A Valentine from Atonement, Tennessee 2017

pig-hearts-red-2017

For once I thought about doing a Valentine’s story before the last minute.  It’s a good thing too, because I stumped myself.  I wanted to use characters from Atonement, Tennessee, and bring back one from a past Valentine from Atonement, Tennessee as well.  However, connecting that part to another Atonement character presented quite a problem.  Every story-line I started took me to a spoiler!

Finally I settled on Marge Tipton, a very minor character.  No spoilers, but I had a devil of a time figuring out how Cupid’s arrow could strike bachelorette Marge.  You can read a little more about Marge here.

It’s a little longer than I’ve been posting, but fewer than 2,500 words.  I hope this little romp leaves you with a happy glow.  Here’s your 2017 Valentine from Atonement, Tennessee.  Enjoy!

PS: I made a video trailer too…

Deme and Honeybell’s Valentine

Silver light washed down from the moon to illumine the sidewalk.  Earth’s lone satellite was just past full.  The clock in the town square struck midnight on February 14th.

The moon wasn’t the only thing that glowed that night.  Two friends also emanated an ethereal radiance of their own, as they walked the deserted street.

Honeybell gave a surreptitious glance over her shoulder toward the second of two traffic lights on the main street of Atonement, Tennessee.  She grunted softly, fascinated by the slowly changing colors, red to green to yellow to red. 

It seemed an odd decoration.  It made her nervous.  This was all Deme’s idea.  Honeybell hoped her friend wouldn’t land them in trouble.  Deme could be something of a prankster, and Honeybell was getting the same reputation.  Still looking over her shoulder at the lights, Honeybell gave a loud snort as she bumped into Deme.

Pay attention and stop acting like an unsophisticated pig,” Honeybell silently scolded herself.

2-pigs-traffic-light

Deme had stopped.  Her eyes were closed in concentration.  When she opened them, her sapphire orbs were bright with excitement.  She reared up to point at the sign, Annie’s Antiques and Consignment Shop, and her front hooves came back to the sidewalk with a sharp clip.

“It’s still here!” Deme quietly exclaimed.

Honeybell wagged her curly tail happily.

“What about the woman?  Is she close enough?” she asked Deme, concerned about all the details coming together properly.

“The woman lives near the first red-green-yellow light.  It is an easy run from here,” Deme replied in a satisfied tone.

The glow from the two otherworldly pigs brightened a as they stared at the door of the antique shop.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  Grunt, snuffle, snort,” they vocalized in unison.

The door swung open, shop-bell chiming in welcome.  Deme and Honeybell walked inside.

“I feel it!” Honeybell cried.  “I feel the rose quartz.”

Honeybell made a beeline to the back of the shop and a glass case.  As the pigs drew near, a necklace inside the case illuminated.  The filigree setting was polished brightly and held a large heart-shaped gem.  The pastel pink rose quartz stone pulsed softly in ruddy radiance.

Annies antiques

Annie’s Antiques

“It’s as if the heart is beating,” Honeybell said in awe.  “What a lovely gem.”

Deme agreed, her sapphire blue eyes wide.  “Rose quartz helps us accept and love ourselves,” she replied agreeably.

Honeybell nosed at the necklace until it fell from the glass shelf to hang around her neck.  Deme made a sardonic grunt at her friend.

“The most practical way to carry the necklace is to hang it around my neck,” Honeybell explained in a very indignant tone.  “Oh look!  That light over there is not earthly,” she quickly changed the subject, and was happy when Deme followed her gaze. (More about Annie’s Inventory Notes here.)

The otherworldly pigs went to investigate the luminescence near the cash register at the front of the store.  The light shone through several layers of paper in the special inventory notes kept by Annie, the shop owner.  If the writing glowed, that meant an item had awakened.  Deme and Honeybell looked at the rosy sparkle of the necklace and nodded to each other in approval.

***

pig-valentine-lolas

After a briskly refreshing run, the two otherworldly pigs entered the home of bacehlorette and local diner owner, Marge Tipton.

Deme looked around the spotless kitchen.  She saw a local newspaper and an advertisement on the table.  There was also a deposit receipt from the local First Bank & Trust.

Honeybell snuffled as she scented the air and listened to the vibrations of the house.  “I feel a lot of hidden sadness,” Honeybell murmured, eyes brimming with tears.

“So do I, but get ahold of yourself.  We can’t afford to let our own emotions get mixed in with what we’re about to do,” Deme told her firmly.  “Things could go quite badly if we did.”

The small pigs moved toward the bedroom where they could hear the regular breathing of Marge Tipton.

“She is soundly asleep,” Deme whispered.  “Honeybell, you seem better attuned to this woman than I am.  Do you detect anything in this house that can be used to work with the rose quartz necklace?” Deme questioned, delegating some of the authority she had bestowed upon herself.

Honeybell snuffled and grunted quietly.  She went to a box in the closet.  A broad satin ribbon was tied around the box.  Honeybell pulled the ribbon, untying the bow.  Inside was a stack of old postcards, with postmarks in the 1980s. Cowgirl valentine

One postcard had been torn in half and then taped back together.  Honeybell noticed the scribbled writing said “I can’t wait to get back to Phoenix to see you.  Love, Chad.”  Some of the cards were marred by tearstains, particularly one that was addressed to “Marla” with the name crossed out and “Marge” written next to it.  Most of the words were rendered illegible by the long dry tears.

With an excited snort, Honeybell scampered back to the kitchen.  Deme followed curiously.  The checkered cloth muffled the clatter of Honeybell’s hooves when she bounded onto the kitchen table.  Her twisty little tail wagged at a quick pace as she inspected a colorful sheet of paper.

The two pigs went over every inch of the flyer and the newspaper article that lay next to it, and the bank slip too.  The ad was from the Rowdy Rooster, a large redneck bar outside the town of Atonement.

“Hit recording artist and 80s TV star of The Medical Files, Chad Allen to perform!” Deme read the flyer.

“The postcards were to Marge from Chad Allen,” Honeybell whispered then looked at the newspaper.  “They were lovers when she was a young woman.  Marge had a happy life then in Adrian, Texas.  But he left her to travel with the rodeo and got famous.  Then he recorded a hit song and did that television series and became a big star — for a while anyway.”

“He lied to Marge for years before she could admit the truth to herself.  She felt so betrayed and so ashamed that she never forgave herself for being foolish.  Then she came here when her brother begged her, saying he needed her,” Honeybell commented knowingly.

“So she is not in Atonement, Tennessee to atone,” Deme commented in a speculative tone.  “Her brother is.”

“Perhaps she actually is atoning too,” suggested Honeybell.  “She would not love herself enough to say no to those who did not deserve her love.”

The glowing pigs looked at each other for a moment.  They seemed to come to a silent agreement.

“Help me put everything back the way we found it,” Deme said and they put the newspaper, flyer, and even the bank receipt in place.  “Let’s leave the rose quartz laying on these papers.  That should be enough to get things started,” Deme said.

Honeybell dropped the necklace onto the papers.  There was a tiny spark when the gem touched them.  Then the rosy radiance filled the entire room before dying down.

*** Close-up of a woman's foot with slippers

“Come on Marge!  So what if you don’t care about seeing a washed up TV star.  It’ll be a night out with the girls.  We’re both scheduled to be off,” Jenny, the lead waitress at L-O-L-A Lola’s Bar and Grille, pleaded into the phone.  “When you turn loose, you’re the life of the party!”

“Good gravy, Jenny.  It’s too early in the morning to be planning a night at a bar,” Marge grumbled sleepily.

However, Jenny saying Marge was the life of the party brought a reluctant smile to her lips.  She had never told a soul in Atonement, Tennessee about the Chad Allen episode, as she thought of it.  She told her brother Tracey once, but he was too drunk to remember, so that didn’t count.

Jenny was still talking, but Marge had slipped into the past.  Every time she thought of her home back in Adrian, Texas she became melancholy.Maxwell House last drop ad

Marge shook her head thinking of that evening of inebriated confessions with her brother.  They both sure had tied one on.  She thought it was such a shame that her brother couldn’t get past his drinking.  Tracey had a good heart and was surprisingly generous.  Once he gave her a diamond tennis bracelet for no reason at all.  She knew he must have saved his money for years to buy it.

“It won’t be half as much fun without you.  All the girls still love Chad Allen,” Jenny went on, and for a second Marge thought she might change her mind.

Opening the refrigerator door, Marge took out a container of milk.  The coffee was done.  As she poured the steaming liquid into her mug, she wondered what it would be like to see Chad again, even from across the big room of the Rowdy Rooster. 

Then all the scenarios of what people would tell her she should do, what she should feel blasted into her head.  Maybe Chad had changed.  His star had risen and fallen.  What if he had actually become the person he made her think he was back then, before she learned what a lying, philandering jerk he really was.

Marge was sure anybody she knew would tell her she should — no she had to go and see him.  She gave her head a shake.  Would she feel vindicated or sad if the years had been unkind to him?  She told herself that he’d never recognize her.  If he did, he’d likely cringe at her appearance and pretend he didn’t remember.

She took a deep breath and brought her attention back to Jenny on the phone.  Making up an excuse, Marge turned Jenny down in a firm “boss” voice.  Jenny had worked for her long enough to know that tone brooked no argument.

Marge hung up the phone.  Coffee mug in hand, she went to the kitchen table to finish reading the newspaper.  That was when she noticed the beautiful antique necklace laying there.

“How?  Who?” Marge stammered.

1973-sarah-coventry-necklace-adShe picked up the rose quartz necklace with a sigh at its beauty.  “Tracy,” she murmured thinking her brother must have left it there to surprise her.  It couldn’t have been anyone else.

Marge plopped down into a chair.  She glanced at the newspaper article and Rowdy Rooster flyer about her old love, Chad.  She read both for the twentieth time.  With each reading she promised herself she would never be betrayed again.

It didn’t occur to her that she held the rose quartz necklace tightly in her hand, or that she didn’t want to put it down.  Then she fastened it around her neck.  Not only was the necklace the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, she felt pretty just for wearing it.

***

That evening Marge tidied up the kitchen.  She picked up the newspaper and the receipt from First Bank & Trust.  It was a morbid attraction, but she couldn’t help looking at the flyer.  Taking a beer from the fridge, she read the article one more time.

“Marge Tipton,” she told herself aloud.  “Don’t you ever let your guard down like that again!”

She had no wish to see Chad again.  She had firmly stomped on the imagined voices of everyone saying she should do.  So Marge wasn’t sure why she changed into some party clothes that evening, still wearing the rose quartz necklace.  Neither could she have said why she got into her mint condition 1972 red Chevy C10 pickup truck and drove way out highway 41 to the Rowdy Rooster.

Almost an hour later Marge got out of her truck and walked across the parking lot.  The noise of the patrons lived up to the name of the Rowdy Rooster.

Her footsteps became slower as she moved toward the door.  The sound of the crowd inside grated against her nerves.  She couldn’t imagine why she had come there in the first place, after flatly turning down Jenny’s invitation.  Marge didn’t realize she had stopped in the middle of the parking lot.

1972 Chevy C10 Shortbed Stepside Pickup

1972 Chevy C10 Shortbed Stepside Pickup

“Marge?  I mean, Ms. Tipton?” a voice intruded on her confused thoughts.

She turned toward the voice feeling muddled.  “I only had one beer before I left home.  What’s the matter with me?” she wondered and gave herself a mental shake.

He was barely recognizable in cowboy boots and a sport coat.  Marge had only seen Russell Skeen, the manager of the First Bank & Trust, in a dark business suit.

“Are you okay, Ms. Tipton?” Russell repeated.

“Oh, don’t mind me, I just suddenly felt a little out of sorts, that’s all.  And please call me Marge,” she stammered, feeling her cheeks heat with a blush.  “I should have stayed at home,” she murmured.

“I know what you mean,” Russell admitted.  “I do like the cowboy boots my daughter gave me, but I can’t say I care for this place.  I let my daughter pester me into agreeing to join her and her friends tonight.  Then wouldn’t you know, she just now called to say she won’t be coming,” he added in a bemused tone.  “She means to get me out more,” he said with a shrug.

Russell Skeen drew back a bit and looked at Marge curiously.  His hand rose toward her, but he stopped himself.  He shook his head and chuckled.

Midnight moon farie

“For a second there I thought your necklace was glowing.  It must have been all those facets reflecting the light,” Russell told her.  “I see that you like antiques.  That one’s a beauty.”

Marge unthinkingly put her hand to the rose quartz necklace.  It felt very warm to the touch.  She looked at the unassuming bank manager as if she had never truly seen him before.  Marge was pleased with what she saw.

“You know, there are a few antique shops between here and Atonement.  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather browse through them than be inside that noisy bar.  Do you think you could join me?  Maybe we could get some coffee somewhere too?”

Marge looked toward the Rowdy Rooster.  She thought about the flyer advertising Chad Allen.  She thought of the stack of postcards she kept even though he had betrayed her.

She picked up the rose quartz and held it so that she could look at it.  “Why did it feel so warm?  It actually does seem to be glowing a little,” Marge thought.

“Mr. Skeen, I think that sounds like a fine idea,” she told him.

“Only if you call me Russell,” he replied as he walked her back to her pickup truck and politely took her hand as she climbed up into the cab.

“Did you hear that?” she asked Russell.  “I could have sworn I heard a snuffling, snorting sound, like pigs.”

“There’s lots of farmland around here.  It could be that one got loose.  But you’d think all the bacon they serve in these places would scare a pig away,” Russell joked.

At the word bacon, a shrill startled-sounding noise was easily heard, but they still didn’t see any pigs.

Pig Valentine

The End.

Happy Valentines Day from Teagan’s Books and everyone in Atonement, Tennessee.

 Mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2017 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.

 

A Tricky Little Valentine

Cowgirl valentineHello everyone.  Thanks for coming back.  During the past four weeks we’ve all been playing with my mini-series on the five senses.  However, since Valentine’s Day is this weekend I decided to write a short story for the occasion.  Next weekend I’ll be back with the fifth and final part of the mini-series.

If you know me at all, then you are not expecting a romance, certainly not a typical one anyway.  This is an odd little story I jotted down on impulse, but I hope you’ll enjoy it.

The narrator made one previous appearance here at Teagan’s Books in a short story called Kokopelli’s Daughter.  It’s just a little flight of fancy.

Kokopelli’s Daughter and Valentine’s Day

Moments after sleep blanketed my tired mind, my eyelids sprang open.  I shot out of the bed and ran toward the kitchen in a state near panic.  As I skidded around the corner I flipped on the light switch.  I stumbled to a stop at the calendar that hung beside the refrigerator.  A moan escaped my lips when I saw the date — February 13th, but only for a couple more hours.

How could I have forgotten?  Being Kokopelli’s daughter I unconsciously exert a unique magic on Valentine’s Day.  It’s a very tricky sort of magic too.  My father is a music spirit, but also the eternal trickster.  The magic of that genealogy is a dirty trick forever played on unsuspecting people through me.  The joke is also on me as often as everyone else.  It’s uncontrollable, and it gets stronger and stranger each year.1955 February Valentine calendar

The picture on the calendar should have been a good enough reminder.  A bewildered boy holding one heart-shaped box of candy, greeted by two identical girls — it was a painful reminder of one year’s disastrous Valentine’s Day.  That year desires doubled on one side of a couple, but were cut in half on the other.  I was surrounded by angry twosomes… not to mention my own overly amorous date.

Another year I happened to be in Japan on Valentine’s Day.  I had no idea the gender roles for were reversed there in that women bought chocolates for men.  The magic that surrounded me on that day wreaked havoc, and not just roles, but men and women themselves were reversed for miles around me.

After that year I made a point of taking myself to some remote corner of the world on Valentine’s Day.  Yet somehow the date had escaped me.  The best I could do would be to simply get as far away from civilization as I could manage in the short time remaining before midnight.

I jumped into a pair of jeans and threw on a leather jacket.  I ran out of my “painted lady” Victorian home on Haight Ashbury.  I hurried down the stairs and vaulted into my yellow 1928 M-Type MG Midget.1929 MType MG Midget

I headed the Midget up the coast to Highway 101.  Even if I “helped” the car travel faster, I couldn’t get far enough away before midnight.  However, at least humanity would only be on one side of me.  The ocean would be on the other.

When the clock struck twelve, I felt it deep inside without even looking at my watch.  I pulled the MG off the highway and walked down to a deserted beach.  Sitting down on the sand, I gazed up at the cloudless sky.  With a groan I saw that fate conspired with magic to make things worse.  The moon was full.  There were formations on the face of the moon that some people referred to as the “rabbit moon.”  However, I knew the truth of that.  The shape on the moon was not a rabbit, but Kokopelli!

Vintage Rabbits MoonI glared at the luminous orb.  Soft chuckling emanated from the heavens in return to my spiteful stare.  Then the trickster appeared beside me.

“Do you know, hija,” my father began.  “It was the twisted magic of this night that brought your mother to me.”

I answered with a silent gaze, waiting for him to continue.  I thought of my mother, Themis, the Greek goddess of Justice.  The odd mix of my parents gave me constantly warring impulses.  Because of Themis I was forever compelled to see justice done.  Yet my nature was also to be a trickster like Kokopelli.

“Play for me, hija.  Play upon the beautiful flute your mother gave you,” he urged offering me the flute I had left at home.

“You play far better than I could ever hope to play.  If you want music, then play for yourself,” I said irritated.  I turned my head toward the moon which was suddenly and suspiciously devoid of “rabbit” like formations and shadows.  Abruptly his duplicitous intent sprang with clarity to my mind.  “You would have me bring her to you!  Themis would never forgive me,” I admonished my father.

“If you play for me,” he urged purely devious.  “I will mix my greater magic with your accident riddled, enchanted emanations.  You could have a Valentine’s Day the likes of which mortals can only dream,” he pressed and then smirked when he saw the sharp expression on my face.  “And by dream I do not mean nightmares.  How hurtful that my daughter would think such of me,” he added with such a preposterous pout that I rolled my eyes.Kokopelli

“No?” he asked again proffering my multi-colored flute.

My answer was a loud snort.  Kokopelli began to play the flute himself.  He danced slowly on the beach as he played.  Fish began to summersault out of the ocean, flipping seafoam into moonlight glittered heart shapes before they splashed back into the sea.

I felt movement at my side.  Turning, I was stunned to see my mother beside me.  Themis smiled at me gently, but fire smoldered in her eyes when she turned toward my father.

