Brother Love 6 — A Ring

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Rottary phone black Dan Antion
Vintage rotary phone, photo by Dan Antion

Welcome back to the crossroads.    

As you know, Dan Antion shares his photographs to illustrate Brother Love.  I make the serial “interactive” by letting things left by readers drive everything about the story.

I’ve completed at least six long-running serials here at Teagan’s Books — each of them written spontaneously and driven by “things” from readers.  Perhaps the thing I enjoy most about writing these serials is involving you readers.  I just had another idea for how to do that.  I’m naming the businesses in fictional Parliament, Mississippi after readers!  Keep an eye out for a couple of them today. I hope you’ll take a moment to visit all the links.

The reader “thing” today is a  Coke from Mary J Melange. Be sure to check out her marvelous blog.  Say hello to Gibbs and Ziva too. 

Gibbs & Ziva by Mary J Melange
Gibbs & Ziva, by Mary J Melange

The other “things” for Chapter 6 are from Dan —  Trusses and Telephone.  

If you’ve missed a chapter, I posted links to all the previous installments in “Get to the Crossroads.” 

Chapter 5 — A FaceBirdie Devovo saw a wanted poster.  The person being sought for grand larceny looked like Ava Gardner, the movie star.  However, Birdie had seen that face somewhere else — she just couldn’t place it.  Meanwhile, little Tammy (Chapter 3 — A Hymn) ran out into a street in downtown Parliament and…

It’s time to go to the crossroads.

Brother Love

6 — A Ring 

Trusses, Telephone, and Coke

BW Railroad Tracks Snow Dan Antion
Railroad tracks by Dan Antion

Quickly, Jinx flew up the road, on the outside of town.  Though he reached the spot in moments, the music had stopped.

The magpie lingered on a current of air above the railroad spur.  When he heard the music from his perch on the Alligator Motel sign, he also heard something moving on the rails.  He soared above the tracks but found no train car.

However, the clearing was no longer vacant.  In the place with no trees, sat a large ragged tent.  Jinx fluttered to the ground and waddled beyond the open tent flap.

A movement startled the magpie and he flew up to the tent trusses high above.  As he alighted, a guitar began to play a gospel tune.

Jinx looked down, watching the long fingers that effortlessly played the guitar.  Whatever the music was, it wasn’t blues.  Jinx kept to his lofty roost.

The musician stopped.

Tent trusses by Dan Antion
Tent Trusses, by Dan Antion

“What’s the matter with you?  That’s a good gospel beat” the man called up to the bird.  “Oh, I get it.  You like them unresolved tritones.  You want blues.  Well now, magpie, hereabouts they say the blues is the Devil’s music, and this is a house of the Lord,” he explained in a sardonic tone, with a gesture that included the whole tent.

Jinx eyed the musician.  The bird shifted foot-to-foot, but stayed on the truss.  The man gave a soft, slow chuckle.

“Have it your way, then,” he said and then began to sing.

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees

Asked the Lord above “have mercy, now save me, if you please…”

Jinx flew down to perch on the back of a folding chair and listened.

***

Between Joanne’s Five and Dime and the Hugh’s Appliance Repair stood the object of my sprint across the street ― a Coke machine filled with icy beverages.  It made no difference that I wanted a Dr. Pepper.  We called all fizzy soft-drinks “Cokes.”

However, the sound of a child calling out caused me to stop before releasing my nickel into the metal slot.

“Miss Bird Lady!” Tammy called to me.

I turned to see the girl as she darted out of the beauty parlor.  She ran headlong into the street, and narrowly missed being hit by a car.

Tammy fell to her hands and knees, having tripped onto the sidewalk.  Luckily for the child, the car had better brakes than a lot of the vehicles in Parliament, Mississippi.

There was a telephone booth next to the vending machine.  It gave a single ring, and abruptly stopped.  I glanced at it, but I had no thought for the phone, with what had just happened.  I returned my focus to the little girl.

ChefKeem at Pixabay
ChefKeem at Pixabay

I had no idea where he came from to be standing there.  When I crossed the street, no one had been near the booth or the drink machine.  Yet long slender fingers grasped Tammy’s hand.

“You’re all right,” he started, in a soft slow voice.  “No need for tears.  Everything will be fine.”

Ever so gently he helped the child to her feet.  She wiped a tear from her face.  Tammy and I both stared into the depths of his eyes.  They were black as coal.

With the imminent threat of the car removed, I remembered a danger equally great.  Tammy was a hemophiliac.

