Three Ingredients – 24: Aubergine, Thyme, Red Pepper

CB's sketch "Fox" It came as a very pleasant surprise when CB sent the ingredients for today’s episode. CB is new to the blogosphere.  That information was unexpected, because I think “Better Dressed than Joe” is a great blog, with posts that are quick, evocative, and charming — and delightful sketches too. It’s not something I’d expect from a beginner. I especially liked the “Fox” sketch, and I thought it was appropriate to this episode!  So before you read today’s spot, check out Better Dressed than Joe.

You can do catch-up reading at the page where this story lives, The Three Ingredients Serial Homepage. Just click the button at the top of this page.  Also there are a lot of online resources for 1920’s slang if some of the lingo stumps you.Episode-24 Rabbit_Sign copy

The animal characters have played such a fun part in this storyline that I’m happy to have the chance to feature all of them.  I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoyed the writing.  Bon appétit!

 

24.  Aubergine, Thyme, Red Pepper

That bossy butler, Mr. Farceur, put a nervous idea into my head when he suggested that it would be best if Queenie Wetson didn’t see me.  I had a bad feeling that he was wright.  After all, I had been drugged and hit over the head, and woke up in a cellar at the mill and herb farm owned by the Queen of Clubs and her husband.  I couldn’t remember anything about that day, so for all I knew Queenie Wetson was behind the attack on me.Flapper Running

So I worked mostly in the kitchen, getting an occasional peep at the party, while the guys served at the tables.  I carried a tray of marinated aubergine to the table that had just been set up outside, where Hank Hertz stood.  I tried not to let him see me smiling.

He was all but unrecognizable with his henna treated hair and thin mustache. Rules said he was too young, but Hanks’ skill with the radio equipment got him special permission to be on the police force. It didn’t seem likely, but Granny was afraid someone in the rumrunner’s gang might recognize him. So she insisted he change his appearance, and then before he could back out, she hennaed his hair! I knew he was eggplant-note-card_1024x1024uncomfortable with the disguise, so I tried to smooth out my expression.

Hank inhaled and looked curiously at my tray, asking what it was on it.  The dish was warmed to room temperature and had a nice aroma.  “It’s marinated aubergine,” I told him.

“It looks like eggplant,” he returned.

“It is,” I said, and hurriedly turned to go back to the kitchen before I got drawn into a conversation.

Too many thoughts competed for attention in my head.  I had just seen my grandmother in the arms of a man I’d sort of had a crush on up until recently, when he rejected my affection.  He was a good deal older than me — Dabney Daniels was practically Father Time.  But he was a lot younger than Granny Fanny just the same.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but maybe that was irrelevant since Granny told him the bank was closed.  Although she had kissed him back…

Detective Daniels was the focal point of my thoughts, but not because I saw him trying to make Granny into his blue serge. What was really troubling me was seeing the copper sneaking around with that majordomo, Mr. Farceur.  I’d bet anything the book I saw the butler hand Daniels was that secret journal, which Marshal Myrick hoped to obtain as evidence against the murderous gang of bootleggers!Sheik of Araby

Broad arched French doors opened from the mansion onto the large terrace.  There was plenty of room to take the shindig outside.  The paved area swept up alongside the back of the house, which overlooked the Savannah River.  Everyone worked together quickly to setup tables out there at the sudden change dictated by Mrs. Kingston.

I couldn’t blame the lady of the manor for her mood.  She had just learned her husband’s mistress would be at the party.  I hoped the“parade of pets” she pulled together at a moment’s notice brought her some happiness.  I shook my head at the
things some women were taught to put up with, and promised myself that I never would.  After all, I was a flapper, a modern woman!

A commotion at the primary doors to the terrace drew my eyes.  Queenie Wetson emerged in her dazzling flapper Joan Crawford as Queenie Wetsongown and jewels, flanked by her three “dates” who were dressed in all-white tuxedos.  She had taken the arm of a nervous looking Bishop Bradley Binghamton.  Tucking her hand into the bend of his billowy white silk shirtsleeve, she pulled the bishop along beside her.

Bishop was one of the code names we’d heard the crooks use on the radio transmission.  However, Bishop Binghamton was such a slight, unassuming looking man.  I couldn’t imagine him as a criminal.  Then the thought came to me that perhaps he was not a willing party to whatever was going on around him. He did seem like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Before they could see me, I ducked behind a large camellia bush.  Then I left the trail of stepping stones, taking a shortcut to the kitchen.  I tried to step carefully, but I blundered into the herb garden despite myself.  There weren’t any of the pretty fairy lights there, but I felt it when I stepped on a plant, and then I smelled the scent of thyme.  I stooped down to see how badly I had damaged the herb.1920s_Life_Magazine-music

Most of the party noise was still inside the Kingston mansion, with the guests only beginning to move out to the terrace.  So it was quiet enough that I heard a man muttering.  Pacing and apparently deep in thought, I saw Farceur in the shadows near the main kitchen door.  He sure was acting hinky.

