The Characters, Murder at the Bijou

It’s hump day and I needed a boost to get me through the rest of the week.  I avoid midweek posts, but I thought this might give me the lift I need.  When this song popped into my head (again) I knew I had to share.  Because I’m getting ready, ready, ready for the takeoff!  What I mean is the launch of Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.

It’s a Roaring Twenties culinary mystery.  It was spontaneously written as a “pantser” serial here at this blog.  Everything, event, and character in the story was inspired by things or ingredients the readers of this blog sent.  Now, as I’m closer and closer to takeoff I wanted to show you my concept of the characters.

Studebaker blue 1920s

Cast of Characters

PipBlue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer


The Three Things
gave us Pip (Paisley Idelle Peabody), the narrator of both story-lines. I was so fond of Pip, a flapper and aspiring “modern woman,” that I kept her around for The Three Ingredients. I added her grandmother, Granny Phanny, and the fledgling catering business so that we could have the culinary mystery theme.  The rest of the story is inspired by your ingredients.

The moment I stumbled upon a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, I imagined the voice of grown-up Lucy as Pip, telling the stories of her youth.

Granny Phanny

Margaret Sanger as GrannyPhanny Irene Peabody.  Granny is actually a “Pip” too.  Her given name was Phanny Irene, and when she married into the Peabody family her initials became P.I.P.  

I never found a photo that seemed like Phanny to me.  I only had a vague image of her in my mind, a woman with delicate features, but a backbone of steel. However, in a photo of Margaret Sanger, I saw Granny’s kind heartedness, firm resolve, and spunk.

From this point, I’ve listed the characters in order of their appearance in the story.

Alastair Wong

Sessue_Hayakawa_as AlastairThe very first ingredient (geoduck) was the inspiration for Alastair Wong.  The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England, and Alastair has a faint British accent.  Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes used at Wong’s Chinese, their restaurant. Alastair is a talented businessman and chef.

Long time followers of this blog will recall that there are two Alastair Wongs.  The first one  you meet is the younger. Later, in Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, you meet his grandfather, Alastair Wong the elder.

I had a small crush on Alastair, so his prolonged absence during the serial should show you that it really is guided by your ingredients.    :o)  

I think a vintage photo of Sessue Hayakawa could be Alastair — if I could find one of him in a less somber, brooding mood. Alastair certainly has a serious side but he also has a beautiful, ready smile.

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Arabella Wong1920s Vogue red hat

Alastair’s mother, Arabella also appeared in Episode-1 and she is mentioned a few times afterward. However, the ingredients haven’t led to a larger part for her… At least they haven’t yet. Only the ingredients can say!

A vintage Vogue magazine cover made me think of Arabella’s graceful elegance, though there has been little opportunity to describe her.

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Byron and/or Bradley BinghamtonNiven as Binghamton

The Binghamton brothers are actually “walk on” parts.  However, when I started looking for character images, I wasn’t sure where the ingredients might take them. So I’ve included them anyway.

Byron is the owner of the Bijou Theatre. That setting is where our storyline began, when “the dead man” was found.  Bradley Binghamton, Byron’s lookalike brother is seen much later.  They were minor characters, but necessary to the story just the same.  Something tells me that there might be some sadness in the history of the brothers, and this shot of David Niven in “The Bishop’s Wife” could be either of the lookalike brothers.

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Cracker Jack DaddySpeakeasy_Stories-July

Jack Daddy was a minor character who was fundamental to the storyline. His nickname was Cracker Jack because he was a skilled safecracker and a mobster.  Maybe he was not 100% bad if he was Cracker the Parrot’s “daddy.”  However, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

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vintage bunnyCinnamon Bun

When I received “cinnamon” as an ingredient we got Cinnamon Bun, a Flemish Giant Rabbit with reddish fur.  You recently saw his back-story in the vignette, Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit.  The veterinarian, Vincent Vale gave him to Granny Phanny. She adores the oversized bunny, and so does Cracker the Parrot, who often brings Cinnamon Bun treats.

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Dabney Daniels

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adWe also meet Detective Dabney Daniels of Savannah’s finest. The moment I saw a vintage ad for Arrow shirts, I had an image for Dabney. He has known Granny Fanny for some time, and helps her with heavier work around her cottage. Dabney seems to take an interest in Pip, letting her ride along for part of the murder investigation and work at cataloging evidence. Is Granny trying to push the two together?

Detective Daniels has been patient with Cracker, even thought the parrot bit his ear. He shows concern for Granny, and for his fellow law enforcement officers. Though he seems emotionally distant to Pip’s way of thinking.

Vincent Vale

Christopher Timothy as Vincent ValeOur veterinarian is Vincent Vale.  He has broad knowledge and training for a veterinarian of that era, including acupuncture.

Vincent seems like a gentle soul. He rescued both Cinnamon Bun and later Cracker.  Together, he and his wife Veronica built an impressive medical facility for animals of all types.  Who else would I imagine as Vincent Vale but “All Creatures Great and Small” actor, Christopher Timothy.

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Cracker

Parrot in flightThe ingredients included “graham cracker” and of course that gave us Cracker the parrot.  Granny Phanny resisted liking that “nasty bird” for quite a while.  But Cracker’s unexpected devotion to the injured Marshal Moses Myrick won Granny over.

Cracker is a most unusual and clever bird. The one thing we can expect from this parrot is the unexpected.  Cracker learned many things related to the various mysteries in this storyline through her association with Cracker Jack Daddy, her late owner. When Vincent Vale examined her, he said Cracker was about 40 years old, so we can only guess at the scope of the parrot’s life experiences.

She definitely has opinions about the humans in the story. Cracker took a dislike to Dabney Daniels, perhaps associating him with the death of her “daddy.” But she loved Moses Myrick and the rabbit, Cinnamon Bun from the very start. It took her a while to win Granny Phanny’s affection, but she did. Cracker seems to like Pip and the poodle, Cotton. And she at least tolerates Hank Hertz.  However she shakes her foot as an expression for her disdain of “The Joker.”

Veronica Vale

1920s woman scientist-microscopeThe pantser writing of this serial also brought us the wife of Vincent Vale.  Mrs. Veronica Vale is an accomplished medical doctor and surgeon who has traveled widely. She is the most accomplished woman Pip has ever met. At Pip’s determination to be a “modern woman” Granny introduced her to “the real deal.” Veronica’s intelligence is matched by her good nature and sense of humor. Both the doctors Vale are caring, generous people.

She performed emergency surgery on Marshal Myrick after he was ambushed by the bootleggers. Vincent is a veterinarian, rather than a “people doctor” but he proved his skill too during the operation. Granny revealed yet another skill, acting as surgical nurse.

Marshal Moses Myrick

Barrie Craig adventuresOne of the ingredients was “peas”… and we got Moses Myrick.  Go figure, right?  That’s just how my brain works. Pip was distrustful when she unexpectedly learned that he’d known her grandmother for a long time, and apparently quite well. So her first reaction to Marshal Myrick was less than positive, “He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little eyes he had.  Green eyes… like little peas!

I saw an ad for a vintage detective story, and thought the man could easily be Moses Myrick. He wins Pip over, and Cracker likes him right away. He seems to have an affinity for the parrot… and a history with Granny Fanny.

Queenie WetsonJoan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

The Queen of Clubs is introduced halfway into the story.  I was looking for a vintage queen of clubs card, when I found celebrity playing cards. Guess whose picture was on the queen of clubs?  Joan Crawford. From that moment, there was no other choice for Queenie Wetson.

Hank Hertz

Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-BurtA reader wasn’t thinking when leaving ingredients for me. I faced a challenge. I try not to put restrictions on your ingredients, but one of the items was microwave. I knew it was meant as the microwave ovens we use today, but as I suspected, my research showed they had not been invented in the 1920’s.  However, scientists had long known about microwaves. That gave us a new character, Hank Hertz.

Our Hank is the fictional grandson of Heinrich Hertz, who proved the existence of radio waves back in the late 1880s. So the “microwave” ingredient gave us Hank, who is a wizard with the police radio. It also led to more layers in the mystery — Since the gangsters were using  open radio transmissions (microwave brought us to radio waves) they used code names.

As I visualized Savannah’s youngest policeman I thought of a TV actor who could easily play Hank — a slightly younger version of Hugo Johnstone-Burt who played Hugh Collins on “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”

Daisyvintage queen of the may

In a planned (or technically correct) story I would not add new players so late in the tale.  However, the spontaneity unexpectedly led me to new characters — including Daisy.  Also called The Dainty Dish, Daisy was the second Mrs. Henry Kingston. Her story was a local legend, according to which she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but Kingston fell madly in love with her. Her story line continued into the next serial.

Mr. Farceur

The domineering major domo was also introduced late in the story.  At first I saw him as a stodgy old Black Butler 2man… but then the ingredients suggested that he could be an interesting complication to the story.  That’s also when his name came along.  Maybe his name, Farceur, is significant, or maybe it’s a red herring — only the ingredients know for sure!

For a moment he had been a nameless, faceless butler. When a classic anime character pinged into my mind, I indulged myself with the image of “Black Butler” Sebastian Michaelis.  How could I resist?

***

So there you have it — most of the characters for the soon to be “book-ized” Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Wednesday!

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.

Back to a Pug in the Kitchen — Granny Phanny & the Giant Rabbit

Update

I finally got around to making Suzanne’s “Creamy Spring Turnip Soup.”  I know anything from A Pug in the Kitchen is going to be delicious, but I confess to being lukewarm about turnips.  I say that for the non-turnip lovers in the crowd.  I always take shortcuts in cooking, so I know my versions won’t be as good.  So imagine my pleasure when, even in my clumsy hands this soup was stand-up-and -cheer delicious! 

Preparing to Launch…

This spring I plan to book-ize the second serial story, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients I.   As I get ready for the takeoff, I’m doing a few collaborative posts with people who blog other topics — combining my stories with their respective talents.  Since Murder at the Bijou is a culinary mystery, I am particularly happy to do another joint post with the fantastic chef, Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen.

