Three Things Serial: 10 – Grandma, Big Feet, Woodpile

Enchantment… Doesn’t the word make you think of that harp-like sound effect? Of bright sunshiny magic, and unbridled potential?  No?  Maybe I’m feeling homesick then.  Today’s “three things” come to you from the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, courtesy of RC.

Remember, you can do catch-up reading at the Three Things Serial page.  Now, the next episode.

10.  Grandma, Big Feet, Woodpile

1920s Woman in DoorwayI was stunned by what had just happened.  For a moment I couldn’t think what to do.  Boris the Ballerina ran pell-mell into the night after a burglar, (or maybe something worse).  I knew one person had already been badly hurt, or possibly killed, that night back at the theatre.  Had that glint of metal been a gun?  A knife maybe?  Should I try to catch up with Boris, and what would I do if I did?  The other man had seemed pretty big.

In the instant it took for those questions to run through my head, Andy and Mona came running up to see what had happened.  They both looked frightened.  As I described the scene their eyes got wider.  And wider.  Andy the Astronaut, ever the reluctant hero, at least when Mona was around, bravely plunged past his fear.

“I’m going after them,” he proclaimed.  Then there was a heartbeat’s hesitation on his part.  However, he took a breath and started running in the direction I had pointed.

As Andy rounded the corner, I heard a bump-tumble-crash from the woodpile in back of our building.  A muffled “I’m okay!” followed the commotion, and the sound of Andy’s running feet began.

It took a moment for me to decide, because I didn’t want to intrude on Boris’ privacy, but I went upstairs to look at his apartment — I mean office.  The door was standing wide open.  I hesitated, and then went inside, Mona at my heels.  She seemed more than curious.  She was positively eager for a look inside the Russian’s home.  When I stepped over the threshold I gasped.  Everything that had a drawer had been ransacked.  Papers, clothing, photos, and books were strewn around the room.1920s Russian Nesting Dolls

A collection of Russian nesting dolls was overturned and disassembled.  Then I spotted a beautiful ceramic vase that looked like it had been deliberately broken against the corner of the table.  When I picked up the top half I realized that the vase had been made with a false bottom.  The bottom part had a stopper that secured a small opening.  I could see how it might be easier to put something inside it than to get it back out again.  It would have to be something quite narrow though.

Had Boris hidden something the strange vase?  And maybe the man who ransacked the place had gotten in a hurry and shattered the vase to get whatever out quickly?  But what and why?  I mean, what kind of valuable would fit?  Jewelry?  Or maybe… Jeepers!

I clutched my pocketbook.  I felt the bent key still inside.  But the guy couldn’t have been looking for the key, because it dropped from the getaway car.  But if it had been dropped by the old woman… maybe Boris also had a key to the same thing.  Whatever it might be.

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of male voices outside.  Mona and I exchanged a “were busted” glance.  We both felt guilty for going into Boris’ place without invitation, so we hurried quietly to the building’s entry foyer.  I recognized Andy first because the streetlight caught his glasses.  Boris was supported by Andy and another man — a large man with only one shoe.  Then I realized that man was Frankie.

Mona rushed to Boris to make sure he was unharmed, and backed away awkwardly when everyone noticed how much attention she was showering on the retired dancer.  He had not been attacked, but the chase was too much for his injured knee.  Andy said that he thought Boris also twisted his back when he tripped, chasing the burglar.

“Frankie, I thought you went home,” I said.  “And what happened to your shoe?”

“Oh I went back and got it,” Frankie said holding up the shoe.  “I just didn’t stop long enough to put it back on.”  When he saw my puzzled face he explained, “When I got home I saw a note from my cousin Flavio, asking me to go over to my grandma’s and help with something.  So I was headed that way when some jerk half ran into me.  Then Boris here charged up behind him.  I figured the first guy was up to no good.  But I’m not so fast.  Coach used to say my muscles slow me down.  Anyhow I knew I couldn’t catch the guy so I threw my shoe at him.”

