Three Ingredients II – 10: Strawberries, Avocados, Lobster

buster n lucyThanks for coming back to another episode of our interactive culinary mystery serial.  The “ingredients” all of you send help make sure the story includes a multiplicity of ideas.  However, the cupboards are bare again.  Everyone is welcome to leave three food-related things in the comments. That’s what drives this pantser story — your varied ingredients.

Variety is something I’ve always enjoyed.  When I find a restaurant I like, I want to try something different from their menu each time I visit.  This week’s ingredients are from a woman who adds all sorts of variability to her life — Sally Georgina Cronin, at Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life.  Her books and her blog cover a remarkable and useful assortment of things. Here is just one of Sally’s many books.  I hope you’ll check out Sally’s fiction and nonfiction books, and her amazing blog too.

Forget-Viagra-Pass-Me-Carrot

Keep an eye out for some links for fun, information, and recipes throughout today’s story. Without further ado, here is the episode of Three Ingredients Cookbook-2 that Sally’s ingredients inspired.

Bon appétit!

10.  Strawberries, Avocados, Lobster

With Warning

1921 Dodge RaodsterThe tan spoke wheels of the black Dodge Roadster spun merrily when I saw their reflection in a shop window.  It was a sunny day and we put down the tan ragtop.  Andy and I drove around Savannah and the general area the whole morning.  We looked at every church we could find, hoping for one with a window that matched the glowing image Daisy the Dainty Dish caused to appear to us in the abandoned warehouse.

It was well past noon when we drove toward a roadside fruit stand.  “I’m starved.  Why don’t we stop and get something here.  Maybe something to make a cobbler for supper too,” I added as the inspiration struck.

Andy slowed the Dodge and we pulled off the road.  “Strawberries!” I exclaimed.  “They’re beautiful too,” I said as I opened the door without waiting for Andy to come around and open it for me.

He shot me a look for my impatience, and I suppose for my lack of ladylike behavior. But I was a flapper, after all.  I could throw convention to the winds.  Besides, Andy was my Strawberry girldear old friend, not my beau.  When he caught up with me I was still going on about how good the strawberries looked.  I asked if he didn’t agree.

“Oh Pip,” he began and gave me a lopsided grin. “They’ll be the berries!”

I rolled my eyes at Andy’s pun.  The aroma was heavenly and I inhaled deeply as I selected several small baskets of the luscious red berries.  Andy insisted on paying as he said he planned on eating the majority of the cobbler.

Our chatter about being hungry turned into a conversation with the stall keeper about what there was to eat nearby.  The man told us there was a pier about a mile up the road and recommended one of the vendors for a bite to eat.

While the guy talked, Andy picked up a black pebbly skinned pear-shaped thing and tossed it happily.  The stall keeper took on a professorial tone.  “Had them alligator pears brought up special from Florida,” he told Andy.

“We’re both from Florida,” Andy told the man.  “I remember my grandpa calling avocados alligator pears,” he said fondly.  Then he turned to me.  “At least that was one familiar thing in California.  This kind of avocado got real popular there fairly recently.”

“I see you know your onions — and your avocados,” the man said and chuckled at his own joke.

I wouldn’t have expected the guy to know his slang.  My expression must have said as much and he smiled.  The grin took ten years off his face.  Maybe he wasn’t such a codger after all.

We both picked out a few more things and then we were ready to settle up the bill.  The stall keeper looked at the strawberries and then looked at us carefully.  “You know,” he began but hesitated for a second before continuing.  “For special customers…  I could be talked out of a bottle of strawberry wine.  Don’t worry, everything’s jake,” he added upon seeing our surprise.Fruit Stand

Both of us grinned.  “I wasn’t expecting to run across any giggle water here,” Andy said and told the guy to add a bottle of the wine to our purchase.

“On one condition,” the man said.  “You gotta promise not to get spifflicated until you get where you’re going.”

The pier turned out to be a hotspot, just short of being a carnival.  I could tell it was a fun place before we got out of the roadster.  There were lots of bathers in colorful suits who came for the narrow strip of beach.  All manner of vendors were setup with their crafts and wares along the boardwalk and out onto the pier.