The post is already live at her blog.  Click here.  I appreciate those of you who have already left comments there.  pug memorial candle

First, here’s Suzanne to introduce our special purpose with this collaboration.  Go ahead, Suzanne…

Another delightful installment from the joint collaboration with writer/author extraordinaire Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, we planned this post to occur in March, Women’s History Month.  We’ve come a long way baby and every month, week, and day should celebrate women and our contribution to society, this country, our families, and communities. I am woman hear me roar.  Well that is a little cliché I know, but we are empowered and accomplished and strong and proud of how far we have come.  It amazes me that at one time women didn’t even have the right to vote.  In some countries women are still considered objects of disdain, almost subhuman, and of less importance than their male counterparts.

I also am including a recipe that I posted years ago for a spring turnip soup.  You may turn up your nose when you read “turnips” but honestly this soup is delicious.  I use Hakurai turnips, which appear late winter and early spring at the local green markets. They are crisp, sweet, and mild — making an outstanding soup!  The soup is topped with some crumbled bacon and the turnip greens, which are sauteéd in the bacon fat. For vegan and vegetarian option all you do is eliminate the bacon and use vegetable broth or water. For vegan option of course you would not use the cream but you can sub a non dairy option of your choice.

Creamy Spring Turnip Soup With Wilted Greens And Bacon

(Bacon is optional for my vegetarian friends)

Serves 4-6 depending on serving size

4 heaping cups turnips peeled and quartered (Use the small spring turnips if possible)

1 potato peeled and quartered (I used Yukon Gold and it’s Optional to use a potato)

2 cups leeks (cleaned well and sliced) or use a medium size onion or 2 shallots

4 1/2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or water)

2 tbs butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (optional)

4-6 slices bacon

Turnip greens cleaned VERY well

In heavy sauce pan heat a little olive oil, add the leeks or onion or shalot and sweat, cook just until tender don’t brown. Add the turnips and potato, now add the liquid (broth or water). Cover and cook until the turnip and potato are tender. Let cool for about 30 minutes and blend either in your blender or use the immersion blender. Note: If using an immersion blender remove some of the liquid you don’t want the soup too thin, you can always add it back in. Add the butter and cream and season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Fry the bacon until crisp, remove from the fry pan and add the greens to the bacon fat, season with salt and peppper and saute until the greens are tender and wilted.

To Serve:  Garnish the soup with the wilted greens and crumbled bacon.

suffragettes-in-white

When I asked Suzanne for an ingredient to use in a story for this collaborative post, right away she said turnips.  Every time I hear that word I think of the “Cinnamon Bun” character from my serial, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-1 (which I mentioned at the beginning).  That story is in the timeline right after The Three Things Serial Story.

Many of you are familiar with my flapper character, Pip.  However, this time the story is told from the point of view of Pip’s grandmother, Phanny Irene Peabody.  (Yes, Granny was also a Pip.)  I thought that was appropriate since March is Women’s History Month.  Granny lived during the height of the suffragette era, and she was a woman to speak her mind.  It’s also something of a back-story for Cinnamon Bun.  I hope you enjoy the story as much as Suzanne’s recipe!  Although that’s a lot for me to live up to…

Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit

“The only true woman is a pious, submissive wife and mother, concerned exclusively with home and family!”

Even more irksome than the words themselves was the fact that they were uttered by a woman.  I was glad that I had already left the building.  Otherwise I might have lost my temper.  What business did anyone with that opinion have at a women’s meeting in the first place?

suffragettes-marching

In 1920, Georgia was the first state to “reject” the Nineteenth Amendment, which assured women the right to vote.  It was two years later before women actually got to vote in my home state.  Long after that, we were still suffragettes, working for equal rights.  We still wore suffragette white to our meetings.

That intolerable statement was immediately followed by the resounding crack of a slap across the speaker’s face.  I cringed, knowing full well who had likely delivered the smack.  I turned on my heel and hurried back inside.  Veronica Vale was no meek little lamb.  She was a force of nature when her righteous wrath was incurred.  I tried to make my way through the pandemonium to my friend.

1920s woman scientist-microscopeBy the time I got to Veronica, I could hear police sirens.  A quick look around told me several attendees had slipped quietly away, including the woman who spoke the words that started the trouble.

“It was all planned,” I muttered.  “That bunch wanted to make trouble from the minute they asked to join.”

Not much later a handful of us — enough to make an example, but not so many as to cause the coppers much trouble — were hauled down to the police station.  A group of men stood laughing and cat calling while we were hustled outside.  My cheeks heated in a blush.

Detective Dabney Daniels of the Savannah Police got a tip that something was going to happen.  By the time the paddy wagon reached the station, he was already diffusing the situation.

“Miss Phanny,” he began with a smirk and a shake of his head.  “I wish I could say I was surprised to see you,” he told me before turning to Veronica Vale.  “Mrs. Vale your husband is already here.  You’ll be released into his custody.”

I knew that “custody” statement wouldn’t sit well with Veronica.  She was a doctor and a scientist, not some man’s property.  No matter how good the man.  For years Veronica Vale had worked at a hospital in England called Clapham Common.  It had an all-female staff.  She retired and returned to Savannah.  Then she met the widowed Vincent and partnered with him in his veterinary practice.

Before she could complain, I blurted out my puzzlement.  “Dabney, how could you know…?”

“I’d like to claim powers as a mentalist, Miss Phanny.  However, Dr. Vale had just arrived to pick up someone else,” the handsome detective explained as chaos erupted elsewhere in the station.JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar ad

Detective Daniels quickly excused himself and walked toward the sounds of people shouting.

Veronica gave a downright evil chuckle.  I looked a question at her and she laughed out loud at the expression on my face.

“Phanny Irene Peabody,” she said.  “You are indeed a Pip.  I suppose you’ve never noticed the way that young man looks at you.  He probably doesn’t care a whit for the turnips  you’re always giving him, or the meals he gets in return for fixing one thing and another at your cottage.  Tsk-tsk.  Phanny, that young copper is smitten with you.”

“Veronica, don’t be ridiculous.  You couldn’t be more wrong.  Dabney is just a goodhearted young man,” I told my friend most emphatically.

Another crashing sound and men shouting prevented her from talking more of that nonsense.  How absurd.  I was old enough to be that boy’s mother.  We might enjoy one another’s company, but there was nothing more to it.

“Hi, Honey.  Are you hurt?” Vincent Vale asked his wife as he skidded to a stop.  As Veronica shook her head he turned to me.  “Mrs. Peabody, are you well?” he greeted me politely.Christopher Timothy as Vincent Vale

Veronica assured her husband that neither of us had come to any harm.  I noticed Vincent held some kind of harness.  There was more shouting, and then the veterinarian pelted away toward the commotion.

A moment later we heard Vincent shout.  “Got ‘em!”

However there was another crash.  I heard dull thumping noises.  The sound was quite rhythmic, and coming closer.  Veronica and I exchanged puzzled looks.

I stuck my head around the corner and gasped loudly.

“I must be seeing things.  Else I’m just plain zozzled,” I murmured.

Veronica craned her neck to see what had stunned me.

“Well horsefeathers!  In all my born days…” she began.  “A Flemish Giant.”

“Flemish?  Bushwa!” I exclaimed.  “You’re hallucinating too,” I mumbled.  “Somebody spiked our tea a little too much at the women’s meeting.  Or else I’m looking at a cinnamon colored rabbit that’s three feet tall, sitting on his haunches.”

I crouched down, befuddled.  The big bunny hopped over to me and nuzzled my hand.  I scratched between his impossibly long ears.  I helped hold the big bun still as Vincent got the harness around him.

“This big ole boy decimated Godfrey Gilley’s garden.  Dug up every turnip he had,” Vincent commented.  “When the big bun headed toward his grocery store, Godfrey was so upset that he called the police saying there was a bear in his yard!” the veterinarian laughed.  “Trouble is, I’m not sure what we can do with him.  We’ve taken on so many animals lately,” Vincent admitted, but cast a pleading look at his wife, who gave a resigned sigh.

My face ended up against the giant rabbit’s soft hair as Vincent adjusted the harness.  I found that I didn’t want to move.  My fingers sank into the plush fur.

“I’ll take him,” I spoke up, and questioned my own sobriety again.  “Oh good lord, but I need a hutch for him.”Vintage rabbit driving

I hadn’t noticed that Detective Dabney Daniels was standing beside us.

“Don’t worry, Miss Phanny.  I can take care of a rabbit hutch in a jiffy,” Dabney said.  “Even one big enough for this miscreant,” he added with a grin.

Veronica elbowed me sharply in the ribs.  She gave me an I told you so look and winked.

“He’s sweet on you,” she whispered into my ear.  “So what if he’s younger.  He’s a damn fine figure of a man!”

“Absolutely no!” I told her so fiercely that everyone looked askance.

Fortunately I was spared from an explanation because of Veronica’s loud bark of laughter.

The Vales offered to drive me home.  I got into the automobile with Vincent and Veronica, and of course the rabbit.  Dabney bent down and promised to come by to start on the rabbit hutch that evening.  Veronica wriggled her eyebrows at me.  I gave her a withering look, then turned and smiled at the detective as I thanked him.

“What was all that about?” Vincent wanted to know as we drove away.

Veronica had no inhibitions about sharing her embarrassing speculations to her husband, despite my denial. 

“It simply will not do!” I told her, my patience close to its end.

“She means that dear,” Vincent said.  “You might want to leave it alone before your sense of fun hurts your friendship.”

“You’re right,” she agreed with a sigh.  “I’m sorry Phanny.  I just want to see you happy.”

“I am perfectly happy as I am.  Besides, I told you that my granddaughter, Pip, is coming to live with me.  I’ll have my hands full, teaching her to cook,” I reminded my friends.  “I can’t wait for you to meet her.”

The End

***

Thank you all for visiting. If you’ve already been to this post at A Pug in the Kitchen then double-thanks.  Happy St. Patrick’s weekend.  I’m still wearing my green!

St Patricks Day Vintage

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.

Rewind – Three Things Episodes 22 – 24

Three Faces of EveI started to say, “Just call me Sybil.” Because I have too much going on — a few different works in progress, and the next serial for this blog simmering on the back burner. However, I don’t think it quite adds up to Sybil’s 16 personalities.  Although with two distinctly different stories actively evolving in my mind, and my real job, you might go ahead and call me Eve

Suffice to say there are a lot of ideas competing for attention in my head.

