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

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.

Three Ingredients II – 18: Conclusion – Sweet Potato, Wimberries, Worcestershire Sauce

young Lucy blue

Young Lucille Ball

Welcome back everyone! Our previous chapter of this interactive culinary mystery was essentially part-1 of a 2-part finale. And yes — I heard the commotion when I left our three suspects of ill-doing hanging in midair (literally) and basically you along with them. I’m just wicked that way… I really can’t help myself.

I sincerely do try to make this serial unplanned pantser fun and as interactive as feasible. So in writing this ending I let your thoughts and comments take the ending to places where I probably would never considered going myself. Without further ado, I present the conclusion to Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Bon appétit!

18.  Conclusion – Sweet Potato, Wimberries, Worcester Sauce

With Looming Specter

The sight of Caleb Colman the cowboy looming to twice his normal height, with ruby-red fire in his eyes was enough to strike fear into anybody’s heart — including mine.  The three men, 1939 Saturday Evening Post Parrotssuspended high in the air above the hard marble floor were screaming and writhing as if they weren’t just afraid but were also in pain.

Something brightly colored streaked through the open French doors.  Cracker!  She had let herself out of her cage.  I should have known it was too much to expect to drive her home from the doctors Vale without her getting into or up to something.  Fear for the bird’s sake stabbed my heart.

“Cracker, go back to your cage!” I said in a voice that I forced to be calm, but loud enough to be heard over the noise.  So okay… that’s how I tried to sound.  I think I mostly shrieked at her.  For once the parrot showed good sense and didn’t try to get in the middle of everything.

“Twenty-three skidoo!” Cracker squawked with a whistle as she zoomed back outside.

Daisy turned to watch the parrot soar away.  Her expression was distracted, and the look in her eyes was so faraway that I wondered if the spirit was in her right mind.

“I know you,” Daisy murmured to Cracker’s departing form.  “My husband and I watched you hatch, but we made sure the first human you saw was Alastair Wong.  I guess you’re all grown up now, huh?  Is that why you keep coming to see me when I visit this plane?” she asked in a thoughtful tone, but the parrot had already flown out of sight.

Thunder cracked inside the mansion.  The scene playing out before my eyes terrified me for many reasons.  Regardless of what Henry Kingston III and the Binghamton brothers may or may not have done, I was afraid of what might happen if they were hurt or killed.  I was worried about Granny and Kate Kingston — they might come back inside and be caught in the chaos at any minute.  Not to mention Andy, who was right in the thick of things beside me.  I was also afraid for Caleb and Daisy if either of them took things too far.  I wasn’t sure what could happen to ghosts, but I was certain there would be consequences.

1923 Life woman devilish man masksDaisy stood mesmerized by the display.  There was an unpleasant, almost greedy look in her eyes and they glowed softly.  She looked like someone with a thirst for vengeance.  Based on what was happening, that thirst was about to be quenched.

Something had to be done.  I didn’t know if it might cause Caleb to turn his anger on me, but I screamed at him to stop.  If he heard me, he didn’t pay any attention.

“Daisy!” I yelled to be hard above the din.  “You have to stop him!”

“Pip, you don’t understand,” she said in a level voice that somehow reached my ears.  “Sweet Potato, I should have showed you too,” the ghost said and before I could move, her hand shot out and grabbed mine.

I staggered from an unseen impact.  It was as if a huge ball of electricity had blasted through my skull and into my brain. I fell toward the polished white marble floor, but Daisy still had hold of my hand and kept me from going all the way down.  She pulled me to my feet with unexpected strength.  My lungs strained for air — the wind had been knocked right out of me.  Spasms raked my body and I couldn’t stay on my feet. It felt as if I dangled from Daisy’s grasp.

“What are you doing?” Andy demanded of Daisy who looked at him with a mildly puzzled expression on her face.

“I had to show her,” Daisy told Andy, but then she seemed to finally notice my state.  “Oh my goodness!” she cried and seemed more herself.  “Oh Pip, I’m so sorry Sweet Potato!  I just 1936 Girl Horse Cole Bros Circus postermeant to show you the same things that I showed Caleb.  I guess that’s the difference between doing that with a ghost and with one of the living.  I didn’t mean to hurt you,” she said with tears of contrition streaming down her face.

With that extraordinary physical strength, petite Daisy lifted me in her arms as if I were a small child.  She carried me past a table where someone had been making Bloody Marys.  When she turned, my foot knocked over a bottle of Worcestershire sauce.  I remembered Andy calling it Worcester sauce, and how we playfully argued about which was correct back in Florida.

Daisy carried me to a sofa and gently deposited me on it.  With a worried expression on his face, Andy handed me one of the Bloody Marys.  He said that it wasn’t brandy, but maybe it would help.  I managed to take a couple of sips.

All the drama continued around us, buffeting winds, screaming, crying.  I lay back on the sofa, because I wasn’t able to even sit up.  I tried to speak but my brain was too scrambled for me to chain two words together.  So whatever I meant to say came out as gibberish.  You’d have thought I was speaking in tongues or something.  I couldn’t think straight either.  It was as if every thought I’d ever had competed for dominance in my mind.  And my head hurt.  Bad.

Finally one thought lodged into a clear spot in my mind.  Then another fell into line.  My brain was sorting the memory Daisy shared with me all in one electric blast, and putting things into their proper sequence.  In my mind I watched events unfold as if I stood looking over Daisy’s shoulder.  However, I felt most of it as if I had actually been her.  It happened like this…

***

1920s two women garden

Daisy was having the strangest cravings — particularly for wimberry pie.  She had even put on a frock the same shade of blue as wimberries.  Yes, Daisy thought she was pregnant.  She was bursting at the seams to tell someone the news, but she wanted to be certain.  However, she really did have to tell someone.  Surely, she thought, it was permissible if her best friend was the first to know.  She just couldn’t tell Henry until she had no doubts about it.  It would break his heart if it turned out she wasn’t really expecting a little one after all.

Mattie Maddox was in the expansive, well lit kitchen when Daisy divulged the news to her best friend.  Daisy was ecstatic, and Mattie was so happy for her that she cried and hugged her.

Then young Henry burst into the kitchen.  He sent Mattie hopping to some urgent errand that he said his father needed right away.  But Daisy could always tell when the young man was lying.

After the kitchen door closed behind Mattie, Daisy turned to him.  “Henry… You heard,” Daisy had said and it wasn’t a question.

Vintage Tuxedo adAs gently as she could, Daisy finished breaking the news to Henry III that he would have a younger sibling.  She knew that despite how well “King Henry” tried to raise the boy, he had a bad attitude.  Young Henry’s face turned red and a vein at his temple throbbed.  He stormed out of the kitchen without a word.

Then she heard the French doors open.  She heard Henry’s friends come inside from the terrace — the Binghamton brothers.  Daisy heard him shouting to them about her being pregnant.  In his anger he threw a crystal vase to the marble floor and shattered it.  The vase was an anniversary gift from her husband.

Daisy went out into the foyer to settle the young men down.  Bradley Binghamton stood near the door.  By the look on his face he had heard Henry III yelling and stopped there, deciding whether he should go back outside.  Byron was near the stairs with Henry.  Egging Henry on came easily to Byron, and the more the two boys talked the madder Henry got.

She approached the young men and tried to smooth over the situation.  But they turned on her.  They said the most horrible, unspeakable things to her.  She couldn’t keep her tears back and Henry and Byron laughed as she wept.  Henry pushed her shoulder causing her to stagger backward.  He called her a whore and things that were even worse.

Daisy fled up the staircase in tears.  Young Henry bounded up behind her, taking the stairs two at a time.  He continued to yell at her, to berate her for the life he felt she was taking from him by giving his father another child.

Cornelia Vanderbilt, 1924

Cornelia Vanderbilt, 1924

At the top of the stairs he grabbed her arm as she was about to run down the hall to her sitting room.  Henry was in his late teens.  He was as tall as his father, thickly built, and strong.  Daisy couldn’t pull or twist free of his grasp.  The pain and humiliation caused by his words turned to anger when he seized her arm.

Being manhandled was something Daisy could never tolerate.  She was livid when he grabbed her.  She drew back her hand, and with every bit of her strength behind it, she swung to slap his face.  But he saw the blow coming and reflexively pushed her away.

Henry III never had learned to think things through.  They were standing at the top of the stairs when he pushed Daisy.  She toppled all the way down the long curving staircase to the marble floor below.  Slowly blood started to spread on her skirt.  It was a lot of blood.

“We have to get her to a doctor,” Bradley Binghamton told the other two boys as he hurried over and knelt beside Daisy.

“No!” Henry said.  “My dad will find out.”

“He’ll find out anyway!” Bradley told him.

“No… No, he might not,” said Byron.  “I know somebody.  He took care of a girl once for me.”

They carried Daisy to a car, but by then she had lost consciousness.  She woke to the harsh smell of ether and a foggy head, and a lot of pain.  Looking around she saw that she was in a place that was sort of like a surgery, but not like one should be.  It wasn’t very clean, and the space around her was too large.  It echoed like a warehouse.  Then she remembered hearing of a doctor who did free work for the poor at the old warehouse.  It had been used as a hospital in wartimes long ago, so it was usable for that purpose.

She heard an unfamiliar man talking to someone.  “I couldn’t save it,” he said.  “But you didn’t want me to in the first place, did you?” he said with a trace of a sneer in his tone.  “Anyhow, she’s lost a lot of blood.  You need to take her on to the hospital.  You should have taken her there straight away.  I don’t have the equipment or the skills for this.  I’m afraid she still has internal bleeding.  She might not last the night,” he said as Daisy drifted back to incoherence.

vintage queen of the mayDaisy had proved them wrong.  She lived through the night and for a few weeks after that.  Her husband had his own physician examine her.  The man shook his head gravely and would not discuss his prognosis in front of her.  However, Daisy already knew.  She could tell her days on earth were limited.  She could tell something inside was damaged, something the doctors of that day didn’t know how to fix.