I stood in mute amazement.  He threw his shoe at a thief?  Andy chimed in, “Yeah, beaned him good too!”  I tied him up and we left him there for the police.  Frankie went back inside to call the coppers to come and get him.”

Frankie held his shoe closer to me and I saw that there was blood on the heel where it must have hit the guy.

“Good thing I’ve got big feet!   I get them from my grandma,” Frankie said proudly.

Three Things Serial: 9 – Aspic, Empty Milk Bottles, Ice Cream

How different our food supply is from what it once was! A friend at work became very interested in the many unexpected things that lurk in our groceries.  She thought about serious questions, like “Where does it come from?” and “What goes into it?”  The answers were much more complicated than “From the grocery store” and “Seeds, sunshine, and rain.” It can be hard to run down the answers to those questions, and in looking you will often find the phrase “genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”

With its 1920’s setting, the characters in our Three Things Serial didn’t have to worry about such things. Food was simpler for them. Since this post is also a continuation of our story, I won’t delve further into the GMO topic.  However, here is a great link with lots of well-presented information.  It’s supplied by Laura in Virginia, who also gave me three old-fashioned-food “things.”

As always, you can do catch-up reading for the entire story at the Three Things Serial Story page.  And now another episode…

9.  Aspic, Empty Milk Bottles, Ice Cream

1920s Ice cream Flapper

Viola Dana, 1920’s Film Star

The coppers weren’t letting anybody inside the Nickelodeon Theatre, and there didn’t seem to be anything else for us to see there.  We loaded back into Andy’s jalopy and went for ice cream to kill some time.

I put the bent key carefully into my pocketbook while I listened to my friends discuss what had happened.  Mona hadn’t gotten a very good look.  About all Andy had seen was a commotion around the group of Russian dignitaries when the car paused beside them.  But Frankie, being the tallest in the group, had seen the white-haired woman get nabbed; pulled into the getaway car.  Andy, ever the screenplay writer, was coming up with some wild theories about the whole thing.  The Russian hadn’t said a word, but the more Andy speculated, the more worried “Boris the Ballerina” looked.

Within a few minutes we were all ordering our favorite sweet treats, unsettling thoughts pushed aside for the moment.  I commented that I wasn’t sure if I should get anything, since Frankie had brought me that yummy gelato earlier in the evening.  But what the heck!  Mona the Movie Star, who carefully watched her figure (though not as carefully as Andy the Astronaut watched it) was aghast at my appetite.  But she laughed it off.

“Honey, don’t worry.  You can make up for it tomorrow.  I’m going to make a nice tomato aspic.  You can come by for lunch tomorrow and share it with me,” she said.

I tried to look enthusiastic about Mona’s offer.  I hope I looked more optimistic than Boris.  He was positively peaked.  I suggested he get a Coca-Cola float — that should pep him up.  He agreed almost absently, but within a few minutes it seemed to be doing the trick.  Boris looked more like himself, and everybody was having a good time.

Later when we were all stuffed with ice cream and sodas and syrupy goodness, Andy dropped Frankie off at his place.  The fireman teased me that I still hadn’t read his palm, but he was a good sport about it.  Then the rest of us went back to our pseudo “office” homes.  (Who cared if we lived in what was supposed to be office space, as long as the rent was cheap!)

Andy pulled right up to the front door, and we got out of the Studebaker, Boris stopped in his tracks, looking up at his windows.  A light was on.  I knew he wouldn’t have left it that way.  He took a quick step toward the front door, but I grabbed his arm to hold him back.  There was definitely something bad going on in the Russian’s life, and I didn’t want to see him rush in and get hurt.

empty milk bottlesJust then Andy put the car into gear to go park it.  The Studebaker backfired.  I jumped.  Mona shrieked.  Boris whirled toward the sound.  The light went out in his apartment — I mean office.