Book-2 of Atonement, Tennessee continues to Atonement Video Cover copygerminate.  That’s appropriate since the title is Atonement in Bloom.  Little seeds to develop the story sprout into ideas.

Though I met the requirements with a draft novel to achieve a “win” with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), The Guitar Mancer needs a lot of fleshing out.  (By the way, the introduction to the “rewind” for Episode -23 below is a flashback for me to a previous NaNoWriMo. I must be a glutton for punishment…)

Don’t give up! I will finish both of these novels or it will finish me. Then I can go back to re-working Tatterdemallian: The Electric Zucchini.  And maybe even figure out how to divide The Dead of Winter into two (or three) books.

Applesauce!  Suddenly my brain is tired… So here’s another rewind of the original interactive blog serial, Three Things.  

Don’t loose heart my foodie friends! Episode-24 gave us an “ingredient” so look for a recipe at the end of the rewind.  Now, let’s get a wiggle on!

Tall Animal Tales for Toddlers & UpIntroduction for Episode-22

 Lord David Prosser, an author in the UK, set me quite a challenge with these three things.  If you are acquainted with David, you won’t be surprised that he managed to sneak in a fourth thing by relating one to Art Deco.  (David, I’m kidding you.  🙂   )  It was an adventure to do the research for this set of things.

Please join me for episode 22 of our little 1920’s serial.

 

22. Blue John, Clarice Cliff Pottery, Art Deco, Silk

Before I could stop him, Frankie told Countess Babikov about the burglary at Boris’ apartment — I mean office.  I was worried about that episode upsetting her.  The white-haired woman had clearly been abducted and roughed up, so she seemed fragile.  There was that cut and bruise at her temple, plus her expensive sheer silk stockings were badly torn.

However, the look of frailty was momentary.  Countess Babikov got a steely, protective look in her eyes.  I was almost worried about her kidnappers.  She took another sip of the brandy I had gotten for her, but I could tell she was thinking.  You could practically see the wheels turning in her mind.  She blinked as if something had interrupted her thoughts.

“Frankie my dear, would you bring my coat?” she asked pointing to a chair where the coat with the fox collar was draped.

English: Ballets Russes, scene from Apollon mu...When the fireman handed her the coat she thanked him, then quickly searched through it.  “Ah!  It is still there.  Thank goodness,” she said in a pleased tone as she withdrew a small silver jewelry casket.  She opened it to display a beautiful dress clip, shaped like a butterfly.

She smiled warmly and held it out to the circus magnate.  “I saw this when the Ballets Russes last performed in England.  I could imagine the butterfly in Mable’s rose garden, and I knew she must have it… my dearest friend, Mable.”

The butterfly was made from a lovely blue banded gemstone.  I asked if it was fluorite, but it didn’t really look like any I had ever seen.  In answer Countess Babikov described her visit to Castleton and the shop where she found the dress clip made from a rare stone she called Blue John.

“Jeepers, I almost forgot!” I exclaimed and started fishing in my pocketbook.  When I looked up, I was uncomfortable to find all eyes on me.  I felt a little foolish, but I produced the bent key and grinned.  However, I wasn’t sure to which of them I should give it.  I tried to look at John Ringling and the Countess both when I explained.

Ringling-Zalophus-Ca-d-Zan

Ringling’s yacht, Zalophus docked at Ca’d’Zan

“This fell from the getaway car back at the Nickelodeon Theatre when they nabbed you, Countess Babikov.  I think the engraving says Ca’d’Zan,” I told them.

“It’s seen better days, hasn’t it?” commented John Ringling as he took the key and inspected it closely.  “It’s for Ca’d’Zan alright.”

Then he dropped the damaged key into a lovely pottery jug.  The sound made everyone look at the piece.  Leaning closer to look at the pottery Frankie asked, “Is that what they call Art Deco?  The style, I mean?”

Mr. Ringling wore a rather distracted expression, but he answered, “I believe so.  I haven’t heard the termEarly 'Original Bizarre' pattern on an Athens ... until just recently.  Mable, my wife, took a shine to this stuff during one of our travels.  The young lady who painted it is called Clarice Cliff.  I think she called that pattern Bizarre.

“Tell me everything about Boris,” the Countess said imploringly, and changed the subject.  “When he left the Ballets Russes, he had begun acting strangely.  At first I thought it was because of his injury — you know?  That he was depressed because he could dance no longer.  Yet strange men began to come to see him.  I thought I saw one of them, when I started making inquiries here about my grandson.  Then the other men abducted me, making a ransom demand of my most kind friend here, John,” she said with a look of gratitude and a motion to the circus magnate.

“What can be going on to cause these strange events?” she said as if to herself.  The same question nagged me as well.

***

Introduction for Episode-23

LifeFlapper1922I’m finally here with another episode of our little 1920’s story.  The characters have been nagging at my thoughts.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with them during November, while I’m trying to write an entire (new) novel in a few short weeks, for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! Maybe I’ll skip the fun part of decorating the post and looking up historic links, because I spend a good deal of time with that.

There’s bound to be some “thing” that pulls me back to the story.  Sometimes a single word conveys so much feeling or imagery.  Flapper is that kind of word.  Wasn’t your mind filled with images the moment you read the word?  Provincial Lady has a talent for thinking of those words.  She supplied three evocative things for today’s post.  As always you can find all the episodes in one place at the Three Things Serial page.

Episode 23 causes Pip to contemplate the unusual events that she and her friends have recently experienced.  Can she put the pieces together?

23.  Dissolute, Rocky, Bonehead

An expression of warmth and kindness came to the white-haired woman’s face when she looked at Frankie and me.  “I worried that my Boris squandered his talents in some dissolute existence,” she began, her accent becoming heavier.  I had to focus to understand some of her words.  “But if he has friends such as you, then I know that fear is unfounded.”

Countess Babikov seemed to be wilting from her burst of energy.  I poured another splash of brandy into her glass.  Mr. Ringling helped her sit back on the sofa and put her feet up.  I spotted a decanter of water

Clara Bow as Mona the Movie Star

Clara Bow as Mona the Movie Star

and used some to wet my handkerchief and then gently cleaned the cut at her temple.

A plaintive call reached my ears.  “Pip?”

I opened the door to find Mona looking for me.  She held the tin lunch pail that she’d used for a home-away-from-home for Pear.  However, other than the little hedgehog Mona was alone.  “Where’s Flavio?” I asked.

“He was feeling a little rocky, and went back ashore,” she said with an expression that suggested she was pleased with herself for using the term.  “I don’t think he’s a very good sailor, but he’s a sweet guy.”

Frankie gave me a lopsided grin and commented, “Nah, Flavio’s a bonehead.”  I shot the fireman a skeptical look and his grin was unrepentant.  “Okay.  He’s a good bonehead, but he’s still a bonehead.”

“Oh, Pip!” Mona exclaimed, still in the corridor, but walking toward the door.  “You’ll never believe who I heard this yacht belongs to.”

“Pip, dear,” the Countess said with a twinkle in her eyes.  “Do invite your friend inside.”1920s Dime Mystery

I heard the circus millionaire inside, cautioning Bepa or Faith — she asked us to call her one or the other, but I wasn’t quite comfortable with that.  Holy Hannah!  The woman was royalty for goodness sakes!  Anyhow, he was worried about her exerting herself after the ordeal of her kidnapping.

A thought struck me.  No one had ever said what the kidnappers wanted with her…  Of course there was the ransom, but I had a strong feeling that money wasn’t everything they were after.  I was also sure it had an awful lot to do with Boris.   I felt like I was working a jigsaw puzzle and some pieces were missing.  I didn’t like that feeling.

***

Introduction for Episode-24

Tommy-n-Tuppence

Illustration by Arthur Ferrier of Agatha Christie’s detective pair Tommy and Tuppence, from the December 1923 issue of The Grand Magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’d think I would have thought of Agatha Christie the minute the Three Things Serial became a 1920’s story.  She created so many memorable characters.  Two of my favorites are not as well known, but they showcase the spirit of the 1920’s for me — Tommy and Tuppence.  The first novel in which they appeared was The Secret Adversary.

At any rate, I didn’t think of Tommy and Tuppence until recently, although they could easily have inspired our little story.  With a nod to Agatha Christie, today’s Three Things come from the opening of that novel:

“TOMMY, old thing!”

“Tuppence, old bean!”

The two young people greeted each other affectionately, and momentarily blocked the Dover Street Tube exit in doing so.

Now I give you Three Tommy and Tuppence Things.

24.  Old Thing, Bean, Dover Street Tube Exit

Frankie had already caught on to the mischievous twinkle in Countess Bepa’s eyes.  Mona would probably faint when she walked in and saw a big cheese like John Ringling — not to mention a for-real countess!  He blocked the door for a second so he would get a good look at her face when she saw the occupants of the cabin.

Clara Bow 1927

Clara Bow 1927

“Frankie, old thing,” she said.  “I wondered where you’d gotten to.”

The fireman stepped aside and Mona saw the countess.  Even in her disheveled state, right after having been ransomed by dastardly kidnappers, the older woman exuded easy elegance and confidence.  Mona’s face registered recognition, and I knew she was thinking of the night at the Nickelodeon Theatre when we all saw the white-haired woman pulled into a car that careened away.

“Aren’t you the…” Mona began, but then she noticed the owner of the yacht, and she simply stopped, open mouthed.

“Hey, Movie Star, did somebody just bean you?” Frankie asked with a lopsided grin.

The countess chuckled, and even the circus magnate, still worried about his recently kidnapped guest, smiled.  Introductions were made to the astonishment of Mona the movie star.

“I heard you refer to this charming young man as ‘old thing.’  That’s a term I’ve rarely heard since I arrived in this country,” Countess Babikov told the aspiring actress.  “Are you perhaps from England?”1920s subway crowded

“Oh no,” Mona said with an attractive blush.  “But I did go to school in London for a couple of years.  It was near Dover Street.”

The countess looked shocked.  She turned to Mr. Ringling.  “John… I just remembered.  That is where I first saw those men.  I had just parted company with my Boris at the Dover Street Tube exit.  That is where I saw them!”

 

***

Recipe – Video

Now for the promised recipe! Have you guessed the ingredient?  Of course it is “Bean” from Episode-24.

