Jazz Age Wednesdays 1

Wednesday, September 6, 2017Camel Walk dance poster 1920s

Each weekend I give you a new serial episode. I’ve been giving that throughout most of the past four years. However, Teagan’s Books is about more than serial episodes.  It’s about my books too.  So I’m creating this midweek feature.

I added a poll to the last post. Not a majority, but some people wanted me to keep it to one post a week.  No one is obligated to visit every post.  Although I have to say I find that discouraging.

Since my current release is Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I, I’ll be having Jazz Age Wednesdays.  That means short stories from the “Pip-verse.”  (At least for a while.  When Atonement in Bloom is published, the midweek feature will be from that universe.)

We like to joke about Wednesday being “hump day” and camels. Did you know that in the 1920s there was a dance called the Camel Walk?  Although this example from 1935 is probably a little more complicated than what the average couple did…

Here’s my first Jazz Age Wednesday feature.  It takes place right after the novella, The Three Things Serial Story.  I was honored to have a great review of the novella from author and translator Olga Núñez Miret.

It’s a short story, so it was driven by only one “thing/ingredient,” macaroni and cheese.  It came from Suzanne DeBrango’s  souffléd macaroni and cheese when we did a joint post in January.  (Yes, I’m re-sharing this story.)

Pip Arrives in Savannah

The breeze that rustled through the fronds of tall palm trees was tinged with salt.  I inhaled deeply as I walked out of the tall arched door at Savannah’s Union Station.  I heard the bell of a streetcar, which had gone past a moment before.  I stretched to see the trolley, but barely got a glimpse of its back-end.

With a loud Bronx cheer I dropped my suitcase to the curb of West Broad Street.  I thought the Jazz Age slang for the rude noise I made was appropriate, since my Pops was continuing on the train to New York City.

Pops said I needed to be reigned-in, and Granny insisted that I needed to learn to cook.  Neither of them would admit that I was a modern woman.  No self-respecting Flapper needed to cook!  Anyhow, Pops had unceremoniously dumped me off the train, saying he’d visit with Granny and me on his way back.  I blew another raspberry at the streetcar that I had just missed — and at my wretched situation.

Union Station Savannah, GA

The ringing of the streetcar’s bell faded into the distance.  The first time I ever saw a trolley was during a visit to my grandmother, there in Savannah, when I was a very little girl.  I slipped away from her and Pops, and scampered onto a streetcar.  I didn’t get far, but Granny Phanny was mad enough to spit. 

This time, I had done the opposite.  Instead of getting on a trolley when I shouldn’t have, I had missed the one I was supposed to ride to get to her.  Now Granny would be waiting to meet me at some Chinese restaurant downtown, but I wouldn’t be on the trolley.  Horsefeathers!  She would be in a lather.

A nearby news vendor walked away from his stall, probably headed for a bite of lunch.  I called out and waved as I hurried toward him, my suitcase bumping along at my side.

“Hey Mac!  Was that the trolley that goes to Pearl Street?” I called out, but he didn’t hear me over the blast of a train whistle.  “Enjoy your lunch,” I grumbled and my empty stomach answered in kind.  “I sure could do with some of Granny’s macaroni and cheese.”

“Did you miss the trolley, sweet cheeks?” a clear tenor voice asked.

I didn’t see him until he moved forward.  He had been leaning against the opposite side of the newsstand.  He wore a suit and hat, but they had flair.  He cast a furtive glance over his shoulder, but then tilted his head back and blew a smoke ring into the air.

Applesauce!  He looked pos-i-lute-ly like the kind of character I had always been told to avoid, but he was as sexy as the Sheik of Araby.  Then his cigarette smoke drifted to me and I sneezed.  So much for me being a sophisticated Sheba.  I had to agree with Pops that smoking was a nasty habit.

mallory-ad-man-in-car-hat-ad

“You’re new in town, huh?  I’m Floyd.  I can take you where the giggle water flows aplenty.  It’ll be a real blow,” he said with a smile and a wink that made him even handsomer.

“Says you,” I countered coyly, thinking he was joking around.

“At least let me drive you over to Pearl Street.  Stick around until my pal gets back.  He’s picking up something for me,” he added gazing up and then down the street, as if looking for his friend.  Stay right here and I’ll get my machine.  It’s a sweet ride.  You’ll love it,” he called over his shoulder as he rushed away.  “Don’t move.  Promise.  I’ll be right back.”

I stood baffled, gaping at Floyd’s retreating form.  I was also feeling flattered by his interest.  There was an intensity about him that I found exciting.  Not to mention the fact that I was relieved that I might avoid Granny’s wrath over me missing the streetcar and leaving her waiting.

Signorina, do not be going with that man.  It would be a bad thing for you.  Trouble comes,” a voice, heavily accented with Italian, said from behind me.  “There will be other transportation.”

Turning, I saw a portly man in odd looking chef’s clothes.  He lifted his brimless toque and bowed.  A jalopy backfired so suddenly and so loudly that I jerked around to face the noise.  When I turned back, the chef was gone.  I didn’t see him anywhere.  It was as if he disappeared into thin air.

I quickly forgot about the odd occurrence when a wooden crate fell off a passing truck.  The driver pulled to the curb beside me.  Without thinking I went to help.  He had not been traveling fast, so little damage was done.  A few oranges rolled from a broken crate.  I started picking up the wayward fruit.1920s delivery truck

An Asian looking guy with a quasi-British accent jumped out of the driver’s door, apologizing even before his feet hit the street.  He gingerly hopped over the tailgate and began re-positioning the crates.  A couple of them looked ready to fall.

I noticed lettering on the truck proclaiming Wong’s Chinese.  Was that the name of the restaurant where I was supposed to meet Granny?  I was so resentful about being sent to Savannah that I hadn’t even paid attention to what she said.  I knew there wouldn’t be more than one Chinese restaurant on the street.

“Your place isn’t on Pearl Street by any chance, is it?”

“Yep, that’s Wong’s,” he replied with a grin, stopping his work.  “Hey, are you Pip?  Miss Phanny will be looking for you.  I’m Alastair Wong,” he bent from the truck bed and shook my hand.

I sighed with relief.

Then a brand new Ford stopped and gave a long blare of the auto’s horn.  “Hey! Move it,” my Sheik of Araby from moments before shouted angrily, and followed that with a racial slur.