“Just one dance,” she whispered.  “Just this once.”

Kokopelli and Themis danced.  The flute appeared on the sand beside me.  Though it was untouched, the music continued.  I knew their dance would soon progress to movements no one wanted to see their parents make.

I strolled down the beach and out onto a jetty.  I heard the loud noise of something large as it slapped the water.  A great fishtail with scales shimmering in the moonlight, arced down to again slap the water.

Music from my magically played flute wafted to my ears.  I rolled up the legs of my jeans and strolled into the ocean.  Hundreds of tiny fish jumped into the air, also making heart shapes in the reflected light of the full moon.

heartI continued to walk and soon the water was hip-deep.  Then the large shimmering tail slapped the surface again.  A merman beckoned to me playfully.  I looked back down the coast and saw that Kokopelli and Themis still danced.

The magic that was part of me twisted fitfully on Valentine’s Day, but my father’s enchantment was holding things in place, at least for that span of time.  So I decided to seize the moment.

As I took the merman’s hand the tune of the flute trilled.

 

The End.

***

I hope you’ll come back next time for the fifth and final installment of the mini-series on the senses.

Mega hugs!

Teagan

Copyright © 2016 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Valentine’s Day in Atonement, Tennessee

Happy Valentine’s Day my friends!
AT Valentine 2I wish there had been time to write a new short story as my Valentine to all of you… But I’m going to re-Press the one I wrote last year. At least it will be new to some of you.

What is new is the video I made for it. Yes, I tried my hand at making a trailer. So if you’ll put up with the short video, the story will follow.

It is an “Atonement” story, but one that is not in the novel at all. It takes place about 20 years before Ralda Lawton moved to the quaint little town of Atonement, Tennessee.

This tale features one of the Atonement, Tennessee characters — the sheriff, Robin Warden.  If you’ve read the novel, you’ll probably think he’s an odd choice, but that’s what makes it fun.  The sheriff is not the most endearing citizen of Atonement.  This short story takes place quite a few years before the timeline of the novel, with a much younger Robin who is only a deputy sheriff. He has recently come to the town of Atonement and of course, strange things happen.

Animoto video

Embedded

An Atonement, Tennessee Valentine

Hey Robin!  Where’s Batman?  He might let you drive the Batmobile if you’re real nice to him.”  The bullies hadBatmanRobin never outgrown their taunts.  Whether they were ten, twenty, or fifty, those jerks would harass him with the same old thing, Robin Warden thought as he landed on his chest with a thud.  Why had he thought of them?  He had been away from those guys for a month.

What was so wrong with looking like Burt Ward, or being named Robin?  Well, all right — he supposed he could understand how the jokes were tempting.  What he didn’t understand was why they got such a kick out of the same old jabs.

Robin picked himself up and continued looking for the pig.  He’d been chasing it all afternoon.  He couldn’t believe a stupid pig kept getting the better of him.  Maybe that’s why he had thought of the bullies he’d grown up with back in Asheville.  The pig was dragging his self-image through the mud. Literally.

True love heartHis breath froze on the air as he sighed… February in Atonement, Tennessee — “East Bumbles,” the back end of nowhere.  Then he realized that it was Valentine’s Day and he was even more annoyed.  Robin secretly had daydreams of a perfect Valentine’s Day, bringing flowers to a beautiful girl, romance, the whole hearts-and-flowers nine yards.  One year the guys had found out, and he’d never heard the end of it.  As if his unfortunate resemblance to the TV Batman’s sidekick didn’t give his tormentors enough fuel for their quips, they teased him about Valentine’s Day too…

He gave a derisive snort at the memory, and a porcine snuffle seemed to answer from the other side of a bush.  With a lunge he almost had the pig that time.  Almost.  It slipped out of his grasp like a magician, and it ran faster than anything that might someday become bacon had a right to run.  Robin patted his chest to make sure the deputy’s badge was still there.  At least he had that over the guys back home.  He was a real deputy sheriff.

“I’ll show those jerks,” he thought.  “I’ll be driving a real ‘Batmobile’ when I get my own police car, or close enough.  They’ll never match that,” he promised himself.  “And I’ll catch that dang pig or die trying too!”

Scrambling to his feet, Robin ran after the pig again.  He was amazed that his Valentine’s Pig ValentineDay was being spent that way.  He asked himself what difference it made.  He hadn’t made any friends in the tiny town of Atonement yet.  There weren’t many people his age period.  He’d only met a couple of girls, and they weren’t interested in him.  He let out an irritated breath.  The blasted pig might as well be his Valentine.

A glance at the cloudy sky told him night would come early.  He picked up his pace in the chase after the pig.  Leaves crunched as he pounded the twisting path, running, sliding, gaining, and losing.  Sometimes he wondered if the little porker intentionally let him catch a glimpse of it.  Once it actually seemed to be waiting for him to catch up.  Robin was so exasperated he could have screamed.

Until the unwanted memory of the bullies intruded on his thoughts, Robin had thought signing up for the Interstate Sheriffs’ Department exchange program had been the worst mistake of his life.  To think he’d believed he was bored living in Asheville, North Carolina!  It was a wonderland of excitement compared to Atonement, Tennessee.  However, after he thought about it, chasing livestock through rural Atonement was probably better than dealing with the bullies and jerks back home. Robin shook his head resignedly.

Gate Ajar Night

It was really clouding up, and it would be dark soon.  Robin thought uneasily that he wasn’t exactly sure where he was anymore; the pig had led him on such a chase.  That was kind of unnerving.  He’d only lived in the area for a matter of weeks.  The idea of being lost, in the woods, on a winter night was not something he liked to consider.

Then he caught sight of the little rascal running up a trail.  With a burst of energy Robin poured on the speed.  That sorry pig was not going to get away again!  It was headed straight for a tall iron fence.  The pig kept running.  So did Robin.  He finally had it cornered.  Or not…  Were some of the iron bars bent aside?

The young deputy cursed as the pig went through the gap in the fence.  However, Robin Warden wasn’t any bigger than Batman’s sidekick with the regrettably similar name.  He slipped through the damaged bars and made a heroic dive for the pig.  It complained loudly when he caught it by its back feet.

The wind kicked up as he tied a rope securely around the wriggling animal.  He was so intent on his task that he didn’t notice how threatening and dark the black clouds became.  Abruptly the pig became unexpectedly still.  That’s when Robin realized the earth was trembling.  A loud thump proved something heavy had fallen, but he didn’t see what it was.  An earthquake?  He knew Tennessee sometimes experienced very small quakes.

A sharp crack made him jump half out of his skin.  It sounded like lightning, but there was no flash, just the sharp, sudden sound.  Robin looked over his shoulder and saw that a huge old oak tree had a wide split down the center of its trunk.Split tree

The frightened pig huddled against him.  For a moment it didn’t dawn on Robin that he was holding the animal.  The ground stilled.  Robin and the pig looked at one another with wide startled eyes.  The pig looked as embarrassed as Robin felt.  At least the guys weren’t around to see that awkward moment.  He set the pig on the ground and stood up.

Robin took a deep breath.  “Oh crap!” he muttered when he saw that he’d dropped the rope.  However, the pig sat calmly back on its haunches, like a well-trained pet on a leash.  Robin quickly bent down and snatched up the rope before the animal could change its mind.

Mystified by the pig’s sudden change in behavior, he scratched it behind the ears.  It seemed to smile, but he guessed that was just the shape of its mouth.  He patted the pig’s head and said, “Good pig.”  Even as he spoke the words they sounded ridiculous.

Robin spotted the source of the heavy thud sound.  A tombstone was overturned.  He looked around at a very old and rundown Mausoleum_dreamstime_xs_20242963cemetery.  At least he knew where he was — the old Sunhold estate’s graveyard.

A snuffling sound drew his attention.  There was another pig behind the tumbled gravestone.  Then he saw a third pig a few feet away, rooting in the tall dead grass.  The more Robin looked around, the more pigs he saw.  There were at least a dozen.

Twilight descended and Robin stood in perplexed awe, looking at all the pigs.  As the light dimmed, the pigs seemed to emanate a pale glow.  The one he had spent most of the day chasing looked up at him with its smiling face and he took a reflexive step back.  The pig had blue eyes.  “What the—” he muttered, wondering how he had failed to notice that.

The blue-eyed pig nudged Robin’s knee and swung its head toward the damaged oak as if it meant for him to look.  The rent in the tree trunk shone with blue light that reminded him of the cobalt vase his mother had, a deep rich blue.

The pig took a few steps toward the tree, as much as the rope would allow.  However, the animal didn’t tug at the leash.  Robin stood rooted to the ground.  As twilight deepened the glow from the pigs became more apparent.  The other pigs walked tranquilly toward the tree.  The one on his rope sat back down, seeming patient and at peace.John_Collier_Queen_Guinevre's_Maying

The cobalt blue radiance expanded beyond the tree.  All the pigs snorted and snuffled in a way that sounded… pleased.  Then a girl stepped out of the glow.  The luminous pigs continued to look peaceful, but somehow Robin could feel that they were happy and excited.

At first Robin thought the girl was little more than a child.  But as she approached, Robin saw that she was in fact a petite woman.  Long ash blond hair fell in waves like a river of moonlight that reached almost to her knees.  Pale blue flowers were scattered through her tresses.  As she moved the blossoms seemed to bob on the currents of the moonlit river of her hair.

Robin stood in open mouthed astonishment.  She was so beautiful that he couldn’t speak; so purely lovely that there was no room in his mind to question the strange circumstance of her appearing.  Finally the idea that he should say something tickled in his stunned thoughts.  He tried to talk, and managed to make some kind of sound, but the noise that came from his lips reminded him of a hog squealing.

The radiant pigs gathered in a half circle at her feet.  They became quite noisy as they looked at one another and then up at the tiny woman.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  The porcine grunts took on a specific pattern and rhythm, and gradually came together as if the pigs were chanting.  They seemed to grunt the same three syllables repeatedly, go-eh-win, go-eh-win.  Finally the grunting chant flowed into the sound of a name, Goewin.

He gazed up at her in silent wonder.  No face had ever been so sublime.  No name had ever bQueen and knighteen so poetic.  Goewin.  She spoke his name and he thought he might die from the happiness the sound gave him.  Robin didn’t realize that he had dropped to the ground on one knee, amid the glowing pigs that clearly adored her.  He felt unworthy of her touch when she laid her hand on his head and told him to rise.  He was no better than the pigs… probably even less.  At least the pigs could glow.

With weakness in his knees, Robin struggled to his feet.  As he stood he looked into her eyes.  He was astonished to find that they were lavender and as bright as any faceted amethyst.  Then when Goewin returned his gaze, Robin felt so light of heart that he was surprised he didn’t float into the air.

She exclaimed in delight.  “Oh you found her!  Deme, you naughty pig!  Your brothers and sisters came right away, but you roamed the countryside in your game, getting this kind man to chase you,” she admonished the pig, but her voice was gentle.  “Robin, I really am sorry that Deme led you on such a chase.  She took an instant liking to you.  To her it was a great game,” Goewin told the young deputy.

It never occurred to him to question how she knew his name, or that he had been in pursuit of the pig all day.  Robin could barely string two words together.  She seemed to understand when she paused briefly.  Goewin continued to talk, but he was sure she meant to give him a moment to adjust to the strange situation and her presence.  By chattering she gave him time to find his voice.

“It truly is important that I get these pigs back where they belong.  Do you know that 2 Pigsthere has already been at least one war over these pigs?” she asked, but nodded as if answering for him.  “Yes.  And it was a very foolish prank that let them get away this time.  How very shortsighted of that trickster to do such a thing.  But you, Robin, have helped set things aright.  You have my eternal gratitude,” she said as she lowered her eyes and curtsied deeply.

She actually curtsied, he thought.  First she’d placed her hand on his head and told him to rise.  Now she curtsied to him.  It made Robin feel like he was a knight of Camelot and she was a princess.  Suddenly he felt strong and valiant, as if he wore the brightest armor.  Then when he glanced at himself he gasped.  He was glowing!  A little anyway — the light wasn’t nearly as bright as the radiance of the otherworldly pigs, but he was definitely glowing.

His reaction made Goewin giggle.  It was like chimes, he thought.  Her laugh made him smile.  Robin didn’t know how long he stood looking at her like a dumbstruck fool.  He didn’t even care if he was being silly.  They looked into one another’s eyes, they laughed, he thought they even sang.  Later he couldn’t say what they talked about, what they actually did, but he never forgot the bliss he felt.  Moreover, he realized he might never feel such things again, so he simply enjoyed it.

Midnight moon farieRobin remembered noticing the various changes to the sky as the hours passed.  Then as pink and gold clouds streaked the morning, Goewin left.  She didn’t ask him to come with her.  Robin was pretty sure that she knew he was afraid to venture that far from the world he knew, so she didn’t invite him.  The young deputy could have kicked himself for that fear, for not asking her to take him with her.  However, Goewin touched his face and her hand sent a vibration that reached from his chin through his scull.  After that all he could feel when he thought of her was joy and peace.

However, that happiness didn’t stop him from going back to that same spot in the old cemetery every Valentine’s night.

The end.

 Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

No part of this writing, blog, or book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, 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, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Your Valentine from Atonement, Tennessee

AT Valentine 2

I thought it would be fun to post a Valentine for all of you — in the form of a short story.  I admit the idea of writing a story for everyone came to me a bit late, so I knew I’d have to scramble to get it finished in time, especially since I wanted to post it a day before the holiday.  I didn’t even know what it should be about, what setting, what sort of characters.  Then I thought I’d make an “Atonement” story, but one that is not in the novel at all.

This tale features one of the Atonement, Tennessee characters — the sheriff, Robin Warden.  If you’ve read the novel, you’ll probably think he’s an odd choice, but that’s what makes it fun.  The sheriff is not the most endearing citizen of Atonement.  This short story takes place quite a few years before the timeline of the novel, with a much younger Robin who is only a deputy sheriff. He has recently come to the town of Atonement and of course, strange things happen.

Forgive me if it gets just a little bit corny — after all, it is supposed to be a Valentine.

Hugs,

teagan

An Atonement, Tennessee Valentine

Hey Robin!  Where’s Batman?  He might let you drive the Batmobile if you’re real nice to him.”  The bullies hadBatmanRobin never outgrown their taunts.  Whether they were ten, twenty, or fifty, those jerks would harass him with the same old thing, Robin Warden thought as he landed on his chest with a thud.  Why had he thought of them?  He had been away from those guys for a month.

What was so wrong with looking like Burt Ward, or being named Robin?  Well, all right — he supposed he could understand how the jokes were tempting.  What he didn’t understand was why they got such a kick out of the same old jabs.

Robin picked himself up and continued looking for the pig.  He’d been chasing it all afternoon.  He couldn’t believe a stupid pig kept getting the better of him.  Maybe that’s why he had thought of the bullies he’d grown up with back in Asheville.  The pig was dragging his self-image through the mud. Literally.

True love heartHis breath froze on the air as he sighed… February in Atonement, Tennessee — “East Bumbles,” the back end of nowhere.  Then he realized that it was Valentine’s Day and he was even more annoyed.  Robin secretly had daydreams of a perfect Valentine’s Day, bringing flowers to a beautiful girl, romance, the whole hearts-and-flowers nine yards.  One year the guys had found out, and he’d never heard the end of it.  As if his unfortunate resemblance to the TV Batman’s sidekick didn’t give his tormentors enough fuel for their quips, they teased him about Valentine’s Day too…

He gave a derisive snort at the memory, and a porcine snuffle seemed to answer from the other side of a bush.  With a lunge he almost had the pig that time.  Almost.  It slipped out of his grasp like a magician, and it ran faster than anything that might someday become bacon had a right to run.  Robin patted his chest to make sure the deputy’s badge was still there.  At least he had that over the guys back home.  He was a real deputy sheriff.

“I’ll show those jerks,” he thought.  “I’ll be driving a real ‘Batmobile’ when I get my own police car, or close enough.  They’ll never match that,” he promised himself.  “And I’ll catch that dang pig or die trying too!”

Scrambling to his feet, Robin ran after the pig again.  He was amazed that his Valentine’s Pig ValentineDay was being spent that way.  He asked himself what difference it made.  He hadn’t made any friends in the tiny town of Atonement yet.  There weren’t many people his age period.  He’d only met a couple of girls, and they weren’t interested in him.  He let out an irritated breath.  The blasted pig might as well be his Valentine.

A glance at the cloudy sky told him night would come early.  He picked up his pace in the chase after the pig.  Leaves crunched as he pounded the twisting path, running, sliding, gaining, and losing.  Sometimes he wondered if the little porker intentionally let him catch a glimpse of it.  Once it actually seemed to be waiting for him to catch up.  Robin was so exasperated he could have screamed.

Until the unwanted memory of the bullies intruded on his thoughts, Robin had thought signing up for the Interstate Sheriffs’ Department exchange program had been the worst mistake of his life.  To think he’d believed he was bored living in Asheville, North Carolina!  It was a wonderland of excitement compared to Atonement, Tennessee.  However, after he thought about it, chasing livestock through rural Atonement was probably better than dealing with the bullies and jerks back home. Robin shook his head resignedly.

Gate Ajar Night

It was really clouding up, and it would be dark soon.  Robin thought uneasily that he wasn’t exactly sure where he was anymore; the pig had led him on such a chase.  That was kind of unnerving.  He’d only lived in the area for a matter of weeks.  The idea of being lost, in the woods, on a winter night was not something he liked to consider.

Then he caught sight of the little rascal running up a trail.  With a burst of energy Robin poured on the speed.  That sorry pig was not going to get away again!  It was headed straight for a tall iron fence.  The pig kept running.  So did Robin.  He finally had it cornered.  Or not…  Were some of the iron bars bent aside?

The young deputy cursed as the pig went through the gap in the fence.  However, Robin Warden wasn’t any bigger than Batman’s sidekick with the regrettably similar name.  He slipped through the damaged bars and made a heroic dive for the pig.  It complained loudly when he caught it by its back feet.

The wind kicked up as he tied a rope securely around the wriggling animal.  He was so intent on his task that he didn’t notice how threatening and dark the black clouds became.  Abruptly the pig became unexpectedly still.  That’s when Robin realized the earth was trembling.  A loud thump proved something heavy had fallen, but he didn’t see what it was.  An earthquake?  He knew Tennessee sometimes experienced very small quakes.