Just as I was about to move on, he started muttering again.  To my astonishment, I realized he was chanting the old nursery rhyme.

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty parrots baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,

Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King?

“Dainty dish…” he said.  “That strangely beautiful woman — I keep getting just a glimpse of her… There’s more here than meets the eye, no matter what anyone else believes. I’m certain of it,” Farceur mumbled to himself.

1920s Evening gownThe majordomo’s behavior surprised and mystified me.  It was bad enough that he was babbling to himself. I would have thought he had a screw loose, but his words gave me pause.  What did he say? There’s more here than meets the eye.  And he mentioned an unknown beautiful woman.  His comment was so similar to what the lovely party guest wearing the billowing chiffon gown said to me, “Not all things are as they seem.”  And she was strangely beautiful — obviously gorgeous, and strange in that it was as if she was there one minute and then she disappeared the next.

Whatever Farceur was about, he was interrupted by the housekeeper, Hortense Houston.  “Oh Mr. Farceur!  I’m so relieved to find you.  We need your expertise coordinating the guests for Madame’s parade of pets,” she told him.

For a second, Farceur was looked so distracted that he didn’t seem to know what the housekeeper was talking about.  However, he blinked and then acted more like his usual self.  The majordomo walked straight-backed, tailcoat twitching, into the mansion.

I waited until the butler and the housekeeper were inside, and then I followed 1920s Arrow couplediscreetly.  Once inside I perceived an air of uncertainty. Guests and many new arrivals with their pets — thankfully on leashes, milled around.  The shindig no longer appeared quite as elegant.  Farceur and Mrs. Houston consulted quietly for a moment, their heads close together. Then they maneuvered quickly among the partygoers.  In moments the party returned to its former posh state.

Mr. Farceur stepped to the middle of the room and tapped a spoon against a champagne flute.  It rang like a chime three times.  He had a pleasant yet authoritative air, with a vague smile on his lips.  Everyone turned attentively to learn what he would say.

“For your enjoyment, Madame has arranged a Parade of Pets. If you’ll kindly step out to the terrace, you will find tables with finger foods, along with drinks at the outdoor bar,” he said.

Nobody had to tell that group twice.  All it took was the hint of hooch, and the guests meandered outside.  I saw Hortense Houston’s dark bun bobbing among the pet owners who gravitated toward her.  That must have been what she and the butler had been mentioning to people when they mingled among the partygoers a moment before.

Rabbit Flapper magI didn’t know Granny Fanny was at my elbow until she spoke.  It startled me.  “Granny!  There is something I need to talk to you about,” I exclaimed.  “I saw Detective Daniels and that butler.  He sneaked a book to Dabney.”

“When would you have seen Dabney?” she asked; that cagy old fox.

“I know who’s under that Sheik of Araby getup,” I said, unable to keep an edge from my tone.

Granny looked at me wide-eyed, and I plunged ahead before she could assert any grandmotherly authority.  “And so does that butler!  Those two are up to something, and I don’t think it can be good,” I said.

My grandmother’s face paled.  After a moment she said, “It’s best we don’t jump to conclusions.”

She scanned the vast room and my gaze followed hers.  I knew she was looking for Dabney Daniels.  However, there was no sign of a hunched old man in sheik’s robes.  Neither was there a man among the guests that fit the general shape and size Dabney would be without the disguise.

“Moses was going to use a sheik disguise when he planned all this,” Granny said softly, and it sounded like she was thinking out loud.  “He set everything up, including a fake identity to make them believe he was making a deal with the King of Clubs.  I learned man_ray_tearshow he’d be disguised just before the ambush when his men were murdered. I didn’t think he told anyone but me and maybe his men about the disguise.  But he might have taken Dabney further into his confidence.  Moses Myrick knew I trusted Dabney…” Granny said putting her hand over her mouth.  “And he brought him into his confidence, at least to some degree… because of me.”

“Granny, you aren’t blaming yourself for anything, are you?” I exclaimed.  “The Feds knew they’d need the help of the local police if it turned into a big sting operation,” I reminded her and she nodded, looking down at her feet.

I studied the troubled expression on my grandmother’s face.  It reminded me of how I felt when I had my first doubt about Frankie back in Florida.  The pain of that betrayal and of knowing he’d been shot washed over me as if it had just happened.  It hurt me to think Granny might be feeling something similar.

“Maybe Daniels is just taking the marshal’s part in this charade,” I offered in a whisperlantern-press-joker-playing-card, because anything was better than thinking my grandmother’s heart was hurting.

“Maybe I misunderstood what I saw between him and the butler.  Applesauce! Maybe it wasn’t even Dabney under that sheik getup — after all, it was dark, and I never saw his
face.  Like you said, Granny.  We shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” I told her and the idea of mistaken identity started to appeal to me. It was perfectly plausible.