We walked past a stand where a man played a happy tune on a banjo.  Yet when I thought about it, any song sounded cheery when played on a banjo.  The stall boasted several beautiful handmade instruments the musician and his wife had for sale.  However, they Mouth Harpdid most of their business with the smaller less expensive things like harmonicas and mouth harps.

The woman gave us a quick demonstration of the mouth harp.  It had a flexible metal “tongue” attached to an oval metal frame.   She put the tongue part inside her mouth and plucked with a finger to produce a note.  She offered to help Andy learn to play the odd little instrument, but he politely declined.

“I tried to play one of those jaw harps when I was a kid,” Andy commented derisively.  “All I did was pinch my mouth.  Bad.  I looked like I had cold sores worse than Maestro gets as supernatural punishment for leering at your grandmother.”

The scent of something delicious wafted to my noise.  The banjo music trailed behind us as we made for the food stalls.  To my surprise we got into line and the person in front of us was Hank Hertz, Savannah’s youngest police officer.  I invited him to join us, but Hank pointed out a booth the police department had set up.  Hank said he was “on duty,” and had to man the booth.

Soon Andy and I had paper baskets full of crispy fried chicken, golden-brown biscuits, coleslaw, and some German potato salad.  We sat down on a sun-warmed bench to eat.  It gave us a view of the brightly colored stall awnings to one side and of the little beach to the other.  It was fun to watch all the activity and different people.Lobster beach girls

Some of the bathers cavorting on the sand caught my attention.  A huge lobster had somehow caught hold of a flapper’s bathing suit and another girl tried to pull it free, resulting in a humorous tug of war.  It didn’t look like anyone was in any danger of being harmed.  Andy and I chuckled at their antics.

If I hadn’t known Andy so well, I would have thought he really had been about to starve.  There wasn’t a scrap of chicken left on those bones.  However, that was how Andy ate fried chicken.  He always said the very best part was right on the bones, and sometimes I wondered if he would munch into the very bones!  I had to admit it was delicious.  I licked my finger after the last bite of moist crispy deliciousness.

Crisco Fried Chicken

Click for recipe

We dodged a yellow jacket that buzzed around the big garbage can as we threw away our trash.  That was one angry looking bee!  I jumped backward away from the yellow jacket, just as I heard the bell of a ferry coming up to the pier.  I nearly stumbled into an artist’s easel and I apologized profusely.

Trying to make amends for nearly turning over her work, I started looking at her paintings.  The one I ran into was a truly lovely landscape with a building and flowers; daisies amid red roses.  I saw that she signed the painting Mattie Maddox.  However, I began to see a central theme to her work — stained glass windows.  I murmured something to Andy, but I couldn’t get his attention, he was so engrossed in the paintings.

Horse feathers Pip!” he finally looked up at me and whispered an exclamation.  “Look at this.  Most of them are stained glass windows!” he said and I tried not to roll my eyes since that’s why I had been trying to get his attention.

Mattie the artist was flattered by our interest in her work.  (That just didn’t have a ring to it, I thought.  Shouldn’t it be Annie the artist?  Or Abbie?)  I told her we were looking for a church with a particular stained glass window.  She showed us all of her church paintings, but none matched the image of the window Daisy the ghost woman showed us.

Mattie Maddox was a kind and charming woman, so it was pleasant to pass a few minutes talking to her about her paintings.  She was a little beyond middle years.  Her hair was heavily streaked with gray and pulled back into a tidy bun.  Mattie’s stall was the neatest one I had ever seen.  When I commented on it, she said that through most of her life she worked as a chamber maid and the neatness was a firmly ingrained habit.

“Mattie the Maid!” I exclaimed and then was horribly embarrassed, fearing I had been offensive.

I tried to explain my fondness for making names for people I liked, such as Mona the Movie Star, and of course Andy the Astronaute-man.  Mattie seemed to be a sweet soul and was not bothered by my silliness.  She tilted her head to one side as if a thought suddenly came to her.

