The Characters, Murder at the Bijou

It’s hump day and I needed a boost to get me through the rest of the week.  I avoid midweek posts, but I thought this might give me the lift I need.  When this song popped into my head (again) I knew I had to share.  Because I’m getting ready, ready, ready for the takeoff!  What I mean is the launch of Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.

It’s a Roaring Twenties culinary mystery.  It was spontaneously written as a “pantser” serial here at this blog.  Everything, event, and character in the story was inspired by things or ingredients the readers of this blog sent.  Now, as I’m closer and closer to takeoff I wanted to show you my concept of the characters.

Studebaker blue 1920s

Cast of Characters

PipBlue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer


The Three Things
gave us Pip (Paisley Idelle Peabody), the narrator of both story-lines. I was so fond of Pip, a flapper and aspiring “modern woman,” that I kept her around for The Three Ingredients. I added her grandmother, Granny Phanny, and the fledgling catering business so that we could have the culinary mystery theme.  The rest of the story is inspired by your ingredients.

The moment I stumbled upon a photo of a very young Lucille Ball, I imagined the voice of grown-up Lucy as Pip, telling the stories of her youth.

Granny Phanny

Margaret Sanger as GrannyPhanny Irene Peabody.  Granny is actually a “Pip” too.  Her given name was Phanny Irene, and when she married into the Peabody family her initials became P.I.P.  

I never found a photo that seemed like Phanny to me.  I only had a vague image of her in my mind, a woman with delicate features, but a backbone of steel. However, in a photo of Margaret Sanger, I saw Granny’s kind heartedness, firm resolve, and spunk.

From this point, I’ve listed the characters in order of their appearance in the story.

Alastair Wong

Sessue_Hayakawa_as AlastairThe very first ingredient (geoduck) was the inspiration for Alastair Wong.  The Wongs immigrated to the United States from England, and Alastair has a faint British accent.  Neither he nor his parents had ever been to China, though they dreamed of visiting and faithfully passed down family recipes used at Wong’s Chinese, their restaurant. Alastair is a talented businessman and chef.

Long time followers of this blog will recall that there are two Alastair Wongs.  The first one  you meet is the younger. Later, in Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, you meet his grandfather, Alastair Wong the elder.

I had a small crush on Alastair, so his prolonged absence during the serial should show you that it really is guided by your ingredients.    :o)  

I think a vintage photo of Sessue Hayakawa could be Alastair — if I could find one of him in a less somber, brooding mood. Alastair certainly has a serious side but he also has a beautiful, ready smile.

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Arabella Wong1920s Vogue red hat

Alastair’s mother, Arabella also appeared in Episode-1 and she is mentioned a few times afterward. However, the ingredients haven’t led to a larger part for her… At least they haven’t yet. Only the ingredients can say!

A vintage Vogue magazine cover made me think of Arabella’s graceful elegance, though there has been little opportunity to describe her.

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Byron and/or Bradley BinghamtonNiven as Binghamton

The Binghamton brothers are actually “walk on” parts.  However, when I started looking for character images, I wasn’t sure where the ingredients might take them. So I’ve included them anyway.

Byron is the owner of the Bijou Theatre. That setting is where our storyline began, when “the dead man” was found.  Bradley Binghamton, Byron’s lookalike brother is seen much later.  They were minor characters, but necessary to the story just the same.  Something tells me that there might be some sadness in the history of the brothers, and this shot of David Niven in “The Bishop’s Wife” could be either of the lookalike brothers.

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Cracker Jack DaddySpeakeasy_Stories-July

Jack Daddy was a minor character who was fundamental to the storyline. His nickname was Cracker Jack because he was a skilled safecracker and a mobster.  Maybe he was not 100% bad if he was Cracker the Parrot’s “daddy.”  However, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

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vintage bunnyCinnamon Bun

When I received “cinnamon” as an ingredient we got Cinnamon Bun, a Flemish Giant Rabbit with reddish fur.  You recently saw his back-story in the vignette, Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit.  The veterinarian, Vincent Vale gave him to Granny Phanny. She adores the oversized bunny, and so does Cracker the Parrot, who often brings Cinnamon Bun treats.

