In the Pip of Time & 10 Things Not To Do

Hello, everyone!  We have a guest today.  My thanks to John W. Howell, for agreeing to do a joint post with me, using one of his fabulous lists of what not to do!  Actually, this post is already live at his blog, Fiction Favorites.  Some of you have already visited there, so I thank you and I apologize for giving you a rerun.

John recently re-launched the first book in his “John J. Cannon” trilogy, My GRL.  Click here for details.  He also has the marvelous blog I mentioned above, Fiction Favorites.  John uses a different theme for each day of the week.  Mondays are a fun take on lists with Top Ten Things Not to Do.  So now I present John’s part of this collaboration.  

John W. Howell — take it away, my friend!

Top Ten Things Not to Do If You are Transported Back to the Roaring Twenties

This week’s list is inspired by Teagan R. Geneviene who is working to release her next 1920’s novel. In a discussion, she wondered aloud what it would be like to be transported back to the roaring twenties. My mind went immediately to the Top Ten things one shouldn’t do if transported. You see, I have the belief that Teagan can do anything she puts her mind to doing. I feel it is my job to warn her in case she is successful. So here is the list.

Top Ten Things Not to Do If You are Transported Back to the Roaring Twenties

10. If you have been transported to the roaring twenties, do not try to pay for anything with the money in your pocket. If you do, at best you’ll be a laughing-stock. At worst, you may be charged with counterfeiting. (Nothing like a little time on bread and water to help that waistline huh, Bunky?)

9. If you have been transported to the roaring twenties, do not let anyone see your iPhone or Apple watch. If you do, at best they will think you are from Hollywood. At worst, you might find yourself tied to a stake on top of a very big pile of wood. (That guy with the kerosene and matches heading this way is not the fire chief, Buford.)

1923 Quasimodo claims sanctuary for Esmeralda

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1923) Quasimodo claims sanctuary for Esmeralda.

8. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties do not think you can tell someone how a computer works in hopes of usurping Bill Gates. If you do, at best you’ll have very confused people trying to understand your directions. At worst, that jacket you are being fitted for is not for show. (Does the name Bellevue ring a bell, Buster?)

7. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not try out your Charleston until you see how others do it. If you do, at best those old movies were wrong. At worst, most everyone will assume you have been over-served. (The nice part there are no cell phone videos to go viral huh, Tex?)

6. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not laugh when you are served a martini in a teacup. If you do, at best the bartender will think you are drunk. At worst, the gang may assume you are a Fed and invite you to take a swim while wearing cement overshoes. (Boy, those guys play rough don’t they, Slick.)

bartender-vintage

5. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties do not wave second-hand cigarette smoke away and claim you are allergic. If you do, at best you might be asked to leave. At worst, Tiny the Bronx wrestling champ and the club bouncer might ask you to leave his way. (You were sure that door was going to stop you from hitting the ally weren’t you, Champ. Oh yes. Tiny says you owe him for a new door.)

4. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not grab a megaphone and start singing Winchester Cathedral. If you do, at best you’ll get strange looks. At worst, people will think you have a crush on Rudy Vallee. (You see Ferd, it would be like singing a Bono song. It’s just not done.)

3. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties do not try to pump your own gas. If you do, at best you won’t be able to crank the pump. At worst, the local service station attendant may think you are after his job. (How did that large monkey wrench feel before you passed out huh, Babe?)

1920s Vaudeville Cats postcard

1920s Vaudeville Cats Postcard

2. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not ask for a doggie bag at the restaurant. If you do, at best you’ll get a raw bone. At worst, the chef might assume you felt his food was only fit for dogs. (I would not argue with a guy who has such a big knife, Pard. In fact, I would take off running.)

1. If you are transported back to the roaring twenties, do not use slang until sure of the proper context. If you do, at best you might insult a few people. At worst, you may have triggered a full-blown riot. (Who knew Twenty-Three Skidoo was a code word for a steelworker rebellion. Not you huh, Putz?)

***

Ha-ha!  I love John’s lists.  Another favorite day at his blog is Wednesday Story Day.  (First episode here.) What a whiplash inducing serial that is!

Okay, now for my part of this joint post.  This vignette is set in the Roaring Twenties world of my flapper character, Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip.  (For more about Pip, see The Three Things Serial Story, click here.)

Most of you know that I’m fond of doing “pantser” stories, written spontaneously, according to random things, provided by readers.  This time I took my three things from numbers nine and ten of John’s list:  Counterfeiting, Time, and Hollywood.  I hope you enjoy this impromptu vignette.  Here goes!

In the Pip of Time

Aelita_1924_still_04

“Aelita, Queen of Mars” was playing at the Bijou Theatre.  I was brand new in town and my pal Alastair Wong invited me to go to the show with a group of his friends.  However, the friends cancelled.  To my surprise, Granny Phanny and Dr. Veronica Vale took the tickets.  At first I couldn’t understand why they would want to see a science fiction film about a soldier, an inventor, and a police informant taking the first flight to Mars.

Veronica reminded Alastair and me that she and Granny had been, and basically would always be suffragettes.  They encouraged films with strong female characters.  Of course, in this story, Aelita is not what she at first seemed and things end badly for her.  Nonetheless she was a strong character and the two older women wanted to see the show.

Afterward, Granny and Veronica were still animatedly discussing the story as we walked out of the Bijou.  Alastair and I were fascinated by the Hollywood “movie magic” that created the Martian city and the spaceship.  As you might expect our discussion was more whimsical than that of the older generation.

“What if somebody from Mars came here?” Alastair pondered.

250px-Princess_of_Mars_large

I always got a kick out of Alastair’s mildly British accent.  So I was already smiling when I told him Martians would have a tough time fitting in with humans.  It was doubtful that anybody would think they were the bee’s knees! 

A man wearing a bizarre metal hat and strange clothes burst out of the theater.  He tried to close a fancy briefcase as he ran.  Several bills flew out of it.  He grabbed most of them, but I noticed the breeze took one over to a planter.  The man just kept running until he rounded the corner of the Bijou.

Out of curiosity, Alastair and I followed him to the dead end alley behind the theater.  We backed against the wall, when a moment later a woman ran after him.  She had pointy cone shaped things over her ears.  Though no one was with her, she spoke as if in conversation with someone.  She held something that must have been a large gun, although it didn’t look quite like any shooter I’d ever seen.  She pointed it at the man and yelled for him to stop.

Gods_of_Mars-1918 Edgar Rice Burroughs

Then she fired the gun — I think.  At least she pointed it and seemed to shoot it, but I didn’t see it do anything.  However, the trash can six feet ahead of the guy exploded.  He looked at her fearfully, but he kept running.  So she threw a whirling thingamajig at his feet, causing him to fall.

The woman jumped on him, with her knee in his back, pinning him to the ground.  She muttered something about “low-life securities thief.”  He grunted at the pressure from her knee.

Then she spotted Alastair and me.  We shrank further against the wall.  The odd gun looked even bigger when she pointed it at us.  That bearcat had a fierce glare, I can tell you.  To my astonishment she abruptly started laughing.

