Three Ingredients II – 5: Apricots, Eggs, Wheat Flour

Cat_menu_Episode-5Recently Siobhan took up the torch and continued the “Meet My Main Character” blog tour.  (Thanks again Siobhan!)  She also gave us the ingredients for this week’s episode of our interactive culinary mystery.

I can’t believe we’re already at Episode-5.  By now, several of the characters from the previous serial have made appearances.  New readers, you might find the Character Recap post from Cookbook-1 helpful to get you acquainted with the personalities in the story.  Also remember, there is a button at the top of this page (Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients Serial Home) where all the episodes are posted in chronological order, sans the introductions.

 Wishing all of you a satisfying weekend filled with the kind of things I try to include in these stories — good food, friends — and hugs.

Bon appétit!

5.  Apricots, Eggs, Wheat Flour

 With Smoke and Mirrors

1920s man w-goats

Greta the goat gave a coarse behhh and lowered her head, ready to charge right into us.  My old friend Andy Avis and I both took a step backward, but there wasn’t anywhere to go in the timeworn shed.  We stumbled into each other before we got to the door.

If the goat was going to be that cantankerous, I wasn’t too excited about trying to take her back to Doc Vale.  “Greta, you just simmer down now,” I told her in what I hoped was a soothing voice.

The goat looked up at me curiously.  I couldn’t imagine what was causing her phosphorescent glow, but she was a scary sight.  There was a mean look in her eyes, and I wondered if she still might charge into us.  Then something else caught my apricotsinterest — something white was tucked into the rope around her neck.

“Is that a daisy caught in her bell?” I asked Andy, tilting my head as I tried to get a better look.

“Yeah, it looks real spiffy,” Andy quipped as he took another step toward the door, which
hung askew, dangling from one hinge.  “She can wear daisies or roses, or apricots in her bell.  She can put on a fringe dress and do the Charleston for all I care, as long as she doesn’t attack us!” he added in a hiss.

“No Andy, it is a daisy.  A daisy,” I said, thinking I was probably off my nuts.

I inched forward.  Andy reached out and caught my sleeve. He whispered for me to stay put.  I stooped down, getting eye-level with the goat.  It was definitely a daisy with the stem going through the loop that held the bell to her rope collar.

“Daisy, is that you?” I asked as I gazed at Greta, unsure of what result I expected from my questions.  “Are you here somewhere?” I questioned, casting my eyes around the dark shed.

Greta answered me with “Behhh!”

Then the goat abruptly plopped back onto her glowing haunches with a soft thud.  A human voice spoke my name.

I wasn’t sure if it came from the goat, or if the voice was just there in the shed somewhere.  My 1920s facehair stood on end.  Andy moved close enough to take a firm hold on my arm, ready to pull me out of the shed and into the comforting light of day.

“Pip,” the voice said.  “Something bad happened to me in that factory.  Something so bad that I blocked out the memory even when I was alive.”

“Daisy!  It is you!” I cried.  “I’ve tried so hard to help you,” I apologized to the ghost.  “I haven’t been able to find out anything, but I won’t stop trying.  I promise.  And I’m sorry… for whatever happened to you there,” I said and motioned toward the abandoned building Andy and I had been on our way to investigate for his employer.  “Are you saying that it’s connected to your… your death?”

“I know you’re trying, Pip.  And I am grateful,” the voice of Daisy said.  “I was drawn back to the factory but I was too afraid to go inside.  Yes, I feel like it’s related — not the place actually, but there is a tie.”1920s fireworks

I jumped when Greta, the phosphorescent goat sneezed and shook her head.  Then she shook her entire body, in much the same way a wet dog would, a head to tail shimmy.
The glow burst out around Greta in thousands of tiny shimmering specks, and then it was gone.

Greta had a confused look in her eyes.  She walked up to me docile as a lamb, no longer a mad-eyed goat.  Andy mutely handed me the rope he was holding and I tied it around Greta’s neck.  Neither of us spoke as I led the goat back to Granny Fanny’s yellow Model-T.

We put Greta in the back.  The goat was still meek and didn’t even try to chew on anything in Granny’s pristine automobile, which I thought was not goat-like at all.  Andy kept casting surreptitious glances at Greta, but she didn’t start glowing again, or anything else.

