Brother Love — A Novella!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Brother Love cover Jinx on phone

Jinx on rotary phone next to “Brother Love – a Crossroad” on my Kindle.

I was so impulsive in deciding to quickly “bookize” the serial that I didn’t plan ahead for a launch or promotions.  So I begin by repeating my thanks to Sally G. Cronin for announcing Brother Love – a Crossroad at her blog earlier this week.

My weekend post included a give away of an e-book of the novella.  I numbered your comments and used a random number generator to select the winner.

… And the winner is….. Dyanna Wyndesong! 

Dyanna publishes Ravenhawks Magazine.  Be sure to click over and say hello.

Meanwhile, I’ve just done a podcast.  The amazing Annette Rochelle Aben hosted me for a fun chat.  We discussed “Brother Love” and several other things.  I even brought her into my writing process by playing my three things writing exercise during the interview.  Flamingos…  Click over and learn what that’s about.

When you get to the podcast site, Tell Me a Story with Annette Rochelle Aben at The Magic Happens Radio Network, scroll down to the “Gs.”  Interviewees are listed in alphabetical order by last name.  Thank you, Annette!  I had a wonderful time chatting with you for the broadcast.

Crystal n Brother Love on kindle

Crystal is not so happy about even a picture of a bird being on her scrubbing brush…

Purchase Brother Love — a Crossroad via these universal Amazon links. 

Kindle/e-book

Paperback

If you didn’t make it to the crossroads over the weekend for the conclusion, click the link for Brother Love, Chapter 11 — A Walk.

Thank you to  Dan Antion of No Facilities for letting me use his wonderful photos throughout this series.  My heartfelt gratitude to everyone who faithfully joined me at the crossroads for the serial.

Hugs on magpie wings!

***

Now for even more shameless self-promotion…

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.

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – Brother Love (A Crossroad) by Teagan Riordain Geneviene.

A warm thank you to Sally Cronin for announcing the debut of my novella. It includes all the episodes of my latest serial, ‘Brother Love.’
I can’t thank you enough for your support, Sally.
Hugs on magpie wings!

(Comments are closed here. I hope you will visit Sally’s fantastic Smorgasbord blog.)

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news of a new release Brother Love (A Crossroad) by Teagan Riordain Geneviene. If you have been following the serial on her website, you can now enjoy in this novella bringing all the episodes together.

About Brother Love

“Brother Love – a Crossroad” is a mysterious “Twilight Zone-ish” short novella. It was inspired by the combination of Neil Diamond’s song and the blues legends of Robert Johnson and the Devil at the Crossroads. As in the real world, things in this tale are not what they seem. The setting is rural Mississippi in the 1950s. A group of outcasts are in a small southern town. They don’t realize they are looking for something. Will they find it?

Head over and buy the book:https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07V25SXFR

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07V25SXFR

Also by TeaganRiordain Geneviene

A recent review for the Atonement Tennessee

View original post 333 more words

Brother Love 11 — A Walk

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Warning Sign by Dan Antion

Warning Sign by Dan Antion

Thanks for joining me for this walk to the crossroads.

This chapter comes with a couple of warnings. 

Warning 1: It’s long.  I can hear some of you groaning.

Warning 2:  It’s the conclusion, the last chapter.  Now I hear the rest of you.

I didn’t know until Monday that Chapter 10 was the penultimate chapter, or I would have… well, I would have warned you.  

My heartfelt thanks to Dan Antion of No Facilities for letting me use his wonderful photos throughout this series.  Dan went above and beyond the call as my collaborator for this story. He was always ready to get just the right image for each episode.  He was proactive, doing all sorts of photo shoots at antique stores, with birds, and at crossroads.  Plus, he patiently let me bounce ideas around, no matter how off the wall.  Thank you again, Dan.

… And A Special Surprise!

Brother Love w Phone on Kindle

“Brother Love” is now available as a book.  Purchase information is at the end of this post.  (Photo by Teagan R. Geneviene)

I still have a few reader “things” left over.  I apologize to everyone whose “thing” didn’t get into the story.  A special shout-out to Adele Marie Park, whose thing “gris gris bag” took me to Birdie’s name paper.  I really wanted to do more with that hoodoo angle, but the things brought the story to a close before I got there. 