She never told King Henry what his son had done, but sometimes she thought he knew anyway.  She tried to get strong again as she lay in a bed next to a beautiful golden and aqua stained glass window in a quiet place where Henry took her to convalesce — he was determined that she would recover, especially with the right environment.  He couldn’t accept what the doctor said.

Daisy tried to be happy for Mattie’s sake.  Mattie never left her side.  She tried to be strong for Henry, to smile and be vivacious so he would feel better.  She was secretly afraid that if he saw how weak she really was that he’d stop loving her.

Finally a day came when she gazed at the luminous colors of the window and surrendered.  At that point the memories that belonged to Daisy drifted away from me, and I had my own thoughts once again.

***

Vintage ghosts several

Chaos still ensued all around me.  It took much longer to tell about Daisy’s memory than it did for me to actually get my wits about me.  Double-sized Caleb still held the three men hanging high above the floor and they still cried out in pain.

After a moment I started to feel a little more in control of my body.  I took another sip of the Bloody Mary and its spiciness was heartening.  I looked toward the staircase where Henry Kingston III was suspended in midair.  I found my voice.

“Somebody has to do something before Caleb completely loses control of his temper,” I said.  “Daisy, you have to stop him,” I repeated.

“The spirit woman looked abashed.  After what she’d been through, and decades of searching the great beyond for the awful memory of it… I figured it would feel pretty good to see someone taking revenge on your behalf.  I couldn’t resent her for momentarily considering vengeance.

Daisy vanished and then reappeared across the room to stand in front of Caleb.  She reached1920s Bride Kneeling up and placed her hand on his arm.  Caleb looked down at her seeming irritated for a moment, but his face softened as he regarded Daisy.  He returned to his normal size, but the demon-red glow didn’t leave his eyes, and the men still hung in the air, although their screams had toned down to whimpers.

“No ma’am.  It’s not right that you finally got a good life, after how hard thing started out for you when you were just a child — it’s not right that these men should be the cause of your dying and go unpunished for it,” Caleb said.

Her hand rested on Caleb’s chest.  I was sure Daisy would never intentionally hurt anyone.  She hadn’t meant to knock me down with an electric shock; she just didn’t know how to handle her new strength.  But I wondered if there was still a part of her that wanted payback.  Maybe Caleb felt that from her.

The spirit woman hesitated, but she squared her shoulders, affirming her resolve.  “Caleb, it isn’t for us to judge.  These men are each guilty in different ways and to different degrees.  However, it isn’t for us to decide their punishment.  It simply is not right,” she told him in a sincere voice.

1877 American Horse Oglala Sioux

1877 American Horse Oglala Sioux

Amid the sobbing from Henry and the Binghamtons I abruptly heard that old pop-fizz sound.  Maestro Martino knelt in front of my sofa.  He inspected me more closely than I thought was proper, but I knew the ghost chef was concerned if he had picked up even a fraction of my fears.  Maestro could do that, at least where I was concerned.  He could detect strong supernatural activity, and it somehow helped him home in on me.

Once he was satisfied that I was unharmed Maestro became agitated all over again.  “Signorina o Signore, this is far too dangerous.  You must leave at once!” he insisted.  “Signore, get her away from this place!”

However, Maestro’s caution was immediately followed by a double-pop-fizz and the ghost chef was no longer alone.  A man — no, I corrected myself, a ghost in heavy white satin robes stood behind him.  A looming specter towered over them both.  That was the tallest man I’d ever seen.  He wore pale buckskin clothes with turquoise stones decorating them.  He had flowing black hair with two white feathers tucked into one side.

Che peccato!  Maestro Martino, you should be ashamed.  Is this how you repay my gift?” demanded the short ghost.

“No, no.  Your Imminence, please do believe me.  I would not piss you off again!” Maestro said.

I was shocked by the Maestro’s choice of words, because I remembered how he told us he came to be cursed.

“But — you see, the short of it is that I pissed off the Pope!  And this predicament is my fate,” the ghost had said with a mournful look.

Wide-eyed I looked at the three newly arrived ghosts.  I wasn’t Catholic, but I wondered if I should try to get up and curtsey or something.  I didn’t know how to act in front of a live pope, let alone a dead one.  And who was the guy in buckskins?  I knew less than nothing about how to behave in front of a Native American authority-figure-seeming ghost.

Movement beyond the French doors caught my eye.  A tremendous cow with long curving black horns paced impatiently, pawing the ground with her steel hooves.  Her red-eyed stare turned to me and she snorted fire.  I jumped and looked from the demon cow to the tall black-haired ghost.  I understood then that he was the one who controlled the ghost-rider curse.Glowing-Longhorns copy

Surely, I thought, that powerful spirit’s presence would register with Caleb.  However, the cowboy remained transfixed in his determination to take revenge on Daisy’s behalf.  Maestro followed my gaze.  In an instant Maestro Martino stood between Caleb and the objects of his retribution.  The cowboy glared uncomprehendingly at the chef.

“Hey, cow-poke!” Maestro yelled at Caleb in a passable western drawl that finally got his attention.  “Incredibile! Non fare lo stupido!  What stupidity!  Do you mean to waste the gift I sacrificed and bestowed upon you?” he demanded in his usual Italian accent.  “Basta!  Stop this at once if you have any respect for this woman,” Maestro said indicating Daisy who stood looking up at Caleb with pleading eyes.  “Would you give up eternity with this woman to satisfy your thirst for the blood of her enemies?  You see the foolishness of that, no?”

Caleb looked at Maestro Martino so angrily that I feared for the ghost chef’s life.  I had to remind myself he was already dead.  After what seemed like a long internal struggle, Caleb’s shoulders relaxed.  Then Henry Kingston and the Binghamtons, suddenly freed from the magic that held them aloft, rushed toward the marble floor.

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920's

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920’s

Maestro’s eyes bulged and he whirled to face the falling men.  He held out his arm and snapped his fingers.  Their descent slowed.  Or rather it slowed until they were about five feet above the floor and Maestro let them drop unassisted the rest of the way.  All three landed quite uncomfortably.

Daisy approached the new, very official (not to mention powerful) seeming specters.

“Please,” she began, looking angelic in the flowing white wedding gown she still wore from reminiscing about her marriage.  “Please don’t punish Caleb.  He only wanted to protect me.  It’s my fault.  I didn’t act quickly enough to stop him before he went so far.  I know that I could have if I had tried sooner.  So this is my fault, not his,” she pleaded.

By then Caleb was behind her.  He took off his Stetson and bowed to the two dominant spirits.  Then he insisted that he was the one responsible, not Daisy.

“Stop it Caleb!” Daisy cried.  “I couldn’t bear it if they made you a ghost-rider again!  I’ve been so alone.  I was unprotected and fending for myself throughout my childhood.  I only had King Henry for what seems like a short time, and we were happy, but then I was adrift and alone all over again.  If anyone is punished for this, it has to be me.  I can’t bear to see anything happen to you,” she said and then looked down at the floor, apparently unable to meet the gaze of the spirits surrounding her.

The ghost in the white satin robes narrowed his eyes and his lips curled inward making a thin line of his mouth.  I thought he looked downright petulant, but I certainly wouldn’t have said so.  Maestro exchanged a look with me and gave a barely perceptible shake of his head.  Was I really that transparent?Michalemas daisy card

When the black-haired ghost spoke, his voice came as a bass rumble so deep I felt it vibrate from my ears to my toes.  I had thought he’d be fierce and furious, but he spoke in a very matter of fact tone.  With a shrug he said, “I see no wrong done here tonight.”  He tilted his head, raised one eyebrow and looked down at the white robed spirit.  “Do you?”

The other specter’s mouth twisted in an unpleasant expression.  Then he rolled his eyes at the much taller spirit, spread his hands and shook his head that he did not.

“However,” continued the buckskin clad spirit with a slow smile.  “I think you could be of service this night, old friend,” he added a suggestion.

At that moment Granny Fanny stormed through the open French doors.  She was fit to be tied, and Kate Kingston was right behind her.

“What do ya’ll think you’re doing in here?  I never heard such a racket in all my life!  We could hear ya’ll all the way down at the gazebo!  Why, your ruckus scared Kate’s cat so badly, I thought we’d never catch poor Marie Antoinette to put her skin medicine on her,” Granny said without taking so much as a single breath.

Vintage Catz Bitters adKate Kingston was carrying Antoinette the Maine Coon cat.  Her arms relaxed at the shock of seeing her devastated living room and foyer, and she let the cat jump down.  Antoinette walked over to the group of ghosts and delicately sniffed their feet.  The cat looked up at the collection of spirits, gave a satisfied purr-meow, and sauntered up the stairs and out of sight.

Mrs. Kingston’s gaze fell on the ghosts; they were all powerful enough that anyone could see them unless they just chose not to be seen.  For a moment she looked at them in doe-eyed amazement.  Then she fainted dead away.

My grandmother took in the chaos around us, the furniture overturned by the blasting wind and the struggles of the three men, the shattered lamp, and my own tousled appearance.  She glared at Maestro Martino as if it was all surely his fault.

Then my grandmother saw all the other ghosts.

Granny’s mouth snapped shut with a pop.

***

Flower petals in white, pink, and yellow floated gently on a breeze that kept them aloft and scattered in the air.  The petal cloud gracefully drifted down the stone path of the terrace that began outside the library of the Kingston mansion.  The petals glowed ever so softly in the moonlight as they slowly moved among us, magically suspended in the air.Vintage girl and parrot

Notes from a flute filled the night air.  The beguiling strains of music were calming yet uplifting.  The music and the flower petals seemed to encircle our small group as we stood on the terrace.  The petals exuded a sense of positive warmth, pleasure, and togetherness to all who were present.

Cracker the parrot swooped away from her perch on a magnolia tree and zipped uphill and out of sight.  I heard her squawk, “Dainty Dish!  Attagirl!”

