Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Welcome to Jazz Age Wednesdays here at Teagan’s Books. Last time I posted part-1 of a story that resulted from a collaboration with Fiction Favorites* author John W. Howell*. John did one of his terrific lists of Ten Things Not to Do, and I wrote a story. You can read part-1 here*.
I didn’t share his list with part-1 of the story because I felt it would be sort of a spoiler. So without further ado, I present John’s list, followed by part 2 of Pip Meets Tiny.
Ten Things Not to Do in a Tree with a Bear
10) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not poke it. If you do, at best he’ll think you want to play. At worst, you will find yourself defending space limb for limb. (Didn’t think you would run out of tree did you, Tiny?)
9) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not open that pastrami sandwich you brought along. If you do, at best you’ll learn to share. At worst, you will give up the sandwich to get your hand back. (Something about the hot teeth getting ready to eat the sandwich weather or not you give it up that gives wisdom huh, Tiny?)
8) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not comment on the beast’s manicure. If you do, at best you’ve packed an Emory board. At worst, you’ll get a real close view of the nails why trying to avoid the roundhouse swipes. (You should have guessed the bear was the sensitive type, Tiny)
7) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not swallow. If you do, at best the bear won’t see you. At worst, the bear will take the swallow sign as a que that you are going to eat it. (You can imagine how that sign is going to work out, can’t you Tiny?)
6) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not ride your unicycle. If you do, at best you’ll have to go tandem. At worst, the bear will remember an old circus act and nasty trainer. (Hard to ride that thing with broken and bent parts right, Tiny?)
5) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not show the bear your WWF wrestling championship belt. If you do, at best the bear will want it. At worst, you are sharing a tree with the internationally known Russian bear wrestling champ. (You know understand the concept of a bear hug. The question is can you get out of it, Tiny?)
4) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not comment on the bear’s bad breath. If you do, at best you will offend the bear and it will stop talking to you. At worst, you’ll offend the bear and it will want to sweeten its breath with your left arm. (You could have been a little more subtle, Tiny. A bottle of mouthwash left discretely on a branch would have done the job.)
3) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not mention the word ‘diet.’ If you do, at best the bear won’t give you any more honey. At worst, the bear will take offense and commit to a pure protean diet. (Guess who is made of pure protean, Tiny?)
2) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not read any Goldilocks bed time stories. If you do, at best the bear will ask a hundred questions. At worst, the bear will want you to go get some porridge. (Where you going to get porridge this time of night, Tiny?)
1) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not ask them questions about the Chicago football team. If you do, at best you will have to listen to excuses for hours. At worst, the bear lost a big bet and is still hurting from the loss. (It won’t help to offer a hankie, Tiny. Getting out of the tree might be the best idea.)
Copyright © 2018 by John W. Howell
Now let’s get a wiggle on and head back to the Roaring Twenties to see how the story progresses.
Pip Meets Tiny — Part 2
Rather than a hat, I opted for a long scarf tied as a headband. The wind whipped up dead leaves into miniature whirlwinds. The ties of my scarf fluttered like streamers. It wasn’t a fit day for a walk. However, Granny Phanny’s Flemish Giant rabbit had gotten loose. Granny was gaga for Cinnamon Bun, so we were both out looking for him. My grandmother went one direction while I went the opposite way.
I had already walked as far as it seemed likely the big rabbit would roam, when the sound of a commotion drew me into a beautifully manicured garden. Since I had not lived in Savannah very long, I wasn’t sure who owned the fine home and grounds. As much as I wanted to find Cinnamon Bun, I hoped it was not him making such a ruckus on some swell’s property.
Stepping lightly into the ritzy garden I followed the sounds of rustling, grunting, and other destructive noises that came to my ears. I cringed to think of the damage Cinnamon might be causing.
The sounds stopped for a moment. I cast my gaze around, wondering if I had gone the wrong way. Then the hullabaloo returned, but I realized it was above me in the branches of a grand old magnolia tree.
Savannah, Georgia garden via Wikimedia Commons
Bushwa! Cinnamon Bun is a clever rabbit, but there was no way he’s gotten up a tree… Is there?
Perplexed, I stared up into the branches of the towering magnolia. I could see something moving — something large. A deep voice added to the ruckus.
“Look, I promise I’ll make them take away the unicycle. I know it must bring up bad memories for you,” the voice commented. “Wow, Ursa, you need a manicure. Your nails are in rough shape.”
I gaped, in astonishment. What kind of phonus balonus was I hearing?
A disgruntled growl seemed to be the response to the manicure remark. Then something squishy fell the branches from and slapped onto my upturned face.
A pastrami sandwich? I marveled as I removed a round slice of pastrami that covered my eye.
“Hey! That was mine!” the deep voice complained. “Horsefeathers, Ursa! I’ve had enough of this stuff. It’s time for you to come down out of this blasted tree. You know heights give me the heebie-jeebies!”
A growl answered the complaint.
“I guess it’s just as well you dropped my sandwich. Your breaths is bad enough without pastrami,” the man quipped, and was answered with a roar.
