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

 ***

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: Stay Tuned for the Parade of Pets

Episode-24 Rabbit_Sign copy

Don’t stray — Episode-24 is headed your way

 

You’re used to the new episodes of The Three Ingredients culinary mystery serial appearing on Saturdays.  This week getting it finished within that self-imposed deadline seemed like a big challenge.  I didn’t want anyone to feel abandoned if I didn’t get this post out until tomorrow.  So I’m sending this teaser.

 

What do you predict for Episode-24?  What do you see in your “crystal ball” for the conclusion of this storyline?  That’s part of the fun of a mystery story — anticipating the different outcomes.  When the setting is an era other than our own, there seem to be even more variables because we have to push our minds into an unaccustomed way of thinking.  Our 1920’s characters surely thought of everything from a perspective that is unlike from ours.

 

As a little treat to tide you over until tomorrow, here is a forward looking vision of the future from Pip’s era.

 

Video:  1920’s – What The Future Will Look Like

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czr-98yo6RU

 

Stay tuned for the next episode of The Three Ingredients serial!

 

Three Ingredients – 23: Seaweed Sheets, Rice, Sesame Oil

Fish Episode 23

Welcome back! Can you tell that I’m excited about this episode?  The ingredients for this episode are from Willy Nilly, writer of the blog Willy Nilly To and Fro ~ The Philosophy of Inanity.  However, there’s nothing willy-nilly or disorganized about the stories and posts you’ll find there.  I hope you’ll pay a visit to Willy Nilly’s blog.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll go ahead and tell you that the Three Ingredients serial does not end with this episode.  But my writing “crystal ball” tells me that we are very close to a conclusion.  However, I think I have a couple of surprises for you.  Plus something I’ve had up my sleeve for a long time finally wriggled free and onto the page.  Oooh, I really hope I’m going to surprise you with that one!  I wish I could see your faces.

Without further ado, here is Episode-23.  Bon appétit!

23.  Seaweed Sheets, Rice, Sesame Oil

“Pip, did you see the dry roasted salted seaweed sheets when you unpacked things in theSessue_Hayakawa_as Alastair kitchen?” Alastair asked.  “I need them for the sushi rolls.”

Alastair had introduced me to sushi when I first got to Savannah.  To my surprise I liked it, but I was still feeling queasy so I wasn’t so keen on being around for its preparation.  The young restaurateur had been super particular about exactly what kind of seaweed sheet he wanted.  Maybe if we couldn’t find the sheets he would settle for the cleverly made rice balls he was arranging. Alastair formed them so that they were mostly round, but each one had a simplified animal shape.  They were so adorable it made me smile just to look at them.

“Do you feel steady enough to stand at the table and serve while I go to the kitchen and check?” he asked with open concern on his face.

He added that so far the party guests were greeting one another and had not moved toward the tables where we arranged the foods from Granny Fanny’s Goodies.  Really, everybody was Harper-s-Bazaar-August-1920making too much of the little spell I had in the library. I felt better practically as soon as I got out of that room.  I promised Alastair that I was fine and shooed him toward the kitchen.

A woman in a stylish blue gown stood talking to a small group of guests. Their clothes looked expensive but somber.  The clothes of his office set Bishop Bradley Binghamton apart from the rest of that group.  He was a slight man wearing a long vest over a white silk shirt with billowy sleeves. A heavy gold cross hung from his neck.  The cross pendant almost seemed too heavy for him, as if the large jewelry weighted him down. Niven as Binghamton

My thought seemed preposterous as I watched the slender man.  Could he really be the Bishop from the gangsters’ code names?  After all, he was a real bishop.  He looked so quiet and peaceful as he stood listening to the people around him.  How could he be one of the gangsters. There must be another explanation, another Bishop.

It was a truly sophisticated party, unlike anything I had ever experienced.  There had been some fancy parties during my brief stay at the Ringlings’ gilded mansion, Ca’ d’ Zan. Glorious though those parties were, they did not match the elegance of the reception at 420 Kingston Lane.