Sci Fi Costume 1920s woman.png

“I could warn you not to tell anyone what you just saw,” she stopped chortling long enough to say.  “But if you did, they’d think you were insane.”

Still chuckling, she touched one of the pointy cones that covered her ears.  She and the man disappeared into thin air!  It was as if they had never been there at all — except for the exploded remains of the trash can.

Alastair and I exchanged wide eyed looks, speechless.  He made an obviously uncomfortable attempt at laughing.

“Those Hollywood types.  They’ll do anything to promote a film.”

“But there was nobody to see that but us,” I managed to say, though it was more of a squeak.  “It wouldn’t be much of a promo.”

I headed back around the corner, remembering the paper that fell out of the odd man’s briefcase.  The man had missed one and I saw it land in a planter.  I plucked it out of the greenery.

“That looks like mazuma,” Alastair whispered.  “Cash money!  But it’s not any currency I’ve ever seen.  Maybe it’s counterfeit.”

Inspecting it closely I nodded and turned the paper over to read both sides.  “It says ‘Federal Reserve Note’ but you’re right.  It must be counterfeit.  It’s odd looking, but even if it was from some other country, they’ve got the date wrong.  It says 2419.  As if maybe somebody transposed the date.”

Alastair and I continued to stare at one another.  Now and then one or the other of us would take a breath, start to say something, and then shrug mutely.

Finally I summoned the only words I could.  “I wouldn’t mind getting spifflicated about now.”

Alastair agreed.

The end.

***

1920s Man on Moon Drinking

If you want to know more about the upcoming 1920s culinary mystery, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I, click here.

Thanks so very much for visiting.  Mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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.

Ahoy My GRL! Re-Launch

In case you needed a boost to get over the midweek hump, I’m here with a launch party!

John W. Howell is one of the most supportive bloggers I know.  He’s also a fantastic writer of suspenseful, thrilling fiction.  John has just re-launched the first book in the John Cannon trilogy, My GRL.

Not only that, it’s story day at his blog, Fiction Favorites. So be sure to check out the misadventures of Lucas, Alice, and the sheriff.

Oh, don’t forget, today is also National Pig Day, so we’ll party that much harder, with Deme and Honeybell Plus it’s St. David’s Day  Wow, look at all the celebrating we need to do!

Now, I’m handing things over to John.  He’ll tell you all about the star of this party, My GRL.

Announcing the Re-launch of My GRL

My GRL

The cover is new and the book edited once again to enhance the experience. What is really nice is the price has been cut for the introduction. You can buy the kindle version for a special introduction price of

$0.99

Here’s the blurb.

John J. Cannon successful San Francisco lawyer takes a well-deserved leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. He is unaware that his newly purchased boat had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital where he learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission. Amazon for the kindle version

Here is the link to Amazon for the Kindle version

Here is the link to Amazon for the Paper version

Check them out and read the first few pages on Amazon.

Also, you can check out John Cannon’s other two adventures, as well as, the new My GRL at John W. Howell’s Author Page

his-revenge-front-finalour-justice-front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

john-resized

Author Bio

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Thanks John!  And thanks to all of you for visiting this launch party!  Click over to John’s blog (here) and wish him “Bon voyage!”  

I’ll see you this weekend.  Mega hugs!

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 3

 

Crystal Reading Atonement

Crystal pointing to a clue

Wow! May is nearly half over already.  However, it’s still  Get Caught Reading Month.  Welcome back to the zany and bizarre story I’ve been writing to encourage people of all ages to read.  As many of you know, a few elite bloggers (and their pets) banded together with one quest — catch the Story Reading Ape reading.

 

When we left our heroes…

During the first chapter, I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the Story Reading Ape reading.

Last time  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen and I met a number of author-bloggers (and their pets) who joined the quest to catch the illusive Ape. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  (Cowboy Boss and His Destiny), Christoph Fischer (The Gamblers.), John W. Howell (John J. Cannon Trilogy,) and blogger Dan Antion.

This time a new duo gets added to the intrepid band of bloggers –  Hugh Roberts and Toby.  Now, let’s join our adventuring bloggers.

Sign of the Ape 3

Ape in Tokyo

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

I couldn’t see anything when I looked out the portholes of the dirigible.  No, I don’t mean that it was nighttime.  There was nothing to see, just flat blackness.  I supposed it was just as well.  The airship was traveling outside the laws of nature with the alchemist, Cornelis Drebbel, at the helm.

That gave me a very unsettling feeling.  However, the steady whir of the engines was comforting.  The sound was almost hypnotic.  I wondered aloud how long it would take us to get from New York to Tokyo, even with the magic Cornelis used.Kasha reading

“I don’t feel very well,” Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  murmured, and her fur baby, Kasha, put her head on Mary’s knee.

“Air sickness, Mary?” Suzanne DeBrango asked the author in a concerned voice, but Percy the Pug barked a decisive yip.

Tilting my head, I studied the little dog.  It seemed like he sensed something, but we humans were not picking up on it.

Suzanne made a face.  “Now that you mention it, I don’t feel quite right either.  Maybe it was the hors-d’oeuvres back at the Fictional Heroes exhibit,” the blogger-chef suggested.  “My stomach feels all wrong, but then so does my head.”

Abruptly we experienced a sharp bump, an air pocket, I thought.  However, the pressure inside my ears immediately did something strange, causing me to shake my head.  With a sinking feeling I knew that was no air pocket.  It was the blasted alchemy going awry.

“Cornelis Drebbel!” I shouted, much as Felicity, the woman in trousers, would have.  “What have you done?”

Before the words had left my mouth, I felt the sensation of horrible pressure.  It was like having a giant vice in front and in back, pressing hard against me from both sides.  I thought my head might explode, but my ears finally popped, giving me some relief.  It effected my eyesight as well.  Everything blurred and twisted.  Then my eyes bulged painfully, so I squeezed them shut.Anime eyes Kagome

After a moment I the dirigible bumped lightly.  I heard soft groans from my companions.  Snuffling sounds told me Kasha and Percy were sniffing everything excitedly.  My eyes were still closed against all the unpleasant sensations I had just experienced, but I felt a little paw on my knee.  I put my hand out and knew it was the Pug’s sturdy little body, so I petted him.  Then he ran back to Suzanne.

Finally I opened my eyes, but I had trouble focusing.

“Teagan, are you okay?” Mary asked.  “You know, I never realized how huge your eyes were before,” she commented in a puzzled tone.

Or at least it sounded like Mary.  Her hair was blond, but there was something different about it.  When she moved I realized that her hair flowed almost to the floor.  Something else wasn’t wright, but everything was still blurry.

“I think I’m okay,” I told Mary.  “I’m having trouble getting a deep breath though.”

She and Suzanne helped me stand.  Suzanne led us to the portholes.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

“Look at the lights,” Suzanne exclaimed.  “It’s Tokyo!  We’re there.”

Cornelis called out that we should sit down.  The airship was about to land.  The three of us staggered to our seats.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one experiencing my unfortunate symptoms.

“Teagan, could I ask you something?” Suzanne began hesitantly and my affirmative came out as a groan.  “Oh, here – these might help,” she added handing me my glasses.  “Are you feeling a little… deflated?  Because I sure am.”