For this concluding chapter, I only used one thingI’m Walkin’ which came from Dan.

If you need to review the previous episode, click to Chapter 10 A Cut.

Last time. The blood from Tammy’s finger slowed as it passed through the air of that hot August night.  It hung there.  A stream of red droplets was suspended in… nothing.

Jinx mimicked the sound of a telephone ringing one time.  My ears started to ring with the very same sound.  However, it went on and on, an endless ring.

***

Without further ado, let’s get to the crossroads for the conclusion.

Brother Love

11 — A Walk

I’m Walkin’

Joe Crow as Jinx the Magpie, by Dan Antion

Joe Crow as Jinx the Magpie, by Dan Antion

Shouts of “Hallelujah!” continued to resound through the congregation.  It made no difference that there was a scuffle at the choir’s exit, where Sargent Poole arrested Ruth Leiber.  It only added to the cacophony of noises.  The revival tent was in chaos.

Standing just a step away from us, I saw Brother Love.  A moth fluttered past the guitar, which was still slung across his back.  His face radiated an angelic smile.  His reaction seemed absurd to me.

What if Tammy panicked and ran?  I kept a tight hold on her shoulder.  If she started running, that would be disastrous for a hemophiliac.

But is she really a free bleeder? I abruptly wondered.  Tammy’s dad, the man who died in a fight with Doug… he was a hemophiliac.  Yet Doug’s comment a moment before came back to me.  Did Doug think he, in fact, might be Tammy’s true father?

Tammy’s eyes darted from Doug to me, to her bleeding hand.  Hurriedly she pointed at Doug.

“Miss Birdie,” the girl began in a normal voice.

A faint ringing filled my ears.  It grew louder, drowning out Tammy’s voice, but she had stopped talking anyway.

Almost everything around me started to move very slowly.  Almost.

Unraveled by Dan Antion

Unraveled by Dan Antion

Jinx continued to scratch at the white handkerchief, trying to cover my locket.

Tammy shifted closer to me.  Her eyes quickly roamed the stage. 

However, those were the only things that seemed to move at a normal rate.

As sluggishly as everything besides Jinx and Tammy, the moth ever so gradually made its way through the air toward the lights above.  It was impossible that the insect didn’t move faster.

Brother Love stood still.  I couldn’t tell if he was affected by whatever was happening, or if he simply hadn’t moved.

Doug’s mouth made slight movements, like a film where the projector was running down to a stop.  Bit by bit his eyes turned to the blood coming from Tammy’s finger.

As I watched, the narrow stream of the child’s blood slowly lifted into the air.  The stream of droplets pointed toward Doug.

Then the blood divided into two streams, one of which pointed to me.

Doug’s mouth stopped in an odd mid-word expression.

The moth’s absurdly slow assent completely halted.

Red Spots by Dan Antion

Red Spots by Dan Antion

Yet Brother Love stepped forward to stand beside me.  He moved the guitar from his back to hold it in one long fingered hand.

My eyes went back to the divided stream of blood.  I wasn’t sure if I heard it making a faint hum, or if I felt the quivering of it.  Either way, the two streams vibrated at different pitches.

“My grandma always said blood will tell, although she meant it in a hateful way,” Brother Love commented as if in idle conversation.  “Like attracts like.  At first, I didn’t know if the girl was like us, or if she just had… well, let’s say special mental abilities.  But her blood is attracted to its like.”

What did he mean, like us? I wondered.

Although I didn’t have to think about the idea of Tammy having “special mental abilities.”  It had been clear the first time I met the child that she was different.  I remembered that moment clearly.  It had been about the calendar in my kitchen.

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.

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.

Magnolia_flower n foliage Duke_campus Wikimedia

Magnolia, Wikipedia

Gradually, the thin stream of red droplets that moved toward Doug reached him.  In slow motion, it splashed onto his shirt.

“That’s where his heart would be,” I murmured.

