Jazz Age Wednesdays 1

Wednesday, September 6, 2017Camel Walk dance poster 1920s

Each weekend I give you a new serial episode. I’ve been giving that throughout most of the past four years. However, Teagan’s Books is about more than serial episodes.  It’s about my books too.  So I’m creating this midweek feature.

I added a poll to the last post. Not a majority, but some people wanted me to keep it to one post a week.  No one is obligated to visit every post.  Although I have to say I find that discouraging.

Since my current release is Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I, I’ll be having Jazz Age Wednesdays.  That means short stories from the “Pip-verse.”  (At least for a while.  When Atonement in Bloom is published, the midweek feature will be from that universe.)

We like to joke about Wednesday being “hump day” and camels. Did you know that in the 1920s there was a dance called the Camel Walk?  Although this example from 1935 is probably a little more complicated than what the average couple did…

Here’s my first Jazz Age Wednesday feature.  It takes place right after the novella, The Three Things Serial Story.  I was honored to have a great review of the novella from author and translator Olga Núñez Miret.

It’s a short story, so it was driven by only one “thing/ingredient,” macaroni and cheese.  It came from Suzanne DeBrango’s  souffléd macaroni and cheese when we did a joint post in January.  (Yes, I’m re-sharing this story.)

Pip Arrives in Savannah

The breeze that rustled through the fronds of tall palm trees was tinged with salt.  I inhaled deeply as I walked out of the tall arched door at Savannah’s Union Station.  I heard the bell of a streetcar, which had gone past a moment before.  I stretched to see the trolley, but barely got a glimpse of its back-end.

With a loud Bronx cheer I dropped my suitcase to the curb of West Broad Street.  I thought the Jazz Age slang for the rude noise I made was appropriate, since my Pops was continuing on the train to New York City.

Pops said I needed to be reigned-in, and Granny insisted that I needed to learn to cook.  Neither of them would admit that I was a modern woman.  No self-respecting Flapper needed to cook!  Anyhow, Pops had unceremoniously dumped me off the train, saying he’d visit with Granny and me on his way back.  I blew another raspberry at the streetcar that I had just missed — and at my wretched situation.

Union Station Savannah, GA

The ringing of the streetcar’s bell faded into the distance.  The first time I ever saw a trolley was during a visit to my grandmother, there in Savannah, when I was a very little girl.  I slipped away from her and Pops, and scampered onto a streetcar.  I didn’t get far, but Granny Phanny was mad enough to spit. 

This time, I had done the opposite.  Instead of getting on a trolley when I shouldn’t have, I had missed the one I was supposed to ride to get to her.  Now Granny would be waiting to meet me at some Chinese restaurant downtown, but I wouldn’t be on the trolley.  Horsefeathers!  She would be in a lather.

A nearby news vendor walked away from his stall, probably headed for a bite of lunch.  I called out and waved as I hurried toward him, my suitcase bumping along at my side.

“Hey Mac!  Was that the trolley that goes to Pearl Street?” I called out, but he didn’t hear me over the blast of a train whistle.  “Enjoy your lunch,” I grumbled and my empty stomach answered in kind.  “I sure could do with some of Granny’s macaroni and cheese.”

“Did you miss the trolley, sweet cheeks?” a clear tenor voice asked.

I didn’t see him until he moved forward.  He had been leaning against the opposite side of the newsstand.  He wore a suit and hat, but they had flair.  He cast a furtive glance over his shoulder, but then tilted his head back and blew a smoke ring into the air.

Applesauce!  He looked pos-i-lute-ly like the kind of character I had always been told to avoid, but he was as sexy as the Sheik of Araby.  Then his cigarette smoke drifted to me and I sneezed.  So much for me being a sophisticated Sheba.  I had to agree with Pops that smoking was a nasty habit.

mallory-ad-man-in-car-hat-ad

“You’re new in town, huh?  I’m Floyd.  I can take you where the giggle water flows aplenty.  It’ll be a real blow,” he said with a smile and a wink that made him even handsomer.

“Says you,” I countered coyly, thinking he was joking around.

“At least let me drive you over to Pearl Street.  Stick around until my pal gets back.  He’s picking up something for me,” he added gazing up and then down the street, as if looking for his friend.  Stay right here and I’ll get my machine.  It’s a sweet ride.  You’ll love it,” he called over his shoulder as he rushed away.  “Don’t move.  Promise.  I’ll be right back.”

I stood baffled, gaping at Floyd’s retreating form.  I was also feeling flattered by his interest.  There was an intensity about him that I found exciting.  Not to mention the fact that I was relieved that I might avoid Granny’s wrath over me missing the streetcar and leaving her waiting.

Signorina, do not be going with that man.  It would be a bad thing for you.  Trouble comes,” a voice, heavily accented with Italian, said from behind me.  “There will be other transportation.”

Turning, I saw a portly man in odd looking chef’s clothes.  He lifted his brimless toque and bowed.  A jalopy backfired so suddenly and so loudly that I jerked around to face the noise.  When I turned back, the chef was gone.  I didn’t see him anywhere.  It was as if he disappeared into thin air.

I quickly forgot about the odd occurrence when a wooden crate fell off a passing truck.  The driver pulled to the curb beside me.  Without thinking I went to help.  He had not been traveling fast, so little damage was done.  A few oranges rolled from a broken crate.  I started picking up the wayward fruit.1920s delivery truck

An Asian looking guy with a quasi-British accent jumped out of the driver’s door, apologizing even before his feet hit the street.  He gingerly hopped over the tailgate and began re-positioning the crates.  A couple of them looked ready to fall.

I noticed lettering on the truck proclaiming Wong’s Chinese.  Was that the name of the restaurant where I was supposed to meet Granny?  I was so resentful about being sent to Savannah that I hadn’t even paid attention to what she said.  I knew there wouldn’t be more than one Chinese restaurant on the street.

“Your place isn’t on Pearl Street by any chance, is it?”

“Yep, that’s Wong’s,” he replied with a grin, stopping his work.  “Hey, are you Pip?  Miss Phanny will be looking for you.  I’m Alastair Wong,” he bent from the truck bed and shook my hand.

I sighed with relief.

Then a brand new Ford stopped and gave a long blare of the auto’s horn.  “Hey! Move it,” my Sheik of Araby from moments before shouted angrily, and followed that with a racial slur.