Slow-Cooked Green Beans – Amazing Southern-Style Green Beans

***

 Tune in again next weekend to see what happens because of the next set of Three Things. Same flapper time, same flapper channel.

 

 

Prep for Cookbook-2: Interview with Daisy

Prepping the Kitchen for Cookbook-2

Dog-Cat-Cooking_dreamstime_s_24255835

For the past ten years or so, I’ve felt very lucky to have a work schedule that gives me every other Friday off. In a two week pay period, week-1 has me working four 9-hour days and one 8-hour day. While week-2 lets me work just four 9-hour days. But when I have a “short” weekend, it’s hard to get everything done.  You guessed it — this is not my three-day weekend, and my mind has been racing as I try to begin the next incarnation of our interactive serial.

I’m not quite ready to dive right into the new “cookbook.”  Any kitchen needs preparation before cooking up a feast. So for as another prelude, I’m going to interview the Daisy character.  I hope it entertains you.

Interview:  Daisy, the Dainty Dishcandle

Teagan:  Welcome Daisy. Thank you for taking physical form to kindly speak to everyone.

Daisy:  It’s my pleasure, Teagan. I’m happy to have a chance to tell your readers that they needn’t fear me as an apparition. I truly am a kind soul. While I would like to see justice for my murder, I don’t think I’m a vindictive sort of spirit. Although none of us knows what we’re capable of until we’re put to the test.

Teagan:  Of course.  These stories are always meant to be “in good fun” and harmless, though I hope I add some suspense and excitement along the way. (Smiles.)

You told Pip that you didn’t know who killed you.  (Daisy nods.)

But I gather that you have some suspicions, or at least some doubts about some of the people who are alive in the timeline of our culinary mystery.  (She sighs, and takes a tornadodeep breath.)

Daisy:  Things were very different then — a world away from your own world, Teagan.  My family was dirt poor, and sometimes my father gambled.  That usually ended badly. Female children often weren’t valued. My parents figured the best they could hope for was to marry me off the first chance they got.

But one spring there was a bad tornado.  You haven’t told about it in the story, but it was the same tornado that orphaned Pip’s granny.

Teagan:  That’s right.  The “ingredients” haven’t taken the serial to Granny Fanny’s past yet.

Daisy:  Well, we were luckier than Miss Fanny’s family. The tornado took most of the roof off our house, but we all got to the storm cellar.  However, we lost our cows and the crops were devastated. In desperation, my father gambled with the last cent they had.  He lost.

I was horrified to learn that he tried to sell me to Henry Kingston to cover his gambling losses. Until then, I never realized how little my parents valued me.  So I was hurt by those events in many ways.

Everyone thought Henry Kingston was taking me as his dainty dish, a tart, little more vintage queen of the maythan a harlot. Frankly, it was what I expected too.  I can’t tell you how frightened I was when my father left me with a strange man who worked for the Kingstons. He dumped me in an upstairs room of that big house, and left me there alone.  For hours I stared at the locked door in fear.  I strained my ears, listening all night for the sound of footsteps, or the squeak of the doorknob turning.

However, no one came.

The next morning a young maid came to help me draw a bath and give me a clean dress.  It was a hundred times nicer than the one I wore… the only dress I had left after the storm.  Her name was Hortense.  Later she became the Kingston housekeeper.  She was kind to me, but she seemed to always be nervous or even fearful. I was happy to see that in later years she got over whatever bothered her back then.

Henry Kingston treated me like a guest in his home.  But whenever I left the house, people were unkind to me.  Some called me names. Some children even threw rocks once.  I cried when I understood that it was because they thought I was just… you know… (Daisy looks down at her hands, folded in her lap.  A tear lands on the back of one hand, just below a wedding band.)

Teagan:  Kingston was kind to you. Did he really fall in love with you?1926 Wedding

Daisy:  (Smiles fondly) Yes he did.  And I loved him too. The last time I saw my parents, they were arguing with Henry.  No one realized I was within hearing.  Henry told them I was not his prisoner or anything else. He said they could take me home, as long as my father never gambled again.  I was stunned when they said it would be a burden, and then asked in a very accusatory way if Henry was going back on his word.

It hurt me deeply.  As I got older I realized that my family had always behaved indifferently to me. I tried to reconcile myself to it… that was just how it was.  You know?  (I nod.)

Soon Henry and I were married. The Justice of the Peace came to the estate house.  Henry invited a few of his closest friends.  They were polite and even charming that day.  But they always acted sort of cool toward me. Their smiles never reached their eyes.

And my step-son, Henry III… he told Pip the story of why he’s the third, rather than Henery II.  Anyway, little Henry never accepted me.  He often said cruel things — when his father wasn’t in the room at least.  He and his friends… they were bullies.  I hate to say it, but I was afraid to be alone with those boys.

Teagan:  You don’t think the boys… Did they have something to do with your death?1920s Vogue poster

Daisy:  As I said, I don’t know. The boys truly were cruel. However, there were plenty of people who were jealous.  Others were resentful and it showed in various ways.

Also, Henry was a wealthy man. To my knowledge, he was a good and honest man… But that was a time when business was not typically discussed in front of the women folk. Sometimes he seemed more worried than I thought he should be for ordinary business things.

Teagan:  I get the impression that your happiness with Henry was always overshadowed by the attitude of other people toward you.  I guess they thought he “married below his station” as they used to say.  (Daisy nods.)

So you think it’s possible that someone killed you, whether deliberately or maybe accidentally, to get at your husband?  Or maybe you just got in the way when they meant to hurt him.  Collateral damage, as some might say.

Daisy:  I’ve had a long time to think about it… and I just don’t know.  However, some people make a chill go over me when I see them.  My step-son for one. Bradley Binghamton, who grew up to become a bishop, of all things!  When I look at him, thereNiven as Binghamton is just something that bothers me. I can’t put my finger on it. He and his brother, Byron — and Charlie Childers, the man with the chihuahua? Those four boys were thick as thieves.

But it isn’t just my doubt about the boys that leaves me restless. There were others.  Queenie for one. The years have been kind to her, but she isn’t much older than my step-son. Her beginnings were poor too, but not so poor as to prevent her looking down on me — and resenting my suddenly improved status. She behaved spitefully toward me.  You already know how vindictive Queenie Wetson is.  She is inordinately pleased to have seduced my step-son, mostly because she thinks it takes a jab at Henry and me.

Also there are plenty of townspeople who have passed on who made me wonder. It would be even harder for Pip to prove one of them had something to do with my death.  But if Pip can tap into her unused gifts, I think she can figure out what happened to me.  I think she can help me be at rest.

Teagan:   That seems like a tall order for Pip.Lucille Ball teenaged 1

Daisy:  Well, she will do the best she can.  I’ve no doubt of that. I hope she succeeds in finding my killer.  But if she does not, it is not my nature to hold it against her.

However, I admit to feeling a little guilty. In helping me, Pip might open herself to things that are even more dangerous than Queenie’s gang of bootleggers.  Murderers, yes. But supernatural things too.

Teagan:  Thank you Diasy, for gracing us with your presence.  I wish you peace.

(Daisy smiles and fades from view.)

Victorian parlor

Haunted Savannah – Prelude to Cookbook-2

Colonial Park Cemetary

Colonial Park Cemetary

Haunted Savannah, Georgia

Our 1920’s serial story, The Three Things was set in two parts of Florida (USA) — Santa Rosa Sound and Sarasota.  The second storyline, The Three Ingredients necessitated a change of setting and I took the serial to Savannah, Georgia.

Olde Pink House

Olde Pink House

Cookbook-2 Is on the Way

We’re about to begin the second “cookbook” of The Three Ingredients.  The “ingredients” took me to a supernatural twist, which served as a lead-in for the next incarnation of the serial.  So the Savannah setting was already perfect.  That old southern city has quite the reputation for hauntings!  When I was reading about one of the old buildings, which is now a hotel, it inspired the Daisy character.

Moss on tree with sun

Hunger for Haunts?

I hope to whet your appetite for the next incarnation of 432 Abercorn St Savannahthe culinary mystery serial by getting you acquainted with the ethereal side of our Savannah setting.  If you visit Savannah today, there are plenty of “ghost tours” to send a chill down your spine.  Almost every building in the historic district has its own ghost story.  It has been featured on television on the Travel Channel program America’s Most Haunted Places–Savannah, and on PBS’s Southern Haunts.  The list of haunts is too long to mention here, but here is a slide show.

Appetite for Apparitions?

Kehoe House

Kehoe House

Is there any wonder the charming city got its spooky repute?  You know the answer toMoss on live oaks Savannah that question is “No siree bub!” if you’ve ever been there and taken a twilight stroll.  Streets are lined with stately live oaks draped in Spanish moss, magnificent in the sun. Ironically as the daylight diminishes the live oaks take on a ghostly appearance, as the moss gently sways in the breeze.  Shadows flit from place to place on cobblestone paths.  Unearthly sounds from the river drift to your ears.

But fear not.  The sun will rise on a new day.  I have confidence in Pip and company. Surely they will solve the mystery and reveal the killer of Daisy, the dainty dish.  They might even get some otherworldly help along the way!  Stick around for Cookbook-2 and get your “ingredients” ready.

Bird Girl Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Stay tuned!

Three Ingredients – 25: Finale

Parrots_Finale

What’s a writer to do when more than one set of “ingredients” arrive at the same time?  Be grateful, that’s what!  Which leads me to a big reveal…

The following episode brings us to the finale of this storyline.  Oh, don’t fret!  The Three Ingredients hasn’t “given up the ghost!”  I didn’t have the heart to completely end things today.  Plus your ingredients led to several details that I wanted to carry-over.  I’m sure there will be some different characters, but if you root for your favorites in the comments area, I’ll try to keep them around.

So next time, “Cookbook 2” will begin with ingredients from writer/blogger Evelyne Holingue.  Pip will continue as the narrator of the culinary mystery, but the “spirit” of the story might be a bit different. (Are you beginning to get a hint about the future story here?) Phuong book-3

Now, for the finale!  I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share about cookbooks from a LinkedIn associate and fellow blogger, Dr. Phuong Le Callaway.  Phuong’s blog deals with leadership and motivation.  In addition to all her other work, Phuong wrote three cookbooks! Proceeds from any of her wonderful cookbooks go to charity. Now, let’s find out what happens when that cloud of red pepper settles.  Bon appétit!