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Dabney Daniels

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adWe also meet Detective Dabney Daniels of Savannah’s finest. The moment I saw a vintage ad for Arrow shirts, I had an image for Dabney. He has known Granny Fanny for some time, and helps her with heavier work around her cottage. Dabney seems to take an interest in Pip, letting her ride along for part of the murder investigation and work at cataloging evidence. Is Granny trying to push the two together?

Detective Daniels has been patient with Cracker, even thought the parrot bit his ear. He shows concern for Granny, and for his fellow law enforcement officers. Though he seems emotionally distant to Pip’s way of thinking.

Vincent Vale

Christopher Timothy as Vincent ValeOur veterinarian is Vincent Vale.  He has broad knowledge and training for a veterinarian of that era, including acupuncture.

Vincent seems like a gentle soul. He rescued both Cinnamon Bun and later Cracker.  Together, he and his wife Veronica built an impressive medical facility for animals of all types.  Who else would I imagine as Vincent Vale but “All Creatures Great and Small” actor, Christopher Timothy.

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Cracker

Parrot in flightThe ingredients included “graham cracker” and of course that gave us Cracker the parrot.  Granny Phanny resisted liking that “nasty bird” for quite a while.  But Cracker’s unexpected devotion to the injured Marshal Moses Myrick won Granny over.

Cracker is a most unusual and clever bird. The one thing we can expect from this parrot is the unexpected.  Cracker learned many things related to the various mysteries in this storyline through her association with Cracker Jack Daddy, her late owner. When Vincent Vale examined her, he said Cracker was about 40 years old, so we can only guess at the scope of the parrot’s life experiences.

She definitely has opinions about the humans in the story. Cracker took a dislike to Dabney Daniels, perhaps associating him with the death of her “daddy.” But she loved Moses Myrick and the rabbit, Cinnamon Bun from the very start. It took her a while to win Granny Phanny’s affection, but she did. Cracker seems to like Pip and the poodle, Cotton. And she at least tolerates Hank Hertz.  However she shakes her foot as an expression for her disdain of “The Joker.”

Veronica Vale

1920s woman scientist-microscopeThe pantser writing of this serial also brought us the wife of Vincent Vale.  Mrs. Veronica Vale is an accomplished medical doctor and surgeon who has traveled widely. She is the most accomplished woman Pip has ever met. At Pip’s determination to be a “modern woman” Granny introduced her to “the real deal.” Veronica’s intelligence is matched by her good nature and sense of humor. Both the doctors Vale are caring, generous people.

She performed emergency surgery on Marshal Myrick after he was ambushed by the bootleggers. Vincent is a veterinarian, rather than a “people doctor” but he proved his skill too during the operation. Granny revealed yet another skill, acting as surgical nurse.

Marshal Moses Myrick

Barrie Craig adventuresOne of the ingredients was “peas”… and we got Moses Myrick.  Go figure, right?  That’s just how my brain works. Pip was distrustful when she unexpectedly learned that he’d known her grandmother for a long time, and apparently quite well. So her first reaction to Marshal Myrick was less than positive, “He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little eyes he had.  Green eyes… like little peas!

I saw an ad for a vintage detective story, and thought the man could easily be Moses Myrick. He wins Pip over, and Cracker likes him right away. He seems to have an affinity for the parrot… and a history with Granny Fanny.

Queenie WetsonJoan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

The Queen of Clubs is introduced halfway into the story.  I was looking for a vintage queen of clubs card, when I found celebrity playing cards. Guess whose picture was on the queen of clubs?  Joan Crawford. From that moment, there was no other choice for Queenie Wetson.

Hank Hertz

Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-BurtA reader wasn’t thinking when leaving ingredients for me. I faced a challenge. I try not to put restrictions on your ingredients, but one of the items was microwave. I knew it was meant as the microwave ovens we use today, but as I suspected, my research showed they had not been invented in the 1920’s.  However, scientists had long known about microwaves. That gave us a new character, Hank Hertz.

