Rewind – Three Things Episodes 18 – 19

1970 Metropolitan Nashville Airport, Berry Field

Metropolitan Nashville Airport, Berry Field circa 1969

Welcome, my friends.  Have I told you how much I appreciate your visits? Well, I do — a lot.

Before I present Three Things, here’s the promised update on my National Novel Writing Month progress.

Well, there hasn’t been a lot of progress. As of right now, I’m barely on schedule to finish on November 30th, and the weekend is nearly over. Maybe more caffeine…

Today I’m showing you a few pictures from the late 1960’s of places my Guitar Mancer characters visit. One of the first scenes is in fictional Blaylock Sound Magic Studios. Here’s an example of equipment a recording studio of the era. All that could be on one tiny device now.

1969 Studio

I can’t say anything as spectacular sounding as top last week’s “I killed a basilisk.” However, most of my main characters had their first big confrontation with the arch villain. And our heroine, Luci, showed that she’s got plenty of spunk!

Old Hickory Lake campfire

Old Hickory Lake State Park

The Guitar Mancer will touch multiple locations. As I’ve mentioned, it begins in Nashville, Tennessee and the Old Hickory Lake area.  I don’t think this composite image is vintage at all, but with the exception of the stadium, most of the buildings would have been around in the era. From top left: 2nd Avenue, Kirkland Hall at Vanderbilt University, the Parthenon, the Nashville skyline, LP FieldDolly Parton performing at the Grand Ole Opry, and Ryman AuditoriumNashville Composite

One character I got to spend a lot of time with last week was Frejya, a red tailed hawk. She’s developing more firmly in my imagination than I expected and I enjoyed writing about her.

Frejya is a “spirit animal” and in the mythology I’ve created for The Guitar Mancer she is also a magical totem. Maybe I’ll tell you about her “person” next time — that’s Bodaway Thunder.  Though he’s not the main character, I beginning to wonder if he might not need a book of his own!  Bodaway is one unique guy.

Frejya Red Tailed HawkFrejya has been very hard at work this past week.  Ask her about B. B. King’s guitar, Lucille if you want, although I don’t think she’s talking about her part in that escapade. But she sure is being smug…

I’ve given all the important characters names with meanings related to their nature and/or capabilities. If you enjoy name meanings you’ll like that. If not, then it won’t bother you either way.

Now, on with our 1920’s mystery “rewind” of Three Things!

***

18. Punctilious, Train, Diary

A beautiful phonograph stood in the corner.  It was surrounded by a little track with a clockwork train.  Frankie stooped down to investigate the train.  It was painted red with yellow trim, and the coal car had a Hornby logo.  In a second Frankie had it chugging around the little tracks.  His eyes lit up like a child’s.  He blushed in a cute way when he realized I was watching him, murmuring something about the workmanship.Hornby Clockwork Train Ad

I wanted to rib him about it so bad that I had to bite my lip to stop myself.  Frankie was really the cat’s meow, but I hadn’t known him that long, and I wasn’t sure how much teasing he could take.  So I played it as seriously as I could manage.  “Yes,” I agreed.  “The attention to detail is quite punctilious, isn’t it?”

Frankie tore himself away from the model and stepped over the tracks to get to the phonograph.  The fireman gave the handle a few cranks and the sound of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” filled the air.

Flavio was sitting next to Mona on the chaise lounge, whispering things that brought gales of giggles from her.  Frankie looked over at me and I made a derisive face at the other two.  This shindig was going to give Mona plenty to write about in her diary.

***

Introduction Episode-19

While I was browsing around the New York Times, I stumbled upon “The Janeiac Quiz.”  Since I’ve always enjoyed Jane Austen‘s books, I took the quiz — and failed miserably.  I’m sharing it because many of you enjoy those classics.  Emma is probably my favorite of Austen’s works and it is also the source of today’s Three Things.  I’ll take them from the first sentence of the book.

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”

And now, three Emma things.

19.  Comfortable Home, Happy Disposition, Vex

Ringling-Zalophus-Ca-d-ZanI told myself not to feel vexed with Mona for acting silly with Flavio.  Then I told myself again.  When I told myself the same thing for the third time Frankie chuckled.  There was no telling what kind of expressions had gone across my face.  He raised his eyebrows and made a mock-hopeful puckered face.  I grinned at him and said, “Sorry fella, the bank’s closed.”