Putting on my glasses I looked at Suzanne.  I was speechless.  Her hair was suddenly short and bluish-green.  She was dressed in a turquoise metallic futuristic outfit with matching tall boots.  There was one other thing.  Suzanne was flat.  So was Mary.  So were the dogs!  They all looked like anime characters.  I started to hold my hand up in front of my face to see if I had been effected, but I was afraid to look.

I turned to Mary, who was shifting uncomfortably in her seat.  Mary made a complaint to that effect.  She wore a flowing airy gown.  Indeed there was something that prevented her getting comfortable.

“Erm… that might be because of your wings,” I told her.  “I think maybe you’re some sort of goddess character.”

Mary reached frantically behind her and gasped when her fingers came into contact with her wings.

For a moment I studied Suzanne in that futuristic outfit.  I asked her if she thought perhaps somewhere nearby there was a giant robot that belonged to her.  The oddest expression came to her face.Eureka

“I know it sounds crazy,” Suzanne admitted.  “But I think maybe there is!”

“Don’t you all look delicious?” Cornelis exclaimed as he strolled into the area. 

He was dressed as a Victorian gentleman, but that would not be unusual for him.  However, it was certainly odd that he looked like an anime Cornelis Drebbel.  He reminded me of one of the male characters I might see on the Black Butler series.

“Am I supposed to be some kind of goddess?” Mary asked the alchemist.  “These wings!” she added, still uncomfortable in the seat.

“Darling Mary, all women are goddesses,” Cornelis replied slyly with bobbing eyebrows.

“But what about you, Teagan?” Suzanne asked worriedly.

Inuyasha vol-1 1997

Inuyasha (& Kagome) manga, v. 1, 1997

Looking down, I saw that I wore loafers and knee socks.  I was dressed in a pleated skirt, and white blouse with a sailor collar.  It was like an anime schoolgirl uniform.  I groaned even louder than I had when the air was squeezed out of me.  I was barely aware of hearing a rhythmic thumping sound.

“Cornelis Drebbel,” I growled pushing my skirt into place.  “You’d better be glad this skirt was not a mini!  Else you’d be a dead man.”

“I don’t mean the outfit,” Suzanne told me as she gestured to her head, just above her ear. 

Moving a strand of my hair, I realized it was long and black.  I gasped, but apparently that wasn’t the full extent of my transformation.

Finally Suzanne added, “Ears?  Tail!

I put my hands to the top of my head and felt two soft furry ears.  The thumping sound grew faster and louder.  I put a hand to my backside.  The noise was coming from my anxiously swishing, thumping tail!

“Your character may have gotten a little… crossed,” Cornelis said in a droll voice.  “You were actually supposed to be a Neko character.”

Percevil Ulysses Holmes

Percevil Ulysses Holmes

“Come along.  There’s a city square we must get to.  It has a number of billboards bearing images of our quarry.  We can take the giant robot as transportation, if Suzanne will kindly drive him,” Cornelis told us all, with a bow to the blogger-chef.

The turquoise anime version of Suzanne scrambled to the porthole and gasped in excitement.  I followed and my tail swished, knocking over a small table.  Mary glanced at her wings, murmured something about what damage she might do with her wings, and stayed in her uncomfortable seat.  When I reached the window, I saw a huge flatbed being pulled by a heavy duty construction loader.  Stretched out on the flatbed was a giant flying robot.

Cornelis moved to help Suzanne and Percy as they disembarked the dirigible, though they both scampered down the gangway without need of assistance.  Mary’s wings presented more of a problem.  A gust of wind caught her and she was lifted into the air.

“Mary!” I screamed and Kasha barked.

A thread of magical glowing green shot from the alchemist’s hand and wrapped around Mary’s ankle.  Cornelis and Kasha walked down the ramp, with the anime version of Mary in tow via the magical lead.  Once safely on the ground, Cornelis helped her touch down.

My tail swayed as I descended.  It was amazingly useful for balance.  Then my cat ears picked up a familiar voice and barking.  Kasha and Percy also heard it and barked their replies.  A man and a Corgi hopped out of the construction loader.  It was Hugh Roberts and Toby.

Toby reading Hugh

Toby caught reading

Moments after I introduced everyone, my new cat ears picked up muffled sounds.  It was the same music I’d heard back at the wax museum.  I heard the funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme, and I remembered the tunnel back at Time Square into which John W. Howell, Dan Antion, and their pets had gone.  It seemed impossible that it could be them.  Then I heard two dogs barking and a cat’s meow.  It had to be Lucy, Maddie, and MiMi.

Finally the sounds grew loud enough for the other humans to hear. 

“Isn’t that ruckus coming from below ground?” Hugh commented in surprise.

“Yes.  It sure is,” I replied, feeling very worried.

End Chapter 3, The Sign of the Ape

I begin to think the Ape won’t be caught until he simply allows us to do so.  Now that I’ve seen his image all over billboards in Tokyo I think maybe he’s in charge!  Stick around to see what happens to our intrepid bloggers next week!

By the way, it is a work day, so forgive me if I’m slow to answer comments.

GCR pets

 

The Sign of the Ape, furry family cast

Row 1:  Percy, Crystal, Lucy, Kasha

Row 2:  Claudius, Oh Kitty, and Sweeney, and Toby

Row 3:  Wilma, Greta, Maddie, MiMi

 

 

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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.

Special mention to Christopher Graham for the marvelous “Atonement, Tennessee” images.

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 2

The month of May is a lovely time of year.  It’s also Get Caught Reading (GCR) Month.  As many of you know, I’m doing a midweek mini-series in support of this public service campaign.  The intention of GCR is to encourage people of all ages to read, and that is what bloggers do with every post.  So this fictional, fanciful story includes an intrepid band of bloggers.

Have you caught me reading any sort of novel?  Why yes you have — the novel that inspired the title of this mini-series, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four.  The plot has nothing to do with my story though. I was not ambitious enough to try and follow the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes.  You can get The Sign of the Four free here.

Last Time

During the first chapter I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like  Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the  Story Reading Ape reading.

At Times Square I glimpsed something very large and very furry carrying a book.  He bounded around the corner.  I ran to the spot, but he was long gone.  Then on the sidewalk I saw a banana.  It had to be the sign of the ape.

The Sign of the Ape — Chapter 2The_Sign_of_the_Four-_in_Lippincott’s_Monthly_Magazine_1890

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four Chap. 6, p. 111

 

“Percy and I will meet you at Madame Tussaud’s Celebrity Wax Museum,”  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen had promised.

I had thought the blogger-chef was the only person in New York that I knew.  However, at the famous wax museum I entered a gallery with a marque announcing a new exhibit called Fictional Heroes. I saw familiar faces.

Kasha reading

Kasha reading about Michigan lighthouses

The first thing I noticed was a cowboy who seemed oddly familiar to me.  When I saw author Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  I understood why — it was Tristan Carlson, from Cowboy Boss and His Destiny. Or rather it was a wax version of him. 

Excited barking greeted me.  It was Kasha, Mary’s fur baby.  Kasha stopped for me to pet her, but then tried to run out to the hallway.  Mary of course caught her.

