Jazz Age Wednesdays 10 ― Pip Sees a Pug

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Welcome back to Jazz Age Wednesdays!  You’re all the cat’s meow, but this 1920s story went to the dogs!  Whether it is one dog or four remains to be seen. 

I shared this short story a while back in collaboration with A Pug in the Kitchen* where blogger-chef Suzanne cooked up some dog treats that looked good enough for human consumption.  

On to the Jazz Age!

Early Lucille 3 copy

Young Lucille Ball

The dog of the title, Wriggles, was introduced in the third of my blog serials, A Ghost in the Kitchen, Three Ingredients-II.  In that story he was a new dog for the character, Arabella Wong.  However, this vignette takes place prior to that story.  So I made Wriggles a puppy and gave him a different owner.

Did you ever get the feeling you’d have to be “hit over the head” with something before you finally got the message?  Well, that was true of Pip.  Here’s our flapper to tell the tail… eer tale.

Pip Sees a Pug… or Four 

“Floyd?  Hey, Floyd!”

That was definitely him.  The last time I saw Floyd — which was also basically the first time I saw him, the police were putting him into the paddy wagon when they arrested some bootleggers.  Yet there he was on a side street in Savannah.

Maybe all that with the coppers was just a mistake, I thought hopefully. 

After all, Floyd was as sexy as the Sheik of Araby.  Then I remembered how rude he had been to me and Alastair Wong.  He didn’t seem sexy at all before that thought even got halfway across my noodle.  However, he heard me and looked over his shoulder.Sheik of Araby

“Well now, aren’t you a choice bit of calico,” Floyd said as he turned to walk toward me.  “Oh, it’s you!  You’re a real bearcat, but you’re bad luck,” he said.  “Go chase yourself,” he told me and spat on the sidewalk.

I know.  I should have ran the other way and not even called out to him.  However, in the small Florida town where I grew up, if you saw somebody you recognized, then you said hello to them.  I didn’t see why Savannah, Georgia should be any different.

I don’t remember what I meant to say to Floyd when he started to continue on his way, but I opened my mouth to speak, taking a step toward him.

Floyd shoved me and kept going.  Unfortunately I also kept going — backward.  I slipped, fell, and cracked my head.

pugs-4-smoking-vintage

I think I was actually unconscious for a minute or two.  Then I felt something wet wiped across my face.  When I opened my eyes, the world was a spinning blur.  I saw a little pug dog.  It licked my face.  It was wearing a top hat and bow-tie, and smoking a cigar.  As I gazed at it uncomprehendingly I realized there were four of them.  However, when I held my hand out toward the dog, I seemed to have an uncountable number of fingers.  So I figured there was only one dog.  I wasn’t sure what to think about the hat and cigar.

The sound of a police whistle prompted me to try and sit up.  There hadn’t been any “mistake” about the coppers hauling in Floyd.  He had probably escaped and they were after him again.  A voice intruded on my thoughts.  I realized it had been trying to get my attention for a while, but it was hard to hear it over the bells ringing inside my head.

“Huh?” I mumbled, looking for the source of the voice.

“Young lady are you hurt?” asked what must have been the world’s oldest woman.

Her face was so covered in creases and crow’s feet that it was impossible to imagine what she must have looked like in youth or even in middle age.  Even so, bright eyes shown sharply from between the wrinkles.pugs-2-vintage

Despite her fragile appearance she took my arm in a vice like grip.  She put her walking-stick in my hand.

“Wriggles, get off the poor thing!  That’s a good boy.  I’m sorry, he’s still a puppy.  Here dear.  Use my cane to help yourself up,” she said but proceeded to help me up with unexpected strength.

Once I was on my feet, if shakily so, I looked at the pug.  There was only one of him.  The hat and cigar were gone.  That much was a relief, but he still wore the bowtie.  It bothered me that I wasn’t sure whether or not the tie was really there.