“Dr. Banting said to make ourselves at home.  Why don’t we look around?  I don’t know about you, but I doubt I’ll ever be inside a yacht like this again,” he said with a smile.

He was right.  And I needed to get back to business.  Where was that microscope?  We left Mona and Flavio still giggling.  The next cabin we came to was open, but Frankie knocked on the doorframe just in case and called out cheerily.  The fireman really did have a happy disposition.  I squeezed past, under his arm.  Frankie actually was a very nice height.

Then I spotted it sitting on a table in the corner, all brass and shiny – the microscope.  It was hard not to look at the beautiful estate in the painting that hung above the device.  The place looked like a Venetian palace, and the yacht moored there looked like the one we were on!

Frankie gave a low whistle.  “That looks like a… comfortable home.”

Ca d Zan-1

“You’ve really got a gift for understatement,” I agreed.  The house in the picture was huge and in a beautiful setting.  “That place is the berries all right.”

I took the ornate but bent key out of my purse and carefully placed it under the microscope.  However, I couldn’t make out any words – and I was afraid to move any of the settings.  I could only guess how expensive the thing was; scientific things were always pricy.

The engraving looked like it might be just a pretty design, but with the damage it was hard to tell. I held my breath and barely moved one knob on the microscope.  A word came into focus, but it was hard to make it out amid all the swirls of the engraved pattern.  “Ring… Ringing?  No.  Ring-ling.  Does Ringling make any sense?”

“Ringling?” Frankie repeated in an incredulous tone.  “As in circus?  That Ringling?”

“Applesauce!” I exclaimed in an awed whisper.  “Do you think this key is for the Ca’d’Zan mansion in Sarasota?”

Our speculation was interrupted by the sound of a scuffle.  A man’s voice boomed.  “You’ve got what you wanted, now be off with you!  If you ever think to pull a stunt like that again, it will be your last!”

We hesitantly peeped out the door in time to see two men leaving right after those ominous words were shouted. There was a man in the doorway of a cabin, shaking his fist at the departing backs of the men.  Then someone shrouded in an old quilt pushed past the man.  I heard a muffled sob.

John Ringling

John Ringling

The man lowered his head and said, “Don’t worry.  They aren’t going to hurt anyone else.  We’ll see to that.”The quilt covered shape turned toward him.  The tattered covering fell back to reveal an older woman, who was still elegant despite her somewhat disheveled appearance.

It was the white-haired woman.

***

Tune in again next weekend.

 Same flapper time.  

Same flapper channel. 

Copyright © 2013 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.

Rewind – Three Things Episodes 15 – 17

Hi there Sheiks and Shebas!  I’m having a hard time coming up with an intro that will “hook” my readers.  Honestly, I don’t mean to complain, but I’ve been battling a migraine on and off for two days.  So All I can think of is…

What did you do this week? Me? I killed a basilisk.

Horsefeathers… I know that sounds geeky and 1651 Lumen de luminesnotty, but it’s all I have.  Of course I’m talking about my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) book, The Guitar Mancer. Well, I promised to give you little updates on my progress. I didn’t know there was going to be a giant, venomous, kill-you-with-a-gaze serpent… but there was, and now it’s conquered. Come on. This is the part where you’re supposed to laugh.

We now move from the 1969/70 setting of The Guitar Mancer to the Roaring 20’s and another rewind set of our first interactive mystery serial, Three Things. There are a few fun links hidden along the way.  Enjoy the ride.

***

St. Joseph Sanitarium, Albuquerque, NM; 1920's

St. Joseph Sanitarium, Albuquerque, NM; 1920’s

Finally I’m posting another episode of our 1920’s serial.  These three things come from the most “crafty” lady I know — Joye in Albuquerque.

Since I didn’t do a mid-week post, you might need to refresh your memory of the serial.  You can read all the episodes at the Three Things Serial page.