A sharp crack made him jump half out of his skin.  It sounded like lightning, but there was no flash, just the sharp, sudden sound.  Robin looked over his shoulder and saw that a huge old oak tree had a wide split down the center of its trunk.Split tree

The frightened pig huddled against him.  For a moment it didn’t dawn on Robin that he was holding the animal.  The ground stilled.  Robin and the pig looked at one another with wide startled eyes.  The pig looked as embarrassed as Robin felt.  At least the guys weren’t around to see that awkward moment.  He set the pig on the ground and stood up.

Robin took a deep breath.  “Oh crap!” he muttered when he saw that he’d dropped the rope.  However, the pig sat calmly back on its haunches, like a well-trained pet on a leash.  Robin quickly bent down and snatched up the rope before the animal could change its mind.

Mystified by the pig’s sudden change in behavior, he scratched it behind the ears.  It seemed to smile, but he guessed that was just the shape of its mouth.  He patted the pig’s head and said, “Good pig.”  Even as he spoke the words they sounded ridiculous.

Robin spotted the source of the heavy thud sound.  A tombstone was overturned.  He looked around at a very old and rundown Mausoleum_dreamstime_xs_20242963cemetery.  At least he knew where he was — the old Sunhold estate’s graveyard.

A snuffling sound drew his attention.  There was another pig behind the tumbled gravestone.  Then he saw a third pig a few feet away, rooting in the tall dead grass.  The more Robin looked around, the more pigs he saw.  There were at least a dozen.

Twilight descended and Robin stood in perplexed awe, looking at all the pigs.  As the light dimmed, the pigs seemed to emanate a pale glow.  The one he had spent most of the day chasing looked up at him with its smiling face and he took a reflexive step back.  The pig had blue eyes.  “What the—” he muttered, wondering how he had failed to notice that.

The blue-eyed pig nudged Robin’s knee and swung its head toward the damaged oak as if it meant for him to look.  The rent in the tree trunk shown with blue light that reminded him of the cobalt vase his mother had, a deep rich blue.

The pig took a few steps toward the tree, as much as the rope would allow.  However, the animal didn’t tug at the leash.  Robin stood rooted to the ground.  As twilight deepened the glow from the pigs became more apparent.  The other pigs walked tranquilly toward the tree.  The one on his rope sat back down, seeming patient and at peace.John_Collier_Queen_Guinevre's_Maying

The cobalt blue radiance expanded beyond the tree.  All the pigs snorted and snuffled in a way that sounded… pleased.  Then a girl stepped out of the glow.  The luminous pigs continued to look peaceful, but somehow Robin could feel that they were happy and excited.

At first Robin thought the girl was little more than a child.  But as she approached, Robin saw that she was in fact a petite woman.  Long ash blond hair fell in waves like a river of moonlight that reached almost to her knees.  Pale blue flowers were scattered through her tresses.  As she moved the blossoms seemed to bob on the currents of the moonlit river of her hair.

Robin stood in open mouthed astonishment.  She was so beautiful that he couldn’t speak; so purely lovely that there was no room in his mind to question the strange circumstance of her appearing.  Finally the idea that he should say something tickled in his stunned thoughts.  He tried to talk, and managed to make some kind of sound, but the noise that came from his lips reminded him of a hog squealing.

The radiant pigs gathered in a half circle at her feet.  They became quite noisy as they looked at one another and then up at the tiny woman.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  The porcine grunts took on a specific pattern and rhythm, and gradually came together as if the pigs were chanting.  They seemed to grunt the same three syllables repeatedly, go-eh-win, go-eh-win.  Finally the grunting chant flowed into the sound of a name, Goewin.

He gazed up at her in silent wonder.  No face had ever been so sublime.  No name had ever bQueen and knighteen so poetic.  Goewin.  She spoke his name and he thought he might die from the happiness the sound gave him.  Robin didn’t realize that he had dropped to the ground on one knee, amid the glowing pigs that clearly adored her.  He felt unworthy of her touch when she laid her hand on his head and told him to rise.  He was no better than the pigs… probably even less.  At least the pigs could glow.

With weakness in his knees, Robin struggled to his feet.  As he stood he looked into her eyes.  He was astonished to find that they were lavender and as bright as any faceted amethyst.  Then when Goewin returned his gaze, Robin felt so light of heart that he was surprised he didn’t float into the air.

She exclaimed in delight.  “Oh you found her!  Deme, you naughty pig!  Your brothers and sisters came right away, but you roamed the countryside in your game, getting this kind man to chase you,” she admonished the pig, but her voice was gentle.  “Robin, I really am sorry that Deme led you on such a chase.  She took an instant liking to you.  To her it was a great game,” Goewin told the young deputy.

It never occurred to him to question how she knew his name, or that he had been in pursuit of the pig all day.  Robin could barely string two words together.  She seemed to understand when she paused briefly.  Goewin continued to talk, but he was sure she meant to give him a moment to adjust to the strange situation and her presence.  By chattering she gave him time to find his voice.

“It truly is important that I get these pigs back where they belong.  Do you know that 2 Pigsthere has already been at least one war over these pigs?” she asked, but nodded as if answering for him.  “Yes.  And it was a very foolish prank that let them get away this time.  How very shortsighted of that trickster to do such a thing.  But you, Robin, have helped set things aright.  You have my eternal gratitude,” she said as she lowered her eyes and curtsied deeply.

She actually curtsied, he thought.  First she’d placed her hand on his head and told him to rise.  Now she curtsied to him.  It made Robin feel like he was a knight of Camelot and she was a princess.  Suddenly he felt strong and valiant, as if he wore the brightest armor.  Then when he glanced at himself he gasped.  He was glowing!  A little anyway — the light wasn’t nearly as bright as the radiance of the otherworldly pigs, but he was definitely glowing.

His reaction made Goewin giggle.  It was like chimes, he thought.  Her laugh made him smile.  Robin didn’t know how long he stood looking at her like a dumbstruck fool.  He didn’t even care if he was being silly.  They looked into one another’s eyes, they laughed, he thought they even sang.  Later he couldn’t say what they talked about, what they actually did, but he never forgot the bliss he felt.  Moreover, he realized he might never feel such things again, so he simply enjoyed it.

Midnight moon farieRobin remembered noticing the various changes to the sky as the hours passed.  Then as pink and gold clouds streaked the morning, Goewin left.  She didn’t ask him to come with her.  Robin was pretty sure that she knew he was afraid to venture that far from the world he knew, so she didn’t invite him.  The young deputy could have kicked himself for that fear, for not asking her to take him with her.  However, Goewin touched his face and her hand sent a vibration that reached from his chin through his scull.  After that all he could feel when he thought of her was joy and peace.

However, that happiness didn’t stop him from going back to that same spot in the old cemetery every Valentine’s night.

The end.

 Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

No part of this writing, blog, or book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, 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, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

A Valentine for You: Chocolate with Death

To all of you Valentines… I wrote and shared this short-short story back in 2006.  The basic idea had kicked around in my brain for two years, but I couldn’t make it come together.  Then came Valentine’s Day.  I had moved across the country and wished I had some kind of Valentine to send to all my friends.  Immediately the full story began to flow.  So I’m sorry that I’m sharing it with some of you twice, but here is my Valentine to all of you. Teagan

Chocolate with Death

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

2006

It’s funny, isn’t it, how things that at first seem quite strange – things that are quite strange can come to feel natural, even ordinary.  Yet as I look back, I am amazed that I even answered my door that night so long ago.

***

King cat spumante

The only thing about Spumante that I don’t like is getting the cork wriggled out of the bottle.  I refused to let it get the better of me and kept trying.  This was my holiday celebration, the standard ritual I used for every holiday of the year – a bottle of spumante and an old movie.  (It’s not so bad, really, celebrating alone.  It simplifies things enormously.)

Finally the Spumante gave up its cork with a loud pop.  I placed cheese and crackers on my plate, admiring the arrangement.  Then thinking better of it, I added extra cheese for Mrs. Dickens, who would certainly demand to share my snack.

This “event” was Valentines Day, so I even put on my red Betty Boop pajamas and the fuzzy slippers that had long floppy rabbit ears.  Fizzing glass in hand, I went to the living room to start the movie.  Then, out pounced the cat to attack the rabbit slippers.

“Mrs. Dickens! You won’t get more cheese by tripping me,” I scolded my cat as I stumbled to the sofa.

With the touch of a button I started the movie that Mrs. Dickens and I had seen many times before, and snuggled down contentedly to watch, handing the begging cat frequent bites of cheese.  Then I thought I heard something.  I touched the pause button.  Had there been a soft knock?  It came a second time before I was sure I had really heard anything at all.

I stood and tied on my robe. Normally I would never open my door to the night.  Even as I Doorknobwalked toward it, I knew that I should not answer the door.  However, compulsion was stronger than reason and I put my hand to the door.  I stretched to see out the peephole and found only blackness. I had half turned to go back to my movie when I heard the soft knocking again.

If ever there was a perfect looking man, it was the one I saw when I opened the door.  I guessed that he was about thirty, tall and perfectly proportioned.  Perfectly groomed.  Perfectly dressed.  From his finely tailored wool blazer (complete with a crest on the breast pocket) to the expensive shoes, to the cultured voice, to the perfect hair, he was just — perfect.  Far too young for me, but he was perfect none the less.

At once I was seized by the notion that I knew him, even though I couldn’t say how or from where.  Then I noticed he held a box of the fine dark Italian chocolate that I love so dearly.  Did I mention he was perfect?

I let him come into the house. I continued to ponder from where I might know him.  Was he the son of a friend?  Had we worked for the same company at some time?  I couldn’t for the life of me think where, but I strongly felt that we were acquainted.

He took a piece of the Italian chocolate, and clearly enjoyed it as much as do I.  After enjoying a luscious bite of it myself, I had to admit that I could not place him.  He gave me the same shy smile that he’d worn when I answered the door.chocolate-strawberries

“I can’t say that we’ve actually been friends, but we’ve had many mutual friends and acquaintances,” he said.

As I’ve told you, it seemed strange that I should allow him into my home, and perhaps something beyond the ordinary was happening to make me feel relaxed with him.   Yet we companionably spent the evening chatting over bubbly spumante and darkest Italian chocolate.

He emptied the last drops of the wine into our glasses with an expression of disappointment on his face.  Then he exclaimed as if he’d forgotten something and reaching behind him produced another bottle of the fizzy drink.  I might add that the cork willingly left the bottle for him.

Yes, I thought it was odd that I hadn’t noticed the wine bottle when he entered the house.  It just didn’t seem to matter.  As he poured, the crest on his jacket caught my attention.  There was something strange about the embroidered design.  The shield looked misshapen, and I realized that it was actually an hourglass.  The crest also had a crow and a weapon.   I didn’t even try to hide the fact that I leaned closer to better inspect the crest.

Picture 2107His kind smile faltered, but he didn’t prevent me from looking.  I saw that the weapon was in fact a scythe. I gazed at him with a stupid blank look on my face and commented, “Interesting… those things are… death.” Then comprehension awakened with my goose bumps and I said, “Not just death, but Death.”

“You have named me,” he sadly admitted.

I jumped up; fists clinched.  Me in my silly pajamas and bunny slippers, I fiercely told him, “Fine then!  So you’re Death.  Not quite what I would have expected, but you’re Death.  I get it!  But I’m not afraid of you.  I’ve seen death many times.  I’m no stranger to it.  I don’t fear Death.”

If I was startled by the pain in his eyes, which clearly spoke of endless solitude and loneliness, then I was truly astonished by his reply.

“Well yes, that was sort of the entire point when I chose to visit you,” he said.  “We are not strangers.  Why do you think you felt that you knew me?”

I flopped back into my chair, confused and overwhelmed.  One of my bunny slippers had come off and Death examined it curiously, and then began to refill the glasses with spumante.

“I only came to visit you – I didn’t come for you,” he said.  “I wanted companionship – it’s Valentines Day, for Heaven’s sake.”

“What?” I said in perplexed disbelief.  Leaning forward I took my bunny slipper away from bear n bunny slippershim and continued, “Companionship?  Honey, you’re drop dead gorgeous… no pun intended.  Do you really mean to tell me that you couldn’t get a date for Valentines Day?”

“Of course I couldn’t,” Death defended himself.  “How many people would willingly spend Valentines Day – or any other holiday with Death?  I know that sometimes you call me your ‘old friend’ saying that one day we’ll have our true meeting, so I hoped you would understand.”

I drank the Spumante in a hiccupping gulp.  I remembered saying exactly those words.  Death seemed to be waiting for a reply.  I realized that I really did understand.  I refilled the glasses and lifted mine up in a toast.

“To us, my old friend,” I told him and he smiled.

It has been many years since that night, and on many holidays I have companionably shared fine dark Italian chocolate and Spumante with my old friend.  It was quickly apparent that he loved the chocolate as much as do I. If I desired his company, I found that all I needed to do was put out a box of that particular chocolate and soon he would drop by.

Now I am a very, very old woman, and one day Death will surely come for me rather than come to visit me – but then again… if I died… with whom would he spend holidays, or share darkest Italian chocolate and Spumante?

champagne n glasses 2

***

End.

What If I Take a Break…

Saturday October 27, 2018

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who got on the party bus for the launch of Atonement in Bloom.  I can’t describe how much I appreciate everyone who shared and contributed to the launch.

Deme and Honeybell are still in a party mood

I don’t seem to know how to really take a break.  I lightened my workload by rerunning Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers (latest episode here).  Yet somehow doing the posts still takes a good deal of time.  So today, I’m trying harder to take a break.  This post re-shares a bit of whimsy I wrote a few years ago — even then I was working on Atonement in Bloom.  

Here I explained what I call my “What if?” game.

 

What Would Happen If There Was a Character Like…

 

Flower Woman spencer-dahl-796539-unsplash

Come on out to play!  Are you ready for a little game? It doesn’t require a special arena, equipment, or athletic ability — and it doesn’t cost a cent.

How My Writing Process Begins a New Story

Have you ever played What If?  Probably not, since that’s my own little speculative free-thinking game. If I heard something quirky in the news, or if I heard about some “breakthrough” that left everyone scratching their heads as to its usefulness, I liked to use it to start a conversation with a friend.

Meadow_frameI’d take the headline a step further and ask, “So what if…” this or that.  The other person would throw out a potential next step, and we’d go on with the “what if” getting wilder and more imaginative as we went, although it would still trace back to the original headline or concept.  I even did a post about very early in my “blogging career.” It created some fun conversations — some bubbles of what-if.

Ultimately, “what if” is how all of my stories start, from short story to epic fantasy.  When I was ready to lay the groundwork to build book-2, Atonement in Bloom, I again read the Celtic/Welsh mythology that loosely inspired book-1.  As I read about something the mythological Gwydion fab Don did for another person in that myth, the image of a new character came into my mind. Stone Planter Flowers Face

What if there was someone like the character that came to mind?  The first what if bubbled into more questions.  What sort of person would she be? Would she be bad, good, or just a sort of device to drive the new plot?

The chain of what if had begun!  What if her presence effected the town? How?  If she did have some sort of magical influence, who would be effected and who might be immune? Why?  What would be the result of either?  As I progressively answered each of the questions that rose from my first “what if,” the character became real to me.  

Because of the what if, some existing characters from Atonement, Tennessee grew in depth — in good ways and in bad ways.
Cherry blossoms snow 2The initial “what if” added two other new supernaturals to the cast of characters.  The chain of what if also brought a character from the short story, An Atonement, Tennessee Valentine, and the short became tied securely to Atonement in Bloom.  I sure wasn’t expecting that to happen!

Most importantly, early on that first what if led me to see the most significant what if of all…

What if, in the midst of a December snow — Atonement, Tennessee came into bloom?

Halloween was always my favorite holiday.  I know it’s not quite here yet, but I’ll wish you a happy one anyway.

Thanks again for visiting Atonement, TN.  It was wonderful to see you. Come out to play What If by leaving a comment!

I’m so grateful to everyone who hosted the Bloomin’ Party Bus that I’m repeating the Atonement TN Book Fair, beginning with my own shameless self-promotion.

Long awaited sequel to Atonement, Tennessee

Where “atonement” begins

It’s best if you read the first book first.  So, for the launch of “Bloom,” Atonement, Tennessee is on sale for 99¢ (e-book). Click Atonement book covers for purchase links.

Includes the prequel

Atonement, TN Book Fair!

Click the author names for more info on the books.

D. Wallace Peach

Image result for legacy of souls d wallace peach

Chris Graham (for Agnes Mae Graham)

My Vibrating Vertabrae cover

Olga Núñez Miret    For info about this book click here. 

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters Now available as an audio book too

D.L. Finn 

Image result for dl finn the button

Jan Sikes

Image result for jan sikes flowers in stone

Mary J McCoy-Dressel

Mary J McCoy-Dressel, western romance author, Book Three Canyon Junction: Hearts in Love Series, Blog Post Cover Reveal I think Marge and Ralda would vote for Mary’s cowboys to visit Atonement, TN… Just sayin’…

Sally Cronin

Jacquie Biggar has a sheriff too…

jacquiebiggar_thesheriffmeetshismatch_800px

Valentina Cirasola will help you tour Atonement, TN in style.

The Road To Top Of The World: Short Stories In The Land Of Puglia

Barb Taub will keep you laughing the entire way.

Staci Troilo

Tortured Soul

Mae Clair

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

John W. Howell

Annette Rochelle Aben

Image result for booku Annette Rochelle Aben Whimsical poetry from Annette.

Donna Parker will keep your smile alight and whimsy in flight at Yadadarcyyada, Vague Meanderings of the Broke & Obscure.  But there’s nothing obscure about delightful Donna.

Robbie Cheadle

Image result for robbie cheadle while the bombs fell

Chuck Jackson

Image result for chuck jackson what did i do

Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Teri Polen 

Image result for teri polen sarah

Patty L. Fletcher of Campbell’s World

Image result for bubba tales campbell

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 © 2015 and 2018 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.

Matchmaking Pigs in Atonement, Tennessee

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pigs Road Moon unsplash composite

Deme & Honeybell, looking for adventure again

Deme and Honeybell, the otherworldly glowing pigs of Atonement, Tennessee had so much fun visiting with you recently that they talked me into letting them have the spotlight again today.  Yes, it’s another snort story.

