Brother Love 8 — A Confession

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Welcome back to the crossroads.    

Brother Love promo image
Image collage by Teagan, featuring a photo by Dan

This chapter has two things from  Dan Antion, who shares his photographs to illustrate Brother Love.  Read on to see how I used Bubblegum and Newspaper in this episode.

The third “thing” that is used to drive Chapter 8 is from Fraggle, aka C. J. Hyslop, who is a marvelous photographer.  It’s easy to see what a terrific imagination she has at Fraggle’s Other Place.  What was Fraggle’s thing?  Camera, of course!

I have to give Dan credit for a line in this chapter.  In our discussion about the two evangelists who inspired my Doug Armstrong character, Dan talked about something the preacher from his past said about not inviting people to dinner.  Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean. 

Chapter 7 — A Lament.  Birdie saw a picture of that movie star again, but she had blond hair.  Later she saw another blond.

Meanwhile at the revival meeting, the other preachers tried to pressure Doug Armstrong into doing a “healing.”  Honest man that Doug is, he resisted, but he saw little Tammy waiting in the wings.

Jinx is waiting for us at the crossroads. 

Brother Love

8 — A Confession 

Bubblegum, Camera, Newspaper

Bubblegum, by Dan Antion
Bubblegum, by Dan Antion

Bright pink, the ball of bubblegum distracted Jinx.  When he picked it up to investigate, it stuck to his beak.  The magpie gave a violent shake of his head, and nearly knocked himself over.  The gum came loose. 

The music stopped and the guitar player chuckled at him.

He turned back around, but the man had disappeared that quickly.

Jinx flew to the revival tent.  Even though he couldn’t see the mysterious figure, the magpie was sure that was where the musician was headed.

The bird watched as an old school bus pulled up to the ragtag tent.  A man hurried out and met the driver as he climbed down from the vehicle.

The dirty bandana, by Dan Antion
The dirty bandana, by Dan Antion

“You’ve missed half the service,” the usher said.

“Man, it’s hotter’n the hinges on the gates of Hades!” the driver grumbled.

He held his cap with one hand, and used the other to wipe sweat that glittered on his bare pate.  The red print bandana he used as a handkerchief was smeared with black grease.

“Fan belt broke,” he added in belated answer.  “Fixin’ that thing wore me slap out.”

“Shame.  Well, grab the old ladies and help them down to the front row.  They always get in the Spirit and help get the crowd going.  I’ll help pack up the babies and get them to the front too.  You never know who might need healing,” the usher added with a wink.

“We all go to the front?” a man with a camera asked.

Yessiree!  Everybody goes.  You know Brother Love’s show.  Now you be sure and take plenty of pictures for your Gospel Times.

Polaroid Land Camera circa 1960, by Dan Antion
Polaroid Land Camera circa 1960, by Dan Antion

Jinx flew across to the back side of the tent.  The bird settled on a tree limb when he saw Sinnerman below.  The big man had just stepped out of the large tent, having followed the woman who wore little glittering balls dangling from her ears.

With his sharp hearing, it was no effort for the magpie to hear their conversation.  However, making sense of humans and their words was not always so easy.

“You don’t need any gift of healing,” the woman began heatedly.  “Just put your hands on her head and yell ‘Healed!’ or something,” she demanded.

The man’s eyebrows flew down into a V fit for a migratory formation of birds.  He didn’t seem to like the woman’s words, no matter how shiny her earrings were.  She seemed to realize that too, because her voice quickly changed.

“Please, Brother Armstrong,” she started over, placing a hand on his bicep and murmuring approval.  “If you will please just try.  I’m desperate for Tammy to be healed.  But we can’t stay here any longer.  I don’t know how I can ever pay the doctor, but she has an appointment with a specialist that took six months to get.  So, we need to leave in the morning,” she added without looking at Sinnerman.

The big man’s shoulders drooped in a defeated way.  He turned back toward the tent.  The woman smiled behind him.  Then he turned back to her, eyebrows making the V again.

“Why would you ask me to heal her, even though I’m not able, when you are planning on going to a doctor?”

Ava Gardner in The Killers, 1946
Ava Gardner in The Killers, 1946

The buttons on the front of her dress weren’t as sparkly as her earrings, but the pearl-like beads had a sheen that Jinx liked.  He noticed when for a quick second she turned her back and undid a few of the buttons at her neck.

The woman wriggled up onto a picnic table and crossed her legs.  Jinx liked the gold buckles on the ankle straps of her high-heeled sandals.