When she didn’t seem to be listening I tried to distract her from her troubled thoughts.  “By the way isn’t farceur a French word for joker?  As in ‘joker’s wild’ like Cracker keeps squawking?  What could it mean?” I asked.

My attempt to divert Granny from her thoughts fell flat.  The faraway look was still in her eyes.  “I knew he must have duties at his job,” she continued as if I hadn’t spoken.  “But it bothered the dickens out of me that he didn’t take a bigger part in the search for you that day…” her softly spoken words trailed away.

When the butler sauntered to the big front door we both watched him.  The door opened and Granny gasped.  “No!  I told her to stay away from here.  It could be dangerous.  Why didn’t they listen to me?” Granny said with a worried look.

paris Poodle postcardFor a second I didn’t know what Granny meant.  Then I saw Cotton dance through the doorway on her hind legs.  The white poodle wore a tutu made of pink toulle. Her toenails were painted a matching shade of pink and they clicked on the shining white marble floor as she pranced.  Cotton’s pirouetting display got everyone’s attention as well as a round of applause.  Veronica and Vincent Vale followed the dog into the stylish foyer.

Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit thumped quietly alongside Vincent.  The veterinarian had him in a harness and leash.  The huge bunny wore a white collar and bow tie, along with a top hat that had holes cut into it from which his long ears protruded.  As Cotton bounded back to Veronica, it pulled the crowd’s attention to the bunny.  Cinnamon sat up on his back legs and was at thigh level beside Vincent, who was not a short man.  Amazed murmurs filled the room when people realized how large the rabbit actually was.

The blue of Mrs. Kingston’s gown caught my eye as she hurried to greet the Vales.  She met them warmly. It was clear that she was acquainted with the couple and was very fond of Veronica.  Mrs. Kingston carried a remarkably big housecat.  The poor thing was shaved to look like a lion.  I stepped closer so I could hear their exchange.1926 life halloweenkitty

“Vincent dear, you were so right.  It about killed me to watch them shave Marie Antoinette’s beautiful fluffy fur, but her condition has cleared up!” Mrs. Kingston told the veterinarian with obvious gratitude.  “They left her a mane, and a fluffy tip on her tail.  She actually seems rather pleased with herself.  Once she got over it that is.”

“It’s not unusual for Maine Coon cats to get that skin condition, especially in our warm weather,” Vincent told her.  “The shaved coat makes it easier to get the medicine where it needs to go.  I don’t recommend this kind of shaving except for medical reasons, but still — Antoinette is the bee’s knees,” he praised the cat who purred loudly as he scratched under her chin.

“She is a particularly calm cat, with all these dogs and other animals around,” Veronica said appreciatively, which cause Mrs. Kingston to blush like a proud parent.

“Antoinette is used to being around other animals.  She’s good with dogs, and just very lady like,” the hostess said lightly.  “She was practically nursemaid when Charlie Chilton’s Chihuahua had her pups,” she said with a nod to a rotund man.  “Antoinette loves little Chichi.”

Vincent bent to pet the cat again as Mrs. Kingston let her down.  I saw that she was 1921 July Life Dogtrained to walk on a leash, which I thought was pretty impressive.  One of the guests said precisely what I was thinking.  Mrs. Kingston chuckled.  “Yes, as long as we practice it every day, she does well with the harness and leash.  But she wouldn’t have a
thing to do with the dress I had made for her to wear tonight!”

“Antoinette’s haircut is quite striking enough rather than a costume,” Veronica assured Mrs. Kingston.

Other pet owners moved forward to greet the Vales as they all moved to the terrace.  I noticed the big man, Charlie Chilton, held the tiny Chihuahua and a big sequined sombrero.  The man dropped the hat to the floor and shouted “Ole!” at which the little dog ran circles inside the brim of the sombrero, barking as it went.  Cotton was so inspired that she did her dance again without being prompted.  Cinnamon Bun looked on stoically.

A flash of vivid color streaked the length of the terrace bearing straight at the Vales.  Vincent ducked and dropped Cinnamon’s leash.  However, the giant rabbit only moved a few feet away.  He sat up on his haunches as Cracker the Parrot flew circles around him.  Cinnamon grabbed a carrot from the parrot’s outstretched talons as the bird made another pass.  I had to wonder how many times the two friends had played that game while no humans were watching.Rabbit with tophat

When Cinnamon sat back down to gnaw the carrot, Cracker perched on his harness.
She looked rakish with a white flower in her beak.  The rabbit hopped around a bit with the parrot clinging to the harness to the delight of the spectators.  The Vales were clearly surprised by the unexpected antics of the pair.  After a moment Veronica nudged Vincent, pointing to the leash that dragged behind the bunny, and he moved to take hold of it.  When everyone applauded, Vincent made a self-conscious bow.