Floyd got out of the automobile, moving toward us in a menacing posture.  I stood up, a smashed and dripping orange still in my hand.

“This cake eater’s bad news, Pip.  You don’t want to have anything to do with him,” Alastair Wong whispered as he stepped in front of me protectively.

In the distance a police whistle trilled.  The guy’s eyes widened and he looked over his shoulder.  Before I knew what was happening, he had hit Alastair in the head with the butt of a pistol.  I shrieked as he dragged me into the open Ford, my arms and legs flailing.

I could hear the coppers coming toward us, shouting and blowing whistles.  Suddenly the Ford was blocked between the delivery truck and police vehicles.  Alastair lay unconscious on the street.  The busted orange dripped juice all over my skirt.  The guy waved his gun around excitedly.  A maniacal gleam came to his eyes when he looked at me.

1920s Police car

An over eager copper fired his gun.  I heard the whiz of the bullet pass by my head.  Startled, Floyd jerked toward the policemen.  Movement from the delivery truck caught my eye.  A catawampus crate started to wobble.  Suddenly that crate and another one tumbled down to land on the windshield of the Ford.  Floyd started screaming and cursing, waving his pistol even more.

When he turned back to me, on sudden impulse I stuck the busted orange in his face and smeared it into his eyes.  By then the coppers had reached us.  They grabbed him before he could do any damage with the gun.

A copper helped me out of the Ford.  I ran to Alastair as another cop helped him stand.  Across the street I saw Floyd’s pal, the news vendor being held by a policeman.

“What just happened here?” I demanded.

A paddy wagon rolled up and the policemen pushed Floyd into it, along with his pal.

“Bootleggers,” a copper told me.  “As if we didn’t already have enough of those around here.”

“So Pip,” Alastair said while he held a handkerchief to his bloodied forehead.  “How do you like Savannah so far?”

I chuckled despite everything.  At least he had a sense of humor.

studebaker1920_2

“Well, I was afraid I would be bored to tears here,” I told him with a dramatic sigh.  “But I suppose it will be interesting enough.  So far I’ve learned three things.  Don’t take any wooden nickels.  Don’t get into Fords with handsome men.  And Wong’s Chinese is the right place to go.” 

Alastair laughed.  “That’s a good slogan, doll face.  Mind if I use it?  How about we get you to the restaurant.  Miss Phanny will be getting impatient.”

And so began my adventures in Savannah.

The end

***

You’ll find more of Pip and her friends and her adventures in Savannah in Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I .  Thanks for visiting. You’re the cat’s pajamas!

Bijou front only 2

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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Three Ingredients II – 17: Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

Horsefeathers! This took me by surprise. I didn’t know quite where the “ingredients” would take this story — until last evening.

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Balltake this story or how many more episodes would be needed to conclude this ghost in the kitchen story-line.

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Sheiks and Shebas, I have to tell you — this is the penultimate episode of Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Sorry I didn’t add that subtitle sooner — it’s always been in my head.  That’s right. Next week will be the concluding episode of this story. >
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Your ingredients have taken us for quite a ghostly ride — and a delicious, multi-cultural one too!  The three food related things for this chapter are from the very creative Ishita at Kooky Cookyng. It’s been a while since she contributed these ingredients to the serial’s “cupboards” so she might have forgotten.  I hope it’s a nice surprise for her.
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So that I had more time for writing this episode, I’m also featuring one of Ishita’s recipes this weekend. Her blog also includes tabs/pages with lots of useful information like “Weights & Measurements” and “Oils & Fats.” Spend some time there and enjoy yourself.
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I give my sincere thanks and appreciation to each of you who take time to read these stories, and to those of you who contribute to the “ingredients cupboard.” You make it possible — and you make it fun!
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Need a recap?  Go to the top of the page and click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients Serial Home.”  Without further ado, I give you the penultimate chapter in our interactive culinary mystery, Episode-17.  Bon appétit!

17.  Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

With Demon

FDR Little Whitehouse banner

The Little White House – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Doctor Veronica Vale had arranged for Marshal Moses Myrick to go to Warm Springs, Georgia. She said the natural hot springs there were perfect for his convalesce.  Cracker the parrot left her perch on the G-man’s chair and glided across the Vales’ living room to perch on the back of the sofa where I sat.
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Cracker dropped a bit of spinach she’d been nibbling on the rug as she flew.  I saw Granny Fanny look disdainfully from the dropped food to the bird.  It sure seemed like the progress those two had made toward getting along had been forgotten.  When the marshal was shot, it looked like Granny and the parrot had forgotten their differences, in their mutual concern for Moses Myrick.  I was surprised to think that might have only been temporary.
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I missed Cracker terribly when she transferred her affection to Marshal Myrick, but I figured that she was helping the critically injured man in that amazing way that animals seem to help humans heal.  So I tried not to feel rejected, and repeatedly reminded myself that Cracker was just a bird.  She wouldn’t intentionally hurt my feelings.
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Veronica again mentioned that the spa didn’t allow any animals.  Cracker bumped the side of my head with hers.  Then she did it again a moment later, as if she was nudging me.
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“I don’t have any treats, Cracker,” I told the parrot.
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“Who’s your daddy?” Cracker asked in an imploring tone and bobbed her head in a way that looked much like a 1920s Woman Parrotnod.

“Oh that vulgar bird,” Granny Fanny complained, reminding me of how much she hated that phrase.
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“Oh Fanny, Cracker doesn’t mean any harm.  Why, she’s downright ladylike most of the time,” Moses said, and his voice seemed to echo the imploring tone Cracker had used.

“I realize it’s been quite a burden for Veronica and Vincent to have to look after me and Cracker too,” the aging law man continued amid protests from both the Vales.  “I’d hate to ask them to keep looking after the parrot while I’m at Warm Springs,” he added and Granny’s expression suddenly became stiff and suspicious.

“I know it was a challenge for you too, Fanny, when Pip was taking care of her.  It’s a lot of extra work for a woman to unexpectedly add a parrot to her household,” Moses said soothingly.  “I know Cracker gets messy sometimes too, just like a child.  Nobody could blame you for not being able to deal with it.”
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Oh Horsefeathers!  Granny could handle anything, and she’d be the first to say so.  Was the revenuer baiting my grandmother?  He couldn’t have said anything that was any more likely to get a rise out of her if he’d tried!  Had he done it intentionally?  I wouldn’t have advised anybody to get Granny’s back up on purpose, but I saw a twinkle in the Fed’s eyes that told me he had done exactly that.

