The Delta Pearl 58 — Seek

Saturday, December 12, 2020 

Photo by Dan Antion
Photo by Dan Antion

Welcome back to the steampunk riverboat, my chuckaboos!  I hope all of you are staying safe and well. I invite you into my sanctuary, a place free of politics, religion, self-righteousness, and all the things that bring judgement with them. 

Many of you know that I deal with the effects of PTSD (anxiety, agoraphobia, and whatever else pops in) day-to-day, minute-to-minute.  Yesterday I read something that “triggered” me in a huge way.  The ending was a huge sucker-punch, at least for me.  That’s on me, not the writer of the piece.  I take accountability for my personal shortcomings. Regardless, I was so undermined by it that I’m prompted to make a promise to you.  My stories are like this sanctuary — a safe place for the imagination. My idea of “happily ever after” is not normal, but I will never kill off an important character for any reason.  Particularly not just for the sake of hearing you gasp when the sucker-punch hits your gut.

Random Reader Things 

I’m pretty sure that at some point, someone left “gas mask” as a random reader thing.  Although I don’t have it in my notes.  Or maybe it’s just that I used it when Randall sacrificed his own health to rescue Émeraude from the airborne net…  At any rate I hope you think this one is a gas!

Previously on The Delta Pearl

Today’s episode builds on two past chapters in particular.  Chapter 32 – Grasp and Chapter 40 – PlummetNow let’s see what kind of collie shangles I can stir up this time.

All aboard!

The Delta Pearl

Chapter 58 — Seek

Louis Jourdan in Madame Bovary 1949
Louis Jourdan in Madame Bovary 1949

Victor screamed.  I think I did too.

“It’s got my leg!” my inventor yelled.

Only then did I realize that my ankle was held fast.  Just as she had done back in Cairo, moments before I went ashore with my potential sweetheart, the Delta Pearl grabbed onto me.  The wood of the deck encased both of my ankles.  Similarly, it snaked up around one of Victor’s calves.

Lightning quick, the Dealer appeared on the deck.  The instant he took hold of Victor, the riverboat released her grip on his leg.  Jaspe had the inventor back inside before he had time to stop screaming.  A heartbeat later, Jaspe darted back to make sure I got inside safely.

“Did you really have to pick me up like a sack of flour?” I complained as the Dealer let my feet down to the plush carpet in the gaming area.

Cher, you were bending over.  That was the most expedient way to pick you up,” the Jaspe replied with a shrug.  “Besides, it’s not ladylike,” he added with a wink.

Liberty Bell Slot Machine, Wikimedia (altered by Teagan)
Liberty Bell Slot Machine, Wikimedia (altered by Teagan)

Liberty bell machines whirled madly as the Delta Pearl reacted to the temporal rift.  I wondered whether the reels of the slot machines would stop on a jackpot or a dud.

I accidentally dropped the thing I had bent to retrieve from the deck a moment before.  The broken malachite scarab landed on the deep red carpet.  The carpet never showed any sign of wear.  The clockwork, however, appeared to be dead — if such a term could be applied to it.

My knees bent as I began to stoop, as femininely as possible, to retrieve the clockwork beetle.  Thinking better of it, I cast a rebellious glare at Jaspe and bent down, rather than stooping, to retrieve the mechanical creature.

The riverboat continued to vibrate.  A tone I could barely hear set my teeth on edge.  I imagined Eliza’s little fluffy dog was howling in their stateroom.  However, there was no time to seek out my friends, the Needlemans.

Obsidian Durango skidded to a stop at the door that led to the kitchens.  He collided with Jet Fischer, who had followed the Cook earlier.  From what Jet had said, he thought Opal was having a heart attack.  Agate pushed past the two men, a vial of medicine in her hand.

“The Captain says to get your herbs into the drinks and the air vents, pronto.  Um, if you please, Agate,” Sid added awkwardly.

“Does he now?  As if I didn’t already know what to do when the riverboat takes it upon herself to jump to another time,” Agate told the Cadet calmly, but the look in her eyes was dangerous.

“Garnet?” the Cook yelled just as the man came around the corner.  “Chief Porter!  Oh, sorry, dear.  Yes, thank you for getting the porters to help the kitchen staff distribute the special tea.  But could you tell ‘em this is no time for cupboard love?” Agate added with an arch look at the sound of giggling that came from down the hallway.  “Once they’re finished, you know how to pump the herbal concoction into the air vents.  Don’t forget to close all the staff doors tightly and make sure they all have their breathing apparatus.”

Robert Redford Butch Cassidy Sundance Kid 1969
Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, 1969

“You heard the lady.  Get moving,” Garnet Redford pitched his voice so that his English accent could be heard down the kitchen hallway.