Stained Glass 2“I wonder… It wasn’t the church, but the rectory has a lovely window with shapes and colors like you described,” she said as she moved toward a stack of unframed canvases in the corner of the little booth.  “I did so many different paintings of it.  I guess I was trying to work through some grief over a friend who died.”

Andy and I both murmured our condolences.  “Oh don’t you fret none,” Mattie said.  “That was so long ago.  Ah!  Here’s one,” the artist exclaimed as she pulled out a square canvas.

The piece was covered in bright hues of gold and aqua, and featured an arched stained glass window.  Roses and wild flowers mingled; a contrast of sophistication and the commonplace, to frame the window.  Mattie looked at it with a sad expression in her eyes.  “She was the one who was really the rose,” she whispered as if to herself.

My excited gasp was echoed by Andy.  The artist chuckled at our enthusiasm.  Andy pulled out his wallet without even asking the price of the painting.  At first Mattie declined to take anything for it, apparently she thought we were newlyweds and she was charmed by our excitement.  Naturally Andy insisted on giving her a good price.

“Where is this place?” I asked eagerly.

“It’s the rectory, not the church,” she reminded me and I nodded.  “The one out on Tybee Island,” she said and then took a hurried look at a watch that was suspended from a chain around her neck.  “Oh my, would you look at the time!” she exclaimed.  “I have to hurry and put away my things so I can catch the ferry,” she said and then looked at our puzzled faces.  “I live on the island and this is the last ferry of the day.  It will be leaving in just a few minutes.”Savannah Beach postcard

Mattie went on to explain that Route 80, which connected the island via road with the mainland, was washed out.  “We’ve had so many storms this summer,” she said.  “So the ferry is the only means of getting there for now.”

“We’d very much like to see the place,” I said and then remembered Granny Fanny.  I doubted there was a telephone on the island.  Mattie said that was the last ferry of the day.  If we went, we’d be stuck overnight.  How would I let Granny know, so she wouldn’t worry?  It was a lot simpler when I lived on my own in the old office building where Andy and my other friends used to rent our apartment “offices.”  I didn’t have to worry about making anybody else worry.

“Pip!” Andy exclaimed.  “Mrs. Peabody would want us to have a chaperone.  And we can’t just go off to Tybee Island without letting her know,” he said and without being asked, went about helping Mattie lock up her paintings.1920s Friends at Beach

I had noticed that Andy called my grandmother Granny most of the time.  But when she turned into an authority figure in his mind, she suddenly became Mrs. Peabody.  Plus I was surprised at my old friend.  Who’d have thought he could be such a stick in the mud?  A chaperone?  I was a modern woman, a flapper.  I didn’t need a chaperone!

Andy’s insistence on propriety seemed to greatly impress Mattie Maddox.  She smiled and offered to have us stay the night with her.  “I have a little cottage on the church grounds.  There’s only one bed but you two are young — I have plenty of quilts and could make pallets on the floor for you,” she offered.

Of course I wouldn’t dream of putting her out that way.  Then she mentioned that the church operated a small hostel.  Mattie said she would be happy to introduce us to the chaplain.  I was already nodding eagerly when Andy again reminded me about my grandmother.

“But there’s no time!  I don’t even know where the closest telephone would be,” I complained and pointed at the ferry.

Tybee Island LighthouseThen an inspired thought came to me and I ran down the pier as fast as I could.  Three strides later, Andy caught my elbow and ran beside me.  He asked me in a very frustrated voice what I thought I was doing.

“Hank!” I exclaimed.

“Um nope, doll face, I’m Andy,” he quipped.

“No, silly.  Remember Hank Hertz?  I introduced you at the chicken stand?” I reminded Andy and he grunted something affirmative.  “Hank is a wizard with the radio.  He’ll get word to Granny Fanny.  Plus he knows about Daisy the Dainty Dish.  He’ll want to help.”