Floyd got out of the automobile, moving toward us in a menacing posture.  I stood up, a smashed and dripping orange still in my hand.

“This cake eater’s bad news, Pip.  You don’t want to have anything to do with him,” Alastair Wong whispered as he stepped in front of me protectively.

In the distance a police whistle trilled.  The guy’s eyes widened and he looked over his shoulder.  Before I knew what was happening, he had hit Alastair in the head with the butt of a pistol.  I shrieked as he dragged me into the open Ford, my arms and legs flailing.

I could hear the coppers coming toward us, shouting and blowing whistles.  Suddenly the Ford was blocked between the delivery truck and police vehicles.  Alastair lay unconscious on the street.  The busted orange dripped juice all over my skirt.  The guy waved his gun around excitedly.  A maniacal gleam came to his eyes when he looked at me.

1920s Police car

An over eager copper fired his gun.  I heard the whiz of the bullet pass by my head.  Startled, Floyd jerked toward the policemen.  Movement from the delivery truck caught my eye.  A catawampus crate started to wobble.  Suddenly that crate and another one tumbled down to land on the windshield of the Ford.  Floyd started screaming and cursing, waving his pistol even more.

When he turned back to me, on sudden impulse I stuck the busted orange in his face and smeared it into his eyes.  By then the coppers had reached us.  They grabbed him before he could do any damage with the gun.

A copper helped me out of the Ford.  I ran to Alastair as another cop helped him stand.  Across the street I saw Floyd’s pal, the news vendor being held by a policeman.

“What just happened here?” I demanded.

A paddy wagon rolled up and the policemen pushed Floyd into it, along with his pal.

“Bootleggers,” a copper told me.  “As if we didn’t already have enough of those around here.”

“So Pip,” Alastair said while he held a handkerchief to his bloodied forehead.  “How do you like Savannah so far?”

I chuckled despite everything.  At least he had a sense of humor.

studebaker1920_2

“Well, I was afraid I would be bored to tears here,” I told him with a dramatic sigh.  “But I suppose it will be interesting enough.  So far I’ve learned three things.  Don’t take any wooden nickels.  Don’t get into Fords with handsome men.  And Wong’s Chinese is the right place to go.” 

Alastair laughed.  “That’s a good slogan, doll face.  Mind if I use it?  How about we get you to the restaurant.  Miss Phanny will be getting impatient.”

And so began my adventures in Savannah.

The end

***

You’ll find more of Pip and her friends and her adventures in Savannah in Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I .  Thanks for visiting. You’re the cat’s pajamas!

Bijou front only 2

 

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 © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

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

 

 

 

 

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Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 9

Thistledown Girl

Friday, September 8, 2017

About This Episode

We’re privileged to have another recipe for this episode.  When “agave” fluttered into my imagination I asked Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen if she had a drink recipe using it. (Right now, I have no idea how agave managed to get into my twisting mind. However, I had just finished Episode 8, and was already working on this one, when there it was — agave.)  

The creative wheels in Suzanne’s mind whirred into action!  She imagined things Peaches Dragonfly might gather to make a refreshing beverage, then she sweetened it with agave nectar.  Suzanne let me use the recipe and her beautiful photos for this post. Here’s the recipe.    

Sun n Moon Tea in jars Suzanne DeBrango

Sun and Moon Tea, by Suzanne DeBrango

Recipe:  Sun and Moon Tea

https://apuginthekitchen.com/2017/08/21/murder-at-the-bijou-teagans-book-launch/

1 tbs chamomile flowers

1 tbs rose hips

1 tbs red clover flowers

2 sprigs fresh mint

Place all of the ingredients in a 64 oz. glass jar, or two 32 oz. jars.  Pour in fresh filtered or spring water to fill.  Place lid on jar, and set outside in the morning.  Leave the jar(s) all day and night soaking up the rays of the sun and moon. Add agave syrup to desired sweetness, starting with 1/4 cup.  Stir until combined. Strain into a serving container or bottle and chill.

Thanks for the refreshments, Suzanne!  And now today’s episode…

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 9

Sun n Moon Tea w Agave Served apples

Sun and Moon Tea Table, by Suzanne DeBrango

Gone to the Dogs

Bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine swayed in a warm breeze.  The vine ran throughout Thistledown.  It bore the local news.  River Mindshadow touched a petal awakening the vine.

Extra!  Extra!  Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried.  “Dull haze reported in random parts of Thistledown!  Take a leaflet,” the blossom added shifting to an encouraging voice.

“It says the haze leaves quickly, and that there’s no cause for concern,” River said as she uncurled the leaf to read the news.  “Considering your visions of a dull, colorless place, I find that haze worrisome,” she added with a shudder.

Monticristi_Straw_Hat_Optimo

“Well bless my eyes, Bedlam and River,” Pick Dragonfly said tipping his wide brimmed hat as he walked up.  “Bedlam, it’s nice to see you up and about.  “You know,” he began as if telling a secret.  “Your grand-uncle has been worried about you, even if he doesn’t let on.”

I smiled at the comment, but I doubted it was actually true.  River and I exchanged a glance.  My friend spared me by changing the subject before that conversation could get started.  She motioned to the unusual hat Pick wore.  It was white and made of fine, tightly woven straw, with a brim that was about a finger-length wide.  Pick traveled more and farther than anyone in Thistledown, so I assumed he got the hat in some exotic locale.

River darted up with just a thrust of her wings and grabbed the hat off Pick’s head.  She placed it on her own head and asked how she looked.  River shrugged at our surprised expressions and put the hat back on Pick’s head before settling back to the ground.

“These are popular way down in the southern lands where the sun is hot,” Pick explained, adjusting the hat.  “It’s not the only thing I brought back with me,” he added with a motion to the cart in front of him.

The little cart was hitched to two large dogs.  They wagged stubby tails when River and I walked over to them.  The short tails moved even faster when we paid attention to the dogs.

It was not unexpected to see dogs pulling small carts in Thistledown.  Most creatures enjoyed having a job to do, especially if they were rewarded for it.  I saw Pick hand the dogs treats.  However, what was unusual was the dogs themselves.  Most canines weren’t larger than knee-high.  These dogs were much taller and I had never seen such stubby tails.