If you’ve been following me for awhile, please forgive me for another rerun.  The past couple of work-months have been so “over the top” that I’m surprised I’ve managed to post at all.  I ran this as a Valentines story last year, but it doesn’t have to be about that.

Last week you met a much younger Marge Tipton.  She is a minor character in the “Atonement” books.  I enjoyed giving her extra life here on the blog.  She owns the local diner and she’s suitably quirky for the town.

It’s fewer than 2,500 words.  I hope this snort story leaves you with a happy glow

Deme and Honeybell — Matchmakers

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Silver light washed down from the moon to illumine the sidewalk.  Earth’s lone satellite was just past full.  The clock in the town square struck midnight on February 14th.

The moon wasn’t the only thing that glowed that night.  Two friends also emanated an ethereal radiance of their own, as they walked the deserted street.

Honeybell gave a surreptitious glance over her shoulder toward the second of two traffic lights on the main street of Atonement, Tennessee.  She grunted softly, fascinated by the slowly changing colors, red to green to yellow to red. 

It seemed an odd decoration.  It made her nervous.  This was all Deme’s idea.  Honeybell hoped her friend wouldn’t land them in trouble.  Deme could be something of a prankster, and Honeybell was getting the same reputation.  Still looking over her shoulder at the lights, Honeybell gave a loud snort as she bumped into Deme.

2-pigs-traffic-light

Deme & Honeybell, composite image by Teagan

Pay attention and stop acting like an unsophisticated pig,” Honeybell silently scolded herself.

Deme had stopped.  Her eyes were closed in concentration.  When she opened them, her sapphire orbs were bright with excitement.  She reared up to point at the sign, Annie’s Antiques and Consignment Shop, and her front hooves came back to the sidewalk with a sharp clip.

“It’s still here!” Deme quietly exclaimed.

Honeybell wagged her curly tail happily.

“What about the woman?  Is she close enough?” she asked Deme, concerned about all the details coming together properly.

“The woman lives near the first red-green-yellow light.  It is an easy run from here,” Deme replied in a satisfied tone.

The glow from the two otherworldly pigs brightened a as they stared at the door of the antique shop.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  Grunt, snuffle, snort,” they vocalized in unison.

Annies antiques

Annie’s Antiques

The door swung open, shop-bell chiming in welcome.  Deme and Honeybell walked inside.

“I feel it!” Honeybell cried.  “I feel the rose quartz.”

Honeybell made a beeline to the back of the shop and a glass case.  As the pigs drew near, a necklace inside the case illuminated.  The filigree setting was polished brightly and held a large heart-shaped gem.  The pastel pink rose quartz stone pulsed softly in ruddy radiance.

“It’s as if the heart is beating,” Honeybell said in awe.  “What a lovely gem.”

Deme agreed, her sapphire blue eyes wide.  “Rose quartz helps us accept and love ourselves,” she replied agreeably.

Honeybell nosed at the necklace until it fell from the glass shelf to hang around her neck.  Deme made a sardonic grunt at her friend.

“The most practical way to carry the necklace is to hang it around my neck,” Honeybell explained in a very indignant tone.  “Oh look!  That light over there is not earthly,” she quickly changed the subject, and was happy when Deme followed her gaze. (More about Annie’s Inventory Notes here.)

The otherworldly pigs went to investigate the luminescence near the cash register at the front of the store.  The light shone through several layers of paper in the special inventory notes kept by Annie, the shop owner.  If the writing glowed, that meant an item had awakened.  Deme and Honeybell looked at the rosy sparkle of the necklace and nodded to each other in approval.

***

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After a briskly refreshing run, the two otherworldly pigs entered the home of bacehlorette and local diner owner, Marge Tipton.

Deme looked around the spotless kitchen.  She saw a local newspaper and an advertisement on the table.  There was also a deposit receipt from the local First Bank & Trust.

Honeybell snuffled as she scented the air and listened to the vibrations of the house.  “I feel a lot of hidden sadness,” Honeybell murmured, eyes brimming with tears.

“So do I, but get ahold of yourself.  We can’t afford to let our own emotions get mixed in with what we’re about to do,” Deme told her firmly.  “Things could go quite badly if we did.”

The small pigs moved toward the bedroom where they could hear the regular breathing of Marge Tipton.

“She is soundly asleep,” Deme whispered.  “Honeybell, you seem better attuned to this woman than I am.  Do you detect anything in this house that can be used to work with the rose quartz necklace?” Deme questioned, delegating some of the authority she had bestowed upon herself.

A collection of old vintage photos, postcards, and envelopes from Europe.

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Honeybell snuffled and grunted quietly.  She went to a box in the closet.  A broad satin ribbon was tied around the box.  Honeybell pulled the ribbon, untying the bow.  Inside was a stack of old postcards, with postmarks in the 1980s. 

One postcard had been torn in half and then taped back together.  Honeybell noticed the scribbled writing said “I can’t wait to get back to Phoenix to see you.  Love, Chad.” 

Some of the cards were marred by tear-stains, particularly one that was addressed to “Marla” with the name crossed out and “Marge” written next to it.  Most of the words were rendered illegible by the long dry tears.

With an excited snort, Honeybell scampered back to the kitchen.  Deme followed curiously.  The checkered cloth muffled the clatter of Honeybell’s hooves when she bounded onto the kitchen table.  Her twisty little tail wagged at a quick pace as she inspected a colorful sheet of paper.

The two pigs went over every inch of the flyer and the newspaper article that lay next to it, and the bank slip too.  The ad was from the Rowdy Rooster, a large redneck bar outside the town of Atonement.

“Hit recording artist and 80s TV star of The Medical Files, Chad Allen to perform!” Deme read the flyer.

Medical Center, Wikimedia

“The postcards were to Marge from Chad Allen,” Honeybell whispered then looked at the newspaper.  “They were lovers when she was a young woman.  Marge had a happy life then in Adrian, Texas.  But he left her to travel with the rodeo and got famous.  Then he recorded a hit song and did that television series and became a big star — for a while anyway.”

“He lied to Marge for years before she could admit the truth to herself.  She felt so betrayed and so ashamed that she never forgave herself for being foolish.  Then she came here when her brother begged her, saying he needed her,” Honeybell commented knowingly.

“So she is not in Atonement, Tennessee to atone,” Deme commented in a speculative tone.  “Her brother is.”

“Perhaps she actually is atoning too,” suggested Honeybell.  “Because she would not love herself enough to say no to those who did not deserve her love.”

The glowing pigs looked at each other for a moment.  They seemed to come to a silent agreement.

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“Help me put everything back the way we found it,” Deme said and they put the newspaper, flyer, and even the bank receipt in place.  “Let’s leave the rose quartz laying on these papers.  That should be enough to get things started,” Deme said.

Honeybell dropped the necklace onto the papers.  There was a tiny spark when the gem touched them.  Then the rosy radiance filled the entire room before dying down.

*** 

“Come on Marge!  So what if you don’t care about seeing a washed up TV star.  It’ll be a night out with the girls.  We’re both scheduled to be off,” Jenny, the lead waitress at L-O-L-A Lola’s Bar and Grille, pleaded into the phone.  “When you turn loose, you’re the life of the party!”

“Good gravy, Jenny.  It’s too early in the morning to be planning a night at a bar,” Marge grumbled sleepily.

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However, Jenny saying Marge was the life of the party brought a reluctant smile to the woman’s lips.  She had never told a soul in Atonement, Tennessee about the Chad Allen episode, as she thought of it.  She told her brother Tracey once, but he was too drunk to remember, so that didn’t count.

Jenny was still talking, but Marge had slipped into the past.  Every time she thought of her home back in Adrian, Texas she became melancholy.

Marge shook her head thinking of that evening of inebriated confessions with her brother.  They both sure had tied one on.  She thought it was such a shame that her brother couldn’t get past his drinking.  Tracey had a good heart and was surprisingly generous.  Once he gave her a diamond tennis bracelet for no reason at all.  She knew he must have saved his money for years to buy it.

“It won’t be half as much fun without you.  All the girls still love Chad Allen,” Jenny went on, and for a second Marge thought she might change her mind.

Opening the refrigerator door, Marge took out a container of milk.  The coffee was done.  As she poured the steaming liquid into her mug, she wondered what it would be like to see Chad again, even from across the big room of the Rowdy Rooster. 

Cappuccino in a white cup on a saucer with foam art and a small spoon

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Then all the scenarios of what people would tell her she should do, what she should feel blasted into her head.  Maybe Chad had changed.  His star had risen and fallen.  What if he had actually become the person he made her think he was back then, before she learned what a lying, philandering jerk he really was.

Marge was sure anybody she knew would tell her she should — no she had to go and see him.  She gave her head a shake.  Would she feel vindicated or sad if the years had been unkind to him?  She told herself that he’d never recognize her.  If he did, he’d likely cringe at her appearance and pretend he didn’t remember.

She took a deep breath and brought her attention back to Jenny on the phone.  Making up an excuse, Marge turned Jenny down in a firm “boss” voice.  Jenny had worked for her long enough to know that tone brooked no argument.

Marge hung up the phone.  Coffee mug in hand, she went to the kitchen table to finish reading the newspaper.  That was when she noticed the beautiful antique necklace laying there.

“How?  Who?” Marge stammered.

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She picked up the rose quartz necklace with a sigh at its beauty.  “Tracy,” she murmured thinking her brother must have left it there to surprise her.  It couldn’t have been anyone else.

Marge plopped down into a chair.  She glanced at the newspaper article and Rowdy Rooster advertisement about her old love, Chad.  She read both for the twentieth time.  With each reading she promised herself she would never be betrayed again.

It didn’t occur to her that she held the rose quartz necklace tightly in her hand, or that she didn’t want to put it down.  Then she fastened it around her neck.  Not only was the necklace the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, she felt pretty just for wearing it.

***

That evening Marge tidied up the kitchen.  She picked up the newspaper and the receipt from First Bank & Trust.  It was a morbid attraction, but she couldn’t help looking at the flyer.  Taking a beer from the fridge, she read the article one more time.

“Marge Tipton,” she told herself aloud.  “Don’t you ever let your guard down like that again!” 

She had no wish to see Chad again.  She had firmly stomped on the imagined voices of everyone saying she should do.  So Marge wasn’t sure why she changed into some party clothes that evening, still wearing the rose quartz necklace.  Neither could she have said why she got into her mint condition 1972 red Chevy C10 pickup truck and drove way out highway 41 to the Rowdy Rooster.

Almost an hour later Marge got out of her truck and walked across the parking lot.  The noise of the patrons lived up to the name of the Rowdy Rooster.

Her footsteps became slower as she moved toward the door.  The sound of the crowd inside grated against her nerves.  She couldn’t imagine why she had come there in the first place, after flatly turning down Jenny’s invitation.  Marge didn’t realize she had stopped in the middle of the parking lot.

1972 Chevy C10 Shortbed Stepside Pickup

1972 Chevy C10 Shortbed Stepside Pickup

“Marge?  I mean, Ms. Tipton?” a voice intruded on her confused thoughts.

She turned toward the voice feeling muddled.  “I only had one beer before I left home.  What’s the matter with me?” she wondered and gave herself a mental shake.

He was barely recognizable in cowboy boots and a sport coat.  Marge had only seen Russell Skeen, the manager of the First Bank & Trust, in a dark business suit.

“Are you okay, Ms. Tipton?” Russell repeated.

“Oh, don’t mind me, I just suddenly felt a little out of sorts, that’s all.  And please call me Marge,” she stammered, feeling her cheeks heat with a blush.  “I should have stayed at home,” she murmured.

“I know what you mean,” Russell admitted.  “I do like the cowboy boots my daughter gave me, but I can’t say I care for this place.  I let my daughter pester me into agreeing to join her and her friends tonight.  Then wouldn’t you know, she just now called to say she won’t be coming,” he added in a bemused tone.  “She means to get me out more,” he said with a shrug.

Russell Skeen drew back a bit and looked at Marge curiously.  His hand rose toward her, but he stopped himself.  He shook his head and chuckled.

 

Marge at LOLAs

Marge Tipton at LOLA Lola’s

“For a second there I thought your necklace was glowing.  It must have been all those facets reflecting the light,” Russell told her.  “I see that you like antiques.  That one’s a beauty.”

Marge unthinkingly put her hand to the rose quartz necklace.  It felt very warm to the touch.  She looked at the unassuming bank manager as if she had never truly seen him before.  Marge was pleased with what she saw.

“You know, there are a few antique shops between here and Atonement.  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather browse through them than be inside that noisy bar.  Do you think you could join me?  Maybe we could get some coffee somewhere too?”

Marge looked toward the Rowdy Rooster.  She thought about the flyer advertising Chad Allen.  She thought of the stack of postcards she kept even though he had betrayed her.

She picked up the rose quartz and held it so that she could look at it.  “Why did it feel so warm?  It actually does seem to be glowing a little,” Marge thought.

“Mr. Skeen, I think that sounds like a fine idea,” she told him.

“Only if you call me Russell,” he replied as he walked her back to her pickup truck and politely took her hand as she climbed up into the cab.

“Did you hear that?” she asked Russell.  “I could have sworn I heard a snuffling, snorting sound, like pigs.”

“There’s lots of farmland around here.  It could be that one got loose.  But you’d think all the bacon they serve in these places would scare a pig away,” Russell joked.

At the word bacon, a shrill startled-sounding noise was easily heard, but they still didn’t see any pigs.

The End.

White Pig ditry nose dreamstime_xxl_83059557

(Startled pigs from Dreamstime)

 

***

Here’s the requisite shameless self-promotion…

Pigs collection cover banner

The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

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

 

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.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

Copyright © 2018 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.

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays 23 ― Pip Meets Tiny (Part 2)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Blue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer

Welcome to Jazz Age Wednesdays here at Teagan’s Books.  Last time I posted part-1 of a story that resulted from a collaboration with Fiction Favorites* author John W. Howell*.  John did one of his terrific lists of Ten Things Not to Do, and I wrote a story.  You can read part-1 here*

John Howell Books

I didn’t share his list with part-1 of the story because I felt it would be sort of a spoiler.  So without further ado, I present John’s list, followed by part 2 of Pip Meets Tiny

 Ten Things Not to Do in a Tree with a Bear

10) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not poke it. If you do, at best he’ll think you want to play. At worst, you will find yourself defending space limb for limb. (Didn’t think you would run out of tree did you, Tiny?)

9) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not open that pastrami sandwich you brought along. If you do, at best you’ll learn to share. At worst, you will give up the sandwich to get your hand back. (Something about the hot teeth getting ready to eat the sandwich weather or not you give it up that gives wisdom huh, Tiny?)

8) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not comment on the beast’s manicure. If you do, at best you’ve packed an Emory board. At worst, you’ll get a real close view of the nails why trying to avoid the roundhouse swipes. (You should have guessed the bear was the sensitive type, Tiny)

7) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not swallow. If you do, at best the bear won’t see you. At worst, the bear will take the swallow sign as a que that you are going to eat it. (You can imagine how that sign is going to work out, can’t you Tiny?)

6) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not ride your unicycle. If you do, at best you’ll have to go tandem. At worst, the bear will remember an old circus act and nasty trainer. (Hard to ride that thing with broken and bent parts right, Tiny?)

Lucille Ball and Bear

5) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not show the bear your WWF wrestling championship belt. If you do, at best the bear will want it. At worst, you are sharing a tree with the internationally known Russian bear wrestling champ. (You know understand the concept of a bear hug. The question is can you get out of it, Tiny?)

4) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not comment on the bear’s bad breath. If you do, at best you will offend the bear and it will stop talking to you. At worst, you’ll offend the bear and it will want to sweeten its breath with your left arm. (You could have been a little more subtle, Tiny. A bottle of mouthwash left discretely on a branch would have done the job.)

3) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not mention the word ‘diet.’ If you do, at best the bear won’t give you any more honey. At worst, the bear will take offense and commit to a pure protean diet. (Guess who is made of pure protean, Tiny?)

2) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not read any Goldilocks bed time stories. If you do, at best the bear will ask a hundred questions. At worst, the bear will want you to go get some porridge. (Where you going to get porridge this time of night, Tiny?)

1) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not ask them questions about the Chicago football team. If you do, at best you will have to listen to excuses for hours. At worst, the bear lost a big bet and is still hurting from the loss. (It won’t help to offer a hankie, Tiny. Getting out of the tree might be the best idea.)

Copyright © 2018 by John W. Howell

Now let’s get a wiggle on and head back to the Roaring Twenties to see how the story progresses. 

Pip Meets Tiny — Part 2

1920s_photoplay-health-for-beauty

Rather than a hat, I opted for a long scarf tied as a headband.  The wind whipped up dead leaves into miniature whirlwinds.  The ties of my scarf fluttered like streamers.  It wasn’t a fit day for a walk.  However, Granny Phanny’s Flemish Giant rabbit had gotten loose.  Granny was gaga for Cinnamon Bun, so we were both out looking for him.  My grandmother went one direction while I went the opposite way.

I had already walked as far as it seemed likely the big rabbit would roam, when the sound of a commotion drew me into a beautifully manicured garden.  Since I had not lived in Savannah very long, I wasn’t sure who owned the fine home and grounds.  As much as I wanted to find Cinnamon Bun, I hoped it was not him making such a ruckus on some swell’s property.

Stepping lightly into the ritzy garden I followed the sounds of rustling, grunting, and other destructive noises that came to my ears.  I cringed to think of the damage Cinnamon might be causing. 

The sounds stopped for a moment.  I cast my gaze around, wondering if I had gone the wrong way.  Then the hullabaloo returned, but I realized it was above me in the branches of a grand old magnolia tree.

A_beautiful_garden_in_Savannah,_Ga._(8368128006)

Savannah, Georgia garden via Wikimedia Commons

Bushwa!  Cinnamon Bun is a clever rabbit, but there was no way he’s gotten up a tree…  Is there?

Perplexed, I stared up into the branches of the towering magnolia.  I could see something moving — something large.  A deep voice added to the ruckus.

“Look, I promise I’ll make them take away the unicycle.  I know it must bring up bad memories for you,” the voice commented.  “Wow, Ursa, you need a manicure.  Your nails are in rough shape.”

I gaped, in astonishment.  What kind of phonus balonus was I hearing?

A disgruntled growl seemed to be the response to the manicure remark.  Then something squishy fell the branches from and slapped onto my upturned face.