I shoved Boris as hard as I could; pushing him into the shadows of some decorative bushes when the sound of running feet met my ears.  Then a man in dark clothes rushed past us.  He seemed to realize someone was there.  He gave a look over his shoulder in our direction, and that caused him to stumble over some empty milk bottles that Tim the Tailor had put outside.  When the man turned, the light caught something metal in his hand.  Was it a gun?

“Oh Applesauce!” I exclaimed as Boris broke loose from my grasp.  “Come back, I’m afraid he has a gun!”

However, Boris was already gone.

Three Things Serial: 7 – Bent Key, Empty Barrel, Torn Hem

Today’s “Three Things” are from Suki in North Carolina.  Among other things, she writes fan fiction.  Check out her site. I’m sure you’ll be entertained.

As always you can check out the full story (thus far), or catch-up if you’ve missed an episode, on the page dedicated to it, The Three Things Serial Story…And now let’s see where these three things take our characters…

Chapter 2

Bent Key, Empty Barrel, Torn Hem

MargaretYoung1921There was more commotion as the coppers went inside the Nickelodeon Theatre, nightsticks and guns at the ready.  We all stood taller, trying to see what was going on — all of us except Boris, that is.  He slumped down even further into the seat of Andy’s Studebaker.

“So, who got clipped?” Andy asked Frankie.  However, the fireman didn’t know who had been shot, or whether the person was wounded or dead.

Frankie spotted an empty barrel in the alley a few yards away and rolled it all the way to the car.  Then he lifted me up so I could stand on top of it for a better view of the action, though there wasn’t really anything to see.

I hopped down from the barrel so Mona could take a turn, but my skirt got caught on it.  I heard a little ripping sound and looked down in dismay at my torn hem.  “Oh applesauce!  This was my favorite outfit.”

Mona stooped down to inspect the damage and said that it didn’t look so bad.  “I bet Tim the Tailor can fix it in nothin’ flat,” she said, meaning another of our neighbors.  “Cheer up doll.  It’ll be okay.”  Then she took a safety pin from her pocketbook and made a passable repair in a jiffy.

When Mona finished I looked up to find all the boys staring at us.  Or rather at my legs, the police and the shooting were all but forgotten.  Even Boris had roused from his slump and got out of the Studebaker.  Honestly!  Men…  I cleared my throat meaningfully.  “What are you mugs lookin’ at?” I demanded and they made a big show of looking the other way.

Just then I heard the crack of “Chicago lightning” — gunfire and a lot of it, from inside the theatre.  A chair crashed through the big plate glass window in front and a man jumped through the shards.  He was dressed all in black and wore a hat, which made it hard to focus on him in the dim light.  He made a beeline toward the group of Russian dignitaries and grabbed that white-haired woman who was so rich looking.  A car from across the street suddenly roared up, and the man in black dragged the old woman into the car before it completely stopped moving.  Then it sped away.

The getaway car careened past us, mere inches away.  Mona jumped back with a shriek and Andy yelled angrily at it.  I heard a metallic ping and the streetlight glinted off something.  I moved to see what it was.  At first I thought Boris was following me, but he continued for several paces, staring in the direction the car went.  He had a pained expression on his face.

“You know her, don’t you?” I said and he turned back to me with eyes that were wide and questioning, but also fearful.  “The white-haired woman in the fox fur stole.  You know her.”

Boris didn’t answer.  He walked back to the Studebaker, and standing behind it stared at the very upset group of people and the police for a long moment.  Then he shook his head and looked down at the ground.

I sighed in frustration at his silence.  There was definitely something going on with him and this whole goofy mess. 1920s  Ben Key I almost forgot what I had been about to do… that metallic sound and the glint of light.  I bent down and spotted the source.  It was some sort of key.  I picked it up and turned it over in my hand.  It was a bent key and it was engraved with something, but it was too dark out for me to read the inscription.