“Yes, I got the dogs on my way back.  They needed a home.  I also brought back these agave plants,” he told us motioning to the spikey looking blue plants.

Agave_plant.jpg

I remembered the healer mentioning the tiny drop of nectar she gave me was from a plant related to agave, and described it to Pick.  He nodded.

“Agave is mostly used in making grownup drinks.  You two aren’t old enough for those yet,” he said to our protests.  “The potent kind of drink uses the heart of the plant.  But the nectar from agave is very, very sweet.  So I brought some to Peaches, and now I’m taking some nectar and plants to Belle Stargazer for the Starlight Saloon.  With Belle’s talent in hospitality, I know she’ll put them to good use.”

“Are you ladies ready to go?”  Pick spoke to the two dogs in an encouraging tone.

River and I chuckled when he called the dogs ladies.  But their stubby little tails wagged faster and faster until they seemed to spin in a circle.  Their bottoms lifted into the air.  The back feet of the dogs were barely on the ground.  The dogs shot ahead, pulling the little cart along.

“Hey!  Wait a minute!” Pick called after the dogs.  “You’ll bounce the plants off the cart.”

Pick unfurled his wings, but shook his head.  Apparently he had a leisurely walk in mind, not flying as fast as his wings could carry him.

“I’ll get them,” River said and zipped ahead, quickly catching the excited dogs.

Pick followed, only a heartbeat shower.

I was still grounded from my injured wing.  Even if it had been fully healed, Lavender Cozy had laid out firm instructions for me to rest after the shock of my most recent vision.  I saw Pick look back in my direction.  A moment later, River flew back with a bottle for each of us of the sweet agave nectar.

“He still wouldn’t give us any of the grownup stuff,” River complained as she touched down.

***

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Unsplash.com

My grand-uncle’s home was nestled in the branches of an impossibly broad and towering redwood tree.  My bedroom was in the attic, the loftiest room of all.  The healer and Uncle insisted that I get a lot of rest.  Let’s be honest ― they’d rather I was confined to my bed and completely unable to get myself into another mishap.

Ironically, I had never been fond of heights.  With my injured wing, I couldn’t glide down from my room, and the view from the top of the stairs was dizzying.  So, I was disinclined to leave.  Fate had conspired to force me to rest.

Fate must be a fiend, I thought.  I was wretchedly bored.  My only “entertainment” was the school books Uncle brought up, so that I’d have a chance of not having to repeat the last term.  You see, just before the end of the term, River and I had been suspended because of the uproar surrounding my vision.

Trying to read one of the books, I nodded off.  A light tapping awakened me.

Psst, Bedlam are you awake?” a quiet voice asked.  “Interrupting your rest isn’t a mistake I’d want to make.”

I could only see one eye and a fragment of the face that peeped at me from the side of my window.  However, the extraordinary long mane that lifted on the breeze was easily recognizable.  It graduated from blond, to blue, to green, to purple.  Only Rhymer Rainbow had such a head of hair.

“Rhymer?  There’s no need to hover outside.  Come on in.  I’d love to have company.”

“I know you’re supposed to rest, so I didn’t want to be a pest,” Rhymer began.  “But I came upon a lost bluebird.  Peaches uses them for messages, or so I’ve heard.  Then on its beak I smelled something odd, and I thought maybe it’s lost because it’s drunk.  So, I brought it up to your bunk.”

“Did it carry a peach blossom?” I asked and Rhymer nodded emphatically.

I took a close look at the bluebird as it clung woozily to Rhymer’s hair.  It did look like one of Peaches’ birds.

“That’s strange and worrisome.  I should go to the orchard.  Do you want to come along?” I asked.  “I’ll have to take the stairs, but I’ll be down in a moment.”

“Don’t worry,” Rhymer assured me.  “I’m in no hurry.”

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Unsplash.com

The cottage belonging to Peaches Dragonfly was in the middle of a beautiful orchard of fruit trees and other delicious things.  No matter what the time of year, smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage, because Peaches was nearly always baking something.

When Rhymer and I reached the cottage, we looked from the vine-covered roof, dotted with colorful berries, to the chimneys.  Peaches was still cooking treats in preparation for her Midsummer party.  She started baking well in advance of the holiday, but considering how much she planned to cook, she had to start early.  Our mouths watered as we breathed in the aromas.

I heard Peaches giggle.  Her head of fluffy pink hair bobbed into and out of view from the other side of the low stone wall that surrounded the cottage.  She was outside, apparently playing with something that she had to bend down to reach.  I heard a yip and knew it was the strange gray colored dog she found at the pond.  She had called him Pucker because a suckerfish was attached to his face when we found him.

The little dog was gray from his twisty tail to his squished black face.  Even his tongue was gray.

Rhymer called out, “Peaches!  We brought your bluebird.  I think his eyes were blurred.  I found him before he reached Bedlam.  So, we both came, in case you were in a jam.”

“Hi Rhymer.  Bedlam, I’m sorry I sent for you.  I didn’t know you were supposed to stay in bed until Lavender Cozy told me a moment ago,” Peaches apologized.  “Come inside.  You can try my new recipe!  It’s for sun and moon tea Isn’t that perfect for my Midsummer party?  I’ve been gathering chamomile flowers, red clover, and mint.  I’ll sweeten it with Pick’s agave nectar.”

Peaches was always enthusiastic when she thought of a new food or drink creation.  The tea sounded refreshing and delicious.  A different thought occurred to me.

“Erm… Did Pick leave you some of the grownup kind of agave?” I asked.

“Yes, for the solstice party,” she answered.  “But we aren’t to have any of it.”

Mountain_Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird, Fort Rock, Oregon

“That’s not why I asked.  But I think your bluebird may have had a nip,” I commented and pointed to the little bird that still clung to Rhymer’s multicolored tresses.  “She’s too tipsy to fly right.”

“Oh!” Peaches exclaimed with wide eyes as she fluttered up so Rhymer could hand her the bird across the wall.  “You silly thing,” she told it.  “I was experimenting with making some ice pops with the potent kind.  I splashed some onto the windowsill.  I remember seeing her investigating it.  She must have drunk some!”

“Luckily Pick had left an agave plant here for the healer.  Lavender stopped on her morning rounds to pick it up, so I asked her to take a look at Pucker.”