A pastrami sandwich? I marveled as I removed a round slice of pastrami that covered my eye.

“Hey!  That was mine!” the deep voice complained.  “Horsefeathers, Ursa!  I’ve had enough of this stuff.  It’s time for you to come down out of this blasted tree.  You know heights give me the heebie-jeebies!”

A growl answered the complaint.

“I guess it’s just as well you dropped my sandwich.  Your breaths is bad enough without pastrami,” the man quipped, and was answered with a roar.

When I heard the roar of a beast, I jumped backward about six feet, eyes bulging.

A broad, tall form backed down from the tree.  He didn’t look my way.  He was intent on coaxing someone nearly as large as himself from the branches.

Oh, make that some thing! I thought and gasped.

He turned at the soft noise I made.  After a moment I recognized him as the big man who had saved my hat downtown.

“You!” I exclaimed, but fell into stuttering.  “And th-th-that…”

Ringling Bros Bears circus

“Don’t mind Ursa,” he assured me.  “She’s tame as a kitten.  She’s my partner for the special event.  Ursa the wrestling bear.  It’s all play to her.  Although I admit she’s pretty strong!”

My mouth moved, but I’m pretty sure nothing came out of it.  I looked from the bear to him and back to the bear cautiously.

“Applesauce,” he muttered and lifted a hand to gently remove lettuce and pastrami from my hair.  “I guess you caught my pastrami sandwich.  I’m sorry.”

“Um,” I struggled to find my tongue.  “Thank you for saving my hat yesterday.”

He gave me a grin that was a match for his girth.  Then he looked at my headband and then at my coat.  His eyes clouded with disappointment.

“You didn’t like them?” he asked in a shy seeming tone.

Granted, I had a few things on my mind, not least of which was Ursa the bear.  It took a moment for me to understand what he meant.

“Bear,” I muttered.  “Oh the bear!  With the hatpins.  Was that from you?  They were pos-i-lutely the cat’s meow!” I told him with profuse thanks.  “But why would you do something extravagant like that?  What’s your name anyway?”

The way he blushed I was afraid he was going to clam up with a fit of shyness.  Finally, he told me he was called Tiny.  He said Godfrey Gilley, the grocer told him Granny’s address.  I figured Mr. Gilley was pretty excited to meet Tiny, since he was the star of the wrestling show.  That must have been the highlight of the grocer’s month.

“He was pretty excited,” Tiny chuckled.  “It’s good to meet fans.  I left him a picture too.  Anyhow, I’m far away from home.  It was Valentine’s Day, and I just thought it would be fun to leave a present for a pretty girl,” he explained.

I was the one blushing at that point.

In the distance I heard the puttering of a motor.  I figured it was Granny in her Model-T, and I hoped it meant she had found Cinnamon Bun.  I told Tiny why I was there, in a stranger’s garden.  I offered to take him back into town or wherever he was staying.

Studebaker blue 1920s

“You’re the berries for offering, but Ursa would probably tear the seats in your grandma’s automobile.  And sometimes she gets motion sickness,” he politely declined.  “Besides one of the guys is circling around with the truck.  I knew she probably hadn’t gone too far.  He’ll probably drive past in a minute.”

We both made a face at the prospect of an up-chucking bear.  Ursa looked at us and made an indignant noise.

Tiny hooked a heavy leash to Ursa’s collar and they walked with me to the street, just as Granny Phanny drove up to the spot.  She waved excitedly and called my name.  She had found Cinnamon Bun.  Then she spotted the bear.  Her brow knitted, then her eyes widened.

“Do I see what I think I see?” Granny exclaimed.

Ursa sat back on her haunches and waved one enormous paw.

“Don’t worry, Granny.  Everything’s Jake.  This is Tiny, and that’s Ursa.”

The embodiment of southern hospitality, Granny invited Tiny to dinner.  However, he said he had to get ready for his performance.  He handed me a stack of tickets for the wrestling event and told me to bring as many friends as I wanted. 

The truck Tiny mentioned came into view. The huge wrestler waved, and the driver gave a little beep of the horn.  Then with another blush, Tiny gave me a quick peck on the cheek.  He and Ursa walked to the truck.

“Have mercy.  Well, Pip… I’m glad he was there to find that bear before you found it.  That would have been a sight!  Expecting to find a rabbit and you get a big ole bear instead!” Granny chortled.

 

Hatpins Ad 1898

Ad for hatpins, circa 1898

“So it was him that left the stuffed bear and hatpins, wasn’t it?” she confirmed.  “I’m surprised you didn’t know who left them, him catching your hat and all.  I guess you didn’t see the way he looked at you.  What I want to know is who you thought would leave you a gift like that,” she added with a suspicious glance at me.

That tone could mean trouble.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  It never occurred to me that a stranger would do something sweet like that, and that’s what I told her.

“The only person who ever mentioned hatpins was Hank Hertz,” I started.  “I was scared to death that Hank had done something like that.  I didn’t want it to be Hank,” I confessed.

“Pip, Hank is a nice boy.  You’re not that much older than him.  You seem to have inherited my bias about age differences.  I hope you’ll get over that.   It would be different for you and Hank than for me and—  Anyway, a year or two is nothing.  A decade or two, now that’s another matter,” she said with a sigh.

At first I thought Granny was referring to Alastair Wong the elder.  She had told me about her relationship with my friend’s great-grandfather.  However, she might also have been thinking about Detective Dabney Daniels — though she’d never admit it.

I suppressed a giggle when I realized Granny Phanny might have been thinking about both of them.  She’d get in a lather if I said it, but Granny was a flapper at heart.

The End

***

 

I hope you enjoyed your visit.  You’re the bee’s knees! 

Now, for that shameless self-promotion… Here are the links to the books about Pip and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

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

 

 

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 © 2018 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.

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays 22 ― Pip Meets Tiny (Part 1)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day

Dennisons 1920s Valentine girl

Happy Valentine’s Day from Jazz Age Wednesdays here at Teagan’s Books!  Awhile back I was lucky enough to do a collaboration with Fiction Favorites* author John W. Howell*.  He did one of his outrageous lists of “Ten Things Not to Do” and that took me to my short story, In the Pip of Time*

John Howell Books

I’m happy to say that John agreed to work with me again.  Reading the list that John created especially for this collaboration gave me such fun, vivid images that my story will be more than one post.  However, his list will be sort of a spoiler.  So I’m saving it as a treat for next week. 

Anyhow, in John’s lists of things not to do, a recurring character is Tiny, the WWF champ.  I thought it might be fun if Pip met a 1920s version of Tiny.

With this episode I will feature recipe links to some pos-i-lutely darb food bloggers!  Be sure to check them out too.

Let’s get a wiggle on and head back to the Roaring Twenties and see how Pip came to meet Tiny. 

Pip Meets Tiny — Part 1

1924 Feb_Theatre woman arrow heart Valentine

Theatre, February 1924

Granny Phanny gave me one of her old hats and some red velvet ribbon.  She encouraged me to get the hat “dolled up” for Valentine’s Day.  It was made of pearl gray wool felt with a medium height crown and a three-inch brim.  I used the velvet red ribbon to make a band and a large but neat bow for the front.  It was a big change from the nearly brimless styles I preferred.  However, I thought it would be fun to have something different.

I was ready to show off my hat, so I didn’t mind when Granny asked me to take care of her grocery shopping while she went to look in on Miss Olive, who had a cold.

“Pip, the wind’ll take that hat.  You should have used more than one hatpin.”

“I lost the other one, Granny,” I defended myself.  

“Lost it!  Paisley Idelle Peabody, those things don’t grow on trees, you know,” Granny chided.

“Anyway, it’s not windy today,” I said with a smile, trying to keep her in a good mood.

Granny grunted a contradictory reply as she stopped the Model-T in front of Gilley’s Grocery.

Another Foodie Blogger (click here)

I stumbled into a debate when I went inside.  The discussion was getting rather heated.  My spiffy hat would be last thing those guys would notice.  Godfrey Gilley, the store owner, was getting red-faced as he defended his favorite sport, professional wrestling.  Detective Dabney Daniels wouldn’t budge in his stance that it had become nothing more than modern theatrics.  I rolled my eyes when Hank Hertz, Savannah’s youngest copper, tried to defend both positions.  

Hank noticed my expression and tried to be nice.  He tried, but it just seemed like a criticism at the time.  

“Pip, you usually have two hatpins.  Are you sure one is enough?  My moma always uses two or three,” he told me.

Of all the nerve!  I guessed I should be glad somebody at least noticed my hat.  Sort of.   I gave Hank a glare and he looked like he was trying to figure out how to take back his poorly chosen words. 

1920s Girl Hat 2

Young Lucille Ball

“Pip, you’d best mind your Ps and Qs, and avoid strangers,” the copper told me.  “A bunch of professional wrestling carnies are in town.”

“Professional wrestling is a legitimate sport!” Godfrey Gilley inserted hotly.

The detective cleared his throat, pointedly ignoring the store owner.  Daniels and his chiseled features looked down at me, plainly dismissing my attempt to enter the conversation.  

I was getting pretty miffed.  Were they blind to the fact that times were changing?  I was a modern woman, a flapper!  As I stewed, they ran right over me and kept talking.

“As I was saying, they were supposed to pass through after one performance,” he continued, ignoring Godfrey’s sputter about the word performance.  “But they’re staying longer.  There will be folks around who are less than savory.  So steer clear of strangers.  Savannah, Georgia is not the sleepy Florida town you’re used to.”

Ringling Bros Bears circus

“I hear they’re even going to have a parade!” Hank Hertz inserted excitedly.  “They have a whole troop of wrestlers ― even a wrestling bear they brought all the way from Russia!

Detective Daniels frowned at his young cohort.  Then he managed to include me in the grimace too.

With a glare at the detective, the grocer turned to me and spotted the list from Granny Phanny.  Godfrey Gilley took the list from my hand.  He read over the list.  Then he appeared to have a moment of inspiration as he narrowed his eyes and gave a calculating glance at Daniels.

“I take it, Miss Phanny is making cookies?” he said and cleared his throat.  “I’ll throw in this new red vegetable dye that just came in.  Tell your grandmother it’s a little Valentine gift from me.”

The debate over professional wrestling seemed to have brought out a competition between the two men.  Dabney Daniels made a quick scan of the table displaying sale items and picked up a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Picture

Sunny Cove Chef (click here)

“I’ll take this cookie cutter, but put it with Miss Phanny’s purchase,” Daniels told the grocer.  “Pip, tell your grandmother it’s from me.”

“What a couple of palookas…” I muttered as I left the store.

Granny Phanny had been right about the calm wind not lasting.  As the door closed behind me, a breeze caused my skirt to flit above my knees.  Granny would have been scandalized, but what did it matter if a kneecap showed?  I headed up the street, in the direction of Miss Olive’s.  I expected to run into Granny in her Modle-T before I walked very far.

With one hand on my grocery basket and the other holding my skirt, I was unprepared for the gust of wind that caught my hat.

I knew that wider brim was a bad idea!  Why didn’t I wear my favorite pink cloche hat?

The single hatpin was not sufficient to the task.  The wind tore the hat from my head and it sailed away.  To my astonishment, my hat flew directly into the largest man I had ever seen.  I don’t know what surprised me more ― the unlikelihood of the hat blowing right to him, or his extraordinary girth.  Why, he was a broad as a door and as tall as a ceiling… or at least it seemed that way in the moment.

The stranger smiled and politely handed back my hat.  However, the cat had his tongue.  He fumbled and muttered some words I couldn’t make out before blushing and tipping his hat.  I tried to thank him, but some other men walked toward him, urging him to hurry.

IMG_0516

A Pug in the Kitchen (click here)

Detective Daniels’ caution came back to me.  I was alone and there were several unknown men walking toward me.  So, I smiled and thanked him, as I continued to walk.  Just then the yellow Model-T drove up, with Granny Phanny at the wheel.

She gave a friendly wave to the large stranger.  That was Granny’s way, and she would expect the same of anyone else.  He awkwardly tipped his hat again, that time toward her.  Then his friends hurried him along.

***

That evening I was helping my grandmother make supper.  A thud sounded from the front porch.  Granny was checking the oven and asked me to go and see if anything was amiss. 

When I opened the front door I found cuddly stuffed bear.  A red cutout heard was pinned to the ribbon bow around his neck.  Written on the heart was the old poem, “Roses are red, violets are blue.  Sugar is sweet and so are you.”

“Not very original,” Granny Phanny snorted.  “But a lovely, wholesome sentiment just the same.”  

When I looked closer, I saw the heart was attached under the bow by two rhinestone hatpins.  Then I realized that no one had signed it.  

“It must be for you, Granny.  Detective Daniels and Mr. Gilley both sent you something with ingredients I picked up for your cookies.”  

My grandmother gave me a long suffering look.  She muttered a denial.  Then she hustled me back to the kitchen.  Granny Phanny was determined to make me learn to cook.

End Part 1

***

Thanks to our sensational chef bloggers for sharing their tasty Valentine treats!

You will surely want to share these sweet desserts with your sugar.  Check out these treats and more recipes from Kathryn “Another Foodie Blogger,” Gerlinde “The Sunny Cove Chef,” and Suzanne at “A Pug in the Kitchen.”

Ya’ll are pos-i-lutely the cat’s pajamas for visiting.  

 

Now, for that shameless self-promotion… Here are the links to the books about Pip and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

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

 

 

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 © 2018 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.

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays 21 ― February Pondering

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hi there, Sheiks and Shebas.  It’s darb to see you back at Jazz Age Wednesdays.  It feels like it’s been a long cold winter to me… and it’s only February.  

Teagan’s Pondering

 

The research geek in me wanted to know how different I might have felt if I lived in the Roaring Twenties.  How did they keep their frozen spirits up and generally cope with winter?  Putting it into perspective, some preferences weren’t profoundly different from the present.  I thought I’d provide you my pondering.

Snuggling with a pet is still a great idea.  I can’t make out all the text on the cover, but much as we might, the folks in the 20s thought about spiffing up their “nests” with new decor.  A new lampshade or an art map (maybe a map of warmer climes).

1926_Feb Modern Pricilla Girl Cat

Modern Priscilla, February 1926

Even if you are a romantic only in secret, you might secretly hope for a Valentine’s package in February.

1918_Feb Modern Priscilla girl package snow

Modern Priscilla, February 1918

Unfortunately, for some of us, snow is an inescapable part of February.  Some like it, others don’t.  However, those who like to play in the white stuff have gear for the snow.  Materials, styles, and means of navigating it have changed, but we still play in the powder — whether with waterproof coats and snowmobiles, or warm wool mittens and snowshoes.  Also when we go inside to get warm, we might read a serial story.  Theirs were in magazines, while ours might be in a blog. (Hint, hint… have you been to Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam lately?)

1922_Feb Good Housekeeping Child showshoes

Good Housekeeping, February 1922

One way we deal with the chill February weather is escaping to the movies.  In the Roaring Twenties, they might go see the latest film. If the weather was bad they couldn’t binge on Netflix — but there were several periodicals all about Hollywood, cinema, and the stars.  The latest gossip was eagerly devoured.

1922_Feb Photoplay girl scarf coins flower

Photoplay, February 1922

Or if Tenseltown just isn’t your thing, you might have chosen a magazine that kept you abreast of the latest technology.  Then and now you could have read about “new ideas.”  In the 1920s those topics were aviation, your home workshop, engineering, or automobiles.  (Have you ever noticed that I don’t use the word “car” in my stories?  Back then the term was automobile.  A car was something else.)

1929_Feb Popular Science Man construction building

Popular Science, February 1929

Like they say… the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I hope you enjoyed this bit of pondering.  Thanks for visiting the Jazz Age with me, if only in imagination.  You really are the cat’s pajamas!

***

 

PS:  Of course, I have to show you the links to the books about Pip and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

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

 

 

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 © 2018 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.

 

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 2 (2016 Rerun)

#GetCaughtReadingMonth

Hello everyone.  As you may have noticed I’m rerunning last year’s mini-series.  It’s about the escapades of our intrepid band of bloggers and their pets.  That was how I participated in Get Caught Reading Month.  After May I’ll get back to my usual posting schedule.

This when I’m not working at my “real” job, I’ll be working on a short story to follow-on the story Chris Graham shared with us in my previous post.  So, I’ve disabled comments today. The comments from last year are still there.

I hope you’ll visit the bloggers included in this post.  Now for the rerun.  Enjoy!

The month of May is a lovely time of year.  It’s also Get Caught Reading (GCR) Month.  As many of you know, I’m doing a midweek mini-series in support of this public service campaign.  The intention of GCR is to encourage people of all ages to read, and that is what bloggers do with every post.  So this fictional, fanciful story includes an intrepid band of bloggers.

Have you caught me reading any sort of novel?  Why yes you have — the novel that inspired the title of this mini-series, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four.  The plot has nothing to do with my story though. I was not ambitious enough to try and follow the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes.  You can get The Sign of the Four free here.

Last Time

During the first chapter I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like  Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the  Story Reading Ape reading.

At Times Square I glimpsed something very large and very furry carrying a book.  He bounded around the corner.  I ran to the spot, but he was long gone.  Then on the sidewalk I saw a banana.  It had to be the sign of the ape.

The Sign of the Ape — Chapter 2The_Sign_of_the_Four-_in_Lippincott’s_Monthly_Magazine_1890

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four Chap. 6, p. 111

 

“Percy and I will meet you at Madame Tussaud’s Celebrity Wax Museum,”  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen had promised.

I had thought the blogger-chef was the only person in New York that I knew.  However, at the famous wax museum I entered a gallery with a marque announcing a new exhibit called Fictional Heroes. I saw familiar faces.

Kasha reading

Kasha reading about Michigan lighthouses

The first thing I noticed was a cowboy who seemed oddly familiar to me.  When I saw author Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  I understood why — it was Tristan Carlson, from Cowboy Boss and His Destiny. Or rather it was a wax version of him. 

Excited barking greeted me.  It was Kasha, Mary’s fur baby.  Kasha stopped for me to pet her, but then tried to run out to the hallway.  Mary of course caught her.

However, something four footed may have been what interested Kasha.  In came two large curly haired dogs.  Mary said she wondered what they were.  A smile slowly spread across my face as I recognized another statue — Ben Andrews of The Gamblers. 

“I believe those would be Laboradoodles, and I think you’re about to meet Christoph Fischer,” I told her just as the writer walked into the room.