Pip finds interesting things before the group even gets to the gate of the big shindig.  Read on as the mystery deepens…

15. Tattered Quilt, Memory Squares, Quilting Bee

Flavio bent closer to inspect the bullet hole, which was in the crease where the fender met the body of the car.  “I’m amazed that you spotted it,” he told me.

Frankie looked around uneasily.  One of the chauffeurs stopped his idle polishing of the limousine he drove and looked our way.  “We should get going,” the fireman said, with a significant nod in the guy’s direction.

He took my arm, but I pulled back.  What was that inside the car?  I sighed.  That chauffer was still looking at us.  “Mona, be a doll and distract that mug for a minute, will ya?  Ask him for something for Pear to eat.”

The movie star wriggled over to the first driver, and within seconds the other two were clustered around Mona and the tin lunch pail that housed the little hedgehog.  Flavio looked on with a hint of a green monster lighting his eyes.  I barely controlled the urge to tease him about being jealous.  The chauffeurs seemed to have completely forgotten about the rest of us.

I stealthily opened the car door and pulled out a piece of fabric.  I had to give it a good yank, as it was caught on some metal under the seat.  Then I eased the door closed again.  “What is it?” the Fabro cousins asked in unison.Vintage Quilt ad

“A tattered quilt,” I began.  “Or rather a torn off piece of one.  I think this is part of a memory square.”

Cotton batting clung to the bit of fabric.  I turned it over and saw part of an embroidered word was cut off at the tear.  It must have been a name.  I looked past the swirly print design and at the white muslin below it.  Frankie touched the print.  “Hey!  It’s Paisley, like you,” he kidded me about my given name.

I turned the bit of quilt this way and that to make out the stitched word.  “B-o-r… could that be part of the letter ‘I’ maybe?” I wondered aloud.  “Holy Hannah!  Boris!”

A reddish brown stain marred the white muslin, and covered more of the embroidery.  The spot was caked and stiff.  Holding it close to my nose I detected a coppery odor.  Blood.

Frankie bent closer to have a look.  “That ain’t from the average quilting bee.”

***

I’m pleased to tell you that today’s three things are from a “science nerd turned quilter who lives near Bristol UK” – known to bloggers as Spockssister.  For the sake of this blog’s header (which is not at all cooperative with me) the things are sort of abbreviated.  However, in the serial I’m using them as she sent them:  microscope, a hand cranked Singer sewing machine, and a large, stupid, but affectionate dog.

16.  Microscope, Sewing Machine, Dog.

Hand crank sewing machineAs we headed down to the swank party we were greeted by a large, stupid, but affectionate dog.  He bounded up to us, tail wagging and tongue lolling.  Then he tried to take the torn piece of quilt from my hand.  Mona was quick to take the scrap from me, rolled it up and tucked it into her bag.  Frankie picked up a stick and gave it a strong throw, which sent the dog happily in pursuit of the game.

Flavio watched as Mona put the memory square away.  Like most men, he was mesmerized by the movie star’s every move.  “That reminds me of a quilt my ma’s been working on,” he began.  “She’s been whipping up all sorts of things since she got this hand cranked Singer sewing machine.  Ma called it a ‘double wedding ring’ quilt.  She said she’s going to make one for each of us when we get hitched.”  Flavio shot a quick hopeful look at Mona.  She looked away just as fast.  It wasn’t as awkward as it could have been, I guess.

Mona was a thoroughly modern Millie for sure.  Men threw themselves at her all the time.  She wasn’t above using that, to some extent, but she never took it to extremes.  Like getting the fire department to loan her the truck.  It wasn’t much of a risk with two of the firemen in charge of it.  And she genuinely liked Flavio.  But he didn’t have her heart.  Nope, her career had her heart.  And maybe Boris the ballerina – if she’d stop being so darned conflicted about her feelings for him.

unknown Silent movie

Poor Andy the Astronaute, I couldn’t help thinking.  He was so smitten with Mona.  Andy had real talent as a writer.  Maybe one day that really would bring them together.  Then I remembered Boris again.  Mona’s potential futures were enough to give me a headache, so I put the thoughts away for another time.