Rhymer seemed confused when she started to speak, “Look at pucker?  Your mouth couldn’t… pucker?”

Remembering that I couldn’t use my wings, even for a bounce, Peaches invited us to come in at the gate.  Two brick columns were topped by arched white latticework.  Flowers of every color climbed the columns and wove across the arch.

As we walked, from her side of the wall, Peaches told Rhymer about the day we found the dog.  We came to the gate and I heard another yip.  When Rhymer and I set foot inside the blossom filled garden Pucker barreled into me, knocking me onto my bottom.  It was so sudden that all I saw was his squished black face and the pink tongue that licked my face.

“Hey!  His tongue is pink, not gray!”

“Yes, that started yesterday,” Peaches began.  “his tongue turned pink.  It was so different form the gray that it scared me.  Then his gray fur…  That’s why I wanted Lavender Cozy to look at him.”

“If he’s gray that’s all in your head.  That dog is red,” Rhymer tried to insert when pucker jumped over to her.

“He’s not gray!” I exclaimed finally seeing more than Pucker’s face.

The dog’s curly tail wagged as he bounced around at Rhymer’s feet.  As his tail moved, Pucker’s fur changed from red to a sky color.

Pug Yello

“A dog that changes hue!” Rhymer enthused.  “How wonderful ― now he’s blue.”

Indeed, Pucker was suddenly blue, and then yellow, and then green.  Though his face stayed black, the rest of his fur continued to change color as his tail kept wiggling.

“That is what I was so worried about, when I sent the bluebird to you,” Peaches replied.  “But the healer said he was fine.  Lavender said it might be from a change in his environment.”

Peaches and I exchanged a significant look.  I was sure she was remembering the thicket that had developed at the pond, the shadows, the brown suckerfish, and the eerie feeling of the place.  It reminded both of us of the colorless world of my vision. 

Had the little, formerly gray dog come from that other world?

***

The End

New mystery folk revealed this time are Belle Stargazer — Marjorie Mallon and Rhymer Rainbow — Christy Birmingham.  I hope you’ll visit all their blogs and say hello.

Toasting you with a refreshing cup of tea.  Hugs on the wing!

 

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 © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

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

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 6

Heron flying pond Tim Price

T & L Photos

Hello everyone — I’m delighted that you’ve come back to Thistledown for another episode of my serial.  I have another special guest today.  Some of you know him.  If not, then let me introduce Tim Price.  Tim takes marvelous photos, with a “focus” on things and people in the southwest.  There are great examples online at T & L Photography, Inc.  If you click on any of Tim’s photos here, it will take you to a related post at his blog.

What you might not realize is that Tim is also a fantastic storyteller.  You can see that at his blog, Off Center & Not Even, where he often combines an entertaining narrative with his photo post.  I recommend you check out the tab for “Tales from My Youth.”  If you’re an animal lover you’re really in for a treat with plenty of pictures of the kitties and parrots who own him and his wife Laurie.

About This Episode

Tim had several photos that reminded him of the colorless world I described for the other faery-verse.  He kindly agreed to let me use them.  He describes one as “The Undertaker and the Cranes” at his blog.  It’s a fun post. I hope you’ll take a look at it and others when you visit him.  Naturally it inspired me, but the image took me to my own story.  

However, we begin this episode with a more colorful scene.  It also introduces new mystery folk.  So click on the links to reveal the people who named these characters. 

We now return to Thistledown…

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 6

Boreray_rams

Boreray Rams

Powderpuff Sheep and Cranes

Update: I had to include this wonderful creation from Robbie Cheadle. I’m honored that she was inspired by this story.

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Poppy Songbird called my name.  I heard her loud and clear, but I didn’t see her.  She chuckled when I turned a full circle looking for her.

“I’m up here, Bedlam,” she called from high atop the stone wall.  “I have to mind the powderpuff sheep.  You’re free aren’t you?” she asked, pushing her flower-shaped spectacles back on her nose.

My face flushed.  Everybody in Thistledown must know that I was suspended from school.  Poppy seemed to realize where my thoughts had gone.

“Oh…  Sorry, Bedlam.  I didn’t mean anything.  It’s just that I have to deliver a message, but I got stuck minding the sheep.”

The extra fluffy sheep on the other side of the wall bleated.  I knew it was a big responsibility to tend them.  When the direction and velocity of a breeze was just right, powderpuff sheep could get airborne.  Unfortunately they had no ability to control their flight.  The wind might take them anywhere.  Looking after them required a strong weather sense, to pick up on minute atmospheric changes.  If a powderpuff got into the air, retrieving it took a very dexterous flyer who could anticipate changes in the air current.

“Don’t worry, Poppy.  I understand.”

“How’s the wing?  It looks like you’re still grounded, huh?”

“My wing is getting better.  It doesn’t hurt now, unless I unfold my wings in a breeze.  So, what’s going on?” I wanted to know.

“I met up with my cousin Holly last night while she was on her way to her next gig.  She asked me to take a message to Carver Eastdoor.  Holly is coordinating with him for her grand entrance for her Midsummer performance at the orchard,” Poppy explained.  “I promised I’d get her message to him first thing this morning, but I didn’t know I was going to have to tend the sheep.”

My friend Peaches was excited that Holly Songbird, and her band Dragon’s Nest, would perform at her solstice party.  So of course I agreed to deliver the message.  Poppy dropped a paper folded in the shape of a bird and it floated to my hands.

Poppy said that Carver was planning something spectacular of his own as an introduction to the musical performance.  I knew that Carver had the talent to shape trees as they grew.  I couldn’t imagine what marvel he might create for the Midsummer party.

DCF 1.0

Little-Fairy-Girl, Janny Sandholm

I headed toward the home of the Eastdoor family.  It would be fun to see their baby daughter.  The last time I saw her, she was toddling around, using her tiny wings for balance.

The problem was the Eastdoor home wasn’t exactly close, and with my injured wing, I still couldn’t fly.

A foreboding feeling, caused by the dull colored fish and the dank thicket Peaches and I saw the day before, was still partly on my mind.  However, it caused an inspired thought.  If I cut across the orchard near the pond, it should save me a good deal of time.

As I neared that area the sky began to darken.  It’s a good thing Poppy stayed with the powderpuff sheep, I thought, although bad weather was not expected.