I asked Andy to go back and get us a place on the ferry, and not let it leave without me.  He said he’d bribe the captain if necessary.  As I reached the boardwalk, I looked down the pier and saw Andy carrying some packages for Mattie Maddox toward the ferry.  He was a good guy, I thought to myself.

Hank saw and understood my haste.  Having worked at the pier all summer he was familiar with the ferry schedule.  He said he wouldn’t need to worry about radioing an officer at the police station to call Granny Fanny.  Hank promised to stop by the cottage on his way home.  His shift was almost over.

He also let me know that there was a radio at the church’s rectory, just in case we needed1929 Radio News Sept to reach him.  Hank, radio wiz that he was, had his own radio, and even a mobile set up in his automobile.

In no time Andy and I were settled next to Mattie Maddox on the ferry to Tybee Island.  The Savannah River emptied into the Atlantic Ocean just north of the barrier island.

The ferry bobbed slowly on the stretch of ocean between the island and the small Atlantic coast of Georgia.  I closed my eyes against the glare of the evening sun on the water.  I might have dozed for a minute, but I noticed that I no longer felt the sunlight on my face.  Unexpected clouds overcast the lowering sun, creating a purple sunset.

I remembered the sailor’s old saw, Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.  Well, purple was not red, I thought, but determined not to be apprehensive just because I was on a small craft, out on the open ocean.  What flapper would let a little thing like that bother her?

Black clouds rolled in, abruptly turning the evening to night.  I felt my hair stand on end.  It didn’t feel like an ordinary storm.  The ferryman shouted some kind of warning to all the passengers.  However, I didn’t hear what he said because I was focused on the wind’s mournful call.  Mournful and familiar.

Thunder rolled and to me it sounded like pounding hooves.  A brilliant red bolt of lightning shot a horizontal path across the sky, like an arrow pointing toward the island.  When I looked at the black clouds I saw the Devil’s Herd ploughing up the sky and pursued by the ghost-riders.  One cowboy strayed from the rest and took off his Stetson hat with a seated bow toward me.  His horse snorted fire and reared up, screaming a challenge to the black-horned cattle.Glowing-Longhorns copy

With a strong feeling of satisfaction I noted that the ghost-rider was not Caleb Colman.  Maestro Martino’s sacrifice had not been in vain.  Caleb the ghost-rider had gotten his chance to redeem himself, though I had no idea what it was.

I looked around me in wide-eyed amazement, but no one else had seen the ghostly display.  Rain began to pour.  Then in the darkness the ferry hit a giant wave.  The boat went up into the air.  I felt my posterior leave my seat and I hung on for dear life as the ferry crashed back down against the stormy water.

Saltwater and rain drenched everyone.  Passengers screamed.  The captain shouted for calm.  Huge waves poured into the small craft.  Thunder roared.  Lightning blasted the darkness, eerily illuminating the terrified faces around me.Lightning

A double pronged bolt of lightning fractured the sky right above us.  The boat launched into the air again.  That time I lost my grip.  I felt myself lifted off my seat and into the air.

***

Recipe:  Strawberry Cobbler

Strawberry Cobbler

Recipe credit:  Flimish Minx on Food.com.  Photo credit: Chia

Strawberry Cobbler

Total Time:  1 hour

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cook Time:  50 minutes

 

Ingredients

4 cups strawberries, cleaned and sliced

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup butter, in cubes

 

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.

Spread the sliced strawberries evenly in an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar.

Add the egg, and mix (a fork works best) till crumbly and the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.

Spread this over the berries.

Dot with the butter cubes.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden and the berries are bubbling.

Cool slightly before serving.

 

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.

 

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Three Ingredients II – 8: Lettuce, Shrimp, Hot Peppers

young Lucy blueThe other day I sent Pip to give everyone a “heads-up” that I wasn’t sure I could do this weekend’s episode… due to the unfortunate combination of my clumsiness and lots of stairs inside and particularly (the culprits in my misadventure) outside my home…

The story nagged at me though, so I’ll try to provide a quality episode.

However, I’m going to give my post-tumble achy self a little break, and challenge any or all of you — to leave a comment with a link to a favorite recipe that uses one of this week’s three ingredients!