Finally, Andy cleared his throat.  “Err Pip?” he began hesitantly.  “Did that goat…  I mean when we were back there in that shed, did that goat umm glow?” he asked and I
nodded my head in answer.  “And did she umm… Did the goat talk?”

So, I thought, that was what had gotten his goat — har-de-har!  I wasn’t sure of the answer myself, and I said so.

1920s French egg ad“Whether the voice came from Greta or somewhere else, it was Daisy, the ghost girl I
told you about.  It wasn’t just smoke and mirrors,” I told him.

We decided not to mention anything to the doctors Vale when we returned Greta to them.  Neither Andy nor I had much to say on the drive there.  Heck, what could you say after witnessing a glowing goat and talking to a ghost?

As soon as we arrived, Veronica insisted that we come inside for a bite of lunch, or dinner as we called the midday meal back then.  I don’t know if it was an emotional reaction to what had just happened, or if we were really hungry, but neither of us could refuse.

One of Vincent’s veterinary clients had paid them in eggs — lots of eggs.  Veronica had cooked several quiches made with freshly caught crab-meat.  It was a delicious meal.  The Vales insisted on sending an entire basket of eggs back home with us too.  Like I said, it was a lot of eggs.

Marshal Moses Myrick was still convalescing at the Vale residence.  Veronica said he could have a visitor for a few minutes.  The last time I saw him, the marshal was a frightful sight.  He truly had been at death’s door.  I wanted to introduce Andy to him.  Andy wrote science fiction stories, and now screenplays out in Hollywood.  He  had already expressed an interest in the G-man from a screenwriter’s point of view.  However, Veronica seemed concerned about overtaxing her patient.  So while I went upstairs to visit the marshal, Andy took the basket of eggs out to Granny’s Model-T.1920s SheetMusic Parrot

As soon as I entered the cheery bedroom, Moses Myrick gave me a bright smile — and Cracker the parrot squawked and scolded me.  Mr. Myrick laughed and said the parrot missed me.  That touched my heart and I quickly brushed away a tear.  I missed Cracker terribly, but didn’t want the marshal to feel bad about the fact that she chose to stay with him rather than me.

Veronica, in doctor form, shushed the bird out of concern for her patient.  Cracker alighted on my shoulder and started preening a strand of my bobbed hair.  That was something she used to do when she was concerned or agitated about me in some way.

“Bad bird!” Cracker chirped loudly, apparently scolding me for not being there with her as she maintained her watch over Marshal Myrick.

To the parrot everyone was a bad bird if she scolded them, no matter their species.  The admonition got a chuckle from me, and a loud laugh from Moses.  The G-man grabbed his middle when he laughed though.  He winced with pain that was sharp enough to cause his face to blanch.

As you might imagine, considering she could fly, it was difficult to get the parrot to leave a room if she was not of a mind to comply.  Cracker was still on my shoulder, so Veronica gave me a meaningful look with a motion of her head.  I knew what she meant.  Quickly I blew a kiss to the marshal and stepped out of the room.

Cracker gave an irritated sounding whistle.  “Come on sweetheart,” I told the bird nonchalantly.  “Let’s go to the kitchen and find you a treat.”

1940 Webber Poodle hoopI hurried down the stairs, hoping the parrot wouldn’t fly back to the marshal’s room and make a noisy protest.  The door was shut, but the parrot could make an extremely loud commotion if she chose.  However, Cracker lifted her wings a bit to keep her balance, but she didn’t try to go back to the sick room.

She cut her eyes over to me when I reached the bottom of the stairs.  “Sneaky, sneaky,” Cracker muttered, letting me know I hadn’t fooled her a bit.

“Maybe there are sunflower seeds,” I suggested consolingly, and the mention of her favorite treat kept the parrot quiet.

Once in the kitchen, Cracker glided to a cabinet that had shiny new and complicated latch.  I chuckled.  That must be where her treats were kept.  The parrot had proven devilishly clever, and able to open almost anything she chose — particularly her cage!

A soft yip caused me to look down.  I hadn’t heard Veronica’s poodle come into the room.  Cotton seemed to recognize the treat cabinet too and she stood on her back feet and did a little pirouette.  That encouraged Cracker’s impatience and she started pulling at the latch with her beak.