A maid in a dressy black uniform stood peering between the lace curtains at one of the palladium windows on the front side of the house.  She motioned excitedly to the woman in blue.  The woman’s confidant manner told me that she was the hostess, Mrs. Kingston.  I saw her catch the butler’s eye and take a breath as if to call to him.  However, Farceur anticipated her wishes and strode to the front door, his black tailcoat moving gracefully as he walked.

1920s_Life_Magazine-musicThe butler ushered in a man who was somewhat stooped with age.  I imagined he was tall and strong when he was young.  He had a very deep tan that was in contrast to his thick white hair and beard, but that was far from the most unusual thing about him.  He didn’t look like Valentino, but he was dressed like the Sheik of Araby!  He also wore spectacles with yellow tinted lenses.

“The ambassador…” I whispered to myself. He must be that ambassador who was such a big deal to the hosts of the reception.  I watched as Farceur greeted the man.  I noticed that the butler looked at him intently, closely, even suspiciously.  I was quite intrigued by the way the major domo reacted to the ambassador.  However, Mrs. Kingston greeted the elderly man effusively, pushing the butler away.

The old man returned the courtesy of the hostess in a gravel voice.  Standing so far away, I could barely make out what he said, but it was something about being pleased to meet her.  So they weren’t old friends after all. Maybe the ambassador’s importance lay in a business deal that Kingston hoped to make.

Could this ambassador be the King of Clubs? The thought sprang suddenly to my mind.  No.  Surely not.  Wouldn’t he call himself a sheik or a sultan or something?  But then, he probably wouldn’t be the one who made up the code names for the bootleggers. However, my pondering was interrupted.

“Young lady, I heard one of Mrs. Peabody’s people wasn’t feeling well.  I take it that was you,” a 1920s Arrow tuxwell-heeled looking older man said in a solicitous voice.

I gaped in astonishment because he looked so much like the portrait of Henry Kingston.  His jaw had a softer line and his graying hair suggested a darker shade in youth than that of his ancestor.  I nervously excused my rudeness for staring, and commented on the portrait and the resemblance.

The shindig’s host sure was a talker.  He took my elbow and steered me to a sofa, despite my protest that I was manning the hors d’oeuvre table.  He chatted away. I was uncomfortable with how close he sat to me, plus he was one of those people who leaned in when they talk to you. That’s when I realized that he’d already had at least one martini.

It was an awkward predicament.  I admit that I’ve never been good at knowing for sure whether men were flirting with me unless something overt happened. So I tried to be polite, and my brain raced for a way to extract myself from the too friendly host.

“Yes that’s a portrait of ‘The King’ as they called my father,” he said with a motion toward the study, or library as he called it.

“But wasn’t he the first and you’re the third?” I couldn’t help asking, though I knew I shouldn’t say anything to encourage him to hang around.

“Oh, that was some foolishness on my parents part, and they left me spending my life explaining it,” he said with a wave of his hand.  “Henry II died as an infant. You know how that 1920s Judge Hourglasshappens so many times with newborns, though not quite as often as it once did, and the poor parents never understand how it came to pass,” he said with a dour expression.  He paused, probably for breath after that long sentence.  I nodded and he continued.  “So later, when I came into the world they saddled me with the confusing moniker of Henry III.”

That bossy major domo walked up and cleared his throat, looking at me accusingly.  I’d have him know that I didn’t work for him! But before I could say anything he cast a dramatic look toward the hors d’oeuvre table and I saw that I had my chance to exit.  Maybe he wasn’t such a creep after all.  I excused myself, but Henry III quickly grabbed my wrist as I stood.

“Sir,” Mr. Farceur leaned down and spoke softly, making it seem that what he had to say was important and required Kingston’s personal attention. “Madame made a change to the evening’s plans.  We will need help from all the serving staff, including this young woman, if you can spare her?” he ended the sentence with a tone that was just questioning enough to be respectful.

I moved half a step away, thinking I was free, but the old bugger still had ahold of my wrist. Farceur’s eyebrows went up minutely.  Kingston asked him to explain. I got the impression that he and his wife might not get along so well, and when he added “What has she come up with now?” I was sure.

“A pet parade, Sir,” Farceur said drolly. “Madame has contacted whomever she could and asked1915 Life January them to bring their animals… in fancy dress.  So she has prudently instructed that most of tonight’s event shall be held on the terrace.”