Uncle hadn’t said anything about a storm being on the way.  My grand-uncle’s ability as a seer included the weather.  Gazing heavenward, I realized that there were no storm clouds.  It was more of a thick haze.  That happened, although rarely.  However, when that kind of haze came to the sky it was usually at the end of summer.  We had not yet reached Midsummer.

Assuring myself that there was no storm about to break, I moved into the heavier vegetation.  Quickly I found a deer trail.  I knew it would lead toward the pond, near where Peaches and I found the odd little dog she called Pucker.

The snapping of a twig caused me to stop and look into the brush.  After a moment I spotted a pair of tall sandhill cranes.  It seemed so odd that the cranes should be there that I decided to follow them.

There was even less light away from the trail.  I could tell the tall birds knew I followed them, but my presence didn’t seem to make them nervous.  After a while the ground became wet.  I walked in ankle deep marshy water.  The area reminded me of the thicket that had formed on the east bank of the pond.  However, the direction I walked should have taken me beside the pond, not into it.

The sandhill cranes walked up to a gray heron that poked its long beak into the shallows, looking for food.  It stretched a sinuous neck to look at me.  Something seemed to pass between the heron and the pair of cranes.  All three looked back at me, and then moved to dry ground.  They looked over their shoulders as if expecting me to go with them.  I followed the large birds to a patch of sunlight.

Heron n others Winter Tim Price

A tall, lanky man stepped out from behind a tree.  On thin stalk-like legs, the heron walked up to the man to have its head scratched.

To say I felt uneasy was a vast understatement.  However, I relaxed when the man turned his face toward me.  Nothing in his manner was like the man I knew, but the face I saw was Catseye Glimmer.

The fleeting smile left my lips when I realized something was very wrong.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he told me.

Royal Chimera!” a woman’s voice called from far away.  “Where are you off to now?”

The man turned at the sound of the odd appellation, but apparently it was his name.

“Coming,” he called in return.

“You should not be here, Bedlam Thunder,” he told me with a frown.  “Find your way back home.  You’re a creature of color and sunlight.  Leave this place before it’s too late,” Royal Chimera warned.

The gray heron stood to his full height and extended amazingly long wings.  The beat of the large bird’s wings had a hypnotic effect.  With the rhythmic movement of the heron’s wings, the air pressure surged and receded.  Light blared and then went dark again.  The sensations repeated, making me dizzy.  It continued until I could no longer stand.

I swayed.  My eyes blurred.  Finally I was able to focus.  The birds and Royal Chimera were gone, but his warning rang in my ears.  I turned back to face the marshy bank.  I found three doors where the marshland had been.  In that nearly colorless world, the doors glowed with blue light.

Am I to choose a door and enter? I wondered.

Overwhelming ringing filled my ears, just as had happened at the cottage where Peaches Dragonfly lived.  I stared at the doors, trying to understand what I should do.  The ringing was so loud, I became dizzy. 

Large black spots danced before my eyes.  I knew I was on the verge of losing consciousness.  Although I wasn’t sure why I would move forward or turn back, I stumbled blindly toward the doors.  My fingers met the cool surface of a metal doorknob.

Not knowing which of the three doors I touched, I turned the knob.

3 Doors BW Blue Tim Price

***

The End

The new “mystery folk” revealed in this episode are Sally Georgina Cronin of Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life and Dan Antion of No Facilities.  Please visit their blogs and say hello. 

 

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 © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

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

 

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 5

Thistledown Girl

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the fae world of Thistledown.  I have a special guest today.  Many of you will know her because we’ve done several collaborative posts in the past.  If not, then allow me to present Suzanne DeBrango of A Pug in the Kitchen

Suzanne is a multi-talented woman — chef (and great photographer of her foods) and blogger.  And if you’re ever in need of property in New York, this “Brooklyn pug gal” is also an award winning real estate agent. 

She was inspired by the fae magic Pick (the cousin of the character she named) when he coaxed cherries off the trees and they rolled to him, rather than being picked.  Then, lucky for us, she found beautiful sour cherries at her farmers’ market.  Here’s Suzanne to tell us about the recipe she’s sharing here today.

I was thrilled to find sour cherries at the farmers market and snagged a few containers to make my favorite jam. Refrigerator jams and pickles are one of my favorite things to make. It’s so easy, you can make one jar at a time.  There’s no need to go through the canning process.  Just, make sure you sterilize your jars, or at least run them through the dishwasher before using them. 

I want that sucker fish to help pit those cherries — oops, you’ll meet them in this episode!  If you have ever tried to pit sour cherries you know it’s a lot of work.  They are soft, small, and getting that little pit is difficult.  It is a labor of love though, and the resulting jam is worth the effort.  

I definitely identify with the faery character, Peaches Dragonfly and her name.  Teagan, thank you for Peaches Dragonfly, and fantastic story.  You are amazing. I hope you all enjoy this recipe.

Sour cherry jam tart Suzanne DeBrango

As you see, I made both sour cherry vanilla and gooseberry jam.  I have to say they are wonderful with scones and creme fraiche. 
2 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
Use a non-reactive, medium saucepan, adding the cherries, sugar and salt.  Cook on medium high heat until thickened.  It took about 45 minutes total cooking time.
To test to see if it is going to be thick enough place a spoon in the freezer.  Spoon some of the jam on the freezing cold spoon.  If it gets nice and thick, then it’s done.
Pour the hot jam into very clean preferably sterilized jars, seal and let cool on the counter. The jam will seal, but because it is not processed in a water bath, it must be stored in the refrigerator.  It will last for a long time refrigerated. 

How could I be anything but inspired after Suzanne’s words?  Thank you, Suzanne.

Writing Process

Suckerfish attached to diver

At this time I think I should remind everyone that  characters, names, places, and incidents are used in a strictly fictitious way. The actions of a character do not imply anything about the person who named the character.

I allow myself some artistic license, especially since this serial is a fantasy.  I’ve added to the flora and fauna of Thistledown.  This time you’ll meet some fun fish, living in a pond. 

I’m pantsering this story so I don’t know if these faery fish will live in both fresh and salt water, or just the one pond.  However, I imagine them as looking partly like a remora (salt water) and partly like a suckermouth catfish (fresh water).