However, something four footed may have been what interested Kasha.  In came two large curly haired dogs.  Mary said she wondered what they were.  A smile slowly spread across my face as I recognized another statue — Ben Andrews of The Gamblers. 

“I believe those would be Laboradoodles, and I think you’re about to meet Christoph Fischer,” I told her just as the writer walked into the room.

Greta-Wilma

Greta and Wilma caught reading

Then I heard the funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme.  I looked back at the collection of wax heroes.  Was there a spy or thriller hero among them?  I didn’t recognize the statue at first.  However, Kasha was sniffing at one.  I saw the wax man was the hero of the John J. Cannon Trilogyby John W. Howell.

It was odd about the music… Was it my imagination?  I gave my head a shake.  However, I forgot about it when a moment later, Percy the Pug led Suzanne into the exhibit.  Seeing the blogger-chef reminded me…  The opening of the exhibit was shaping up to be such a great party that for a moment I almost forgot the strange events that brought me there.  

“Did you happen to see John W. Howell, out there?” I asked Suzanne, motioning to the hallway.

Lucy digging_John

Lucy digging

“Oh, that must have been the man with the boxer.  I thought he looked familiar,” she replied.  “They were just outside.  The dog was trying to dig up something.  She was really persistent about it.”

That was odd.  I knew John’s pets were well behaved.  I wondered what was going on with Lucy.  However, my thoughts were interrupted when all the dogs started barking furiously.  Suzanne deftly picked little Percy up in her arms.  The other dogs tore out of the exhibit, their author owners running frantically behind them.

As the dogs left, I noticed it on the floor near the wax figures.  The sign of the ape — a ripe yellow banana.  I picked up the banana, examining it carefully.  I saw nothing unusual about it.  There was no clue or suggestion of where the Story Reading Ape had gone.  I followed the sound of barking to another gallery.

A single display was far larger than all the rest, taking up an entire wall. Everyone was transfixed by that figure.  It was a wax exhibit of the Ape himself.  The dogs stopped barking, but Kasha, Greta, and Wilma sniffed every inch of the exhibit.  Percy struggled until Suzanne finally let him down to join the others.

“What has them so excited?” Christoph Fischer asked as he moved closer to Greta and Wilma to make sure they weren’t at risk.  

I explained to him about the chase to catch the Story Reading Ape reading.  Meanwhile I examined the display closely, or at least as much of it as I could reach.  Christoph, being taller than the rest of us inspected the higher portions.  However, we found no clues, nothing that would lead me to the Ape.  The dogs had stopped their sniffing.  Apparently they had lost his trail.  

Ape Gallery

Christoph’s Laboradoodles moved over to me.  I petted the dogs, amazed by their soft curly fur.  I wasn’t sure which was Greta and which was Wilma, but they were both adorable.  Soon the authors were called back to their exhibit.  I was able to quickly introduce Suzanne to Christoph and Mary before the authors had to return to their exhibit.

I detained them long enough to ask if any of them had met John Howell yet.  Apparently John never came inside the museum.  That made me uneasy, so I went looking for the Texas based author.

To my surprise, Percy followed me.  A moment later Suzanne ran behind the pug to catch him.  As I rounded a corner I all but collided with a tall man.

MiMi reading_Dan

MiMi reading for a clue

Dan Antion?” I exclaimed in surprise.

It turned out Dan was in New York to meet John W. Howell and see his John Cannon wax statue.  Dan carried a small kennel, from which I heard a meow.  I asked if he always traveled with one of his cats.

“MiMi has been acting really clingy and… just strange,” he confessed.  “I could have sworn I heard her meowing back and forth with some other cats, but she was alone.  Then she got one of my books.  She slapped my hand when I tried to take it away from her.  I thought it was best to take her with me.”

I suspected Annette‘s cats had called Dan’s for a meow-wow, just as they had called Crystal.  Then I heard barking from a new canine voice.  Dan looked around worriedly and muttered something I didn’t catch.  Suddenly I realized he must have brought his dog too.

Maddie sniffing_Dan

Maddie on the trail

“Maddie!” he called and then whistled as we all moved toward the barking. 

 Outside the museum was a small landscaped area.  Percy ran to a sizable hole in the ground there.  Dan’s Irish Setter had already gone into the hole, but she ran back out when Dan called her.  At that point I realized the hole wasn’t simply a hole, but a tunnel.

Then I heard it again…  It sounded far away and muffled, but I could hear the funky James Bond guitar music again.  The music seemed to move gradually farther away.  Percy wagged his little tail and gave a yip, as if he meant to say everything was as it should be.  Suzanne and I exchanged puzzled looks.  

“I think John and Lucy are down there,” I told them.

Before you could say boo, Dan along with Maddie and MiMi, went into the tunnel after John W. Howell.  Suzanne tightened her grip on Percy’s leash, but the pug didn’t try to follow the others.

“It might be dangerous — especially for just one person,” Dan called from the tunnel.  “I’d better go after John and Lucy.”

A taxi rolled up.  It was the same driver that brought me to the wax museum, the same driver who looked a lot like the pilot of the airship — I mean the man who looked an awful lot like Cornelis Drebbel.  Suzanne’s eyes widened.

Percy Tie pug hill

Percy reads Pug Hill

“It’s him isn’t it?” she exclaimed.  “It’s the alchemist.  How did you bring Cornelis Drebbel here?” she asked in astonishment.

I told her that he was actually the one who brought me.  At that point I had to admit to myself that the driver/pilot truly was Cornelis Drebbel.  Yes, I had been in denial.  As  Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  My driver and pilot had been Cornelis Drebbel, the alchemist.

 

Cornelis began to flirt outrageously with Suzanne.  The two were having such a good time, I didn’t mean to be a wet blanket.  However, all I could think about was the fact that I had no idea where to look next for the Story Reading Ape.  Then I realized I still had the banana, the sign of the ape.  I took a closer look at it.  There was a little sticker, a brand mark, but the writing was Japanese.

Cornelis looked askance.  I showed him the sticker.  

“Oh yes, I know this market.  It’s in Tokyo,” he said, but I gave him a blank stare.  “That’s your next clue.  Come along now.  Get in the car.  We need to take the dirigible to get there,” he added and I mutely got into the cab.

“Well m’lady?  May I have the honor?” Cornelis spoke to Suzanne and she and Percy eagerly got into the taxi.  

“Did you say dirigible?  That sounds like a slow way to get to Japan,” Suzanne commented.  “Cornelis, are you going to use magic?” she asked with a grin.

Cornellis merely wriggled his bushy eyebrows.  

I cringed.  This couldn’t be good.

“Where is that blond?” Cornelis asked hopefully.

“Do you mean Mary J. McCoy-Dressel?” I wanted to know.

“Well yes, we have a brunette and a redhead,” Cornelis said as if explaining to a child. “It would work better if we also had a blond too.”

That of course made no sense at all to me.  However, as if on cue, I heard barking and Kasha bounded up to Cornelis.  Mary ran after her dog, but looked at Cornelis Drebbel in shock.

“Is he?” she began and I nodded.