“Dogs and what-not in costumes!  Why the devil would she do such a thing?” Kingston exclaimed, and he jumped half out of his skin when his wife suddenly spoke from behind him.

“If your pet is going to show up, then everyone should be allowed to bring theirs,” she said acidly.

Oh, there was definitely marital discord at 420 Kingston Lane!  As if on cue the front doors flew open.  A man in an all-white tuxedo rolled out a bolt of shimmering gold cloth onto the marble floor. Then he bowed deeply as a cluster of people came through the door, walking on the fabric.  The partygoers stood in open mouthed silence as two more men in white tuxedos entered arm-in-arm on either side of a woman in a golden beaded flapper gown. The moment I saw the glitter of the ostentatious tiara she wore, I knew her identity.  Queenie Wetson.

“However, it looks like you need a leash for your pet,” Mrs. Kingston said with a sneer and turned on her heel.  She went back to a small group of guests who clustered protectively around her and pointedly ignored the newcomer.Joan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

Yes, Queenie had beguiled Kingston all right. I expected the woman could easily manipulate him.  Judging by the smitten look on his face, Kingston would do anything for her.  I was sure he danced on her strings whenever she wanted.  “Applesauce!” I thought.  If Kingston was her puppet, then the Queen of Clubs might also be the King of Clubs!

Farceur stepped in front of me as if he was about to walk forward and greet the woman. The three men acted subservient to her and Farceur appeared to dismiss them as if they in fact were servants.  However, he stopped midstride.  As I peeped around the butler I saw that the three men in white evening wear looked like they were uncomfortable in their own skins.  Wearing the glad rags didn’t come naturally to those thugs. The Queen of Clubs moved toward us.  The beaded fringe of her gown swung as her hips provocatively swayed.Black Butler 1

“You’d be well advised to make yourself scarce,” Farceur turned and whispered to me through his clenched teeth.  “It’s best that she does not see you.”

Anxiously I cleared my throat.  “I umm… I have to get the sesame oil.  I forgot to put it on the table earlier,” I turned to Kingston and babbled the first excuse that popped into my head.  However, nobody noticed what I said.  Kingston was mesmerized by the woman.  He let go of my wrist as if he had lost the feeling in his hand, and his arm dropped to his side.

Though I only saw her for an instant, Queenie Wetson struck me as one bad customer, a real piece of work. Instinctively I wanted to get as far away from her as I could.  It crossed my mind that it was odd that I’d feel that way.  I was truly my grandmother’s granddaughter and like Granny Fanny, I wasn’t too easily intimidated.  Yet despite the fact that I had never even met this woman, she unnerved me.

Or at least I didn’t think I had met her.  There were still some big holes in my memory – especially when they found me at Wetson’s Mill, which was also the location of the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm.  I woke up in a cellar, and managed to climb out.  Shortly afterward Alastair found me and summoned the others who were also searching for me.  Otherwise, that entire day was a blank.

1920s Catering Menu-1At any rate I thought it would be prudent to find Granny Fanny and ask about the sudden change Mrs. Kingston made, wanting to have a “parade of pets” out on the terrace.  I decided to go out through the kitchen.  I saw Alastair there.  He still hadn’t found the special seaweed sheets.  He got permission to use the house phone and called his mother asking her if she could send more.

Arabella Wong’s excited voice reached my ears.  She would bring them herself, just to come to the party.  The Kingstons didn’t seem like the stuffy type to me, and the Wongs were established members of the community.  They’d likely invite her to stay.  Alastair didn’t seem too pleased at the prospect of his mother being there.  Alastair knew the evening might turn out to be dangerous.  He tried to warn Arabella off without breaking the secret, but he didn’t seem to be getting through to her.

The evening really could get dangerous with all those gangsters around. I reminded myself that they weren’t just bootleggers, they were killers.  Marshal Moses Myrick had planned to turn this reception into a sting operation to catch the gangsters, but then he and his men were ambushed.  The marshal was critically wounded, and still not able to get around. However, he was the lucky one. His men were killed.