A moment later the beautiful parrot glided down the path at an unnaturally slow speed.  Strands of pink, yellow, and white blossoms trailed behind her as if they were extensions of her long tail.  The flowers streamed gracefully behind Cracker during her magical approach.  The parrot alighted on a blossom decorated perch beside the white robed specter.

Cowboy Caleb Colman strode slowly to stand beside them.  I thought he looked strange without his Stetson hat.  But he was a fine figure of a man — or rather ghost.  He stood tall and straight, handsome beyond anything mortal.  He still wore western clothes, but they were different from his work clothes, nicer — and they were shimmering white.

As the moon steadily crept lower in the sky, the unseen flute played a loud trill that came from the top of the hill.  All eyes turned in that direction.  Daisy appeared; a vision in glowing diaphanous white.  I thought she could have been a moon goddess as she effortlessly drifted toward us.

A light stream of smoke carried a pleasing aroma to us. I thought it was sage with other floral 1920s Bride n Groom 2scents I couldn’t identify.  Then I heard the rhythmic sound of drums, softly beating.  The tall black-haired specter suddenly appeared, standing before Caleb and Daisy.  His counterpart bowed to the couple, made a motion with his hands.  He spoke something I didn’t understand.  I supposed it was Latin.  Then he made another motion with his hands and backed away.

The tall ghost spoke words that were reverent and beautiful as he united Caleb and Daisy.  It’s just impossible for such glorious phrases to come out of my flapper mouth, so I won’t try to repeat what he said.  Just know that he spoke words that you felt with your soul as much as you understood with your mind.  His speech touched every heart.  I cried.  Granny Fanny cried.  Andy Avis cried.  Maestro Martino sniffled and then burst out blubbering and sobbing so hard that the white robed ghost had to pull him aside and console him.

Cracker flew over and perched in a spot that allowed her to face me.  I could have sworn there was a tear in the parrot’s eye too, but that wasn’t possible.  Was it?  When another tear rolled down my cheek, Cracker hopped over to my shoulder and preened a strand of my hair, trying to comfort me.  I stroked the feathers of her back and she nuzzled her head behind my ear.

The flower petals had floated among us throughout the ceremony presided over by the two high ranking spirits.  At another trill of flute music the petals began to swirl.  They gently whirled all around us, and tickled when they touched my skin.  They grew in number as they lifted above our heads, making a cloud that rose higher and higher into the sky.  Then it exploded into a twinkling starburst.1903 Girl 2 Horses postcard

A faint clip-clop caused me to turn.  Caleb’s horse, always impressive, was transformed into a shining white magnificent steed.  Tiny blue sparks lit the paving stones as he pranced toward the couple.  The horse whinnied softly and shook his silken mane.

Then the horse lowered his head and shoulders.  Caleb lifted Daisy easily onto the steed’s back and held her steady as the horse stood.  Caleb leapt onto his horse’s back in an effortless bound.  They trotted the length of the uphill path, blue sparks flying as the horse built up speed.  Then the horse made a mighty leap and they soared into the sunrise.

I gasped in amazement.  Just when I thought they were gone I heard a whinny above my head.  I looked heavenward and saw Caleb wave his white Stetson in salute.  Daisy gave a genteel wave of her hand and threw something down to me.  I reached out reflexively to catch it.  It was a bouquet of white daisies and red roses.

“Those are for Mattie if you please, Pip,” Daisy called to me.  “Tell her I’ll always remember her,” she said.  Then another bunch of flowers dropped and I had to move fast to catch them. “And these are for you.  Remember me Pip,” Daisy called.

Caleb added his voice.  “Remember us!” they said together.

1920s Bride n GroomThe supernatural glow from the two spirits increased three fold.  The white horse made an intensely bright streak as they traversed the sky, blue sparks from its silver hooves glittering the breaking dawn.

Remember them?  Of course I would remember Daisy the Dainty Dish and Caleb Colman the Cowboy.  I was awed by the perseverance, communication, and trust they had shown throughout the time I’d known them. Then I realized those were three ingredients for success or happiness, or maybe both.

The End.

***

To celebrate the conclusion of A Ghost in the Kitchen, I’m including two different Bloody Mary recipes.

Video:  Bloody Mary Cocktail Recipe from the 1920’s

 

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

 

Recipe:  Homemade Bloody Mary

Homemade Bloody Mary

Recipe and photo credit:  Vintage Cooking.com

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

2 teaspoons celery salt

Wedge of lemon

2 Jiggers (3 ounces) best quality vodka

Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Several shakes of Worcestershire sauce

3-4 drops of Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

8 ounces tomato juice, chilled (I recommend Sacramento Gold)

¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

¼ tsp. celery salt

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

 

Instructions

Mix both the kosher and celery salt in a shallow flat dish.

Rub the rim of a 16-ounce glass with a wedge of lemon and dip the glass into the dish so that it clings to the rim.

Fill glass with ice.

Add vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce.

Stir in the tomato juice with a long spoon.

Add horseradish, sea salt, remaining celery salt, and pepper.

Stir again and serve this drink recipe with a wedge of lemon.

You may also add a dill pickle, olives, or a celery stalk. Serve with a beer chaser on the side, if desired.

 

Notes

Makes 1-16 ounce serving.

 ***

Skeiks and Shebas, stick around.  These interactive serials are not over and done.  During National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I will rerun the original story, The Three Things.  Then in December we will begin another all new serial. So stay tuned!

Hugs,

teagan

Roy Rogers Trigger

Roy Rogers and Trigger

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.

Three Ingredients II – 15: Ribs, Watermelon, Corn

Welcome back to our interactive 1920’s culinary mystery serial!Kittens Daisies wheat ad vintage

The “ingredients” for this episode are from the very talented “Kraftycat” at Kraftycat Creations. You don’t have to be a crazy cat person to enjoy her blog.  Not only does she make adorable kitty toys, she makes wonderful gifts and jewelry for the humans.  I hope you’ll check out her great blog.

It seems that our “ingredients” bring as many questions as answers lately. What’s in store this week?  Keep reading to find out!  Bon appétit!

15.  Ribs, Watermelon, Corn

With Apparition

A vial of smelling salts that Maestro produced out of nowhere brought Mattie around from 1920s Fainther faint.  Andy and Vicar Varley helped her to the vicarage.  Everyone was concerned about the older woman, but she insisted that it was “only the vapors” and that she didn’t want anyone fussing over her.

The clang of pots and pans in the kitchen made me cringe.  It sounded like Maestro Martino was tearing apart the unfamiliar room as he looked for things.  The ghost chef had insisted that Mattie Maddox, and the rest of us too, needed a fortifying meal after the shock of seeing Daisy’s specter.  Of course, Vicar Vance Varley and Mattie had no idea that Maestro was himself a poltergeist.

Soon the aroma of Maestro’s bourbon baby back ribs dinner wafted to my nose as Andy, Granny Fanny, Mattie, the vicar, and I sat in the clergyman’s cozy parlor.  I could imagine the ribs melting in my mouth and my stomach gave an impatient growl.

The vicar’s cautions to Mattie about sharing information with “strangers” — that would be us, made Andy Avis suspicious and he whispered his concerns to me.  However, a discrete Daisy thread adquestion revealed Vance Varley moved to Tybee Island from Gulfport, Mississippi only ten years before.  So presumably he was nowhere around Savannah, Georgia at the time of Daisy’s demise.  Besides, I was pretty sure he would be a bit young to be involved.  When he again spoke to Mattie in a cautionary tone, she let him know where she stood, and explained to us.

“Vance has showed me great kindness since he came to Tybee.  He also became my friend and confidant,” Mattie said and patted the vicar on his knee.

There were a few age spots and an enlarged vein on the top of her hand.  It was clearly the hand of an old woman, but it did not look arthritic.  I was relieved for the painter in her.  It would be a shame for someone so talented to give up their art.

“Daisy wants me to tell what I know about her passing, else she would not have come to us.  There would have been no apparition,” Mattie said in a level voice.  “Vance, I know your only concern is for my safety, but I don’t want this shadow hanging over me anymore.”

She turned to the rest of us — Andy, Granny Fanny, and me.  “Don’t think poorly of Vicar Varley,” she said, though she didn’t sound worried.  “He’s only trying to protect me.  You see, after Daisy died, I continued to work for Henry Kingston senior.  However, when King Henry passed on, something odd happened.”

“Something odd, you say?  What sort of odd?” Granny asked, and I supposed she wondered Vintage Watermelon Seedswhat could be stranger than ghosts appearing.

Mattie’s expression and tone said she suspected more than she was about to reveal.  “After the funeral, I was surprised to see Byron Binghamton once again become very close to young Henry.  See, I had overheard King Henry tell his son that the Binghamton boys weren’t welcome in his home any more.  He told his son that he’d cut those ties if he knew what was good for him.

When the boy protested, Henry senior threatened to disinherit him.  So at least outwardly, young Henry quit having anything to do with the two Binghamton brothers, athough I was pretty sure they all hung out together when nobody was looking.  Why, they were so close you could spit a watermelon seed further than the space between them!  I always said those three were thick as thieves…” she said and seemed far away in thought for a moment.

Mattie’s eyes were on her hands folded calmly in her lap.  When she looked up, her tense frown suggested she wasn’t as calm as she appeared. She exhaled sharply, as if in frustration.

“Right after King Henry passed on, young Henry called me into his father’s library,” she said.  “When I entered the room I could still smell Henry senior’s cologne and a trace of tobacco from his pipe.  For a second it was as if he was still there.  It made me angry to see the boy sitting in the chair behind the big desk.  It was too soon, and it just wasn’t right,” Mattie said, clenching her hands.  “But I held my peace.  Then I saw those two Binghamton Antique daisy cup saucerbrothers lounging on the furniture…” she said.