“Now Cracker, you leave that alone,” I chided the parrot.

She fluttered to the floor and sat beside Cotton.  Then she gave an imploring squawk. “Who’s your daddy?” she repeated her favorite phrase while bobbing her head.

Vincent had done a good job with the parrot-proof latch.  I had to figure out how it myself, since I’d never seen one like it before.  As I fiddled with the odd latch, I was distracted by the voices of Andy and the veterinarian outside.  I turned to look out the kitchen window.  Vincent was showing Andy his motorcycle.edmonds-ads

Cotton became over excited upon hearing the unfamiliar voice of Andy.  I didn’t see the poodle when we came into the house, so she hadn’t met Andy yet.  I tried to quiet the dog, but she just yapped that much louder.

The agitated dog got the parrot excited and one of their games ensued.  They vigorously chased each other around the kitchen.  Their antics were entertaining, and I couldn’t help laughing.  However, I knew it was only a matter of time before they broke something, or worse, disturbed Doctor Veronica’s patient.

I tried to shush them, but to no avail.  I gave Cotton a dog biscuit.  She broke it in half with her teeth, but dropped it on the floor in favor of chasing the parrot.1920s Flour ad

Then it happened.  Cotton leapt amazingly high into the air, nipping at the parrot’s

tail feathers.  She actually had her mouth on the brightly colored plumage, but it
slipped out as Cracker flew.  The bird looped around the room.  I don’t know what she had in mind, but Cracker skidded the length of the longest countertop.  Then she collided with a canister of wheat flour.

The metal container sailed heavenward.  I moved toward it, arms out to catch the summersaulting canister.  I almost had it.  Then I stepped on a piece of the dog biscuit and slipped.  My bottom hit the floor around the same time the flour container hit my head.  The aluminium canister might have hurt me if it hadn’t been empty by then.  Yes, it was empty because its contents had poured all over me.

However, as the canister struck, so did inspiration.  Doused in wheat flour, I lay prone on the floor.  I didn’t even twitch.  My motionless body immediately got the attention of the cavorting animals.  I felt Cotton’s cold nose sniffing my ankle.  Cracker pulled my hair and chirped, “Whose your daddy?”

Fortunately my face was turned toward the doorway that opened onto the rest of the house.  I cracked open one eye when I heard footsteps.  Veronica appeared and gasped.  However she saw me wink at her and knew I was unharmed, albeit flour covered and unmoving.  I saw her mouth twist as she tried not to smile at the poodle and the parrot.  They continued to sniff and investigate my immobile form.

When I heard the kitchen door open, I figured the game had gone on long enough.  Vincent and Andy came into the room.  I slowly rose from the floor, a white covered mess.  Vincent gave me a puzzled expression.  I hadn’t thought about what I must look like, all dusted in white, until I saw Andy’s face.Vintage ghosts several

Wide-eyed and white as a sheet, Andy Avis screamed.

Veronica gave my friend an understanding smile.  I was thankful that she controlled the laugh that was undoubtedly on her lips, because I wouldn’t want Andy to be embarrassed.  After all, he had shrieked like a schoolgirl when he saw Maestro Martino. And there he was, coming close to repeating that performance.

Vincent gave him a lopsided grin.  “Calm down man.  Anybody would think you’d seen a ghost.”

I didn’t know what to say to that.  Apparently neither did Andy.  He, Granny, and I agreed to keep the existence of the ghost chef to ourselves.  However, I suspected Veronica might know something about Daisy.  I knew Granny had been upset about things after the big shindig when Daisy last allowed me to see her.

1917 VogueFor most of her life, Granny Fanny had been in denial about her gift for seeing spirits.  She had probably said some things to her friend Veronica as she tried to understand what was happening to her as she realized there was something “odd” about Daisy, the ghost woman.  Veronica might have pondered enough possibilities to make her inquisitive.

Andy and I stared at each other guiltily.  Veronica looked from him to me and back again.  Surgeon and researcher, her eyes narrowed as she considered us.

Cracker fluttered to the table and looked up at me covered in white flour.  The parrot tilted her head to one side curiously.  “Dainty Dish!” she squawked the other name for Daisy.

Veronica’s eyebrows went nearly up to her hairline.