Then Granny got it into her head to at least try and get the evidence Myrick hoped to find at the vintage queen of the mayKingston estate.  He believed Kingston kept an incriminating journal of some kind.  However, I was pretty sure the journal was what Farceur removed from the safe while I hid under that massive desk in the library.  So even if we got the chance to sneak back into the room without the butler seeing us, I didn’t think we’d find anything inside the safe hidden behind the portrait of Daisy the Dainty Dish.

The main kitchen door opened and in came a harried looking Eunice Udall. She carried several bellhop uniforms.  It turned out that Mrs. Kingston wanted the servants who were going to help with the pet parade to change into a different uniform.  The bellhop outfits were the only thing Eunice could come up with on such short notice.

I apologized to Eunice for having been in such a rush earlier.  “Oh it’s all right dear,” she said.  “I’m glad my assistant was able to help you.  I was just confused because… What was the name you used? Doris?  Anyhow the girl’s name is Annie.  Actually, I had just discussed the job with her that morning.  I didn’t realize she was in the shop while you were.”

With a blink I repeated, “Annie?”  I wondered why Daisy would give me a different name.  Though we only spoke for a moment, I felt like the girl and I could be friends.  So it bothered me that she would call herself Daisy if her name was Annie.  Maybe there was some mistake.  Eunice was in a rush, and I knew I shouldn’t bother her, but I had to ask.  “A dark haired girl wearing tomboy clothes?” I asked.

Eunice looked at me strangely.  However, Hortense Houston, the housekeeper, pulled Eunice and the bellhop uniforms away.  I still needed to talk to Granny about the outdoor tables so 1920s Vogue postershrugged it off.  I went outside by a small side door.

A stone path led upward through a garden of mature camellias and dwarf palmettos.  I could see lights from the library window at the top of the hill.  Tiny fairy lights were strung all around the estate, so it wasn’t too hard to walk on the path, despite the cloud that blocked the moonlight.

As I rounded a corner I saw a party guest in the shadows. She reclined on a lounge chair on the terrace outside Kingston’s library.  Her beautiful chiffon gown billowed in an evening breeze that stirred her dark hair.

“Not all things are as they seem,” she turned to me and whispered.  Though I could not see her well in the near darkness, I could tell that she put a finger to her lips as if for quiet.  Then she looked pointedly to one side.  I followed her gaze and saw something white move.  Squinting into the dim light, I realized there were two people. They were a short distance down the path, obscured by all the bushes and crape myrtles trees.

Then movement from above drew my eyes.  Cracker sat in the branches of a flowering tree.  The parrot gave a soft whistle when she saw me looking.  “Dainty Dish!” she chirped.

My eyes widened and I whirled to face the dark haired woman, but she was gone.  Could she have been the Daisy I met earlier?  I looked back up at Cracker questioningly.  The parrot bobbed her head up and down and turned in a circle on the branch. Parrot Pin

Cracker looked toward the two people who were farther into the shadows on the unlit path.  It seemed almost like they were struggling.  Concerned, I quietly stepped closer.  The white I saw before turned out to be the white haired old man in sheik’s clothing, the ambassador.  He didn’t look like a stooped old man any more, as he held a woman in his embrace.

He leaned in to kiss her and she resisted.  That’s when I got worried.  So I turned onto that path, ready to help if necessary.  I heard the gentle swoosh of Cracker gliding from branch to branch behind me.  It was a truly passionate kiss that the woman resisted. Or rather, she resisted it for a moment before she started kissing him back.

I stopped in my tracks.  If there was nothing wrong, I wouldn’t want to interrupt.  As I hesitated the evening breeze pushed a cloud away from the moon, shedding light on the couple.  Granny?  Why she truly was a flapper at heart. I couldn’t help smiling.  I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, so I turned to go back the way I’d come.  However, Cracker noisily flew toward my grandmother and the ambassador.Sheik of Araby

I ducked behind the camellias so they wouldn’t see me, but I could still see them pretty well.  When the parrot swooped in on Granny and the ambassador, the bird knocked his yellow glasses aside.  He stood up straight and tall and exclaimed, “Cracker!”

How would a foreign dignitary know the parrot’s name?  The voice was not the gravely accented voice he’d used earlier.  I recognized that voice, and without the spectacles I knew the face despite the white hair and beard.  That was no ambassador and it wasn’t even an old man.  It was Detective Dabney Daniels!