Jinx had stopped scratching the handkerchief.  Instead, he pecked at the locket until it was half open.  Carrying the necklace, he hopped over to me.

The other part of the stream of blood continued its inexorable progress toward the spot where Brother Love, Jinx, and I were.  Love’s coal-black eyes went to the bird.

“Still not ready yet, magpie?” he asked the odd question.  “All things in their own time then,” he finished with a shrug.

I looked at Jinx curiously.

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 for a long time.  I realized 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.

“They say there’s a secret chord,” Brother Love commented casually.  “One that pleases the Lord.  I wonder if that’s so.”

Then he strummed an intricate sound on the guitar.  I was amazed that he could place his fingers in such a complex position on the frets.  I also saw that the guitar had an extra string.

Guitar head stock BW_Simone Pixaby

Simone at Pixaby

He strummed the chord a second time, and then a third.

The thin stream of blood became a fine cloud of mist.  I felt the minute moisture on my skin, but as quickly as the sensation came, it was gone, absorbed.

I looked at Tammy’s finger.  The place where the cardboard cut her finger was completely healed.  Not so much as a blemish remained.

Brother Love turned to Doug.  He strummed the guitar again.  Doug “caught up” with us, though the rest of the congregation, and everything else in the tent, remained immobile.

Doug’s hand shot out to grab Tammy’s.  He examined her finger carefully.  He made relieved sounds.  I thought words were probably beyond him for that moment.

Jinx still held my half-opened locket in his beak.  He whistled.  Then he dropped it and the name paper fell out.

Birdies Locket n Name Paper

Composite image by Teagan

The words of the hoodoo protection spell began to unravel.  To my eyes, the script seemed to lift into the air, much as Tammy’s blood had done.

In order to make that name paper, words ― intentions had been written over each other nine times.  With each intention, the paper was turned clockwise before writing.  It made it impossible for me to decipher the decades old script.  Previously, I had been able to make out my own name, but nothing else.

As I watched, the letters of my name, Alberta Devovo, lifted into the air.  I also saw the name, Jinx.

I looked curiously at the magpie.  He perched on the headstock of Brother Love’s guitar.  With his head tilted to one side, Jinx intently stared at the words floating in the air.

It was hard to decipher the words as they wavered in midair.  I made out “Keep them safe.”  However, trying to read the shifting script was making my stomach queasy.  One word came into focus ― home.

“How odd that I’d see that word, when I’ve never felt at home for as long as I can remember.”

Birdie Devovo's house as imagined by Dan Antion

Birdie Devovo’s house as imagined by Dan Antion

I didn’t think I had spoken aloud, but Brother Love replied.

“There’s a reason for that, Birdie Devovo,” he said with a bright-eyed smile.

Then I saw the rest of that line of the hoodoo spell, “Bring them home.”

Abruptly the nine layers of words began to flow into a connected stream.  It swirled, growing larger.  My scalp tickled as my hair lifted slightly.  I felt it pull at me.

A silent exchange seemed to take place between Jinx and Brother Love.

“Magpie, you just told me that you ain’t ready,” Love protested.  “Oh, I get it.  You ready for them to be ready, even if you ain’t.”

Brother Love began playing a blues tune on the guitar.  The magpie fluttered down to me.

About the time I recognized the notes for a Muddy Waters tune called “I’m Ready,” Jinx started to sing part of the song.

I know you feels like I ain’t nowhere

But stop what you’re doin’ baby come over here

I’ll prove to you baby, that I ain’t no square

Because I’m ready, ready as anybody can be

I am ready for you, I hope you’re ready for me

As the magpie sang, he stepped toward the swirling script from my name paper.  I wondered that the spiral didn’t suck the bird away.  I could feel it’s pull growing stronger. 

Cut branch SWIRL Dan Antion

A different kind of swirl Dan found

“Are you ready, Tammy?” Brother Love asked the girl.

The child seemed to understand everything that was happening.  Although I sure didn’t!

Tammy looked at Doug.  He looked rather confused, but not as utterly befuddled as I felt.  I thought he had at least some idea of what was happening.