When I brought my thoughts back to the present I gasped.  “Applesauce!  This shindig is incredible.”  It was almost a carnival.  It was huge, spread out along the banks of the sound.  There was a band stand, and a wooden floor was set up where dancers did the Charleston.  I saw balloons everywhere.  Tables with white linen and silver were clustered beneath a brightly colored tent.  In other places blankets were spread for picnics.  Everywhere I turned there was something else happening.

Then I saw it.  The yacht.  It was breathtaking.  I knew there was no way it would happen, but I really wanted to see the 1920 Fuji Microscopeinside.  I must have been drooling over it because a flapper stopped and giggled at me.  “Be careful if you go in there, hon.  Dr. Fred might put you under that microscope of his.”

I tried to ask the girl what she meant, but she was already gone in a flash of fringe and sequins.  Then an idea occurred to me.  I clutched my pocketbook and felt it still inside.  The bent key.  I never had been able to make out what was engraved on it.  Was there really somebody on the yacht with a microscope?  Maybe they could read it.

***

Mary is not just a writer — she’s a brave woman to throw me a word like “Reality.”  There’s no telling where I might go with that!  These three things took me in directions I didn’t expect, but that’s the point of this serial — to let the words all of you supply drive the plot and characters.  By the way, you are most welcome to leave your own three things in comments.  Hint-hint…  🙂

And now, another episode of our little 1920’s story.  Remember you can do catch up reading at the page where the full story lives, the Three Things Serial page.

17.  Associate, Challenge, Reality

1920s Dance PartyThe flapper in the sequins bounced away, the fringe of her dress dancing as she went.  She turned back, smiled, and waved to someone behind me.  She called, “Hey Doctor Fred!  Come on and Charleston with us!”  Then she looked at me and rolled her eyes.  “Those scientist types…”

Doctor was a title that I associated with dignity and age.  I found it hard to imagine any “Doctor” doing the Charleston.  However, a moment later a man in his thirties, wearing a tuxedo hurried past me.  “Good morning, Miss, and pardon me.  Please make yourself at home,” he said in a Canadian accent and motioned toward the yacht.

How could I resist?

I had never been on any vessel bigger than a fishing boat.  I certainly had never seen inside a luxurious yacht.  I spotted Frankie; then I saw Mona and Flavio.  I called out and motioned for them to come to the yacht.  It was a challenge to my patience, but I waited for them before boarding the gorgeous craft.

When Mona reached me her eyes were as big as saucers.  “Pip, I think that man was Dr. Fredrick Banting.  He won a Nobel Prize, and he’s the youngest to ever win it for Medicine!”

“That’s absolutely ducky,” I said with an impish grin.  “I bet there really is a microscope in there.”

They all looked at me like I was goofy.  I held up my pocketbook, even though they couldn’t know what was inside.  “Remember that key?  Maybe I can see what’s engraved on it with a microscope.”

Clara Bow***

Sure enough, the yacht was ritzy.  Mona plopped down on a chaise lounge, pouted her lips, and peered up at us from beneath her eyelashes.  She looked for all the world like Clara Bow.

Flavio grinned and bowed over her outstretched hand. “Just remember, toots,” he cautioned.  “This is all a fantasy world. ”

Mona sighed dramatically.  “But I want it to be my reality.”

***

We now return you to your reality.  Or you’re welcome to stay in this one if you’d rather, because you’re just the cat’s pajamas!

Three Ingredients Serial – 8: Peas, Noodles, Lemon

1920s Flapper Driving

You’re Driving

Dear readers, it is time once again for me to bid you “Come and dine!”  But first, to keep the culinary story going, we need ingredients.  Don’t be shy.  The three food-related things you send drive the story, and the Three Ingredient cupboards are bare — so to speak.  Please leave a comment with three food-related “ingredients” that can become a part of the story.

Also remember that you can do catch-up reading where the story lives, the Three Ingredients Serial homepage.