“It seems our entertainers had their own schedule,” Mrs. Kingston said happily.  Then, with assistance from the butler, she had all the owners and pets line up to promenade the length of the terrace.

Cracker swooped to one of the hors d’oeuvre tables and I hurried to shoo the bird away from the food.  Only then did I pay attention to the flower that she still held in her beak.  It wasn’t just a white flower.

It was a daisy.Mavis ad

“Cracker, what’s that you’ve got, sweetheart?” I said coaxingly and she fluttered onto my outstretched arm.

The parrot bumped a silver condiment bowl when she launched herself.  The container rocked wildly but the contents didn’t spill.  I breathed a sigh of relief, because the dish held red pepper.  I wouldn’t have wanted that to go up in a big sneezy puff!

“Dainty dish,” Cracker said with a whistle.

Automatically, I looked in the direction from which Cracker had flown.  She’d soared the length of the terrace.  The library was at the upper end.  That was where I’d briefly seen the beautiful dark haired woman in the diaphanous chiffon gown.  Suddenly I felt that odd chill again, as well as the nausea that came with it.

“Pip, what is it?” Hank Hertz asked.

I hadn’t realized he was near.  All I could do was hold up the daisy.  He looked at me like I was loony, and rubbed that silly skinny red mustache.

1920s Mystic Mag“Let me get you a glass of water,” Hank offered and pulled me toward a white wrought iron chair.

Cracker hopped to my shoulder as I lowered my arm.  She ran her beak down a strand of my hair, her avian gesture of concern.  Then the parrot looked toward a small area just behind us, where a paved trail led to a birdbath and a flower bed.  The fairy lights illuminated the spot but no one was there.  However, as Cracker looked at it, she bobbed her head excitedly and squawked, “Dainty dish, dainty dish!”

“What’s the parrot carrying on about?” Alastair asked, having left his table to see what was happening.

“You got me,” Hank told him.  “I don’t see a thing over there.  Do you?”

A mischievous glint came to Alastair’s eyes. “You know… animals can see things that humans can’t see,” he commented.

“What do you mean?” Hank asked, taking the bait so quickly that I had to shake my head. I was sure Alastair was about to get one over on Savannah’s youngest policeman, disguised as a redheaded waiter though he was.Vintage magician poster

“Spirits and things,” Alastair told him in a very serious tone.  “Di fu ling, earth bound spirits,” he said.  “You know — ghosts,” he added upon seeing Hank’s blank expression.

The merriment that lit the young restaurateur’s eyes quickly disappeared.  His shoulders twitched beneath his waiter’s white tuxedo jacket as if a chill went down his spine.

“When a di fu ling is near, people who are sensitive to spirits get a cold chill.  Sometimes they get sick to their stomachs… like has been happening to Pip tonight,” he said raising one eyebrow as he studied my face.

I was beginning to think Alastair was serious about this spirit business.

Loud, shrill yapping cut through all the party sounds.  Chichi the Chihuahua tried to chase Mrs. Kingston’s cat, Marie Antoinette.  I expected the cat to hiss at the dog, but the incongruous difference in their sizes was in the cat’s favor.  It seemed almost like Antoinette was amused that the tiny dog would even try to provoke her.  Antoinette really did look like a lion standing near the Chihuahua.  The cat gave a disdainful lash of her tail.  With a leap she pulled free of Mrs. Kingston and chased the dog.

I reminded myself that Mrs. Kingston said the two animals were playmates.  The cat 1920s Catering Menu-1could have caught the dog easily if she’d wanted to, and there was nothing in her posture that suggested aggression.  Bemused, I realized Antoinette truly was playing with the dog.

Cotton jumped excitedly into the game, ignoring Veronica’s dismayed demand that she sit.  The Main Coon chased the Chihuahua and the poodle chased the Main Coon in a circle around the feet of the astonished Mr. Farceur.  Then the cat spun around and proceeded to chase both dogs down the length of the terrace.

When I stood up, I spotted Granny talking to the bent-over man in sheik’s robes. She must have felt that she was being watched, when she looked covertly over her shoulder, because she started to act as if she was pointing out the food tables, just assisting a party guest.

The commotion of the animals was too much to ignore and I reflexively returned my gaze to that chaos.  That’s when I saw Queenie Wetson and her three white clad men.  They all stepped out onto the terrace just as the animal chase came by.  The dogs barreled right into them.1923 Evening Shoes

Multiple feet went into the air.  One of Queenie’s rhinestone encrusted shoes spun skyward.  The four people went down in a tangle of arms and legs as the two dogs seemed to run right under them.  The cat leaped over the group as the humans hit the ground.  None of it did anything to slow the momentum of the trio of pets as they careened straight at the table where Alastair, Hank, and I stood.

