Brother Love 4 — A Domino

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Note:  Last week I mentioned Dan was working on his own post about his part of the inspiration for the Doug Armstrong character.  That is Dan’s Saturday post this week at his blog, No Facilities.

Various names on different colored cards in fancy text

Chuttersnap at Unsplash

Welcome to my sanctuary at the crossroads.  Relax and sit for awhile.  It makes no difference what your name may be.  Although there is oh so much in a name. 

I tend to obsess about character names.  In stories with a real world setting (even if they are also fantasy) I try to add authenticity through the names of some characters.  With Atonement, Tennessee and Atonement in Bloom, I consulted a (public) government database that will show the most popular names, for a state, in a given year. 

Last time in A Hymn, we met two new characters, a woman and a little girl.  I had to give the girl a first name.  To my those ever so handy databases I went.  I chose four names from the 100 most popular names in Mississippi in 1960.  (Since I haven’t established an exact year for the story, that’s smack in the middle of my range of when the story might take place.)

Then I sent my top choices to Dan Antion and asked if he’d mind choosing the name.  He chose from Dorothy, Shirley, Sandra (Sandy), and Tammy.  As you know, he picked Tammy. 

One of Dan’s “things” for Chapter 4 is the number nine.  This song came into the story.  It also inspired a couple of street names.

For Chapter 4, the “things” from Dan are Round Domino and Nine (the number).  The third thing is from V. M. Sang, Faberge egg.  She had not left a comment before my “call for things,” but that’s perfectly fine.

This time I apologize and request your patience.  I was barely able to get this chapter posted in time.  It’s raw.  You’ll undoubtedly see a lot of mistakes, but at least I managed to get it here.

It’s time to go to the crossroads.

Chapter 2.  Doug Armstrong stopped at Birdie Devovo’s house at the crossroads moments after the lights went out.  He said he saw someone moving around on the porch.  Birdie certainly thought someone was inside.   Yet, was it odd that Doug should be there at that specific moment?  Was it random chance?  Or did it happen by design?  If so, then whose design?

Chapter 3.  An unknown woman and a rather odd little girl stopped at the house at the crossroads asking for directions.  They were looking for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.  The woman said she believed Tammy could be healed of her hemophilia there. 

Brother Love

4 — A Domino

Round Domino, Nine, and Faberge Egg

Round Dominoes, by Dan Antion

Round Dominoes, by Dan Antion

Even after I could no longer see or hear the Ford, I stood there, pondering the strangeness of the child.

Jinx fluttered down near my feet.  He started pecking at something amid the gravels of the drive.  I noticed a small black disk.  With his beak, he tossed it into the air.

Sometimes when the magpie found bottle caps, he liked me to throw them for him to find.  However, that was no metal cap.

I bent down for a closer look.  A black disk with white dots.  It was right beside where the woman had stopped her car.

While she had called the child by her name, Tammy, the woman had not given her own name.  She was awfully nervous.  I guessed that getting lost made her too flustered to think of social niceties.  Although I didn’t feel she had been rude.

Jinx pecked at the disk again.  I picked it up to investigate before he could fly off with it.

Magpie on ground listening_PicturesofScotland Pixaby

Magpie, Pixabay

“Oh,” I felt so foolish that I said it aloud.

I had never seen a round domino.  The game behind the regular kind mystified me.  For the longest, I didn’t even know there was a game.  Dominoes were just something you stood up to watch each one knock down the next.  I wondered what you were supposed to do with round ones.

Jinx acted like he wanted it back.

“I know you found it, Jinx,” I told the bird.  “It must belong to that strange little girl.  If I see them again, I’ll give it to her.”

The magpie made a series of noises then started singing one of his favorites.  He usually just repeated the simple chorus over and over again, but that time he sang most of a verse.

“When I kissed a cop on Thirty-fourth and Vine.  Broke little bottle number nine,” he sang, getting most of the words.

“That’s a much better song than what you sang yesterday.  Come on back to the house and I’ll give you another strawberry.”

That got his attention.  For the next half hour, the magpie serenaded me with Love Potion Number Nine.

***

Church reflected in river Dan Antion

Church reflected in the river, by Dan Antion

The song wouldn’t leave my head.  I was still humming it the next morning when I got dressed to do errands.

I hated going into town.  It didn’t matter whether people were uptown or down, or which side of the tracks, rich or poor, they…  Well, let’s just say they didn’t approve of me.  It’s hard to say which was worse, the spiteful remarks, or the cold, aloof behavior.

Granted, my mother had given them enough fuel for gossip to last several generations.  They speculated about my parentage and then about whether I was legitimate.  They cast doubt on my race, and even my sanity ― all knowing I could hear them.

Other comments spoken in hushed, sometimes fearful tones made me wonder if people really did think I was some sort of devil, just because I lived at the crossroads on the outside of town.

People could be so foolish.  As if there weren’t crossroads all over town.  As if there wasn’t a crossroad anywhere two roads met, I thought.

Regardless, I had things to do that wouldn’t do themselves.  So, I got up and pulled my brown ringlet curls into a ponytail and got dressed.

1948 Nash Rambler-a1-Rex Gray-2-

Birdie’s old 1948 Nash Rambler, by Rex Gray

Women in cities might have started wearing slim cigarette or capri pants out in public, but that hadn’t become acceptable in Parliament, Mississippi.  I already attracted enough frowns and gossip, just from my mother’s reputation, so I didn’t wear those out in public.

I tried to banish the thoughts as I put on a yellow gingham, shirt-dress.  It had a little bow at the neck from the same check fabric.  Then I tied on my blue denim Keds.  New white laces kept the wear and tear from being as noticeable.  Nobody would know the soles were worn slick.

When I drove the old Nash Rambler wagon into Parliament, I turned onto Fourth Street.  That took me past the First Methodist Church.

I noticed several cars in the parking lot.  Among them was a late model Ford.  When I saw a bleached blond head, I knew it was the car from the evening before.

Then I gave myself a mental kick for the uncharitable sound of the word.  Describing a woman’s hair as bleached was insulting, even if that was obviously the case.  I never wanted to treat others the way I was treated.

I saw Tammy getting into the car.  The woman stood near the vehicle, talking to the preacher and some other people.  One of them handed her an envelope.

1950s Hat Purse Gloves ad

Pattern ad circa 1950

For a moment I considered stopping.  I was sure the domino must belong to Tammy so I had put it in my pocketbook just in case I saw them again.  What good was a game with a missing piece?

As the woman put the packet into her white handbag, I realized it contained cash.  She had mentioned Tammy’s medical bills taking all their money.  It was not unusual for families with a sickly child to go to churches in their area for donations.

But they aren’t from around here, I thought.  She must be in terrible need to ask for help outside their own community.  It would embarrass them if they knew I saw.

So, I continued on my way.  I stayed on Fourth Street to stop at the bakery.  A loaf of freshly baked bread was my reward for going into town.  Then I headed to the Post Office on Vine Street.

At the corner I noticed they had put up a street sign for the intersection of Fourth and Vine.  The visual of the sign made me think of Love Potion Number Nine again.  Parliament, Mississippi was nowhere near big enough to have a 34th Street, as in the song.  However, Fourth and Vine was close enough to make me chuckle.

The Post Office was one of the prettiest buildings in Parliament.  It was also one of the oldest.  I liked the cooling marble floors and arched doorways.