“Only if he comes too,” the girl stated firmly.

Doug and Tammy stood beside Brother Love.  Doug took Tammy’s hand.  He took a deep breath.

“The first time I met you,” Doug began as he looked into Brother Love’s dark eyes.  “I thought you meant to carry me to Hell.  Now I see that you’ve given me a great gift, even if only for a moment,” he added as he looked down at Tammy’s tiny hand in his huge one.  “If Jesus is calling my child home, then I am ready to meet the Lord too,” Doug pronounced.

“What?” Brother Love exclaimed in shock.  “It ain’t like that, Sinnerman.  Well, you weren’t never a magpie, but if the girl wants you to come with us, then that’s alright with me.”

At those words, Doug looked as confused as I felt.  I murmured my lack of understanding.

Jinx imitated the ring of a phone again.  I gazed helplessly at everyone else.

“Birdie Devovo, why do you think the phones rang one time?  Why do you think the magpie makes the ring sound?” Brother Love asked in a bemused voice.  “He heard the call.  He wants to make sure you hear it too, even though you ignore it.”

That didn’t enlighten me at all. 

Brother Love played another series of chords on the guitar.  Each tone was more intricate than the last.

The ringing sound was overwhelming.  The swirling of the words from the name paper grew in velocity.  My eyes squeezed shut.  I felt myself being pulled into a vortex.

***

Foggy Cemetery, Dan Antion

Foggy Cemetery, Dan Antion

Abruptly the pressure that surrounded me released.  The ringing stopped.  We were enveloped in the cool air of a foggy evening.

Through the mist I could make out tombstones in the distance to one side.  Turning, I could see the roofline of my house.  That meant we were at the crossroads.

“Crossroads are how I travel,” Brother Love answered my unasked question.  “My energy comes from them.”

“Are we… dead?” Doug questioned in an unsteady voice.

Tammy chuckled.  She still held his hand.

“No, silly,” she told her father.  “But now we don’t have to be strange or different,” she murmured as if to herself.  “We don’t have to be alone,” she looked up at Doug and told him with a smile.

“We won’t be shunned,” she added as she turned to me.

“What is it with that bird?” Doug blurted out as Jinx alighted on Tammy’s shoulder.

Jinx models a bow tie while perched on Dan's birdcage

Jinx models a bow tie while perched on Dan’s birdcage

“He’s still a magpie,” Brother Love told him, as if that explained anything.

“Jinx is still a magpie.  We were all magpies once.  Except for you of course,” Tammy told Doug.

“Well, not ordinary magpies.  For certain beings, this particular kind of magpie is a stage of their progression,” Brother Love supplied.

He turned to me when I muttered my lack of understanding.

“Before I became me, I was like you,” Brother Love said.  “Before that, I was like Jinx, a magpie.  Just not the regular kind.  So were you, Birdie ― and Tammy.”

“Jinx should have become like you a long time ago.  But for reasons of his own, he is not ready to stop being a magpie,” Brother Love added.

Brother Love stood in the middle of the crossroads.  He spread his arms wide.  We all moved closer to him.

He had said he used crossroads to travel.  He seemed to mean we could go with him.  Tammy bounced on her toes eagerly.

The fog drew closer to us.  I could no longer see beyond the crossroads.  The mist started to shimmer.

“How?” was all I could manage to ask.

“You ain’t got to do nothing,” he replied.  “I’ll take care of that part.”

“Where?” Doug asked, equally brief.

“Wherever we need to go,” Tammy told him.

“Yes,” Brother Love agreed with the girl.  “There must be a need.”

Joe Crow as Jinx the Magpie, by Dan Antion

Joe Crow as Jinx the Magpie — I’m Walkin’ by Dan Antion

Once again, Jinx imitated the ring of a telephone.  The tone of the ring sounded the same, but that time the vibration of it felt different to me.  It seemed to settle into my skin, instead of bouncing off my eardrums.

I had no idea what had changed, what was different, but in that moment, for the first time I could remember, everything felt right.