Moments later I sat at the kitchen table in the woman’s tiny home.  It was a good thing she lived right around the corner.  I was dizzy and my head felt like it had gotten in the way of a sledgehammer.

A young boy “helped” us get inside her backdoor on the pretext of getting a cookie.  However, she gave him an errand.

“What’s your name, dear?” she asked me as she handed me a cup of tea. 1916-good-housekeeping-woman-tea-cup

I noticed the cup had been cracked and repaired.  The one she used for herself had a chip in the rim.

“Pi… Paisley Peabody,” I stammered, still shaken.

“Peabody?  Would you be kin to Phanny Peabody?”

“Yes ma’am.  That’s my granny.”

“Billy,” she addressed the little boy.  “Take another cookie and run down to Miss Phanny’s house.  Let her know her granddaughter is here.”

Billy’s eyes lit up at the prospect of helping.  Although the extra cookie didn’t hurt.  He took off like a rocket before I could protest.

“Yes ma’am, Miss Olive,” Billy exclaimed as he disappeared.

The pug, Wriggles barked as if he picked up and shared the boy’s excitement.  I reached down to pet him and the little dog wagged his tail so hard that his entire back half wagged along with it.  The woman handed him a treat which was gone before I got a good look at it.

studebaker1920_2

“Paisley, I know you’re from a small town,” Miss Olive began.  “You come from honest, trusting folk.  But in this day and age, a young lady alone has to be careful.  Now, you tell Miss Olive if that man did anything he shouldn’t, you hear?”

I shook my head and immediately wished I hadn’t.  “No.  I recognized him and just meant to say hello.  It would have been rude not to,” I replied and was rewarded with a smile.

The elderly woman patted my hand.  I put my nearly empty teacup on the table and thanked her.  Miss Olive took my cup and swirled the dregs looking at the contents curiously.

“You haven’t gotten off to the best start here in Savannah, have you Paisley?” she commented consolingly.  “But you will make good friends here,” she swirled the tea again and a smirk, a smile she seemed to try and suppress came to her lips.  “And you will have grand adventures.”

I heard the sound of Granny Phanny’s Model-T outside.  Wriggles lived up to his name, wagging his tail excitedly, as he yapped to make sure his lady knew she had company.  Miss Olive put the tea kettle back on the stove.  I felt comforted by the entire scene.  Safe.

The End

***

Pip’s life in Savannah, Georgia got off to a rough start.  However, she’s making quite an assortment of good friends.  I think our flapper tends to bring out the best in people… except Floyd. 

Once again I engage in the requisite shameless self-promotion…  Here are links to the books about Pip and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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

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

Thanks so very much for visiting.  You’re the bee’s knees! 

 

Copyright © 2014 and 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 5

Thistledown Girl

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the fae world of Thistledown.  I have a special guest today.  Many of you will know her because we’ve done several collaborative posts in the past.  If not, then allow me to present Suzanne DeBrango of A Pug in the Kitchen

Suzanne is a multi-talented woman — chef (and great photographer of her foods) and blogger.  And if you’re ever in need of property in New York, this “Brooklyn pug gal” is also an award winning real estate agent. 

She was inspired by the fae magic Pick (the cousin of the character she named) when he coaxed cherries off the trees and they rolled to him, rather than being picked.  Then, lucky for us, she found beautiful sour cherries at her farmers’ market.  Here’s Suzanne to tell us about the recipe she’s sharing here today.

I was thrilled to find sour cherries at the farmers market and snagged a few containers to make my favorite jam. Refrigerator jams and pickles are one of my favorite things to make. It’s so easy, you can make one jar at a time.  There’s no need to go through the canning process.  Just, make sure you sterilize your jars, or at least run them through the dishwasher before using them. 

I want that sucker fish to help pit those cherries — oops, you’ll meet them in this episode!  If you have ever tried to pit sour cherries you know it’s a lot of work.  They are soft, small, and getting that little pit is difficult.  It is a labor of love though, and the resulting jam is worth the effort.  