Our Hank is the fictional grandson of Heinrich Hertz, who proved the existence of radio waves back in the late 1880s. So the “microwave” ingredient gave us Hank, who is a wizard with the police radio. It also led to more layers in the mystery — Since the gangsters were using  open radio transmissions (microwave brought us to radio waves) they used code names.

As I visualized Savannah’s youngest policeman I thought of a TV actor who could easily play Hank — a slightly younger version of Hugo Johnstone-Burt who played Hugh Collins on “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”

Daisyvintage queen of the may

In a planned (or technically correct) story I would not add new players so late in the tale.  However, the spontaneity unexpectedly led me to new characters — including Daisy.  Also called The Dainty Dish, Daisy was the second Mrs. Henry Kingston. Her story was a local legend, according to which she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but Kingston fell madly in love with her. Her story line continued into the next serial.

Mr. Farceur

The domineering major domo was also introduced late in the story.  At first I saw him as a stodgy old Black Butler 2man… but then the ingredients suggested that he could be an interesting complication to the story.  That’s also when his name came along.  Maybe his name, Farceur, is significant, or maybe it’s a red herring — only the ingredients know for sure!

For a moment he had been a nameless, faceless butler. When a classic anime character pinged into my mind, I indulged myself with the image of “Black Butler” Sebastian Michaelis.  How could I resist?

***

So there you have it — most of the characters for the soon to be “book-ized” Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Wednesday!

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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Back to a Pug in the Kitchen — Granny Phanny & the Giant Rabbit

Update

I finally got around to making Suzanne’s “Creamy Spring Turnip Soup.”  I know anything from A Pug in the Kitchen is going to be delicious, but I confess to being lukewarm about turnips.  I say that for the non-turnip lovers in the crowd.  I always take shortcuts in cooking, so I know my versions won’t be as good.  So imagine my pleasure when, even in my clumsy hands this soup was stand-up-and -cheer delicious! 

Preparing to Launch…

This spring I plan to book-ize the second serial story, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients I.   As I get ready for the takeoff, I’m doing a few collaborative posts with people who blog other topics — combining my stories with their respective talents.  Since Murder at the Bijou is a culinary mystery, I am particularly happy to do another joint post with the fantastic chef, Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen.

The post is already live at her blog.  Click here.  I appreciate those of you who have already left comments there.  pug memorial candle

First, here’s Suzanne to introduce our special purpose with this collaboration.  Go ahead, Suzanne…

Another delightful installment from the joint collaboration with writer/author extraordinaire Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, we planned this post to occur in March, Women’s History Month.  We’ve come a long way baby and every month, week, and day should celebrate women and our contribution to society, this country, our families, and communities. I am woman hear me roar.  Well that is a little cliché I know, but we are empowered and accomplished and strong and proud of how far we have come.  It amazes me that at one time women didn’t even have the right to vote.  In some countries women are still considered objects of disdain, almost subhuman, and of less importance than their male counterparts.

I also am including a recipe that I posted years ago for a spring turnip soup.  You may turn up your nose when you read “turnips” but honestly this soup is delicious.  I use Hakurai turnips, which appear late winter and early spring at the local green markets. They are crisp, sweet, and mild — making an outstanding soup!  The soup is topped with some crumbled bacon and the turnip greens, which are sauteéd in the bacon fat. For vegan and vegetarian option all you do is eliminate the bacon and use vegetable broth or water. For vegan option of course you would not use the cream but you can sub a non dairy option of your choice.

Creamy Spring Turnip Soup With Wilted Greens And Bacon

(Bacon is optional for my vegetarian friends)

Serves 4-6 depending on serving size

4 heaping cups turnips peeled and quartered (Use the small spring turnips if possible)

1 potato peeled and quartered (I used Yukon Gold and it’s Optional to use a potato)

2 cups leeks (cleaned well and sliced) or use a medium size onion or 2 shallots

4 1/2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or water)

2 tbs butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (optional)

4-6 slices bacon

Turnip greens cleaned VERY well

In heavy sauce pan heat a little olive oil, add the leeks or onion or shalot and sweat, cook just until tender don’t brown. Add the turnips and potato, now add the liquid (broth or water). Cover and cook until the turnip and potato are tender. Let cool for about 30 minutes and blend either in your blender or use the immersion blender. Note: If using an immersion blender remove some of the liquid you don’t want the soup too thin, you can always add it back in. Add the butter and cream and season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Fry the bacon until crisp, remove from the fry pan and add the greens to the bacon fat, season with salt and peppper and saute until the greens are tender and wilted.