1920 Home Journal Parrot
“I think the poor bird has missed Pip,” Marshal Myrick went on to say.
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“Whatever gives you that idea, Moses?” Granny exclaimed, agitated.  “It’s just a bird.  She switched her interest to you from Paisley easily enough.”
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“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Cracker shrieked in a fair imitation of my grandmother.
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Moses started laughing, and then winced and clutched his side.  That was one of the several bullet wounds he had taken when Queenie Wetson’s thugs ambushed him.  “That’s why,” he said, still chuckling.  “She calls Pip’s full name several times a day.  I sort of think, since she’s calling her name the way you would, that it means she misses you too, Fanny.”
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While Granny blustered wordlessly over that comment, I turned to Cracker and scratched her neck.  “Oh Cracker,” I exclaimed.  “Have you really missed me?” I asked feeling oddly guilty — it wasn’t as if I’d had much choice in the matter.  “So do you want to go home with me… if Granny says it’s okay?” I said turning my most imploring and saddest eyes on my grandmother.1920s PhotoPlay

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I waited. I held the hopeful sad-eyed look for so long I thought my eyes might cross.  My eyebrows contracted and I was about to give up.  I looked down at my hands in my lap, unable to hold Granny Fanny’s gaze any longer.
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“Don’t worry Moses,” Veronica finally said.  “Vincent and I will look after Cracker.  It’s really no trouble.”
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“No, no…” Granny said.  “The bird can go home with us.  Paisley, she’ll have to stay in your room though.  And mind you, keep her out of my kitchen!”
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Cracker made a noise that sounded like laughter.  “You slay me!” she squawked.
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Moses started holding his side and laughing again, but I thought Granny’s eyes would pop right out of her head, she looked so mad.

“I remember Cracker Jack Daddy using that phrase a lot,” the G-man said.  There’s no telling what all she picked up from him.  “But I’ve noticed Cracker often says it when somebody laughs.  I wonder if she misses that gangster…” Moses said and his voice trailed away thoughtfully.  “I guess anybody can have a good quality, and Jack Daddy seemed to have taken good care of my girl here,” he said meaning Cracker the parrot.
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Country Gentleman Kernan Sat Eve PostSomehow that seemed to calm Granny’s flare of anger.  Our visit wasn’t eventful after that.  Moses made a big deal over the apple pie Granny had made for him.  But Granny’s apple pies were well worth the praise.  Of course we didn’t have the pie until after the delicious meal the doctors Vale prepared.
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Veronica said Vincent was a better cook than she, and the couple argued playfully about who was the better chef.  Soon we sat down to a delicious dinner that started with a beautiful creamy carrot soup, and just kept getting better from there.  Granny’s apple pie topped off the meal.
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As we were leaving Vincent asked a favor of Andy and me. “Could you kids deliver some medicine for me, first thing in the morning?” the veterinarian asked.  “Bishop Binghamton’s mare is having difficulties, and she could foal at any time.  So I don’t want to go into town,” he said.
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Cracker glided into the dining room.  I wondered if hearing the “Binghamton” name brought her.  She had acted strangely when she saw the bishop at a distance when we arrived earlier.  She’d said “Dainty Dish” when she saw him.  After the things Mattie Maddox had said about Henry Kingston III and the Binghamton brothers, hearing the parrot also connect Daisy, the ghost woman, to them made me really suspicious, despite how nice the bishop seemed.
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“It’s for Kate Kingston’s Maine Coon cat.  Poor Antoinette gets a terrible skin condition sometimes,” Vincent said.
>1920s Vaudeville Cats postcard

At the name “Kingston” Cracker cocked her head and looked at Vincent attentively.  “Fourandtwenty,” she chirped as if the phrase was a single word.
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“What’s that Cracker?” Moses asked, not understanding the rapid speech, but the bird didn’t respond.
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I could tell the G-man was going to miss the parrot.  It was as if he was paying extra attention to her all evening.  However, I remembered Cracker repeating that phrase when we were trying figure out who killed her owner, as well as when we worked to foil Queenie Wetson and her bootleggers.  She said four and twenty repeatedly and finally we ended up at…
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“Pos-i-lute-ly,” Andy said, interrupting my thoughts.
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“That’s quite alright, Vincent.  If it’s not too late, the children and I can run it over there this evening,” Granny offered.
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“Where do we deliver it?” Andy asked.
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Fourandtwenty!” Cracker screeched.
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Vincent gave the parrot a surprised look.  “The big estate at 420 Kingston Lane,” he said and Cracker bobbed her head excitedly.Vintage girl and parrot

***

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It was completely dark when we arrived at 420 Kingston Lane.  I could hear the river next to us as Granny headed the Model-T up the narrow drive that led to the estate.  Andy started complaining of a bad cramp in his foot.  We were just below where the drive forked with one way leading to the kitchen entrance and the other broader lane continued to the front of the mansion.
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I exited the Model-T with Andy so he could walk out the cramp.  He limped along and I pulled his arm over my shoulder so I could help him.  It must have been a fierce cramp because I saw a tear in his eye that he pretended wasn’t there.  We kept walking and eventually found ourselves on the beautifully landscaped terrace, where the “parade of pets” was held at the ritzy party Granny Fanny catered as a front for the lawmen’s sting operation.  It seemed like a lot of time had passed since then, but I knew it hadn’t been all that long.
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Michalemas daisy cardThe cramp finally left Andy’s foot.  We were near the big French doors and we debated whether we should knock there or walk all the way around to the front door.  As we stood discussing that minor problem a blast of frigid air tousled my bobbed hair.  I shivered and Andy tucked me tightly under his arm.  He’d never done that before.  Not to keep his arm there.  Not to hold me that close.
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However I didn’t have time to wonder about Andy’s behavior.  Softly glowing light drew my attention to the uphill path.  Tiny white flower petals cascaded toward us on the wind.  With the cold breeze, for a moment I thought the petals were snow.
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When the blossoms settled I saw Daisy at the top of the path.  She was dressed in a wedding gown, but the veil was turned back to reveal her angelic face.  Delicate lace trained behind her on the wide stone stairs.  White satin gleamed in the moonlight and beading glittered with her movements when she glided forward.
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I realized Daisy was reminiscing about her wedding to Henry “the king” Kingston.  I knew she had a horrible childhood, but her marriage to him was a happy one, and clearly their wedding was a fond memory.  She looked at Andy and me and smiled sweetly.
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The sound of a horse’s hooves on the pavers behind me caused me to start.  Turning, I watched the former ghost-rider, Caleb Colman dismount an otherworldly steed.  The spirit