25.  Ginger Roots, Chicken Breast, Cabbage

From the corner of my eyes I saw Arabella Wong, Alastair’s mother, walking up the path.  Her teal satin dress was heavily embroidered with designs of chrysanthemums and birds.  The satin shimmered in the Vogue-Apr 1919fairy lights that lined the walkway.  Granny Fanny stepped out the kitchen door, carrying a tray of beautiful meringue pies, but she stepped over to meet Arabella anyway.

I knew Arabella wanted to get a look at the big shindig, but I was also aware that Alastair told his mother to send someone else to do the errand.  He knew enough to realize that the evening could become dangerous.  All of us were sure Queenie Wetson and her gang of bootleggers were behind the ambush that left Marshal Moses Myrick gravely wounded, and his federal agents dead.

The young restaurateur cast a worried and frustrated look at his mother as she approached.  He had set up a table and equipment for making spring rolls.  A small group of hungry partygoers watched him prepare the ingredients. Who could blame them? It was fascinating to watch Alastair cook.  His movements were quick, deft, and graceful.  It was almost a dance.  He tossed a carrot into the air with a flourish before rapidly chopping it.  Then he arranged the carrot pieces into a swirl design on a gleaming white square shaped plate.

Arabella spotted her son and called out to him.  “Alastair I thought you might need more ginger roots too…”

However, Mrs. Wong’s voice trailed away from me, because I was focused on the chaos erupting before Joan Crawford Queen of Clubsme.  Our hostess wanted to hold a “parade of pets.” It was charming, but it went awry when several of the animals got loose.  Pandemonium ensued.

The cavorting furry kids knocked down Queenie Weston, bootlegger kingpin (or maybe I should say queen-pin), and her three white tuxedo clad henchmen.  That bunch surely deserved the tangle of arms and legs in which they landed.

The pets also ruined one of Granny’s hors d’oeuvre tables, sending all manner of food flying into the air.  The lovely and unique square shaped plates and saucers fared no better, all the dishes and containers were overturned and scattered.  This included a silver bowl filled with powdered red pepper.  In mute fascination, I watched the bowl somersault high overhead.  Time slowed to a crawl as I stared at the silver container.

A slow-motion cloud of red pepper sifted down toward the henchmen and Queenie.  Maybe it was because everything seemed to be moving so slowly, but in that moment I noticed Detective Dabney Daniels, in disguise, frantically patting his sheik’s robes.

As I watched, he exchanged a wide-eyed look with that bossy butler.  Farceur’s mouth gaped in apparent comprehension.  Earlier I watched those two sneaking around (right after I caught that copper kissing Granny!), and I saw the butler pass a small book to Dabney.  I wasn’t sure if they were up to good or no-good.  However, I did know that the incriminating journal had just gone missing.  Dabney had lost it somehow.

vintage queen of the mayBeside me, a girl in tomboy clothes darted under the descending pepper cloud.  She was moving normally, while everything else crept along slower than a tortoise.  A blue pop of electricity lit Queenie’s beaded evening bag. The Queen of Clubs cried out in surprised pain as she fell, tossing aside the offending purse.  The sound of her cry stretched out to a long slow moan.  The evening bag popped open as it skidded across the pavement, exposing the small journal inside.

Suddenly the girl in tomboy clothes was at my elbow.  “Daisy!” I exclaimed recognizing the young woman who repaired my uniform jacket earlier that day.

“Quick, Pip!” Daisy said pointing at the evening bag.  “Get it!”

Ever so slowly Dabney turned to look at Queenie and her men.  As one of them seemed to float toward the ground, positioned to land directly on top of the Queen of Clubs, I noticed the henchman’s smug grin as he looked at the distraught detective.  I thought he must have gotten the journal from Dabney without the detective knowing.

Bit by bit, the man’s smile faded as he realized he was falling.  I knew that whether or not they saw through Dabney’s disguise, the gangsters were onto the fact that he’d had the convicting book.  Had the butler, Mr. Farceur, tipped them off?lantern-press-joker-playing-card

Joker’s wild, Cracker the Parrot had repeated many times.  As best I could figure out, farceur was a French word for joker.  I didn’t know much about poker, but couldn’t a wild card be used for whatever you wanted it to be?  What if the gangster code named Joker was Farceur?  What if he was working both sides?  Could he pretend to work for both the police and the gangsters?

“Hurry, Pip!” Daisy urged, snapping me out of the ideas that had unexpectedly filled my mind.

Thinking fast, I grabbed a square saucer that stayed on the table, despite the shenanigans of the animals.  I rushed over to the evening bag.  I replaced the journal with the saucer, snapped the purse closed, and left the fancy evening bag where it lay.  I tucked the journal inside the waistband of my wide-legged trousers and covered it with the white waiter’s tuxedo jacket.  No one saw what I did.

Everything was still moving abnormally slow.  I couldn’t begin to understand why or how it could be so.  Just the same, Daisy and I seemed to be the only ones who were at normal speed.

“Your cute redheaded friend hid a radio in the delivery truck.  Tell him to have the coppers move in,” Daisy said.  “I can’t keep things slowed down much longer.”

1920s Cosmo Feb“What?  Do you mean you’re…” I began, but everything seemed so strange that I couldn’t finish forming the question in my mind, let alone spit it out.

Hank was right beside us, all but frozen in astonishment as he mutely watched the cloud of red pepper poof upward and then slowly descend.  Daisy touched a finger to his earlobe and Hank shivered.

“Tell him now,” she urged, and I leaned close to Hank and spoke the words into his ear, telling him he had to get to the radio and bring the coppers.

Savannah’s youngest policeman only twitched, but the expression in his eyes made me feel like he might actually have heard and understood.  Ever so slowly he began to turn on his heel.

“Thank you Pip,” Daisy said.  She no longer wore the tomboy outfit.  She was dressed elegantly in a diaphanous chiffon gown.  “So few people are aware of me — even when I try very hard to contact them.  You have a gift.”

I started to shiver with the cold I felt at her presence.  The clang of the silver dish against the pavement came to my ears, but I didn’t look as I stared in awe at Daisy.  Much lighter, the pepper continued its sluggish descent, seemingly long after the bowl hit the ground.

“I have helped you,” she continued.  “And I was happy to do it.  However, I now ask you to use your rare talent to help me.”

“Of course, Daisy. I would have helped you however I could anyway,” I said, though I continued a mental1920s Vogue poster struggle to comprehend the impossible happenings around me.  Was I really talking to a ghost?  Had she honestly managed to slow time?

“If I knew who took my life, I would just show you,” Daisy said.  “But after death, sometimes a spirit might know more about some things and less about others, especially when it comes to the life we lived.  I just want you to understand that I’m not just being vindictive or self-serving.  Yes, I’d like my killer brought to justice, but I also want to make sure he, she, or they don’t harm anyone else,” she said with an exasperated shrug.

I nodded my understanding.  The nausea came back full force.  Alastair was right about the cold and upset stomach accompanying a spirit’s presence.

“As I said, I know parts, but not the whole.  There are several people here tonight who either took part in my death or have information about it.  The presence of so many of them in one place is what drew me here — what gave me the strength to do the things I’ve done just now,” Daisy said.

“I’ll do all I can, Daisy,” I said with a big dry gulp.

“Oh, by the way, you’re right.  The Joker’s wild,” she added.  “He was secretly working for Moses Myrick.  Try not to give him away.  He’s not such a bad guy.”

Barrie Craig adventures“How could you know…” I began but stopped myself.

Daisy smiled.  “I met Moses.  He died for a moment.  Actually he died a couple of times.  First while that one was driving him to the doctors,” she said pointing to Dabney in his disguise. “And again when your grandmother and her friends were trying to save him.  That was how I knew to find you.”

She chuckled at my confused expression.  “Naturally Moses will not remember meeting me.  He said how much like your grandmother you are.  I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be mysterious,” she said as I tried unsuccessfully to form words.  “Your grandmother can see me, or rather she could if she didn’t have so many of her talents blocked.  Your gift comes from her line,” Daisy explained as she drifted away from me.

The motions in the scene around me gradually began to increase toward normal speed.  Daisy moved to stand beside Henry Kingston III, and she gave me a very significant look.  Then she disappeared.

Walking at a snail’s pace, Hortense Houston “hurried” toward the falling guests.  As the housekeeper, it was a matter of pride to her that the even went well.  She a look of horror painted her face as she saw the alphonse mucha 1calamity in progress.  She didn’t see the chicken breast she was about to step on, and I hoped it didn’t cause her to slip.  She had been nice to me.

As time started to pass at a rate that was very close to normal, I saw Daisy step through the broad French doors.  She went to a large framed photograph and placed her hand on it.  She nodded to me.  I knew there was information in that photograph. I’d have to make sure I got a good look at it.  Then Daisy vanished.

In a surge that I felt in the bottom of my stomach, everything rushed back to normal speed.  The sensation caused me to stagger.  Without a word, Hank made a beeline toward the delivery truck and the radio he had secretly hidden there.

The red pepper cloud finally reached Queenie Wetson and her henchmen.  Screaming, crying, and floundering erupted from the quartet.

I headed straight over to Dabney Daniels. Mr. Farceur reached him a fraction of a second sooner.  They were hissing something at each other when they saw me. Since I’d seen Dabney searching his robes for it Black Butler 2and make eye contact with the Joker, I knew they were talking about the incriminating journal.  Both men started jabbering at me, saying that I should go do this or that.

“Look, I know about that book,” I said loudly enough to cut across their combined chatter.  Then realizing the volume at which I spoke, I took a quick look over my shoulder.  Queenie and her men were still in the midst of a pepper induced fit.  Everything around them was in chaos, with the pets still on the loose.

“What I don’t know,” I said with an arch look at the butler.  “Is whether you can be trusted. Either of you!” I added, including Dabney in my gaze before turning back to Farceur. “But especially you.  Are you some kind of double agent, working both sides against the middle? Or were you working with the police all along?” I demanded.