Greta-Wilma

Greta and Wilma caught reading

Then I heard the funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme.  I looked back at the collection of wax heroes.  Was there a spy or thriller hero among them?  I didn’t recognize the statue at first.  However, Kasha was sniffing at one.  I saw the wax man was the hero of the John J. Cannon Trilogyby John W. Howell.

It was odd about the music… Was it my imagination?  I gave my head a shake.  However, I forgot about it when a moment later, Percy the Pug led Suzanne into the exhibit.  Seeing the blogger-chef reminded me…  The opening of the exhibit was shaping up to be such a great party that for a moment I almost forgot the strange events that brought me there.  

“Did you happen to see John W. Howell, out there?” I asked Suzanne, motioning to the hallway.

Lucy digging_John

Lucy digging

“Oh, that must have been the man with the boxer.  I thought he looked familiar,” she replied.  “They were just outside.  The dog was trying to dig up something.  She was really persistent about it.”

That was odd.  I knew John’s pets were well behaved.  I wondered what was going on with Lucy.  However, my thoughts were interrupted when all the dogs started barking furiously.  Suzanne deftly picked little Percy up in her arms.  The other dogs tore out of the exhibit, their author owners running frantically behind them.

As the dogs left, I noticed it on the floor near the wax figures.  The sign of the ape — a ripe yellow banana.  I picked up the banana, examining it carefully.  I saw nothing unusual about it.  There was no clue or suggestion of where the Story Reading Ape had gone.  I followed the sound of barking to another gallery.

A single display was far larger than all the rest, taking up an entire wall. Everyone was transfixed by that figure.  It was a wax exhibit of the Ape himself.  The dogs stopped barking, but Kasha, Greta, and Wilma sniffed every inch of the exhibit.  Percy struggled until Suzanne finally let him down to join the others.

“What has them so excited?” Christoph Fischer asked as he moved closer to Greta and Wilma to make sure they weren’t at risk.  

I explained to him about the chase to catch the Story Reading Ape reading.  Meanwhile I examined the display closely, or at least as much of it as I could reach.  Christoph, being taller than the rest of us inspected the higher portions.  However, we found no clues, nothing that would lead me to the Ape.  The dogs had stopped their sniffing.  Apparently they had lost his trail.  

Ape Gallery

Christoph’s Laboradoodles moved over to me.  I petted the dogs, amazed by their soft curly fur.  I wasn’t sure which was Greta and which was Wilma, but they were both adorable.  Soon the authors were called back to their exhibit.  I was able to quickly introduce Suzanne to Christoph and Mary before the authors had to return to their exhibit.

I detained them long enough to ask if any of them had met John Howell yet.  Apparently John never came inside the museum.  That made me uneasy, so I went looking for the Texas based author.

To my surprise, Percy followed me.  A moment later Suzanne ran behind the pug to catch him.  As I rounded a corner I all but collided with a tall man.

MiMi reading_Dan

MiMi reading for a clue

Dan Antion?” I exclaimed in surprise.

It turned out Dan was in New York to meet John W. Howell and see his John Cannon wax statue.  Dan carried a small kennel, from which I heard a meow.  I asked if he always traveled with one of his cats.

“MiMi has been acting really clingy and… just strange,” he confessed.  “I could have sworn I heard her meowing back and forth with some other cats, but she was alone.  Then she got one of my books.  She slapped my hand when I tried to take it away from her.  I thought it was best to take her with me.”

I suspected Annette‘s cats had called Dan’s for a meow-wow, just as they had called Crystal.  Then I heard barking from a new canine voice.  Dan looked around worriedly and muttered something I didn’t catch.  Suddenly I realized he must have brought his dog too.

Maddie sniffing_Dan

Maddie on the trail

“Maddie!” he called and then whistled as we all moved toward the barking. 

 Outside the museum was a small landscaped area.  Percy ran to a sizable hole in the ground there.  Dan’s Irish Setter had already gone into the hole, but she ran back out when Dan called her.  At that point I realized the hole wasn’t simply a hole, but a tunnel.

Then I heard it again…  It sounded far away and muffled, but I could hear the funky James Bond guitar music again.  The music seemed to move gradually farther away.  Percy wagged his little tail and gave a yip, as if he meant to say everything was as it should be.  Suzanne and I exchanged puzzled looks.  

“I think John and Lucy are down there,” I told them.

Before you could say boo, Dan along with Maddie and MiMi, went into the tunnel after John W. Howell.  Suzanne tightened her grip on Percy’s leash, but the pug didn’t try to follow the others.

“It might be dangerous — especially for just one person,” Dan called from the tunnel.  “I’d better go after John and Lucy.”

A taxi rolled up.  It was the same driver that brought me to the wax museum, the same driver who looked a lot like the pilot of the airship — I mean the man who looked an awful lot like Cornelis Drebbel.  Suzanne’s eyes widened.

Percy Tie pug hill

Percy reads Pug Hill

“It’s him isn’t it?” she exclaimed.  “It’s the alchemist.  How did you bring Cornelis Drebbel here?” she asked in astonishment.

I told her that he was actually the one who brought me.  At that point I had to admit to myself that the driver/pilot truly was Cornelis Drebbel.  Yes, I had been in denial.  As  Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  My driver and pilot had been Cornelis Drebbel, the alchemist.

 

Cornelis began to flirt outrageously with Suzanne.  The two were having such a good time, I didn’t mean to be a wet blanket.  However, all I could think about was the fact that I had no idea where to look next for the Story Reading Ape.  Then I realized I still had the banana, the sign of the ape.  I took a closer look at it.  There was a little sticker, a brand mark, but the writing was Japanese.

Cornelis looked askance.  I showed him the sticker.  

“Oh yes, I know this market.  It’s in Tokyo,” he said, but I gave him a blank stare.  “That’s your next clue.  Come along now.  Get in the car.  We need to take the dirigible to get there,” he added and I mutely got into the cab.

“Well m’lady?  May I have the honor?” Cornelis spoke to Suzanne and she and Percy eagerly got into the taxi.  

“Did you say dirigible?  That sounds like a slow way to get to Japan,” Suzanne commented.  “Cornelis, are you going to use magic?” she asked with a grin.

Cornellis merely wriggled his bushy eyebrows.  

I cringed.  This couldn’t be good.

“Where is that blond?” Cornelis asked hopefully.

“Do you mean Mary J. McCoy-Dressel?” I wanted to know.

“Well yes, we have a brunette and a redhead,” Cornelis said as if explaining to a child. “It would work better if we also had a blond too.”

That of course made no sense at all to me.  However, as if on cue, I heard barking and Kasha bounded up to Cornelis.  Mary ran after her dog, but looked at Cornelis Drebbel in shock.

“Is he?” she began and I nodded.

“Cornelis, what would work better?” I demanded as a queasy feeling formed in my stomach.  “Cornelis Drebbel, you’re not planning some complicated alchemy are you?”

The alchemist wriggled his bushy eyebrows again.  This really, really couldn’t be good.

***

End Chapter 2

If you remember Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, then you know Cornelis Drebbel’s magic had a tendency to go awry.  Between the alchemist and the Ape, what will happen to our intrepid band of bloggers in Tokyo?  And what about John and Dan (and their pets)?  We left them in that tunnel.  Come back for the next midweek episode to find out.

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

When Glowing Pigs Fly!

le-sourire-1926-couple-on-pigDid you know that March 1st is National Pig Day (U.S.A.)?  I didn’t until Madelyn Griffith-Haynie told me.

Meanwhile, author and translator Olga Núñez Miret told me that she’s becoming quite fond of piglets, due in part to the “glowing otherworldly pigs” of Atonement, Tennessee.

(Just a couple of Olga’s books. Click here for Amazon author page.)

olga-psychiatry-2-n-man-who-never-was 

So with both of those things in mind, I knew I had to come up with another porcine adventure.  Yet what tale for those twisty tail waggers?

I got off to a good start, but then I got stuck about two-thirds of the way to the finish.  So I went to my trusty jar of “things” and pulled out three bits of paper.3-flying-pig-things

Well, let’s see… Puzzle, bill of sale, and monotony.  Hmmm… I think that just might do the trick.  Here goes!

When Glowing Pigs Fly

A sweet breeze stirred the brown leaves that covered the area beneath an ancient oak tree.  Honeybell quickly put a hoof on the page of her book to prevent it moving.  She took a deep breath of the air, pleasantly scented with early blooming crocuses and jonquils.  Then she settled back to continue reading her book.

However, a loud snort interrupted Honeybell.  Deme frisked up to her side, sapphire blue eyes shining brightly.  Her twisty tail twitched with anticipation.  Honeybell glanced up but tried to go back to her reading.  Deme snuffled impatiently.

“What are you so excited about, Deme?”

“Have you forgotten?  Honeybell, it’s the one day of the year when we get to go into Atonement, Tennessee and play with the humans.”

“You do that more than one day a year,” Honeybell grunted in a rather admonishing tone.

2-pigs-traffic-light

“Well, it’s the only day that we don’t risk getting into any trouble for it.  And it’s the only day all year when any memory of us gets removed from the humans.  That way we don’t have to worry that something we do might disturb them.  Aren’t you the least bit excited Honeybell?” Deme asked, shifting impatiently from hoof to hoof.

“I’ve gotten really fascinated with this book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Honeybell told her friend.  “At first it seemed too commonplace to be interesting.  But it’s gotten quite frightening in some parts.  Pigs as foot stools!  Absolutely horrid!  Other parts are just plain odd.”

“What do you mean by odd?” Deme asked, intrigued by anything that could so completely engross her friend.

alice-in-wonderland-pig-baby“Well take this part for instance,” Honeybell read aloud from the volume.

“Thinking again?” the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little chin.

“I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried.

“Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly….” — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 9.

“What would be wrong with pigs flying?” Honeybell demanded.  “Of course it’s very unusual, and precious few of us can…  But shouldn’t it be every pig’s right to fly?  If they are able, I mean.”

Deme grunted a giggle.  “It’s only a story, Honeybell.  Try not to be bothered by a story so outrageous that it includes a character like the Queen of Hearts, who would rest her feet on a pig.”

“That’s easy for you to say.  You’ve actually flown.  More than once!  That’s why your eyes are bright blue,” Honeybell said with an impatient snuffle.

“You know that I can’t just fly any time I choose,” Deme defended.  “I can’t control when it happens.  Come on, that story is upsetting you.  Everyone else has already left for Atonement.  You need some fun,” Deme entreated and Honeybell reluctantly closed her book.

***

Sheriff badge

“Ralda, unless this is an emergency, I have to go.  Now,” Sheriff Robin Warden said emphatically. 

“Do you really think you should?” the woman asked in a concerned voice.  “The weather people were saying we might get a bad storm.”

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

“Shakespeare again?” the redhead asked him.  “You really are a Bardolator.  So in other words, you don’t care that you’re doing something foolish.”

“Do you think a weather report would stop me?  When pigs fly!  Ralda, I can’t explain, except that I told you this is National Pig Day, and I want to be as far away from Atonement, Tennessee as I can get!  I’ll be back in a day,” he exclaimed as Ralda Lawton looked at him with a bemused expression.

flying-pot-bellied-pig

The Sheriff’s car burned rubber, engine roaring until it was out of sight.  Deme made a loud disgruntled noise.  She particularly enjoyed getting Robin Warden involved in her play.  It didn’t matter that because he had been touched by Goewin, he was one of the few humans who was not affected by the magic that made people forget the otherworldly pigs.  Ralda Lawton was another such human, but her immunity had a different source.

“You have a crush on him, don’t you,” Honeybell stated with a sidelong look at her friend.  “You always want him to play.”

“That isn’t so!” Deme exclaimed, but Honeybell gave a soft snort.

Pig Valentine

The two glowing pigs looked around.  The rest of their drift of pigs was nowhere to be seen. 

“It looks like everyone else has already gone into town, Deme.”

“We could catch up easily enough,” the blue-eyed pig replied.  “Or we could nose around in the closed-off parts of Sunhold.  You like old mansions and ruins,” Deme suggested.

“That could be fun,” Honeybell reluctantly agreed, still thinking of her book.  “And Ralda-Esmeralda wouldn’t mind even if she knew we were there.  Perhaps we should ask her to come and play in the tower.”

“I think she’s afraid of that area, especially the tower.  She says it’s not safe.  You know humans are not as agile as we are,” Deme told Honeybell, who nodded knowingly.

Moving toward the old estate house, Deme and Honeybell followed quietly in Ralda Lawton’s wake.  Since she could remember them, they tried not to call attention to themselves. 

As the woman headed to her door the wind moaned.  Honeybell looked skyward uneasily, but Deme’s sense of play was contagious.  So the two friends trotted to an unused extension of Sunhold that Ralda had barely explored.  The otherworldly pigs, however, were already familiar with it.

2 Pigs

There were several rooms in that wing, and it led to a turreted tower.  Many places had bad flooring, so the pigs stepped gingerly.  Hooves clipping softly, they made their way to a rounded area.  At the center a beautiful old staircase spiraled gently upward.

[… And this is where I got stuck.  Time for three random things!]

Ralda Lawton quietly came in, unheard by the pigs.  She stood silently as she watched them in fascination.

“Isn’t this the spot where we found truffles once?” Honeybell asked.

“I believe so,” Deme answered with a sigh.

“What’s wrong?  I know you like truffles,” Honeybell snorted.

“It’s just that we’ve already hunted truffles.  We’ve already done everything we ever do.  The monotony is just so… monotonous,” Deme grunted.

“You two like to root around for things, if you’ll pardon the expression.  How would you like to help me look for old documents?” Ralda Lawton asked from behind them.

Startled, both pigs squealed in surprise at her unexpected voice.  After taking a moment to collect herself, Deme approached the woman, twisty tail wagging rapidly. 

Both pigs were intrigued by the human’s suggestion.  Looking for things was like solving a puzzle.  Honeybell particularly liked puzzles.  She was not as bold as Deme — no one was.  However, she hurried up to Deme and Ralda.  Hunting for documents would be even better than truffle hunting because it was something they’d never done before.

“What sort of documents?” Honeybell gathered her courage and asked.

la-vie-parisienne-sept-1926-woman-pig-farm

Ralda Lawton crouched down closer to the glowing pigs.  “You smell like flowers,” she murmured.

She held out her hand, as if she meant to pet them.  Then she drew it back, uncertainly.  Daring as ever, Deme nudged her nose under the woman’s hand to show her the affection was accepted.  Hence there was a bit of petting and scratching that delighted both pigs so much that they glowed quite brightly.

Deme and Honeybell both rolled all the way over and pounced back onto their hooves, tails wagging happily.

“I’m sorry,” Honeybell gasped.  “What kind of papers were you looking for again?”

“Anything with names.  Especially signatures,” Ralda told them.  “Like birth or death certificates, letters, a bill of sale, anything like that.  I’d like to make a timeline and history of everyone who has lived in Sunhold.  I’ve gotten some information in the old cemetery, but most of the headstones are impossible to read.  Besides, sometimes the graveyard was used for the entire community, not just people who lived in the estate.”

The pigs started to run up the staircase when Ralda called them back.  She seemed uncertain, strangely hesitant, now that they had agreed.

“Just one other thing,” Ralda began.  “Could you help make sure I don’t step on any rotted stairs or floorboards?  I’m heavier than you, so you might be able to walk on places where I would fall through.  Do you have any way to tell?”

“We can smell the various conditions of the wood if we are paying attention,” Deme told her, blue eyes large and sincere.  “So we will mind that carefully.”

pig

Dreamstime

The wind howled through the drafty, rundown structure.  Honeybell’s eyes widened fearfully.  However, she was determined not to show her anxiety.

“Don’t worry, Ralda-Esmeralda.  We will see that no harm comes to you,” Honeybell promised.

Deme and Honeybell snuffled excitedly, leading the way.  Their natural glow was enough to help Ralda see in the shadowy areas, but she kept her flashlight turned on just the same. 

“That room over there,” Honeybell said, trotting up to a door.

Ralda opened the door and the pigs went inside, still snuffling.  She asked if the floor was safe, so Honeybell double checked.  She had promised to keep the woman safe, and she would keep that vow.

Deme gave an excited grunt and her radiance became brighter.  She pulled a dust cover away from a small bookcase.  It was filled with old books.  Ralda praised the find, but the pigs knew it wasn’t what she had in mind.

“I wonder if there’s a Bible among them,” the woman pondered.  “Old Bibles were used to record the kinds of things I want to collect.  I’m going to take an armload downstairs and then come back to look at more.”

“I’ll go with you,” Deme offered, remembering the woman’s concerns about the old stairs and flooring.

1958-coco-chanel-staircase

While Ralda and Deme went downstairs, Honeybell pulled dust covers away from a sofa and chair.  With a squeal of delight she jumped onto the antique horsehair covered sofa and began tugging at a cushion.  As Honeybell tossed away the pillow, she found a worn leather folio.

Honeybell knew just by the scent that she had found the kind of thing Ralda-Esmeralda wanted.

“I found something!” Honeybell squealed in delight.

The small pig picked up the folio in her mouth, but she wasn’t tall enough to carry it well.  Tripping and stumbling all the way, she dragged it into the hallway and then to the railed area that looked down on the round room far below.  Part of Honeybell’s mind noted the wind worsened outside, but she was completely focused on her awkward task.

“Look!  I found something!” Honeybell repeated.

As she dropped the folio to shout, papers fell across the landing.  Deme and Ralda were already headed back up the stairs, but they quickened their steps.  Honeybell tried to nose the old documents back to the cracked leather portfolio. 

The others had a long climb up the gently spiraling staircase.  By the time they reached the landing both were breathing hard.  Honeybell had gathered most of the papers and pushed them next to the portfolio.  She pranced in place beside them while Deme and Ralda caught their breath.

The woman’s delight at the papers pleased Honeybell more than the little pig would have ever thought.  However, she always shared another’s joy, so why not a human’s?

Ralda Lawton’s eyes grew wide.  Her eyes were blue, but not the bright sapphire blue of Deme’s.

“What’s this?” Ralda gasped upon seeing a very old newspaper.  “I’m afraid it might crumble if I touch it,” she murmured as she sat on the floor to read it.  “Between the stains and the holes, I can only read phrases, broken sentences,” she commented on a sigh.  “The way they used English is even different.  Could it be from Esmeralda Gwynedd’s day?”