Mary Pickford 1920

Mary Pickford 1920

horse whinnied softly.  The cowboy took off his Stetson when he saw me and nodded politely.
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“Ma’am,” Caleb said and then nodded to Andy as well.
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Then the cowboy saw Daisy glowing in the moonlight, a beatific specter in flowing white.  He gasped and dropped to one knee.  Hat over heart, Caleb bowed his head then slowly shook it from side to side as if in amazement.  He looked up at the spirit woman on the uphill path and his face was a mixture of wonder, uncertainty, and pain.  A single tear ran down his cheek.

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At that moment I saw Bishop Binghamton come out of the wooded path to our left, halfway between us and Daisy.  Binghamton stopped to put out a cigarette.  Andy, Caleb, and I were farther down, closer to the kitchen and in the shadows.  He didn’t see us, but he was headed straight for the big French doors and not paying attention.  I don’t know if Daisy would have been visible to him, but he didn’t look in her direction either.
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Daisy paused when she saw the bishop.  Her serene expression became puzzled and uneasy when she looked closely at the clergyman.  She moved toward him, but he continued toward the double doors and went inside the mansion.  Daisy’s full attention was on the scene within the house.
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Wind buffeted us.  It was hard for me to walk upright into the gale.  I wondered if we were about to be caught up in a tornado, then I saw the frightening light in Daisy’s eyes.  Caleb saw it too.
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“Daisy!  No!” the cowboy yelled.
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1920s Cosmo FebShe turned and looked at Caleb and at Andy and me as if she’d never seen us before.  Then she turned her attention back to the house.  She took another step toward it and the French doors opened as if of their own accord.
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We ran toward Daisy.  The bishop was standing just inside.  He turned in surprise when the doors opened behind him.
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Caleb’s presence seemed to comfort Daisy, and the horrible light in her eyes dissipated.  I heard the two spirits whispering to each other.  I didn’t think anyone inside, except perhaps my grandmother, could see them.  Granny Fanny vacillated between disbelieving it was possible for her to see ghosts and actually seeing them.
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As we moved close to the doors I heard Mrs. Kingston talking to Granny.  She sat a crystal bowl on a table.  It contained something creamy and white.

Yogurt is very good for lightening and brightening the complexion,” Kate Kingston said.  “Just leave it on your face for a few minutes and then wash it off,” she said, but her words died away when she saw the strange way the bishop was acting.
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Andy and I hurried up to the doors and went inside.
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“You didn’t open those doors,” the bishop murmured.
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Daisy followed us.  She turned to Bishop Binghamton, who was still near the doors.  Then she saw his brother, Byron, standing at the foot of the gracefully curving staircase.  Henry Kingston was at the top of the stairs, on his way back down to join his guests.
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“They’re all right where they were that night,” Daisy said as she stared transfixed by the scene.
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She blinked and turned to me.  “Pip, I remember!” Daisy exclaimed.
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Ghostly cowboy Caleb Colman moved closer to her.  “Ma’am?  Are you all right?” he asked, clearly concerned.

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920's

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920’s

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“I remember,” Daisy repeated and trembled violently, dropping the bouquet of flowers she held.
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Caleb took her hand.  I thought he meant to comfort Daisy, but I quickly saw there was more to the gesture than that.
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He grasped her hand tightly.  “Are these the men who hurt you ma’am?” he asked softly, but she didn’t answer.  “Show me!” Caleb said in a firm voice.
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Daisy squeezed the cowboy’s hand.  Wind wailed and buffeted inside the mansion.  A lamp turned over and shattered on the floor.  The crystal chandelier swayed dangerously overhead.  Voices rose near enough to panic.  The bishop fell to his knees, eyes tightly shut, praying for all he was worth.
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Caleb bowed over Daisy’s hand and then let it go.  Abruptly the wind stopped.  The room went completely silent and I knew that everyone could see the formerly cursed ghost-rider.  Maestro Mario had made a great sacrifice, giving up countless years that would have been removed from his own curse, just to give Caleb Colman a chance to redeem himself.  Else the cowboy was condemned to a futile eternal chase.  I remembered Caleb’s words the first time I met him.
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“It’s my curse.  Me and all the riders.  We chase that herd of red-eyed cattle, but we never get any closer to catching ‘em.  And we’ll chase them ‘til the end of time,” The ghost-rider had said seeing the expression on my face.

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I wondered if Maestro’s sacrifice was about to be wasted.  Caleb looked steadily at each of the three men in turn.  His eyes started to glow a frightening red to match the eyes of the demon heard he used to chase.
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The men cried out in fear as the spirit glowed with supernatural light and grew to twice his already impressive height.  The wind began again, lifting the bishop, his brother, and Henry Kingston III into the air where they remained suspended while Caleb cast that red-eyed stare at them.

***

Recipe:  Autumnal Spinach & Carrot Soup, the Indian Way

Ishita spinach soup

Photo and Recipe credit to Ishita at Kooky Cookyng

This time I am just giving you the link to Ishita’s blog for the recipe and instructional photos.  I hope you’ll look at many of her creative meals.

http://kookycookyng.com/2014/09/12/autumnal-spinach-carrot-soup-the-indian-way/

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In Memory of Izzy

October 2014

pug memorial candle

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

Three Ingredients II – 16: Apples, Broad Beans, Curry Leaves

Sheiks and Shebas I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Yes, there is pos-i-lute-ly going to be a new episode of our 1920’s culinary mystery serial! The ingredients for Episode-16 are from the astonishingly prolific Olga Núñez Miret at Just Olga. Serendipity was with us, and this chapter coincided with the launch of her latest book, I Love Your Cupcakes Have a look at it — who can say no to a cupcake? Olga has a video trailer for this novel.  I thought it was so adorable I couldn’t resist sharing it with you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGFcWLwoFfA . Once again I’m giving you a few fun, informative links, so keep an eye out for them. This episode doesn’t have cupcakes, but it has something sweet — the return of a favorite character. Bon appétit!