Without further ado, here’s the next installment of the serial.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Ben Moore, Unsplash

Pucker Up

A pale yellow patch of sky was framed by green branches.  Doves cooed peacefully.  I saw two perched on a limb outside my bedroom window.  One appeared to try and give the other a tiny flower.  Or perhaps one tried to take the blossom from the other.  Who could say?

I glanced downward from my dizzyingly high vantage point.  My grand-uncle built his spacious home nestled in the branches of a massive redwood.  Uncle taught us to nurture the primeval tree just as it enriched us.  However, I had never been fond of heights.

He probably thought to encourage me to practice my flying skills by installing me in the attic bedroom, the loftiest room of all.  Many faeries would have been envious of the room, for the fun of gliding down hundreds of feet to the ground.  I however, often took the stairs.

Beyond the huge evergreen, I glimpsed Willow Stargazer flying past.  Her purple hair stood out against the morning sky.  She always wore an orchid tucked behind one ear.  Willow gave a quick wave.

1 Butterfly wing

I yawned and stretched, knowing I had slept late.  By the time I left the reflection pool, I had been exhausted.  In a short time, a lot of troubling ideas had wriggled into my mind.  First among them my horrible, frightening vision.

What troubled me most about that vision was the fact that it felt prophetic.  That must be why it upset the fae of Thistledown so much when they heard of it.

I had seen a bleak, unhappy world.  There was sunlight sometimes, but often the sky was murky.  The place was dark in every other way as well.  Bad things happened there all the time.  Negativity saturated the place — disasters, disrespect, corruption, violence, and hatred.  Even the elders and leaders were continually exposed as corrupt and even insane.

In the vision, it seemed like the people saw and experienced those things continually.  Each day they thought it couldn’t get more absurd, insulting, or hurtful.  Yet it did.  They became used to bizarre and harmful events.  They accepted it as just another part of their day.  There were highly placed people who could have remedied the situation.  Yet they did nothing.

The attitudes and actions of the people reflected the darkness of their world.  Even the clothes they chose to wear were in dark, dull colors.  The girls I met in my second vision seemed like rebels of a sort, daring to wear a splash of bright colors in their clothes or hair. 

Worse, I suspected the fae there had no wings.  My grand-uncle once told a scary story of a group of faeries without wings.  Did the darkness that saturated that world cause them to eventually lose their wings?

One of the doves on my windowsill fluttered away, dispelling my reverie.  The one that remained still held the tiny flower.  I realized it was a peach blossom.  Then I knew it must be a message from Peaches Dragonfly.  I took the flower from the dove.  Oddly it was wet.  My body mirrored the posture of the dove when she tilted her head to one side curiously.

“A wet peach blossom?” I murmured to the dove who answered with a coo.  “Oh!” I exclaimed in sudden epiphany.  “Peaches must want me to meet her at the pond.”

The dove bobbed her head forward and back, and then flew away in the direction of the orchard.

I unfolded my injured wing to apply more of the ointment Calico Rainbowforest gave me.  Even my grand-uncle had to admit I wouldn’t be practicing my flying for a while.  Since Peaches sent a dove to bid me visit her, she must not be in a rush.  If there was any hurry, she would probably have sent a zippy hummingbird.  I considered borrowing Uncle’s unicycle, but I knew I would end up painfully unfurling my wings to catch my balance.  I’d have to settle for my own two feet.

I must be the clumsiest faery in Thistle down, I thought with a loud sigh.

***

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Nitish Kadam, Unsplash

“Bedlam, thank goodness you’re here,” Peaches Dragonfly said once I arrived at the pond.  “I could really use a hand.”

Her pink hair was wet, but only around her face.  Beside Peaches were four pails of water.  I noticed an oddly shaped purple fish swimming in one.  When I asked about the fish, my friend said it was a suckerfish.

“They absolutely love the pits from sour cherries,” Peaches explained.  “I have buckets overflowing with sour cherries from the far side of the orchard.  I’m going to make jam from them, but the pits have to be removed.  Those cherries are tiny, and it’s a lot of work to remove the pits.  So I had the idea to use the suckerfish to take out the pits.  With a little fae coaxing, they don’t bother the flesh of the cherries at all, and happily suck out the pits!”

“What an amazing idea!” I complimented Peaches.  “But I don’t see any other fish like this in the pond.”

Peaches gave me a wry look as she knelt at the edge of the pond.  I had a bad feeling that there was a tangle in her brilliant idea, and that I was about to get caught in the middle of it.

“There are several suckerfish in the pond.  They usually stay at the bottom, but they’ll come to the surface if you call them,” she told me.

I thought we were about to get to the tangle.  A hopeful look from my friend suggested I was right.  I expected to regret it, but I asked how one went about calling the suckerfish.

“It’s easy,” she told me with a bright smile.  “You just put your face into the water and make kissing sounds.  The suckerfish will come right to you.”

“What happens when they get there?”

“Well, if you aren’t quick enough in grabbing them, they’ll suck your face.  They’re very affectionate.  Don’t worry,” she added upon seeing my expression.  “It doesn’t hurt.”

Face in water blue

Genessa Panainte, Unsplash

I cringed so hard that I went to my knees.  Peaches took that for agreement and pulled my shoulders down toward the water.  I watched as she made kissing sounds into the pond.  Two purple suckerfish quickly swam to her.  One of them appeared to give her a kiss on the cheek.  With lightning reflexes, Peaches caught one fish in each hand.

“See,” she stated as she put the fishes in a pail.  “It isn’t that hard.”

Taking a deep breath, I agreed to give it a try.  I made kissing sounds into the water.  A fish swam to me so fast that I didn’t even see it.  Peaches had quick reflexes and grabbed it for me before I possibly could have gotten it.  Emboldened by the fact that I hadn’t had to even touch the fish, I put my puckering mouth back into the pond.

After two or three “kisses” I saw two tiny purple fish approaching from the left.  They were much smaller than any I had seen at that point, so the prospect of them touching my face did not upset me.

What I could not see was a suckerfish as large as my arm rapidly swimming from the deepest part of the pond.  Suddenly something forcefully hit my mouth.  Thankfully it was soft, or it would have really hurt.  I fell backward to the banks of the pond.

Peaches gasped, but rapidly detached the big sucker from my face.  I fitfully spat, and spat.  And spat some more.  I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t as though I tasted anything.  It was just the idea of being smooched by that fish.