***

Video:  Easy Grilled Fruit-Food Network

Roasted Apricots with Ginger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3_vWZ3XWW0

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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Three Ingredients – 18: Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

Cat_menu_Episode-18Dear readers, I’m finally back to following my own rules — working “three ingredients” into the serial episode, and treating you to recipes or videos, and some factual information along the way.

Ingredients for this episode are from my very talented friend Ishita.  To be fair — no, Ishita didn’t give us an unappetizing sounding ingredient like “fungus.”  She originally said Quorn, but I thought that was not invented during the timeline of our serial.  So after looking it up, I settled on fungus, which relates to Quorn.

With The Three Ingredients serial our story items are not always about recipe ingredients.  They may be utensils, preparation methods, or any food-related Quinua copything.  I’m going a step further in that direction with the gluten free “quinoa” (pronounced KEEN-wah) ingredient today and giving you an informative video.  However, I am not leaving you without a recipe this weekend, because Ishita recently blogged a delicious recipe, Quinoa, the Mexican Way! (Thank you, Ishita, for making this easier for me, by sharing your recipe.)

And now, I hope you’ll enjoy the Kooky ingredients of Episode-18.  Bon appétit!

18.  Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

King of Clubs cardTime seemed to freeze.  I stood in a field of grass that swayed in a gentle breeze.  My head hurt and my stomach was upset.  I stared at the playing card Alastair Wong handed me.  How had it come to be in my pocket?  I felt like there was some significance to the King of Clubs card.  I delved my sluggish thoughts, but it was like swimming in mud.  I couldn’t remember what I should know about the card.  While I looked at it additional questions flooded my consciousness.  Why was I standing in the middle of a large herb garden?  Most of all, why had I been in a root cellar?

I wrapped my arms around myself, suddenly cold.  I noticed a tear in the sleeve of my dress and a scrape on my elbow.  Taking my fingers away from the spot I saw blood, dirt, and some kind of fungus.  Who knew what might grow in the darkness of a cellar.  The wound was dirty; it needed to be washed, I thought distractedly.

Then my exploring hands felt a gritty coating on my back and shoulders.  Alastair must have thought I was trying to dust myself off, but I was really just trying to figure out what had happened to me. Why couldn’t I remember?

He gently started to dust off my shoulders.  “Pip, you’re a mess,” he pretended to chide me.  I was sure he could tell I was distraught and wanted to lighten my mood.  “You have dirt on your face, and… what’s this all over your back?” the young owner of the local Chinese restaurant added.1920s Shanghai night

Alastair removed his hand from my shoulder and looked at his fingers.  His eyebrows knitted in a perplexed way.  I looked at the substance I felt on my own hands.  I sort of remembered landing on bags of something that broke my fall, like a cushion.  “Is it wheat or maybe some kind of seeds?” I muttered, still groggy.

“Fat hen!” he exclaimed.

“What did you call me?” I demanded, thinking my ears surely deceived me.

“No,” Alastair said. “Goosefoot.”

“That isn’t any better!” I cried.  How dare he?

“No, Pip.  I mean the grain.  Jeepers, what’s the real name—?  They call it fat hen, sometimes goosefoot…  Quinoa, that’s it! I haven’t seen much of this around here.  I think it’s quinoa.  That’s a high protein grain crop,” he said, showing off his knowledge of foodstuffs.  I was sure he was just as educated as any big restaurateur.

A sudden blast of sound startled me.  Alastair loudly blew a whistle.  Then he blew it two more times.  I covered my ears against the eardrum splitting noise.  Applesauce!  As if I didn’t already have a headache. You’d think he 1925 Judge Magcould have warned me.  Why did he blow a whistle in the first place?

I felt really woozy, and it must have showed.  Alastair stepped closer to me and took my elbow.  I didn’t realize until then that I stood dangerously close to the trapdoor type opening of that cellar. He guided me a few steps away from it, but his eyes narrowed suspiciously as he looked down.  Alastair bent to inspect the hatch.  It was covered with sod.  My mind was still muddled, but I realized the covering of dirt and grass explained why the door was so heavy and difficult when I shouldered it open.

“Somebody wanted to keep that cellar hidden,” Alastair said as he looked curiously into the dark maw of the vault.  “You don’t remember how you got here, huh?” he asked.