“Cornelis, what would work better?” I demanded as a queasy feeling formed in my stomach.  “Cornelis Drebbel, you’re not planning some complicated alchemy are you?”

The alchemist wriggled his bushy eyebrows again.  This really, really couldn’t be good.

***

End Chapter 2

If you remember Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, then you know Cornelis Drebbel’s magic had a tendency to go awry.  Between the alchemist and the Ape, what will happen to our intrepid band of bloggers in Tokyo?  And what about John and Dan (and their pets)?  We left them in that tunnel.  Come back for the next midweek episode to find out.

Copyright © 2016 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.

 

New Release — His Revenge by John W. Howell

Hello everyone.

One of my favorite authors is ready with a new book, and it is my pleasure to share this publication launch with you!  Please welcome John W. Howell and His Revenge.  Be sure to drop by John’s blog and wish him the best.

Mega hugs,

Teagan

Announcing…   His Revenge by John W. Howell is now available in paper and ebook on Amazon.

His Revenge front final

The sequel to My GRL titled His Revenge is available and a new story continues where My GRL left off.

His Revenge is available in the US in Paper and Kindle editions

In Canada in Paper and Kindle editions

In the UK in Paper and Kindle editions

Here is the blurb:

America loves John Cannon, its newest hero, and the President wants to present him with the highest civilian medal for bravery for saving the Annapolis midshipman from a terrorist plot to destroy them. While in Washington for the award ceremony, John unwillingly becomes an accomplice in another plan by the same group to attack the credibility of the US President and the stability of the worldwide oil market. There is no way out as John either becomes a traitor to America or causes thousands of innocent people to die if he refuses.

The second John J Cannon Thriller moves from a barrier Island off the coast of Texas to Washington DC, then to Northern California, and finally to Ecuador. John is on the receiving end of an offer he cannot, refuse. His avowed enemy Matt Jacobs now wants John to help him shake the reputation of the US in the world political arena and disrupt confidence in the government at home. If John refuses, Matt plans to murder innocent Americans including John’s latest relationship. John’s only way out is to pretend to go along with the plan and hope for a miracle.

Excerpt from Chapter One

The water rushes over my head. I’m sinking and don’t know why. With my breath held, I have trouble stopping the air from escaping since the pressure drives the air up and out. I try to keep my mouth closed, but the water pressure pushes the air out more and more. Will I pass out? In the distance, the light is dim. To rise to the surface in time might not be possible─I need to breathe right now. Toward ending the pain in my chest, my rambling mind rationalizes taking a deep breath—even knowing it will end my life. In conflict with the irrational thought of ending it, my body won’t let me suck in the water, as it fights to retain the little bit of oxygen left to fuel my brain.

The despair is nearly overwhelming, and my mind considers other ways to battle the feeling. What more could I have done with my life? The pressure becomes more intense, and I’m about to lose it all, and I decide I’ve lived the way I wanted and have no regrets. I close my eyes and hear only the roar of the sea. I’m so tired. Exhausted. Sleep will fix everything, and I want to give in.

Photo by Tim Burdick

About the Author

John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes fictional short stories and novels as well as a blog at http://www.johnwhowell.com. John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife and spoiled rescue pets. He can be reached at his e-mail johnhowell.wave@gmail.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241 or Twitter at @HowellWave

My GRL_johnwhowell

His first novel, My GRL is available on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold.

 

 

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 18

Communication Breakdown

Communication Breakdown, It’s always the same;Victorian Airships
I’m having a nervous breakdown, Drive me insane…  Led Zeppelin

Pardon me for jittering off into a Zeppelin-zone… It was that kind of week.  I could describe all the chaos that resulted from lack of communication, but that would take all day. Just watch a clip of the Keystone Cops and you’ll get the general idea.

But it’s the weekend now, and I’ve escaped to my Sanctuary — this blog where our communications are so wonderful.  Communications are an integral part of all the “Three Things” serials here. If you didn’t send the things that drive the episodes, I wouldn’t be writing the stories.

At about the same time that John W. Howell (Episode-17) sent me a second set of “three things,” so did another reader — Suzanne Debrango, the extraordinary chef at “A Pug in the Kitchen.”  Her second set of things fueled our steam(punk) locomotive and kept the serial on track for this episode. She’s also involved in a new group blog, The Dinner Party Collective.  I know her plate is over-full right now, yet she always takes time to read the serial and leave helpful and encouraging comments.  So thank you Suzanne!

Vintage Pug paintingAll of you have given a lot of positive communication when I include menus in the story.  One of Suzanne’s “things” was a classic Victorian dish.  That inspired me to look for a menu for an actual Victorian meal.  It probably won’t make you as hungry as the menu in Episode-17 (go ahead and thank me now), but I found it fascinating.  Be sure to check out the links you’ll find along the way, in text and pictures, for interesting tidbits about how the Victorians lived.

Life in the Victorian Era was a long way from the world we know today. But the steam locomotive made the trip!  It just pulled up to the platform.  All aboard!

From last time

The movement of the water became intense.  Something was rising to the surface.  Involuntarily I took a step backward.  Victoria took Copper’s hand and pulled her several feet away from the shore.

For a moment I thought a whale would breach the surface.  Then I realized it was no living thing.  When the entire large shape was in full view, I still didn’t know what it could be. 

“Cornelis…” I began, but found I was at a loss for words.  “Wha—”

Cornelis Drebbel clasped his hands and a gleeful expression lit his face, as if he beheld something he had long missed.

“It’s my submarine!” he crowed.

 ***

18.  Feather, Yorkshire Pudding, Absinthe

A highly refined version of the submarine Cornelis Drebbel invented in 1620 breached the surface of the water.  I don’t know what I expected it would do after surfacing, but I thought it would at least do something.  However, the vessel bobbed on the gentle currents and other wise did not move.Drebbel Submarine painting

Alastair Wong spoke excitedly to Cornelis, marveling about the machine.  Our host clearly hoped for a tour of the submarine.

“This surely was a feather in your cap.  It’s amazing that you invented such a futuristic vehicle so very long ago!” Alastair exclaimed and Victoria nodded her agreement.

Cornelis looked unexpectedly worried.  That puzzled me, because he loved to show off his inventions.

“You must have a look at it.  But I’d best go aboard first to err… to make sure things are in order,” the alchemist said with a distracted smile.  “The hatch should have opened by now,” Cornelis murmured as he turned from Wong back toward the submarine.

As the Dutchman approached the shoreline the vessel’s hatch slowly opened.  Green vapors emanated from the opening.  The breeze carried an aroma like licorice to me.  Victoria smelled it too.fog on lake

“Is that scent anise?” she asked no one in particular.

“The king must have been thrilled,” Wong continued, not noticing the tiny woman’s softly spoken question.  “Just to think—” his words abruptly cut off.

Though it was far away, it was easy to hear the distant boom of the huge gong at the Wong estate.  Alastair turned back in the direction from which we came.  His face remained passive at the unexpected sound.  A second vibrant hollow tone crashed immediately after the first.  Wong and Victoria exchanged a quick concerned glance.  For the space of two heartbeats there was silence.  Victoria took a relieved breath, but Alastair had not moved a muscle.  Then a third beat rang across the countryside.