As the child stood, I plopped to the pavement to inspect her knees and palms.  Tiny pebbles were pressed into her flesh.  Miraculously, none of them had broken the skin.

“Tammy!  Tammy!” a woman ran from the beauty parlor shouting.

She still wore the cape to protect her clothing.  Cotton balls were placed all around her hairline.  Small curlers covered her blond head.

When I looked back to Tammy, the man was gone.

Without a word to me, the woman grabbed Tammy’s hand and hustled her back across the street and into the beauty parlor.

Vintage GE Hair Dryer, by Dan Antion
Vintage GE Hair Dryer, by Dan Antion

“Are you alright, Miss Birdie?” a voice inquired.

I saw a large pair of two-tone brown oxfords.  Doug Armstrong put out a hand to courteously help me stand.

I didn’t know where Doug was originally from, but it was from somewhere farther north than Mississippi.  It showed in his accent.  Or maybe I should say his lack of accent.  His voice didn’t seem to carry the sound of any particular part of the country.  I figured that was because he traveled a lot.  However, he often used “Miss” before a woman’s first name, according to southern custom.

He turned to look at the hair-curlered form quickly sashaying across the street, with Tammy in tow.  His brows knitted in a questioning way.  I looked askance at his expression.

“Children…  I never had any, but they seem awfully impulsive,” he began.

Still rattled from seeing the near miss, I only nodded my agreement.

“That girl reminds me of my little sister.  She wasn’t much bigger than that the last time I saw her.  She’d be a grown woman by now,” he finished in a faraway voice.

During the confusion one of my Keds had come halfway off my foot.  I teetered for a moment, trying to get the shoe back in place without removing it.

To my embarrassment, Doug stooped down and helped me get my foot back into the shoe.  He hesitated for a moment and I was sure he had noticed how badly worn the sole was.  Thankfully, he made no comment.

Keds Ad circa 1950s
Keds Ad circa 1950s

Instead, Doug pointed to the advertisement crumpled in my hand.

I had forgotten that I still held the flyer for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.  Although I had dropped the nickel for the drink machine.

“Hmm?  Oh, it was laying on the sidewalk and I picked it up,” I told him.

I took a quick glance at the pavement, but didn’t spot the five-cent piece.

“I hear the big tent went up,” Doug commented in an odd tone.  “Must have been awfully quick.  Nobody saw it happen.  But I guess there on the outside of town, a lot can happen without it being noticed.”

“I don’t suppose you were planning to go?” he added pointing to the flyer again.

It wasn’t exactly a question.  I murmured that I hadn’t planned on it.  He nodded his understanding.

“They act like they think you consort with the Devil, just because of where your house is,” Doug replied with a snort.  “I hadn’t planned to go either.  But I vowed to follow the calling to preach back in—” he stopped mid-sentence.

I knew he was about to say “back in prison.”  Who could blame him for not wanting to talk about that?  I waited silently, and half a beat later he continued.

Revival Tent in Pennsylvania, Wikipedia
Revival Tent in Pennsylvania, Wikipedia

“I try to preach some, whenever I’m here at home.  But none of the churches here have needed me since I got back into town this time.  So, I’ll go to Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” he stated with a trace of contempt.

There was a telephone booth next to the vending machine.  As Doug spoke, the phone again gave a single ring, but then stopped.

Doug looked at the booth as if wondering whether he should go and pick up the phone.  When it didn’t ring again, he turned back to me.

“I could really use some moral support,” he admitted ruefully.  “If it’s not too much of an imposition to ask you to be there.”

***

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

Jinx knew Birdie’s old car when he saw it far below.  Unnoticed, the magpie dropped down.  He sat on the edge of a rooftop watching the humans.

He tilted his head and leaned closer when he saw Birdie was talking to a man.  He kneeled down and was doing something to her shoe.  Jinx was fascinated by a small shiny spot of skin that showed through the hair at the back of the man’s head.  Then he recognized him as the Sinnerman.

The outdoor telephone rang.  It only rang once, but Jinx noticed the tone of the ring matched the note of the guitar when it played Crossroad Blues.

Real World Notes

Magpie Trivia.  Magpies can recognize specific humans. Some studies have shown they can differentiate between two humans even if they wear a clothing “disguise.”  For example, a studied group of the birds did not like climbers (they were a perceived threat to the nests).  However, when a climber and a “non-climber” (new person) wore the same hat and clothes, the magpies could tell the person who had bothered them in the past from the new person.  (More information on the study here.)