I definitely identify with the faery character, Peaches Dragonfly and her name.  Teagan, thank you for Peaches Dragonfly, and fantastic story.  You are amazing. I hope you all enjoy this recipe.

Sour cherry jam tart Suzanne DeBrango

As you see, I made both sour cherry vanilla and gooseberry jam.  I have to say they are wonderful with scones and creme fraiche. 
2 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
Use a non-reactive, medium saucepan, adding the cherries, sugar and salt.  Cook on medium high heat until thickened.  It took about 45 minutes total cooking time.
To test to see if it is going to be thick enough place a spoon in the freezer.  Spoon some of the jam on the freezing cold spoon.  If it gets nice and thick, then it’s done.
Pour the hot jam into very clean preferably sterilized jars, seal and let cool on the counter. The jam will seal, but because it is not processed in a water bath, it must be stored in the refrigerator.  It will last for a long time refrigerated. 

How could I be anything but inspired after Suzanne’s words?  Thank you, Suzanne.

Writing Process

Suckerfish attached to diver

At this time I think I should remind everyone that  characters, names, places, and incidents are used in a strictly fictitious way. The actions of a character do not imply anything about the person who named the character.

I allow myself some artistic license, especially since this serial is a fantasy.  I’ve added to the flora and fauna of Thistledown.  This time you’ll meet some fun fish, living in a pond. 

I’m pantsering this story so I don’t know if these faery fish will live in both fresh and salt water, or just the one pond.  However, I imagine them as looking partly like a remora (salt water) and partly like a suckermouth catfish (fresh water).

Without further ado, here’s the next installment of the serial.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Ben Moore, Unsplash

Pucker Up

A pale yellow patch of sky was framed by green branches.  Doves cooed peacefully.  I saw two perched on a limb outside my bedroom window.  One appeared to try and give the other a tiny flower.  Or perhaps one tried to take the blossom from the other.  Who could say?

I glanced downward from my dizzyingly high vantage point.  My grand-uncle built his spacious home nestled in the branches of a massive redwood.  Uncle taught us to nurture the primeval tree just as it enriched us.  However, I had never been fond of heights.

He probably thought to encourage me to practice my flying skills by installing me in the attic bedroom, the loftiest room of all.  Many faeries would have been envious of the room, for the fun of gliding down hundreds of feet to the ground.  I however, often took the stairs.

Beyond the huge evergreen, I glimpsed Willow Stargazer flying past.  Her purple hair stood out against the morning sky.  She always wore an orchid tucked behind one ear.  Willow gave a quick wave.

1 Butterfly wing

I yawned and stretched, knowing I had slept late.  By the time I left the reflection pool, I had been exhausted.  In a short time, a lot of troubling ideas had wriggled into my mind.  First among them my horrible, frightening vision.

What troubled me most about that vision was the fact that it felt prophetic.  That must be why it upset the fae of Thistledown so much when they heard of it.

I had seen a bleak, unhappy world.  There was sunlight sometimes, but often the sky was murky.  The place was dark in every other way as well.  Bad things happened there all the time.  Negativity saturated the place — disasters, disrespect, corruption, violence, and hatred.  Even the elders and leaders were continually exposed as corrupt and even insane.

In the vision, it seemed like the people saw and experienced those things continually.  Each day they thought it couldn’t get more absurd, insulting, or hurtful.  Yet it did.  They became used to bizarre and harmful events.  They accepted it as just another part of their day.  There were highly placed people who could have remedied the situation.  Yet they did nothing.

The attitudes and actions of the people reflected the darkness of their world.  Even the clothes they chose to wear were in dark, dull colors.  The girls I met in my second vision seemed like rebels of a sort, daring to wear a splash of bright colors in their clothes or hair. 

Worse, I suspected the fae there had no wings.  My grand-uncle once told a scary story of a group of faeries without wings.  Did the darkness that saturated that world cause them to eventually lose their wings?