"The Hub" at Iowa State University was a post office until 1963. Dan Antion

“The Hub” at Iowa State University was a post office until 1963. Dan Antion

Inside, a policeman removed a picture from the “most wanted” wall.  When he looked up I saw it was Lamar Poole.  He wasn’t originally from Mississippi, but he had been with our police force for many years.

The lawmen weren’t as bad as most of the rest of the people.  Maybe it was because they had seen some truly bad people.  Anyhow I felt comfortable enough to say hello.

“Caught one!” I said in a go-team sort of way.

“Unfortunately, there’s always at least one more to replace the ones that get caught,” Sargent Poole replied in a friendly voice.

He held out a newspaper with an article about “grand larceny” and a valuable Faberge egg.

“Are those things really worth that much?” I exclaimed.

Lamar’s expression showed skepticism, but he nodded.  Fancy baubles were apparently not to his taste.

My mouth dropped open when he showed me the wanted-picture of the criminal.

I knew that face.

End Chapter 4.

***

Thank you kindly for reading Brother Love!  If you want to participate by leaving a “thing” to be included in a future episode, please make a comment.  Remember this is a mysterious story, set in rural Mississippi of the late 1950s to early 1960s. 

I’ll meet you at the crossroads again next Saturday!  Hugs on the wing.

***

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Brother Love 3 — A Hymn

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Brother Love promo image

Brother Love composite by Teagan R. Geneviene

Welcome back to the crossroads everyone!   

 I should probably begin with a disclaimer.  This story is not about religion, nor is it a social commentary — that’s just part of the setting.  I also want you to understand that I approach this aspect of the story carefully.  While the story includes ways that I knew well and was involved in as a child, as an adult I acquired my own unique spirituality. 

That said, last time in A Shadow, now you learned some of the backstory for the Doug Armstrong character.  Today I wanted to tell you how his character came to be. 

You already know that Dan Antion provides photos to inspire me and illustrate this story —  and that he gives me two of the “three things” that drive each episode of this unplanned serial.  Shortly after I asked Dan to collaborate with me, we had a conversation about the Brother Love preacher of the Neil Diamond song.

Dan told me about an evangelist who made an unforgettable impact on him as a young man.  The preacher had a past.  Well, that didn’t fit with my idea of the title character.  However, that preacher inspired my “partner in crime” so I wanted to use it somehow. 

Church reflected in river Dan Antion

Church reflected in the river, by Dan Antion

Our discussion reminded me of a visiting preacher I encountered as a little girl.  He was youngish, and a little doughy, with a ruddy complexion.  He was also a very large, long legged guy.  The man would preach so hard that sweat just rolled off him.  He always had a big white handkerchief to mop his face.  Then when he really got excited, he would go to the back of the church and run across the tops of the pews, sometimes even skipping one, to the front, as the congregation shouted praise!

The Doug Armstrong character is inspired by a combination of the evangelist with a checkered past who made such an impression on Dan, and this astonishing figure from my childhood.  One day soon, at his blog, No Facilities, Dan will do his own post about his inspiration.

For Chapter 3, the “things” from Dan are Fog and Fox.  The third thing is one Olga Núñez Miret suggested, “Hymnal.”

Fog, by Dan Antion

Fog, by Dan Antion

It’s time to go to the crossroads.

Chapter 2.  Doug Armstrong stopped at Birdie Devovo’s house at the crossroads moments after the lights went out.  He said he saw someone moving around on the porch.  Birdie certainly thought someone was inside.   Yet, was it odd that Doug should be there at that specific moment?  Was it random chance?  Or did it happen by design?  If so, then whose design?

Brother Love

3 — A Hymn

Fog, Fox, and Hymnal

Rusted old tractor, photo by Dan Antion

Rusted old tractor, photo by Dan Antion

Jinx soared along a current of air.  Dawn’s light touched his feathers, making the magpie seem to glow.  Watching fog roll into a low area, he knew it would be another hot, humid day.

He alighted on the rusted out remains of an old tractor.  Keen eyes watched for the first morsel of the morning, a beetle, maybe a caterpillar.

Then he heard a guitar.  The sound came from the graveyard.  All thoughts of the insect forgotten, he flew toward the music.  Jinx loved blues that much.

He perched tentatively on a spruce-pine branch.  Dawn’s light had yet to penetrate the fog to illumine the cemetery.  In the shadows below, he could make out a dark figure, sitting on a tombstone.  Long fingers reached intricate, but deeply mournful chords.

A single ray of light found a way through branches and fog to reflect on the polished surface of the guitar.  Coal-black eyes looked up at Jinx.  The musician winked.

“Here, there ain’t nobody going to care how bad you are,” he said with a motion of one hand to include the graveyard.  “So, go ahead and sing along.  I know you could if you wanted to.”

He shifted on his tombstone seat and strummed an upbeat tune.

Jinx swooped down to roost on the gravestone opposite the musician.

With a grin, he looked at the magpie.  His dark eyes never went to the frets or strings of the instrument as he played.  It was as if the guitar was part of him.  Then he started to sing.

Hot tamales and they’re red hot.  Yeah, she got ’em for sale, hey.  Hot tamales and they’re red hot.  Oh, she got ’em for sale…

*********

Morning light streamed through the kitchen window.  Motes floated along the sunbeam paths.

There’s nothing like sunshine to shake off a bad night, I thought, as I poured the last drop of Maxwell House into my coffee cup.

A pecking sound at the window caused me to turn.  I opened the window and the magpie flew across the room to roost on the open door of the birdcage.

“I thought something happened to you, Jinx.  I haven’t seen you in weeks,” I admonished the bird as if he could understand me.

Vintage birdcage, by Dan Antion

Vintage birdcage, by Dan Antion

There had always been a magpie.  My mother said his name was Jinx.  She said her mother gave him to her. 

Jinx came and went as he pleased.  Now and then he would disappear for a while, sometimes weeks or months.  Once he was gone for more than a year.

I knew magpies weren’t usually found in Mississippi.  I also knew it couldn’t be the same bird every time he came back.  The magpie would have been more than sixty years old if that was the case.  Yet he was always named Jinx.

A strawberry was leftover on my breakfast plate.  I saw Jinx eye it, so I gave him the berry.  He started the random noises that he usually made before trying to sing.  I figured he was pretty happy.

Are you washed in the blood?  Soul cleansing blood of the lamb,” Jinx sang.

“Where did you learn that song?” I asked in surprise, as if he could tell me.

I remembered it from the old church hymnal.  It was probably my least favorite hymn.

Pages of a Methodist hymnal, by Dan Antion

Pages of a Methodist hymnal, by Dan Antion

“But it’s better than the sound of hound dogs chasin’ down a hoodoo,” I muttered aloud.

A chorus of distant baying met my ears.  I got up to close the window and shut out the unpleasant sound.  The dogs probably thought they smelled a fox.  However, sometimes I thought the hounds just imagined it for an excuse to bark.

Hoodoo washed in the blood,” Jinx sang, mixing up the words.

“Maybe you should go back outside, Jinx,” I commented dryly.

The magpie flew to perch on the windowsill.

“All right, Jinx.  In or out.  What’ll it be?  I’m going to close this window.”

The magpie leaned out and looked toward the old road that ran behind my house.  Curious, I leaned as well, when I saw a Ford headed our way, on the seldom traveled road. 

It was unusual enough for anyone to take the back road, but that was also a relatively new car.  Most folks in Parliament, Mississippi couldn’t afford late model automobiles.

The car slowed and pulled into the gravel driveway.  A woman stepped out of the car.  She looked ordinary enough.  Her hair was short, curly, with thick bangs.  She walked toward the house, waving when she saw me at the window.