 

atonement-abandoned-moon

Image by Chris Graham

“There’s a date mixed with the stain at the top of the page — 1782,” Honeybell stated. 

“I didn’t know that pigs had such good eyesight,” Ralda commented in a pleased voice.

“We don’t necessarily see better than humans,” Deme explained.  “But we see wavelengths that you can’t.  Besides, we aren’t ordinary pigs,” Deme added with a wink and a wag of her twisty tail.

“Their way of speaking takes a lot of getting used to,” Ralda continued reading the sheet of newspaper.  “Not to mention the little holes.  But it’s a report of a drowning.  Dylan Aildon.  Then next paragraph says something about survived by Gwy— but the rest of the name is lost to the damage.  I wonder if he was one of the Gwynedd family,” Ralda speculated.

“The name sounds familiar, but from long ago,” Honeybell said softly, her eyes taking on a faraway look.

“You and your books,” Deme teased fondly.

“That’s it!  One of Goewin’s books.  But the name was slightly different.  Dylan ail Don,” Honeybell cried, emphasizing the difference.

“The way Guy Fabdon is really Gwydion fab Don?” Ralda gasped and asked.

“Yes, Dylan ail Don was the son of Gwydion the trickster,” Honeybell explained.

As the three exchanged amazed looks, the wind tore open a window.  It scattered the documents that had come out of the portfolio.  A current of air suddenly lifted the newspaper off the floor and it sailed over the railing.

Ralda Lawton lunged to grab the paper, leaning against the railing.  With a dull crunch the banister gave way.  The woman wavered for an instant, trying to get her balance.  Too quickly for the pigs to act, she fell.Perils_of_Pauline_-_1947_Poster

Sapphire eyes bulging, Deme wished as hard as she could wish for her wings to emerge.  However, she had never learned to summon the ability to fly.  It only came to her unexpectedly.

“Ralda-Esmeralda!  I said she’d come to no harm!” Honeybell cried as she leaped.

Honeybell grabbed the woman’s jacket with her teeth, but to no avail.  They both plunged over the edge.

“Honeybell, no!” Deme screamed and ran to the edge.

Deme watched in horror as the other two plunged downward toward the marble floor far below.  Abruptly Honeybell began to fall faster than the woman.  Then wings sprouted from the little pig’s back and she darted underneath Ralda.

Deme didn’t realize she had done anything herself until she was beside Honeybell.  Together the two, glowing, flying pigs saved the friend they called Ralda-Esmeralda from falling to her death. 

She didn’t exactly land on her feet, but she was unharmed.  Just as Honeybell promised, Deme thought in satisfaction.

Ralda Lawton sat sprawled on the floor.  The woman seemed shocked and disoriented.  She gazed at the two winged pigs, hovering just above the floor.

“Ralda-Esmeralda, are you okay?” Honeybell asked, though the woman gazed at her in mute astonishment.

“Honeybell, your eyes are bright blue now, like Deme’s,” was the first thing Ralda said.

Abruptly the wings disappeared from the pigs and they plopped to the floor on either side of Ralda.  The three exchanged amazed looks.

“We’ll see you to the main house and to your bed,” Deme told her, wondering how much the experience might have rattled the human.

“Ralda-Esmeralda, are you sure you’re unharmed?” Honeybell asked, sapphire blue eyes sincere.  “Can you stand?”

Ralda nodded and slowly got to her feet.  “When pigs fly — I mean because pigs fly,” she answered with a wondering smile.

***

eyes

The end.

I hope you enjoyed this little tail… I mean tale.  Mega hugs!

Copyright © 2017 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

 

Mini-Series — The Senses — Taste

Hearing, Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch

Welcome back to my mini-series on the five senses.  Last weekend I interrupted this series by posting a Valentine’s story.  The previous installment of this series was about the sense of smell, and I was glad everyone came out to sniff around! (Okay… I’ll try to control myself with the play on words.)  Now for the next-to-last installment of this series — Taste

Purple mouth

Think about the many different ways the sense of taste could be used to enhance your writing.  It doesn’t have to be the taste of food or drink. Consider other ways that taste could come into play. I had a friend with no sense of smell.  She said she could taste the air when it carried a strong odor.  Concentrating on that, I found she was right! My point is that taste need not be limited to foods.

For my example of taste I’m using one of the “interactive” serials I’ve provided here at this blog. Click the button at the top of the page if you want to know more about this serial.  This tidbit is from episode-6 of A Ghost in the Kitchen — Three Ingredients, Cookbook-2.  All the episodes are together and in chronological order on the serial homepage.

This serial is a culinary mystery-fantasy set in the 1920s. It’s narrated by Paisley Idelle Peabody, better known as Pip.  In this tidbit Pip is working in her grandmother’s vegetable garden.  Describing Pip’s actions, or the smell of the air is fine. However, causing the reader to think about a taste adds fullness to the scene.

Early Lucille 2

Young Lucille Ball as Pip

A scent of mint was on the breeze and I inhaled with pleasure.  I sat on the ground in Granny Fanny’s garden wiping dirt from a turnip and an interesting idea popped into my head.  “I wonder how turnips would taste cooked with some mint,” I pondered aloud. 

Cinnamon Bun, Granny’s Flemish Giant rabbit, looked at me quizzically and twitched his dirty nose.  I could have offered the huge bunny a turnip, but he clearly enjoyed digging up his own.  Just as we both went back to the dirt, a loud noise cracked the air.  I jumped half out of my skin, and Cinnamon Bun dashed to the security of his hutch.

The loud sound was followed by the beep-beep of a horn.  I looked down toward the road and saw a Dodge Roadster.  A moment later Andy Avis jumped out and hurried to the back yard, where I sat in the vegetable garden.

***

As many of you know, the serial stories are spontaneous and unedited. Looking back I could have improved this scene by having the odor of the exhaust from the car’s backfire overlay the tastes that were in Pip’s mind.  Or I might have brought out something about  the garden soil for one of the other senses.  I’m sure you get the idea.

Since this installment is about taste, I’m adding a bonus.  Click on over to A Pug in the Kitchen for this delicious offering from Suzanne.  Also, congrats to Suzanne on her new furry family member.

Creamy Spring Turnip Soup with Wilted Greens and Bacon

Creamy Turnip soup.jpg

Your Turn!

Hey! Come back!  Now it’s your turn.  A photo of an old truck and gas station might seem like an odd choice for an exercise about the sense of taste, but challenging your senses is the point.  Look closely at the image below — put yourself into the picture.   It’s a brisk day.  You were out on the road and stopped at the old gas station to fill-up.  You may or may not be the person driving the red truck.  Or perhaps you are not a patron — maybe you work there, or live across the street. I’m sure a scene is in your mind at this point.  Now add fullness to it by mentioning a taste.

Red Truck Gas Vintage

What did you taste?   Leave a comment with just a few words about a taste this photo brought to your mind.

Open Invitation:  If this inspired you to just write something or otherwise create anything according to the sense featured today, that’s even better!  If you want, you can use the comments to leave a link to your story or blog post.  Kindly link back to this post if you blog about what you wrote, cooked, painted, or photographed.

Thanks for visiting.

Mega hugs,

Teagan

 

Copyright © 2016 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

What If — Features from Atonement, TN

What Would Happen If There Was a Character Like…

woman purple flowers bubbles

Welcome back to Atonement, TN everyone.  Come on out to play!

Are you ready for a little game? It doesn’t require a special arena, equipment, or athletic ability — and it doesn’t cost a cent.

How My Writing Process Begins a New Story

Have you ever played What If? Probably not, since that’s my own little speculative free-thinking game. If I heard something quirky in the news, or if I heard about some “breakthrough” that left everyone scratching their heads as to its usefulness, I liked to use it to start a conversation with a friend.

Meadow_frameI’d take the headline a step further and ask, “So what if…” this or that.  The other person would throw out a potential next step, and we’d go on with the “what if” getting wilder and more imaginative as we went, although it would still trace back to the original headline or concept.  I even did a post about it a couple of years ago. It created some fun conversations — some bubbles of what-if.

Ultimately, “what if” is how all of my stories start, from short story to epic fantasy.  When I was ready to lay the groundwork to build book-2, Atonement in Bloom, I again read the Celtic/Welsh mythology that loosely inspired book-1.  As I read about something the mythological Gwydion fab Don did for another personage in that myth, the image of a new character came into my mind.  (If you want more of a clue than that, you’ll have to read the myth.)  I’m talking about the same character you’ve read about in the 79 word story with Lilith the calico.Stone Planter Flowers Face

What if there was someone like the character that came to mind?  The first what if bubbled into more questions.  What sort of person would she be? Would she be bad, good, or just a sort of device to drive the new plot?

The chain of what if had begun!  What if her presence effected the town? How?  If she did have some sort of magical influence, who would be effected and who might be immune? Why?  What would be the result of either?

As I progressively answered each of the questions that rose from my first “what if,” the character became real to me.  Because of the what if, some existing characters from Atonement, Tennessee grew in depth — in good ways and in bad ways.
Cherry blossoms snow 2The initial “what if” added two other new supernaturals to the cast of characters.  The chain of what if also brought a character from the short story, An Atonement, Tennessee Valentine, and the short became tied securely to Atonement in Bloom.  I sure wasn’t expecting that to happen!
Most importantly, early on that first what if led me to see the most significant what if of all…

What if, in the midst of a December snow — Atonement, Tennessee came into bloom?

Now, here’s one last what if… What if some flowers were edible?  How would you serve them?  Oh, but wait! Some flowers really are edible!  Pay a visit to the delightful Sprinkle Bakes, a Baking and Desserts Blog.  Follow the links to a recipe.

Spring Flower Lollipops

Spring Flower Lollipops

To those of you in the USA, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.  I know many of you will be cooking things much more delicious and complicated than a bit of candy.

Each and every one of you has my heartfelt gratitude for reading and following my little blog. I’m thankful for you.

And thanks again for visiting Atonement, TN.  It was wonderful to see you. Come out to play What If by leaving a comment!

Mega hugs,

Teagan

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

My “Sexy” Saturday

my sexy saturdayI’ve been a busy blogger this extended-weekend. This post was a bit of something extra I suddenly decided to do. I’ve been feeling a tad guilty over just “re-winding” the first serial for you…  And then…

Everything happened at once. There was no plan for me to re-blog that lovely post from Randstein, but how could I resist?  Then I was so excited to have a completely unexpected book review at Lit World — well I had to re-blog that too!

Betty Boop Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 1988

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Betty Boop balloon.

Back to topic – the original extra bit I actually planned to give you.  You may have figured out that I don’t exactly take this blog to “Sexy”…  But the folks at the My Sexy Saturday blog hop are very flexible about the definition of  sexy.  They were happy to accommodate the less than daring way in which I write. (Believe me you can find things there that fit a more traditional version of sexy!) Plus, they were so very nice to me the few times I’ve come out to play… I’ve always wanted to do more. However, my plate simply overfloweth… I can’t do everything just because I’d like to.

Then I saw that this weekend they have a “Thanksgiving and Families” theme. They even included characters who have no family.  That reminded me of two characters in my short story, Chocolate with Death. So I decided to rearrange my overfull plate.

Even though these characters are not romantically involved, their relationship has a little sex appeal, and they are thankful for one another.  You can read the full story if you want.

In accordance with the blog hop rules I am to post “7 paragraphs or 7 sentences or 7 words ONLY.”  So here are seven sentences from Chocolate with Death.

chocolate-strawberries

If I was startled by the pain in his eyes, which clearly spoke of endless solitude and loneliness, then I was truly astonished by his reply.

“Well yes, that was sort of the entire point when I chose to visit you,” he said.  “We are not strangers. Why do you think you felt that you knew me?”

I flopped back into my chair, confused and overwhelmed. One of my bunny slippers had come off and Death examined it curiously, and then began to refill the glasses with Spumante.

“I only came to visit you – I didn’t come for you,” he said, meaning my time on this earth was not yet over.

betty boop champagne

***

The blog hop’s Twitter handle is @MySexySaturday.

Atonement, Tennessee by Teagan Geneviene

Barnes & Noble Nook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/atonement-tennessee-teagan-geneviene/1117790203?ean=2940148918431

Kindle and Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A/ref=la_B00HHDXHVM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412384486&sr=1-1

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B00HGSVA8A

Amazon India

http://www.amazon.in/Atonement-Tennessee-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/dp/1481826948

Three Ingredients II – 8: Lettuce, Shrimp, Hot Peppers

young Lucy blueThe other day I sent Pip to give everyone a “heads-up” that I wasn’t sure I could do this weekend’s episode… due to the unfortunate combination of my clumsiness and lots of stairs inside and particularly (the culprits in my misadventure) outside my home…

The story nagged at me though, so I’ll try to provide a quality episode.

However, I’m going to give my post-tumble achy self a little break, and challenge any or all of you — to leave a comment with a link to a favorite recipe that uses one of this week’s three ingredients!

This time the “ingredients” are from fellow blogger and LinkedIn member, Phuong Callaway.  You might also remember her collection of cookbooks from the conclusion of “Three Ingredients: Cookbook-1.”

Without further ado, here is Episode-8.  Bon appétit!

8.  Lettuce, Shrimp, Hot Peppers

With Unearthly

“Andy!  Annn-deee!” someone screamed hysterically, and after a moment I realized I was the one screaming.

Vintage world around us magI clamped my mouth shut.  Echoes of my own voice rang in the empty vastness of the abandoned factory.  I was alone.

Whether by accident or by design, the ghost-riders had taken Andy.  Caleb the spirit cowboy yelled at them to stop before he also disappeared, but it had done no good.

As I tried to collect my wits, I noticed a wooden box that bore a faded image of a head of lettuce.  I thought absently that it was a good thing the produce was gone; else the spoiled odor would fill the place.  But then again, maybe it rotted away so long ago that even the smell was gone.

The sudden stillness of the building felt unearthly.  I sat down on an old crate, not giving any thought to how dusty it was.  Had it really been only a little while since we drove up to the abandoned factory?  The words Andy had spoken at that moment came back to me and I shivered.

“Yeah, it’s like the hand of Fate making sure things stay in balance.  If one thing or person leaves a realm, then another must take its place,” Andy had said.

Had the hand of Fate reached out and grabbed Andy to make sure whatever mystical realms stayed in balance?  Or what might happen if someone were to escape death?  Like Marshal Myrick — he died briefly and was revived by Dr. Veronica Vale.  Could that have disturbed a cosmic balance of some sort?  Or maybe the presence of one of the ghosts upset the balance of things.  Did Daisy or the Maestro have to “move on” before Andy could come back?

As if on cue Maestro Martino appeared.  He was bubbling over with excitement.  “Signorina,” he cried.  “A wondrous thing has happened!”

I looked at the ghost chef blankly, still reeling from the drama that took place only a moment before.

“I have been given a reprieve!  My curse is cut in half!” Martino exclaimed joyously as he all but danced around me.

Yes, I should have been happy for the ghost chef.  I should have congratulated him.  buster n lucyHowever, my worry for Andy was so great that I barely heard Maestro Martino’s happy announcement.

Maestro lifted me off my feet in a great bear hug.  I thought of Andy being pulled into the air by the ghost-rider’s lariat and I shuddered.  The ghost chef must have felt my reaction because he put me back down hastily.

“Oh forgive my excitement Signorina,” he apologized.  “I did not mean to be improper,” the spirit said and then glanced around as if he had only just noticed the location.  “But where is the young Signore?”

“They took him,” I said, distracted by the chaotic tumble of thoughts rolling through my head.

The Maestro looked a question at me, but instead of answering, I asked some questions of my own.  “Maestro, where is the wooden owl clock?  The one you had to bind yourself to?  And how were you able to find me?”

He chuckled.  “Signorina, I told you. I am one powerful poltergeist!” he said merrily.

Maestro Martino reminded me that he could be away from whatever object to which he was bound for limited periods of time.  He said that he sensed the strong supernatural activity relatively nearby and it attracted him.  Then he also sensed my presence in the midst of it, so he came quickly.  I marveled at how powerful he truly must be to pick up all those things.  I could understand that he might be aware of ghostly activity, but I thought it was particularly extraordinary that he felt my mortal presence.

I told him about the Devil’s Herd and the ghost-riders.  “Is there anything you can do to get Andy back, Maestro?” I pleaded.

Cowgirl valentineThe spirit chef paced the area where the ghost-riders had charged after the red-eyed cattle.  Then he moved to a spot behind me and made tut-tut sounds.

“One of them was here, strongly,” Maestro muttered.  “He was most interested in you, Signorina.”

Then he came close to me and put out his hands, palms toward me as if he could feel something in the air around me.  He tut-tutted some more.

“What is it?” I wanted to know.

“Can you not see it?” he asked but then seemed to remember himself.  “Of course not.  My mistake,” he said and wriggled his fingers.

I marveled to see a multi-colored aura all around me.  There were bright horizontal yellow-green bands around it at my waist and shoulder.

“A poltergeist made physical contact with you, no?” he asked but it didn’t sound like a question.

In answer I told the Maestro about Caleb the ghost-rider and how he pulled me to safety as the Devil’s Herd thundered past.  His thick eyebrows went up in an expression of curiosity that was accompanied by another tut-tut sound.

“So, a ghost who is cursed for his cruelty during life saves an innocent bystander…  This is most intriguing,” he said.

Martino put his hand to the places where Caleb had stood.  Then he apologized and placed his hand at my waist.  After a second the Maestro gasped.

“Repentance?” he said in an astonished tone.  “Remorse and repentance?  I’m sure I feel these things from your ghost-rider.  It must be one powerful curse that afflicts him.  I am amazed that the curse has not been lifted.”Vintage ghosts several

I looked at Maestro Martino sadly.  He had never shown anything but kindness to me.  Yet he said he was cursed also.  Always one to put my foot in it, I asked about something that was none of my bees wax.  “Then shouldn’t your curse be lifted as well?  You said just now that it was cut in half.  Why didn’t they… whomever, just take it away?” I asked and then blushed at my temerity.

He gazed at me with the saddest look in his eyes…  Even Wriggles the pug couldn’t look that sad.  Then he abruptly smiled and chuckled.

“Ah, but you see, Signorina Pip, I have no remorse for the things that got me thusly cursed,” he admitted and spread his arms in a big shrug.

