Three Things Epilogue

1920s FanCan you believe this serial began with Oscillating Fan?  That was our very first “thing.”

In case you felt like there was a bit too much unresolved, I’ve written an epilogue for our little 1920’s story.  I expected that the characters readers would be most curious about are Frankie the Fireman and Mona the Movie Star, even though Pip is nearest to my heart as the narrator.

So for those who like things nice and tidy, here’s a bit more.

Epilogue

“Are you sure you won’t stay here in Sarasota for a while?” Mona pleaded.  “You don’t have to breeze off. Ca d Zan-1 Bepa told me that Mr. Ringling asked you to stay as long as you want.  There aren’t many places where you could get free room and board.  And there aren’t any at all as beautiful as Ca’d’Zan!”

I looked down at my hands and shook my head mutely.  I promised to stay until after the party Mable Ringling was throwing for her friend, Countess Babikov.  However, everything I saw in and around the gilded mansion brought me unhappy thoughts.  I was so disappointed in Frankie and all his cousins.  How could they kidnap anybody, let alone a sweet old woman like Bepa?

Lucille Ball teenaged 1What I overheard didn’t sound like Frankie wanted to commit those crimes, but nonetheless that’s what he did.  Maybe when he saw that Flavio and the twins were going to prison, I hoped maybe he would straighten up.  Maybe.  But how could he reform himself when he was going to spend years running from the law?  Ringling’s G-man friend told me that it might not be as big a deal, since they didn’t take Bepa across the state line.

He hinted around that if Frankie turned himself in that Countess Babikov would be willing to let the charges against him “go away.”  Wealth and power had arms as long as those of the law.  But the coppers would demand that Frankie testify in court against his cousins, and I knew the fireman wouldn’t do that. Besides, whether the police detective believed me or not, I didn’t know where Frankie was, and I didn’t expect to hear from him.

“Come on Sweet Pea,” Mona cajoled.  “Cheer up.  Bepa and Mable want to take us shopping for glad rags to wear for their swanky soirée.  It’ll be the bee’s knees!”

I smiled and told myself to join in the fun and not bring everyone else down with me.

When we stepped 1925 Emanuel Haldeman-Juliusinto the hallway I could hear Andy pounding away at his typewriter.  The events that broke my heart had inspired Andy to write an original screenplay.  He wasn’t unfeeling, quite the contrary.  He was just too creative not to put it all on paper.

“There are going to be studio big wigs here all the way from Hollywood,” Mona said.  “Andy is determined to finish his story before the party so he can pitch it.  He hasn’t slept a wink since it happened.  I expect he’ll be moving to California.  I really think his ship is on its way in.”

“And you Mona?  Has Boris warmed up any?  It’s obvious that his babushka adores you,” I said.

Mona blushed prettily.  “Oh, I don’t know Pip.  Maybe.  I think Boris is a man who needs to take things slowly.  I liked the countess the minute I met her, and after getting acquainted with Bepa, I think she’s the cat’s pajamas.  So I’m willing to give this situation more time.  Maybe I need to slow down just a little bit too.  I’m going to stay here for the winter and maybe take trapeze lessons from some of the 1920s circus acrobatsperformers.  They were encouraging me to when Andy and Ringling told them about the short film,” Mona confided.

The butler walked up to us.  Yes, they had an honest-to-God butler.  Can you believe it?  I was surprised and apprehensive when he said there was a phone call for me.  He led us to a sitting room with a phone.  It was my father.  I had sent a telegram to him so he’d know that I was alright, figuring he’d get wind of the shootout in the newspaper.

“Pops, how are you?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Yes, Mona is fine too.”

“Granny?  Is something wrong with Granny?  … Oh thank goodness.”

“What?  Cooking?  Pops, you know I can’t even boil water.  What do you mean that’s the point?”

“Yes, I know how Granny is when she sets her mind on something.  But I’m a modern woman.”

“No, I don’t want to learn to cook!  Flappers don’t pin all their hopes on being a good cook and housekeeper.”

“But…  Oh come on Pops!  I love Granny, but I don’t want to live there…”

“Pops…  But…  Pops please!”