“Look,” she began.  “There’s no need to pussyfoot around.  I reckon we can help each other.  I know all about you and the time you did in prison.”

The magpie leaned closer on his hidden perch.  The big man’s face had turned the same bright pink of the bubblegum that had stuck to his beak.  Jinx thought humans must be the strangest species in the world.

“The haul will be bigger if there’s a healing.  It always is,” the woman continued.  “I just need one more score so I can get out of the country.  I’ll split it with you.”

Her lips tightened when she looked at the expression on the big man’s face.  He moved as if he meant to walk away.

“Now, listen here.  I know you got out of prison early.  If you try to turn me in, one word from me will get your parole revoked,” she threatened Sinnerman.

“My prison time is no secret.  You can’t blackmail me with it.  And I’m not on parole.  My sentence was commuted,” he said.  “Yes, I killed a man in a fight.  He got a cut on his head.  That was all.  It turned out he was a free bleeder.  He wouldn’t have died otherwise.  That’s why I got out early.”

Newspaper in the rain, by Dan Antion
Newspaper in the rain, by Dan Antion

“I know.  That’s why I came here,” she told him and was rewarded with his surprised look.  “The kid with me is his daughter.  Her mother died in a car wreck a couple of years back.  I read a newspaper article about it.”

Sinnerman’s mouth moved but no words came out of it.  Jinx knew it was hard to make new words.  He gave a soft whistle of encouragement, but the humans didn’t notice.  The woman kept talking.

“Bless her heart, I couldn’t let her end up in foster care.  You know, that mother instinct kicked in.  I was able to persuade a judge to let me have her,” she went on and leaned back to look at the sky.

“I tell you what, the money the state gives a poor foster mother isn’t enough to get by on,” she added.  “The newspaper articles I found about Tammy being orphaned ― those are good.  But the ones about her father having hemophilia?  They’re a gold mine!  Everybody assumes that the kid has it too.”

She paused and leered at Sinnerman.

“But she doesn’t, does she?  And we both know why,” the woman finished with a vulpine smile.

She winked and swung her legs where she sat on the picnic table. 

The V returned to the big man’s eyebrows.  His mouth again looked like he wanted to say a new word.

Several humans came out, asking them to come back inside.  Whatever word the man wanted to make remained unsaid.

***

Church pews from back with hymnals, by Dan Antion
Church pews from back with hymnals, by Dan Antion

***

My hand lifted toward Doug Armstrong, but the group of men hurried him out the side entrance.

I had to tell him that I recognized the woman.  She was the spitting image of the blond Ava Gardner on the magazine I saw the girls drop outside.  She was also a bleached version of the face on the fugitive poster ― Ruth Leiber, wanted for grand larceny.

What should I do?  Call the police, I answered myself.  A church would have an office, and possibly a phone, but that wasn’t the case for a temporary tent.  So, that wasn’t an option.

Standing, I turned to scan the crowd.  I was relieved to see a policeman in the audience.  At first, I didn’t recognize him out of uniform, but I spotted Sargent Lamar Poole.

I started side-stepping to get to the aisle.  Then a group of people, followed by Doug came back inside.  They stood almost protectively around Ruth Leiber and Tammy.

The preacher who had pressured Doug about trying to heal the child addressed the congregation.

“Sister Ruthann Lear traveled far to ask assistance from the church on behalf of her child here.  Just look at the lights shining on those two golden heads ― this angelic mother and daughter.  It looks like they’re already awash in the blessing of the good Lord,” the preacher told the crowd.

Audience looking at stage with lights
Stage Lights by Dan Antion

Ruth batted her eyelashes at him, and then demurely looked down at her hands.  The preacher sent the ushers around with plates to collect a goodwill offering.

Not a sound came from the congregation.  Everyone seemed to expect Doug Armstrong to do something.  The other men stepped back away from Tammy.

The child in her pristine white dress all but glowed as she stood under the lights.  A murmur arose from the crowd when Doug went up to the podium rather than to the girl.

His facial expression was impossible for me to read.  He began to speak of forgiveness and of hypocrisy.  My cheeks burned because I thought he was about to say something about the spiteful remarks people made about me when we came inside the tent.  I had hoped he didn’t hear them.

However, his ideas seemed disjointed.  His train of thought was unclear.  Abruptly, I wondered if he was nervous.  Or perhaps he was confused about something.