Farceur drew an annoyed sounding breath.  Then to my surprise, he fessed up.  “I became acquainted with Marshal Moses Myrick when he began investigating my new employers, the Kingstons,” Farceur said in a clipped way.  “He discovered that I had done some… shall we say discrete work for my government before I came here.  He enlisted my help.  However, I did not expect to find anyone other than the marshal in the sheik’s robes tonight.”JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar ad

“Did you give him the real book then?” I asked jerking my head toward Dabney.

The butler looked like he was disgusted with himself.  “Yes, against my better judgment, I gave it to him.  He threatened to expose everything if I did not,” Farceur said, glaring at the detective.

“Pip, how do you know about any of this?” Dabney insisted.

“There’s no time for that,” I said in a rush, knowing he’d never believe me if I told him.  “Hank’s gone to radio the police.  I hope they’re nearby,” I said in a suggestive tone.

Dabney looked relieved but confused.  He nodded.  He wasn’t moving and I wanted to push him into action.  However, I glanced at the three men and the Queen of Clubs.  They were beginning to get to their collective feet.  There were four of them and only three of us.  Then I saw the flash of metal.  Apparently the men were distraught and felt threatened enough that they drew their guns.  I didn’t realize they had been carrying firearms.

Perils_of_Pauline_-_1947_PosterI gasped when I saw so many weapons on display.  Even Queenie drew a pearl handled pistol from a holster at her garter.  We were definitely outnumbered.

“Didn’t you notice the bulges in their jackets, Pip?” Detective Daniels asked with a smirk.  “Now you run along and stay out of the way.  This is no place for a girl.  And Fanny would never forgive me if something happened to you.”

Well… you can guess what effect those words had on me.  How dare he tell me to run along as if I were a child or a simpleton!  Having seen those guns, I might actually have run for cover if he hadn’t said that.  But there was no backing down then!

A pistol appeared in Dabney’s hand as if by magic.  It was probably hidden in the voluminous robes.  Farceur picked up a double handful of forks and knives from the nearest table.  In an instant he had one between each of the fingers of both of his hands.  The two men snaked between party guests toward the villains.

However, Queenie and her men were already regaining their wits.  The sound of police sirens cut through the noise of laughing and talking.  It brought the gangsters to their senses.Joan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

Hortense Houston had come back to full speed along with everything else.  The housekeeper hurried toward the guests to make sure they were unharmed from their fall.  Just as she reached them, Hortense slipped on the chicken breast that I noticed a moment before.  As she slid into one of the henchmen he grabbed her and put his gun to her head.

There was so much noise.  I could barely sort all the sounds.  The dogs howled, probably at the sirens — which continued to wail.  Someone screamed.  Everyone seemed to be shouting.

Queenie, her glittering tiara askew, stepped back onto the tail of Marie Antoinette, Mrs. Kingston’s Maine Coon cat.  The tall cat hissed and stood up on her hind legs, claws extended, and grabbed the posterior of the Queen of Clubs.  Queenie shrieked, waiving her pearl handled pistol.  Antoinette darted inside the mansion.

To my horror, I saw how close they were to Arabella Wong and Granny Fanny.  Alastair was only a few feet away at his table too.  What if the crooks started shooting?

One of the henchmen tripped over his own feet when he turned to see what was wrong with Queenie.  1916 Vogue springHis stumble put him in range of Arabella Wong and he made a grab for Alastair’s mother.  My stomach lurched.  Arabella wouldn’t hurt a fly; she was so ladylike and demure.  My brief acquaintance with her flashed before my eyes.  I heard the horrible man say, “Two hostages are better than one!”

In a heartbeat the man was socked in the noggin by a head of cabbage.  Since the man was so close to his mother, Alastair picked up the safest “weapon” at hand and threw the vegetable.  However, he threw it with such force and speed that it made the villain stagger.

The next thing I knew, Arabella was all over the guy.  Hands and feet flying in a blur, Arabella was like nothing I’d ever seen before as she attacked her would be assailant.  Then Granny Fanny started throwing those beautiful meringue pies!  It looked like something the Marx Brothers would have done, and I would have laughed if the situation had not been deadly dangerous!

A woman screamed when the henchmen aimed their guns.  Then I realized the screaming woman was me!  I was so afraid of what might happen to Granny and Arabella while I watched helplessly.

Parrot in flight

As if I had summoned her, Cracker soared into the fray, raking her sharp talons across the heads of the criminal quartet.  She caught Queenie’s tiara in her beak and tossed it violently.  As the parrot attacked one of the henchmen, he fired his gun wildly into the air.

Girls didn’t usually get much in the way of science classes in school back then, but I was luckier than most.  I knew enough to realize that a bullet going up would eventually come down.  I just hoped that it didn’t come down and kill an innocent.

With unexpected attack from feet, pies, and talons the villains were so surprised that Hortense managed to get away from the henchman who was holding her at gunpoint.  There were still so many people in the way that it wasn’t safe for Dabney to fire his gun.  At least I hoped he would realize that.  When I spotted1920s Flapper n Phoenix him, he was pointing the revolver but he couldn’t seem to get a clear shot.  I swallowed hard, fearing the wrong person would get shot.

The henchmen managed to get guns their aimed at Arabella and Granny, and the two women backed away.  The assault had pushed the criminals against the wall of the mansion.  Queenie and her men sidled toward the broad French doors.  However, they stopped when the police started pounding at the mansion’s front door.

Cracker glided to the table where Alastair stood, as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.  She picked up a carrot and flew to a corner of the terrace.  I hadn’t noticed Cinnamon Bun there.  Cracker gave the giant rabbit the carrot.  He nibbled it and then seemed to decide to carry it elsewhere.  I saw the bunny’s long ears as he quietly moved amid partygoers.  To my dismay, he ended up behind one of Queenie’s men.

The carrot was sticking out of Cinnamon Bun’s mouth as he curiously sat up on his haunches to investigate the man in front of him.  A Flemish Giant rabbit standing on his haunches is pretty tall.  The carrot poked the man’s side.  He must have thought someone had sneaked up on him with a gun, because he eased his hands into the air.

Queenie turned in consternation.  “What are you doing?” she shouted at him.  “It’s a rabbit for heaven’s sake!”Vintage rabbit driving

However, that was enough of a diversion for Mr. Farceur to get into place.  He was only armed with cutlery from the table, but his aim was dead-on.  The knives and forks whistled through the air in a rapid blur, and painfully struck the quartet of gangsters.

By then some of the policemen made their way to the back of the mansion, and the ones at the front door got inside.  Soon Queenie Wetson and her henchmen were arrested and locked up in the paddy wagon.

Dabney Daniels removed his sheik headdress and yellow tinted glasses.  He spoke individually to each person who had been directly in harm’s way, making sure they were unhurt and he put Hank Hertz to work taking statements from them.

Sheik of ArabyI lost sight of Granny Fanny after she and Arabella did their part.  However, she had looked unscathed at that moment.  When she walked up to Dabney he looked so relieved that I thought he was going to kiss her again.

Maybe he really was about to, because Granny took half a step back from him.  After my initial shock, I didn’t see anything wrong with Granny and Dabney being a couple. She was a good bit older than him, but that happened once in a while.  And it happened all the time if the man was the older one.  As a flapper, I had to be all for a modern relationship!  However, Granny was obviously not convinced.

I walked over to the pair and removed the journal from my waistband.  I made sure Granny saw it.  I wanted a witness of my own.  I couldn’t suddenly shift from suspicion of Daniels to complete trust.  I handed the journal to the detective.  It was the evidence the police needed to convict the rumrunners.

An important seeming man walked up just then and Dabney showed him the book.  The man turned out to be the police commissioner, the top copper.  He thumbed carefully through the journal, nodding 1920s Peoples home journal girl parrotapproval as he read random pages.

Dabney motioned for Hank and Alastair to join them and he introduced the younger men to the commissioner.  The commissioner had heard of Hank, Savannah’s youngest police officer, but he did not know him or Alastair personally.

I didn’t feel too comfortable being around anybody who was so… official so I stepped away before I was pulled into the introductions.  Daniels caught my eye, but he seemed to understand.  He nodded and I kept moving away.

Then a minor commotion came to my attention.  “What about him?” I demanded, pointing at Henry Kingston III.  “Isn’t he the King of Clubs?”

Mr. Farceur was beside me, but he was trying to be inconspicuous.  I wasn’t sure why he didn’t want any credit for the role he played in catching the bootleggers, but I was respectful of his wish for privacy.  He spoke quietly in answer to my question.

“Yes and no,” he said, and I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. Trust that butler to be cryptic.  “He was the King of Clubs, but Kingston’s participation was negligible.  Queenie Wetson manipulated him into most of his actions, so she was as much the King of Clubs as he was.  She was both king and queen.  Kingston’s a funny old bird, and not too bright.  I have a suspicion that his influential position, not to mention his expensive barrister — I mean attorney, will keep him out of jail.”

As Farceur spoke one of the party guests stepped in between Kingston and the police.  The man waved his arms, shouting about rights and evidence.  Oh, that would be the lawyer all right.

1917 Vogue“He is not blameless in all this.  It’s not fair if he gets off scot-free!” I complained, and Farceur agreed with a sardonic twist of his lips.

“One never knows,” Farceur said as he gazed beyond me and into the branches of the crepe myrtle trees that bordered that part of the terrace.  “He’s doubtless committed other crimes.  Something will trip him up eventually,” he said and gave a barely perceptible nod to someone behind me.

The butler had obviously been looking at someone, so I turned to see who was there.  All I saw was Cracker perched on a thick branch of the biggest crepe myrtle tree I had ever seen.  The thought went through my mind that it must be very old indeed, because those trees didn’t tend toward such size.

Abruptly I realized that Cracker was not alone.  Chiffon billowed on the night breeze.  Daisy sat on the branch next to the parrot.

“Applesauce!” I cried in astonishment and turned back to the butler.  “Do you mean to tell me that you can see her too?” I asked the empty space beside me.  Farceur was gone.

***

Here ends Cookbook-1 of The Three Ingredients

1920s face

Stay tuned for Cookbook-2!

Until next time — Great-big-hugs to you all.

Video:  Thai Cooking – Chicken Ginger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kMtGxTNkWs

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.