Our interactive story continues with three ingredients from a reader and friend who knows how to write an entertaining story and prepare an extraordinary meal — the Provincial Lady.  So I give you Episode-8, with three simple but elegant ingredients.Parrot Menu Episode 8 copy

8.  Peas, Noodles, Lemon

Detective Daniels gave me a lift back to Granny Fanny’s cottage.  I had actually watched most of the autopsy Veronica Vale performed on the man who had died mysteriously at the Bijou theatre.  Okay… so I watched it from a distance.  As much of a distance as the large room could possibly allow.  I admit that I had to look away a few times.Motobloc cover

“Pip, I’m rather impressed,” the detective said as he drove.  “I expected to have to carry you out of Veronica’s lab, but you held up better than my men did.”

I blushed at the compliment.  Then I wondered why my cheeks colored.  Sneaking a glance from beneath my eyelashes, I saw his strong profile above the crisp white collar of his shirt.  Frankie’d had a chiseled nose and chin like that, though he was a little rough around the edges, not as dapper as the detective.  Frankie — the fireman who turned out to be something completely different from what I had thought.  Different in a very bad, dishonest way.

I was still kind of heartbroken about that.  I tried not to wonder if he was okay, somewhere on the lam from the law.  Granny told me that it was for the best that I learned the truth of what kind of man he was before I cared any more about him than I already did.  She promised that time would give me perspective.

Without realizing I had done so, I sighed.  Dabney Daniels gave me a concerned look.  “Are you sure you’re alright, Pip?” he asked with what looked like genuine concern.  It gave his eyes a soft JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adpuppy-dog look that was an endearing contrast to his usual no-nonsense manner.

Applesauce!  I did not want to think of Daniels as more than a copper!  I had suddenly realized that he was a very attractive man and it was more than my poor overworked noodle could handle just then.  I plastered a fake smile on my face before looking up at him.  The grin faltered when I saw his deep blue eyes, and I sat looking at him like a dumbstruck fool.

Lucky for me we reached my grandmother’s home just then.  Another car had pulled up beside the cottage, under the big lilac bush.  The Ford was almost hidden by the bush, but the observant detective noticed it right away.  Dabney recognized the car.

“Hell’s bells, what’s he doing here?” he exclaimed.  “Oh!  I’m sorry, Pip.  Pardon the expression,” he hastily apologized.  “That car belongs to Moses Myrick.  He’s run more covert operations and put more rum runners and mobsters behind bars than any other Fed.  He even got a commendation from President Coolidge.  And he’s got a sour disposition that just won’t quit.  Barrie Craig adventuresThey joke that he eats lemons for breakfast, and I think it might be a fact.  But what’s he doing here?”

As we walked up the brick path to the front door, I noticed the lace curtains in the parlor part just enough for someone to look outside.  At the door I raised my hand to knock, even though I was living there now.  I guess that’s how uncomfortable I felt about a big-shot revenuer being at Granny’s house.

I wondered briefly if Granny Fanny really did have a stash of white lightning somewhere.  But no, I told myself.  The man’s car was practically hidden under the lilac bush.  He wouldn’t do that if he had something against her.  Actually, it seemed like he was being discrete about visiting my grandmother.  But why?

While I stood with one hand raised to knock and the other hand on the doorknob, Granny answered the door and told us to come on inside.  She led us into the parlor and introduced Marshal Moses Myrick.  He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little the-chinese-parrot adeyes he had.  Green eyes… like little peas!

To my astonishment, Cracker the parrot fluttered up.  Marshal Myrick held out his elbow, as if he wasn’t even thinking about it, and the bird perched on his arm.  Cracker looked at Detective Dabney Daniels, and he reflexively put a hand to the ear the parrot had taken a bite out of the last time she got a chance.  Cracker made a rude sound that was a lot like a raspberry.

Then the parrot nuzzled her head against the revenuer’s chin while giving Dabney a sidelong look that caused me to imagine she would like to say “So there! Jealous yet?”  Then she bobbed her head at the marshal and said “Who’s your daddy?”

***

Recipe – Pasta with Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Peas

Recipe credit:  The New York Times, Martha Shulman

Pasta With Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Peas

Ingredients

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, tarragon, mint and chives

Zest of 1 organic lemon, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

3/4 pound pasta, any type

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino

Method

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or pasta bowl, combine the herbs, lemon zest, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.