Jinx fluttered to the ground.  With the bobbing gait of a magpie, he walked toward the shimmering fog.  In the distance I heard the faint ring of a telephone.  Jinx seemed to be moving toward the sound.

As the magpie walked, Jinx started singing Fats Domino’s song.

I’m walkin’, yes indeed, and I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me

I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me

I’m lonely as I can be, I’m waitin’ for your company

I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me

I shrugged and followed the magpie.  I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew it was where I needed to be.

The end.

As promised the “universal” links to Amazon in various countries for Brother Love – A Crossroad are here below the book cover.

"Brother Love" Novella Now Available for Purchase

“Brother Love” Novella Now Available for Purchase

Kindle  or Paperback 

Giveaway!  Leave a comment, and I will put the names into a hat to do a drawing for a free Kindle/e-book of the novella, “Brother Love — a Crossroad.”

Note: The drawing is now over.  The winner will be announced Wednesday.

***

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this serial for being a part of “Brother Love.”  I appreciate your weekly visits to the crossroads.

Keep an eye open whenever you are at a place where one path intersects another.  You just might get a glimpse of Jinx, or of Brother Love.

Hugs on magpie wings!

***

 Now for the obligatory shameless self-promotion…

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.

 

Brother Love — A Note

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I haven’t been sure whether it was close or far — the end of this story.  It seemed like it was both at once.  However, that’s been part of “Brother Love” from the beginning, things not being as they appear, or seeming more than one thing at once.

Brother Love promo image

Stage Lights image by Dan Antion of No Facilities.  Tomfoolery by Teagan

I didn’t know until after I started writing Chapter 11, that it is the conclusion of the story. So I hope you’ll be sure to get to the crossroads this weekend.

If you didn’t make it to the crossroads last weekend, click the link for Brother Love, Chapter 10 — A Cut.

Comments are closed here.  Jinx and I will be waiting for you at the crossroads Saturday.

Pixabay... Easter egg

Pixabay… Easter egg

 

***

Now for the obligatory shameless self-promotion…

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.

 

Brother Love 10 — A Cut

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Rug with Crow Dan Antion

Dan Antion got a kick out of finding “Jinx” in this antique rug. It reminded me of the recent July Fourth holiday.

Welcome to the crossroads.

To my friends to the north, I hope you had a lovely Canada Day.  To those in the USA, I hope you enjoyed the Fourth of July and celebrated our precious freedom.  

I appreciate you coming back after my little break last weekend.  

Thanks to Dan Antion of No Facilities for letting me use more of his great photos.

The things that drive today’s installment are:  Magnolia Leaves from Priscilla Bettis, Earthly Bonds from G. P. Cox, and Spaghetti from Jan Twissel

If you need to review a past chapter, click over to A Pause for links.

From last time in Chapter 9 — A Hallelujah

Girl white dress road trees timothy-eberly unsplash

Timothy Eberly, Unsplash

Tammy turned to Brother Love, who apparently had not noticed her come onto the stage.  The child gasped and stretched her hand toward Brother Love.  Suddenly a dark red stain seeped across the bodice of her pure white dress.

Her hand went to the rapidly spreading stain.  Tammy sank to her knees.

***

Without further ado, let’s get to the crossroads.

Brother Love

10 — A Cut

Magnolia Leaves, Earthly Bonds, Spaghetti

Three Crows by Dan Antion

Three Crows by Dan Antion

Wind through the magnolia leaves made a ghostly sound outside.  Insects of all sorts flew around inside the top of the tent.  A trio of crows had managed to get inside.  Unnoticed by the humans below, they sat on the topmost trusses, feasting on the bugs.

The crows weren’t interested in the magpie, and Jinx paid them no mind as he roosted on the lowest of the tent’s trusses, closest to the action on the ground.

Jinx gazed curiously at Tammy as her white dress gradually covered with red.  He remembered the song he had learned.  That was right before the first time he saw Tammy.  He knew the song had been about the girl.

The magpie looked at Birdie.  He wanted to sing that song to her again, but she didn’t like the hymn.  So, he chirped out the song while he watched the drama unfold from the safety of the high tent trusses.