Victoria gasped.  Alastair sprang to life.  “I humbly beg your pardon Cornelis.  There is trouble at the pavilion.  I must return with all due haste,” he said.

Cornelis motioned for Wong to wait.  He unrolled the map with the alchemically inscribed word “Daddy.”  He produced his harmonic tuner out of thin air and rang it three times.  Then he took a crystal salt shaker from the basket that Victoria was hurriedly packing.  He sprinkled a pinch of the salt over the map.crystal salt shaker

The salt began to swirl into a tiny cloud.  It moved to the golden dot that indicated the Wong family’s estate.  As the salt settled onto the map it became little animated specks.  A dozen of them moved steadily toward the pavilion.

“What does it mean?” Victoria gasped.

“A group of people are moving toward your estate,” Cornelis explained.

“For the great gong to be sounded, they are strangers.  Not only strangers, but somehow they have aroused the distrust of the guards even at that distance,” Alastair said.  “Will the road locomotive get me back there before they reach the pavilion?” he asked the alchemist.

“I’ll see that it does,” Cornelis assured him.

“Umm,” Alastair began.  “Will you teach me to pilot it?”

I saw Victoria cringe and roll her eyes.  “It would be nice to get there in one piece,” she murmured, but I was the only one to hear her.

Cornelis grinned.  “You needn’t worry,” he told Alastair.  “Just rest your hands on the controls.  The locomotive will remember the way home.  I entrust it to your safe keeping.”

As Wong turned to go, Cornelis took his arm to detain him.  “It is likely that it is our foes, not any that you may have, who approach your home.  I should come back with you,” the Dutchman said.

Copper curious w-greenI knew Cornelis was sincere, but he gave a worried look at Copper.  The “foes” that converged on Wong’s estate were most likely from one of the groups that meant to abduct Copper.  We all knew that.  I only hoped Copper didn’t realize and feel responsible.  Wong caught our glances at the girl and he looked down at her with a warm smile, as if nothing whatever was wrong.  Victoria put her arm around Copper’s shoulders with a reassuring squeeze.

“My grandfather was once the guardian of your skull, Cornelis Drebbel.  It is my honor and privilege to defend you however I may,” Alastair said with an abrupt soldier’s bow, and he and Victoria were quickly gone.

I watched the steam engine in concern as it disappeared into the trees.  When I glanced down, I realized Copper was at my side.  She turned worried blue eyes up at me.

“Will they be alright?” she asked and I swallowed.

The Dutchman crouched down next to Copper and there was a small glint of mischief in his eyes.  He shook his head in mock regret.

“It’s really the people sneaking up on the pavilion that we should worry about,” he told her in an exaggeratedly grave voice.

Copper gave the alchemist a sidelong look that matched my own.  “What do you mean by that, Cornelis?” I asked.Victorian gentlemen martial arts

“Didn’t you know?” he returned a question.  “Why the Wong family business — or at any rate it’s practically their family business.  Has been for hundreds of years.”

“What?” I demanded, losing patience.

“Martial arts of course,” Cornelis said with a wave of his hand.  “That tiny Victoria is downright lethal.  I tell you, she and Alastair alone could take on the dozen people headed toward the pavilion,” he added.

I looked at the Dutchman closely.  Such a claim had to be an exaggeration meant to amuse Copper.  My eyes widened when I realized that he was perfectly serious.

Copper still looked worried so I tried to change the subject.  “After that delicious Italian feast, we might not be able to fit into the submarine,” I commented, joking.  “You enjoyed the food, didn’t you Copper?”

“It was strange food, but it was good,” she answered.  “But there wasn’t a sweet,” she added sadly.

Cornelis began describing an unusual but elaborate meal he had been served back in the sixteen hundreds.  “I was in service to the King of England then,” he supplied.  “But now a traditional meal one might serve company for dinner would be much different.  Have you ever had a Yorkshire pudding?” he asked Copper and went on to describe such a meal.  (All about Victorian dinner parties)Victorian dinner party 1860

Menu

Victorian Menu for a Simple Company Dinner

Oysters on the Half Shell

Soup a la Reine

Beverage:  Sherry

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Salmon with Green peas or cucumbers sliced

Filet de Boeuf and Mushrooms

Beverage:  White Wine

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Fried Potatoes

Beverage:  Champagne

  ~~~~~~~~~~

Salad of Lettuce or Tomatoes

Cold Chicken

Beverage:  Madeira