***

The Beginning

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leB3Ewm7qtc

1920s Dance Party

***

Three Things Conclusion: Part 3

Here it is, everyone — the conclusion to this storyline. Forgive me for making this episode a good deal longer than usual, but I New Movie magwanted to do it justice. After all it’s the conclusion to our Three Things Serial.

I don’t kid myself that this serial is literature. From a technical standpoint it hasn’t had the structure for that.  However, I was determined to let the things all of you sent drive every aspect of this story — the characters, the setting, and the plot.  So naturally there are jumps and jitters in the plot — it’s the nature of writing the story in this “interactive” way.

It has been a great pleasure to have everyone contribute.  I sincerely hope you will do the same with the next incarnation of “three things,” whatever form that takes.  Your participation is the most important thing.

Now hang on to your hats because here we go!

Three Concluding Things Episode 30, Part 3

Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx

I tossed and turned in restless dreams before I finally awoke in the “wee hours of the morning,” as my granny would say.  The one that woke me was disturbing.  Throughout the dream I heard the music of the harpsichord.  Boris stood in front of a huge version of the carved medallion I had seen inside the ornately decorated instrument, the emblem of a dragon resting above a shield showing banners with crosses. In the dream it was all solid gold.  I clasped Frankie’s hand in a grip so tight that my fingernails dug into his skin, but something pulled him from my grasp.

Life Flapper BatA knight in armor wearing a priest’s collar (bizarre yes, but you know how dreams are) entered the room to give someone last rites.  The dragon climbed down from the shield.  I was afraid it would breathe fire and kill us all, but it opened its maw and consumed everything, including Boris and Frankie, in its giant jaws, even the room was gone. Only the knight, the gold shield, the harpsichord, and I remained. We were at the far end of the rose garden.

I cowered beneath the harpsichord and watched as the knight-priest gave the dragon last rites.  Then the knight dropped a large gold pyx on the ground.  The pyx opened and the dragon shrank down and got inside the receptacle.  The knight parted the vines of the climbing roses and disappeared, taking the pyx with him.

Then I woke and sat up in bed.  I paced my room, trying to shake off the dream.  From my window I could see the rose garden in the moonlight.  A light flashed in the distance.  It flashed several more times, in what seemed to be a pattern.  This unexpected sight only added to my unease.  A number of people lived on the property.  I told myself that it was likely just someone who’d been out late at a speakeasy.  However, I knew I wouldn’t go back to sleep.  So I slipped into my robe, lit a candle, and headed downstairs, meaning to go to the kitchen and make some warm milk.

I walked into the dark music room as a shortcut to the kitchen.  Maybe I was still unnerved from the 1922 Sat Postdream, but when I heard a door open I blew out my candle and ducked under the first thing I saw that was big enough — the harpsichord.  “Just as I did in the dream,” I thought with a shudder.

My head bumped against the underside of the harpsichord.  “Ouch!” I thought. “That didn’t feel like wood.”  I put my hand to the spot and my fingers met cold metal, a round shape.  However, I didn’t stop to think about it, because I heard footsteps.

From my hiding place I saw a large pair of feet and I recognized Frankie’s shoes.  I felt like a silly goose for hiding — it was only Frankie!  I thought mischievously about popping out to scare the stew out of him.  But something held me back.

More footfalls brought a familiar voice.  Flavio.  “We’ve looked everywhere else,” he said to Frankie.  “It has to be down there.”

“We’ve already checked that hidey-hole from top to bottom,” Frankie said in an exasperated tone.  “The Priory must have moved it.  Or laid out all this as a red herring,” he added as I watched his feet shift.  “Do you really think it could heal the dead, like the story says?”

Flavio snorted.  “Of course not.  But it’s made of solid gold.  All the legends say so.  Our Order in Europe would pay a king’s ransom to get their hands on the gold Pyx of the Knights Hospitaller.  Their grudge against the Russians goes back to the Pyx1600’s.”

“The old woman wouldn’t give up any information,” Frankie said.  “I told you it was wrong for us to grab her. I don’t think she knows anything, despite the Order saying the old count’s grandfather inherited it.  That was a long time ago; anything could have happened to it,” Frankie added and stepped closer to my hiding place.