The Chief Porter headed to the kitchen to make sure everything was done.  A moment later, Coral rushed out with a tea tray.  She gave a saucy wink to Sid as she passed.  Then kitchen staff and porters streamed out of the hallway.

The Cadet handed Agate a breathing apparatus.  The Cook gave him a withering look.

“The Captain said that last time you thought about everyone else before yourself.  He’ll have my hide if I don’t give you this… this plague doctor, masquerade-looking, gas mask thing,” Sid stammered, defending himself.

“What about Opal,” Jet insisted.

“I’ll look to her right now,” Agate promised, and checked the vial she held.  “This should help.  Although, it’s not like our Librarian for anything to upset her so.  Are you sure it was her heart?”

“She put her hand to her chest as she fell,” Jet said. “I came for help immediately.”

Agate staggered as the riverboat gave a particularly violent shudder.  Jet put his arm around her so that she didn’t fall.  Then they hurried toward the library.

“What was all that talk about herbs?” Victor asked me.

He gave a distracted yip when a mostly black cat darted toward us.  The cat leapt into the air, and Victor drew back in surprise, shielding his face with his hands.  However, the cat didn’t jump for Victor.  He landed squarely on the Dealer’s shoulder.

The black cat had a white spot above one eye, that I thought looked like a monocle.  The odd markings had inspired me to call him Sir Reginald La Felin, or Reggie for short.  He belonged to Jaspe, who was unexpectedly behind us.

Pixabay
Pixabay

Ça va?  Are you worried there’s a gris-gris on this riverboat, young Topaz?  Crazy goings on, colored lights in the sky, and a black cat?  It’s hard to say if the temporal rifts are attracted to the Delta Pearl, or if it is she who seeks them out, but it is a thing of time shifting, not of the voodoo,” the Dealer said.

Jaspe paused to stroke the cat on his shoulder.

“Ah, pauvre ti bête…  Poor Reggie.  It’s alright.  You naughty minou.  Why aren’t you in our cabin?” the Dealer cooed in his Cajun accent.

“Once the passengers drink their doctored beverages, and after the Cook’s herbs fill the air… And after the Delta Pearl begins to make the right tones, the passengers will have no fears.  They won’t remember any of what has happened.  Instead, they will remember whatever sweet dream they have while sleeping,” the Dealer added.

Jaspe’s mouth tightened almost imperceptibly.  For him, that was a worried expression.  He turned his eyes to the etched glass doors, and the blue and green sky beyond.

“Although, it’s usually the Mate who cajoles the Pearl to make those musical tones.  She likes to sing with him, as it were,” Jaspe commented.

I took a steadying breath.  Blue John Boulton’s safety was already at the front of my mind.  Was everyone’s wellbeing also at risk, and tied to the Mate’s fate?

Abruptly, Jaspe drew his head to one side, to better see the cat on his shoulder.  His brow furrowed.

“Reggie, silly minou.  Have you something in your mouth?” the Dealer asked his cat.

Reggie responded with a muffled meow.

***

End Chapter 58

***

Dash my wig. I do hope Opal is okay. She looks so fragile.  And what does that cat have in his mouth?  Mee-noo, minou makes me think of the sound of a cat’s meow.  Jaspe (ZASH-pah) is, of course Cajun. Here’s a fun post about the lingo of that part of Louisiana.

In other news

I’m offering the service of “designed & ready” book covers.  (Thanks to Dan Antion for suggesting that term.) These covers are for sale, on a new page at this blog.  Click here to see my entire portfolio.  Here is one example.

Group II. Christmas Kitten, Blue Eyes, Stripe Stockings
Group II. Christmas Kitten, Blue Eyes, Stripe Stockings

Be well, be happy, my chuckaboos.  

***

.

 

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 © 2016 and 2020 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.

 


84 thoughts on “The Delta Pearl 58 — Seek

    1. Thanks so much, David. It’s wonderful to see you. I appreciate your feedback. The past few episodes… there’s so much happening in the story, that I worry that the episodes are chaotic. You could say that the riverboat story has encountered some rapids, so hang on tight! Be well, be happy, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I do hope Opal is okay. And what does the cat have it its mouth? And will all the passengers drink the tea and not remember? So many questions, and such a great episode. Thanks, Teagan!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful new cover, Teagan! Famous, lovely! I adore! 🙂
    I amsorry for that, what you have written in the intro. This episode is great, i think now (virtualized) Crystal would enter the stage. 😉 i am waiting on the next sequel to see. 😉 Have a beautiful day! Enjoy the silence these days! Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Michael — about the cover and for this comment. The intro… that’s just my “stuff.” Hopefully 2021 will help bring healing, but the PTSD is very old. I know it takes time to work through it.

      Haha! Crystal is a “scardey cat” — I’m not sure she would try to catch (hunt) anything other than her toys. But she is a fierce hunter for her string and the paper balls she likes to “kill” and bring to me.