  ~~~~~~~~~~

Olives

Ices and Jellies, Cheese

Beverage:  Sherry

  ~~~~~~~~~~

Fruits

Beverage:  Coffee

Beverage: Cordials

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Menu Credit:  “The Successful Housekeeper, 1883” via Food Love Laughter.com

***

I looked at the submarine apprehensively.  “Are we going to have to swim out to the thing?” I asked then had a worried thought.  “Copper, can you swim?” I asked and she wore a doubtful expression but nodded affirmatively.  I didn’t believe her.Flying man w umbrella

“Not to worry,” Cornelis said cheerily.  “I can levitate all of us that minuscule distance.  I’m thoroughly rested and refreshed.”

We placed Copper between us.  Cornelis and I each held one of her hands.  I was amazed to not feel any sensation at all.  It was as if I suddenly realized that I no longer felt the ground beneath my feet.  We floated on a green nimbus over the water to the submarine.  As we drew close I could hear an odd sound that was like a combination of chirping and lip-smacking with an occasional snuffle.  Then I detected the licorice-like scent again.

“Cornelis,” I began doubtfully as a green tendril wafted up from the open hatch.  “What powers this submarine?  I could swear that I smell absinthe.”

“Oh no, no.  Of course not,” he sputtered.  “Well, not exactly.”

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

“Cornelis Drebbel! Need I remind you that we have a child with us?” I threatened.

“No, it’s not like that at all,” Cornelis hastily tried to explain.  “The submarine is powered by the Green Fairy.”

Absinthe!” I accused.

“No!  And yes…  The fairy sometimes goes by the name Absinthe.  But it is not the liquor, I assure you.  The Green Fairy’s magic, along with my alchemy, powers the submarine,” he said.  “But do be careful not to startle it.”

“Why?” I spoke the question with raised eyebrows.

“Well,” the Dutchman hesitated.  “If the Green Fairy is startled he can spray a strong vapor.”

“Like a fart?” Copper giggled.

“Exactly,” Cornelis said.  “But not at all.  It’s not a vile odor.  However, it will cause…” he paused and looked at me sheepishly.  “Intoxication.  It’s quite strong,” he finished and wouldn’t look at me.

I looked at the green vaporous tendril and inhaled the anise, licorice scent.  I took a steadying breath and tried to gather my quickly escaping temper.

“Cornelis Drebbel, are you trying to tell me that this submarine is powered by a magical creature that farts a highly concentrated vaporous form of absinthe?” I asked and I couldn’t prevent my voice going up a full octave on the last word.

Cornelis twisted his lips over to one side and raised one bushy blonde eyebrow in a cringing expression.

“Well, yes.  That’s pretty much exactly what I meant.  But he only does that if you frighten him,” Cornelis said, nodding encouragingly.

***

What will happen with this potentially startled version of the Green Fairy?  Be at the train station next time and get on board the locomotive to find out!

***

Now for some real world information about absinthe, and then this episode’s recipe…

How to Prepare a Glass of Absinthe

Recipe:  Yorkshire Pudding

yorkshire pudding

 Photo and Recipe Credit:  RecipeReminiscing.com

This post includes more than one vintage recipe as well as a marvelous illustrated history of Yorkshire Pudding!  Pay a visit to Tedious Ted at this great blog.

***

Copyright © 2015 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.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 17

Orpheus Smoky Mary float Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Locomotive. Happy we’re back on track & ready to dance (Click here)

Back on Track

Last time I hit a bump in the road (or rather the railroad tracks).  However, the Victorian locomotive is back on schedule and running at full steam.

John W. Howell gave us the very first set of “things” to guide the plot of this pantser serial.  Happily later he sent a second set of three, which I’ve held in reserve.

You’ve heard about John’s great book, My GRL, and the first chapter is available for preview at his blog. But what you might not know about is a really cool radio interview he did.

Except for two second sets of “things,” the serial’s cupboards were bare. There was nothing to drive the train… (A second set of three things was also sent by real estate professional and cooking blogger Suzanne DeBrango.  Those will inspire the plot and setting for Episode-18.)

Alastair Wong the elder was a very minor character in both Three Ingredients serials. The set of “P” words John provided drove this plot to a connection with a different character from Three Ingredients 2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Those of you who were around for that story will be pleased to see this connection.

When I started “decorating” it seemed to me that the Victorians had a particular liking for mushrooms. If you think you see a theme in this episode, you are not mistaken.

The steam engine has reached the station.  All aboard!

From last time…

Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner.  A faint current of green streamed from the tuner all the way down the hill to the washing machine.  The machine wobbled, gurgled, and creaked.  The wringer started to turn again, the magic pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.

Alchemically inscribed phosphorescent lettering appeared on the tablecloth.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle. 

It was in large glowing green script.  I read the word aloud, 

“Daddy.”

17.  Pistachio, Penne Pasta, Porcini

Mushrooms Hat VictorianMy first thought wasn’t exactly a thought.  All cogitation was clogged in a bottleneck of befuddled ideas.  The first thought that got through the blockage was relief that Copper was up at the pavilion.  It would be awful if the supernaturally printed word, Daddy, got her hopes up for no good reason.

I wasn’t feeling too optimistic myself, and to be honest, I was losing my sense of trust. And that single, magically written word brought out all my suppressed concerns.  As if it wasn’t bad enough that I experienced occasional twinges of distrust for Ignatius Belle (who turned out to be Copper’s half-brother), it also bothered me that I had begun having doubts about Copper’s father, Calvin Hixon.

Granted, if Hixon was abducted, he probably had no chance to leave a warning or reason.  But what if he left of his own accord?  The notion was so awful — had he willingly left his daughter with no explanation, and worse left the child on her own?

Other than his unfortunate money situation, Calvin Hixon appeared to be utterly brilliant.  Could the circumstances be more complicated than an abduction?  Did Hixon stand to somehow see a financial gain from the situation?  Could he be involved in his own disappearance?  Oh surely not, I told myself.  I’m over-analyzing things.Alice Mushroom Victorian

Most often the simplest answers are the correct ones.  But was running away as simple as being abducted…?  Had Calvin Hixon suddenly run away from his adversaries, perhaps thinking he would lead them away from his daughter, thereby keeping her safe?  I’m still over-analyzing, I admonished myself.

“Felicity,” I heard my name and realized that Cornelis had called it more than once while I pondered the unpleasant thoughts about Calvin Hixon.

“Do step back,” the alchemist told me.  “Something unexpected might happen,” he said as he reached into that supernatural void through which he sometimes fetched things.

“Unexpected?” I said sardonically, knowing how often Cornelis’ tricks tended to go awry.

To my surprise he produced the long map we had been looking at on the terrace.  The area on which he had used the harmonic tuner still gave off a greenish glow.  However, the phosphorescent script “Daddy” on the table cloth had begun to dim.  Cornelis noticed that with a frown.  Hurriedly he placed the map atop the cloth.

He held up the harmonic tuner and gave it one sharp clear ring.  The tiny ping of a sound reverberated and grew.  I felt the vibration at the base of my spine.  I could feel the sound spreading outward all around us.  In the distance the big gong in front of the pavilion gave a mighty boom, the volume of which was magically transported into our midst.  I put my hands over my ears, involuntarily squeezing my eyes shut.

Cautiously, I opened one eye.  The map was copied onto the tablecloth.  At first the drawings of topography overlaid the word “Daddy,” but then the script blazed through the map.  The word shone with eye-searing chartreuse light, before stabilizing and diming to a flat pistachio green.

***

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

I don’t know if it was a meteorological effect or if it was residual magic from the previous night, but when I got up the next morning, the sky above Alastair Wong’s home blazed with yellow clouds at sunrise.  No wonder they called it the Golden Pavillion, I thought.

Cornelis said he wanted to get an early start, but judging by the activity of the household staff, I suspected they were always up at that hour.  As I admired the sunrise, the alchemist drove up in the little steam engine.

Mushroom swing Victorian girlsIt didn’t seem like there could be enough room, but Cornelis, Copper, Alastair, and I all managed to get on the road locomotive.  To my surprise, Victoria, who was so taken with Copper, insisted on coming along.  I wouldn’t have thought one more person, not even a tiny woman like Victoria, could fit on the locomotive… and she carried a large picnic basket too.  Yet somehow the tiny woman and the big basket managed to fit.  When I saw the hint of a green aura surrounding the alchemist I understood how the group of us managed to get onboard.  One of his tricks had made room for everyone.