I shook my head then wished I had not moved it.

“Somebody must have pushed you into that cellar.  I’ll bet you landed on a bag of this quinoa,” he pondered looking at his dusty fingers.  “Then whomever it was closed the door and left you there.  Did you see anything else down there?”

“I felt bags of potatoes and rutabagas,” I replied.  “There was only a crack of light coming from the hatch.  I 1916 Vogue springmade out the shape of a ladder and used it to climb out.  I couldn’t see what else might be in there.”

The pink light that heralded sunset deepened.  The clouds turned orange and red in prediction of a fair night.  Alastair looked up expectantly toward the horizon.  He must have heard something I had not noticed, but then my ears were still ringing a bit.  A moment later I caught a faint shrill sound.  He smiled.

“We’ve been looking for you nearly all day, Pip,” Alastair told me, seeming amused at my puzzled expression.  “What in the devil were you doing out here?”

I confessed that I had no idea how I got there.  I couldn’t remember.  “Tofu,” I muttered.  “I remember something about tofu and Granny.”

He smiled at that and looked a little relieved.  “You had me worried.  I expect everything will come back to you,” Alastair told me as he led me away from the cellar.  “You were supposed to come to the restaurant to pick up some tofu.  Miss Fanny seemed intent on forcing it down her patient.”

Patient?  “Wha—?” I began, but my brain wouldn’t finish digging for the information.

Barrie Craig adventures“It’s okay, Pip.  Marshal Myrick?  The doctors Vale did surgery on him at their place?  After he was ambushed?  Do you remember any of that?  It sounds awfully exciting!  It’s okay,” he said in answer to my pleading look.  “It will come back to you.  Anyhow, when you didn’t show up I thought Miss Fanny’s Model-T must have broken down, so I headed out to meet you.  I got all the way to the Vales’ animal hospital and still hadn’t seen the car or you,” Alastair explained.

Applesauce!  Had something happened to Granny’s Model-T?  She’d kill me!

Alastair’s voice intruded on my panicked thoughts.  “Everybody was trying to guess where else you might have gone.  When you called, I remembered you saying something about cilantro, but you didn’t explain.  I figured if you had made a detour to get cilantro, then the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm was the only place that was between the Vale’s place and Wong’s.

“We found the Model-T hours ago, but we couldn’t find you anywhere.  The Wetson house and the buildings around it were deserted.  But I understand they’re linked to the ambush and the bootleggers somehow?” he said.1914_Ford_Model_T_Speedster

Slowly I nodded.  I wasn’t sure why, but what Alastair said seemed right.  I had a half-formed memory of something like that… I remembered being in the Model-T with Granny driving that cherished car like a bat out of hell.  Then I remembered all the blood at the scene of the ambush.  There were dead bodies.  I remembered that very clearly, even the coppery smell of the blood.  I turned away from Alastair and wretched, but there was nothing left in my stomach.  Thank goodness.

“Come on,” he said gently.  “My truck is right over here.  You can rest there.  The others will be here in a minute.”

“Others?” I asked groggily.

“Yeah.  That’s why I blew the whistle — to let them know I’d found you,” he said and motioned toward his truck.1920s delivery truck

Then I saw the truck, not too far away.  I thought I could walk that far.  The truck was painted with the name, Wong’s Chinese.  I noticed Alastair had added his new slogan below the restaurant name, “You’re always right with Wong’s,” and I thought it was strange that I could remember him telling me that silly slogan, but I couldn’t remember what had happened to me that day.  When we reached the truck I saw a crate of eggs in the back.  Half the eggs were broken.  I gave Alastair what must have been an odd look.

“I didn’t exactly drive carefully once we figured out something was wrong, that you’d gone missing,” he said and he blushed a little.  “When I said I was going to meet up with you, in case you’d broken down, Momma had me take some eggs.  She said Doctor Veronica likes to make quiche…  Then I forgot to give them to her.  I hit a lot 1920s woman scientist-microscopeof bumps on the way out here.  Not so good for eggs…  Maybe Doctor Ronnie can salvage some of them.”