I looked in helpless horror at the silver dish of red pepper…

The poodle pounced onto the table, scattering all the carefully arranged appetizers.  Cracker glided over to Cotton and I remembered they time those two cavorted and ran into Hank’s radio equipment.  They were already friends.  The parrot flew over the poodle and whistled, “Bad bird, bad bird!” but she sounded more like she was encouraging the poodle than admonishing her.1924 Red Pepper mag

Somehow the tiny dog got up onto the table top, and the Chihuahua ran from one end of the table to the other, careening into all manner of dishes, and Queenie and her men, just as they were getting up off the ground.  They went back down in a heap and Cinnamon bounded to a safer spot.

I never saw how it happened.  Time slowed like a movie projector running down.  I watched light reflect off the polished silver condiment bowl as it sailed high into the air.  Amazingly, it flipped all the way over without spilling a bit.  One time anyway.  It flipped again and a puff of fine red powder burst into the air.  The cloud of red pepper settled on the Queen of Clubs and her henchmen…

***

Be sure to come back next time.  There are still mysteries to reveal!

Recipe:  Broiled Eggplant with Capers and Mint

Recipe credit:  Yummly.com

Ingredients

1 pound thin Italian or Asian eggplants (2 to 3), cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped mint

2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed

 

Method:

Preheat broiler. Arrange eggplant in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and brush both sides with 2 tablespoons oil (total). Broil about 4 inches from heat, turning once, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes total.

Stir together vinegar, mint, capers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil and toss with warm eggplant. Marinate at least 20 minutes.

Marinated eggplant can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yield:

Makes 4 appetizer-size portions

 ***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

Three Ingredients: Character Recap

Hello friends — old, new, and as yet unmet! Welcome to this character recap of the Three Ingredients serialDog-Cat-Cooking_dreamstime_s_24255835

I feel huge gratitude for all of your comments and encouragement. The Three Ingredients is the second storyline we’ve done in this “interactive” format. For new reader-friends, I call it interactive because the story is moved forward by the inspiration I get from the “ingredients” (things) you send.  The story is un-plotted, “panster” fun — because of you!

We started this interactive format with the previous serial, The Three Things. There you gave me three random things to drive the story. That allowed the “things” to directly drive every aspect of the plot, setting, and even the characters.Grannys teacup

When The Three Things concluded, I asked you readers for input on what sort of story you wanted next, and I settled on our current “culinary mystery” theme.  So this time, we have The Three Ingredients, with food-related interactive offerings from readers. However, that means the “things” you send have a less direct impact on the tale, but they still guide and inspire everything about the story.

That said, I can’t be sure how close we are to concluding this particular storyline.  However, I can see it somewhere on the horizon of my writing crystal ball.  So I’m offering up a pictorial review of the characters your ingredients inspired.

veil_of_sky_open_1 copyOften I write stories, intentionally leaving part of the physical descriptions of characters vague. I do that because I want the reader to supply part of what they want the character to be for things like race. The last thing I want is for someone to fail to identify with a character just because of how I happened to imagine their appearance. That is something I very intentionally did in writing Atonement Tennessee.  With the setting of a small (and Twilight Zone-ish strange) town, I wanted it to fit with anybody’s idea of that kind of place. I described hair color to help identify and differentiate characters, but I deliberately left most of the rest up to the reader.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I’m sharing with you some images that either directly inspired, or later came to represent the various characters to my imagination because I realize illustrations are helpful to many readers. If your mind supplied a different look for a character, I hope you will keep your idea.

I have omitted a few characters with especially small “walk on” parts. However, I hope I’ve developed a bit of personality even in those. Just so they don’t get left out… in alphabetical order:

  • Cotton the Poodle
  • Eunice of Eunice’s Uniforms
  • Godfrey Gilley of Gilley’s Groceries
  • Hortense Houston, the Kingston housekeeper
  • Alastair Wong the elder, an old flame of Granny’s

Now, I hope you’ll enjoy this review of the characters that developed from the ingredients you’ve sent.

Cast of Characters

Pip

Young Lucy as PipThe Three Things gave us Pip (Paisley Idelle Peabody) the narrator of both storylines. I was so fond of Pip, a flapper and aspiring “modern woman,” that I kept her around for The Three Ingredients. I added her grandmother, Granny Fanny, and the fledgling catering business so that we could have the culinary mystery theme.  The rest of the story is inspired by your ingredients.

The moment I stumbled upon a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, I imagined the voice of grown-up Lucy as Pip, telling the stories of her youth.

Granny Fanny

Margaret Sanger as GrannyFanny Idelle Peabody.  The ingredients haven’t given me the opportunity to go there, but Granny is actually a “Pip” too.  Her given name was Phanny Idelle, and when she married into the Peabody family her initials became P.I.P.  However, everyone kept spelling her name with an “F” and she eventually went with the flow.  (Granny would like the phrase “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” She didn’t mind the misspelling that much.)