16.  Apples, Broad Beans, Curry Leaves

I still remember the rough country road and how Granny Fanny patted her yellow 1924 Liberty-appleModel-T every time we hit a bump.  A half bushel basket of apples sat crowding my feet in the floorboard, and I held a peck basket of Vidalia onions on the seat beside me.

Andy Avis sat in the backseat with Granny’s favorite wicker basket in his lap.  He sneaked the lid open and the aroma of Granny’s apple pie drifted up to my grandmother and me in the front seat.  I looked over my shoulder and saw Andy lick his lips.  I knew that pie was mouthwatering.  The scent found its way to Granny’s nose, and she glanced suspiciously at Andy.

“Sweetheart, try and keep the basket closed so the pie will stay warm,” she said, as if the lid accidentally came loose, though it was obvious that she knew better.  “Now that Moses is well enough to be moved, that pie was the one thing he asked for before he leaves,” she added.

Marshal Moses Myrick was a close friend of my grandparents when they were young.  Not too long after Granddaddy passed away, Myrick’s law enforcement career took off.  He worked his way through the ranks and eventually became a Federal Marshal — a Revenuer; a G-man.

Myrick nearly died when Queenie Wetson’s men ambushed him, but Savannah’s dashing Detective Dabney Daniels was able to get him to Dr. Veronica Vale.  She had been a renowned surgeon, but tiring of hospital politics and spiteful attitudes about women doctors, she retired from medical practice.  She and her veterinarian husband had a home and a sprawling facility for Vincent’s veterinary practice that was much closer to the site of the ambush than any hospital.  If it hadn’t been for Detective Daniels’ knowledge of area back-roads and for the doctors Vale living nearby, Moses Myrick would have surely died.Vales House During the weeks since the surgery Veronica Vale had performed in her husband’s veterinary facility, Marshal Myrick stayed with the Vales.  Veronica refused to allow him to be moved.  Finally his condition improved enough that she wanted the marshal to go to Warm Springs, Georgia.  It was well known for therapeutic mineral springs which flow constantly at nearly 32 °C (90 °F).  Doc Vale wanted him to spend several weeks at a spa there.

Soon the yellow Ford puttered up to the lovely white house with a green roof.  Granny Fanny reminded Andy and me to be quiet once we got inside.  Moses Myric was still far from being well.  When I stepped out of the Ford, I heard a horse whinny from the 1914 Model-T 2stable, and from inside the house I could hear a bird screech.  A parrot.  Cracker, I thought with a smile.  So much for being quiet…

I became far too attached to that bird when I was taking care of her.  But it seemed the marshal had stolen Cracker’s heart.  She refused to leave his side after he was shot.

As I got out of the automobile, a streak of brilliant color erupted from an upstairs window and loomed toward me.  I drew back reflexively, even though I knew it was the parrot.  Cracker alighted on the open car door, chattering unintelligibly.  Yes, I know the bird isn’t supposed to be able to speak the way humans do, and could only mimic our words, but sometimes it sure seemed like she knew what she was talking about.  Her lack of coherent speech led me to think she was extremely excited.

Cracker hopped from the car door to my shoulder and started preening a strand of my bobbed hair, as was her old habit.  I tried to push her away from my head and was scolded.

“Bad bird! Bad bird,” Cracker chirped at me.1920s SheetMusic Parrot

I stroked the feathers of her back and told Cracker I had missed her.  The parrot started making a funny trilling sound.  When Detective Daniels handed me the chore of bird-sitting after Cracker’s owner was murdered at the Bijou Theatre he asked Mr. Doctor Vale… not the same as Mrs. Doctor Vale… Oh applesauce!  It sure got confusing having two Doctors Vale in one place.

Anyhow Dabney asked the vet doc to take a look at the parrot and make sure she was healthy. The memory of Vincent examining the parrot popped into my mind.  He had said Cracker was at least forty years old!

“Parrots live a long time,” he’d explained.  “They need a serious, long term commitment from their owners.  Cracker is a macaw,” he said taking my name for the bird.  “She might live to the ripe old age of 95.”

I couldn’t help thinking about the old photograph, our only hint of a clue to who was involved in the death of Daisy the Dainty Dish.  According to the ghost woman, what I thought was a flaw in the photo was actually a parrot.  I looked into Cracker’s bright, intelligent looking eyes.  She might be old enough to have been the parrot sitting on the shoulder of Alastair Wong the elder in that photograph. Andy’s eyes bugged out when I turned to him and whispered that thought to him.

Movement further down the gently sloping green caught my eye as I looked beyond Andy.  He turned to see what had my attention.Broad Beans Beyond the spot where we stood, was the vegetable garden where the last of the summer foods grew.  A few of the broad beans Veronica praised for their nutritional value remained.  I tried to point discretely in their direction. “Just past the garden,” I told Andy.  “Those two men.  One is Doc Vale.  The other one looks familiar to me,” I said uneasily.

The two men made their way to the stable.  It was as if they felt our eyes on them.  They turned our way.  Vincent Vale threw up his hand in a cheery wave.  The second man was dressed in working clothes.  He was smaller than the veterinarian.  When he turned I saw a spot of bright white at his neck. It seemed out of place with the work clothes.

Cracker followed my gaze.  She shifted from foot to foot where she perched on my shoulder. “Bad bird,” the parrot hissed quietly.1920s Ja-Da Parrot “What’s eating you?” Andy asked seeing the intent frown on my face.

“I can’t really tell from here…” I began, squinting in attempt to see farther.

Cracker had her eyes glued to the men right up until they went inside the stable.  “Dainty Dish,” the parrot chirped and bobbed her head up and down.

Andy gave a suspicious look at the bird.  I’d told him how clever she was, but he had not believed me.  However, he knew the spirit, Daisy, had been known as The Dainty Dish.  I wondered if he was about to change his mind and see how smart the parrot was.

“Well?” Granny Fanny looked back over her shoulder as she reached the front porch.  “Come along you two.  And Paisley, do try to keep that nasty bird quiet!” she said emphatically.

It had taken awhile, but Cracker eventually won Granny over despite my grandmother’s aversion to having an avian in the house.  I thought Granny might need a refresher course to remind her that she actually did like the parrot.  Or maybe she just didn’t like to let on that she did.

