the real life creep-i-tude away from my door… After me yelling “NO!” and slamming the door in his face last night, if Creepy Crying Guy comes back yet again, I guess I’ll have to get a machete. A middle aged redhead who answers the door wielding a big machete might be scary enough. o_O.
      Happy weekend hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, my gosh. So much going on! What is up with Tammy and her mother? And I’m enamored with Jinx. You’re doing a great job (as always) working in the items you’re given. Leave it to Diana to come up with a taxidermied alligator. I tried to give you something easy to incorporate. That… wasn’t. But you made it look effortless!

    I love Sophia Loren. Nice to see her mentioned here. And I caught “Ruth” from Love Potion Number 9.

    I really can’t wait for the next installment. Hope your allergies are better and you have a great weekend. Hugs.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It means a lot to me that you noticed all that Staci. Thank you. 🙂
      Haha, yes, “Madame Ruth.” But Leiber was the surname of the man who wrote the song.
      I agree Sophia Loren was amazing.
      I keep seeing your “things” on my story matrix. One way or another Parliament, Mississippi will get a taste of Russia. (It belatedly occurred to me that I could mention both you and Olga on the same “thing.” Samovar or matryoshka or both will show up eventually. Hugs on the wing! 🕊️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t often know songwriter names. It’s amazing you do!

        It will be easier to work in both Russian items at the same time (I would think). I’d have given you something Italian (as I tend to rely a lot on my heritage) but I was trying to break out of my comfort zone. If the samovar is too big a pain to incorporate, don’t worry about it. I’m enjoying the story whether I participate or not. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Dear Staci — not at all. The whole point is that the things are random. I don’t really incorporate them as much as they lead the story. I’ll be working on the story, thinking about all the “things” and suddenly something clicks with one of them — and off the story goes down that path. 😀
          I can see a clue or an important personal item for Birdie being inside the dolls — but I haven’t gotten that far.
          I’m very happy you are enjoying this story. More hugs.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. What fun. I love the wanted poster. That photo works so well with the poster. The old Dr. Pepper bottle reminds me of the Nifty bottle I found in the middle of the rootball of one of the giant cottonwoods that had died on our property in 2010. I had a guy with a back hoe, who was demolishing the old houses on the property, push the dead cottonwood over so we could saw it up. Nifty was bottled in Albuquerque by Dr. Pepper between 1948 and 1949. 1948 was written in a piece of concrete under one of the additions on the house we demolished. I’m guessing someone left the Nifty bottle by the cottonwood in 1948 when the tree was just not very large and it over the bottle, entombing it in its rootball.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tim, that about the bottle inside the tree is worthy of a book. What a cool story!
      The wanted poster was several years ago. I got a huge kick out of it when Chris sent it. Thanks for visiting. Happy Caturday to all the kitties. Hugs on the wing! 🕊️

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Yikes! The Wanted Poster yanked out of Birdie’s hand, screeching brakes just as Tammy runs into the street and the “Guitar Man” got to town. Lots of suspense! I think I get Tammy and her mom’s (probably not her mom) role. But maybe not. You’ve already proven you’re full of surprises.

    Dan outdid himself with his photos. And he did an amazing job creating that alligator!! Truly a man of many talents!

    When you write these mysteries Teagan, do you creep yourself out and aren’t able to sleep at night? Lol. 😂😂

    Have a truly relaxing Memorial Day weekend Teagan. So happy to read that your allergic reaction is clearing up. Hope you never have to go through this again, 😡
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey Ginger! I love your comments — thanks for this Saturday morning smile. 😀
      Creep myself out? I’m always telling people that I’m just wired wrong. I admit that often I don’t realize when I’m making something creepy or scary. Although with this story– I actually am trying for an element of “creep-i-tude.” My own new made up word for the day. 😉 Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs on the wing!


  17. Oh, nooo… you have written a great cliffhanger ending. I’ll be biting my nails all week. I love how you wove the taxidermy alligator and iron into the story. It worked! And the flyer appears again. Great episode, Teagan!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed this, Jennie. I remember my granny using that kind of iron to hold doors open. Although Dan’s looks a lot more interesting than hers. They were mostly a plain black triangle. I had fun with the alligator.
      Hugs on the wing! 🕊️

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Christoph. Diana Peach is the only person who could think of something so completely unexpected — and yet suitable for the setting. (Parts of Mississippi might well have alligators, just like Florida or Louisiana.)
      Happy weekend hugs! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I too am starting to get my suspicions about Tammy and her mother. Shenanigans are afoot!!

    Excellent use of the alligator, Teagan. You pulled that one off nicely.

    … and great work on the alligator, Dan!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha — Love it — Shenanigans are afoot. Yes indeed!
      Thanks, Joanne. It was going to be the Flamingo Motor Lodge, with faded pink doors. I even had a postcard of it in Jackson, MS in the 1950s. Then I remembered the alligator! Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs on the wing! 🕊️

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The alligator is an 8th grade metal shop project, Joanne, It’s a nutcracker I made for my dad. It might be the only shop project of mine that survived all my mom’s downsizing. Thanks the for comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I never quite know where the images will end up, but I’m always happy to be a part of the story wen I see them. I caught the song winding it’s way into the name – tricky bit on that last name. I love the scene when Sargent Poole gives, discusses and takes the wanted poster. Perfect effect for your purpose and yet totally believable. I don’t know how you do that, but you do it well.

    Now, you’ve stopped us in the nick of time, or have you? We won’t know until next week, which, by the way will be June! That’s hard to believe!

    Have a great weekend, Teagan.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Holy Hannah… another month really is gone already. That means I’ve been in NM three months! Yet’ I still have most of the walls to paint, and most of my unpacking waiting in boxes. Sigh…
      Anyhow, back to the fun. Thanks for your feedback, Dan. Your “chewing tobacco” thing served me well, to interrupt that wanted poster scene. So did “Ava Gardner.” Thanks again to you and Bruce for that info.
      I’ll be over to your virtual “bar” eventually today. My personal soap opera kept me from resting well. So, like Uncle Joe, I’m moving kinda slow. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh no, look where you ended this episode! I hope the child is okay.

    Gardner’s dress in The Killers is an amazing. How could she breathe? How’d the couturier fit her so well back in the days before stretchy fabrics?

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Great episode, Teagan. I have my suspicions about why Tammy and her mother are important to the story, or might be… Ava Gardner was a true beauty and quite a character (she had quite a history in Spain, including becoming the lover of a well-known bullfighter), I look forward to the next one! And I’m happy to read your allergy is better. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lover to a bullfighter? That must have had the scandal-sheets blazing. 😀
      Thanks so much, Olga. Yes, it’s finally looking much better, and itching less. I hope it goes away completely. Thanks for spending part of your weekend here. Hugs on the wing!


    1. Thank you kindly for sharing from your magazine, Dyanna. LOL, I needed Tammy to call out to Birdie, but realized she didn’t know her name. “Excuse me ma’am” didn’t seem likely for an excited little girl. Then “Miss Bird Lady” popped into my head. Tammy may or may not have heard the name Birdie inside the beauty shop, but she would certainly remember Jinx. 😀 Hugs on magpie wings!

      Liked by 1 person

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