“I’ve never seen a suckerfish this big.  The pit removal should go extra fast with this guy helping!” Peaches exclaimed.  “Nice work, Bedlam.”

We both looked up as a shadow passed over.  A blue heron swooped low, gliding toward the eastern bank of the pond.  I was awed by its beauty, with its broad wings and smooth passage, and plumage the color of a thunder cloud.  It sailed to the eastern bank of the pond.

I realized something looked different than I remembered about that side of the pond.  Peaches explained that an underground stream had come to the surface.  She thought that under or above ground the water eventually made its way to a small lake near Catseye Glimmer’s home.

Curious about the change to the landscape I wandered to that side of the pond.  I could see a thicket.  In the shadows I could barely make out the water of the stream.

“What’s that sound?” Peaches asked.

At first I didn’t hear anything.  After a moment, soft whimpering came to my ears.  To my astonishment, Peaches jumped into the pond.

“It sounds like a dog!” she cried as she swam.

I jumped in after her.  We soon realized that end of the pond was shallow enough that we could walk to the thicket.  That was a relief, since my swimming wasn’t any better than my flying.

The whining grew louder.  Peaches moved to the edge of the thicket.  When I looked at the place, an inexplicable shudder traveled through me.  The shadows were dark.  They were gray and unnaturally, densely drab.

“Peaches, wait!” I called and fearfully extended a hand, but she was out of my reach.

It was a relief when my friend emerged from the shadows with a small dog in her arms.  To my surprise she chuckled.

“There’s a suckerfish stuck to his mouth.  Help me get it off him,” she told me.

We walked through the water to the near edge of the pond and climbed out.  I helped Peaches up to the grass because her arms were full with the little dog.  I expected her to stop right there, but she hurried over to where we had been catching purple suckerfish.

She detached the suckerfish from the little dog’s mouth.  Rather than purple as it should have been, the fish was a dull brown.  Peaches gently placed the oddly colored fish in a pail separate from the other fish.

With the fish removed, I could see the dog’s face.  He was easily the oddest looking pup I had ever seen.  He had a tightly curled tail.  His coat was dull gray, but his little face was black.  It was also squished flat.  He looked at me and licked his nose with a little gray-blue tongue.

When he looked up at Peaches, his screw-tail wagged enthusiastically.  She set about drying the dog with a towel.

“I wonder who he belongs to?” Peaches pondered.  “His coloring is so unique,” she added with an uneasy glance at the strange brown suckerfish.

We both gazed nervously toward the shadows of the thicket.  Then Peaches leaned down to look closely at all the fish in the pails.

“I’ve never seen any fish that color,” she commented in an uneasy voice.  “It makes me think of how you described the place in your vision as colorless.”

“I doubt he belongs to anybody in Thistledown,” I whispered.  “What should we do with him?” I asked as I cleared my throat, trying to bring my voice to a normal volume.

Peaches took another look at the thicket and shivered.  The dog’s dull coloring indeed reminded me of the dark place where I met Rotten Soulfire and her friends.  How could they bear to live in such a place?  I swallowed hard.

“I’ll look after him,” Peaches stated in a determined voice.  “I think I’ll call him Pucker.”

The dog barked a yip at his new name.  Pucker’s tail wagged so hard I was surprised it didn’t cause him to fall over from the force of it.  He put a paw on Peaches’ shin and she bent to get him in her arms.

Vintage Pug painting

***

The End

The new “mystery faery” for this episode was Cecily of Cecily’s Writings.  I hope you’ll say hello to her.  

Stay tuned for the next episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.  We will see the counterpart of Catseye Glimmer in the other faery-verse and more photos from T & L Photography.  

Hugs on the wing!

 

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 © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

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

 

 

 

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 4 (2016 Rerun Conclusion)

Atonement bookshelf

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

     Welcome, one and all — to this re-run of last year’s Get Caught Reading mini-series.  Without further ado, here’s the conclusion!

***

It’s been fun participating in Get Caught Reading Month.  I hope my zany and bizarre story encouraged people of all ages to read.  Last week my real-world schedule caused me to put blogging on the shelf.  But look what grand company I had, thanks to Chris Graham!  

When we left our heroes…

As many of you know, a few elite bloggers (and their pets) banded together with one quest — catch the Story Reading Ape reading.  During the first chapter, I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the Story Reading Ape in the act of reading.

In Chapter 2  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen and I met a number of author-bloggers (and their pets) who joined the quest to catch the illusive Ape. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel , Christoph Fischer, John W. Howell, and blogger Dan Antion.

Then last time a new duo was added to the intrepid band of bloggers –  Hugh Roberts and adorable Toby.  But to the astonishment of our intrepid band, everyone became anime characters when Cornelis Drebbel’s alchemy went wrong.  Now for the conclusion of The Sign of the Ape.

Sign of the Ape 4

Ape London Atonement

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

Toby barked frantically at the pavement and scratched at it with his little paws.  Doubtless, the dog could hear  John W. Howell, Dan Antion, and their pets in the tunnel beneath the street.  Finally, Hugh couldn’t take seeing the Corgi so upset. He jumped back onto the big construction loader and started digging a hole in the road — much to the dismay of the drivers in the area.

Annette Abens Cats

My phone buzzed at me.  When I answered, I was greeted with a loud chorus of meowing from  Annette Rochelle Aben’s cats.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  And yes, that did remind me of the fuzzy ears and long tail that came with the anime version of me.  I shot Cornelis Drebbel a nasty look and muttered that I’d get him for it.  Then a second call got patched onto the meow-wow.  The four naughty chimps  translated for Annette’s kitties via text message.

“You’ve got to figure out how to get to London. The Story Reading Ape is there.  He left Tokyo before your airship even touched down!” came the message from the chimps.

London?  Well the chimps should know.  They were tight with the Ape.  But London?  I hadn’t figured out how to stop being an anime yet!  How could I possibly get to London?  I sure couldn’t go as an anime — and especially not in that horrid schoolgirl uniform!

Although I was rather shocked that  Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  and Suzanne DeBrango  seemed to take their cartoon situation in stride.  Their dogs, Kasha and Percy, didn’t seem to think it was worth barking about.  Maybe I would feel differently if I were a beautiful goddess or a cute giant-robot-driving future girl, I thought.  I steamed and stewed… I’d never forgive Cornelis for putting me in such an outfit.