To Serve:  Garnish the soup with the wilted greens and crumbled bacon.

suffragettes-in-white

When I asked Suzanne for an ingredient to use in a story for this collaborative post, right away she said turnips.  Every time I hear that word I think of the “Cinnamon Bun” character from my serial, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-1 (which I mentioned at the beginning).  That story is in the timeline right after The Three Things Serial Story.

Many of you are familiar with my flapper character, Pip.  However, this time the story is told from the point of view of Pip’s grandmother, Phanny Irene Peabody.  (Yes, Granny was also a Pip.)  I thought that was appropriate since March is Women’s History Month.  Granny lived during the height of the suffragette era, and she was a woman to speak her mind.  It’s also something of a back-story for Cinnamon Bun.  I hope you enjoy the story as much as Suzanne’s recipe!  Although that’s a lot for me to live up to…

Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit

“The only true woman is a pious, submissive wife and mother, concerned exclusively with home and family!”

Even more irksome than the words themselves was the fact that they were uttered by a woman.  I was glad that I had already left the building.  Otherwise I might have lost my temper.  What business did anyone with that opinion have at a women’s meeting in the first place?

suffragettes-marching

In 1920, Georgia was the first state to “reject” the Nineteenth Amendment, which assured women the right to vote.  It was two years later before women actually got to vote in my home state.  Long after that, we were still suffragettes, working for equal rights.  We still wore suffragette white to our meetings.

That intolerable statement was immediately followed by the resounding crack of a slap across the speaker’s face.  I cringed, knowing full well who had likely delivered the smack.  I turned on my heel and hurried back inside.  Veronica Vale was no meek little lamb.  She was a force of nature when her righteous wrath was incurred.  I tried to make my way through the pandemonium to my friend.

1920s woman scientist-microscopeBy the time I got to Veronica, I could hear police sirens.  A quick look around told me several attendees had slipped quietly away, including the woman who spoke the words that started the trouble.

“It was all planned,” I muttered.  “That bunch wanted to make trouble from the minute they asked to join.”

Not much later a handful of us — enough to make an example, but not so many as to cause the coppers much trouble — were hauled down to the police station.  A group of men stood laughing and cat calling while we were hustled outside.  My cheeks heated in a blush.

Detective Dabney Daniels of the Savannah Police got a tip that something was going to happen.  By the time the paddy wagon reached the station, he was already diffusing the situation.

“Miss Phanny,” he began with a smirk and a shake of his head.  “I wish I could say I was surprised to see you,” he told me before turning to Veronica Vale.  “Mrs. Vale your husband is already here.  You’ll be released into his custody.”

I knew that “custody” statement wouldn’t sit well with Veronica.  She was a doctor and a scientist, not some man’s property.  No matter how good the man.  For years Veronica Vale had worked at a hospital in England called Clapham Common.  It had an all-female staff.  She retired and returned to Savannah.  Then she met the widowed Vincent and partnered with him in his veterinary practice.

Before she could complain, I blurted out my puzzlement.  “Dabney, how could you know…?”

“I’d like to claim powers as a mentalist, Miss Phanny.  However, Dr. Vale had just arrived to pick up someone else,” the handsome detective explained as chaos erupted elsewhere in the station.JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar ad

Detective Daniels quickly excused himself and walked toward the sounds of people shouting.

Veronica gave a downright evil chuckle.  I looked a question at her and she laughed out loud at the expression on my face.

“Phanny Irene Peabody,” she said.  “You are indeed a Pip.  I suppose you’ve never noticed the way that young man looks at you.  He probably doesn’t care a whit for the turnips  you’re always giving him, or the meals he gets in return for fixing one thing and another at your cottage.  Tsk-tsk.  Phanny, that young copper is smitten with you.”