Writing this post put me on a mission to find a picture that I thought of as Granny Fanny.  I had a vague image of her in my mind, a woman with delicate features, but a backbone of steel. However, the photo that resonated with me looked different from my initial mental image. In pictures of Margaret Sanger, I saw Granny’s kind heartedness, firm resolve, and spunk.

From this point, I’ve listed the characters in order of their appearance in the story.

Alastair Wong

Sessue_Hayakawa_as AlastairThe very first ingredient (geoduck in Episode-1) was the inspiration for Alastair Wong.  The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England, and Alastair has a faint British accent.  Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes used at Wong’s Chinese, their restaurant. Alastair is a talented businessman and chef.

I have a small crush on Alastair, so his prolonged absence from the serial should show you that it really is guided by your ingredients.    :o)  

I think a vintage photo of Sessue Hayakawa could be Alastair — if I could find one of him in a less somber, brooding mood. Alastair certainly has a serious side but he also has a beautiful, ready smile.

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Arabella Wong1920s Vogue red hat

Alastair’s mother, Arabella also appeared in Episode-1 and she is mentioned a few times afterward. However, the ingredients haven’t led to a larger part for her… At least they haven’t yet. Only the ingredients can say!

A vintage Vogue magazine cover made me think of Arabella’s graceful elegance, though there has been little opportunity to describe her.

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Byron and/or Bradley BinghamtonNiven as Binghamton

The Binghamton brothers are actually “walk on” parts.  However, at the moment, I’m not sure where the ingredients might take them. So I’ve included them, just in case.

Byron is the owner of the Bijou theatre (Episode 1). That setting is where our storyline began, when “the dead man” was found.  Bradley Binghamton, Byron’s lookalike brother is seen much later (Episode 22).  They have been minor characters, but might be necessary to the story just the same.  Something tells me that there might be some sadness in the history of the brothers, and this shot of David Niven in “The Bishop’s Wife” could be either of the lookalike brothers.

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Cracker Jack DaddySpeakeasy_Stories-July

Jack Daddy was a minor character who was fundamental to the storyline. His nickname was Cracker Jack because he was a skilled safecracker and a mobster.  But he must not have been 100% bad if he was Cracker the Parrot’s “daddy.”  He entered the story in Episode-1, but we didn’t identify him until Episode-9.

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vintage bunnyCinnamon Bun

When I received “cinnamon” as an ingredient for Episode-3, we got Cinnamon Bun, a Flemish Giant Rabbit with reddish fur.  The veterinarian, Vincent Vale gave him to Granny Fanny. She adores the oversized bunny, and so does Cracker the Parrot, who often brings Cinnamon Bun treats.

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Dabney Daniels

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adEpisode-3 also introduced Detective Dabney Daniels of Savannah’s finest. The moment I saw a vintage ad for Arrow shirts, I had an image for Dabney. He has known Granny Fanny for some time, and helps her with heavier work around her cottage. Dabney seems to take an interest in Pip, letting her ride along for part of the murder investigation and work at cataloguing evidence. Is Granny trying to push the two together?

Detective Daniels has been patient with Cracker, even thought the parrot bit his ear. He shows concern for Granny, and for his fellow law enforcement officers. Though he seems emotionally distant to Pip’s way of thinking.

 

Vincent Vale

Christopher Timothy as Vincent ValeEpisode-3 also mentioned our veterinarian, but Vincent Vale didn’t appear until the next episode.  He has broad knowledge and training for a veterinarian of that era, including acupuncture.

Vincent seems like a gentle soul. He rescued both Cinnamon Bun and later Cracker.  Together, he and his wife Veronica built an impressive medical facility for animals of all types.  Who else would I imagine as Vincent Vale but “All Creatures Great and Small” actor, Christopher Timothy.

.

Cracker

Parrot in flightThe ingredients for Episode-4 included “graham cracker” and of course that gave us Cracker the parrot.  Granny Fanny resisted liking that “nasty bird” for quite a while.  But Cracker’s unexpected devotion to the injured Marshal Moses Myrick won Granny over.

Cracker is a most unusual and clever bird. The one thing we can expect from this parrot is the unexpected.  Cracker learned many things related to the various mysteries in this storyline through her association with Cracker Jack Daddy, her late owner. When Vincent Vale examined her, he said Cracker was about 40 years old, so we can only guess at the scope of the parrot’s life experiences.

She definitely has opinions about the humans in the story. Cracker took a dislike to Dabney Daniels, perhaps associating him with the death of her “daddy.” But she loved Moses Myrick and the rabbit, Cinnamon Bun from the very start. It took her a while to win Granny Fanny’s affection, but she did. Cracker seems to like Pip and the poodle, Cotton. And she at least tolerates Hank Hertz.  However she shakes her foot as an expression for her disdain of “The Joker.”