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

1952 Screen Stars magazine, Ava Gardner

1952 Screen Stars magazine, Ava Gardner

The woman with glittering balls dangling from her ears started screaming.

“My baby!  My baby!  Somebody, help my baby!” she wailed.

She dropped her fan.  She put one hand to her head and flailed the other like a hurt wing as she staggered.  Then she flopped down on the floor.

Ever intrigued by the odd behavior of humans, Jinx leaned as far forward as he could.  He slipped, but he unfurled his wings and dug his claws into the beam.

“I meant to do that,” he whistled.

He glanced up at the three crows.  They hadn’t noticed.

All the people stopped looking at Tammy and turned to see what the woman was doing.

The bird recognized that group of men who wanted Sinnerman to do something earlier.  They hurried to the woman.

Birdie sprang up from her seat and darted onto the stage.  As Birdie ran, the shiny box she wore on a chain around her neck fell to the floor.

She reached Tammy before anyone else.  She knelt beside the child.  Doug was there a second later.

The magpie’s eyes were glued to the locket as it reflected the stage lights.  He knew the metal box was special to Birdie.  She never let him play with it. 

Birdies Locket n Name Paper

Composite image by Teagan

He also remembered the little paper that was covered with strange human scratching.  Birdie folded that paper and put it inside the shiny box when she was getting dressed earlier that evening.  (Chapter 7 — A Lament)

The paper had a peculiar odor.  The humans didn’t seem to smell it.  However, to the magpie, there was something familiar about the scent.  He just couldn’t say what.

The bird swooped down to grab the locket.  He didn’t want the crows or any of the humans to get it.  Jinx was quick and there was a lot happening, so nobody seemed to notice him.  After he got the shiny box, he darted behind the podium, near Birdie.

***

***

Vintage Medical Books by Dan Antion

Vintage Medical Books by Dan Antion

***

Momma hadn’t cared one way or the other, and I’d had all I could stand of the gossips and bullies.  So, I had dropped out of high school years before that day.

Most of the teachers weren’t any better than the students.  However, the first aid teacher wasn’t as bad.  I liked her class.  It was just basic stuff, but I remembered you were supposed to put pressure on a wound to slow the bleeding.

Tammy’s eyes weren’t simply closed.  Rather, they were shut tight.  I thought that must mean she was in terrible pain.

“But where is the wound?” I murmured aloud, frantic to do something about the bleeding.

Doug said something in response, but I didn’t hear his words.  He gently lifted Tammy’s head enough to feel behind it.

I didn’t think that was a likely place for the wound.  Then I remembered what he told me about the fight that sent him to prison.  Of course, Doug would look there.  The other man’s head got cut.  He hadn’t died because of the fight.  He died because he was a free bleeder.  Doug had “come to Jesus,” plus he had been a model prisoner.  His sentence was commuted.

Preacher inside a church, back turned

Photo by Dan Antion

“Have mercy, Jesus!  Earthly bonds can’t hold the child here,” an old lady keened from the front row.  “She’ll be safe in the arms of Jesus.”

Amid gasps of horror, Brother Love’s eyebrows climbed toward his hairline.  He looked at the blood-soaked front of Tammy’s white dress quizzically.

“It ain’t the child what needs healing,” Brother Love stated calmly.

Murmurs of confusion and astonishment rose from the congregation.

I found his words just as confusing as everyone else.  However, I was so focused on the little girl that I didn’t take time to process the bizarre statement.

With a sudden thought, my head whipped around toward Doug.  When his eyes met mine, it was as if he already knew what I was thinking.

“The man you killed,” I started.  “I mean the man who died, the free bleeder.  He was Tammy’s father, wasn’t he?”

“I’m not exactly sure,” Doug replied quietly, as his fingers searched the back of Tammy’s head.  “When I went to prison, he didn’t have a daughter,” he explained with a slight hesitation.  “I had been seeing a woman, and he was her ex-boyfriend.  The fight was about her.  But she wouldn’t have anything to do with me after I went to jail.  I didn’t know there was a child for years, but Tammy’s age is right…” he finished uncertainly.