“Veronica, don’t be ridiculous.  You couldn’t be more wrong.  Dabney is just a goodhearted young man,” I told my friend most emphatically.

Another crashing sound and men shouting prevented her from talking more of that nonsense.  How absurd.  I was old enough to be that boy’s mother.  We might enjoy one another’s company, but there was nothing more to it.

“Hi, Honey.  Are you hurt?” Vincent Vale asked his wife as he skidded to a stop.  As Veronica shook her head he turned to me.  “Mrs. Peabody, are you well?” he greeted me politely.Christopher Timothy as Vincent Vale

Veronica assured her husband that neither of us had come to any harm.  I noticed Vincent held some kind of harness.  There was more shouting, and then the veterinarian pelted away toward the commotion.

A moment later we heard Vincent shout.  “Got ‘em!”

However there was another crash.  I heard dull thumping noises.  The sound was quite rhythmic, and coming closer.  Veronica and I exchanged puzzled looks.

I stuck my head around the corner and gasped loudly.

“I must be seeing things.  Else I’m just plain zozzled,” I murmured.

Veronica craned her neck to see what had stunned me.

“Well horsefeathers!  In all my born days…” she began.  “A Flemish Giant.”

“Flemish?  Bushwa!” I exclaimed.  “You’re hallucinating too,” I mumbled.  “Somebody spiked our tea a little too much at the women’s meeting.  Or else I’m looking at a cinnamon colored rabbit that’s three feet tall, sitting on his haunches.”

I crouched down, befuddled.  The big bunny hopped over to me and nuzzled my hand.  I scratched between his impossibly long ears.  I helped hold the big bun still as Vincent got the harness around him.

“This big ole boy decimated Godfrey Gilley’s garden.  Dug up every turnip he had,” Vincent commented.  “When the big bun headed toward his grocery store, Godfrey was so upset that he called the police saying there was a bear in his yard!” the veterinarian laughed.  “Trouble is, I’m not sure what we can do with him.  We’ve taken on so many animals lately,” Vincent admitted, but cast a pleading look at his wife, who gave a resigned sigh.

My face ended up against the giant rabbit’s soft hair as Vincent adjusted the harness.  I found that I didn’t want to move.  My fingers sank into the plush fur.

“I’ll take him,” I spoke up, and questioned my own sobriety again.  “Oh good lord, but I need a hutch for him.”Vintage rabbit driving

I hadn’t noticed that Detective Dabney Daniels was standing beside us.

“Don’t worry, Miss Phanny.  I can take care of a rabbit hutch in a jiffy,” Dabney said.  “Even one big enough for this miscreant,” he added with a grin.

Veronica elbowed me sharply in the ribs.  She gave me an I told you so look and winked.

“He’s sweet on you,” she whispered into my ear.  “So what if he’s younger.  He’s a damn fine figure of a man!”

“Absolutely no!” I told her so fiercely that everyone looked askance.

Fortunately I was spared from an explanation because of Veronica’s loud bark of laughter.

The Vales offered to drive me home.  I got into the automobile with Vincent and Veronica, and of course the rabbit.  Dabney bent down and promised to come by to start on the rabbit hutch that evening.  Veronica wriggled her eyebrows at me.  I gave her a withering look, then turned and smiled at the detective as I thanked him.

“What was all that about?” Vincent wanted to know as we drove away.

Veronica had no inhibitions about sharing her embarrassing speculations to her husband, despite my denial. 

“It simply will not do!” I told her, my patience close to its end.

“She means that dear,” Vincent said.  “You might want to leave it alone before your sense of fun hurts your friendship.”

“You’re right,” she agreed with a sigh.  “I’m sorry Phanny.  I just want to see you happy.”

“I am perfectly happy as I am.  Besides, I told you that my granddaughter, Pip, is coming to live with me.  I’ll have my hands full, teaching her to cook,” I reminded my friends.  “I can’t wait for you to meet her.”