He came right over to the harpsichord.  Frankie sat down on the bench, causing it to creek.  I scrunched up into as small of a ball as I could manage and held my breath.

I heard the sound of Flavio moving toward the doors that opened out onto Mable’s rose garden.  “Boris knows; I’m sure of it.  But he’d die before he told the Order anything about the Knights Hospitaller and especially about the solid gold pyx,” Flavio practically spat.  “It’s ‘protected by a dragon’ and that’s the only dragon we’ve found.  Come on.  We’ll check one more time.  Fred and Fedel are already down there.”

Silent Detective Movie coverFirst I thought of the dragon in my dream.  Then I remembered the one on the carving in the harpsichord.  The shield also had a knight’s helmet.  “It’s protected by a dragon,” Flavio’s words echoed in my mind as the French doors opened quietly and the two men went outside.

Their footsteps sounded on the path.  I knew they must be going to the hidden spot where I’d watched them disappear behind the climbing roses the day before.  I thought about all that mysterious talk about the Order and the Knights Hospitaller, and I remembered the odd tattoos I saw on all the Fabros when they were fishing.

Applesauce!  What the devil was going on here?  My heart rejected what my head had figured out.  With an icy knot in my stomach I knew that Frankie and his cousins were responsible for the break-in at Boris’ place, and worse — the abduction of Countess Babikov.  No wonder they found the bad guys so fast.  The two men they brought for Ringling to hand over to the G-men were either expendable associates, or another group that was after the valuable gold pyx.

I gulped, feeling sick.  I crawled out from under the harpsichord and ran out into the rose garden.  My slippers weren’t made for the outdoors, but at least they didn’t make any sound as I hurried toward the climbing roses.  In the light of the full moon I could see a gate beneath the vines.  I pulled the latch and cringed when it squeaked.  I took a deep breath and stepped beyond the gate.  Then I felt an arm around my waist and a hand over my mouth.1920s Cosmo Feb

My muffled scream hardly made a sound.  I heard “Ssshhhh!” and it had an oddly familiar sound.  “Shush, Pip,” Andy whispered.  “It’s me and Boris.  Now you’ve got to be quiet, okay?”

I nodded and he moved his hand and let go of me.  I turned accusing eyes on the two men.  Boris shook his head “No.”  In a voice so soft I could barely hear he said, “This is dangerous Pip.  You don’t understand what’s happening.”

With a sigh I told him that I actually did know what was going on.  “At least some of it,” I whispered.  “But where is the dragon?”

Boris looked shocked, but Andy gave a little smile.  “I told you she was a smart cookie,” our little Astronaute man told him.

In answer Boris switched on a flashlight and shone it upward.  The beam of light revealed a small windowless stone building.  Above the door was an emblem of a dragon.  He turned off the beam but motioned toward the door.  “Your friends are part of a group that followed me across Europe.  They think I have a valuable artifact.  It does not belong to their…” Boris hesitated, probably looking for the right word in English.  “It doesn’t belong to their group, but they desire it none the less.  It is a feud, you see?”

When I nodded he continued in hushed tones.  “My ancestors were part of an organization, a priory.  Your friends, their maiden-n-knightancestors were in an opposing group.  But their group still survives.  They are not nice people.  They think I can lead them to this artifact.  I would have given it to them, or anything else they asked to save my Babushka when they abducted her.  But I did not have it.  I don’t know if it still exists.”

“The pyx,” I said.

Boris tensed and looked at me suspiciously.  Andy drew a sharp breath.  “I heard them talking just now,” I said feeling annoyed by their distrustful reaction.  “I wouldn’t be out in the night wearing my robe and slippers if I were meeting up with a bunch of crooks now would I?” I said dryly.

The Russian breathed and relaxed.  Andy smiled and put his arm around my shoulders in a little hug.  “Did you see any more of them coming?” he asked Boris.

“No.  It doesn’t seem that anyone else will be joining them,” Boris answered.  “The back door is secured?”

Andy gave a smile so wicked that it surprised me.  “You bet-cha,” he said.