I went outside to see what made her stop.  Then I saw a little girl inside the Ford.  The child seemed to be struggling to get out of the car.

Fox, photo by Dan Antion

Fox, photo by Dan Antion

“Tammy, now I told you to stay in the car.  We can’t be bothering this lady,” the woman called over her shoulder.  “Thank goodness for seat-belts.  I nearly ran off the road when a fox ran out in front of me while ago,” she told me.  “Thank heaven and safety belts, Tammy wasn’t hurt.”

That situation seemed odd.  Not all cars had safety belts, and when they did, most people cut the uncomfortable things out and threw them away.

Jinx flew to the Ford and perched on the side mirror.  The girl trilled with delight.  The magpie stayed just out of her reach.

When the woman saw them, she screamed and ran toward the car.  Jinx made haste up into the branches of the magnolia tree.

“He wouldn’t hurt her,” I called as I ran behind the woman.  “He’s tame!”

“Where did he go?” the girl asked excitedly.  “He talks.  He’s a talking bird!”

“I’m sorry,” the woman apologized for her panic.  “Tammy is a free bleeder.  The least scratch and…  Anyhow, I’m sorry to trouble you, but I’ve made a wrong turn.  We’re trying to get to a revival meeting near Parliament, Mississippi.”

Hemophilia, I thought.  That would make any parent nervous.  I wonder if that’s her mother though.  They don’t seem to look much alike.

Tammy obligingly held out a copy of the same mimeographed flyer that was left on my door.  Inside the car I noticed the back seat filled with pillows and blankets, a drink box and other things.

Antique globe showing the Mississippi Delta, by Dan Antion

Antique globe showing the Mississippi Delta, by Dan Antion

I walked beside the woman when she went to open the car’s trunk.  She extracted a stuffed animal and handed it to Tammy.  I looked down at the license plate.  I didn’t recognize the county name, but I never did know much about the world beyond my home.

“You came a long way just for a revival service,” I remarked.

The woman looked at me with desperation in her eyes.

“They say Brother Love has healing hands.  Last year Tammy got hurt at school.  She nearly died from a cut that wouldn’t have needed more than a Band-Aid for another child.  The hospital bills took everything we had.  But I couldn’t sell the car for one without seat-belts.  I just couldn’t take the chance,” the woman explained through a nervous smile.

I was pretty sure those two were on their own, without much help from anyone else.  I certainly knew what that was like.  So, I invited them to come into the house for something cooling to drink.

Birdie Devovo's house as imagined by Dan Antion

Birdie Devovo’s house as imagined by Dan Antion

“Do you have any hot tamales?  They’re red hot!” Tammy asked a whimsical seeming question of which only a small child would think.

I laughed in surprise.

“What?” the woman turned to the child and asked.  “Honestly I don’t know where she gets these things.  She doesn’t even know what a tamale is.

Maybe Tammy could have seen into the kitchen window.  She looked at the house and then at me.

“I like July better than August too,” she told me.

The woman had the restless expression of someone who wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else.  I had seen the look in my mother’s eyes all too often.  I wasn’t surprised when she declined my offer of refreshments.

Ready to Travel statue Dan Antion

Ready to Travel, by Dan Antion

I wondered if they had the same PanAm calendar that hung on my kitchen wall.  How else would Tammy come up with that comment about July and August?

As the Ford got back on the road, I looked toward my kitchen window.  The calendar wasn’t visible from the spot where the car had been.

From the branches of the magnolia tree, Jinx started singing Washed in the Blood again.

The sound of the Ford’s engine faded into the distance.  I liked the July calendar better than August, but how could the child know? 

I had an uncomfortable feeling that I couldn’t quite describe.  It was making me irritable.

“For pity’s sake, Jinx.  Sing something else,” I said.

Hot tamales and they’re red hot.  Oh, she got ’em for sale,” the magpie sang.

End Chapter 3.

***

I gave Dan the added challenge of choosing just the right image for Birdie’s house.  It needed to reflect the location, Birdie’s status, and her economic level.  Plus, since I had already mentioned her porch and screen door, that needed to be included.  Dan really rose to the challenge.  He did a fantastic job with the yellow house image you saw above. Kudos, Dan!

Here’s Dan’s Thursday Doors post about Birdie’s house.

Real World Notes — A Hoodoo

When used as “a hoodoo,” in this story the term does not mean a religion or practice.  “Chasing down a hoodoo” was a phrase John Fogerty used when he wrote the song Born on the Bayou.  Fogerty said, “(A) Hoodoo is a magical, mystical, spiritual, non-defined apparition, like a ghost or a shadow, not necessarily evil, but certainly other-worldly.”

***

Heartfelt thanks for reading Brother Love!  If you want to participate by leaving a “thing” to be included in a future episode, please make a comment.  Remember this is a mysterious story, set in rural Mississippi of the late 1950s to early 1960s. 

I’ll meet you at the crossroads again next Saturday!  Hugs on the wing.

***

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Brother Love 2 — A Shadow

Saturday, May 4, 2019

There are many things on my mind that I want to share with you today.  If I had known about the most recent one before yesterday, I would have done a midweek post.  First let me welcome you…

Country kitchen 3 windows_Mariamichelle_vermont-Pixabay

Maria Michelle, Pixabay

Welcome to my sanctuary.  Pull up a chair.  The sanctuary may be found in a quirky Tennessee town called Atonement.  It might be at a diesel-punk train station with an outrageous flapper named Lulu.  Or it could even be found at a steampunk submarine port, with an alchemist named Cornelis.  For now, my sanctuary has moved to a crossroads in a rural Mississippi town sometime in the late 1950s to early 1960s.  So, I also welcome you to the crossroads.

Yes, my blog is my sanctuary — a place where I can feel safe from the world.  It’s a place for me to share stories with friends (old and new).  It’s also a place where I can promote and lift up others.  That’s why I love making serials “interactive” by using things from readers.

That said, I freely admit to being a blog-tater.  I wouldn’t come into your house and be less than hospitable to you.  So, behave accordingly.  Bullying in any form, including passive-aggressive behavior gets deleted. 

Skull of the Alchemist Cover 1

Now the new thing on my mind… Here it goes again — that Creative One-Mind thing!

At the end of the post concluding my Cornelis Drebbel serial, I talked about how utterly undermined I was (in 2015) because I had all the details of a novel outlined (in-depth too, not pantsering). Then I saw a movie with all those same details.  Something similar happened with the new serial here — Brother Love.  Guess what I just found on Netflix… 

I haven’t had time to watch the show on Netflix, but there’s also this article about it.   At least it’s not as bad as the thing with The Skull of the Alchemist, but still I no longer look original… I just look like an unimaginative copycat.  It’s frustrating. 

Onward to the reason we are here.  Let’s get back to my crossroads!

No Facilities blog header photo by Dan Antion

No Facilities blog photo by Dan Antion

This is my new spontaneously written, pantser story, done in my “Three Things” way of writing.  Blogger Dan Antion collaborates with me on this new story.  He provides photos to inspire me and illustrate the posts.  Dan also gives me two of the “three things” that drive this unplanned serial.  The third thing comes from you the reader! 

The things you’ve already sent won’t be used in any particular order.  This week’s reader supplied thing is croquet mallet from Ally Bean at The Spectacled Bean blog.

Without further ado, I’m delighted to bring you Chapter 2 today!   