This time the “ingredients” are from fellow blogger and LinkedIn member, Phuong Callaway.  You might also remember her collection of cookbooks from the conclusion of “Three Ingredients: Cookbook-1.”

Without further ado, here is Episode-8.  Bon appétit!

8.  Lettuce, Shrimp, Hot Peppers

With Unearthly

“Andy!  Annn-deee!” someone screamed hysterically, and after a moment I realized I was the one screaming.

Vintage world around us magI clamped my mouth shut.  Echoes of my own voice rang in the empty vastness of the abandoned factory.  I was alone.

Whether by accident or by design, the ghost-riders had taken Andy.  Caleb the spirit cowboy yelled at them to stop before he also disappeared, but it had done no good.

As I tried to collect my wits, I noticed a wooden box that bore a faded image of a head of lettuce.  I thought absently that it was a good thing the produce was gone; else the spoiled odor would fill the place.  But then again, maybe it rotted away so long ago that even the smell was gone.

The sudden stillness of the building felt unearthly.  I sat down on an old crate, not giving any thought to how dusty it was.  Had it really been only a little while since we drove up to the abandoned factory?  The words Andy had spoken at that moment came back to me and I shivered.

“Yeah, it’s like the hand of Fate making sure things stay in balance.  If one thing or person leaves a realm, then another must take its place,” Andy had said.

Had the hand of Fate reached out and grabbed Andy to make sure whatever mystical realms stayed in balance?  Or what might happen if someone were to escape death?  Like Marshal Myrick — he died briefly and was revived by Dr. Veronica Vale.  Could that have disturbed a cosmic balance of some sort?  Or maybe the presence of one of the ghosts upset the balance of things.  Did Daisy or the Maestro have to “move on” before Andy could come back?

As if on cue Maestro Martino appeared.  He was bubbling over with excitement.  “Signorina,” he cried.  “A wondrous thing has happened!”

I looked at the ghost chef blankly, still reeling from the drama that took place only a moment before.

“I have been given a reprieve!  My curse is cut in half!” Martino exclaimed joyously as he all but danced around me.

Yes, I should have been happy for the ghost chef.  I should have congratulated him.  buster n lucyHowever, my worry for Andy was so great that I barely heard Maestro Martino’s happy announcement.

Maestro lifted me off my feet in a great bear hug.  I thought of Andy being pulled into the air by the ghost-rider’s lariat and I shuddered.  The ghost chef must have felt my reaction because he put me back down hastily.

“Oh forgive my excitement Signorina,” he apologized.  “I did not mean to be improper,” the spirit said and then glanced around as if he had only just noticed the location.  “But where is the young Signore?”

“They took him,” I said, distracted by the chaotic tumble of thoughts rolling through my head.

The Maestro looked a question at me, but instead of answering, I asked some questions of my own.  “Maestro, where is the wooden owl clock?  The one you had to bind yourself to?  And how were you able to find me?”

He chuckled.  “Signorina, I told you. I am one powerful poltergeist!” he said merrily.

Maestro Martino reminded me that he could be away from whatever object to which he was bound for limited periods of time.  He said that he sensed the strong supernatural activity relatively nearby and it attracted him.  Then he also sensed my presence in the midst of it, so he came quickly.  I marveled at how powerful he truly must be to pick up all those things.  I could understand that he might be aware of ghostly activity, but I thought it was particularly extraordinary that he felt my mortal presence.

I told him about the Devil’s Herd and the ghost-riders.  “Is there anything you can do to get Andy back, Maestro?” I pleaded.

Cowgirl valentineThe spirit chef paced the area where the ghost-riders had charged after the red-eyed cattle.  Then he moved to a spot behind me and made tut-tut sounds.

“One of them was here, strongly,” Maestro muttered.  “He was most interested in you, Signorina.”

Then he came close to me and put out his hands, palms toward me as if he could feel something in the air around me.  He tut-tutted some more.

“What is it?” I wanted to know.