Then Andy and Boris lifted a heavy iron bar out of the vines and dropped it across the door with a loud G-men Posterclang.  Shouting ensued from inside the little stone building.  Boris calmly stepped back into the rose garden and used his flashlight to signal toward the mansion.  Then a big commotion came from Ca’d’Zan as a dozen of Ringling’s men hustled toward us.  In the distance I heard a whine that soon became the wail of sirens.  So, the police were on the way too, I realized and the sick feeling returned.

I thought about the young twins, and Flavio, and especially about Frankie.  This was not something I could bear to stick around and watch.  I told the guys that I was cold and turned to go back inside.  But I looked up at the dragon above the door and something fell into place in my mind.

“What is it?” Andy asked, noticing the strange expression on my face.

I tilted my head as the epiphany dripped through the crannies in my mind.  “They said ‘It’s protected by a dragon’ and this,” I pointed to the dragon above the door, “is the only dragon they could find.  But there is another one.”

By then the men from the house reached us.  They parted to let a man with a hat and a badge through.  So, one of the Feds was already there.  Apparently Mr. Ringling or Countess Bepa, or both had their own suspicions.  “You folks should go back up to the house,” he told us.  Then he seemed to recognize Boris.  “Your grandmother is very upset.”

Boris looked like he would protest.  I looked at him and Andy.  “Well, personally, I don’t think I can bear to see this,” I said.  I didn’t know I was crying until I felt a tear fall from my cheek to my neck.  I brushed at the tears, irritated that I would cry about something that never was.  “Frankie in with these kidnappers?  I must be a stupid bimbo.”1920s PhotoPlay

Andy took my elbow and Boris limped at my other side as we walked back to the mansion.  I didn’t look back.  I just couldn’t.  Inside the music room we found the Ringlings, Countess Bepa, and Mona.  The women were in their dressing gowns, but Ringling was dressed.  I had a hunch he was ready for what happened.  He was pretty darned shrewd.

A gunshot rang out.  Then several more cracked the predawn silence.  “Frankie!”

Boris caught my arm to keep me from going outside.  Ringling had a gun in his hand and he moved to a place where he could see farther into the rose garden.  He squinted into the moonlit shadows.  The sound of feet pounding the path was followed by the voice of the Fed.  “The big one got away.  I’m not sure if I hit ‘em.”

I was too stunned by everything that happened that night to know what to say or do.  I stood mutely looking into the darkness. Frankie on the lam from the law! I wondered if he had been shot.  I wondered how he could betray all of us.  It was clear that he and Flavio had gotten close to Mona and me just to have access to Boris.

“Pip, this is serious business,” Boris said in his accent.  He looked at me intently, making me bring my chaotic thoughts to the moment.  “What were you saying about there being another dragon?”

The comment caused Bepa and Ringling both to start.  “The harpsichord,” I said.  “Look at that medallion inside it by the pastoral scene.”1920s Style Book

“That’s very observant of you dear Pip,” the countess said.  “But there is nothing behind that.  I have already checked.”

“Not behind it,” I said.  I took the flashlight from Boris and I crawled under the ornate instrument.

The light revealed a metal circle where I had bumped my head earlier.  It had the look of a sort of maker’s mark, like something the craftsman might have put there.  But it also looked like…  If I were to twist it just so… that it would come out.  So I gave it a little twist.  A moment later I crawled out from under the harpsichord with a round box, decorated just like the carving inside the lid, with a shield and banners.

I held out the solid gold pyx.

It was heavy and obviously worth a fortune.  It was hard to believe that men would plot and hurt one another for hundreds of years over something like the object in my hand, no matter how beautiful or valuable.  However, Boris and Countess Babikov were pursued halfway across the world by men trying to find the gold pyx.

I shook my head thinking about everything that had happened.  There were just three things that I knew for sure.  One – I was dog tired.  Two – I didn’t want to have any more weird, and maybe even prophetic dreams.  And three…

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

There would always be at least three things to keep my life interesting.