The End

***

Thank you all for visiting. If you’ve already been to this post at A Pug in the Kitchen then double-thanks.  Happy St. Patrick’s weekend.  I’m still wearing my green!

St Patricks Day Vintage

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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 17

Orpheus Smoky Mary float Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Locomotive. Happy we’re back on track & ready to dance (Click here)

Back on Track

Last time I hit a bump in the road (or rather the railroad tracks).  However, the Victorian locomotive is back on schedule and running at full steam.

John W. Howell gave us the very first set of “things” to guide the plot of this pantser serial.  Happily later he sent a second set of three, which I’ve held in reserve.

You’ve heard about John’s great book, My GRL, and the first chapter is available for preview at his blog. But what you might not know about is a really cool radio interview he did.

Except for two second sets of “things,” the serial’s cupboards were bare. There was nothing to drive the train… (A second set of three things was also sent by real estate professional and cooking blogger Suzanne DeBrango.  Those will inspire the plot and setting for Episode-18.)

Alastair Wong the elder was a very minor character in both Three Ingredients serials. The set of “P” words John provided drove this plot to a connection with a different character from Three Ingredients 2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Those of you who were around for that story will be pleased to see this connection.

When I started “decorating” it seemed to me that the Victorians had a particular liking for mushrooms. If you think you see a theme in this episode, you are not mistaken.

The steam engine has reached the station.  All aboard!

From last time…

Cornelis held out his harmonic tuner.  A faint current of green streamed from the tuner all the way down the hill to the washing machine.  The machine wobbled, gurgled, and creaked.  The wringer started to turn again, the magic pulling the tablecloth on through as we watched.

Alchemically inscribed phosphorescent lettering appeared on the tablecloth.  The Dutchman shined the light on the cloth as it finished rolling from the mangle. 

It was in large glowing green script.  I read the word aloud, 

“Daddy.”

17.  Pistachio, Penne Pasta, Porcini

Mushrooms Hat VictorianMy first thought wasn’t exactly a thought.  All cogitation was clogged in a bottleneck of befuddled ideas.  The first thought that got through the blockage was relief that Copper was up at the pavilion.  It would be awful if the supernaturally printed word, Daddy, got her hopes up for no good reason.

I wasn’t feeling too optimistic myself, and to be honest, I was losing my sense of trust. And that single, magically written word brought out all my suppressed concerns.  As if it wasn’t bad enough that I experienced occasional twinges of distrust for Ignatius Belle (who turned out to be Copper’s half-brother), it also bothered me that I had begun having doubts about Copper’s father, Calvin Hixon.

Granted, if Hixon was abducted, he probably had no chance to leave a warning or reason.  But what if he left of his own accord?  The notion was so awful — had he willingly left his daughter with no explanation, and worse left the child on her own?

Other than his unfortunate money situation, Calvin Hixon appeared to be utterly brilliant.  Could the circumstances be more complicated than an abduction?  Did Hixon stand to somehow see a financial gain from the situation?  Could he be involved in his own disappearance?  Oh surely not, I told myself.  I’m over-analyzing things.Alice Mushroom Victorian

Most often the simplest answers are the correct ones.  But was running away as simple as being abducted…?  Had Calvin Hixon suddenly run away from his adversaries, perhaps thinking he would lead them away from his daughter, thereby keeping her safe?  I’m still over-analyzing, I admonished myself.

“Felicity,” I heard my name and realized that Cornelis had called it more than once while I pondered the unpleasant thoughts about Calvin Hixon.

“Do step back,” the alchemist told me.  “Something unexpected might happen,” he said as he reached into that supernatural void through which he sometimes fetched things.

“Unexpected?” I said sardonically, knowing how often Cornelis’ tricks tended to go awry.

To my surprise he produced the long map we had been looking at on the terrace.  The area on which he had used the harmonic tuner still gave off a greenish glow.  However, the phosphorescent script “Daddy” on the table cloth had begun to dim.  Cornelis noticed that with a frown.  Hurriedly he placed the map atop the cloth.