“Can you not see it?” he asked but then seemed to remember himself.  “Of course not.  My mistake,” he said and wriggled his fingers.

I marveled to see a multi-colored aura all around me.  There were bright horizontal yellow-green bands around it at my waist and shoulder.

“A poltergeist made physical contact with you, no?” he asked but it didn’t sound like a question.

In answer I told the Maestro about Caleb the ghost-rider and how he pulled me to safety as the Devil’s Herd thundered past.  His thick eyebrows went up in an expression of curiosity that was accompanied by another tut-tut sound.

“So, a ghost who is cursed for his cruelty during life saves an innocent bystander…  This is most intriguing,” he said.

Martino put his hand to the places where Caleb had stood.  Then he apologized and placed his hand at my waist.  After a second the Maestro gasped.

“Repentance?” he said in an astonished tone.  “Remorse and repentance?  I’m sure I feel these things from your ghost-rider.  It must be one powerful curse that afflicts him.  I am amazed that the curse has not been lifted.”Vintage ghosts several

I looked at Maestro Martino sadly.  He had never shown anything but kindness to me.  Yet he said he was cursed also.  Always one to put my foot in it, I asked about something that was none of my bees wax.  “Then shouldn’t your curse be lifted as well?  You said just now that it was cut in half.  Why didn’t they… whomever, just take it away?” I asked and then blushed at my temerity.

He gazed at me with the saddest look in his eyes…  Even Wriggles the pug couldn’t look that sad.  Then he abruptly smiled and chuckled.

“Ah, but you see, Signorina Pip, I have no remorse for the things that got me thusly cursed,” he admitted and spread his arms in a big shrug.

Maestro went back to the spot where Caleb had stood when he whistled at me.  His entire body started to vibrate in a frightening way.  He waivered from transparent to solid and back again, sometimes blinking out entirely.  It was like a visual version of the static on the police radio.  There was also a low discordant hum that set my teeth on edge.

The spirit chef loudly clapped his hands together.  To my astonishment, Caleb the cowboy appeared.  At first he seemed confused, but when he saw me he grinned.  I ran toward the two ghosts.

“Where is Andy?  Caleb, do you know where he is?  Can you bring him back?” I asked in a jumbled rush.abandoned factory

“Simmer down now little filly,” he said.

The ghost-rider looked a little unsettled, and I supposed he might well be.  After all, he had just been plucked out of whatever and wherever without so much as a please or thank you.  Caleb turned to Maestro Martino.  Some kind of acknowledgment or recognition seemed to pass between them.  I had the feeling they had just gauged each other’s power.

Caleb took off his Stetson and scratched his head as if he didn’t know what I meant.  However, I was pretty sure he was playing with me.

“Oh, you mean the little shrimp that was here with you?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said bouncing on the balls of my feet.  “Andy!  My friend, the one the other ghost-riders took!”

He chuckled, but I thought there was sadness in the cowboy’s eyes.  “I’m sorry ma’am.  I know who you mean.  It’s just… well you’re so cute,” he said though it only sounded half apologetic.

Caleb seemed to be considering whether or not he would be able to do as I asked.  He looked around the factory floor where we stood.

“We’ve been here before,” he said sounding a little troubled.  “Me and the other riders, I mean.  But it doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere out west,” he added and I told him that we were in Savannah, Georgia.

“This has to be a strong place, to draw the Devil’s Herd so far away,” he said in a speculative tone.  “Something else happened here too.  I think that’s why the place is so strong…” his voice trailed away.

“A nexus,” Maestro murmured.

Moss on live oaks SavannahI didn’t understand the term, but my only concern was for my missing friend.  I told Caleb about Daisy and what she had said about something horrible that she couldn’t remember happening in the factory.  Caleb nodded as if what I said made perfect sense.

“Sometimes it’s best not to remember,” the cowboy said in a flat voice.  “Tell her that — your Daisy.  Tell her it’s best, even in death, to forget some things.  Those boys… it will catch up with them eventually.”

“What boys?” I asked.

“Boys… men now,” Caleb said with a faraway look in his eyes.