Previously with Brother Love

Chapter 1.  Birdie crawled half-under the table to pick up the flyer.  The kitchen light flickered and popped, causing her to bump her head.  Then all the lights went out.

The screen door creaked open.  Normally it would bang shut, but it closed softly.  At the sound of footsteps, she scrunched the rest of the way under the table. 

Brother Love 2

A Shadow

Shadow, Rain, and Croquet Mallet

Flash cropped image Dan Antion

Flash, from one of Dan’s photos

The footfalls hesitated.  It seemed like they turned back toward me, although I couldn’t see in the dark.  Then I realized there had been a faint noise outside.  Maybe that was the reason for the pause.

I dared not breathe, but the way I was crouched under the table, I wouldn’t have been able to draw a good breath anyway.

The footsteps moved across my little kitchen to the spot where the PanAm calendar hung on the wall.  I heard the pages rustle.

Then a firm knock rapped against the frame of the flimsy screen door.

Flimsy screen door on a shabby red wall

Photo by Dan Antion

Surprise shot through me like electricity.  My body jerked and I banged my head and shoulders against the underside of the table.

The kitchen light, along with the single light-bulb on the porch flickered and then came back to life.

A shadow lurched outside on the porch, and the knock came again, harder.

“Miss Devovo, are you alright?” came the startled voice of a man.  “Birdie, it’s Reverend Armstrong.  Is everything okay?”

For half a beat I stayed under my table.  Just as I was sure someone had been in the kitchen with me a moment before, I was also certain they were suddenly gone.

The preacher sounded as spooked as I felt.  His voice had the slightest quiver.  Plus, Doug Armstrong never added “Reverend” to his name.  Preacher, or more often Brother Armstrong was how he named himself.

Fist against red Pixaby

Pixabay

His fist banged on the screen door-frame again.  I extricated myself from my hiding spot before Armstrong broke the poor excuse for a door.

That didn’t make it any easier for me to calm myself.  I opened the door, and belatedly thought to straighten my dress.

I was relieved to see anyone including the preacher, but I was too rattled to know what to say.

“What brings you to the outside of town so late, Brother Armstrong?” I asked.

Doug was a big, tall man.  A single stride took him halfway across the kitchen.  His eyes darted around the room, and he took another step, craning his neck to see the living room.

“The Lord’s work doesn’t keep a schedule,” he replied with forced joviality.

I didn’t wonder so much about why he was out long after dark.  Rather, I was curious as to why he took the road on the back side of the house.

Copiah County MS crossroads Google Maps

A crossroads in Copiah County, Mississippi, near the place from which blues legend, Robert Johnson came.

You see, my house sat in a triangle between ways at a crossroads.  There was a street in front and another road in back.  There were also any number of old trails that intersected there.

Old superstitions about the crossroads abounded.  My mother had been able to get the house because no one else would have it.  I kept it because I had nowhere else to go.

Doug Armstrong looked down at me as if inspecting my face.

“Is everything alright here, Miss Devovo?  As I was driving by,” he began but hesitated and shook his head.  “Maybe it was just a trick of light and shadow, but I thought I saw somebody moving around on the porch.  Then the lights sparked and went out.  I was concerned for your safety.”

I gulped.  I wasn’t sure why I would hesitate to tell him what had happened.  Maybe it was just the lifetime of skepticism and outright disdain I had experienced.

Communities on any side of the crossroads, on both sides of the tracks, as they would say, had whispered about me all my life.  They knew my mother would take up with any musician who came through.  After I grew up, she finally ran off with one.

Statue of woman and man kissing, World War II era

The Kissing Couple, Photo by Dan Antion

They never believed the story my mother told when we moved to Parliament, Mississippi.  I wasn’t sure I believed it myself, but she always said my father had died in the military when I was too young to remember him.  It would have been easier to believe if it hadn’t happened before the war.

Heck, maybe it was true.  A few times she got drunk and claimed the government had covered up the real circumstances of his death.  My mother had some wild stories, but conspiracies weren’t among them.

Anyhow, Doug Armstrong was probably the only person they gossiped about as much as they talked about me.

Although Doug made no secret of his past.  His whole purpose in life seemed to be a constant attempt to redeem himself.  Doug was an ex-convict.  He had gone to prison for killing a man.

He was also one of the few people who would even think about visiting the house at the crossroads.

I cleared my throat and then told him about hearing someone in the kitchen.  He asked if he could look around.  I nodded my assent.  Although I was sure we were the only ones there.  I also knew there would be no sign that anyone else had been in the house.

Men's wingtip shoes

Pixabay

Even so, it was a comfort to have Doug look through the house.  He checked every window and door.  He even looked in the closets.

Doug brought a croquet mallet out of one closet, suggesting that I might want to keep it at hand.  However, just as I expected, there was no indication that anyone had been inside the house.

“I guess it was my imagination,” I said awkwardly.

“Then it was mine too,” he muttered.  “There hasn’t been any rain,” he went on in a speculative tone.  “So, I guess there’s no use looking outside for footprints.  Even with a flash light, it would be hard to tell much in the dark.”

I got the feeling that he was nervous.  It made me want to ask him if he was alright.  However, that seemed rude, so I didn’t.

Audience looking at stage with lights

Stage Lights by Dan Antion

Doug looked down at my hand.  I hadn’t realized that I still clutched the flyer I had crawled under the table to retrieve.  It was for Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.

The mimeographed ad boasted of a revival meeting every night for a week, with evangelists from all over the state, and the supposedly famous Brother Love himself.  I’d never heard of him.

“Will you be preaching there?” I asked Armstrong.

“I was invited, but I haven’t decided,” he answered.

There was something strange about his voice and manner when he replied.  I had no idea what was behind it, but it gave the kind of uneasy feeling that makes you want to look over your shoulder.

Then I noticed the calendar.  I had been looking at the July picture and left that page up, because I liked it better than the image for August.  The calendar was turned back to August.  There was a smudge on the square for the coming Saturday.  The mark had not been there earlier.

***

Crow on a high pine branch

Joe Crow in the role of Jinx.  Photo by Dan Antion

Jinx back-winged in his hurried flight when he saw the lights flash and go dark.  He alighted cautiously in the upper branches of the towering spruce pine.  He looked down inquisitively as someone walked across the back porch and into the house.

Curiosity got the better of the magpie when a moment later the big man stopped his old red car and went to the door.  Jinx glided down to the southern magnolia.  He settled amid the glossy dark leaves, next to a big hairy seed pod that had previously been a fragrant snow white flower.

He tilted his head.  Was it random chance that brought Doug Armstrong there at that specific moment?  Or did it happen by design?

***

Real World Notes — Southern Magnolia

Magnolia_flower n foliage Duke_campus Wikimedia.jpg

In 1938 the southern magnolia was named the state tree of Mississippi.  Who picked it?  The school children of the state cast their votes.  The southern magnolia was already the state flower, originally named as such in 1900.

It’s a long-lived evergreen species found throughout the southeastern United States.  The glossy leaves are dark green on top and yellowish to brown on the underside.  In the spring, the highly fragrant showy white flowers, emerge, but may bloom sporadically throughout spring and summer.

When left to grow naturally, southern magnolias have an irregular canopy, with many large twisting branches lower to the ground.  At maturity they may reach 100 feet in height, although that doesn’t happen often.

***

Real World Notes — The Kissing Couple

From Dan:  Those statues are in the Renaissance Hotel in Minneapolis, MN known as The Depot. It’s a hotel built in the renovated Milwaukee Road railroad depot. They kept a railroad terminal theme throughout the hotel. The statue is called “Kissing Couple.” 