“Or rather Byron was sprawled on the leather sofa.  Bradley was sitting with his legs crossed in a chair.  His posture was relaxed, but he looked tight as a drum.  His eyes had dark shadows under them, and his mouth looked like the frown he wore was etched permanently into his face,” Mattie remembered.  “Bradley acted so cold and detached that day, I couldn’t believe he went to the Church for his profession.  But then again, maybe it makes sense,” she said in a pondering tone.

Then she gave herself a little shake and went back to the core of her story.  “Anyhow, the group of them told me they were pensioning me off.  It wasn’t just Henry III, as one might have thought.  No, all three of them contributed.  And I had the impression that Bradley Binghamton was behind it — he looked so stern, and he took over the speech when young Henry started blustering and threatened me,” Mattie said.

“Threatened you?  How?” Granny asked her gently.

“There were all sorts of vague threats in that library,” Mattie answered shaking her head as if confused.  “I didn’t fully understand what they were talking about, but I did grasp the fact that they wanted me away from there and they wanted me quiet.  I just didn’t know what they seemed to think I knew about,” she said.

Vintage Daisy art“And Bradley — Bishop Bradley Binghamton, you think he was behind it?” Andy asked.

“What I meant to say,” Mattie corrected herself.  “I felt like Bradley was the one who wanted to pension me off, to pay me to keep quiet… even though I didn’t know what I was keeping quiet about…” she added looking confused.  “I believed young Henry and Byron had something a lot worse in mind for me,” Mattie said with a shiver.  “I actually think Bradley wouldn’t let them do something that bad, and made them basically pay me to go into hiding,” Mattie told us.

“They said I had to leave Savannah, and never show my face there again,” Mattie continued.  “Back then, Tybee Island seemed far enough away.  I’ve never been one to ‘think big’ as they say.  In those days there was no road here.  This barrier island was as far away from Savannah as I had ever been, so that was where I went.  And I went as fast as I could too, I can tell you.  Their threats were vague, but there was murder in their eyes,” she said and wrapped her arms around herself as if she was suddenly cold.

Andy looked at Vicar Vance Varley again.  “And what is your part in all this?” my friend asked suspiciously.  “You were pretty obvious about not wanting her to tell us anything.”

Vicar Varley shook his head as if in denial.  “Oh no, son.  You misunderstand,” the vicar began, but Mattie hurried to his rescue.

“I befriended the vicar when he first came to Tybee.  For years I had felt isolated, imprisoned here.  Vance didn’t have any family or friends anywhere in the Savannah area before he came here.  So I felt safe in making friends with him.  One day he wanted me to come to the mainland with him; he was being recognized for the work he’d done here on the island.  I got upset and refused to go.  Then I felt guilty, and I confided in him the things I’ve just told you,” she said.Daisy teapot

Well, applesauce!  Mattie Maddox told an interesting story, but it didn’t do a blessed thing but create even more questions.  It reminded me of the knitting I ruined for Granny once when I was a kid.  She made me unravel and untie every bit of it before I could go out to play.

As I saw it, the most tangled skein of yarn in this particular knitting basket was Henry Kingston, the young man who was actually a young punk.  It didn’t surprise me.  I thought back to the fancy shindig Granny catered at his mansion when I first came to Savannah.  It was all part of a sting operation put in place by Granny Fanny’s old friend Moses Myrick, a revenuer.  That’s right, a real life G-man.

Henry Kingston wasn’t found guilty of any crime related to that business, but his girlfriend Daisy cup saucer vintagesure was.  And Kingston knew all about it, even if his fancy lawyer got him off the hook.  Plus, Henry was a married man.  The fact that his wife knew about his affair didn’t make him any less of a heel in my eyes.

A strain of opera rolled from the kitchen.  I didn’t realize Maestro had such a voice.  Apparently he liked to sing while he cooked.  Granny had been so upset about having a ghost in her kitchen that he didn’t get to cook very often.  I knew he enjoyed cooking though, because often I heard him at night, puttering in Granny’s kitchen.  My stomach rumbled again, and I hoped that the aria heralded the arrival of dinner.

Regardless of the fact that Maestro Martino died centuries before, he had a wonderful Italian accent.  It was not diminished when he unexpectedly tried to take on a southern accent to announce that dinner was ready.  Andy and I looked at each other for a minute and then burst out laughing at his comical voice.

“Ya’ll come ‘n get it.  Dinner’s ready,” Maestro announced in a bizarre combination of Italian and southern accents.

“Why do you laugh Signorina o Signore?  I said it just as you taught me, Signore,” Maestro said sounding a bit crestfallen.

Daisies VictorianThe anticipation was clear on every face when we saw the meal the ghost chef had spread on the table.  He looked at our expressions and smiled, once again his bubbly self.  Bourbon baby back ribs, corn on the cob, sliced sweet potatoes drizzled with maple syrup, slaw, and cornbread awaited us.

Maestro pulled out a chair and seated Granny Fanny with more gallantry than I had ever seen, even from him.  Of course that prompted the vicar to seat Mattie.  With more grace and apparent practice than I would have expected, Andy did the same for me.  I was rather taken aback at the gentlemanly side of my old friend.  Maybe he was learning more than the movie business out in Hollywood.

We had barely begun to eat the delicious meal when a pop-fizz sound made me look up in concern.  I exchanged a look with Maestro, who seemed very apprehensive.  Just as I started to think nothing would happen, a mountain of white daisies cascaded down onto us, the table, and the food.  We were practically buried in blossoms.

No one spoke.  The vicar cast a fearful gaze around the room.  He clasped his hands in Michalemas daisy cardprayer, but I didn’t think he was saying grace.  Andy looked annoyed as he picked daisies from his ribs.  Then he shrugged and put a big bite into his mouth and complimented Maestro, in between the yum-yum sounds he mumbled.  Mattie laughed at Andy, and then threw a handful of daisies into the air with a girlish giggle.

I looked across the table at Maestro Martino.  He grinned jovially but the smile didn’t reach his eyes.  His smile quickly faded and his expression became contemplative and serious.  I asked him what was on his mind.

“Daisy has become suddenly powerful,” Maestro said in a tone that suggested he was sorting his thoughts as he spoke.  “I think here, with the flowers, she meant to celebrate seeing her old friend again, and naturalmente she used the daisies to let us be certain it was her, no?  Her physical appearance at the stained glass window, it also indicates she has become powerful,” he said in a worried tone.

“But that’s good isn’t it?” I asked.  “Maybe now she’ll be able to help us find out what happened to her — and what or who is responsible for her death.”

vintage queen of the mayÈ possibile,” Maestro answered doubtfully.  “But power, especially new power does not fill in the knowledge she was missing.  You see?  Daisy has power that is new to her.  She doesn’t know how to use it well, as you can see,” he said motioning to the flower covered dinner table.  “What if she becomes frustrated or confused in her quest for the truth?  What if she, with her new power, becomes angry?” Maestro asked in a dire tone that gave me goose bumps.

Daisy had been affable and kind in my encounters with her.  But what if she got upset with the search for her killer.  Or what if she suspected the wrong person and acted on a false assumption.  After all, moments ago Andy thought the vicar might be involved.  What if Daisy became a powerful, vengeful spirit?

***

Video:  Watermelon Lemonade | Volunteer Gardener

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h9jzr_Q6l0

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.

atch?v=8h9jzr_Q6l0

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Three Ingredients II – 14: Chickpeas, Curry, Coconut Milk

Vintage shampoo adPete & Repeat

Two chickpeas, Pete and Repeat were in a pod-boat. Pete fell overboard. What was left?

“Repeat!” you say?  Well, alright then… Pete and Repeat were in a boat—

Okay, I’m just being silly. I would have done something with “Lather, rinse and repeat” but I couldn’t come up with anything.  It took me this long to realize that I was repeating an “ingredient” from Episode-13.  But do you really mind?  What vegetable could be cuter than a chickpea?

The ingredients for this episode are from the remarkable SheketEchad at the “Sunflower Solace Farm” blog. I hope you’ll visit and learn a little about her.  I could relate to her “About” page, because the idea of a little piece of heaven homestead is akin to my own dream of a cottage in a tiny town, or an adobe in the desert.  I’m in a wistful mood, so fantasies of a dream home and ideal life come readily, if intangibly to mind.Pug Girl hat

Since I didn’t give you an episode last weekend, you might need a refresher. At the top of this page, click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients (Serial Home)” — all the past episodes are stored there (omitting the introductions).

Our flapper has been upset. Granny Fanny wanted to send her home. Andy was so afraid of  Granny that he wouldn’t even look at Pip.  What would become of our 1920’s culinary mystery without Pip?  Here’s Episode-14.  Bon appétit!

14.  Chickpeas, Curry, Coconut Milk

With Vanished

Tybee Island LighthouseI sat dangling my bare feet over the ocean.  Daisy sat next to me, idly swinging her feet.  Saltwater sprayed our toes when a wave came to shore.  The salty mist was a little cold and I drew my feet back.  However, it didn’t bother Daisy.  She was dead.

Her head snapped toward the coast and her eyes looked like she had recognized something that I couldn’t see.

“You should go back,” she said with a wan smile that went no further than her lips.

“I don’t want to go back,” I told the ghost woman.  “I’m too upset about all the horrid things Granny said to me.  I haven’t done anything racy.  And I was trying to help you!  It’s wrong for her to take her spite out on me when I’m doing something good,” I said rebelliously.

“Her spite?” Daisy asked.  “Oh, you mean about that handsome detective who had such a crush on her?  It’s a shame that didn’t work out, but her heart is divided.”

“How did you know about all that?” I asked in surprise.

The dark-haired girl laughed.  “We ghosts talk.  Didn’t you realize?  Some of them are big ole gossips!” Daisy said impishly.  “Detective Dabney Daniels is not the only lawman in Phanny’s heart.”

“Why do I feel like you just pronounced her name slightly differently?” I pondered aloud.vintage queen of the may

“I think that’s part of your gift, Pip — the gift that lets you see spirits.  I doubt that it sounded any different, but you knew that it was spelled differently in my mind,” Daisy explained as I waited in confusion.  “Her name was originally spelled with a ‘Ph’ — it was Phanny, not Fanny.  Didn’t you know that she was a ‘Pip’ too?” Daisy asked.