It was as if he was looking at something only he could see.  However, when I glanced at Maestro, I had the feeling he was looking at the same thing Caleb saw.

“The boys who were here on the day your Daisy can’t remember,” Caleb answered after a moment.  “They did something so bad that it attracted the ghost herd and the cursed riders.  We were here that day.  It scared ‘em off, but their damage was already done.  Daisy saw us, but all things together, she blocked out all the memory,” he said.Tom Mix poster

“You mean the ghost-riders tried to save Daisy?” I asked.

“No ma’am.  It had nothing to do with helping anybody.  The herd and the riders, we’re sometimes drawn to places where something awful has happened.  And those boys definitely did something horrible.  Those boys…  They’re not young anymore.  And they haven’t paid for what they did to her.  That’s what’s bothering Daisy, ma’am,” Caleb said.

His explanation seemed disjointed and difficult to follow, but Maestro nodded in agreement.  I, however, felt confused.

“Do you mean this is where Daisy died?” I asked in a whisper.

Caleb shook his head negatively.  Maestro gave a slight movement of his head too.  Apparently they both were able to see the same past event.

“Maybe.  Maybe not,” Caleb said.  “But there was cruelty here.  It’s not something a lady should have to remember,” he added and would say no more on the subject.

“Now listen here —” I began, ready to rail against the idea that gender should have the least bit to do with what anybody should about anything.  However, that was a ridiculous concept to most non-flappers.  It would have been even stranger in Caleb’s day.  Besides, there were more urgent things to address.

“What about Andy?” I asked, and I wondered if I sounded as distraught as I had to my own ears.

“Don’t you worry none, ma’am,” Caleb said with what was probably meant to be a reassuring smile.

The ghost-rider’s smile fell short of giving comfort.  It didn’t reach his eyes.  I was sure he had doubts about being able to help Andy.  The smile faded completely when he saw my face.1920s PhotoPlay

“Well, the truth is ma’am,” he paused and ground his boot against the floor.  “It would take a lot more power than I have,” he said.  “But you never know.  I’ll try my best.”

Maestro Martino unexpectedly grabbed Caleb’s hand.  The ghost chef put his other hand on the cowboy’s shoulder.  At first I thought it was an ordinary gesture of respect.  However, Maestro started to glow.  Then his hands seemed to merge with Caleb and they both became translucent.

A blinding white glow suffused the Maestro.  Soon it covered Caleb too.  The white light became so bright that I couldn’t see anything.  I shielded my eyes to no avail.  I turned my head and closed my eyes.

I heard a fizzing sound followed by a pop.  The light was gone.  I opened my eyes.  At first all I could see were spots.  Then I realized that Caleb the cowboy was gone.

Maestro Martino looked absolutely spent.  He plopped down on a crate.  The ghost chef dusted off part of the top and chuckled.  I noticed foreign lettering on the crate.  “Peperoncino,” it said.  Was that Italian?

He sighed.  “Ah… a bit of home.  Peperoncino.  Hot peppers.  Alas, home is as far away as ever,” he said sadly.  “But all is well.  It was the right thing to do.”

Bird Girl Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil“What do you mean, Maestro?” I asked.  His unexpected behavior was really worrying me.

“As you probably suspected, I leant the ghost-rider enough power to help the Signore.  But the only way I could do this thing was to also give him his wish,” Martino said.

I was so worried about Andy that I was feeling impatient with the cryptic answers from the spirit.  I tried to control my tone. “What wish?” I insisted.

Then I remembered Caleb’s words.  “I know I did some bad things during my life.  Some truly horrible things,” he’d said, shaking his head remorsefully.  “I only wish I could be allowed to make up for it, to redeem myself somehow.

“Maestro…” I began in an awed voice.  “You didn’t?  Oh, but you did,” I said as comprehension dawned.  “You gave Caleb the chance to make amends for the things he did in his lifetime?”

The ghost chef nodded but did not speak.

“And in doing that, you somehow gave up the time that was going to be taken off your own curse,” I said.

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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