Ready to Travel statue Dan Antion

Ready to Travel, by Dan Antion

I imagine this statue as Birdie’s mother when she ran off.  Dan tells more about these images in this post at his blog, “No Facilities.”

***

Thank you for coming to my sanctuary for the second episode of Brother Love!  If you want to participate by leaving a “thing” to be included in a future episode, please make a comment.  Remember this is a mysterious story, set in rural Mississippi of the late 1950s to early 1960s. 

I’ll meet you at the crossroads again next Saturday!  Hugs on the wing.

***

More storytelling by Teagan

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Jazz Age Wednesday or Hidebound Hump Day — What’s going on?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Magpie wall mural by marina-salles

Marina Salles, Unsplash

Happy May Day, my chuckaboos!  I hope your month is off to a pos-i-lutely fabulous start. 

I continue to settle into my high desert cottage, painting walls, pulling weeds, and generally getting adjusted. (The weed pulling led to a bad allergic reaction that I’m still trying to get over…  I’m looking a lot like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, particularly around my eyelids.)  So, for the time being, I will not be doing a midweek series.

Crystal n Robs Sunset

Crystal with one of Rob Goldstein‘s images.

However, for you weekday readers, I want to let you know that I do have a new feature!  Each Saturday Dan Antion  and I collaborate for Brother Love, my new spontaneously written serial.  He provides photos to inspire me and illustrate the posts.  He also gives me two of the “three things” that drive this unplanned serial.  The third thing comes from you the reader!  Click here for the first installment of Brother Love.  (In case you missed it.) 

Here’s a video trailer for the serial.   I’ve disabled comments here, but hope you’ll say hello at the serial’s post.

I’ll meet you at the crossroads on Saturday!  Hugs on the wing.

***

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

All New Serial: Brother Love — 1 A House at the Crossroads

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Brother Love promo image

Brother Love collage by Teagan Geneviene

Happy weekend, everyone! It seems like such a long time since I did an “interactive” serial with reader participation.  Well, I’m finally back with a new spontaneously written, pantser story done in my “Three Things” way of writing.  I’m delighted to bring you the first installment today!

Blogger Dan Antion collaborates with me on this new story.  He provides photos to inspire me and illustrate the posts.  He also gives me two of the “three things” that drive this unplanned serial.  The third thing comes from you the reader!

Some of you read the original introduction I posted recently, when I shared how this idea began about a year ago.  I’ve revised it to fit this collaborative effort and include the first three things.  Now that part is Chapter 1 — but first I have the Prologue.  On a whim I added a character that suddenly came to mind. Like I said, this is full-on pantser storytelling.

This time, all three things will be from Dan, but after that I will start including reader “things.” 

Oh, and I went pos-i-lutely off the rails and narrated the last part of the prologue as an extra bit of punishment. The sound bite bar is at the end of the prologue and before chapter one.

Without further ado, I present to you…. Brother Love.

Brother Love 1

Prologue — A Sinnerman

Dead Trees mysterious area snow roadside Dan Antion

Mysteriously dead trees, by Dan Antion

On a moonlit night, a dark figure sat on the corpse of a fallen tree.  He touched the narrow brim of his Trilby style hat, pushing it back from his brow.  Patiently he tuned a guitar.  Long fingers deftly twisted the tuning knobs.  Wooden pegs would have been typical.  These were made of ivory.

No, they’re not just ivory, they’re made of bones, Jinx silently reminded himself.  I wonder if they came from one of the old graves here?

Any grave stones were long gone, if there ever were any in the first place.  Only the town’s oldest residents knew the clearing near the crossroads had been a graveyard.  Even they wouldn’t have been able to say whether it was a potter’s field or an old Choctaw burial ground.

African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery

African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, by Dan Antion

With head tilted, Jinx waited eagerly for the music he hoped to hear.  For a moment he thought he should give some encouragement, ask for a song.  Yet discretion seemed the better course.  Jinx remained quietly hidden in shadow.

Those graceful long fingers caressed the guitar’s neck, and then tested the sound at each fret, every chord.  Casually a thumb strummed across the strings. 

Excited, Jinx leaned forward toward the vibration of the music that emanated from the guitar’s sound hole.

Jinx had positioned his hiding place so he could also see the crossroads.  Yet he didn’t notice the approach of the powerfully built man.  Jinx was too intent in his anticipation of the music.  His heart skipped a beat with surprise, but he didn’t move a muscle.

Foolish! Jinx mentally chided himself.  This is no place to let your guard down.

He watched the approach of the big man in fascination.  Sweat soaked the armpits of the white shirt.  The heat and humidity of an August night in Mississippi didn’t bother Jinx, but Doug Armstrong had never gotten used to the climate.

Preacher inside a church, back turned

Photo by Dan Antion

Long strides slowed as Doug approached the figure who sat in a relaxed pose on the fallen tree.  Though his manner was reluctant, it seemed clear that the encounter was not by chance.  Even so, Doug stopped well out of arm’s reach.

Doug Armstrong mutely watched the man as he finished tuning the guitar.  The sweat of the big man’s brow glittered in the moonlight.

Jinx thought Doug perspired more than most men.  Although he had good reason to be in a nervous sweat.  That place, the crossroads, the dark figure ― Doug would have been stupid to relax.

Abruptly, those dark, graceful fingers stopped strumming the guitar.  He held it out to Doug, offering the instrument.  Armstrong took a step backward.  His arms remained stiffly at his sides.

The other gave him a kind smile.  He chuckled softly.  Then mischief glinted in his coal black eyes and he played the guitar and sang.

With the first words of the song, Doug’s face blanched.  He turned to walk away.  He moved faster and faster until he ran through the night, away from the crossroads.

Guitar head stock BW_Simone Pixaby

Simone at Pixaby

“What about you, magpie?” the musician called up toward the trees.  “Care to come down here and sing with me?”

The figure went back to the song that seemed to frighten Doug Armstrong away.

Oh, sinnerman, where you gonna run to?  Sinnerman where you gonna run to?  All on that day!” he sang and played.

Jinx burst from his hiding place and flew home as fast as his wings would carry him. 

***

1 — A House at the Crossroads

Baseball, Excited, and Pickles

House at a crossroads

Antranias at Pixaby

In the summer, leaves hung down so far, they almost reached the sweet-smelling grass on the ground.  Moths clung to the screen, attracted to the kitchen light.

Earlier that day, sitting in my little house at the crossroads, I listened to the sharp crack of a bat hitting a baseball from the ballgame that had started up in the field next to the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  People cheered their teams and made happy sounds.

From the other side of the tracks, I heard the bell of the First Methodist Church up in the town.  When the breeze was right, I could hear the Wurlitzer organ as the choir practiced.  Folks were excited about that organ.  I preferred the sound of their old piano.

The two churches were on either side of the town.  The crossroads lay between the two.  Nobody from either of them ever came to the house at the crossroads.  Neither group wanted anything to do with Birdie Devovo. By the way, that would be me.

Church reflected in river Dan Antion

Church reflected in the river, by Dan Antion

When the sun finally hid behind the horizon, the heat remained.  I fanned myself futilely with a mimeographed flyer.  It did nothing to alleviate the heat of the night, and the cloying odor of the ink turned my stomach.

I stared at the wet circles on the formica tabletop as the ice melted in my glass of sweet tea.  Absently I wondered if some pickle juice would remove the rings.

At last a breeze! I thought with a sigh.