For a moment I wondered if he had also seen a wanted poster of Ruth Leiber, but it didn’t seem likely.  Yet he gave the woman a look so hard it made her twitch.

Last-Supper_Carl Bloch wikipedia
The Last Supper, by Carl Bloch, late 1800s, Wikipedia

“Listen to me, brothers and sisters in the Lord,” Doug said as if trying to explain his fragmented speech.  “You have to forgive people who have caused problems for you, but you don’t have to invite them to dinner!” he stated emphatically.

I tilted my head in confusion.  What could have rattled Doug so?  He had been a good speaker earlier that evening.

Abruptly the heat of the August night was broken by a gust of wind that blew through the tent.  The pages of hymnals and Bibles rustled.

Then to my astonishment, Jinx glided down the center aisle.  The magpie swooped down to alight on the pew in front of me.

Jinx imitated the sound of a single telephone ring. 

The end.

Mabel Amber at Pixabay
Mabel Amber at Pixabay

***

Real World Notes — Bubblegum

Bubblegum was also a “reader thing” in my Hullaba Lulu serial.  It has such a cool history, that I didn’t mind using it again here. In 1928, an accountant invented bubblegum. Walter Diemer, was experimenting with new gum recipes. One recipe was less sticky than regular chewing gum, and stretched more easily. The original bubble gum was pink in color because that was the dye that Diemer had most on hand at the time.

***

I’m glad you could make it to the crossroads for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show!  I hope you’ll say hello in a comment.   

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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128 thoughts on “Brother Love 8 — A Confession

        1. I had problems in DC too. It’s more that I won’t buy the expensive package… Although in my new high desert home, there can be coverage issues. I think right now it’s just a problem with the small company. No big carriers locally. Who knows… Blame it on sunspots, I guess. LOL.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adele, it’s great to see you.
      You know, in real life it seems like horrible people rarely get their comeuppance. Yes, Ruth is despicable… but we haven’t seen her be overtly abusive or cruel to Tammy (even though she obviously uses her as a tool in her cons). The policeman said she had been a petty thief until she took the Faberge egg. Did she understand how valuable it was? Yet, would she have cared if she knew? (Chapter 5 https://teagansbooks.com/2019/05/25/brother-love-5-a-face/ ) How bad is Ruth? On one hand… and yet on the other hand…
      To be honest, I don’t like her either. 😉 But I mean this whole story to be an exercise in questioning what’s good or bad.
      We’ll see where the “things” drive that for Ruth.
      Sorry for all this blah de blah. 🙂 Maybe I need a second cup of coffee. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, I had a feeling she was a shyster! Poor Tammy. I’m a bit confused about why she isn’t a Hemophiliac, but I imagine you’ll enlighten me.

    Dan’s images are perfect for the story. This is another great collab!
    I’m going to read Chapter 9 now to see what happens next.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Deborah, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I know serials are hard to keep up with, particularly when clues and details have to be spread out over months with only one installment a week. There were several clues in Chapter 6, and a few here in Chapter 8, related to Doug being in prison. Actually that thread begins all the way back in Chapter 1. https://teagansbooks.com/2019/06/01/brother-love-6-a-ring/

      Huge thanks for reading and commenting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Although not I’m not read up to 100%, I still like this at 50% read! Shades of Elmer Gantry, Ava Gardner selling “The Killers” with her killer beauty and Jinx are my faves in this part! Neat!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely Story Teagan, and I remember those what seemed like HUGE pieces of Pink bubblegum in my much younger years Lol.. Loved the description too of Dress with buttons that sparkled like her earrings.. Magpies have an eye for such things.. And have even been known to take my bright laundry pegs from my peg basket 🙂

    Have a wonderful rest of the week Teagan.. MUCH love your way ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to see you David. I’m delighted you enjoyed this chapter.
      When I needed the name of a dark-haired actress from the 50s or before, I decided to have Dan play a larger part (than his photos) and pick one. So you can thank Dan for Ava. 😀 I think it was the perfect choice.
      Have a terrific new week. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

  4. This episode took an intriguing and delightful twist, Teagan! I’m beginning to like Doug more and more as we go along. He has character and backbone and I think he’s a good man with good intentions. We shall see. 🙂 Of course, I love Jinx. What’s not to love about the nosy magpie? I love this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy it caught your interest, Teri.
      I can’t seem to help myself about animal characters… (shakes head). I have a huge (unpublished) epic fantasy with no animal characters. Other than that, the only story I can think of that doesn’t have an animal character is Hullaba Lulu — and I gave it the childlike angel bots, which were the next thing to it.
      Jinx is proving to be a handy character, to say the least. 😉 Hugs on magpie wings.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you liked it, Denise.
      The single ring of a phone is a “Twilight Zone-ish” device I made. It means a character has made a decision that impacts their future. There were no phones in the tent, so I borrowed Jinx’s imitative abilities that time. LOL. Thanks for mentioning it. I need to do a reminder and revelation about that. Hats off to you! Hugs.