One of the doves on my windowsill fluttered away, dispelling my reverie.  The one that remained still held the tiny flower.  I realized it was a peach blossom.  Then I knew it must be a message from Peaches Dragonfly.  I took the flower from the dove.  Oddly it was wet.  My body mirrored the posture of the dove when she tilted her head to one side curiously.

“A wet peach blossom?” I murmured to the dove who answered with a coo.  “Oh!” I exclaimed in sudden epiphany.  “Peaches must want me to meet her at the pond.”

The dove bobbed her head forward and back, and then flew away in the direction of the orchard.

I unfolded my injured wing to apply more of the ointment Calico Rainbowforest gave me.  Even my grand-uncle had to admit I wouldn’t be practicing my flying for a while.  Since Peaches sent a dove to bid me visit her, she must not be in a rush.  If there was any hurry, she would probably have sent a zippy hummingbird.  I considered borrowing Uncle’s unicycle, but I knew I would end up painfully unfurling my wings to catch my balance.  I’d have to settle for my own two feet.

I must be the clumsiest faery in Thistle down, I thought with a loud sigh.

***

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Nitish Kadam, Unsplash

“Bedlam, thank goodness you’re here,” Peaches Dragonfly said once I arrived at the pond.  “I could really use a hand.”

Her pink hair was wet, but only around her face.  Beside Peaches were four pails of water.  I noticed an oddly shaped purple fish swimming in one.  When I asked about the fish, my friend said it was a suckerfish.

“They absolutely love the pits from sour cherries,” Peaches explained.  “I have buckets overflowing with sour cherries from the far side of the orchard.  I’m going to make jam from them, but the pits have to be removed.  Those cherries are tiny, and it’s a lot of work to remove the pits.  So I had the idea to use the suckerfish to take out the pits.  With a little fae coaxing, they don’t bother the flesh of the cherries at all, and happily suck out the pits!”

“What an amazing idea!” I complimented Peaches.  “But I don’t see any other fish like this in the pond.”

Peaches gave me a wry look as she knelt at the edge of the pond.  I had a bad feeling that there was a tangle in her brilliant idea, and that I was about to get caught in the middle of it.

“There are several suckerfish in the pond.  They usually stay at the bottom, but they’ll come to the surface if you call them,” she told me.

I thought we were about to get to the tangle.  A hopeful look from my friend suggested I was right.  I expected to regret it, but I asked how one went about calling the suckerfish.

“It’s easy,” she told me with a bright smile.  “You just put your face into the water and make kissing sounds.  The suckerfish will come right to you.”

“What happens when they get there?”

“Well, if you aren’t quick enough in grabbing them, they’ll suck your face.  They’re very affectionate.  Don’t worry,” she added upon seeing my expression.  “It doesn’t hurt.”

Face in water blue

Genessa Panainte, Unsplash

I cringed so hard that I went to my knees.  Peaches took that for agreement and pulled my shoulders down toward the water.  I watched as she made kissing sounds into the pond.  Two purple suckerfish quickly swam to her.  One of them appeared to give her a kiss on the cheek.  With lightning reflexes, Peaches caught one fish in each hand.

“See,” she stated as she put the fishes in a pail.  “It isn’t that hard.”

Taking a deep breath, I agreed to give it a try.  I made kissing sounds into the water.  A fish swam to me so fast that I didn’t even see it.  Peaches had quick reflexes and grabbed it for me before I possibly could have gotten it.  Emboldened by the fact that I hadn’t had to even touch the fish, I put my puckering mouth back into the pond.

After two or three “kisses” I saw two tiny purple fish approaching from the left.  They were much smaller than any I had seen at that point, so the prospect of them touching my face did not upset me.

What I could not see was a suckerfish as large as my arm rapidly swimming from the deepest part of the pond.  Suddenly something forcefully hit my mouth.  Thankfully it was soft, or it would have really hurt.  I fell backward to the banks of the pond.