“You know, it seems like my pops said something about her being another Pip,” I said.

Daisy continued.  “Not wanting to stand out or be different, when people spelled it with an ‘F’ she didn’t correct them,” the spirit told me.

“That does not sound like my grandmother at all,” I said shaking my head.

“She’s much stronger as a person now than when she was a young girl,” Daisy said agreeably.  “But Phanny never liked feeling different.  That’s why she unconsciously shut off her gift of seeing spirits. It made her unique when she desperately wanted to be like everyone else.”

Daisy patted my arm.  Her hand was very cold.  That time the smile reached her eyes.  “Really though, you need to go back.  It’s important that you witness something,” she said vaguely.  “You’ll see,” she commented in answer to the question that was on my face.

With a huge sigh I stood up on the big rock.  The sound of a large splash in the distance 1920s Mermaidencaused me to turn seaward.  I wondered if it was the merman.  Daisy urged me to go back.  I knew I was procrastinating.  I’d have to face Granny Fanny sooner or later.

I was so distraught when I ran away from Granny and the others at the church, when my shoes came off I hadn’t paid any attention.  I had no idea where they were, but I spotted first one and then the other along the beach.  Still dragging my heels about going back and facing everyone, I turned and looked at the big rocks.  Daisy was gone.

Picking up my wet, sand covered shoes I headed back the way I had come.  Or I tried.  I quickly found that the property around the church was a labyrinth of garden paths.  I wandered if frustration.  Finally I spotted the gravel that reminded me of chickpeas, and I knew I must be headed the right way.

“Pip!” someone called and I turned toward the voice.  “Not that way.  What you need is this way,” Daisy appeared and motioned for me to take a different path.

Actually, it was hardly a path at all.  Trail was a more fitting term, and that was generous.  When I started down the narrow trail Daisy vanished again.  Exasperated, I reached out and clutched at the air in the spot where she’d been.  Why couldn’t she ever just tell me something, plain and simple?  Why did there always have to be all that mystery?

After a few more steps I slowed my pace because I heard voices.  I stopped beside some Bonaventure Cemetery - Savannahdwarf palmetto and other palms.  A perfect red rose that reached through the palms hinted that more of the flowers grew beyond my hiding place.  I knew I must be back in the main part of the garden.

I tried to place the voices, but they were only slightly familiar.  Then I recognized the voices of Mattie Maddox and a man.  Ah, that would be the vicar, Vance Varley.  A third voice entered their conversation.  Granny Fanny.  Or should I call her Phanny, I thought in aggravation, but I let that go as unimportant.

The vicar sounded like he was consoling her, telling her not to worry.  “If she’s not back soon, we’ll send a few men out to look for her,” he said and I realized they were talking about me.

I’d be in even more hot water if I caused them to go to any trouble.  So I took a deep breath and got ready to make my presence known.  Then I heard Andy’s voice.  He sounded really agitated.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Andy began but my grandmother rode right over him, putting him in his place.  Andy cleared his throat and started over.  “Mrs. Peabody, it was firmly engrained in me to respect my elders, and not to talk back or interrupt.  And I’m sorry to do just that, but I need to have my say,” he said so firmly that my mouth dropped open.

Could that really be my old pal Andy Avis?  The mild little Astronaute-man who wrote science fiction stories, and jumped if anybody so much as said boo?  I shifted closer, trying Buster Keatonnot to make any noise.

“Pip deserves some consideration here,” Andy began, and after the way he let me down when Granny showed up ranting at me for going to the island without asking her first, I was shocked.  “She — we might have acted rashly, but we had to decide right then and there, if we were going to catch the last ferry.  And in all fairness, Pip did send word to you. She’s not a little child —”

“As long as Paisley is under my roof she’ll live by my rules, or go back to her father!” Granny exclaimed, and I thought that would be the end of it.

However, Andy surprised me by continuing.  “Please, Mrs. Peabody. I will have my say this once,” Andy said making me wonder at how he could be so polite yet so… so… insistent.

He wasn’t going to curry any favor with my grandmother, but my little Astronaute-man didn’t shut up at all.  I grinned ear to ear as I listened.  Who would have thought Andy could be that audacious?  Then my always hungry stomach rumbled when I thought of the other kind of curry.  Andy’s voice got my mind off my empty belly quickly though.

“Besides,” Andy was saying.  “Mrs. Maddox was our chaperone the entire time,” he added on a note of finality.  “I’m sure you don’t mean to cast aspersions on her morals and what she’d allow to go on in her home.”

Oh, I thought, nice one Astronaute-man.  Even Granny fanny couldn’t have manipulated an argument any better than that.  Maybe Andy wasn’t such a wuss after all.  Granted he wasn’t exactly heroic.  I’d always know he wasn’t the hero type; it took a little push for him to go into action during any of the things that happened to the group of us at Santa Rosa Sound and the Ca’d’Zan mansion.Ca d Zan-1

Even so, I never would have thought Andy would sink so low as to just hide behind something, while somebody attacked me verbally — even if it was my grandmother!  I still felt stung and abandoned that nobody stood up for me.  However, at that moment Andy was doing a lot to make amends for his behavior a little earlier that morning.  He stood up to my grandmother, and Granny Fanny in a tirade was enough to scare the pants off any man.

“It’s true,” Mattie confirmed.  “Why they really were the sweetest most well behaved young couple I’ve ever seen.  Why, nobody would have even thought there was anything between them,” she added sounding a bit mystified.

“That’s because we’re only friends,” Andy told her, sounded a tad exasperated.  “There wasn’t going to be any hanky panky in the first place.”

Granny Fanny mumbled something that I couldn’t make out from where I stood.  I movedVintage Pug painting closer and found a spot where I could peep between the palmettos.  My grandmother sat on a garden bench with a large handbag clutched on her lap.  Her fingers tightened on the leather, and she looked very stressed.  At first I thought there was a piece of luggage next to her feet, then I heard whining which told me that the case was a carrier for Wriggles, the little pug dog she was keeping for Arabella Wong.

I was surprised that Granny brought the dog with her, but I supposed she felt like Tybee Island wasn’t part of the mainland and maybe she wouldn’t get home in time to take care of him.  Wriggles barked and Granny started fishing in the huge handbag, eventually producing a leash.  In a moment the pug was sniffing the garden, Mrs. Maddox, and the vicar, and living up to his name with that tail wagging wiggle of his.

A sudden gust of frigid air made me shiver.  To my surprise I saw Daisy sitting on a bench across from Mattie Maddox.  Granny’s eyes widened in shock when the spirit woman suddenly appeared and she clutched the leather bag to her chest.  Andy saw the spirit too and took an involuntary step backward.  Wriggles went over and sniffed her shoes, and Daisy reached down to pet the pug, but she kept her sad, uncertain gaze on Mattie.  After a moment she smiled sweetly.

The spirit’s eyes wandered to the perfect red roses that grew behind the older woman.  Following her gaze I saw that white daisies grew in between the roses.  I realized that the setting was the same one I had seen in some of Mattie’s paintings.

Daisy’s words came back to me, “She said that I was as fine and good as any rose.  Kind Mattie — she knew I never thought as highly of myself as I should.”

“My dear, dear friend,” Daisy murmured looking at Mattie.  “How did you come to be an old woman?  Has it been so long?”

1920s Owl ClockAndy and Granny reacted to her words, but Mattie and Vicar Vance seemed oblivious to Daisy’s presence.  Granny fidgeted with the big purse in her lap.  I knew she wasn’t ready to accept the fact that she could see ghosts, but circumstances were forcing her to see them.  Then she opened the bag and took out that old wooden owl clock.  Maestro Martino bound himself to that clock when his cursed bottle was broken.  It was part of his curse — he had to be bound to an object, and could not be away from it for too awfully long.

But why would my grandmother bring the clock with her?  Yet she did, and moreover she held to it tightly, as if it was some sort of protection.  I was so intrigued by the scene playing out before me that I didn’t realize I was walking out into the open, making myself part of it.

Granny Fanny looked at me, and her eyes lit with happiness. However, the joy quickly flashed to pain, and then to anger.  I drew back, wishing I was still behind the dwarf palmettos.  No one spoke and it was uncomfortably quiet.  Daisy patted the bench beside her, and I gathered my courage and walked past my grandmother to sit beside my ghostly friend.

A pop-fizz sound broke the silence.  Maestro Martino appeared.  He was wearing his usual chef’s garb.  Wriggles started barking furiously at him.  Unlike Daisy, and I assumed most other spirits, Maestro Martino’s presence was so powerful that anyone could see him.  Of course, that was provided he actually wanted to be seen.

I was blocking their line of sight, plus the barking of the little dog distracted the vicar and Mrs. Maddox enough that they didn’t realize that Maestro had not walked into the garden inVintage Rose German Cologne the ordinary way.  He really had simply appeared out of thin air.  Maestro hurriedly took off the tall chef’s hat and hid it behind his back.  Remarkably, the pug quieted and sniffed his odd Renaissance era boots.

I had thought the dog was afraid of the ghost chef, but then I realized Wriggles was afraid of the hat, not the spirit.  Maestro was mischievous enough that he plopped the hat back onto his head for a moment and made a funny face.  The pug started barking again.  The poltergeist grinned and tucked the hat into his jacket.  Wriggles looked up at him, yapped once, and then wagged his curly tail.  His little black face looked like it was smiling.

Vicar Vance apologized and introduced himself and Mattie Maddox to the newcomer.  “I didn’t see you come up, sir.  Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked.

“This is…” Granny hesitated.  “This is Mr. Martino.  He was kind enough to escort me today on short notice,” she said somewhat awkwardly.