      Like

      1. I’m glad you could figure my response out…lol. Vacation and no glasses are a bad mix. I like the Twilight Zone reference and Jinx part in it. Hugs back!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No worries Denise. Auto-correct is a devil. Once I was writing an email to my boss — and it changed her name to “Sneaky.” I barely caught it in time.
          Can you imagine sending something to your boss that began with “Good morning Sneaky.” Even though it was entirely true! Bwahahaha!

          Like

    1. Thank you kindly, Jennie. I’m so happy you enjoyed this one.
      It’s a challenge to write a serial. People only see it once a week (if they can manage to visit that often), so subtle things (that would be enough in a novel) are often forgotten from one serial episode to the next. My mind is always full of questions like “Do I need to remind them of X?” How many reminders equal too much repetition?
      Plus, since this is completely spontaneously written… “Did I leave enough breadcrumbs to lead to this potential? But it’s too late to go back now!”
      LOL! Can you tell that I was in the middle of pondering those questions right now?

      Yes, confessions in this chapter. However, at this point we only have Ruth’s word for them… and we see that she isn’t reliable. Yet, in that setting, why would she lie? 😀
      Have a wonderful new week. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you’re leaving the perfect amount of breadcrumbs. Subtle pieces of previous episodes to keep us glued to the story!! Yes, this must be quite a challenge, Teagan. I think this one is perhaps your best. And yes…so why did Ruth lie?? I’ll be there on Saturday! Hugs and thanks to you. 😍

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jennie, this is very helpful to me. I appreciate you taking time to come back with this comment. Oh, and I’m sorry — not saying Ruth lied, just that we don’t know if she knows as much as she thinks she knows. There’s more to it than meets the eye. More hugs. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m so glad to help in any way I can, Teagan. And I know what you mean about Ruth. Not that she lied directly, maybe she just has things she’s hiding, or… well, we will find out. Yes, there is more to it than meets the eye. And YOU are the master at weaving those complex ideas and events into great stories. Bravo to you, Teagan!

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mae. I’m glad I could throw in something unexpected. Jinx has turned out to be a handy character. How, or will his character evolve in the story? Only the “things” know for sure. LOL. Huge thanks for visiting. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved the conclusion where jinx imitated the telephone ring… Didn’t see that coming! Great pics… especially the camera. Although I did like the bandana one as I had to take another look when I read about the bus driver’s bandana. Lol. Super episode, Teagan and Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kev. Oh, Dan was positively inspired when he did that bandana photo! I’m so glad you mentioned it.
      This is totally a “pantser” tale. I was kind of surprised by Mind’s imitation too. 😱 It seemed like a phone ☎ made a single ring whenever someone made a decision. But there was no phone in the tent…
      Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to see you, Brad. Yes, I do too. Although I’m not all together sure what she really deserves. It seems like she stumbled onto one expensive item (the Fabergé egg) that pushed her over the limit from being a small time thief to a Federal crime. I doubt she had any idea what was going with that. While that thievery is not what anyone would wish to be Tammy’s environment, she seems to be well cared for (if not truly loved). It’s surely better than an orphanage. I guess… Nonetheless, Ruth is a liar and a thief. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s the type who always lands on her feet. 🐱 Thanks for visiting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great episode, Teagan. I loved the idea of blackmail that doesn’t work and then Brother Armstrong seems to have been convinced to join the deception. We shall see. Looking forward to next week. Loved the hotter than the hinges of hell comment. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John, your comment is music to my ears. Heartfelt thanks.
      LOL, I’m glad you liked that lesser known southern-ism. It’s one of my new favorites. Now that I’m in the desert (even if it’s “high desert”) I might be using it a lot! Great big hug right back!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so kind, Staci — thank you. But when I write with the “things” the readers leaving them are very much a part of the story, and actually make it possible. Not to mention that serials serve as a terrific beta read. 😀
      I’m delighted that you like it, and that Jinx has a friend in you. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You always leave me wanting more, Teagan. It’s like a TV show that you can’t live without…waiting a week until the next episode…wondering what’s going to happen with the characters…rooting for your favorite people (or magpie). I love where this story is going!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This serial keeps getting better week after week. We have a name for the blond. Patience has paid off. Ruth needs to get her comeuppance. Very interesting turn of events.