Peaches gasped, but rapidly detached the big sucker from my face.  I fitfully spat, and spat.  And spat some more.  I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t as though I tasted anything.  It was just the idea of being smooched by that fish.

“I’ve never seen a suckerfish this big.  The pit removal should go extra fast with this guy helping!” Peaches exclaimed.  “Nice work, Bedlam.”

We both looked up as a shadow passed over.  A blue heron swooped low, gliding toward the eastern bank of the pond.  I was awed by its beauty, with its broad wings and smooth passage, and plumage the color of a thunder cloud.  It sailed to the eastern bank of the pond.

I realized something looked different than I remembered about that side of the pond.  Peaches explained that an underground stream had come to the surface.  She thought that under or above ground the water eventually made its way to a small lake near Catseye Glimmer’s home.

Curious about the change to the landscape I wandered to that side of the pond.  I could see a thicket.  In the shadows I could barely make out the water of the stream.

“What’s that sound?” Peaches asked.

At first I didn’t hear anything.  After a moment, soft whimpering came to my ears.  To my astonishment, Peaches jumped into the pond.

“It sounds like a dog!” she cried as she swam.

I jumped in after her.  We soon realized that end of the pond was shallow enough that we could walk to the thicket.  That was a relief, since my swimming wasn’t any better than my flying.

The whining grew louder.  Peaches moved to the edge of the thicket.  When I looked at the place, an inexplicable shudder traveled through me.  The shadows were dark.  They were gray and unnaturally, densely drab.

“Peaches, wait!” I called and fearfully extended a hand, but she was out of my reach.

It was a relief when my friend emerged from the shadows with a small dog in her arms.  To my surprise she chuckled.

“There’s a suckerfish stuck to his mouth.  Help me get it off him,” she told me.

We walked through the water to the near edge of the pond and climbed out.  I helped Peaches up to the grass because her arms were full with the little dog.  I expected her to stop right there, but she hurried over to where we had been catching purple suckerfish.

She detached the suckerfish from the little dog’s mouth.  Rather than purple as it should have been, the fish was a dull brown.  Peaches gently placed the oddly colored fish in a pail separate from the other fish.

With the fish removed, I could see the dog’s face.  He was easily the oddest looking pup I had ever seen.  He had a tightly curled tail.  His coat was dull gray, but his little face was black.  It was also squished flat.  He looked at me and licked his nose with a little gray-blue tongue.

When he looked up at Peaches, his screw-tail wagged enthusiastically.  She set about drying the dog with a towel.

“I wonder who he belongs to?” Peaches pondered.  “His coloring is so unique,” she added with an uneasy glance at the strange brown suckerfish.

We both gazed nervously toward the shadows of the thicket.  Then Peaches leaned down to look closely at all the fish in the pails.

“I’ve never seen any fish that color,” she commented in an uneasy voice.  “It makes me think of how you described the place in your vision as colorless.”

“I doubt he belongs to anybody in Thistledown,” I whispered.  “What should we do with him?” I asked as I cleared my throat, trying to bring my voice to a normal volume.

Peaches took another look at the thicket and shivered.  The dog’s dull coloring indeed reminded me of the dark place where I met Rotten Soulfire and her friends.  How could they bear to live in such a place?  I swallowed hard.

“I’ll look after him,” Peaches stated in a determined voice.  “I think I’ll call him Pucker.”

The dog barked a yip at his new name.  Pucker’s tail wagged so hard I was surprised it didn’t cause him to fall over from the force of it.  He put a paw on Peaches’ shin and she bent to get him in her arms.

Vintage Pug painting

***

The End

The new “mystery faery” for this episode was Cecily of Cecily’s Writings.  I hope you’ll say hello to her.  

Stay tuned for the next episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.  We will see the counterpart of Catseye Glimmer in the other faery-verse and more photos from T & L Photography.  

Hugs on the wing!

 

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 © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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