 What mysterious words are engraved on the key?  Who is the white-haired woman?  Stay tuned…

Three Things Serial: 6 – Search, Cocoa, Fox

This episode features not just “three things,” but also a challenge from The Daily Prompt, “Life Line: You’re on a long flight, and a palm reader sitting next to you insists she reads your palm. You hesitate, but agree. What does she tell you?”  (It was posted Monday the 12th, if you’re looking for it.)  I’m twisting it to my own needs, leaving out what I can’t use for the story, but since Pip (aka Paisley) is a palm reader, I couldn’t resist.

Today’s “three things” are from Mary, an author in Michigan.  Be sure to check out her work.   As always you can check out the full story (thus far) on the page dedicated to it, The Three Things Serial Story

Three Things Serial Continued

6.  Search, Cocoa, Fox

Even though Boris said it wasn’t important, I knew that it was.  Whatever or whomever he saw had really shook him up.  His eyes searched the crowd and everything within sight.  His gaze lingered on a rich looking white-haired woman wearing a fox fur stole.  After a moment he seemed to satisfy himself about whatever it was, and he looked away.

1920s Police carWhen a police car rolled up, siren blaring, I realized that the crowd wasn’t just congregating near the theatre door.  Something had happened.  Boris must have picked up on that before the rest of us.  When the police car stopped, one of the coppers waved at Frankie and smiled.

“I know that guy.  I’ll go find out what’s going on,” Frankie said and ran off before anybody could say boo.

Even though Boris said he was fine, he looked pale and twitchy.  The strangeness had not escaped Mona’s notice.  She was always nice to Boris, but I thought she was a little condescending about it.  I knew she didn’t like his accent.  She’d said as much.  Sometimes I wondered if she had a crush on him, but at the same time she thought he wasn’t the “right sort” for her.  What I mean is she felt conflicted.  Before I knew it, Mona hurried over and made Boris sit back down inside the Studebaker.  He slumped down in the seat, and she put her hand to his brow.  Then she sort of looked around to see if anyone was paying any attention.  Yep.  She was conflicted alright.

Everyone was getting a little nervous.  So I decided to put my skills to use and distract them.  Well, you remember that I read palms, don’t you?  I’d never done a reading for Boris, so I offered to read his palm.  He smiled politely and agreed, though he seemed more interested in covertly peeping up over the car window at whatever was going on in front of the theatre.

I took his hand and placed it face up in my own.  Boris had a pretty interesting palm.  “Your Saturn line begins very late,” I said in puzzlement, because I knew Boris had been very successful in ballet.  Then of course he was injured, ending his career.  “I always assumed you must miss the ballet terribly… but do you?”

To my astonishment he gave me a sad little smile.  “It is not the dance I miss.”

“Your Saturn line tells me that you have not yet found your true vocation.  Your lifeline is strong.”  As I continued looking at has hand, I was more and more intrigued.  Boris was not at all what I expected, leastwise not based on his palm.  “And you tend to accept your lover totally, despite any eccentricities or imperfections.”

My interpretation brought teasing oohs and aahs from the rest of the group.  Mona looked particularly interested, and then she turned beet red.

Just then Frankie trotted up behind me.  “Hey, you promised to read mine,” Frankie protested, and nudged me playfully with his elbow.  “I’ll buy you some cocoa if you do.”  I whispered to the fireman that Boris seemed really upset and I thought he could use a distraction.

“Did you find out anything?” Andy wanted to know.  So did the rest of us.

“Sure did.  There was a group of Russian big wigs here in town for some business or other.  Then they came here after a fancy dinner.  And then one of ‘em got shot!”

“Oh how awful!” Mona exclaimed.  “Boris, is there any chance you know any of these people?  After all, you were a celebrity with the Ballets Russes.”

“No.  No, it would not be anyone I know,” Boris sad flatly in a tone that brooked no argument.  Then he turned away and looked off into space.

Three Things Serial: 4 – Gelato, Aerobic, Thunderstorm; and 5 – Slate, Waterfall, Devious

Our “interactive” story continues with two sets of “things” from amazing friend, Provincial Lady.  But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook — be sure to send me your three things!