He was saved from further explanation by the sound of yapping.  High pitched barking grew closer.  Something white bounded through the tall grass.  For a second I didn’t know what it was, but my mind started filling in blanks.  It was a little poodle.  Cotton, the name came to me; Veronica Vale’s dog.  Just as those thoughts fell into place the poodle pounced into my arms.

As the sky grew increasingly red with sunset, the field became more populated.  Veronica Vale puttered up in their slow moving jalopy.  She jumped out of the car and hugged me while I held the dog.  Cotton then struggled to get down.  “Cotton, you naughty girl,” Veronica chided the dog.  “You know you’re supposed to come when I call you.”  The dog only wagged her tail in answer, totally unrepentant.

Then a familiar automobile drove up, but I couldn’t say why I felt I knew it.  I recognized the car, but that was as far as memory would take me.

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adVeronica noticed my odd expression when a tall attractive man with deep blue eyes got out of the car.  He had a severe expression on his face, and an official bearing that made me feel like a kid in trouble.  He looked angry and I reflexively drew back.

Mrs. Vale seemed to think she was explaining the man’s presence when she spoke.  “We made Hank stay behind with Moses.  Mind you it was a task, because he was already out the door to go looking for you before Alastair even finished saying that he didn’t see you on the road anywhere.  However, Hank really should be resting from that head wound, and we couldn’t leave the marshal alone.  So I made him stay behind to mind the patient.  But the rest of us have been searching high and low for you,” she said then paused and looked expectantly at my blank expression.  “Hank radioed Dabney.  He left off investigating the bootleggers and joined our search for you.”

Who was Hank? I wondered silently.  A kind face hovered in my mind.  I associated him with a uniform and a radio.  That’s it!  Hank was the youngest policeman on Savannah’s force, and he was a wizard with radio equipment.  But who was this angry looking man?

“I whistled to the others, when I heard your signal,” Veronica added with a nod to Alastair.  “Vincent and your grandmother should be here shortly.”

“I’m sorry,” I began, “but who is that?  He looks like a copper.”  I said that quietly so as not to offend the man who was only a few feet away by then.  He looked like he was already annoyed enough.

When I spoke, Veronica looked at me intently.  She stepped closer and got all doctor-like.  She checked my eyes and felt around on my head, despite me trying to push her hands away.  “Pip…” she said warningly, and I was reminded that, well she was a doctor.  She asked what was wrong.1920 Radio News

“She can’t remember anything that happened today,” Alastair supplied while I struggled to form the right words.  “And apparently there are some other things she can’t remember too,” he added with his voice dipping in a worried tone.

Doctor Vale looked suspiciously at me and felt my head again.  By then the man had walked over to us.  “You do have a little bump on your head, but…” she began, but her words trailed away.  “You know Dabney Daniels, don’t you?  The police detective?” she asked.

I said nothing, but I spared a timid glance at the detective.  He looked from Doctor Vale to me and back to her again.  His posture became stiffer, if that was possible.  His face reddened.  Was he angry with me, I wondered.  Had I done something I couldn’t remember?  Broken some law?  Surely not.

Then Veronica leaned toward me and sniffed.  The awful sickly sweet smell still clung to my hair.  Right then, I would have given just about anything to wash that odor out of my hair.  It nauseated me every time I breathed.

Her eyes grew large.  “You’ve been drugged, Pip!” she said with surprise.  “Do you remember anything?  Anything about somebody frightening you, or doing something to you?” she asked, but I shook my head.

The detective’s hands clinched to fists.  Veronica put her fingers to a smear on my face, and then smelled of her hand and nodded knowingly.  “Someone probably grabbed you from behind.  Do you remember anything like that?”Life October 1929

Suddenly I remembered the air whooshing from my lungs as someone roughly caught me around my middle.  Yes, they had been behind me and I had not seen who it was.  Then I remembered everything going black.

“Show him the card, Pip,” Alastair said somewhat hesitantly and motioned to the detective.

I was sort of relieved to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt awkward around the man.  I couldn’t blame Alastair.  This detective was a fierce looking customer.  I took out the King of Clubs card and extended it toward the man without speaking.  Was I really supposed to be acquainted with this man?

“That card fell out of her pocket after she climbed out of the cellar,” Alastair supplied for me.