“Oh! It was you who radioed about the ferry being in trouble!” Vicar Varley cried.  “You have my heartfelt thanks, Mr. Martino.  I can’t tell you how helpful that was.  Some of those people might have succumbed to hypothermia if we had not been ready for them. But thanks to you we had everything in place when the boat limped to the dock.  I can tell you it was quite a scene on the beach last night.”

Maestro looked pleased but slightly embarrassed. He insisted that it was nothing, and started speaking Italian.  Since his English was perfect, if accented, I thought he must have done that to throw off the vicar — to keep him from asking unwanted questions.

Dormedary Coconut ad“Oh Signora, Che fortuna!” Maestro cried and pointed toward a palm tree that was different from the ones surrounding it.  “How fortunate, no?  It is a coconut palm.  Perhaps we could get the coconut milk for your special fruit cake recipe?”

“We don’t need to bother anyone with that right now, Maestr… I mean Mr. Martino,” she stammered.

I was amazed that Granny had helped the ghost come to the island.  She was still furious that Andy and I had unknowingly brought him into her kitchen in the first place.  Granny Fanny and the poltergeist argued more often than they spoke civilly.  Yet she backed up so that she stood closer to Martino than she did to the living people.

She didn’t get any closer to Daisy though.  Granny looked at the ghost woman suspiciously.  I supposed that Granny had grown accustomed to Maestro Martino.  And as he said himself, he was one powerful poltergeist!  Did she feel the need for protection?  But why?

My grandmother glanced at me, and I saw worry and sadness in her eyes.  Could she really have been so afraid for me that she took comfort in knowing someone powerful like Maestro was at her side?  Had an imagined need to rescue or protect me been stronger than her fear and distrust of the supernatural?  I suddenly felt like a heel for causing her to worry.

Meraviglioso,” he murmured and cast a meaningful look at Granny Fanny.  Maestro held the look for a bit longer than it seemed to me like he should have.  It wasn’t just a look.  It Vintage kitchen bouquet adwas an adoring gaze.  Then I knew he was up to something.  The exaggerated look of longing was an act, despite the fact that the spirit really was attracted to my grandmother.

The vicar and Mattie both noticed the way he was looking at Granny.  She blushed and looked away, clearing her throat.  Mattie gave an unexpected smile at Maestro’s behavior.  She leaned toward the vicar and whispered something about people in love being so sweet at any age.

I wasn’t sure if my grandmother heard what Mattie said, but she shot a glare at Maestro.  Then the flirty ghost bowed over Mattie Maddox’s hand in his courtly way.  He whispered something in Italian and the old gal actually giggled like a school girl.  I had to admit, the Maestro had a way about him.  He said something else to her in that accent of his.  It was English that time, but I didn’t catch what he said.  However, Mattie blushed and tittered.

When Mattie caught her breath, she looked at my grandmother.  “And you were worried about these two young people… but you set sail, so to speak, with this handsome rake!” Mattie chided playfully.  “Oh, now… I was only joking, dear.  No offense intended,” the older woman said when Granny’s glare transferred to her.

Maestro Martino laughed a bit too loudly.  He was still up to whatever it was.  “Sì, is it as you say, the pot calling the kettle black?” he exclaimed and then laughed again, but gave Granny 1920s two women gardenan adoring little tweak on the cheek.

Granny looked astonished, not just at Maestro, but at what Mattie said.  After a moment she shook her head ruefully.  “I guess you have a point, Mrs. Maddox,” she said, but I knew my grandmother too well to feel relieved that fast.

“Now please, you call me Mattie,” the other woman said warmly.

I wondered what Maestro had said to Mattie.  I couldn’t imagine what it was, but it seemed to have started things in the right direction.  Between Mattie and Maestro, maybe Granny Fanny would calm down enough that she’d give up the idea of sending me home to Florida.

Or maybe the antics of the little dog would distract her enough, I thought as I watched Wriggles wrap his leash around and around a bench leg.  When he ran out of lead, he started to whine and pull at the confining mess he’d made for himself.  However, no one was paying much attention to him.

Just as I noticed that Daisy had disappeared, I saw that a rose and a white daisy were at Mattie’s feet.  She wore a bemused expression as she leaned down to pick them up from the pavement.  The woman looked at Granny rather than me when she spoke.

“You know, when I was young I had a friend, a best friend… Pip reminds me of her.  She was so headstrong and intelligent, and so vital.  But she didn’t think as well of herself as she 1917 Vogueshould have,” Mattie said.  “I hope your granddaughter realizes how special and valuable she is,” she added looking at me from the corner of her eye and giving a little nod.

“I’d love to hear about her, your friend,” I cut into the conversation, causing Granny to raise an eyebrow at me.

“It was so long ago now, but I’ve never forgotten,” Mattie Maddox spoke in a soft voice as her memory stretched back over decades.  “Oh, she was a strong young woman, but just as sweet as she was strong.  I couldn’t imagine how anyone could fail to love her, but there were plenty of people who resented her.  King Henry though, that’s what they called Mr. Kingston senior, he worshiped the ground she walked on.”

Vicar Vance Varley at first gave Mattie a quizzical glance.  Then the look on his face shifted to worry and fear.  “Miss Mattie—”

“She?” Granny prompted, obviously curious despite the situation.

“Mr. Kingston’s second wife, Daisy,” Mattie said.  “I was her personal maid, but she always said I was her best friend.  She certainly was mine, but I always felt I didn’t do enough…” Mattie said but her words trailed away with her thoughts.

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but at the end, I think she thought King Henry had left her,” Mattie went on.  “She was so badly off by then, I think time was passing differently for her.  Daisy didn’t understand everything that was happening then as she drifted in and out of 1920s faceconsciousness.  Her husband wasn’t at her side every minute.  To be honest, I thought he should have been there more, but he was beside her more than many men would have been,” she said in a reasoning tone.

“He arranged for an important doctor to come to Savannah and take a look at her.  King Henry left on the ferry to pick up the doctor at Union Station.  I think the hours must have felt like days to Daisy, and she thought he’d left her.  She passed before he even got to Savannah.

“Miss Mattie,” the vicar interrupted.  “What you’ve told me in confidence… It might not be wise to disclose to strangers,” he said sounding very agitated.

Mattie sighed and smiled a small smile.  It reminded me of Daisy’s sad smile, and I wondered if they shared that expression because they had been so close.  “Vance, I’m an old woman.  I’m not worried about that.  And I’m not going to look over my shoulder anymore,” Mattie said flatly and my curiosity rose at her affirming tone.Stained Glass 2

Though I was mesmerized by the odd exchange between Mattie and Vicar Vance, it registered with me that something in my surroundings had changed.  Something was missing.  It was quiet.

I glanced at the bench where I last saw Wriggles pulling at his leash.  The collar was there, but the dog was gone.  Granny followed my gaze.

“Oh great heavens!  Where is that doggone dog?” she exclaimed.  “I have to find him. I said I’d take care of him,” she said and hurried down what was probably a random garden path.

Everyone followed Granny.  I heard barking up ahead.  Even before I could see the building I saw the bright golden glow.  My feet squished uncomfortably inside my wet shoes as I hurried along the paved path.  The barking grew louder and then I rounded a curve where huge shell pink camellias grew extraordinarily tall.  The path opened onto the beautiful stained glass window, the one Daisy showed Andy and me back at the abandoned warehouse, the same one Mattie Maddox had in her paintings.

The golden and aqua light reflected in the glass was impossibly bright.  I knew it had some supernatural help.  It cast a golden glow over the red roses that grew before it.  I heard alphonse mucha 1Mattie gasp.  Vicar Varley clasped his hands prayerfully before his chest and murmured something about God.  Wriggles stood barking at the window.  With every bark his little body scooted backward a few inches.

Daisy, looking even more ethereally beautiful than I’d ever seen her walked toward us from the window.  She gave me that little smile that rarely reached her eyes.

“You are so close Pip.  I can feel it,” Daisy said.

Mattie Maddox crumpled to the ground.

***

Recipe:  Curry Mushroom Toast – Cooking Club 1908

Adapted from: Cooking Club Magazine, February 1908

1908 Cooking Club Curry Mushroom Toast

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Tori Avey at History Kitchen http://toriavey.com/history-kitchen/2014/02/curry-mushroom-toast-cooking-club-1908/

Please visit Tori’s great blog for step by step instructions and photos, as well as a terrific post.

Ingredients

1 baguette, cut into 12 slices

1 lb button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)

2 tsp flour

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and black pepper

Yields 6 servings

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced bread and toast for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Transfer the toast to a baking sheet and place in the oven at 200 degrees F to keep warm.

Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and add about 1/2 of the sliced mushrooms. Cook until brown, about 8-10 minutes. Then add remaining mushrooms and continue cooking for an additional 5-7 minutes.

Sprinkle curry and flour over the mushrooms and stir to evenly coat.

Add vegetable stock to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the liquid thickens and is reduced by half.

Reduce heat to medium and add cream. Cook until thickened. Stir in salt and black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp of salt and a pinch of black pepper– your amount may vary based on the saltiness of your stock). Remove from heat.

To serve, place 2 slices of toast on a plate and spoon the curry mushroom sauce over the top. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

 ***

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.

Three Ingredients II – 9: Chanterelle Mushrooms, Gin, Trifle

Pug Girl hatHello everyone — I’m so glad to see you again!

At the end of Episode-7 Andy’s fate was unknown. Whether by design or by accident, the ghost-riders had taken him away. Then last weekend Maestro Martino sacrificed something important to him, without knowing whether or not it would return Pip’s friend. However, that segment ended without the ingredients revealing anything about Pip’s dear friend “Andy the Astronaute-man.”

The food-related things for this episode were provided by Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen.  She was also kind enough to let me use a recipe for one of those ingredients. I hope you’ll check out her wonderful blog.

Let’s see where Suzanne’s tempting ingredients take the plot of our interactive culinary mystery in Episode-9.  Bon appétit!