It rustled the pages of the Pan Am calendar hanging on the wall.  August exclaimed “Back to Hawaii” and boasted a man and woman disembarking a plane while greeted by hula dancers and musicians.  That scene was too far-fetched for my imagination.

I liked July better.  It showed a couple, suitcases in hand, laughing and walking fast.  Yes, I liked that one best.  They could be anyone, going anywhere… maybe the girl could even me.

PahAM to Hawaii ad

Pan Am ad 1960s

The mimeographed flyer floated on the breeze from the table down to the cracked and faded linoleum floor.

For the umpteenth time I wondered who came all the way to the outside of town to leave it, but I was glad I missed them.  They left the ad on the front door.  Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show, it read.

Thunder rumbled faintly, very far away.  Maybe there would be rain.

Or maybe not, I thought as I put the damp glass to my forehead.

It had been hot and humid for so long that the heavenly rumble seemed like an empty threat.

I crawled half-under the table to pick up the flyer.  The kitchen light flickered and popped, causing me to bump my head.  Then all the lights went out.

The screen door creaked open.  Normally it would bang shut, but it closed softly. 

At the sound of footsteps, I scrunched the rest of the way under the table.

***

Real World Notes — Hats Back in the Day

I was torn between two different hats when I wrote the prologue. So, in these notes, I’ll share both.  Since I imagine K.C. Collins in the part of the (as yet) unnamed figure with the guitar, I went with the Trilby he often wears in his role as Hale on “Lost Girl.”

KC Collins

K.C. Collins sports a Trilby

Trilby Hats.  The Trilby style has a narrow brim and might be made from rabbit hair, tweed, straw or wool, and pinched on both sides with an indented crown.  The front brim is snapped down, but the back brim is turned upward.  The trilby may be finished with a ribbon and a feather.

The Trilby hat was used in a 1894 illustration for the novel “Trilby” by George du Maurier.  The novel was an international success.  The heroine was named Trilby.

Many say the Trilby is a bastardization of the Fedora.  However, others believe it modernized the look of men’s hats.

Pork Pie Hats.   A small round hat with a narrow and curled brim, finished with a ribbon is known as a pork pie hat.  The crown is either flat or slightly domed, with a crease running along the crown perimeter.  As you may have guessed, “pork pie” is a term used to describe hats symbolically resembling the culinary British pork pie dish.

Early in the 20th century, film star Buster Keaton immortalized the hat for men.  He owned more than 1,000 of the hats in his lifetime.

A slightly enlarged style of the pork pie became popular during the Great Depression of the 1930s.   It was preferred by Frank Lloyd Wright and jazz musicians.  Its popularity grew again during the 1940s.

***

Heartfelt thanks for being here for the first episode of Brother Love!  If you want to participate by leaving a “thing” to be included in a future episode, please make a comment.  Remember this is a mysterious story, set in rural Mississippi of the late 1950s to early 1960s. 

I’ll meet you at the crossroads again next Saturday!  Hugs on the wing.

***

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

USA:  The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

Pigs collection cover banner

USA:  The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

1920s Party — Three Things Serial Story

Three Things Serial 1920s Party!  

You’ve all made this Roaring Twenties party a huge success.  New guests keep arriving (be sure to meet them in the comments).  Everyone is having such a great time that I’ve decided to let this hootenanny continue through this weekend too!   So happy holidays to all you Sheikhs and Shebas!

Welcome! Come on in — join the fun.  We’re all dudded up in our snazziest clothes, ready to enjoy great dancing, food, and friends.  Yes, it’s a Roaring Twenties shindig.  So in a comment, leave a link to your books, blog, or to your favorite 1920s food, drink, or entertainment. That’s what makes the party.

ape-tuxedo-cigarDon’t panic!  That really is a great ape in his tuxedo, getting the buffet ready, but it’s none other than Chris The Story Reading Ape.  He’s dishing up the fruit cocktail, and yes, that is made with bananas!  

That’s Tess with him, putting some finishing touches on the Swiss steaks.  I see Andrea Stephenson has brought a delicious lemon meringue dessert.  Thanks for your help everyone.  It’s looking mighty tasty! You’re the bee’s knees.  

(Excuse me while I answer the door…)  KathrynCome in — let me help you with that steaming pot of Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Crab.  Let me introduce you to some other guests.

That lovely lady twirling her long flapper beads is 1920s Catering Menu-2Sally Cronin.  She’s adding the nut and cheese sandwiches she brought to the 1920s dishes on the buffet table.  Hey Sally, those red shoes are pos-i-lute-ly the cat’s meow!  

Oh great, there’s Kirt D Tisdale.  Hey Kirt — while you’re taking pictures, be sure to get one of Sally and those shoes.  You’re the berries. Thank you. 

Another styling flapper just arrived, it’s Mary J. McCoy-Dressel.  Mary, you’re a real Sheba with that fringe dress and boa.  And would you just look at how cute — a pup in a Roaring Twenties costume — It’s Suzanne and Percy the pug!  Goodness, why is Percy barking so frantically?  It’s as if he hears something that the human ear can’t…  He seems fine now though.

John W. Howell is looking spiffy too.  He offered to be bartender and he’s making “John Cannon” cocktails (read his trilogy for the hero’s favorite drink) with our bathtub gin.  Thank goodness, there’s Geoff with more olives for those cocktails.  bartender-vintage

What’s that you say Geoff?  We’re almost out of beer?  Well, it’s too early for us to be getting splifficated anyway.  But no worries, I’ll call Dan Antion.  Dan was going to photograph doors on his way, so I’ll drop a dime to his cell phone. He sure can pick a great brew, and I’m sure he’ll step on the gas, and get here before we run out.

Ouch!  Oh, no John, I’m okay.  There was a shrill sound when I hung up the call with Dan, that’s all.  Erm… but my cell phone is gone and now I have one of those “candlestick” telephones they used way back when.  What the Sam Hill happened with the phone switcheroo?  Why yes, John. A Gin Rickey would be a good idea.  Better make it a double.  Thank you, it’s delicious.  Love that tang of lime.

I hear a car outside.  Is that Hugh Roberts I just got a Glimpse of?  He and Colleen Chesebro , Tina Frisco, and D. Wallace Peach just got out of a ritzy Studebaker.  With that dragon hood ornament, I know the car belongs to Diana.  Hey Colleen, love your new hairdo! It’s the berries!  Come on inside everyone.studebaker1920_2

Thank goodness Olga is nearby — some gursts don’t speak English, and Olga’s a great translator.  She finally took a break from the dance-floor. Where does she get all that energy? 

Applesauce!  What happened to the lights?  The dark will be just fine when Teri Polen and Barbara get ready to tell ghost stories, but…  Oh good, they’re back on.  But wait, those aren’t my lamps.  They’re snazzy Art Deco lights.  I can’t help getting goosebumps at all these odd happenings…

Wow, just listen to that music!  Thanks to Lavinia  and Kev performing, the tunes are great and that’s no phonus balonus!  You two have been playing your hearts out. Take a little break and I’ll turn on the stereo.  

1920s Dance PartyHey! Hang on… my stereo is gone, but there’s an old Victrola where it used to be. Okay, it’s making great 1920’s music though.  Donna Parker is really cutting a rug with the Charleston.  Hi Donna — thanks for bringing the deviled eggs and tea sandwiches.

Oh, and the vision in fringe and sequins over there, that’s Inese.  I see she put down her camera to dance.  I wondered where Christoph had gotten to, and that’s him with Inese. Applesauce, can they ever dance!