We would part company with Alastair and Victoria when we reached the Pacific.  Wong would take the road locomotive back to his pavilion estate for safekeeping, while Copper, the alchemist, and I continued our journey.

I looked a question at the basket Victoria carried.  The night before, all the noise and vibrations from the harmonic tuners had given me a headache — and I still had it.  So I was probably frowning fiercely.  Victoria looked a bit uneasy.

“It will be past time for a meal before we reach the ocean.  Copper is a growing girl and must eat,” the tiny woman said with a sharp nod that would have settled any row.  I tried to reign in my smile, because I truly did take her seriously.Mushroom ad Victorian

“Besides,” she turned and spoke to Cornelis in a flirtatious tone that took me completely by surprise.  “You will love what I’ve done with the porcini mushrooms you mentioned earlier,” she added, and the Dutchman’s eyebrows shot up toward his hairline.

“Ah yes,” the Dutchman sighed.  “Porcini are God’s great gift to humanity, a mushroom delicate enough to flavor a sauce, yet vigorous enough to stand up to a grilled steak.”

Really…, I thought.  Should he encourage the tiny woman by flirting?  And Could Victoria actually be attracted to Cornelis?  The idea seemed not merely imaginative and impractical, but just plain impossible.  I scratched my earlobe as the idea took root.  Then I had the wicked thought that I’d like to see an argument between Victoria and Cornelis.  The Dutchman would surely get his comeuppance.

“What are you smirking about?” Cornelis asked quietly.

“Oh?  Did it seem so?  It was just a bit of indigestion,” I said with no attempt to hide my expression.

Victoria held tightly to Copper’s hand as the steam engine barreled toward the ocean.  The tiny woman’s eyes were huge with astonishment for the speed at which we traveled.  However, it was clear that she possessed a fierce determination.  She would not have gone back if the chance was offered.

***

Burrell Road Locomotive

The sun was directly overhead when Cornelis slowed the road locomotive.  We were on high ground overlooking a blue river.  Below I could see a collection of log cabins of some sort.

“Look, it’s a fort!” Copper exclaimed.

“Have we really journeyed so far so fast?” Alastair Wong said in a tone of amazement.

“What do you mean?” I queried.

“That is Fort Clatsop,” Alastair explained though I looked at him blankly.  “It was built by the explorers, Lewis and Clark and their expedition.  They spent a difficult winter there before getting back on their way.”

“And they were hungry, you may be sure,” Victoria interjected, causing Alastair to chuckle as she pulled out the large picnic basket.  “That is a fate we shall not share with the explorers,” she said to our oohs and aahs as she opened the basket.

The woman surely could not have a single drop of Italian blood in her veins, but she laid out a feast worthy of any great Italian chef.

Mushrooms Victorian ad 2“Dear Victoria!” Cornelis exclaimed and bowed.  “This is a feast worthy of the 15th-century legend, Maestro Martino de Rubeis!”

“Who?” I couldn’t help asking, even though I knew my question would meet with derision from the alchemist.

Cornelis put on a mournful face and shook his head, muttering about my lacking education.  So naturally I had to tweak his nose, so to speak.  “Oh, did you know him then?” I made my question a playful taunt.

The Dutchman narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips.  “The 15th-century, the fourteen hundreds I remind you — that was quite before my time, as you well know.  I wasn’t even born until the year 1572,” he said and continued without missing a beat.  “Maestro Martino was a culinary expert unequalled in his field at the time.  He was quite the celebrity.  He was the chef at the Roman palazzo of the papal chamberlain, the Patriarch of Aquileia.  The Maestro Martino was called the prince of cooks,” Cornelis lectured.

Then he wriggled his bushy blonde eyebrows.  “So of course I did not know the Maestro in the fourteen hundreds,” he said and paused briefly.  “I did, however, meet him during his cursed afterlife.”Vintage kitchen bouquet ad

Though I knew I should not encourage Cornelis, I took his bait yet again.  “Cursed? How so?” I asked.

“The poor soul pissed off the Pope.  Enough said.  Please pass the porcinis,” the alchemist said.

That naturally prompted animated questions from everyone.  Cornelis loved to have an audience and he told the tale of the cursed chef and his acquaintance with him most vividly while we enjoyed Victoria’s Italian feast.

 

Menu

Antipasti

Warm Mediterranean Olives with rosemary and lemon zest

Insalata de Compo: Mesclun salad with cherry tomatoes

Primi

Penne Alla Vodka:  Penne pasta with tomato, cream, and vodka sauce

Risotto Ai Porcini:  Risotto with pecorino cheese, porcini mushroom and fresh basil

Secondi

Salmone in Padella:  Pan-seared salmon filet

Menu credit:  Scottadito.com

 

Needless to say, we were all quite pleasantly stuffed.  Alastair lit a beautifully carved pipe.  I faintly heard Victoria humming what I suspected was a nursery song from her home, as Copper rested her head in Victoria’s lap.  I was feeling rather sleepy in the sunshine myself.  Cornelis looked infinitely far away in thought as he toyed with a last spoonful of penne pasta in his plate.

“What’s on your mind, Dutchman?” I intruded on his thoughts.

“The next leg of our journey,” he replied, still examining the pasta.  “I need to summon our transportation.”Mushroom faries Carrousel

He picked up a piece of penne and held it up to his eye, looking at Copper through the pasta cylinder.  Copper giggled.  I told the Dutchman that he was a bad influence.

“Copper, could I see your mystic monkeys bell?” he asked the girl.

“Why not use the harmonic tuner that is more familiar to you?” Alastair asked quietly in a voice edged with concern.

I was in agreement with Alastair Wong in his newfound concern about Cornelis and his tricks.

“You are right,” Cornelis told him.  “Ordinarily, in the working of magic it is best use implements to which one has become attuned.  However, in this case the harmonic tuner that Copper has always thought of as her mystic monkeys bell was a gift from Daddy.  And that is whom we hope to find.  So the more elements relating to him, the better.”

Copper reverently handed Cornelis the second harmonic tuner.  A detailed carving of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil surrounded the bell.  He looked down at the scraps of pasta in his plate and arranged three pieces of penne end-to-end.  Then the alchemist held the harmonic tuner over them and flicked the bell with his fingernail.  It gave off a sharp ping sound.

Chicks Mushroom VictorianThe pasta glowed greenly.  The aura intensified until I had to shield my eyes.  When the supernatural light abated, a jade flute lay where the penne had once been.

The alchemist picked up the flute and played a trilling series of notes.  Then he abruptly stood.  “Shall we?” he asked, and we gingerly made our way down the steep hill to the water’s edge.

Once there he piped the same notes again.  Cornelis looked at the water unconcernedly.  I looked at him impatiently.

“I don’t see anything.  What’s supposed to be happening?” I wanted to know, but the infuriating man ignored me.  “Should you do it again?” I asked motioning to the jade flute.

The Dutchman’s mouth twitched to one side in a dissatisfied way.  “Perhaps I should…” he speculated.

As Cornelis raised the flute to his lips the water started to bubble and gently swirl.  He lowered the flute without playing another note.  He wriggled his bushy eyebrows and grinned.

“You’re going to love this,” he told Alastair.Mushrooms Victorian christmas

Wong looked somewhat apprehensive.  After all, he certainly had reason to be concerned, after the wayward alchemy caused his washing machine to break down the storage building door, and do assorted other damage at his hot spring.  But he quickly caught the contagious gleam of excitement in the Dutchman’s eyes.

The movement of the water became intense.  Something was rising to the surface.  Involuntarily I took a step backward.  Victoria took Copper’s hand and pulled her several feet away from the shore.

For a moment I thought a whale was breaching.  Then I realized it was no living thing.  Wong beheld the sight with gaping mouth, but I had the impression that he at least thought he knew what was coming to the surface.  Expressions of worry and wonder were at war on his face.

When the entire large shape was in full view, I still didn’t know what it could be.  “Cornelis…” I began, but found I was at a loss for words.  “Wha—”

Cornelis Drebbel clasped his hands and a gleeful expression lit his face, as if he beheld something he had long missed.

“It’s my submarine!” he crowed.

Drebbel submarine

***

Don’t get off the steam engine yet — here’s the recipe for this episode.  It’s something for all the carnivores out there!  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Porcini-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Truffle Butter Sauce

Porcini-Crusted Beef

Photo and Recipe Credit:  Epicurious.com

***

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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