9.  Chanterelle Mushrooms, Gin, Trifle

With Aura

Though it seemed like much longer, only moments had passed since Maestro Martino took the hand and shoulder of Caleb the ghost-rider.  Suffused with blinding light, the spirit chef seemed to merge with the cowboy before the ghost-rider disappeared.

My breath caught when I heard the fizz and pop, not unlike a bottle of champagne being uncorked.  I began to associate that sound with the appearance or disappearance of poltergeists.  The sound was immediately followed by something crashing and then the unpleasant noise of puking.  I glanced at the Maestro and saw his grimace.Chanterelle Mushrooms

“I haven’t heard such pathetic retching since I took a bumbling apprentice foraging for chanterelle mushrooms.  The poor buffoon gobbled up the wrong species while I wasn’t looking,” the ghost chef said, and he looked like he might sick-up himself.

I hurried around a tall stack of old crates toward the noise.  To my immense relief I found Andy sprawled on what appeared to be an old church pew.  When he saw me he pushed himself up on his elbows and wiped his face with a white handkerchief.

“That was one helluva ride,” my old friend groaned.

“Andy!  Are you okay?  I was scared to death!” I exclaimed.

1920a TB adI immediately regretted my poor choice of words, but neither Andy nor Maestro seemed to pay any mind.  In fact, the ghost chef wasn’t paying any attention to either of us.  He studied a rotted old crate intently.  Meanwhile Andy looked pale and woozy.  “Maybe you should put your head between your knees,” I said.

“Isn’t that for fainting?” he asked.

“Uh… yeah, I guess so,” I said lamely, and wondered if Andy really expected me to believe he was not about to pass out.

“I’ll be fine,” he mumbled, swaying where he sat.

Startling me, the Maestro drew back his foot, still wearing those odd looking Renaissance era boots, and gave the dilapidated crate a hard kick.  The wood practically disintegrated with the impact.  Several bottles rolled out onto the floor.  The poltergeist chuckled delightedly and scooped up a rolling bottle.  He had it open in a jiffy.

“Here Signore,” Maestro told Andy as he handed him the open bottle.  “This should set you to rights.”

I sat down on the dusty church pew next to Andy Avis.  He took a swig right from the bottle.  Andy made a surprised face, but he swallowed the liquid.  Then he held out the bottle to look at the faded label.Skull Ghost Bottle

Gin!” he exclaimed.  “And the real stuff too, not bathtub gin.  “Wow! I wonder how old this booze is.”

“Everything in this old warehouse, or factory, or whatever it is seems to be ancient,” I commented as I took a closer look at the carved wooden pew.

“The place was both at one time or another,” Andy said.  “So you’re right either way.  Based on what I’ve learned through the records at the courthouse, it might have been a hospital on and off too.  Or at least part of it was.  Probably not this part,” he said sounding like the swig of gin might have gone to his head that fast.  “Maybe somebody held religious services here while they were having a church built or something too,” Andy added and with a little burp he patted the pew and left a handprint in the dust.

Goose bumps covered my arms and the little hairs stood on end.  I looked at the antiquated church pew, at Maestro, and back to Andy.  I remembered the recent day when Andy and I found all those newspapers Granny Fanny had apparently been using to look up something (see Episode-6).  Andy found an old issue with a picture of a lot of young men, including the Binghamton brothers.  I recognized it for the same photo I had seen at the Kingston mansion during the big shindig.  It seemed like Daisy, the spirit girl, wanted me to see something in it.  I knew there was information in that photograph; that Daisy was trying to give me a clue, but she just wasn’t able to be clear.

abandoned factoryThen Andy had said that he found the name Binghamton in the title research he did for the abandoned building.  A chill went down my spine to match the goose bumps.  I heard the same low whistle cowboy Caleb made at me when he first appeared.  I turned toward the sound.

Multi-colored light glowed softly, just beyond the antique pew.  As I blinked it took the form of a beautiful stained glass window.  Aqua-blue and gold designs cast a soft beam on the three of us.  Then I saw Caleb, bathed in the beautiful light, Stetson hat in hand.

The ghost-rider bowed to us, and bent his head a little lower to the spirit chef.  “I don’t know how I can thank you,” Caleb said, managing to include all of us in the comment.  “But I will keep looking for a way.  If it helps you at all, Daisy knows you’re onto something,” he said causing me to do a double take.

Had the spirit girl managed to encounter the ghost-rider?  Caleb seemed to sense my question and nodded with an unexpectedly shy smile.

“Daisy still doesn’t understand it, but that old picture, this building, and the church window figure together somehow,” the cowboy tried to explain, but his expression said that he didn’t understand the message he relayed.

“How did you show us the stained glass window?” Andy asked in an awed voice.

“Oh, that wasn’t me, Pardner.  No, that was Daisy the Dainty Dish,” Caleb said with a grin, and Daisy’s form flickered beside him.Pew-n-Window

The petite dark haired woman looked fondly up at the cowboy.  Then the image of Daisy blinked out after that brief appearance.  I knew she was terrified of the abandoned building.  I supposed she mustered enough courage to let us know it was her.  Caleb’s impudent grin softened to a gentle expression as he looked at something we could not see, in the spot where Daisy had stood.

“If you’ll excuse me now,” the cowboy said.  “It’s not polite to keep a lady waiting,” he said and faded away.

The image of the stained glass window brightened in a way that seemed insistent, as if the glow refused to be ignroed.  Andy and I both studied it intently trying to memorize the intricate details in the design.

Then I heard a familiar voice in the distance, along with the sound of an automobile’s door slamming.  To my surprise, Maestro abruptly winked out with a fizz and a pop.

“Paisley Idelle Peabody!  Are you in this God forsaken place?” I heard Granny Fanny’s voice, and I cringed at her use of my full name.

“Oh-oh,” Andy muttered, but gave me a mischievous wink.

My grandmother flounced across the warehouse floor to us.  She looked mad enough to spit nails, and I thought I perceived an undercurrent of worry.  She glared all around the factory floor.

1920s Flapper n Phoenix“I take it you two are safe and sound,” Granny said, and it didn’t sound like she was all together pleased with that.  “Although you look downright peaked, Andy,” she pronounced the word as southerners of that era did, peak-ed, and she almost roughly put her hand to his forehead to check his temperature.

Granny was awfully agitated.  I asked how she knew where to find us.  Then she really got mad.  “That dad-blamed ghost you two let into my kitchen!” she spat the words.  “That vulgar so-and-so!  He said he’d teach me to make a trifle, but he’d rather trifle with me.  Then rather than apologize like any gentleman ought to, he started going on about you being in danger.  I managed to drag it out of him about where he was headed. Then I got here as fast as the automobile would take me,” she said in a rush.

Trifle with her?  Granny said all that so fast that I had to replay it in my mind before I was sure what she’d said.  Had Maestro made a pass at my grandmother?  Really?  At my grandmother?  When I realized that Andy was having trouble suppressing his mirth, I realized that was exactly what had happened.

Then Granny noticed the supernatural image of the stained glass window just as it faded away.  It left an aqua and gold colored aura in the place where it had been.

“What the devil was that?” Granny Fanny exclaimed wonderingly.

The little pop and fizz sound warned me and I tried to shush the ghost chef before he spoke and made things worse.  But he had a mischievous gleam in his eyes.

“A most ironic choice of words Seniora,” he said with a bow.  “Especially since yon window is part of a church.”

“You!” Granny gasped in a voice that could have frozen the Savanah River.Harold Lloyd

Maestro had the good sense to back away.  However, that had him moving next to Andy.  That probably was not a good thing, since they both had similar baffling expressions on their faces.  What is it with men?

The ghost chef and Andy looked sideways at one another.  “You see young Signore?  She is a spitfire, no?” Martino said to my old friend.  “The woman, she is so exciting when she is angry!”

To my astonishment, Andy’s expression matched the ghost’s and my friend agreed.  However, a mere glance from Granny straightened out Andy Avis.  Maestro didn’t get off so easily though.  Granny Fanny could give a talk fierce enough to make a Baptist preacher green with envy, and brilliant enough to leave a Supreme Court judge feeling like he only had a fifth grade education.  The ghost chef got the full brunt of her eloquent speech.

Maestro Martino hung his head, thoroughly shamed.  Granny Fanny gave a sharp nod of her head.  She said she’d see me and Andy back at the cottage, and told us not to doddle. Then she turned on her heel and practically flounced out of the abandoned factory-warehouse.

Andy watched her go with the oddest series of expressions on his face.  His face held admiration, fear, amazement, and something else about which I surely hoped I was mistaken.  Or at least I’d better be.  I raised one eyebrow at him and that odd part of his expression left in a hurry.

The ghost chef’s eyes were still downcast humbly.  Then I saw him give a sidelong look at Granny’s departing form as she sashayed away.  That lascivious look made me gasp with indignation.  After all — that was my grandmother!  Then the cursed poltergeist winced and made a small uncomfortable noise.

When Maestro looked up, there was a big red cold sore on his lip.

***

Video:  Better Homes and Gardens – How to Make a Trifle

 

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

Recipe:  Roasted Chanterelles, Baby Eggplant and Shallots

Chanterelle Mushrooms to Roast

Recipe and Photo Credit: Suzanne Debrango

***

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.

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

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.

 

 

Three Ingredients II – 7: Baby Bok Choy, Barbecue Sauce, Aluminum Foil

Cosmo cowgirl vintageIsn’t it just the berries when with no planning at all, things just come together? Everything about our 1920’s serial is unplanned “panster” fun — even the timing of when you all send ingredients.  So I was tickled when I learned that the next set of ingredients coincided with something important for the reader who is featured this weekend.

Mary J McCoy-Dressel, who sent the ingredients for this episode, heycowboy_medjust happens to have just released a new cowboy romance novel — and you are among the first to know!  Sheiks and Shebas in Mary’s books are “Gentlemen cowboys (with a touch of bad) and their feisty heroines,” as the author describes them. So get ready for the sequel to Howdy Ma’amthe long awaited Hey Cowboy.  