I wonder if they could teach me?  Suzanne Joshi and Judith both offered to give me a break from hostessing.  Dare I try?  I’m such a klutz.  Holy Hannah! Where did all the hummingbirds come from?  They’ve caught strands of my hair, and the fringe of my dress, and they’re pulling me to the dance floor!  I should have known — the hummers belong to Janet.  Maybe the hummingbirds can disguise what a horrible dancer I am…

Ah! There’s Gerlinde and Cheryl with with trays of tasty cookies to tempt the dancers away from the floor.  (What do you mean I didn’t dance yet?  You must have looked away… Here hummingbirds, I’ll give you a cookie if you’ll play along.)  

For a little slow down from the Charleston, Christy has a poem for us.  Also Lavinia has shared one of her sublimely beautiful songs. Take a breather, relax and enjoy.

Now maybe I’ll read you an excerpt from The Three Things Serial Story instead of dancing…  Christine would you please point all these guys and dolls to the living room? There’s room for everyone to sit down over by the television.  What do you mean “What TV?”  It’s next to the computer.  What do you mean “What computer?”

Everything in this house is like the 1920s!   Quick, somebody open the door and look outside…  The cars have all been replaced by antique jalopies.  Everything outside is like the 20s too!  What?  Yes, I said I’d read to you.  At a time like this you want me to read?  All right then. Sheiks and Shebas, gather around.  Who’d want to leave the Roaring Twenties anyway?

Excerpt

Pip, Mona, and two of the Fabro boys get invited to a swanky outdoor party.  Here’s what Pip has to say about it.

3-things-cover_3-2016“Applesauce!  This shindig is incredible.”

It was almost a carnival.  The party was huge and spread out along the banks of the Santa Rosa Sound.  There was a band stand, and a wooden floor was set up where dancers did the Charleston.  I saw balloons everywhere.  Tables with white linen and silver were clustered beneath a brightly colored tent.  In other places blankets were spread for picnics.  Everywhere I turned there was something else happening.

Then I saw it.  The yacht.  It was breathtaking.  I knew there was no way it would happen, but I really wanted to see the inside.  I must have been drooling over it because a flapper stopped and giggled at me.

“Be careful if you go in there, hon.  Doctor Fred might put you under that microscope of his,” the flapper told me as she hurried past.

I drew a breath to call out to her.  I wanted to ask the girl what she meant, but she was already gone in a flash of fringe and sequins.  Then a Victrola started blaring out the song “Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue.”

Abruptly an idea occurred to me.  I clutched my pocketbook and felt it still inside — the bent key.  I never had been able to make out what was engraved on it.  The flapper’s voice and the word “microscope” rang in my mind.  Was there really somebody on the yacht with a device that would let one see tiny things?  Maybe they could read the faint lettering on the key.

***

The mystery only deepens when the gang gets aboard the yacht.—  Hold onto your hats!

I really must give special thanks to a few people now.  I was thrilled to see reviews of this “Little 1920s Story” from OlgaColleen Chesebro and Donna Parker. My heartfelt thanks to them and everyone who reblogged their reviews, like Chris Graham, Sally Cronin, Adele, and Christoph.  

Thanks for visiting.  I hope you enjoyed the party.  Remember to leave a comment with links to your books and what-not.  You’re all the cat’s pajamas.

…We now return you to the era or universe of your choice.   Mega hugs! –

 

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

New Interactive Serial – Episode-1

Three Things: A culinary mystery with “things and ingredients” sent from readers everywhere.

Welcome one and all!
It is my pleasure to tell you that we have a first-time contributor of ingredients/things to begin this “interactive” serial.  John W. Howell did me the honor of sending things for the kickoff of the new story.  I hope you’ll visit his wonderful blog and take a look at his book too.  You’re sure to enjoy your stay there.My GRL cover

Last weekend I did a poll, asking everyone to vote, choosing from several options for the next serial.  (And I was downright pleased with myself for getting the handy-dandy poll thingamajig to work too!)  Quite a few of you were kind enough to click on your preferred option.  So now I will announce the results.  Drumroll

A solid 44% of you voted to …

Begin an all new serial from scratch, with an all new setting and characters!

You were ready to get behind the wheel! I was happy to get three sets of “things” right away for the kickoff of the new interactive serial. So let me show you how my mind works.

Copper

Copper

Since I couldn’t avoid looking at all three sets of three, the whole shebang influenced the setting and characters. I’ve already admitted to being a research geek — Stilton cheese, through a twist of fate gave us a character’s name and personality. How?  A sort of happy accident — when I saw the name of the first Englishman to market Blue Stilton cheese was Cooper Thornhill, for a moment I thought I’d read — Copper.  I liked the name too much to let it go.

I also had to know when Wurlitzer organs (that will be in Episode-3) were first made — and suddenly I knew that era had to be the general time-frame for the story.  I opted for the late 1800’s, near the end of the Victorian era.

Many of you particularly liked Maestro Martino, the ghost chef from Three Ingredients, Cookbook 2, so I wanted to add a mystical magical element to the new serial. Don’t ask me to explain my twisting thought process but…

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

I had a vague idea about a skull, and somehow that made me research alchemists… and that gave us the supernatural character for this serial, Cornelis Drebbel. I borrowed him from history.

As for the mysterious woman who wears trousers — you’re about to meet her, but I have no idea from where she came other than it was inspired by the late 19th century setting.  She was just there.

Be kind and remember that this story is propelled by the things or ingredients that you send. So it might take a few episodes for it to really begin to flow.

Enough of my stalling. I present to you, our all new interactive serial —
Three Things: Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

1.  Stilton Cheese, Mare’s Milk, Calamari

I was having second thoughts.  The fishing town was too small for my unconventional presence to go unremarked, plain and simple.  That was apparent as I watched a single carriage pass by on the dirt road and the driver turned to stare.  It was downright obvious from the shopkeeper’s scandalized expression when I stepped inside Best’s General Store.

Yes, I knew I should limit my wanderings to large cities.  However, I was weary of the crowds and odors.  And the noise!  I was desperately tired of the clamor and clang of cities.

Jaime Murray as the woman who wears trousers

Jaime Murray as the woman in trousers

It was a pleasing little town with a salt tang in the breeze and cozy houses.  I liked it the moment I set foot there.  I took a tidy suite in the Belle Inn. 

There was even a store where I unexpectedly found the most marvelous Stilton cheese.  Cornelis would be delighted with that find.  For once, he might not be so grumpy when I wake him, I thought.

However, as I stood in the general store and watched Mrs. Billie Best and her customer from the corner of my eye, I foresaw that my stay in the charming township would be brief.  I blocked any distractions from my mind so I could hear their conversation.  I already knew they were talking about me.  How could they fail to comment on my mannish waistcoat and trousers?

It always raised eyebrows when I dressed that way, but I wanted freedom of movement that I’d never have whilst restricted by the yards and yards of fabric that made a proper skirt and bustle.  Besides, my first thought that morning was “I’ll be damned if I’m going to squeeze myself into a corset today.”

I pushed back my top hat, pretending to read a label while I listened to the two women speculate about me and my strange apparel.  They had the most outlandish conjectures about my foreign accent and from whence I’d come.  A smile quirked my lips and I tried not to laugh out loud.