I’m trying to control my editor-brain with this story, partly because the intention is to quickly write whatever comes to me the moment I get your “three things.” That said… I promise not to back-track to change things ever again, after this… Pip’s (aka Paisley) line of work is no longer private eye — palmistry adds a lot more elasticity to this exercise, which has to be very flexible. Also, “Mindy the Movie Star” is now Mona.  That name suits her much better, don’t you think?

As always, the full serial (to date) lives on the Three Things Serial page.

Three Things Serial, Continued

4:  Gelato, Aerobic, Thunderstorm

1920s Girl Hat 2

A teenaged Lucille Ball — Surprised?

Clouds gathered ominously, so twilight came early.  I worried that Frankie might be early too – and I wasn’t ready yet.  However, the face in the mirror winked at me, or I winked at it, whichever.  I smiled and applied some rose colored rouge to my cheeks, and “helped” my lips into a Cupid’s Bow with careful use of some plum colored lipstick.

I had run into Boris a few minutes earlier as he was finishing what he called his aerobic exercise.  He was limping some as he came up the stairs.  A bad knee injury caused him to give up his career with the Ballets Russes.  Before the sky had even clouded, Boris insisted that I take an umbrella with me to the movies.  He was sure there would be a thunderstorm.  “The knee,” he said, “it never lies.”

Just as I put my lipstick away I heard a man’s shoes pounding up the stairs.  Then came three quick knocks to my door, tap tap-tap.  I practically skipped across the room, and when I opened my “office” door I saw Frankie’s smiling mug.  He looked at the frosted glass inset on the door for a minute, at the new sign I was so proud of, “P.I. Peabody, Palmistry.”  The only other time he’d seen my door he was there as a fireman, because of a small fire in Mona’s kitchen down the hall.

“Hey, maybe you can read my palm some time.  My grandma reads tea leaves,” he said by way of a greeting.

“Hello to you too,” I said dryly.

Frankie looked abashed enough that I let him off the hook for his lack of manners.  Then he held out a brown paper bag that was damp with condensation, finally looking at me.  “Wow!” he said with quite a gratifying drop of his jaw.  “You look swell, Pip.”

“Why, you’re dudding up pretty well yourself, Frankie.  Come on in for a sec.”

When I looked at the bag he exclaimed, “Gosh, I almost forgot!  I brought you some of my grandmother’s gelato, but you’ll have to eat it now.  I mean if you want.  Uh, I mean…”

It was good to know that I could make him stutter.  I stepped into my little kitchenette and got two spoons.  “Only if you help me,” I said, digging my spoon into the softly frozen treat.  “Oh, holy Hannah, this stuff is delicious!”

5:  Slate, Waterfall, Devious

Everybody piled into Andy’s jalopy.  He deviously made a big deal of helping Boris, whose limp had become more pronounced, into the backseat.  Then he made over Frankie, being as he was our newcomer, seating him as well.  Naturally I’d be expected to sit with the fireman, since I’d brought him into the group.  So that left Mona to share the front seat with the little Astronaute-man, as he obviously intended.

Poor Andy, he was so transparent.  Mona the Movie Star rolled her eyes at me in an exaggerated way, but she was a good sport about it as he handed her up to the Studebaker’s running board and then the seat.  Andy tucked a slate-blue plaid blanket carefully around Mona’s lap.  She protested that the night was too warm for the blanket, but she didn’t remove it.  Then he carelessly tossed a matching blanket back to the rest of us, and nearly knocked off my hat.Studebaker

As the Studebaker puttered up in front of the Nickelodeon Theatre the bright lights reflected off the waterfall in the fountain.  The star billing for Fatty Arbunckle was mirrored in squiggly letters in the water.  Boris the Ballerina looked at the theatre entrance with a sharp intake of breath.

“You okay, Buddy?” Frankie the Fireman asked, having been told about the Russian’s bad knee.