We only spoke for a couple of seconds.  Our attention never wavered from the child.

Most of the blood was on Tammy’s chest, but I didn’t see any tear in her white dress.  Cautiously, my hands checked the wet area.  However, part of my mind was stuck on what Doug had not said.

“Do mean that you think you might―” I started to ask the question.

Something squished under my fingers.  I drew back, disturbed.  I touched the spot again with one finger.  I felt the same squish, and a lot more blood seeped onto the girl’s dress.

Collage featuring hymnal by Dan Antion. Tomfoolery by Teagan

Collage featuring hymnal by Dan Antion. Tomfoolery by Teagan

“Hello!  I am Chef Boyarrrrdee,” Jinx whistled and said with in an Italian accent.

Startled, I turned my head.  The magpie was sitting on a shelf inside the podium.  He had my locket.  I hadn’t even noticed it was no longer hanging from my neck.

Jinx saw me looking and started scratching a frayed white hankie to cover the necklace.  It was one of the big handkerchiefs like Doug always carried.

Not thinking about my blood covered hands, I lifted one to push back my hair.  That’s when I smelled it ― spaghetti sauce.

I put my red coated fingers to my nose.  It wasn’t blood covering the girl’s dress.  Rather it was some sort of tomatoey liquid.

Tammy’s eyes popped open and she looked right at me.  Her gaze was at once fearful and conspiratorial.

Whaa―?” I began.

The child’s hand went to her cardboard fan.  However, my knee was on it.  When she pulled the fan out from under my knee, the edge of the paper cut her finger.

“Ow!” Tammy sat up and exclaimed.

That was real blood.

Tammy shrieked.  She stared in horror at her bleeding finger. 

Every eye returned to the child.  Except mine.  I saw Ruth Leiber slinking toward the choir exit.

Red Spots by Dan Antion

Red Spots by Dan Antion

I stretched up onto my knees, as far as I could and still hold Tammy.  I was afraid to let go of her.  If there had been some trick going on before, the blood coming from her hand was real.  I was afraid she would panic and run.  That would be disastrous for a hemophiliac.

Fortune smiled on me and I spotted Sargent Lamar Poole.  He must have started toward the podium when pandemonium broke out, because he was almost there.

I yelled his name.  With my free hand I pointed toward Ruth Leiber.

“Over there, Sargent!  Stop Ava Gardner!” was all I could think of saying that would get my meaning across quickly enough.

Sargent Poole looked at me like he was sure I had lost my mind.  Then he looked to the other side of the stage and saw Ruth.  Comprehension dawned on Poole’s face.  He inconspicuously maneuvered through the crowd.  By the time Ruth reached the exit, so did the policeman.

In her distress, Tammy’s fingernails dug painfully into my hand.  Ruth Leiber and Sargent Poole immediately left my thoughts.

As I looked down at Tammy, she deliberately raised her bleeding hand.  With bulging eyes, she regarded her real blood.

Doug seemed to be saying something to me.  His mouth opened and sluggishly changed position, as if he had taffy stuck in his teeth.  He made a loud but dull warble of incomprehensible sound.

Paweł Czerwiński at Unsplash

Paweł Czerwiński at Unsplash

Tammy’s eyes darted from Doug to me, to her bleeding hand.  Her hand jerked as she pointed to Doug.  The blood was flung out in a stream.

Then the blood slowed as it passed through the air of that hot August night.

It hung there.  A stream of red droplets was suspended in… nothing.

Jinx mimicked the sound of a telephone ringing one time.

My ears started to ring with the very same sound.  However, it went on and on, an endless ring.

The end.

***

Real World Notes — Chef Boyardee

Chef Boyardee in his first commercial — that was broadcast in 1953.  Chef Boyardee wasn’t exactly a fictional character for the brand. He was a real chef named Ettore “Hector” Boiardi, an Italian immigrant.  This first commercial features Mr. Boiardi as Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, commonly known now as Chef Boyardee.

***

Now for the obligatory shameless self-promotion…

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

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

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

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

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USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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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

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