He held up the harmonic tuner and gave it one sharp clear ring.  The tiny ping of a sound reverberated and grew.  I felt the vibration at the base of my spine.  I could feel the sound spreading outward all around us.  In the distance the big gong in front of the pavilion gave a mighty boom, the volume of which was magically transported into our midst.  I put my hands over my ears, involuntarily squeezing my eyes shut.

Cautiously, I opened one eye.  The map was copied onto the tablecloth.  At first the drawings of topography overlaid the word “Daddy,” but then the script blazed through the map.  The word shone with eye-searing chartreuse light, before stabilizing and diming to a flat pistachio green.

***

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

Kinkaku-ji Temple Sunset

I don’t know if it was a meteorological effect or if it was residual magic from the previous night, but when I got up the next morning, the sky above Alastair Wong’s home blazed with yellow clouds at sunrise.  No wonder they called it the Golden Pavillion, I thought.

Cornelis said he wanted to get an early start, but judging by the activity of the household staff, I suspected they were always up at that hour.  As I admired the sunrise, the alchemist drove up in the little steam engine.

Mushroom swing Victorian girlsIt didn’t seem like there could be enough room, but Cornelis, Copper, Alastair, and I all managed to get on the road locomotive.  To my surprise, Victoria, who was so taken with Copper, insisted on coming along.  I wouldn’t have thought one more person, not even a tiny woman like Victoria, could fit on the locomotive… and she carried a large picnic basket too.  Yet somehow the tiny woman and the big basket managed to fit.  When I saw the hint of a green aura surrounding the alchemist I understood how the group of us managed to get onboard.  One of his tricks had made room for everyone.

We would part company with Alastair and Victoria when we reached the Pacific.  Wong would take the road locomotive back to his pavilion estate for safekeeping, while Copper, the alchemist, and I continued our journey.

I looked a question at the basket Victoria carried.  The night before, all the noise and vibrations from the harmonic tuners had given me a headache — and I still had it.  So I was probably frowning fiercely.  Victoria looked a bit uneasy.

“It will be past time for a meal before we reach the ocean.  Copper is a growing girl and must eat,” the tiny woman said with a sharp nod that would have settled any row.  I tried to reign in my smile, because I truly did take her seriously.Mushroom ad Victorian

“Besides,” she turned and spoke to Cornelis in a flirtatious tone that took me completely by surprise.  “You will love what I’ve done with the porcini mushrooms you mentioned earlier,” she added, and the Dutchman’s eyebrows shot up toward his hairline.

“Ah yes,” the Dutchman sighed.  “Porcini are God’s great gift to humanity, a mushroom delicate enough to flavor a sauce, yet vigorous enough to stand up to a grilled steak.”

Really…, I thought.  Should he encourage the tiny woman by flirting?  And Could Victoria actually be attracted to Cornelis?  The idea seemed not merely imaginative and impractical, but just plain impossible.  I scratched my earlobe as the idea took root.  Then I had the wicked thought that I’d like to see an argument between Victoria and Cornelis.  The Dutchman would surely get his comeuppance.

“What are you smirking about?” Cornelis asked quietly.

“Oh?  Did it seem so?  It was just a bit of indigestion,” I said with no attempt to hide my expression.

Victoria held tightly to Copper’s hand as the steam engine barreled toward the ocean.  The tiny woman’s eyes were huge with astonishment for the speed at which we traveled.  However, it was clear that she possessed a fierce determination.  She would not have gone back if the chance was offered.

***

Burrell Road Locomotive

The sun was directly overhead when Cornelis slowed the road locomotive.  We were on high ground overlooking a blue river.  Below I could see a collection of log cabins of some sort.

“Look, it’s a fort!” Copper exclaimed.

“Have we really journeyed so far so fast?” Alastair Wong said in a tone of amazement.

“What do you mean?” I queried.

“That is Fort Clatsop,” Alastair explained though I looked at him blankly.  “It was built by the explorers, Lewis and Clark and their expedition.  They spent a difficult winter there before getting back on their way.”

“And they were hungry, you may be sure,” Victoria interjected, causing Alastair to chuckle as she pulled out the large picnic basket.  “That is a fate we shall not share with the explorers,” she said to our oohs and aahs as she opened the basket.