Barrie Craig adventuresAndy shifted the wicker basket to his left hand and knocked on the door.  Veronica called to us to come on inside, so he opened the door for Granny.  I was happy to see Moses Myrick doing well enough to be downstairs in the living room.

“Take this mixture of curry leaves with you,” Veronica was saying as she handed Moses a small tin container.  “It will help control your stomach acid.”

The G-man sat in a cushioned chair with his feet on an ottoman.  A carved walking stick was propped against the cozy looking chair.  Veronica Vale leaned down to hand him the tin, and then looked up at us with a warm smile.

I didn’t really expect the range of emotions that played across my grandmother’s face when she saw the marshal.  I knew she cared a lot about him, but I thought it was just a carryover from the fact that he had been such good friends with my granddaddy.

Yet before my eyes I saw her expression shift from anxious, to pleasure, to concern, to something that it took me a moment to name.  To my surprise I realized she was feeling the pain of loss. That puzzled me.  However, I remembered her saying that she didn’t understand how any woman could bear to have a law man for a husband or a son.  The dangers were just too much and the agony of losing them too great.

She had refused a romantic relationship with Detective Dabney Daniels, but she insistedSheik of Araby it was because she was too old for him.  I didn’t think their age difference was all that big, so I had always wondered if that was the truth of it.  I could see where his line of work would be a constant source of worry.

After seeing the expressions parade across her face, I couldn’t help wondering if something similar had happened between Granny Fanny and Marshal Moses Myrick at some point in the past.  As my grandmother had once reminded me, she had a life before and after my grandfather.

The G-man picked up the cane and made to get up from his chair.  Doctor Veronica shot him a warning look.  Granny gently laid a slender hand on his arm and he relaxed into the cushions of the chair.  When Moses looked up at my grandmother the most peaceful expression came to his face.  I didn’t realize I was staring at the two of them until I felt Andy’s elbow nudge my ribs.

“Fanny…” was all Moses said.

She sat down on the sofa opposite his chair.  She didn’t sit all the way back, and she leaned a little forward when she spoke to him.  Cracker the parrot settled on the back of the marshal’s chair.  She preened a strand of his gray hair in the same way she had mine.  He brushed a hand at the bird to shoo her away.

“Hold your fire!” Cracker squawked at his hand, causing Andy to burst out laughing.

Encouraged by the laughter, Cracker hopped down to the marshal’s lap, demanding the-chinese-parrot adattention.

“Hold your fire,” she said again when he told her to go to her perch by the window.

Moses pointed his index finger at Cracker, a pretend gun, and made a clicking sound with his tongue.  Cracker plopped over, playing dead.  Then she got up and stretched her head so that it was under his chin and whistled quietly.  I couldn’t say quite how, but the parrot seemed sad to me and I commented on it.

“She knows he’s leaving,” Veronica said.  “They don’t allow animals at the spa.”

Then the most remarkable conversation ensued between the revenuer and the parrot.  The fact that there was any conversation at all between a G-man and a bird was astonishing enough.  Moses told the bird that he would be away for a month or so. His tone suggested this was something he had explained many times.  The bird made squawks and whistles and even something a lot like a raspberry sound!  It was obvious that she was protesting. Then he took a firm no-nonsense tone.

“Look Cracker, I need you to stay with Pip until I get back.  No argument,” he said. “And that’s an order!” Cracker squawked back at him, but she flew over to me and perched on the arm of the sofa. “Don’t you backtalk me,” Moses told the bird and pointed threateningly.

“Hold your fire!” Cracker snapped, but she moved closer to me and looked suitably chastened.

Granny commented on the parrot’s new phrase, hold your fire.  Moses said he wasn’t sure where she got it.  It wasn’t something he had said to her.  However, we knew the parrot had had a number of owners in her lifetime.1920s Life Faded blonde

Then she took an interest in Andy.  She waddled down the back of the couch to where he sat.  Cracker cocked her head to one side and peered at Andy.  I could tell it was beginning to make him nervous.  She tilted her shoulder toward him and bobbed her head up and down.  To me it looked like the equivalent of a human bobbing their eyebrows flirtatiously.

“Who’s your daddy?” she chirped at Andy, causing him to blush.

“Oh that foul mouthed fowl,” Granny Fanny said.  “Haven’t you broken her from saying that yet Moses?” Granny demanded.

I remembered how my grandmother hated that phrase.  She said it was horrid and vulgar.  However, Cracker was saved from any scolding by the entrance of Vincent and the man we saw go into the stable with him.

“Dainty Dish,” Cracker hissed quietly, looking at the two men who stood in the foyer.

“It’s odd, but she says that every time she sees the Bishop,” Veronica murmured as if she voiced a thought.  “He is a rather slight man. I wonder if that’s what she means.”

Veronica explained that Bishop Binghamton’s mare was soon to give birth and her husband was watching over things.  So Binghamton had been a frequent visitor during the past few weeks. Niven as BinghamtonI supposed that explained the work clothes he wore, Levis and an old twill jacket, but with the priest’s collar at his neck.  It was hard for me to reconcile that attire with the elaborately dressed, fancy bishop I had seen from a distance at that ritzy shindig at the Kingston mansion.

However, he looked perfectly comfortable being seen in a working man’s clothes.  I half expected him to apologize for his appearance, considering how he had looked at the party, but he didn’t seem concerned.  That added something unexpected to my perception of him.  Was there a touch of the common man to this high ranking churchman?

Vincent Vale introduced Bishop Bradley Binghamton to Andy and me.  Apparently he was already acquainted with Granny Fanny.  I supposed that was to be expected.  They were of a similar age and from the same town, even if their social circles hadn’t mixed when they were young.

“A fascinating creature,” he said with a nod to Cracker whose steady gaze didn’t waiver.

I noticed that he didn’t offer to get any closer to the bird, but considering the hard look in her eyes, I couldn’t blame him.  So this was one of the “boys” — the men that Mattie Maddox believed were implicated in Daisy’s death… However, when I looked at him I saw a kind face and a gentle manner.  There was no harsh expression in his eyes or anything that would make me think he would threaten anyone; to make them leave town and never return.  Yet I didn’t disbelieve Mattie stainge glass_parroteither.