      Yes, it is so very quiet here, compared to DC. Even when the Air Force jets fly over and make a sonic boom, it’s quieter than DC. Have a wonderful new week, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, Crystal is really a “softie”? Lol Sorry! Honestly these cat i am loving more. Our former cat was a great wanderer,and most times killing the pigeons on a neighbours farm. You are living in a very amazing area, i think. Jets are part of the USA. Lol We had them during the Cold War, here on the border to the Czech Republic.Horrible for childs like me. Thank you for the wishes! Enjoy the upcoming week too. We are going into a very strong lockdown, but i dont know how strong we could make it. Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Another energized adventure on the Delta Pearl, Teagan. And a great follow-up discussion about names (the best one is the “Delta Pearl – so much story embedded in two words) about characters, about twists and turns. But your insights on writers and their responsibility to readers was the “ah ha” moment for me. “My stories are like this sanctuary – a safe place for the imagination.” Teagan – I choose my books very carefully and I confess to all that I have read the last page of a book when I am uncertain as to the writer’s intention. As a reader, I place my wellbeing into the hands of the writer to safeguard me throughout the narrative. There is a unspoken agreement between writer and reader. As you, I am not looking for a happily ever after ending, but I demand redemption, even when the story deals with difficult circumstances. Think of the last line of Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest than I go to than I have ever known.” Or To Kill A Mockingbird: “He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked in the morning.” And my personal favorite from The Bridge of San Luis Rey: “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” And that is why I enjoy your writing, Teagan. You provide safety and redemption. Sending love and hugs your way…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heartfelt thanks for this mindful comment, Rebecca. Yes, I have to skip to the end of a book as soon as I start worrying about a character I like. I read just enough to see if the character is still there. I find enlightenment in many ways — but when I read or watch TV, I just want/need to be entertained. As to “moving” “heartwarming” stories, I’ve long said that I can cry for free (without the expense of money or time spent on stories that make me sad).

      Oooo… thank you for this collection of last lines. I’ve always put so much effort into the first line. Now I see the importance of the final line as well! Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Geoff, I love the word “absurdist.” When Sir Reggie sauntered back into the story, of course he had to bring a mystery with him. LOL.
      Reading the news yesterday gave me a fright — and I’ve never been more relieved to be thousands of miles away from DC. Even the Delta Pearl in a time rift seems safe comparatively. Now I’m also glad to be fairly close to the border of another country! Balderdash and bushwa! So, yes, I will snuggle up safely. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. No moss will ever grow under your feet Teagan! You are in perpetual motion…..or at least your brain/imagination is! I want a BIG cup of that tea on New Year’s Eve Teagan so I will have no memory of 2020.

    I love all these characters and their names, and I especially love the clockwork characters. Except you’ve managed to not make them seem as only characters, but real. Quite a feat. I have a suspicion that Reggie has the clockwork scarab in his mouth. This series is so exciting and so much fun to read! What a great movie this would make! 🤗🤗

    I share some of your health issues along with my own. In this Year of the Pandemic, we ALL have become a bit more fragile. Our nerves are stretched to the limit. We have attitudes we didn’t know we had. It doesn’t take but a word, or even a look, to set us off when before the pandemic, we would’ve barely noticed. Too bad you can’t brew yourself some of that tea to drink any time one of these incidents occurs and you would just forget it.

    Well, there are many things out there you could brew, smoke, chew or inject to get the same result, but they would probably just get you jail time! So hang strong my friend. Some people just know what button to push, and they’re mean enough to push it. 😡 Consider this: you have a big heart, a bright, talented mind, are a friend to all of us who follow you, and you are your own person. YOU are a winner!
    Ginger

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Ginger, you are so incredibly kind — thank you for this supportive comment. Yeah, if there was a tea that would let me choose what I was going to forget, I’d buy a truckload. Long ago, I told a friend, “I’d wish for amnesia, but with my luck I would obsessively solve the mystery of what I had forgotten — Only then to find out that I had wanted to forget!” LOL.I

      If I had a prize to give, you would have won it. That was my first thought of what is in the cat’s mouth. But ten seconds later the idea started changing… and changing, and changing. Now I have no idea what it is. 😀 🐱 Huge hugs winging your way, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the addition of a black cat, Teagan. What does it have in its mouth? A clockwork mouse?
    Temporal time and forget-what-you-know tea…what an interesting combination that will prove to give us an interesting next chapter.
    Happy Caturday, Teagan! Hugs and purrs on the fur from Gibbs and I. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mary J. I’ve been meaning to bring the cat back into the story. GP left him as a “thing” very early in the voyage. It’s been a long time since he got into a chapter. I’m happy Sir Reggie has a friend in you. 🐱
      Reggie was in chapters 6, 8, & 18
      https://teagansbooks.com/2019/09/07/the-delta-pearl-6-listen/
      https://teagansbooks.com/2019/09/27/the-delta-pearl-8-think/
      https://teagansbooks.com/2019/12/28/the-delta-pearl-18-bump/