Veronica Vale

1920s woman scientist-microscopeEpisode-6 brought us the wife of Vincent Vale.  Mrs. Veronica Vale is an accomplished medical doctor and surgeon who has traveled widely. She is the most accomplished woman Pip has ever met. At Pip’s determination to be a “modern woman” Granny introduced her to “the real deal.” Veronica’s intelligence is matched by her good nature and sense of humor. Both the doctors Vale are caring, generous people.

She performed emergency surgery on Marshal Myrick after he was ambushed by the bootleggers. Vincent is a veterinarian, rather than a “people doctor” but he proved his skill too during the operation. Granny revealed yet another skill, acting as surgical nurse.

 

Marshal Moses Myrick

Barrie Craig adventuresOne of the ingredients for Episode-8 was “peas”… and we got Moses Myrick.  Pip was distrustful when she unexpectedly learned that he’d known her grandmother for a long time, and apparently quite well. So her first reaction to Marshal Myrick was less than positive, “He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little eyes he had.  Green eyes… like little peas!

I saw an ad for a vintage detective story, and thought the man could easily be Moses Myrick. He wins Pip over, and Cracker likes him right away. He seems to have an affinity for the parrot… and a history with Granny Fanny.

 

Queenie WetsonJoan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

The Queen of Clubs is introduced in Episode-12.  I was looking for a vintage queen of clubs card, when I found celebrity playing cards. Guess whose picture was on the queen of clubs?  Joan Crawford. From that moment, there was no other choice for Queenie Wetson.

As of this writing, Queenie has not showed up in person, but I’m pretty sure she will soon!

Hank Hertz

Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-BurtWhen we came to Episode-13, I faced a challenge. I try not to put restrictions on your ingredients, but one of the items was microwave. I knew it was meant as the microwave ovens we use today, but as I suspected, my research showed they had not been invented in the 1920’s.  However, scientists had long known about microwaves. That gave us a new character, Hank Hertz.

Our Hank is the fictional grandson of Heinrich Hertz, who proved the existence of radio waves back in the late 1880s. So the “microwave” ingredient gave us Hank, who is a wizard with the police radio. It also led to more layers in the mystery — Since the gangsters were using  open radio transmissions (microwave brought us to radio waves) they used code names.

As I visualized Savannah’s youngest policeman I thought of a TV actor who could easily play Hank — a slightly younger version of Hugo Johnstone-Burt who played Hugh Collins on “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”

Daisyvintage queen of the may

In a planned (or technically correct) story I would not add new players so late in the tale.  However, Episode-21 unexpectedly led me to new characters — including Daisy.  Also called The Dainty Dish, Daisy was the second Mrs. Henry Kingston. Her story was a local legend, according to which she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but Kingston fell madly in love with her. Daisy died mysteriously.

Pip also met a young woman named Daisy at Eunice’s Uniforms.  However, at this writing, we shouldn’t get into that. Besides, who can say where the ingredients will lead?

.

Mr. Farceur

The domineering major domo was also introduced in Episode-21.  At first I saw him as a stodgy old Black Butler 2man… but then the ingredients suggested that he could be an interesting complication to the story.  That’s also when his name came along.  Maybe his name, Farceur, is significant, or maybe it’s a red herring — only the ingredients know for sure!

For a moment he had been a nameless butler. When a classic anime character pinged into my mind, I indulged myself with the image of “Black Butler” Sebastian Michaelis.  How could I resist?

***

Keep sending ingredients, please.

I don’t think the “ingredients” all of you supply will lead to any more new characters this far into the storyline… but only the ingredients know for sure!

Please continue to leave ingredients for future episodes. Even when this storyline concludes, there will be another “interactive” serial.

I hope you’ll keep dropping in to visit, read, and comment.

Hugs,

teagan

 ***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

 

 

 

 

Three Ingredients Serial – 6: Turnips, Parsnips, Juniper Berries

Episode 6 dog cat copyA truly remarkable friend in Albuquerque supplied the “ingredients” for this episode.  Clever of her to think of juniper berries and how they relate to the 1920’s and prohibition! That’s how you drive the story.

I’m delighted to have all of you readers behind the wheel, steering this mystery with the ingredients you send.  And they’re coming from all over.  When Episode-7 comes around, the food-related things will be from the UK.  So stay tuned for that one.

Remember all the previous episodes live at the serial’s homepage.  And now, Episode-6…

6.  Turnips, Parsnips, Juniper Berries

I found Granny Fanny at the far end of her back yard.  The lot was a long fenced-in rectangle.  What looked like ordinary bushes at that time of year would blossom to reveal azaleas and forsythia in warmer months.  Granny and Cinnamon Bun were gathering turnip greens and some turnips.  I think she mostly took the turnips the huge rabbit dug up.  He was clearly enjoying himself.

Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell

“Now Cinnamon Bun, you’d better eat the next turnip you dig up,” she happily chided the bunny.  “And I don’t mean just nibble at it.  I don’t think you really like eating them, but you’re having a grand old time digging them up!”