Maestro went back to the spot where Caleb had stood when he whistled at me.  His entire body started to vibrate in a frightening way.  He waivered from transparent to solid and back again, sometimes blinking out entirely.  It was like a visual version of the static on the police radio.  There was also a low discordant hum that set my teeth on edge.

The spirit chef loudly clapped his hands together.  To my astonishment, Caleb the cowboy appeared.  At first he seemed confused, but when he saw me he grinned.  I ran toward the two ghosts.

“Where is Andy?  Caleb, do you know where he is?  Can you bring him back?” I asked in a jumbled rush.abandoned factory

“Simmer down now little filly,” he said.

The ghost-rider looked a little unsettled, and I supposed he might well be.  After all, he had just been plucked out of whatever and wherever without so much as a please or thank you.  Caleb turned to Maestro Martino.  Some kind of acknowledgment or recognition seemed to pass between them.  I had the feeling they had just gauged each other’s power.

Caleb took off his Stetson and scratched his head as if he didn’t know what I meant.  However, I was pretty sure he was playing with me.

“Oh, you mean the little shrimp that was here with you?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said bouncing on the balls of my feet.  “Andy!  My friend, the one the other ghost-riders took!”

He chuckled, but I thought there was sadness in the cowboy’s eyes.  “I’m sorry ma’am.  I know who you mean.  It’s just… well you’re so cute,” he said though it only sounded half apologetic.

Caleb seemed to be considering whether or not he would be able to do as I asked.  He looked around the factory floor where we stood.

“We’ve been here before,” he said sounding a little troubled.  “Me and the other riders, I mean.  But it doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere out west,” he added and I told him that we were in Savannah, Georgia.

“This has to be a strong place, to draw the Devil’s Herd so far away,” he said in a speculative tone.  “Something else happened here too.  I think that’s why the place is so strong…” his voice trailed away.

“A nexus,” Maestro murmured.

Moss on live oaks SavannahI didn’t understand the term, but my only concern was for my missing friend.  I told Caleb about Daisy and what she had said about something horrible that she couldn’t remember happening in the factory.  Caleb nodded as if what I said made perfect sense.

“Sometimes it’s best not to remember,” the cowboy said in a flat voice.  “Tell her that — your Daisy.  Tell her it’s best, even in death, to forget some things.  Those boys… it will catch up with them eventually.”

“What boys?” I asked.

“Boys… men now,” Caleb said with a faraway look in his eyes.

It was as if he was looking at something only he could see.  However, when I glanced at Maestro, I had the feeling he was looking at the same thing Caleb saw.

“The boys who were here on the day your Daisy can’t remember,” Caleb answered after a moment.  “They did something so bad that it attracted the ghost herd and the cursed riders.  We were here that day.  It scared ‘em off, but their damage was already done.  Daisy saw us, but all things together, she blocked out all the memory,” he said.Tom Mix poster

“You mean the ghost-riders tried to save Daisy?” I asked.

“No ma’am.  It had nothing to do with helping anybody.  The herd and the riders, we’re sometimes drawn to places where something awful has happened.  And those boys definitely did something horrible.  Those boys…  They’re not young anymore.  And they haven’t paid for what they did to her.  That’s what’s bothering Daisy, ma’am,” Caleb said.

His explanation seemed disjointed and difficult to follow, but Maestro nodded in agreement.  I, however, felt confused.

“Do you mean this is where Daisy died?” I asked in a whisper.

Caleb shook his head negatively.  Maestro gave a slight movement of his head too.  Apparently they both were able to see the same past event.

“Maybe.  Maybe not,” Caleb said.  “But there was cruelty here.  It’s not something a lady should have to remember,” he added and would say no more on the subject.

“Now listen here —” I began, ready to rail against the idea that gender should have the least bit to do with what anybody should about anything.  However, that was a ridiculous concept to most non-flappers.  It would have been even stranger in Caleb’s day.  Besides, there were more urgent things to address.

“What about Andy?” I asked, and I wondered if I sounded as distraught as I had to my own ears.

“Don’t you worry none, ma’am,” Caleb said with what was probably meant to be a reassuring smile.

The ghost-rider’s smile fell short of giving comfort.  It didn’t reach his eyes.  I was sure he had doubts about being able to help Andy.  The smile faded completely when he saw my face.1920s PhotoPlay

“Well, the truth is ma’am,” he paused and ground his boot against the floor.  “It would take a lot more power than I have,” he said.  “But you never know.  I’ll try my best.”

Maestro Martino unexpectedly grabbed Caleb’s hand.  The ghost chef put his other hand on the cowboy’s shoulder.  At first I thought it was an ordinary gesture of respect.  However, Maestro started to glow.  Then his hands seemed to merge with Caleb and they both became translucent.

A blinding white glow suffused the Maestro.  Soon it covered Caleb too.  The white light became so bright that I couldn’t see anything.  I shielded my eyes to no avail.  I turned my head and closed my eyes.

I heard a fizzing sound followed by a pop.  The light was gone.  I opened my eyes.  At first all I could see were spots.  Then I realized that Caleb the cowboy was gone.

Maestro Martino looked absolutely spent.  He plopped down on a crate.  The ghost chef dusted off part of the top and chuckled.  I noticed foreign lettering on the crate.  “Peperoncino,” it said.  Was that Italian?

He sighed.  “Ah… a bit of home.  Peperoncino.  Hot peppers.  Alas, home is as far away as ever,” he said sadly.  “But all is well.  It was the right thing to do.”

Bird Girl Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil“What do you mean, Maestro?” I asked.  His unexpected behavior was really worrying me.

“As you probably suspected, I leant the ghost-rider enough power to help the Signore.  But the only way I could do this thing was to also give him his wish,” Martino said.

I was so worried about Andy that I was feeling impatient with the cryptic answers from the spirit.  I tried to control my tone. “What wish?” I insisted.

Then I remembered Caleb’s words.  “I know I did some bad things during my life.  Some truly horrible things,” he’d said, shaking his head remorsefully.  “I only wish I could be allowed to make up for it, to redeem myself somehow.

“Maestro…” I began in an awed voice.  “You didn’t?  Oh, but you did,” I said as comprehension dawned.  “You gave Caleb the chance to make amends for the things he did in his lifetime?”

The ghost chef nodded but did not speak.

“And in doing that, you somehow gave up the time that was going to be taken off your own curse,” I said.

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

Three Ingredients II – 7: Baby Bok Choy, Barbecue Sauce, Aluminum Foil

Cosmo cowgirl vintageIsn’t it just the berries when with no planning at all, things just come together? Everything about our 1920’s serial is unplanned “panster” fun — even the timing of when you all send ingredients.  So I was tickled when I learned that the next set of ingredients coincided with something important for the reader who is featured this weekend.

Mary J McCoy-Dressel, who sent the ingredients for this episode, heycowboy_medjust happens to have just released a new cowboy romance novel — and you are among the first to know!  Sheiks and Shebas in Mary’s books are “Gentlemen cowboys (with a touch of bad) and their feisty heroines,” as the author describes them. So get ready for the sequel to Howdy Ma’amthe long awaited Hey Cowboy.  

Furthering the synchronicity, the fourth Saturday of every July is the National Day of the American Cowboy. I know this is unnecessary, but indulge me.  With ghosts in the story, and the cowboy references… I just can’t resist.

Right up to the very last minute, I didn’t know what I was going to do with this set of ingredients. I’m not sure what had me scratching my head more, barbecue sauce or baby bok choy.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t worried about aluminium foil. So I started writing this introduction rather than the story…  Then, after I went to bed, I remembered the Jar of Spooky Things. Naturally, with Ghost Riders in the Sky still playing in my head, I took a random ghostly ingredient from the song, rather than from the jar.

Now, hang on tight.  Here we go by the seats of our pants again!  Bon appétit!

 

7.  Baby Bok Choy, Barbecue Sauce, Aluminum Foil

With Ghost-rider

“So Andy, tell me all about Hollywood!  All the crazy stuff with the haunted wine bottle from the old factory and the ghost chef… All that started up before we ever got to talk about your new home,” I said to my old friend, Andy the Astronaute-man.

Pug episode-7Andy Avis was one of my group of friends back in a tiny town near Santa Rosa Sound, Florida.  I nicknamed him the Astronaute-man because he wrote science fiction stories and even screenplays.  I expected him to begin by telling me about his work at the movie studio, but apparently food was on his mind.  He told me about his favorite restaurant, a Chinese place.

“They really put on the Ritz!  It’s an amazing looking restaurant.  And they make this baby bok choy dish, with garlic.  I had never had it before, but it’s turned into one of my favorite foods,” he said enthusiastically.

I told him about Alastair and Arabella Wong and their restaurant, Wong’s Chinese.  “Oh yeah, he said.  “That’s the lady you said owns Wriggles, the little pug dog.  Mrs. Peabody is just dog-sitting until she gets back from vacation, right?”Vintage Asia mag

“Yes, that’s the one.  Funny isn’t it, the way this kind of thing seems to happen?” I commented.  “Alastair and Arabella leave here to visit California, while you come from California to here.”

Andy chuckled.  “Yeah, it’s like the hand of Fate making sure things stay in balance.  If one thing or person leaves a realm, then another must take its place,” he said, talking like he would in one of the science fiction stories he wrote.

The black Dodge Roadster puttered along toward the abandoned factory.  Andy had put the tan colored ragtop down when we started out, but he looked up at the clouding sky in concern.  “Do you think we should stop and put the top up?”

The old factory that Andy had bought on behalf of a studio executive was only a little further down the road.  “We’re almost there.  Why don’t we just take our chances?” I suggested, knowing Andy was probably more concerned about me getting rained on than himself or the automobile.

“So why in the world would Manny Mayer the Movie Maker want an abandoned factory in Savannah, Georgia?” I asked Andy about the executive.

Cowgirl valentineAndy Avis gave an exaggerated shrug.  “I sorta wondered that myself.  I was bragging.  Goading him a little you know.  He can be kind of a blowhard.  So I was telling him about how much better the barbecue sauce is here in the south, and how much better it is than anything he’s ever tasted.  So maybe he wants to open a huge barbecue place,” Andy said jokingly, which earned him a look from me.  “Okay, so maybe not.  To be honest, I didn’t want to ask too many questions, since he — or the studio was paying for my trip.  To me, it was as much for pleasure, for rest and relaxation, as for business,” he said and gave me a quick one-armed hug while he drove.

Something about his tone and a sad look in his eyes made me concerned.  “Are you okay?  Out there all the way across the country, by yourself?” I asked.

Andy grinned like his old self.  “Hollywood is the cat’s pajamas!” he said, though his smile waivered a little.  “But I admit it’s a big adjustment.  Everything is so different, whether I’m at the studio or just walking down the street.”

The sun came back out, clearing away the clouds.  Soon we were at the abandoned building.  It predated the Civil War.  The factory-warehouse was a sort of hideout for blockade runners back then.  We knew there might be all kinds of interesting stuff still inside because it was supposed to be haunted, and that would have kept away many thieves and vandals.

However, there wasn’t much of anything within plain sight.  There were plenty of crates
and even old trunks.  Plus the windows didn’t let in much light.  We had our work cut out for us, 1920s cowgirl grapefruit adbut we were armed with flashlights and dust-rags, and Andy had a crowbar for opening crates.

After a few minutes of stirring up dust, we spotted an old document lying on top of a tall crate.  We moved sturdy looking smaller crates to stand on, so we could see the top of the tall wooden box.  The paper was crumbling with age.  We were afraid it would fall apart into useless bits if we picked it up.  “If we just had something to put it in,” I muttered half to myself.

“It’s probably just a shipping manifest, but you never know.  Heck, even that could be interesting.  Oh!” Andy exclaimed.  “Granny is always determined to send food back with me, so I bought some aluminum foil… but I forgot to give it to her.  It’s out in the roadster.  That would work.  We can make a foil envelope around this paper.  If we’re real careful, it should hold together,” Andy said and headed back to the Dodge.

As I watched my friend’s form disappear into the dank building, I gulped.  Knowing I was alone in the abandoned factory gave me a creepy feeling, even though I knew Andy was only a shout away and would be back quickly.  Then a long roll of thunder filled the building.  It sounded close.  I realized Andy would be a little longer, since he’d need to put the top up on the ragtop two-seater.  I wondered if I should go help him.

Tom Mix poster“Just stay there, Pip!” I heard him call back to me, though he was out of sight.  “Sounds like the rain’s coming back.  There’s no point in you getting wet too.  I can put the top up on the roadster,” he said, voice fading into the distance.

A low whistle caused me to turn with a start.

“Well now, ain’t you a pretty little filly,” said a man wearing a Stetson hat.

He looked like he’d walked out of a Tom Mix movie.  Actually, he was tall, well-built, and a real looker.

“You startled me,” I gasped, stating the obvious.

He looked abashed and removed the Stetson with a sort of bow.  “Howdy, ma’am.  Pardon me. I seem to have forgotten my manners.  It’s been awhile since…” he began but his words trailed away as thunder rumbled again.

The room shook and it felt like the thunder was right beside me.  I felt the man’s hand around my waist, and he roughly pulled me against him.  My breath caught in my throat as I gazed up at his bright eyes, which shone with an emotion that I couldn’t define or even describe.  Suddenly a couple of huge red-eyed cows careened past.  They had long shiny black horns that missed me by an inch.  I realized that one of those horns would have gored me if the cowboy hadn’t pulled me aside.

“What… was that?” I said, pulling away from him.

Then I noticed a large lariat was in his hands.  I was sure it hadn’t been there before.1933 Macleans

“Dang it all…” he muttered and then sighed with frustration.  “I wouldn’t have caught them anyway,” he spoke words that rang of defeat.

He shook his head, looking after the longhorn cows, which disappeared as suddenly as they appeared.  Then he turned back to me. “Caleb Colman, ma’am,” the cowboy said and put out his hand to shake mine.

I might have giggled about the name Caleb Colman the Cowboy, but I didn’t.  Because the moment I shook his hand was when I realized how cold his touch really was.  I’d felt it all the way through my dress too, when he pulled me out of the way of the cattle.  I knew what he was.  By then, you’d think I’d have been used to meeting ghosts, but I introduced myself awkwardly.  He finished what he had been about to say before the red-eyed cows interrupted us.

“It’s my curse.  Me and all the riders.  We chase that herd of red-eyed cattle, but we never get any closer to catching ‘em.  And we’ll chase them ‘til the end of time,” The ghost-rider said seeing the expression on my face.

Caleb bowed his head, Stetson hat in hand. I didn’t know what to say.  Nothing seemed sufficient compared to the thought of an unwilling and futile chase that went on forever.  There was deep sadness and regret in the ghost-rider’s eyes.

Wild west weekly“I know I did some bad things during my life.  Some truly horrible things,” he said, shaking his head remorsefully.  “I only wish I could be allowed to make up for it, to redeem myself somehow.”

That was when everything started to happen at once.  I heard a distant rumble like thunder.  I felt Caleb’s cold hand at my waist again.  Andy called my name.  He had just come back into view, at the far end of the poorly lighted factory floor.  The room began to shake violently.  A dozen red-eyed cattle with long sharply pointed black horns charged past.  The Devil’s Herd was headed straight for Andy.

Caleb yelled at Andy to take cover, as he pulled me to the floor and out of the way.  Even if Andy hadn’t been frozen in shock, he wouldn’t have had time to move.  Immediately behind the cattle were two more ghost-riders, their horses snorting fire.

Their lariats spun circles of burning light as they tried to lasso the cattle.  One cowboy’s lariat went around a set of shiny black horns, but the beast managed to shake it off before the ghost-rider could tighten the rope.  The lasso went back into the air — and landed around Andy!

Glowing-Longhorns copy

As if by magic, a fire-snorting horse appeared and Caleb leapt into the saddle in a single motion.  He charged after the other ghost-riders, yelling at them to stop.  However, the lasso tightened around Andy, lifting him into the air as the riders thundered past.

Then with the sound of a thunderclap and a flash of fire, they all disappeared.

***

Recipe:  Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Garlic

by Lillian Chou on Epicurious.com

Baby bok choy

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Epicurious.com

Yield:  8 servings

Active time:  35 min

Total time:  35 min

Ingredients

1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 8 cloves)

2 pounds baby or Shanghai bok choy, halved lengthwise

2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

Equipment: a well-seasoned 14-inch flat-bottomed wok with a lid

 

Preparation

Stir together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until cornstarch has dissolved.

 

Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly.  Pour peanut oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat side.  Add garlic and stir-fry until pale golden, 5 to 10 seconds.  Add half of bok choy and stir-fry until leaves wilt, about 2 minutes, then add remaining bok choy and stir-fry until all leaves are bright green and limp, 2 to 3 minutes total.  Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry 15 seconds.  Cover with lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes.  Stir in sesame oil, then transfer to a serving dish.

Chef’s  note:

Baby bok choy can be washed, dried, and halved one day ahead.  Chill wrapped in paper towels, in a sealed bag.

***

 Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book 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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

 

Calling All Novelists and Liebsters!

Look for Hidden Treasure

veil_of_sky_open_1 copyToday, I am humbled that Daniel at Willy Nilly To and Fro ~ the Philosophy of Inanity wanted to nominate me for a Liebster award.

If you’ve been reading “Teagan’s Books” for very long, then you’ve seen that I tend to make up my own rules for awards and other things that get passed around the blogosphere.

It’s not that I’m such a rebel… it’s just that I’ve seen that most bloggers don’t care to participate, for reasons of their own.  So I’m sensitive to their time and wishes, and I don’t tag people according to whatever rules.

I think each and every one of you is worthy and wonderful!  With that in mind, I hereby nominate you — all of you for a Liebster award. Just enjoy. And remember, there are no rules this time.AT Valentine 2

However, I do very much like to promote others in their writing or blogging craft.  In stead of playing by the rules, I try to share a few of the blogs I enjoy. So look for “hidden treasure” in this post — the links to great blogs by indie novelists!

Blog Hop?

Meanwhile Mike and Evelyne have tagged me for a blog hop that promotes indie novels.  So if you would like to participate in this adventure, please leave a comment, and when I respond to “The Main Character Blog Hop” I will be happy to tag you in return! That way you can promote your novel.

Now perhaps I can dream of a scene for Atonement in Bloom, book two of the Atonement series.  I’ll try anyway.  Good night and sweet dreams.

A dream of butterflies Etaine - Susan Seddon Boulet

A Dream of Butterflies – Susan Seddon Boulet

Hugs,

Teagan