Boris muttered that he was fine.  But that little gasp didn’t sound like pain to me.  It sounded more like shock laced with fear.  Boris looked intently at the people going inside and murmured in his accent,  “I thought I saw someone.  But is not important.”

Three Things Serial: 3 – Popcorn, Painting, Movies

Surprise — a mid-week post! Here’s another short installment of the Three Things Serial.  This time the “things” are courtesy of Sharon in Virginia.  You can view the entire story (so far) as it develops on the Three Things Serial Story page.

Next time, the three things will be from reader and friend Provincial Lady.  Remember — to keep the story going, send me three random “things.”  Just whatever pops into your mind.  You can put your three things in a comment.

Popcorn, Painting, Movies

A sheet of Andy’s carefully typed screenplay drifted to my feet.  I picked it up, thinking how he must love his work.  He had gathered up all his writing when he thought the building was on fire.  Andy really was a sweet guy, but he was head over heels for Mindy.  I looked at the sheet of paper.  His typewriter had a broken “M” so the letter had a blank streak across it.  However, it was easy enough to read the title, “A Princess of Mars, A Reimagining.”

250px-Princess_of_Mars_large“Hey Andy!” I called after him.  “Everybody’s going to see the new Fatty Arbuckle down at the Nickelodeon.  You wanna go?”

Andy looked pensively back at me.  “I really don’t have time for movies.  I need to repaint my apartment — I mean my office.”  He walked over to where I stood with Frankie, muttering to himself.  “I think I got ‘em all…”

I grinned and handed him the piece of paper that had floated to me.  He gave me a sheepish thank you and straightened his glasses.

“So’d you write this?” Frankie asked him, looking over my shoulder at the page.

“Yes and no.  Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the story awhile back.  I’ve turned it into a screenplay.  I know there would be all sorts of legal issues, but Mona would just make such a perfect Dejah Thoris, I just had to write it.”

Frankie seemed to be familiar with that stuff, so I let the two guys talk for a minute.  “Andy, there’s no point in painting your place ‘til all that smoke settles.  No more lame excuses.  Come on to the Nickelodeon with the rest of us.  Mona’s going too,” I added the deal maker.  “So you want to go, Astronaute-man?”

He brightened considerably.  “And how!  Okay, Flapper.  It’s a date.”  Then he blushed and stammered, all serious like, “My deadline is self-imposed, so I can change my schedule.”

“You know; if there’s room for one more…  Well… that would be a way for me to check out my potential new neighbors,” said Frankie the Fireman as if in sudden inspiration.  “I’d buy your popcorn.”

I gave him a quizzical look, just to mess with him.  “OK Fireman.  Put on your glad rags and come back around dark-30.”

Three Things Serial: 1 – Oscillating Fan, Scent, Cowboy

????????Here begins the “Three Things Serial Story.” Mary kicked things off with Oscillating Fan, but to keep things consistent right from the start, I needed to use three things.  So I took two more “things” from Mary’s last two blog posts: Scent and Cowboy.

The Three Things Serial Story

With “things” sent from readers everywhere

Chapter 1

Oscillating Fan, Scent, Cowboy

Tic, tic, tic, grunt.  Tic, tic, tic, grunt.  The noise chipped away at her preoccupied mind while she absently gazed at the quiet street below.  It was Sunday, so hardly anyone was out.  A little boy in a cowboy costume came around the corner.  He pushed himself against the brick wall of the building across the street and peeped back around its edge at his unseen playmate.  Then he jumped out with arms spread like a bear to startle his friend, and quickly disappeared out of sight.

Tic, tic, tic, grunt.  Tic, tic, tic, grunt.  The sound of the fan drew her attention away from the window.  Some would find the low repetitive noise hypnotic, perhaps even relaxing.  To her, however, the sound was becoming downright annoying.  A dust bunny skittered out from a corner, propelled by the breeze of the oscillating fan.  The stirring air brought a familiar scent to her nostrils and she looked toward the door.