Bishop Binghamton looked like a man remembering bygone days and a small smile came to his lips.  He motioned toward Cracker. “When I was a lad, one of my teachers had a parrot a lot like this one,” he said.  “The name escapes me,” he commented thoughtfully and put a knuckle to the little cleft in his chin.  “A brilliant Asian gentleman,” he said and Granny’s eyes got wide.  “Ah yes.  He was Asian, but from England.  Wong.  That was it!  Alastair Wong.” My mouth opened, but no words came out.  Cracker looked from Granny to Andy to me. “Hold your fire!” Cracker hissed at us and I closed my mouth with a pop.

***

Recipe:  Southern Indian vegetable curry with curry leaves

With courgette, squash, peppers and cauliflower Photo and Recipe Credit:  JamieOliver.com

Indian vege Curry Leaves

  Method Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mustard seeds for 2 to 3 minutes or until they start to pop. Add the chillies, curry leaves, onions, coriander, cumin seeds, garam masala, turmeric, and chilli powder.  Stir and cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft.  Stir in the chopped tomatoes. Add your potatoes and aubergine to the sauce.  Pour in the coconut milk and cook until the potato is soft and cooked through.  Throw in the beans, peas and okra.  Season and cook for a few more minutes until tender, then serve with some nice fluffy rice.

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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Three Ingredients II – 10: Strawberries, Avocados, Lobster

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

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

Forget-Viagra-Pass-Me-Carrot

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

Bon appétit!

10.  Strawberries, Avocados, Lobster

With Warning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crisco Fried Chicken

Click for recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where is this place?” I asked eagerly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hank!” I exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Recipe:  Strawberry Cobbler

Strawberry Cobbler

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

Strawberry Cobbler

Total Time:  1 hour

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cook Time:  50 minutes

 

Ingredients

4 cups strawberries, cleaned and sliced

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup butter, in cubes

 

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.

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

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

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

Spread this over the berries.

Dot with the butter cubes.

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

Cool slightly before serving.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

 

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Three Ingredients – 16: Pork, Braise, Fork

Parrots_Menu_Episode-16 copyHello everyone.  I hope you like the new look for Teagan’s Books.  I thought the new theme with the little houses and trees was a good fit for our 1920’s serial.  In a way it reminds me of my fictional town, Atonement, TN — so it will do for posts about my novel as well.

Secret of Old Clock coverEpisode-16 finds Pip waiting again.  However, our flapper never has an idle mind.  And Granny Fanny will make sure her hands aren’t idle either, in her determination to teach her granddaughter to cook.

Remember you can do catch-up reading on past episodes. Just click the “Three Ingredients” button at the top of the page.  Also — you’re driving!  So I hope you’ll send three food-related things to drive the story.

Bon appétit!

16.  Pork, Braise, Fork

The ticking of the clock had become my constant companion.  It seemed like ever since I came to Savannah half my days were spent waiting.  First Granny Fanny and I had waited, albeit briefly, before following Detective Dabney Daniels to the scene where Marshal Moses Myrick and his men had been ambushed.  Next we were on pins and needles until we learned whether the marshal would survive his wounds and the surgery.  Then I found myself in a holding pattern yet again.  That time the wait was again because of Dabney Daniels.

Detective Daniels left to join the rest of Savannah’s finest in a raid on Wetson’s Mill, where Moses Myrick thought the bootleggers were based.  Hank Hertz, the youngest policeman, made no secret of his annoyance at Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-Burtbeing left behind.  However, he couldn’t hide the fact that he was still pretty dizzy from the bullet that had grazed his temple.  He also acted like he had a doozy of a headache.  Nonetheless he fiddled with the knobs and dials of the radio equipment as he expertly set up a base station.

I handed Hank a cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits with pork sausage patties.  He hungrily stuffed half of a biscuit into his mouth in one big bite.  Then I sat down to dig into some myself.  There was nothing like Granny’s biscuits!  The breakfast sausage was fried with a crisp outside and tender inside.  The biscuits were light and golden brown, and they melted in my mouth.

A groan from the open door where we had setup a hospital room for Marshal Myrick interrupted me.  Before I had time to turn around, I saw Granny coming with more medicine for the revenuer.  It was as if she knew about his pain even before he did; as if she had a nearly supernatural ability.  It was almost scary.  I glanced over at Hank for his reaction, but he hadn’t noticed.  He was still busy with the radio equipment, though biscuit crumbs dusted his chest.

1915 FantasioApparently Granny had some amount of medical training, somewhere along the line. However, she had never spoken of it in my presence.  It had been clear that she already knew how to administer the hypodermic needle even as Veronica Vale showed her.  However, Doctor Vale always drew the drug herself.  Apparently it was potent, dangerous stuff.

The down-side to the medication was that the marshal wasn’t coherent enough to advise the other policemen on the raid they were staging.  Through the open door I could hear the marshal talking, though none of it made any sense.  Veronica had said the drug would probably make him say crazy things.  Granny murmured soothing words that I couldn’t make out, but they seemed to settle the wounded man.  The parrot continued to sit vigil from her perch at the foot of the bed. I heard Cracker coo her usual comment, “Who’s your daddy?”

A few minutes later, Granny came out of the room with Cracker sitting on her shoulder.  I wondered how she had coaxed the parrot away from the marshal.  The bird had refused to leave the man’s side.  Then I noticed Granny hand her sunflower seeds.  In learning how to prepare za’atar, Granny had discovered sunflower seeds were Cracker’s favorite treat.

“Come on with me sweetheart, you need a proper breakfast.  And I know you’ll make too much of a mess if you eat it in a sick-room,” Granny told the parrot.1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

Sweetheart?  It used to be nasty bird!  I was astonished at Granny’s 180 degree change of attitude toward the parrot.  I guessed they discovered a common bond in their mutual affection for Moses Myrick.  That was something else I had yet to pin down — my grandmother’s history with the revenuer.  Granny Fanny had a lot of explaining to do as I saw it.

“Pip, Sweet-pea,” she said to me.  “I’m sorry.  I know I said I would teach you to cook braised pork today, but circumstance has made a liar of me.  There isn’t time to work on anything like that today.  I hope you don’t mind.  You’ve been getting plenty of practice with doing things spontaneously and making do with what’s on hand in an unfamiliar kitchen, since all these awful events took place.  That’s valuable experience too.”