Furthering the synchronicity, the fourth Saturday of every July is the National Day of the American Cowboy. I know this is unnecessary, but indulge me.  With ghosts in the story, and the cowboy references… I just can’t resist.

Right up to the very last minute, I didn’t know what I was going to do with this set of ingredients. I’m not sure what had me scratching my head more, barbecue sauce or baby bok choy.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t worried about aluminium foil. So I started writing this introduction rather than the story…  Then, after I went to bed, I remembered the Jar of Spooky Things. Naturally, with Ghost Riders in the Sky still playing in my head, I took a random ghostly ingredient from the song, rather than from the jar.

Now, hang on tight.  Here we go by the seats of our pants again!  Bon appétit!

 

7.  Baby Bok Choy, Barbecue Sauce, Aluminum Foil

With Ghost-rider

“So Andy, tell me all about Hollywood!  All the crazy stuff with the haunted wine bottle from the old factory and the ghost chef… All that started up before we ever got to talk about your new home,” I said to my old friend, Andy the Astronaute-man.

Pug episode-7Andy Avis was one of my group of friends back in a tiny town near Santa Rosa Sound, Florida.  I nicknamed him the Astronaute-man because he wrote science fiction stories and even screenplays.  I expected him to begin by telling me about his work at the movie studio, but apparently food was on his mind.  He told me about his favorite restaurant, a Chinese place.

“They really put on the Ritz!  It’s an amazing looking restaurant.  And they make this baby bok choy dish, with garlic.  I had never had it before, but it’s turned into one of my favorite foods,” he said enthusiastically.

I told him about Alastair and Arabella Wong and their restaurant, Wong’s Chinese.  “Oh yeah, he said.  “That’s the lady you said owns Wriggles, the little pug dog.  Mrs. Peabody is just dog-sitting until she gets back from vacation, right?”Vintage Asia mag

“Yes, that’s the one.  Funny isn’t it, the way this kind of thing seems to happen?” I commented.  “Alastair and Arabella leave here to visit California, while you come from California to here.”

Andy chuckled.  “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,” he said, talking like he would in one of the science fiction stories he wrote.

The black Dodge Roadster puttered along toward the abandoned factory.  Andy had put the tan colored ragtop down when we started out, but he looked up at the clouding sky in concern.  “Do you think we should stop and put the top up?”

The old factory that Andy had bought on behalf of a studio executive was only a little further down the road.  “We’re almost there.  Why don’t we just take our chances?” I suggested, knowing Andy was probably more concerned about me getting rained on than himself or the automobile.

“So why in the world would Manny Mayer the Movie Maker want an abandoned factory in Savannah, Georgia?” I asked Andy about the executive.

Cowgirl valentineAndy Avis gave an exaggerated shrug.  “I sorta wondered that myself.  I was bragging.  Goading him a little you know.  He can be kind of a blowhard.  So I was telling him about how much better the barbecue sauce is here in the south, and how much better it is than anything he’s ever tasted.  So maybe he wants to open a huge barbecue place,” Andy said jokingly, which earned him a look from me.  “Okay, so maybe not.  To be honest, I didn’t want to ask too many questions, since he — or the studio was paying for my trip.  To me, it was as much for pleasure, for rest and relaxation, as for business,” he said and gave me a quick one-armed hug while he drove.

Something about his tone and a sad look in his eyes made me concerned.  “Are you okay?  Out there all the way across the country, by yourself?” I asked.

Andy grinned like his old self.  “Hollywood is the cat’s pajamas!” he said, though his smile waivered a little.  “But I admit it’s a big adjustment.  Everything is so different, whether I’m at the studio or just walking down the street.”

The sun came back out, clearing away the clouds.  Soon we were at the abandoned building.  It predated the Civil War.  The factory-warehouse was a sort of hideout for blockade runners back then.  We knew there might be all kinds of interesting stuff still inside because it was supposed to be haunted, and that would have kept away many thieves and vandals.

However, there wasn’t much of anything within plain sight.  There were plenty of crates
and even old trunks.  Plus the windows didn’t let in much light.  We had our work cut out for us, 1920s cowgirl grapefruit adbut we were armed with flashlights and dust-rags, and Andy had a crowbar for opening crates.

After a few minutes of stirring up dust, we spotted an old document lying on top of a tall crate.  We moved sturdy looking smaller crates to stand on, so we could see the top of the tall wooden box.  The paper was crumbling with age.  We were afraid it would fall apart into useless bits if we picked it up.  “If we just had something to put it in,” I muttered half to myself.

“It’s probably just a shipping manifest, but you never know.  Heck, even that could be interesting.  Oh!” Andy exclaimed.  “Granny is always determined to send food back with me, so I bought some aluminum foil… but I forgot to give it to her.  It’s out in the roadster.  That would work.  We can make a foil envelope around this paper.  If we’re real careful, it should hold together,” Andy said and headed back to the Dodge.

As I watched my friend’s form disappear into the dank building, I gulped.  Knowing I was alone in the abandoned factory gave me a creepy feeling, even though I knew Andy was only a shout away and would be back quickly.  Then a long roll of thunder filled the building.  It sounded close.  I realized Andy would be a little longer, since he’d need to put the top up on the ragtop two-seater.  I wondered if I should go help him.

Tom Mix poster“Just stay there, Pip!” I heard him call back to me, though he was out of sight.  “Sounds like the rain’s coming back.  There’s no point in you getting wet too.  I can put the top up on the roadster,” he said, voice fading into the distance.

A low whistle caused me to turn with a start.

“Well now, ain’t you a pretty little filly,” said a man wearing a Stetson hat.

He looked like he’d walked out of a Tom Mix movie.  Actually, he was tall, well-built, and a real looker.

“You startled me,” I gasped, stating the obvious.

He looked abashed and removed the Stetson with a sort of bow.  “Howdy, ma’am.  Pardon me. I seem to have forgotten my manners.  It’s been awhile since…” he began but his words trailed away as thunder rumbled again.

The room shook and it felt like the thunder was right beside me.  I felt the man’s hand around my waist, and he roughly pulled me against him.  My breath caught in my throat as I gazed up at his bright eyes, which shone with an emotion that I couldn’t define or even describe.  Suddenly a couple of huge red-eyed cows careened past.  They had long shiny black horns that missed me by an inch.  I realized that one of those horns would have gored me if the cowboy hadn’t pulled me aside.

“What… was that?” I said, pulling away from him.

Then I noticed a large lariat was in his hands.  I was sure it hadn’t been there before.1933 Macleans

“Dang it all…” he muttered and then sighed with frustration.  “I wouldn’t have caught them anyway,” he spoke words that rang of defeat.

He shook his head, looking after the longhorn cows, which disappeared as suddenly as they appeared.  Then he turned back to me. “Caleb Colman, ma’am,” the cowboy said and put out his hand to shake mine.

I might have giggled about the name Caleb Colman the Cowboy, but I didn’t.  Because the moment I shook his hand was when I realized how cold his touch really was.  I’d felt it all the way through my dress too, when he pulled me out of the way of the cattle.  I knew what he was.  By then, you’d think I’d have been used to meeting ghosts, but I introduced myself awkwardly.  He finished what he had been about to say before the red-eyed cows interrupted us.

“It’s my curse.  Me and all the riders.  We chase that herd of red-eyed cattle, but we never get any closer to catching ‘em.  And we’ll chase them ‘til the end of time,” The ghost-rider said seeing the expression on my face.

Caleb bowed his head, Stetson hat in hand. I didn’t know what to say.  Nothing seemed sufficient compared to the thought of an unwilling and futile chase that went on forever.  There was deep sadness and regret in the ghost-rider’s eyes.

Wild west weekly“I know I did some bad things during my life.  Some truly horrible things,” he said, shaking his head remorsefully.  “I only wish I could be allowed to make up for it, to redeem myself somehow.”

That was when everything started to happen at once.  I heard a distant rumble like thunder.  I felt Caleb’s cold hand at my waist again.  Andy called my name.  He had just come back into view, at the far end of the poorly lighted factory floor.  The room began to shake violently.  A dozen red-eyed cattle with long sharply pointed black horns charged past.  The Devil’s Herd was headed straight for Andy.

Caleb yelled at Andy to take cover, as he pulled me to the floor and out of the way.  Even if Andy hadn’t been frozen in shock, he wouldn’t have had time to move.  Immediately behind the cattle were two more ghost-riders, their horses snorting fire.

Their lariats spun circles of burning light as they tried to lasso the cattle.  One cowboy’s lariat went around a set of shiny black horns, but the beast managed to shake it off before the ghost-rider could tighten the rope.  The lasso went back into the air — and landed around Andy!

Glowing-Longhorns copy

As if by magic, a fire-snorting horse appeared and Caleb leapt into the saddle in a single motion.  He charged after the other ghost-riders, yelling at them to stop.  However, the lasso tightened around Andy, lifting him into the air as the riders thundered past.

Then with the sound of a thunderclap and a flash of fire, they all disappeared.

***

Recipe:  Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Garlic

by Lillian Chou on Epicurious.com

Baby bok choy

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Epicurious.com

Yield:  8 servings

Active time:  35 min

Total time:  35 min

Ingredients

1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 8 cloves)

2 pounds baby or Shanghai bok choy, halved lengthwise

2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

Equipment: a well-seasoned 14-inch flat-bottomed wok with a lid

 

Preparation

Stir together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until cornstarch has dissolved.

 

Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly.  Pour peanut oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat side.  Add garlic and stir-fry until pale golden, 5 to 10 seconds.  Add half of bok choy and stir-fry until leaves wilt, about 2 minutes, then add remaining bok choy and stir-fry until all leaves are bright green and limp, 2 to 3 minutes total.  Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry 15 seconds.  Cover with lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes.  Stir in sesame oil, then transfer to a serving dish.

Chef’s  note:

Baby bok choy can be washed, dried, and halved one day ahead.  Chill wrapped in paper towels, in a sealed bag.

***

 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.