      Crystal was acting… discontent first thing this morning, but she’s fine now and sends a happy Caturday purr back to Gibbs. Happy weekend hugs, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I couldn’t remember if the cat had made an appearance beforehand, so thanks for the links. I’ll go back and refresh my memory. My roommate and I have been watching a lot of streaming serial TV during the pandemic and trying to keep up with characters and the plot. It’s tiring sometimes! 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It’s hard to believe this boat has been on the river over a year. I don’t expect anybody to remember episodes or the array of characters.
          If you particularly like one of the serials you’ve been watching — I’m looking for new (to me) shows.
          Hugs on the wing.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Not sure if these are your cup of tea. They have adult language and themes, some of which could offend if you’re not up for blood and sex and really bad villians. A few of these are historical fiction and we liked all of these shows.
            Hell on Wheels – Netflix
            Turn – Netflix
            Outlander – Netflix and Starz
            Vikings – Hulu and soon to finish up on Amazon Prime
            The Last Kingdom – Netflix
            Longmire – Netflix
            Call the Midwife – Netflix
            Madalorian (baby yoda!) – Disney+ (we’re also rewatching all of the Star Wars movies)

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thanks for the list, Mary J. I’ve been meaning to check out Turn. I’m a total whimp about what I can watch lately. I’ve found a few new-to-me things on Prime, but I’ve been watching too many police procedural types… but that seems to be the only “not-loud” (whether shooting or arguments) thing that holds my interest. Funny how most comedies are just a bunch of yelling. Maybe I should invest in Disney, just to watch the Star Wars collection. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Diana. That undermined in a stronger way than it should have. I guess it’s just an indicator of how far I have to go. Hug accepted and appreciated.
      These past two chapters have been chaotic. I’m relieved no readers have fallen overboard. LOL. Thanks for being on this riverboat, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Another exciting episode, thank you, my Chuckaboo. I’m so sorry about your trouble. I hope that you’ll overcome all the fears and encourage your soul. All are surely Aboard, just keep going. 🤗🥰💖🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you caught that, Priscilla. I remember my grandmother using the term “like a sack of flour” in a few different ways. GP Cox left the cat as a thing early in the voyage. It was fun deciding to which character the cat would belong. Jaspe seemed most unlikely, so he got the cat. I’ve been meaning to bring him back. Happy weekend, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fascinating chapter. I’m holding you to your word that you will never kill off an important character so I look forward to how you will be able to safely return Blue John to the Pearl. Other than that the world is still turning, the sun is still rising and we have all survived to read another chapter. Until I can re-embark on the Pearl (hopefully next week), Healing Hugs speeding your way on supersonic wing, dear Teagan.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. While I don’t remember who said it, I read some very qualified advice that said it takes a lot more talent to keep a character alive (and interesting) than it does to kill one off. That comes back to me whenever I’m watching a show and a character is killed.
      You are so kind, Pat — thank you. Blue John has a big part to play yet. I just have to get us there… Hugs winging back to you, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve heard several bits of good news today including the vaccine relief, some court decisions, and that Blue John has more parts to play. I’m also hoping the librarian, Opal returns to health shortly. Stay well, Teagan.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. So much is happening, and I’ve gotten so attached to these characters that I have to keep reminding myself this is fiction. Then I ask, “or is it?” I have so many questions, is Opal ok? Where’s Blue John? Why and what is everyone preparing for? I think I could use a calming word from Jaspe (and why is he concerned?). Teagan, you’ve brought us so far into this story. I feel like I’m literally on board.

    I hope you have an easy weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is powerful feedback, Dan — heartfelt thanks. I have those Twilight Zone/Outer Limits moments, sensations that make me ask what is real sometimes. Especially with the weird year 2020 has been. Thanks for staying on the riverboat throughout all this chaos. 😀 Happy weekend, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. It’s all so mysterious, Teagan… I hope you’re well. Thanks for the reassurances. There are sure enough upsetting things all around. Good luck with your covers. I’ll have to get thinking about new stories 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Pete! I’m rather enamored of that name myself, LOL. Many years ago, someone called me a “Collector of Names.” I really do have a thing for names. Recently, I made an index of all my character names — and there were 360+ names — and only a few that I used more than once.
      So on the Delta Pearl, I had the idea that all of the crew would have gemstone names. Then my research showed that the Victorians often gave their children gemstone names, so that sealed the deal.
      Also, I followed the original Star Trek’s lead in having the crew from multiple countries — and letting them retain their cultures. Thanks for reading and commenting, my chuckaboo!

      Liked by 2 people

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