Toby reading Hugh

Toby caught reading

Toby gave an excited yip and Hugh turned off the loader.  Once again I heard that crazy, funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme.  Then a sports car roared up through the big hole dug by the construction loader.

Atonement Hot Rod

Thanks again Chris!

John W. Howell  and Dan Antion, along with dogs Lucy and Maddie, and MiMi the tuxedo cat were in the sports car.  Oddly I could have sworn I saw the Boxer, Lucy driving the car.  But who am I to say that was strange. After all, I was an anime schoolgirl with cat ears and a tail…

Lucy close up_John

Lucy, who owns John W. Howell

I could see Dan wave from the back seat that everyone in the car was okay.  John leaned out of the passenger window.  He had a weird looking guitar.  I asked where he got it.

maddie_26502383972_o

Maddie who owns Dan Antion

 

MiMi reading_Dan

MiMi caught reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A strange taxi driver with bushy eyebrows gave this guitar to me,” John told me.  “But no matter what notes I strum, it will only play that James Bond theme,” he added and played the chorus to demonstrate.

However, the music abruptly changed to the Goldfinger theme.  Glittering clouds of golden dust formed in the sky.  John put down the guitar, but it continued to play.  The golden dust settled on everyone (and every pet) who had become anime.

I felt my stomach expand and contract like the beginning of a very unfortunate gastritis attack.  The most embarrassingly loud belch escaped my lips.  However, everyone else produced similar burps, so I was a little less mortified.  We were anime no longer, but the dratted costumes remained.  I muttered a new curse to Cornelis Drebbel about my uniform.

“Thank heavens you’re a redhead again,” John Howell commented.  “The raven locks were nice, but it just wasn’t right.”Animated Teagan book

Then with sharp popping sounds, one by one, my friends began to disappear. Frightened beyond reason, I screamed at the alchemist for an explanation.

“My dear, do calm down,” he said in that droll voice.  “Everyone is perfectly safe.  I sent each of them directly to their homes,” the alchemist explained as I stammered and tried to ask why.  “Darling, remember it is Get Caught Reading Month.  May is almost over!  How can they read anything if they are trotting around the globe with you?  And you still haven’t finished “The Sign of the Four” for that matter,” he told me, adding a tsk-tsk sound for good measure.

Cornelis took my hand and suddenly we were inside the giant robot.  “I’ve always wanted to pilot one of these,” he confessed with a giggle.  “Next stop, London!”

As Cornelis flew the alchemically powered robot, I wandered, exploring the many nooks and crannies.  It was more spacious than I expected.  The sound of deeply pitched chuckling caused me to stop in my tracks.  I strained to hear.  It seemed to be only one voice, like someone talking on the phone.  Ever so carefully I moved closer.Naughty Chimps

“You four truly are naughty,” the voice rumbled.  “Sending all those bloggers on such a wild goose chase.  Although I must admit, a free ride back to London in a magical giant robot is a memorable adventure.  I will see you naughty rascals when I get home, but for now I have reading to catch up on.  I think Gwydion may have just gone too far for Ralda to forgive him.  I really must see what happens next in Atonement, Tennessee

With a silent gasp I realized the Story Reading Ape was hiding right under my nose!  I removed my cell phone from my skirt pocket and switched on the camera.  I crept around the corner… Gotcha!

Ape Caught with phone

As I checked the image, the spoils of my victory, my long tail swished in a self-satisfied rhythm.  

…Tail?  I looked behind myself.  The tail was still there…

“Cornelis Drebbel!”  I yelled.

Here ends The Sign of the Ape.

***********************

Thanks to all of you for tuning-in for this zany chase.  I’m glad you were “caught reading” here at Teagan’s Books.  As you know, this is a workday, so I might be delayed in answering comments.

Special thanks to all the bloggers who participated in this madcap adventure — and to their pets as well!

 

GCR pets

The Sign of the Ape, furry family cast

Row 1:  Percy, Crystal, Lucy, Kasha

Row 2:  Claudius, Oh Kitty, and Sweeney, and Toby

Row 3:  Wilma, Greta, Maddie, MiMi

 

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Special mention to Christopher Graham for the marvelous “Atonement, Tennessee” images.

Mocha Dacquoise Cake And The Winners Of the Giveaway

“Hey Sheba! Whatcha got there? A cookbook? Applesauce! You could use one.  Hold on… is that a cookbook for salads?  Are you sure you can manage a salad without burning it?”

“Ha!  Pip, I hope you realize that you get your cooking skills (or the lack thereof) from me.  Besides, I happen to have won this book over at Suzanne’s blog, A Pug in the Kitchen.” (Click here.)

Food52 Mighty Salads: 60 New Ways to Turn Salad into Dinner--and Make-Ahead Lunches, Too by [Editors of Food52]

“Oh, I remember visiting there with some of my stories.  She’s an amazing chef, and her blog is the berries!  Jeepers, that cookbook really is the cat’s pajamas — look at all those color photos.”

“Yes, Pip. Food 52 Mighty Salads is a gorgeous book.  But look at this post from Suzanne. Isn’t that the most delicious, sophisticated dessert you’ve ever seen?  Pip?  Hey Pip! Where’d you go?”

Well, I think our flapper is on her way to Brooklyn.  So click on over and check out Suzanne’s post.

 

Source: Mocha Dacquoise Cake And The Winners Of the Giveaway

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

#GetCaughtReadingMonth

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

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

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

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

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

Last Time

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Kasha reading

Kasha reading about Michigan lighthouses

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

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

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

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

Greta-Wilma

Greta and Wilma caught reading

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

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

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

Lucy digging_John

Lucy digging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ape Gallery

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

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

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

MiMi reading_Dan

MiMi reading for a clue

Dan Antion?” I exclaimed in surprise.

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

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

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

Maddie sniffing_Dan

Maddie on the trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Percy Tie pug hill

Percy reads Pug Hill

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

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

 

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

Cornelis looked askance.  I showed him the sticker.  

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

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

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

Cornellis merely wriggled his bushy eyebrows.  

I cringed.  This couldn’t be good.

“Where is that blond?” Cornelis asked hopefully.

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

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

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

“Is he?” she began and I nodded.

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

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

***

End Chapter 2

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

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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