The proprietor of the Belle Inn stood across the room shaking his head at the foolish conversation.  Ignatius Belle made a good first impression when I checked in at his inn.  He stepped over to me.  I hoped his housekeeping staff had as much respect for guest privacy as he seemed to have.  I’d hate for a curious maid to wake Cronelis.  That would be most unfortunate.  Actually it could get quite ugly.Victorian men hats

“Ma’am, you were right about the mare’s milk,” he said loud enough for the women to hear.  “Doc said there was a fungus in the grass she was eating before she foaled,” the innkeeper said in a respectful voice.  “He said that’s likely what caused the problem.  The Johnsons have a pregnant mare, and they’re going to foster the foal.”

My relief that the little horse would be well was genuine.  I was glad my off-handed comment had been helpful.  Cornelis always complained that I spoke before I thought, and that I drew unnecessary attention to myself.  Yet it ended well that time, and there was the added benefit that now at least the innkeeper accepted me.  Although I still doubted I would remain there for long.

“Your dinner is on the house tonight.  Whatever you want, and as much of it as you care to eat.  Your comment likely saved the foal’s life,” he said then looked suddenly shy.  “Just a humble way of saying thank you.”

The burst of bashfulness was rather endearing on a man of his stature.  Ignatius Belle did not fit my image of a proper innkeeper.  They should be rotund, pink-cheeked men with aprons.  My host however, was tall and well-made and he wore a suit and a Bowler hat.  He barely gave my trousers a glance.  Interesting.Victorian child cape

The bell affixed to the shop door chimed and a wide eyed moppet came cautiously inside.  She might have been seven years old or she may have been nine.  Disgraceful as it may sound, I knew nothing about children.

An unfortunately familiar odor reached my noise when she walked past me.  The bouquet was dreadful, but it gave the girl my full attention.  She hesitated in her walk, just one step, and then she moved toward the counter.  The shopkeeper frowned and her patron became even more disdainful — if that was possible.  However, their scorn was not due to the odor I detected.  They hadn’t noticed it, but I was sensitive to such things.

She had hair the color of a new penny.  There was a smudge of dirt on her little nose.  Her stylish cape was made of peacock blue wool, embroidered in cream silk thread, with a cream colored tassel on the hood.  Her eyes twinkled with intelligence.

And she reeked of death.

I smiled.

At that very moment I knew that little russet haired child was the reason why I’d come to the out of the way little town.  I didn’t know how it would come about, but I was certain — she would be the heart and soul of the next adventure!

What would Cornelis make of the girl?  He despised anyone who was weak, and children by definition were weak.  So the Dutchman detested children.

I smiled again — broadly.

“Your daddy spoils you too much Copper Hixon, letting you wear your Sunday best when you go out to play,” said the storekeeper from behind her counter.  “Flaunting his wealth on clothes for a child, when there’s others as have to put their noses to the grindstone to get along.”

A barely audible remark came from her customer.  “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” the other woman mumbled.  “She’d best be glad her pa recovered from that influenza last spring, else she’d be in the orphanage, and no fine clothes there,” the customer added in a resentful whine.

child labor“Old Hixon should’ve taken another wife,” Billie Best declared.  “There are plenty of women here abouts who’d make him a good wife,” Billie Best replied with a mystified shake of her head.  “But he’d have none of them after that dance hall floozy died birthing this one,” the storekeeper said with an unconcerned wave toward Copper.

“I’d not have that evil child in my house,” said the other woman.  “Any child that kills the mother birthing it is the devil’s own, you mark my words.”

The girl’s eyes widened at the mention of the orphanage and she was clearly afraid.  Copper swallowed hard.  “I need… I mean Daddy sent me to buy food to make dinner,” she stammered.

I noticed that she didn’t specify what food nor did she have a shopping list.  But why would she?  The odor that clung to her was faint.  However, I had no doubt about its origin.  No one told the child what to buy for dinner, but she was hungry enough to think of shopping for it.

The woman behind the counter looked at the girl and her mouth turned down in contempt.  “Did your daddy send you with money to pay his bill?” Mrs. Best asked, emphasizing the payment.  “He’s months behind.  No?” she said when Copper shook her head and looked confused.  “Well, you go back and tell him that hard working folk have to be paid.  Not everybody was born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  He’ll have to pay off the bill he’s run up before he gets another crumb from Best’s General Store!”

“Now was there really any need to speak so harshly to the child?” the innkeeper asked.

The child turned and fled the store.  The tassel on her cape caught on the door and was left behind as she ran.  I excused myself to my new landlord.  Quickly picking up the cream colored tassel, I followed to see which direction little Copper went.  Then I turned and ran back to the Belle Inn.Belle Inn

When I opened the inn’s door, the aroma of fried calamari slowed my stride.  It wafted to me from the kitchen.  It made my mouth water.  I reigned in my haste.  There was no need to run.  The child wasn’t going anywhere.  Not yet.

I popped into the kitchen, profusely complimented the cook, and asked if dinner could be sent up to my room.  Cornelis hated it when I ate in my room, but he didn’t have much choice in the matter.  I couldn’t resist the calamari!

My hatbox was on a high shelf.  I carefully took it down and opened it.  An object that appeared to be a ball covered by a satin scarf was inside.  My top hat would fit around it, as a form to keep the hat’s shape.  But in truth it was no such thing.  I removed the scarf and held up a human skull.

“Cornelis,” I exclaimed.  “Adventure is afoot!  This is no time to be lazy, Cornelis Drebble.  Wake up!” I said and placed the skull back in the hatbox.

My eyes closed against the bitter chill that blew through the room.  A moment later I looked into the eyes of the Dutchman.  Though he stood no taller than me, his presence was forceful.  He was a handsome man.  He had light hair with a mustache and pointed beard, much like a Musketeer.  However, the disgruntled expression on his face belied his gentle manners.  He gave a polite bow, yet managed to make the movement seem sarcastic.

“Why such haste?” he asked drolly, and smoothed back hair that perpetually looked mussed from a nap.

“Don’t be such a grump,” I said, and holding up the parcel of Stilton cheese I watched his nose twitch in anticipation.

To the Dutchman’s consternation, I held back the cheese.  I wouldn’t share that until I got what I wanted.  When I handed him the cream colored tassel from the girl’s cape he was hardly mollified.

“This bauble does not seem so portentous,” he complained.

As one eyebrow climbed toward his hairline, I knew he’d been won over, despite his sullen look and tone.

“Stop sulking and tell me about the girl,” I said, trying to be firm.  One had to be firm with Cornelis. If he saw the slightest weakness…

“Ah, so that’s it is it?  You think it’s her?  Bringing on a child would complicate things enormously,” he asked, finally showing interest.  “It seems awfully — how to describe it?  So unassuming,” he said with a little twist to one side of his mouth as he looked at the tassel.  “Do you really think she is the one?” he asked, his tone softening.

“You tell me,” I prodded.

Cornelis shimmered and blurred before my eyes, as his mind traveled.  Then with a sharp pop he disappeared.

 ***

To be continued…

Most of you voted for a completely new serial, so there you have the beginning.  See you next weekend for Episode-2 where we’ll have things / ingredients from Kathryn, aka KR Big Fish at https://anotherfoodieblogger.wordpress.com/

Wait — don’t leave yet. Each episode of this culinary mystery will feature a recipe.

I scoured the WordPress virtual countryside for recipes.  That led me to One Happy Table, Vegan Food for the Whole Family, and I chose the following recipe to round out Episode-1.  Click the link for this beautifully photographed step by step recipe.  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Baked Oyster Mushroom Calamari

oyster-mushroom-calamari

 Photo and recipe credit: One Happy Table

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.