2.  When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the package, but check the pasta a minute before the indicated time. A few minutes before the pasta is done, add the peas to the water. When the pasta is just about al dente, remove a half cup of the cooking water and add to the bowl with the herbs. Drain the pasta and peas, toss with the herb mixture and the cheese, and serve.

Yield:  Serves four.

Advance Preparation

The herbs can be chopped several hours ahead, but don’t combine the ingredients until you’ve put the water on for the pasta.

Nutritional information per serving: 460 calories; 13 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 70 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 123 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 15 grams protein

 ***

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.

***

1925 Dec American MagazineWe are drawing closer to the close of our little 1920’s story.  I’m still looking for your feedback on what you’d like to do next.  I definitely want to do something that lets all of you “drive” the story.  There are a couple of “votes” in the comments section of the previous episode.

You can do catch up reading for the other 30 episodes of this serial at the Three Things Serial page.  Without further ado, here is part two of our conclusion.

Three Concluding Things Episode 30, Part 2

Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx

The sky looked as gloomy as I felt.  What were Frankie and his cousins up to?  And why had he become so quiet and distant?  Maybe if I caught up with them I could find out.  However, before we had gone two feet down the path Andy the Astronaute turned up.  He was babbling something about the trapeze setup and the amazing performers.  He was excited and talking so fast that I could hardly understand him.  Then I heard Countess Bepa’s voice calling to us, asking if we would please come inside for a moment.  Mona clasped my hand and Andy’s hand to pull us inside the gilded mansion, Ca’d’Zan.

I looked back over my shoulder.  The Fabro boys had disappeared, and the wall of rosy vines concealed the entrance to wherever they had gone.  I thought I saw another man moving awkwardly among the bushes, headed that way.  However, I barely got a glimpse of the guy.  The next thing I knew, my friends had pulled me past the pink patina of the stucco and terra cotta exterior, inside beneath a crystal chandelier from the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, across white marble floors, and finally into one of the many opulent rooms in the “House of John.”

Mrs. Ringling, or Mable as she insisted we call her, asked us to please sit down for a while and have tea.  A servant brought in a silver tea service as if on cue.  “There’s a chill in the air, and young people looked like you were cold out there,” our hostess told us.Ringling hapsichord

Meanwhile Countess Babikov went on enthusiastically about the ornately decorated French harpsichord that dated back to 1652.  It had somehow escaped destruction during the French Revolution.  I wouldn’t have known what the overelaborate thing was, despite its familiar shape.  So I was surprised to learn it had produced the charming music we had heard moments before.  The instrument was covered in carvings and gold leaf, and painted landscapes.  Everyone has different taste, but I had to admire the craftsmanship and artistry.

As I leaned in to see into the harpsichord, I also took a close look at the intricate landscape painted inside the lid.  Beside the pastoral scene was a rectangular frame with several medallion carvings.  Was that a dragon — like the one on the key?  I bent closer, wishing the sun would come out from behind the clouds and light the room better.

The bent key was still in my purse.  It was too bad I didn’t have it with me so I could compare the designs.  I felt a twinge of guilt.  I had taken the key from the pottery vase where Mr. Ringling casually dropped it.  Although I was the one who found it when it fell from the getaway car, it didn’t really belong to me.  But on the trip from Santa Rosa Sound I had been working at the thing, doing my best to straighten it out. It was just that I needed something to do with my hands; Mona was occupied with her three suitors; Frankie seemed to have forgotten I was alive.  Plus the poor key looked like it would be so pretty if it hadn’t been damaged..

Russian knights badgeYes, I was pretty sure the dragon carving inside the harpsichord was the exact same dragon.  In the carving the dragon rested above a shield design.  The shield had a helmet rising above a banner with a cross, which was flanked by three matching banners on either side.  I squinted, and leaned even closer trying to make out the word beneath the shield design.  Grand… something.  Well, it wasn’t a grand piano, it was a harpsichord.  I tilted my head.  Ah… Grand Priory.  Above the shield design I saw words written in a foreign alphabet.  Was it Russian?  “Humph,” I muttered. I wasn’t quite sure what I thought, but my brain felt like rusty clockworks beginning to turn.