***

Thanks for taking time to read 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

Photos Copyright ©  2019 by Dan Antion

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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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89 thoughts on “Brother Love 6 — A Ring

      1. Ok…let’s get real…your writing naturally keeps it interesting by itself…..you have a great talent creating the visual aspect of what you are writing about and pulls the reader into the world of your creation!

        Like

  1. Reblogged this on No Facilities and commented:
    Have you been following Teagan’s new serial story? If not, you should get yourself over to her place, because this story is too interesting to pass up. The story is set in Mississippi in the late 1950s-ish, and it has mystery, music and Brother Love himself. Go ahead, get on over and take a look.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the inclusion of the Crossroads song. I’ve been mesmerized by the lyrics and the legend from the time it appeared way back in Robert Johnson’s day. I love the many myriad themes you’re weaving into this story, Teagan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great to see you, Mae. After first listening to Johnson’s original, I was surprised by how similar Clapton’s modern version. I expected him to take much more artistic license.
      Thanks about the various elements. That means a lot to me. I try to weave several different threads into a serial. That way there are more things that a reader’s memory might latch onto week to week.
      Have a wonder-filled new week. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is another REALLY good segment, Teagan! Thank goodness the child was not hurt. I like this man, Doug Armstrong. He doesn’t treat Birdie like the others. And, of course, Jinx stole my heart in the first episode. Can’t wait to watch this story continue to unfold!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so very much, Jan. I’m happy Jinx has a friend in you. He takes center stage in the next chapter. 😀 I hope you’ll enjoy his antics as much as I enjoyed writing them. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Like

  4. It’s such a joy to read this story, Teagan. I can’t put my finger on it but, for me, it has a ‘Twilight Zone’ feel to it. Phones that ring once with the same note as a guitar. Something making a noise on the rail tracks, but no evidence of anything being there. The figure that came to little Tammy’s aid, but who strangely quickly disappeared. Mr Serling would be very proud.
    Thanks, too, for the mention in this week’s episode. It’s a great idea to name buildings and businesses, in the story, after bloggers.
    Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
    Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hugh, I blush. ^^’ Thank you. I didn’t aspire to Twilight Zone status, but I did have in mind that sort of mysterious supernatural vibe. Thanks for letting my name the hardware store after you.
      Heartfelt thanks for reading, and for all your encouragement. Great big hug right back!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you saying that about the magpie info, Staci. Whenever I use a real-world setting (even if there is a fantasy or supernatural element) I try not to stick to reality for most things. From the moment I thought of Jinx, I wanted him to be a magpie. Then (before writing) I found that they aren’t in that part of the country. So I made his origins mysterious. He or his ancestors came to the area with Birdie’s ancestors. Before I gave him too many abilities (like recognition) I also researched that. So, I decided to share snippets of what I learned in the Real World Notes.
      Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Who? Or maybe what? Perhaps it’s not really a call at all, but something else.
      I was undecided about how much to make obvious with the ring. However, since we can only know what Birdie or Jinx know, I couldn’t have said even if I was sure. 🙂

      Like

  5. This was really good, Teagan! Character development and raising new questions… I love it! BTW, Tammy would love roller skates with a key (that might be interesting) and definitely a hula hoop. I think I’m liking Doug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this good feedback, Jennie. I always need encouragement.
      Those are great “things” Jennie! I’ve added them to my story matrix. With Tammy being reported to be a free bleeder, roller skates could be scary. But then again… I do need more cliffhangers. 😉
      I admit that Doug is growing on me too. It helps me write when I have a solid feeling about a character — whether it’s good or bad.
      Hugs on the wing!

      Like

  6. First off Eric Clapton .
    Not just a MS thing. Here inTX if someone asks “would you like a Coke?” The response is “sure what kind do you have?” Then you pick from traditional Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, etc …
    The phone ringing just once and stopping makes my heart skip a beat. Can’t wait for next week. So very very good!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That seems to have stretched across the south, then, Jill. As people from other parts of the country moved in, it seemed to be going away. But that’s what we said in AL, TN, and GA for the more than 40 years I was in that tri-state area. I guessed that it was used in Mississippi too.
      Oh, I appreciate your feedback. No one else mentioned the phone, and I didn’t know if it had the desired effect. Thanks so much. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Barbara, it’s great to see you. I remember those old phones well. I can still recall the feeling of my little kid fingers in the dial.
      I’m in New Mexico now — finally escaped from DC. So it’s a very nice weekend indeed. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, this story just has layers of mystery! I don’t know how you manage to write a new episode every week “on the cuff”, so to speak. Whatever your method, it sure works!