She stood when she saw me.  “Pip, you’re a sight in those boy’s clothes!”  The good natured scolding switched focus to me for the Levis and flannel shirt I wore.  “And muddy taboot,” she added.

Then she smiled fondly.  “So how was the little foal?  Did you have a nice time with Doc and Missus Vale?” she asked.  “It’s a good clip out to that farm.  Did you and Veronica get to chat much?”

I nodded and smiled.  Did we ever!  It had been Granny’s idea that I go with the veterinarian and his wife when he called to check up on the foal he delivered.  It was born the day Detective Daniels and I found the parrot, Cracker, in the dead man’s room, so the vet wasn’t available to take the bird.  Granny wanted me to get to know the veterinarian’s wife.  She said that if I was bound to be an independent woman, then I should get to know the real deal.

1920s woman scientist-microscope“Yes, it was a nice drive,” I told her, and went into detail about the charming little foal, and what an accomplished and remarkable woman Veronica Vale was.

Veronica told me that for many years she worked at the South London Hospital for Women and Children.  Of course it was in England, but even more interesting, it had an all-woman staff.  Then Veronica retired and went back home to Savannah.  She met the widowed Vincent and partnered with him in his veterinary practice, doing what she called “lab work” with microscopes and other scientific things that I had never been around.  I had only touched a microscope one time.  I thought doing that kind of work must be the cat’s meow.

In turn I told the Vales about the man who turned up dead at the local premier of the movie “Night of the Killer Clam.”  I told them how strange I thought it was for him to have cilantro bits all over his shoes.  Doc Vale shrugged and looked puzzled.  Veronica seemed more interested as he drove.  “They still don’t know what killed the man?” she asked as the car puttered along.

I shook my head, and Mrs. Doctor Vale… or Doctor Mrs. Vale… Oh applesauce!  I didn’t know what title to give the woman.  She told me to call her Veronica, so I did.  Anyhow she looked at me conspiratorially and said she’d talk to Detective Daniels and see if she could get any samples to look at under her microscope.Turnip greens label

“I’m glad you had a good time,” Granny said, bringing me back to the present moment.  She looked pleased.  “Dabney Daniels is coming by to get some of these greens.  We’ve got more than we can use.  People who want catering don’t seem to eat turnip greens,” she added.

With a shooing motion she sent me inside to change clothes.  Granny didn’t think it was proper for a young woman to go around in trousers unless it was for a specific labor-related purpose.  They were acceptable for the “barn call” to see the new foal, but not if a visitor was coming to the house.

Detective Daniels arrived just as I put on a headband I had bought at a boutique in downtown Savannah.  It was a little plain (I wanted one with rhinestones) but it was pretty.  I noticed a little 1922_Saturday_Evening_Postflower arrangement Granny had set on the drop-leaf table in the parlor.  It had Cherokee roses and several stems of juniper.  I broke off a sprig with berries and tucked it into my headband to jazz it up.

“What’s that in your hair?” Daniels greeted me when I opened the door.

“Hello to you too,” I said.

“What are those,” he repeated.  The man was like a bulldog; single minded.  “Juniper berries?” he asked then chuckled.  “You’ll have me thinking Granny Fanny has gotten into bootlegging,” he commented and I looked a question at him.  “Don’t tell me you don’t know…  Okay, playing innocent, I see.”

I crossed my arms and raised one eyebrow at him.  “Detective Daniels, whatever are you talking about?”

He sighed and muttered that maybe I really didn’t know.  “Juniper berries are used in making gin,” he informed me.

Then a mischievous twinkle lit his eyes.  I had not seen that playful side of the policeman, and I rather liked it.  “Do I need to check the bathtub to make sure this establishment is not turning into a speakeasy?” he joked.  “Is there bathtub gin on the premises?”

“If Granny is making gin, then I sure don’t know where Cat_menu_Episode-6 copyshe’s hiding it!” I laughed.

“What do you mean, making gin?” Granny said as she walked into the room.

I could have sworn there was a guilty blush on her face.  I wondered if Granny really did have a stash of hooch somewhere.  She cleared her throat and deftly changed the subject.  “Dabney, Pip and I are about to sit down to some lamb and parsnip stew.  And I have some greens and cornbread to go with it.  Won’t you join us?”

The detective licked his lips just as his stomach growled.  I knew the answer to that question without having to hear it.

***

Lamb & Parsnip Stew

Credit:  The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Yield:  Makes 4 servings.

2 pounds cubed lamb

2 medium onions, quartered

2-1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large carrots, scraped and sliced

8 small parsnips, scraped and sliced

1 bay leaf

Brown lamb in a large stewpot, then add onions and sauté.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for up to 2 hours.  Remove bay leaf before serving.  Juices can be thickened with flour or mashed potato to make gravy, if desired.

***

Tune in again next week.  Same flapper time, same flapper channel.

 

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.

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