When I heard the roar of a beast, I jumped backward about six feet, eyes bulging.
A broad, tall form backed down from the tree. He didn’t look my way. He was intent on coaxing someone nearly as large as himself from the branches.
Oh, make that some thing! I thought and gasped.
He turned at the soft noise I made. After a moment I recognized him as the big man who had saved my hat downtown.
“You!” I exclaimed, but fell into stuttering. “And th-th-that…”
“Don’t mind Ursa,” he assured me. “She’s tame as a kitten. She’s my partner for the special event. Ursa the wrestling bear. It’s all play to her. Although I admit she’s pretty strong!”
My mouth moved, but I’m pretty sure nothing came out of it. I looked from the bear to him and back to the bear cautiously.
“Applesauce,” he muttered and lifted a hand to gently remove lettuce and pastrami from my hair. “I guess you caught my pastrami sandwich. I’m sorry.”
“Um,” I struggled to find my tongue. “Thank you for saving my hat yesterday.”
He gave me a grin that was a match for his girth. Then he looked at my headband and then at my coat. His eyes clouded with disappointment.
“You didn’t like them?” he asked in a shy seeming tone.
Granted, I had a few things on my mind, not least of which was Ursa the bear. It took a moment for me to understand what he meant.
“Bear,” I muttered. “Oh the bear! With the hatpins. Was that from you? They were pos-i-lutely the cat’s meow!” I told him with profuse thanks. “But why would you do something extravagant like that? What’s your name anyway?”
The way he blushed I was afraid he was going to clam up with a fit of shyness. Finally, he told me he was called Tiny. He said Godfrey Gilley, the grocer told him Granny’s address. I figured Mr. Gilley was pretty excited to meet Tiny, since he was the star of the wrestling show. That must have been the highlight of the grocer’s month.
“He was pretty excited,” Tiny chuckled. “It’s good to meet fans. I left him a picture too. Anyhow, I’m far away from home. It was Valentine’s Day, and I just thought it would be fun to leave a present for a pretty girl,” he explained.
I was the one blushing at that point.
In the distance I heard the puttering of a motor. I figured it was Granny in her Model-T, and I hoped it meant she had found Cinnamon Bun. I told Tiny why I was there, in a stranger’s garden. I offered to take him back into town or wherever he was staying.
“You’re the berries for offering, but Ursa would probably tear the seats in your grandma’s automobile. And sometimes she gets motion sickness,” he politely declined. “Besides one of the guys is circling around with the truck. I knew she probably hadn’t gone too far. He’ll probably drive past in a minute.”
We both made a face at the prospect of an up-chucking bear. Ursa looked at us and made an indignant noise.
Tiny hooked a heavy leash to Ursa’s collar and they walked with me to the street, just as Granny Phanny drove up to the spot. She waved excitedly and called my name. She had found Cinnamon Bun. Then she spotted the bear. Her brow knitted, then her eyes widened.
“Do I see what I think I see?” Granny exclaimed.
Ursa sat back on her haunches and waved one enormous paw.
“Don’t worry, Granny. Everything’s Jake. This is Tiny, and that’s Ursa.”
The embodiment of southern hospitality, Granny invited Tiny to dinner. However, he said he had to get ready for his performance. He handed me a stack of tickets for the wrestling event and told me to bring as many friends as I wanted.
The truck Tiny mentioned came into view. The huge wrestler waved, and the driver gave a little beep of the horn. Then with another blush, Tiny gave me a quick peck on the cheek. He and Ursa walked to the truck.
“Have mercy. Well, Pip… I’m glad he was there to find that bear before you found it. That would have been a sight! Expecting to find a rabbit and you get a big ole bear instead!” Granny chortled.
Ad for hatpins, circa 1898
“So it was him that left the stuffed bear and hatpins, wasn’t it?” she confirmed. “I’m surprised you didn’t know who left them, him catching your hat and all. I guess you didn’t see the way he looked at you. What I want to know is who you thought would leave you a gift like that,” she added with a suspicious glance at me.
That tone could mean trouble. I wasn’t sure what to say. It never occurred to me that a stranger would do something sweet like that, and that’s what I told her.
“The only person who ever mentioned hatpins was Hank Hertz,” I started. “I was scared to death that Hank had done something like that. I didn’t want it to be Hank,” I confessed.
“Pip, Hank is a nice boy. You’re not that much older than him. You seem to have inherited my bias about age differences. I hope you’ll get over that. It would be different for you and Hank than for me and— Anyway, a year or two is nothing. A decade or two, now that’s another matter,” she said with a sigh.
At first I thought Granny was referring to Alastair Wong the elder. She had told me about her relationship with my friend’s great-grandfather. However, she might also have been thinking about Detective Dabney Daniels — though she’d never admit it.
I suppressed a giggle when I realized Granny Phanny might have been thinking about both of them. She’d get in a lather if I said it, but Granny was a flapper at heart.
I hope you enjoyed your visit. You’re the bee’s knees!
Now, for that shameless self-promotion… Here are the links to the books about Pip and her friends.
Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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