Did I mind?  I almost sputtered out a bite of biscuit, but I managed to control myself.  These cooking lessons had not been my idea.  I had been inclined to stay with my friend Mona until my Pops had sent me to Savannah with Granny.  Mona the Movie Star is what we called my friend.  The circus magnate, John Ringling had offered Mona a try-out and training as a trapeze performer.  We were both invited to stay at the Ringling mansion, Ca’ d’Zan.  That gilded mansion was the bee’s knees.  Ca’ d’Zan was the cat’s pajamas; the berries!  It was the most amazing, extraordinary place I had ever seen.

1920s Judge HourglassWhile I was enjoying my time with my grandmother more than I expected, I had not wanted to leave Sarasota, Florida.  There had been a lot of drama and trauma surrounding my beau, Frankie.  I needed to be near my friends. I needed their support to get over it.  And what flapper in her right mind would pass up a free stay at Ca’ d’Zan?  However, Pops didn’t share that feeling.

“It’s not really that difficult,” Granny was saying, and I brought my mind back to the present.  “It just takes a while to fix.  After braising the meat, you just insert a fork into pork. If the fork comes out easily the pork is done.  Then you can keep boiling down the braising liquid and it will cook down to a glaze.”

I nodded as if that made perfect sense to me.  I wasn’t sure of the concept of braising, let alone making a glaze.  “That’s okay, Granny,” I said in a consoling tone.

I schooled my expression to be one of self-sacrifice and disappointment.  When Granny Fanny raised one eyebrow at me, I knew she saw through me.  Luckily she didn’t get the chance to say anything.  She was interrupted when Cracker abruptly launched from her shoulder and glided down the long building.  One end of the structure was connected to the Vales’ house by a breezeway.  I heard the door open and the click of canine toenails on the tile floor.paris Poodle postcard

Excited yapping ensued.  I heard Vincent Vale trying to quiet the miniature poodle named Cotton.  Then Cracker flapped back to us with a small stuffed toy in her beak.  I recognized it for the dog’s toy.  The parrot flew low, getting the little poodle to chase her for the toy.  The two actually seemed to be enjoying themselves and I couldn’t help laughing.

Vincent darted to the sick-room and closed the door to make sure the antics of the dog and parrot didn’t disturb the patient.  Cotton proved that she could pounce high enough to grab the toy.  She shook her head with the toy in her mouth.  With her beak free, the parrot chirped, “Clever girl!” apparently encouraging the poodle.

Cotton dropped the toy and set after the bird when Cracker made another pass.  The parrot led the poodle all around the room.  As the dog barked, the parrot squawked “Clever girl,” which got the poodle more enthusiastic by the minute.

Then the dog jumped onto the table where Hank laboriously set up the radio station.  Cotton careened into and over the equipment.  I heard Veronica’s voice in the distance and then she whistled for the dog.  Cotton apparently recognized discretion as the better part of valor and ran toward her mistress’s voice.

Hank was beside himself.  Static emanated from the radio.  All the effort he put into setting all the knobs and dials just so was probably wasted.  At least nothing was broken… except the plate of sausage and biscuits that he 1920 Radio Newswas eating.  Hank bent to pick up the mess, shaking his head.  I noticed Cracker in the corner with one of Hank’s biscuits in her foot as she held it and broke off little bites.  So I diverted attention away from her.  There was no point adding insult to injury on Hank.  But the silly bird dropped her prize and swooped back to the radio table.

The parrot cocked her head at the radio and the noise and whistled.  “Who’s your daddy?” she said with what was actually a questioning tone.  Then she bobbed her head excitedly.  “Fourandtwenty! Fourandtwenty!”

There was that phrase again.  Granny and I exchanged a look.  She put out her hand when Hank made to shoo the bird away from the equipment.  Hank was a quick study and seemed to realize there was more to the situation than he knew.

A voice came clearly amid the static on the radio.  Cracker must have heard it when we were all too preoccupied with show she and the dog had provided.  Granny handed her a sunflower seed with an expectant look on her face.  “Now sweetie, ‘four and twenty’ what’s that about?” she coaxed the bird.  “What else can you say?”

“Fourandtwenty,” Cracker repeated bobbing her head.

Granny handed her another sunflower seed.  “Clever bird.  What else can you say?” she encouraged.

For a second I thought I heard a loud burst of static from the radio. Then I realized it was laughter.  “Yeah, we were long gone before they ever got to the mill,” I heard the voice say clearly.1920 Home Journal Parrot

The word “mill” got our attention.  Mill as in Wetson’s Mill, where Dabney and the other policemen had gone to raid the bootleggers?  Everyone else turned in surprise toward the sound of the voice.  Everyone that is, except Granny Fanny.  She barely spared us a glance. She was intently focused on Cracker.  Granny nodded to the parrot and repeated, “Four and twenty?”  Then she gave her another seed.

Jokerswild,” the parrot said and shook her foot.  Somehow the motion seemed disdainful, though I couldn’t say why.

“Eight and five,” the voice from the radio began.  At first that puzzled me.  Suddenly I remembered Moses Myrick had said the gang had code names based on playing cards.  Then I realized the numbers were being used as names.  Not eight and five, but Eight and Five.  “Pick up the Bishop and Nine,” the voice said in a commanding tone.

A different voice replied.  There was more static and we couldn’t make out the words.  Hank Hertz frantically fiddled with the radio.  “Queen said—… for the shindig— … back to town.  … Couldn’t stop her—” the new voice said between bursts of static.

Hank gave another dial a twist, holding his breath.

Joan Crawford Queen of Clubs“Look we’re doing the best we can!” the second voice complained, and it came through pretty clearly.  “We’ll hear their radio if anything changes.  Queenie Wetson’ll kill us if we don’t do what she says.  The King ain’t no more scary than the Queen!”

“Just do it, or the King will have your heads,” the first voice threatened.  “Get over here now.”

I gasped.  “So the gangsters have been listening to the police on the radio?”

“I’ve got to tell them!” Hank said, meaning his fellow officers, and he reached toward the equipment.

“No!” I cried.  “We can’t let them know, that we know, that they know…” at that point I got tongue-tied with all the they knows and we knows, so I stopped and stretched my hands out as if to stop the young copper.

Then the first voice repeated, “Just do it.  Go to the King’s.  Now!”

Cracker whistled excitedly, “Kinghenry!  Fourandtwenty! Kinghenry!”

***

Video

Mexican pulled Pork (Carnitas)

(Video credit America’s Test Kitchen)

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Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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