 

Three Ingredients – 24: Aubergine, Thyme, Red Pepper

CB's sketch "Fox" It came as a very pleasant surprise when CB sent the ingredients for today’s episode. CB is new to the blogosphere.  That information was unexpected, because I think “Better Dressed than Joe” is a great blog, with posts that are quick, evocative, and charming — and delightful sketches too. It’s not something I’d expect from a beginner. I especially liked the “Fox” sketch, and I thought it was appropriate to this episode!  So before you read today’s spot, check out Better Dressed than Joe.

You can do catch-up reading at the page where this story lives, The Three Ingredients Serial Homepage. Just click the button at the top of this page.  Also there are a lot of online resources for 1920’s slang if some of the lingo stumps you.Episode-24 Rabbit_Sign copy

The animal characters have played such a fun part in this storyline that I’m happy to have the chance to feature all of them.  I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoyed the writing.  Bon appétit!

 

24.  Aubergine, Thyme, Red Pepper

That bossy butler, Mr. Farceur, put a nervous idea into my head when he suggested that it would be best if Queenie Wetson didn’t see me.  I had a bad feeling that he was wright.  After all, I had been drugged and hit over the head, and woke up in a cellar at the mill and herb farm owned by the Queen of Clubs and her husband.  I couldn’t remember anything about that day, so for all I knew Queenie Wetson was behind the attack on me.Flapper Running

So I worked mostly in the kitchen, getting an occasional peep at the party, while the guys served at the tables.  I carried a tray of marinated aubergine to the table that had just been set up outside, where Hank Hertz stood.  I tried not to let him see me smiling.

He was all but unrecognizable with his henna treated hair and thin mustache. Rules said he was too young, but Hanks’ skill with the radio equipment got him special permission to be on the police force. It didn’t seem likely, but Granny was afraid someone in the rumrunner’s gang might recognize him. So she insisted he change his appearance, and then before he could back out, she hennaed his hair! I knew he was eggplant-note-card_1024x1024uncomfortable with the disguise, so I tried to smooth out my expression.

Hank inhaled and looked curiously at my tray, asking what it was on it.  The dish was warmed to room temperature and had a nice aroma.  “It’s marinated aubergine,” I told him.

“It looks like eggplant,” he returned.

“It is,” I said, and hurriedly turned to go back to the kitchen before I got drawn into a conversation.

Too many thoughts competed for attention in my head.  I had just seen my grandmother in the arms of a man I’d sort of had a crush on up until recently, when he rejected my affection.  He was a good deal older than me — Dabney Daniels was practically Father Time.  But he was a lot younger than Granny Fanny just the same.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but maybe that was irrelevant since Granny told him the bank was closed.  Although she had kissed him back…

Detective Daniels was the focal point of my thoughts, but not because I saw him trying to make Granny into his blue serge. What was really troubling me was seeing the copper sneaking around with that majordomo, Mr. Farceur.  I’d bet anything the book I saw the butler hand Daniels was that secret journal, which Marshal Myrick hoped to obtain as evidence against the murderous gang of bootleggers!Sheik of Araby

Broad arched French doors opened from the mansion onto the large terrace.  There was plenty of room to take the shindig outside.  The paved area swept up alongside the back of the house, which overlooked the Savannah River.  Everyone worked together quickly to setup tables out there at the sudden change dictated by Mrs. Kingston.

I couldn’t blame the lady of the manor for her mood.  She had just learned her husband’s mistress would be at the party.  I hoped the“parade of pets” she pulled together at a moment’s notice brought her some happiness.  I shook my head at the
things some women were taught to put up with, and promised myself that I never would.  After all, I was a flapper, a modern woman!

A commotion at the primary doors to the terrace drew my eyes.  Queenie Wetson emerged in her dazzling flapper Joan Crawford as Queenie Wetsongown and jewels, flanked by her three “dates” who were dressed in all-white tuxedos.  She had taken the arm of a nervous looking Bishop Bradley Binghamton.  Tucking her hand into the bend of his billowy white silk shirtsleeve, she pulled the bishop along beside her.

Bishop was one of the code names we’d heard the crooks use on the radio transmission.  However, Bishop Binghamton was such a slight, unassuming looking man.  I couldn’t imagine him as a criminal.  Then the thought came to me that perhaps he was not a willing party to whatever was going on around him. He did seem like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Before they could see me, I ducked behind a large camellia bush.  Then I left the trail of stepping stones, taking a shortcut to the kitchen.  I tried to step carefully, but I blundered into the herb garden despite myself.  There weren’t any of the pretty fairy lights there, but I felt it when I stepped on a plant, and then I smelled the scent of thyme.  I stooped down to see how badly I had damaged the herb.1920s_Life_Magazine-music

Most of the party noise was still inside the Kingston mansion, with the guests only beginning to move out to the terrace.  So it was quiet enough that I heard a man muttering.  Pacing and apparently deep in thought, I saw Farceur in the shadows near the main kitchen door.  He sure was acting hinky.

Just as I was about to move on, he started muttering again.  To my astonishment, I realized he was chanting the old nursery rhyme.

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty parrots baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,

Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King?

“Dainty dish…” he said.  “That strangely beautiful woman — I keep getting just a glimpse of her… There’s more here than meets the eye, no matter what anyone else believes. I’m certain of it,” Farceur mumbled to himself.

1920s Evening gownThe majordomo’s behavior surprised and mystified me.  It was bad enough that he was babbling to himself. I would have thought he had a screw loose, but his words gave me pause.  What did he say? There’s more here than meets the eye.  And he mentioned an unknown beautiful woman.  His comment was so similar to what the lovely party guest wearing the billowing chiffon gown said to me, “Not all things are as they seem.”  And she was strangely beautiful — obviously gorgeous, and strange in that it was as if she was there one minute and then she disappeared the next.

Whatever Farceur was about, he was interrupted by the housekeeper, Hortense Houston.  “Oh Mr. Farceur!  I’m so relieved to find you.  We need your expertise coordinating the guests for Madame’s parade of pets,” she told him.

For a second, Farceur was looked so distracted that he didn’t seem to know what the housekeeper was talking about.  However, he blinked and then acted more like his usual self.  The majordomo walked straight-backed, tailcoat twitching, into the mansion.

I waited until the butler and the housekeeper were inside, and then I followed 1920s Arrow couplediscreetly.  Once inside I perceived an air of uncertainty. Guests and many new arrivals with their pets — thankfully on leashes, milled around.  The shindig no longer appeared quite as elegant.  Farceur and Mrs. Houston consulted quietly for a moment, their heads close together. Then they maneuvered quickly among the partygoers.  In moments the party returned to its former posh state.

Mr. Farceur stepped to the middle of the room and tapped a spoon against a champagne flute.  It rang like a chime three times.  He had a pleasant yet authoritative air, with a vague smile on his lips.  Everyone turned attentively to learn what he would say.

“For your enjoyment, Madame has arranged a Parade of Pets. If you’ll kindly step out to the terrace, you will find tables with finger foods, along with drinks at the outdoor bar,” he said.

Nobody had to tell that group twice.  All it took was the hint of hooch, and the guests meandered outside.  I saw Hortense Houston’s dark bun bobbing among the pet owners who gravitated toward her.  That must have been what she and the butler had been mentioning to people when they mingled among the partygoers a moment before.

Rabbit Flapper magI didn’t know Granny Fanny was at my elbow until she spoke.  It startled me.  “Granny!  There is something I need to talk to you about,” I exclaimed.  “I saw Detective Daniels and that butler.  He sneaked a book to Dabney.”

“When would you have seen Dabney?” she asked; that cagy old fox.

“I know who’s under that Sheik of Araby getup,” I said, unable to keep an edge from my tone.

Granny looked at me wide-eyed, and I plunged ahead before she could assert any grandmotherly authority.  “And so does that butler!  Those two are up to something, and I don’t think it can be good,” I said.

My grandmother’s face paled.  After a moment she said, “It’s best we don’t jump to conclusions.”

She scanned the vast room and my gaze followed hers.  I knew she was looking for Dabney Daniels.  However, there was no sign of a hunched old man in sheik’s robes.  Neither was there a man among the guests that fit the general shape and size Dabney would be without the disguise.

“Moses was going to use a sheik disguise when he planned all this,” Granny said softly, and it sounded like she was thinking out loud.  “He set everything up, including a fake identity to make them believe he was making a deal with the King of Clubs.  I learned man_ray_tearshow he’d be disguised just before the ambush when his men were murdered. I didn’t think he told anyone but me and maybe his men about the disguise.  But he might have taken Dabney further into his confidence.  Moses Myrick knew I trusted Dabney…” Granny said putting her hand over her mouth.  “And he brought him into his confidence, at least to some degree… because of me.”

“Granny, you aren’t blaming yourself for anything, are you?” I exclaimed.  “The Feds knew they’d need the help of the local police if it turned into a big sting operation,” I reminded her and she nodded, looking down at her feet.

I studied the troubled expression on my grandmother’s face.  It reminded me of how I felt when I had my first doubt about Frankie back in Florida.  The pain of that betrayal and of knowing he’d been shot washed over me as if it had just happened.  It hurt me to think Granny might be feeling something similar.

“Maybe Daniels is just taking the marshal’s part in this charade,” I offered in a whisperlantern-press-joker-playing-card, because anything was better than thinking my grandmother’s heart was hurting.

“Maybe I misunderstood what I saw between him and the butler.  Applesauce! Maybe it wasn’t even Dabney under that sheik getup — after all, it was dark, and I never saw his
face.  Like you said, Granny.  We shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” I told her and the idea of mistaken identity started to appeal to me. It was perfectly plausible.

When she didn’t seem to be listening I tried to distract her from her troubled thoughts.  “By the way isn’t farceur a French word for joker?  As in ‘joker’s wild’ like Cracker keeps squawking?  What could it mean?” I asked.

My attempt to divert Granny from her thoughts fell flat.  The faraway look was still in her eyes.  “I knew he must have duties at his job,” she continued as if I hadn’t spoken.  “But it bothered the dickens out of me that he didn’t take a bigger part in the search for you that day…” her softly spoken words trailed away.