Ordinarily it would have annoyed me to have someone try and do the talking for me.  After all, I was a flapper — a modern woman!  However, Alastair simply picked up on how fuzzy my brain was and helped fill in while I was tongue-tied, so I was actually grateful.

The detective took the King of Clubs card from my hand.  His face turned from red to white, and then even redder than it was before.  A vein in his temple started to throb.  Reflexively I took a step backward.  That was one angry copper.  My stomach churned violently, and the unpleasant smell in my hair was inescapable.  The pain in my skull had grown from an ordinary headache to a horrible vice-grip that made me feel like it would explode.1920s-photoplay-new faces

“Pip,” the copper spoke my name as if he had used it many times.  “Do you understand what this means?  The most notorious gangster this side of the Mississippi River grabbed you, drugged you, and threw you down into a cellar!  Then he left his calling card in your pocket!  Was it a warning?  Or was it a bizarre clue? Or what?” he said in a demanding voice.

Flinching away from him I took another step backward.  How could I know the answers to those questions?  I felt my knees giving way.  The ground beneath my feet seemed to heave and spin, fit for the trapeze act my friend Mona was learning down in Sarasota, Florida.  Mona?  Yes, I suddenly remembered Mona and Andy, and Frankie.  Frankie who betrayed us all.

Then large black spots filled my vision.  I saw the tall detective take a big step toward me, just before the black spots crowded out all the orange light of sunset.  I felt him catch me with one arm and lift me up from the approaching ground.  Consciousness was escaping quickly, but I knew he sat me in Alastair’s truck.

***

Mavis adI awoke to something warm and wet against my face.  “Cotton, leave her alone.  Come here girl,” I heard Veronica tell the poodle.  Alastair Wong held me tightly.  I was still in the truck, but we were not in that field any more.  I recognized the lovely white house with a green roof.  We were at Veronica’s home.

“Don’t try to move yet, Pip,” Veronica instructed as she hurried from her old car.

I didn’t move, but that was mostly because I was so overwhelmed by all the different noises.  The put-put of Veronica’s engine, the louder sound of the truck, the yapping of Cotton.  A horse whinnied from the stable, and from inside the house I could hear a bird screech.  A parrot.  Cracker, I thought with a smile as another memory was retrieved.  Then I almost faded out of consciousness again.  I took a deep breath and focused on my breathing.

Alastair shut off the truck’s engine and that helped.  It seemed to remind Veronica that her car was still running and she rushed back to turn it off.  I felt safe and warm, tucked under Alastair’s shoulder with his arm around me.  He didn’t flinch and I had no wish to move.  However, as Veronica ran back to the truck I knew I couldn’t stay there.  I clawed my way toward a more alert state.Parrot in flight

A shutter banged against the wall and the parrot flew out of the building that housed the animal hospital.  That was also where we sat up a recovery room for the marshal after his surgery.  I was pleased that more bits of memory fell into place.

The clever bird could open anything when she set her mind to it.  She alighted on the back of the truck seat.  The parrot started preening strands of my hair as if it was feathers.  “Dainty dish,” the bird chirped as if she meant to comfort me. “Dainty dish, fourandtwenty.”

The roar of a mud-spattered motorcycle startled everyone and caused the parrot to flutter skyward.  I turned to see the man who rode it take off a goggled helmet.  To my surprise it was Vincent Vale.  I must have looked every bit as astonished as I felt because Veronica chuckled softly.

“Didn’t you know Vincent had a motorcycle?” she asked as the parrot settled back onto the truck’s open door.

1920s BSA Motorcycle ad“We were ready to search the four corners of the earth for you,” Alastair told me as he loosened his arm.  “And there weren’t enough cars to go everywhere Detective Daniels said we should look.”

“So Vincent rolled out his pride and joy,” Veronica said.  “It hasn’t touched a street in ages — let alone all that mud,” she added with a combination of a wince and a laugh.

Vincent got off the vehicle.  That’s when I saw that there was someone sitting behind the veterinarian on the motorcycle.  Boots, heavy trousers, and a leather helmet with goggles made for a smaller version of Vincent.  Gloved hands removed the helmet.  A cascade of hip-length gray hair tumbled from the helmet.

“Granny!” I cried incredulously.

***

Video:  Quinoa 101

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7uvygMiwfo

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Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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