Just then somebody goosed me.  I jerked up, banging my head into the harpsichord lid.  “Ouch!” I said, turning to find Frankie behind me.  He was grinning and pleased with himself for startling me.  I rubbed my head, then brushed at my bobbed hair with my fingers, not sure what to make of his change in attitude.  Suddenly he was like the Frankie I knew.  His smile was infectious and I found myself returning it even though I still felt miffed at him for ignoring me for so long.

Flavio was behind him, frowning at Mona.  The brunette was talking quietly with the countess.  Those two had their heads together a lot lately.  She became fast friends with Boris the Ballerina’s grandmother.  That didn’t bode well for Andy’s prospects with Mona.  Flavio didn’t seem to think it was going to help his chances either.

Frankie gave me that sad puppy dog look.  I rolled my eyes and took it for an apology.  “So what have you guys been doing?”

All of a sudden, Frankie stopped smiling.  Flavio stepped closer and gave me that smooth smile he usually saved for Mona the Movie Star.  I had never had anything against Frankie’s older cousin.  He was easily the most dashing of the Fabro brood.  But I didn’t take to him the way Mona did.  “We’ve been up the tower.  Wow! You can see for miles and miles up there,” Flavio said.

His enthusiasm rang flat to my ear.  Especially since I knew that was a lie.  I looked at Frankie.  flapper-n-hat“Yeah, doll face,” Frankie the Fireman said.  “It would be a great place to watch the sunset.  Maybe I can show it to you some evening,” Frankie suggested, wriggling his eyebrows in a humorous way.

I smiled at him.  I think I smiled.  I sure as shootin’ tried to smile at him.  How could he lie to me like that?  Okay, I told myself, maybe that was true and they had gone to explore the tower first — before they did whatever it was they were up to in the rose garden.  Even as I told myself that, myself knew it wasn’t so.  Oh, applesauce!

I promise – I will get to the “Pyx” next time.  Really.   🙂

veil_of_sky_open_1 copyWith National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in full swing, I’m indulging myself with today’s set of three things.  When I wrote my NaNoWriMo 2012 winning novel, Atonement, Tennessee, I was somewhat influenced by the style of Charlaine Harris  — particularly her “Southern Vampire” series, sometimes referred to as the Sookie Stackhouse books.  While Atonement is very different from the books Ms. Harris writes, (and there are no vampires) I believe that if you enjoyed those, you will also like Atonement, Tennessee.

Even though it has nothing to do with the 1920’s, these three things are a nod to Charlaine Harris and the Southern Vampire series of books.  I took them from the first line of the first book in her series.  As always, you can do catch-up reading at the page where the entire Three Things Serial story lives.  And now…Cover of "Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampi...

Three Dead Until Dark Things

27.  Vampire, Years, Walked

“I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar…”

I couldn’t help being worried about Frankie.  Two of the men who worked for Mr. Ringling returned with a very uncertain looking Boris.  Or at least that’s how he looked until he saw his babushka.  It was a very touching reunion.  Mona and I both dabbed tears from our eyes.  But there was clearly more to the story of Boris being separated from his grandmother.  It had to be connected to her abduction… and not to forget that bent key.  The entire situation could be something that had been brewing for years.

However, the other two men and Frankie didn’t come back with the ones who brought the retired ballet dancer.  The last time I saw the fireman he was disguised as an old woman, wrapped in a tattered quilt.  He even walked with a cane to complete the ruse.

Finally I saw the sedan roll up.  Ringling’s two men were in the front seat, and a couple of other mugs were in back.  They weren’t moving.  Then to my astonishment, Andy — our little Astronaute man drove up in his Studebaker with Frankie and the Fabro cousins.  Flavio and the twins, Fedel and Frediano were squeezed into the back seat.  The twins jumped out and ran to help Ringling’s men pull two bound and gagged men from the sedan.  They looked like the same ones who had hurried away from the yacht after the circus magnate paid them a ransom for Countess Babikov.  They were a couple of blood suckers alright.  Regular vampires.G-men Poster

The young man in a waiter’s uniform that Mona and I had seen hours earlier was at Mr. Ringling’s elbow.  “Get to one of the radios, please.  Call the G-men.  Tell them I have a present for them.”