When the butler sauntered to the big front door we both watched him.  The door opened and Granny gasped.  “No!  I told her to stay away from here.  It could be dangerous.  Why didn’t they listen to me?” Granny said with a worried look.

paris Poodle postcardFor a second I didn’t know what Granny meant.  Then I saw Cotton dance through the doorway on her hind legs.  The white poodle wore a tutu made of pink toulle. Her toenails were painted a matching shade of pink and they clicked on the shining white marble floor as she pranced.  Cotton’s pirouetting display got everyone’s attention as well as a round of applause.  Veronica and Vincent Vale followed the dog into the stylish foyer.

Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit thumped quietly alongside Vincent.  The veterinarian had him in a harness and leash.  The huge bunny wore a white collar and bow tie, along with a top hat that had holes cut into it from which his long ears protruded.  As Cotton bounded back to Veronica, it pulled the crowd’s attention to the bunny.  Cinnamon sat up on his back legs and was at thigh level beside Vincent, who was not a short man.  Amazed murmurs filled the room when people realized how large the rabbit actually was.

The blue of Mrs. Kingston’s gown caught my eye as she hurried to greet the Vales.  She met them warmly. It was clear that she was acquainted with the couple and was very fond of Veronica.  Mrs. Kingston carried a remarkably big housecat.  The poor thing was shaved to look like a lion.  I stepped closer so I could hear their exchange.1926 life halloweenkitty

“Vincent dear, you were so right.  It about killed me to watch them shave Marie Antoinette’s beautiful fluffy fur, but her condition has cleared up!” Mrs. Kingston told the veterinarian with obvious gratitude.  “They left her a mane, and a fluffy tip on her tail.  She actually seems rather pleased with herself.  Once she got over it that is.”

“It’s not unusual for Maine Coon cats to get that skin condition, especially in our warm weather,” Vincent told her.  “The shaved coat makes it easier to get the medicine where it needs to go.  I don’t recommend this kind of shaving except for medical reasons, but still — Antoinette is the bee’s knees,” he praised the cat who purred loudly as he scratched under her chin.

“She is a particularly calm cat, with all these dogs and other animals around,” Veronica said appreciatively, which cause Mrs. Kingston to blush like a proud parent.

“Antoinette is used to being around other animals.  She’s good with dogs, and just very lady like,” the hostess said lightly.  “She was practically nursemaid when Charlie Chilton’s Chihuahua had her pups,” she said with a nod to a rotund man.  “Antoinette loves little Chichi.”

Vincent bent to pet the cat again as Mrs. Kingston let her down.  I saw that she was 1921 July Life Dogtrained to walk on a leash, which I thought was pretty impressive.  One of the guests said precisely what I was thinking.  Mrs. Kingston chuckled.  “Yes, as long as we practice it every day, she does well with the harness and leash.  But she wouldn’t have a
thing to do with the dress I had made for her to wear tonight!”

“Antoinette’s haircut is quite striking enough rather than a costume,” Veronica assured Mrs. Kingston.

Other pet owners moved forward to greet the Vales as they all moved to the terrace.  I noticed the big man, Charlie Chilton, held the tiny Chihuahua and a big sequined sombrero.  The man dropped the hat to the floor and shouted “Ole!” at which the little dog ran circles inside the brim of the sombrero, barking as it went.  Cotton was so inspired that she did her dance again without being prompted.  Cinnamon Bun looked on stoically.

A flash of vivid color streaked the length of the terrace bearing straight at the Vales.  Vincent ducked and dropped Cinnamon’s leash.  However, the giant rabbit only moved a few feet away.  He sat up on his haunches as Cracker the Parrot flew circles around him.  Cinnamon grabbed a carrot from the parrot’s outstretched talons as the bird made another pass.  I had to wonder how many times the two friends had played that game while no humans were watching.Rabbit with tophat

When Cinnamon sat back down to gnaw the carrot, Cracker perched on his harness.
She looked rakish with a white flower in her beak.  The rabbit hopped around a bit with the parrot clinging to the harness to the delight of the spectators.  The Vales were clearly surprised by the unexpected antics of the pair.  After a moment Veronica nudged Vincent, pointing to the leash that dragged behind the bunny, and he moved to take hold of it.  When everyone applauded, Vincent made a self-conscious bow.

“It seems our entertainers had their own schedule,” Mrs. Kingston said happily.  Then, with assistance from the butler, she had all the owners and pets line up to promenade the length of the terrace.

Cracker swooped to one of the hors d’oeuvre tables and I hurried to shoo the bird away from the food.  Only then did I pay attention to the flower that she still held in her beak.  It wasn’t just a white flower.

It was a daisy.Mavis ad

“Cracker, what’s that you’ve got, sweetheart?” I said coaxingly and she fluttered onto my outstretched arm.

The parrot bumped a silver condiment bowl when she launched herself.  The container rocked wildly but the contents didn’t spill.  I breathed a sigh of relief, because the dish held red pepper.  I wouldn’t have wanted that to go up in a big sneezy puff!

“Dainty dish,” Cracker said with a whistle.

Automatically, I looked in the direction from which Cracker had flown.  She’d soared the length of the terrace.  The library was at the upper end.  That was where I’d briefly seen the beautiful dark haired woman in the diaphanous chiffon gown.  Suddenly I felt that odd chill again, as well as the nausea that came with it.

“Pip, what is it?” Hank Hertz asked.

I hadn’t realized he was near.  All I could do was hold up the daisy.  He looked at me like I was loony, and rubbed that silly skinny red mustache.

1920s Mystic Mag“Let me get you a glass of water,” Hank offered and pulled me toward a white wrought iron chair.

Cracker hopped to my shoulder as I lowered my arm.  She ran her beak down a strand of my hair, her avian gesture of concern.  Then the parrot looked toward a small area just behind us, where a paved trail led to a birdbath and a flower bed.  The fairy lights illuminated the spot but no one was there.  However, as Cracker looked at it, she bobbed her head excitedly and squawked, “Dainty dish, dainty dish!”

“What’s the parrot carrying on about?” Alastair asked, having left his table to see what was happening.

“You got me,” Hank told him.  “I don’t see a thing over there.  Do you?”

A mischievous glint came to Alastair’s eyes. “You know… animals can see things that humans can’t see,” he commented.

“What do you mean?” Hank asked, taking the bait so quickly that I had to shake my head. I was sure Alastair was about to get one over on Savannah’s youngest policeman, disguised as a redheaded waiter though he was.Vintage magician poster

“Spirits and things,” Alastair told him in a very serious tone.  “Di fu ling, earth bound spirits,” he said.  “You know — ghosts,” he added upon seeing Hank’s blank expression.

The merriment that lit the young restaurateur’s eyes quickly disappeared.  His shoulders twitched beneath his waiter’s white tuxedo jacket as if a chill went down his spine.

“When a di fu ling is near, people who are sensitive to spirits get a cold chill.  Sometimes they get sick to their stomachs… like has been happening to Pip tonight,” he said raising one eyebrow as he studied my face.

I was beginning to think Alastair was serious about this spirit business.

Loud, shrill yapping cut through all the party sounds.  Chichi the Chihuahua tried to chase Mrs. Kingston’s cat, Marie Antoinette.  I expected the cat to hiss at the dog, but the incongruous difference in their sizes was in the cat’s favor.  It seemed almost like Antoinette was amused that the tiny dog would even try to provoke her.  Antoinette really did look like a lion standing near the Chihuahua.  The cat gave a disdainful lash of her tail.  With a leap she pulled free of Mrs. Kingston and chased the dog.

I reminded myself that Mrs. Kingston said the two animals were playmates.  The cat 1920s Catering Menu-1could have caught the dog easily if she’d wanted to, and there was nothing in her posture that suggested aggression.  Bemused, I realized Antoinette truly was playing with the dog.

Cotton jumped excitedly into the game, ignoring Veronica’s dismayed demand that she sit.  The Main Coon chased the Chihuahua and the poodle chased the Main Coon in a circle around the feet of the astonished Mr. Farceur.  Then the cat spun around and proceeded to chase both dogs down the length of the terrace.

When I stood up, I spotted Granny talking to the bent-over man in sheik’s robes. She must have felt that she was being watched, when she looked covertly over her shoulder, because she started to act as if she was pointing out the food tables, just assisting a party guest.

The commotion of the animals was too much to ignore and I reflexively returned my gaze to that chaos.  That’s when I saw Queenie Wetson and her three white clad men.  They all stepped out onto the terrace just as the animal chase came by.  The dogs barreled right into them.1923 Evening Shoes

Multiple feet went into the air.  One of Queenie’s rhinestone encrusted shoes spun skyward.  The four people went down in a tangle of arms and legs as the two dogs seemed to run right under them.  The cat leaped over the group as the humans hit the ground.  None of it did anything to slow the momentum of the trio of pets as they careened straight at the table where Alastair, Hank, and I stood.

I looked in helpless horror at the silver dish of red pepper…

The poodle pounced onto the table, scattering all the carefully arranged appetizers.  Cracker glided over to Cotton and I remembered they time those two cavorted and ran into Hank’s radio equipment.  They were already friends.  The parrot flew over the poodle and whistled, “Bad bird, bad bird!” but she sounded more like she was encouraging the poodle than admonishing her.1924 Red Pepper mag

Somehow the tiny dog got up onto the table top, and the Chihuahua ran from one end of the table to the other, careening into all manner of dishes, and Queenie and her men, just as they were getting up off the ground.  They went back down in a heap and Cinnamon bounded to a safer spot.

I never saw how it happened.  Time slowed like a movie projector running down.  I watched light reflect off the polished silver condiment bowl as it sailed high into the air.  Amazingly, it flipped all the way over without spilling a bit.  One time anyway.  It flipped again and a puff of fine red powder burst into the air.  The cloud of red pepper settled on the Queen of Clubs and her henchmen…

***

Be sure to come back next time.  There are still mysteries to reveal!

Recipe:  Broiled Eggplant with Capers and Mint

Recipe credit:  Yummly.com

Ingredients

1 pound thin Italian or Asian eggplants (2 to 3), cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped mint

2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed

 

Method:

Preheat broiler. Arrange eggplant in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and brush both sides with 2 tablespoons oil (total). Broil about 4 inches from heat, turning once, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes total.

Stir together vinegar, mint, capers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil and toss with warm eggplant. Marinate at least 20 minutes.

Marinated eggplant can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yield:

Makes 4 appetizer-size portions

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Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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