***

Prelude to a Three Part Conclusion

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

Now that I think about it, I believe this conclusion idea started when Provincial Lady included “dragon” the last time she sent a group of things.  Then my imagination running down a most unexpected path.  To do this set of things justice, and to keep you from having to read a really, really long episode, I’m going to divide the conclusion into three parts.

Cast of Characters

Things You Couldn’t Know

You’ve seen images that I thought suited some of the characters, but not all.  I shared a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, although it didn’t look anything like the Lucy we know and love.  However, the moment I saw that photo, I heard the voice of Lucille Ball as Pip — all grown up and narrating the story of her youth.

Willie Garson n Carie

Willie Garson, Sarah Jessica Parker

Ultimately all the characters in a story are “played” by the image in the mind of the reader. That’s a good thing, because I’ve never had a clear image in my mind for strapping Frankie the Fireman.  But I’ve been Buster Keatonsharing my other ideas with you as the serial progressed.  One image I did not share, because it did not come from that era, was “Andy the Astronaute.”  Right away I saw a younger Willie Garson.  (You might know him from “White Collar” or Sex and the City.) I could see the friendship between him and Mona. Although unlike Stanford, Andy hopes the friendship will become a romance. On the other hand, Andy could easily look like Buster Keaton with those sad eyes.

You’ve already seen these photos. Don’t ask me how episode 21 (Underwear, Tasteless, Limestone) took my imagination to a Russian Countess, but it did just that. It was after Bepa Babikov came along that I saw a photo of a real-life countess that was simply the vision of Bepa’s elegance.  It was just her.  Then Fred Astaire, in a rather sulking pose, made me think of Boris.

Johanna Loisinger; the Countess Von Hartenau

Johanna Loisinger; the Countess Von Hartenau

Astaire sittingMona, as you know, looks a lot like Clara Bow, who was the original “It Girl.”

Clara Bow

Clara Bow

Now… where will this little 1920’s story go from the previous episode?

Three Concluding Things Episode 30, Part 1

Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx

I looked down at my clasped hands and told myself not to fidget.  My eyes wandered absently around the amazing rose garden of the Ca’d’Zan mansion.  I was vaguely aware of the cold bench on which I sat.  Even at that time of year some of the roses still bloomed.

Mona said something and I jumped.  I was so preoccupied that I didn’t even notice when she walked up.  “Why so glum, Pip?” she said with the smile that made everyone like her.  Mona the Movie Star sat down and put her arm around my shoulder and gave me a little hug.  “You and Frankie have a little spat?”

I shook my head and gulped.  Why did I want to cry?  Why should I?  There had never really been anything going on in the first place.  Mona hugged my shoulder a little tighter.  “Go ahead and cry if you want to, Sweet Pea.”1920s PhotoPlay

That name made me smile.  It was what most people called my grandmother.  Sometimes they called her Pip too.  We both had P.I.P. as our initials.  I brushed away a single tear.  “No, we didn’t fight.  I’m just feeling out of sorts.  I thought Frankie liked me, but all through the trip here, he acted like I practically didn’t exist.  It really doesn’t matter,” I said with a sniffle.

Mona handed me an embroidered handkerchief and I dried my eyes and blew my nose.  A window was open, and somewhere inside we heard the happy voices of Countess Babikov and her friend Mable Ringling.  “Please won’t you play, Bepa?” our hostess asked.  Then I heard charming music from a harpsichord.

“It sounds like those two are having fun,” Mona said.  “Why don’t we join them.  It’s a little too cool out here.  This bench is freezing my bottom!”

We stood to go inside.  Movement caught my eye at the far end of the huge rose garden.  It was one of the Fabros.  However, all four of them looked so much alike that it was hard to tell them apart from that distance.  He pushed back a thick leafy climbing rose and seemed struggle briefly with something.  He looked over his shoulder and motioned to someone out of my view.  Stepping forward he disappeared into the vegetation.  Then two more Fabros followed, and finally a larger man that I recognized for Frankie.

Before I knew what my feet were doing, they were taking me quietly down that path.  Mona grabbed my elbow, but followed.  I made a shushing sound when she asked what was going on.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “But I want to find out.”

 Stay tuned for more of these three things (Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx — especially Pyx) in part two of the conclusion.