    I’m not sure the woman with Tammy is actually her mother. I think she’s up to no good. She sure isn’t warm-hearted!

    Doug seems to be taking a shine to Miss Birdie. We shall see.

    Love Dans picture of the rotary phone. Looks like the one I grew up with. I spent many hours sitting under a hair dryer similar to the one Dan found. Wrapped toilet tissue round and round the hairline so as not to get burned! They dried your hair all right, but user beware! Thanks for the memories you two!

    And Jinx doesn’t miss a trick, does he? Hahahah!! Love that guy.

    Hope you’re enjoying a great weekend, doing whatever makes you happy. But don’t do anything that might hurt your fingers…..we need you ready and able to keep on typing on your computer! Lol.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! It’s wonderful to see you Ginger. I’m so happy that you’re enjoying this.
      I’m kind of wondering about Doug and Birdie myself. I never saw a relationship between those characters, but then, I really do let the “things” lead the way. Maybe they’re just kindred spirits, maybe more. I honestly don’t know.
      Stay tuned for more “hiJinx” next time. Our magpie might be a little jealous.
      Hugs on the wing.

      Like

  8. Super episode. Nice to hear crossroads. I always liked Cream. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker made really great music. I remember when by older brother bought Disraeli Gears in the late 60’s. I loved that album. Tales of Brave Ulysses is still one of my favorite songs of all times. I also had to listen to the original Cross Roads Blues by Robert Johnson.

    You got me thinking about the old rotary phone, and, as compared to today, I think it’s a wonder how we communicated with stationary phones. Yet, at the same time, how little effective communication we seem to have in this day and age.

    Have a super Caturday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tim. I’ve had similar thoughts about the effectiveness of communicating becoming less as it became easier. We had the rotary phone when I was a kid. Ours was an older model, with the sharp edge on the receiver. I was in second grade before we got a phone at all.
      Eric Clapton is probably my favorite for blues — him or Tab Benoit & Louisiana Leroux. Although I was into my 40s before I had any real exposure to Blues. I drank up Clapton’s (with Cream) version of Stormy Monday, playing it exclusively for weeks on end during my commute. Focusing on different parts, first the vocals, then the bass. That was some brilliant bass work.
      Thanks for visiting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Teagan, thanks for the link to my blog and for giving the kids a few moments in the sun. I’m honored that you used the suggestion of Coke in today’s episode.

    You are spinning a marvelous tale, one that keeps me coming back every Saturday. It’s the sign of a great writer when you can keep people coming back for more. I love the characters you’ve created and I can’t wait to see how this serial eventually ends.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You did it again, Teagan! Surpring me with a wonderful sequel. Thank you for the links too, and now i know the origin of the cone heads, used in some vintage science fiction movies. 😉 Have a beautiful weekend! Hope painting is done and Crystal save. 🙂 Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Michael. I’m very happy you enjoyed it.
      The painting is on hold. It will wait until I’m completely over this allergy problem. I have the living room and my bedroom painted. So those are the most important rooms. A wonderful weekend to you as well. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think Doug Armstrong may be a bit sweet on Miss Birdie 🙂

    I didn’t know the Blues were considered the Devil’s music. Ahhh – the things I learn 🙂
    … and now the telephone is adding a bit of mystery to the story …

    Thanks for the shout-out, Teagan. If I ever open a five-and-dime I’ll say it’s germination started here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. I was already writing the five and dime and the hardware store — then I backtracked and gave the stores to you and Hugh.
      I may have complicated my writing with the phone…I might regret adding another detail to track. o_O
      Yes, it was considered the Devil’s music, at least as far back as the 30s. Robert Johnson was apparently ostracized by his relatives who prevented him seeing his children. (His wife died quite young.)
      Thanks for visiting. Hugs!

      Like

  12. This is a great episode, Teagan. I love how you paint the picture of the people’s’ character by the way they interact. Not liking the lady with Tammy. But I’m developing a fondness and respect for Doug. Now I’m beginning to wonder if Birdie will go to the revival. Things can get interesting at revivals. I envy Jinx his perch. Hugs from the high perch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That means a lot to me, Dan. Thank you. What is it they say? “Show, don’t tell.”
      This story doesn’t have the level of action/adventure that I’m used to putting in serials, but hopefully everyone stays interested. Thanks for all the work you do with the photos and inspiration. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I still remember the grinding sound of forcing the dial backward. That was the worst part. It was slow enough pulling it forward, but waiting for it to return was unbearable. Especially for a kid trying to be “the first caller wins…”

          Liked by 1 person

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