“Don’t be mean to the poor bird,” Granny said.  “She did us a favor.  I can’t believe I just now gave in.  How many times have I told you that it just isn’t right?  You have a full life ahead of Mavis adyou. I’d be wrong to let you love an old woman like me.”

“Fanny,” Daniels said and some of the gravel that had been part of his disguise-voice returned.  “You are no old woman.  You’re just older than I am.  And that doesn’t bother me a bit,” he said and pulled her closer.

“Be serious Dabney.  Paisley would be a much better match for you,” my grandmother told the detective.  “It’s better for you to be ten years older than Pip than for me to be closer to fifteen years older than you.”

“Why do you worry about which direction the age difference is in?” he asked, and it had the ring of something he’d probably said before.  “If it’s all right for me to be older than her, then why is it wrong for you to be older than me?”

Granny leaned her head into his shoulder.  I thought she might be hiding her tears, or muffling a sob.  She shook her head then looked up into Dabney’s eyes.  “Don’t you see?  Twenty years from now, Pip would be married to a distinguished older man.  That’s what they call men when they begin to show signs of age — distinguished.”

She pulled back from him, though he still held her tightly.  “But with me being older…  Well, women aren’t referred to as distinguished.  Women just get old.  So not even twenty years from now… just ten or even five years from now, I’d be much older than you.  Much…  And the older people get the more rapid aging becomes.  Don’t you see?” Granny Fanny implored.  “You are dear to me and I would love you as a son-in-law.  But that would be all,” she added with a note of finality.Lucille Ball teenaged 1

“There is no substitute, no matter how much Pip seems like a younger version of you,” he said.  “I like the girl.  I’m actually very fond of her.  But you hold my heart in the palm of your hand Fanny.”

I plopped down on the cold stone of the path.  My grandmother?  All the time I had been infatuated with Dabney Daniels, he had been in love with my grandmother?  Granny?  I was stunned.  It was more than my poor noodle could process.  Rustling sounds told me the couple had parted.  I heard Granny moving toward the kitchen path, and Dabney went another way.

Cracker flew back and perched near me on a low branch.  As she had done once before, the parrot leaned close and took a strand of my bobbed hair in her beak.  It was as if she meant to preen my feathers to comfort me.  I just didn’t have any feathers, so she gently pulled at my short hair.  I don’t know how long I sat there on the stone path.  I would have been happy for Granny if I hadn’t been so shocked.  Or if I had known about Dabney’s feelings for her from the beginning.

With a sigh I told myself that I knew now, so I might as well accept it.  I already had known for a while that Dabney wasn’t interested in me.  And it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as when I’d found out Frankie the fireman was betraying all of us back in Sarasota, Florida.

I stood a little stiffly.  Then I dusted off the back of my wide legged black crepe waiter’s pants.  I was close to the library doors and I wondered if they were unlocked.  I’d rather not be seen 1920s Peoples home journal girl parrotcoming into the kitchen from the outside.  I didn’t want Granny to know I had seen her and Dabney.  They shared a private moment that was not meant for me.  I didn’t want to intrude on it any more than I already had.

As I started to move, Cracker darted to perch on my shoulder.  The parrot bobbed her head excitedly.  I looked at the library where light streamed from an opening door.  Farceur stepped out from the door and was met by Detective Daniels, still wearing his ambassador disguise.

The two men spoke too softly for me to know what they said.  As the butler moved the tails of his tuxedo twitched.  He reached into his jacket and withdrew a book which he discretely handed to Daniels.  The book disappeared into the folds of the opulent sheik’s robes the detective wore.  More words were exchanged.  They seemed to reach an agreement.  Then the two men parted and went back inside by different doors.

“What just happened?” I whispered more to myself than to the parrot on my shoulder.

Cracker tugged a strand of my hair. Then she whistled.

“Joker’s wild!”

***

Next week, CB at “Better Dressed than Joe” provides the ingredients.  Who can guess what chaos will ensue with the “pet parade.”  Not to mention that the Queen of Clubs is on the scene.

I’ll leave you with a video related to Willy Nilly’s ingredients.  See you next time.

Hugs,

teagan

Video: Making Sushi California Roll At Home

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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