    The pictures are always great but this week they brought the nostalgia. My brother and I would save our pennies to buy Dubble Bubble. He’s gone now but at least I have memories of things like walking to the corner store with him for penny candy.

    The camera looks like something my dad had back in he day. Every family vacation, dad was the photographer and cinematographer. What I wouldn’t give to watch some of our home movies. And why did I go there … the stage lights picture. The golden lights on stage with your words made me feel like I was in the crowd watching. Can’t wait to see what Doug will do!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jill, the things you said in this comment mean the world to me. *This* is why I blog serial stories.
      I’m sorry to learn of the loss of your brother. I know from personal experience that losing a sibling reshapes our lives. I’m glad you have those happy memories.
      Doug will have a big part in the next 2 chapters.
      I’m so glad you are part of this story. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Teagan. Hugs right back. This July marks the 20th anniversary of his passing. Explains why I’ve been a bit emotional as of late. Oh who I am kidding… emotional as always.

        I’m looking forward to the next installments. Can’t wait!!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I love Jinx more with each episode!! Thought you had created all the intrigue possible in previous episodes, but I was VERY wrong! So, little Tammy is quite healthy. Hmmmmm, could Sinnerman be her dad?! Really looking forward to Chapter 9.

    Dan’s photos are spot on, and the way you work them into your storyline amazes me. Bubblegum. Loved it as a kid. Caused me to spend many hours in the dentist’s chair! Didn’t love that!! 😳
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ginger. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging. The WordPress gremlins hid your comment in their lair…
      But I have it now and I’m grateful for your wonderful comment.
      Dentist? Ugabuggabubba….. I hate the dentist… o_O Hopefully Chapter 9 has better associations. 😉 I’m still working on it, but the things include “speaking in tongues.” and maybe a narration snippet.
      Have a wonderful rest of the week.
      Jinx and I will see you at the crossroads next time. Hugs on magpie wings!

      Like

  10. This story keeps getting better and better, Teagan. I love the confrontation scene. You set up some serious intrigue. Jinx is a funny little guy. I like how he augments the scenes he pops into. Thanks for making my photos come alive with purpose. I can’t wait to see where this goes!

    I hope you have a great weekend. Hugs on the Magpie wing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I agree with the other comments. The dialogues are great woven. This one is funny too: ““You don’t need any gift of healing,” the woman began heatedly. “Just put your hands on her head and yell ‘Healed!’ or something,” she demanded.” Lol Have a funny weekend, Teagan! Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much for visiting, Michael. I’m glad you picked up on the humor in that line. Ruth sort of “let her mouth get ahead of her brain” with that one. 😀
      Wishing you a weekend filled with fun and laughter too. Hugs!

      Like

    1. Wow, Priscilla — thank you. I never feel strong when writing dialogue, so your comment is terrific feedback. I do use a lot of restraint about the length of dialogue passages. I don’t like them to be long. I love writing from an animal’s POV, so I’m happy you like that. Hugs on magpie wings.

      Like

  12. A fantastic episode, Teagan, and I love the camera as well. Yes, I’d been wondering what Tammy’s “mother” was hiding… And the phone ringing… So very intriguing and atmospheric as well. Have a fabulous weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great episode. Curiously, I was just ready an epaper on the life of Jesus. On the section about the Last Supper and the crucifixion, the author discussed scholars who don’t think there was a last supper, and their evidence. The author said there was probably some kind of supper, but not like how most contemporary Christians are taught or think about it. So Doug is right, forgive people who cause one problems, but don’t invite them to dinner. For Heaven’s sake, it could be one’s “last supper”.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s good to see you, Tim. I’m happy you enjoyed this chapter.
      Yes, that is a subject about which much is written. I won’t truly be touching on religion or social commentary. What I do here is just part of the setting.
      Happy Father’s Day tomorrow. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I know you better than that, Tim. 🙂 That comment was for anyone else who was reading. I’ve been overly cautious of how I write that part of the story. Your comment was very interesting, and I appreciate you taking time to make it. Hugs!

          Liked by 1 person

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