The woman surely could not have a single drop of Italian blood in her veins, but she laid out a feast worthy of any great Italian chef.

Mushrooms Victorian ad 2“Dear Victoria!” Cornelis exclaimed and bowed.  “This is a feast worthy of the 15th-century legend, Maestro Martino de Rubeis!”

“Who?” I couldn’t help asking, even though I knew my question would meet with derision from the alchemist.

Cornelis put on a mournful face and shook his head, muttering about my lacking education.  So naturally I had to tweak his nose, so to speak.  “Oh, did you know him then?” I made my question a playful taunt.

The Dutchman narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips.  “The 15th-century, the fourteen hundreds I remind you — that was quite before my time, as you well know.  I wasn’t even born until the year 1572,” he said and continued without missing a beat.  “Maestro Martino was a culinary expert unequalled in his field at the time.  He was quite the celebrity.  He was the chef at the Roman palazzo of the papal chamberlain, the Patriarch of Aquileia.  The Maestro Martino was called the prince of cooks,” Cornelis lectured.

Then he wriggled his bushy blonde eyebrows.  “So of course I did not know the Maestro in the fourteen hundreds,” he said and paused briefly.  “I did, however, meet him during his cursed afterlife.”Vintage kitchen bouquet ad

Though I knew I should not encourage Cornelis, I took his bait yet again.  “Cursed? How so?” I asked.

“The poor soul pissed off the Pope.  Enough said.  Please pass the porcinis,” the alchemist said.

That naturally prompted animated questions from everyone.  Cornelis loved to have an audience and he told the tale of the cursed chef and his acquaintance with him most vividly while we enjoyed Victoria’s Italian feast.

 

Menu

Antipasti

Warm Mediterranean Olives with rosemary and lemon zest

Insalata de Compo: Mesclun salad with cherry tomatoes

Primi

Penne Alla Vodka:  Penne pasta with tomato, cream, and vodka sauce

Risotto Ai Porcini:  Risotto with pecorino cheese, porcini mushroom and fresh basil

Secondi

Salmone in Padella:  Pan-seared salmon filet

Menu credit:  Scottadito.com

 

Needless to say, we were all quite pleasantly stuffed.  Alastair lit a beautifully carved pipe.  I faintly heard Victoria humming what I suspected was a nursery song from her home, as Copper rested her head in Victoria’s lap.  I was feeling rather sleepy in the sunshine myself.  Cornelis looked infinitely far away in thought as he toyed with a last spoonful of penne pasta in his plate.

“What’s on your mind, Dutchman?” I intruded on his thoughts.

“The next leg of our journey,” he replied, still examining the pasta.  “I need to summon our transportation.”Mushroom faries Carrousel

He picked up a piece of penne and held it up to his eye, looking at Copper through the pasta cylinder.  Copper giggled.  I told the Dutchman that he was a bad influence.

“Copper, could I see your mystic monkeys bell?” he asked the girl.

“Why not use the harmonic tuner that is more familiar to you?” Alastair asked quietly in a voice edged with concern.

I was in agreement with Alastair Wong in his newfound concern about Cornelis and his tricks.

“You are right,” Cornelis told him.  “Ordinarily, in the working of magic it is best use implements to which one has become attuned.  However, in this case the harmonic tuner that Copper has always thought of as her mystic monkeys bell was a gift from Daddy.  And that is whom we hope to find.  So the more elements relating to him, the better.”

Copper reverently handed Cornelis the second harmonic tuner.  A detailed carving of the fabled three mystic apes — see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil surrounded the bell.  He looked down at the scraps of pasta in his plate and arranged three pieces of penne end-to-end.  Then the alchemist held the harmonic tuner over them and flicked the bell with his fingernail.  It gave off a sharp ping sound.

Chicks Mushroom VictorianThe pasta glowed greenly.  The aura intensified until I had to shield my eyes.  When the supernatural light abated, a jade flute lay where the penne had once been.

The alchemist picked up the flute and played a trilling series of notes.  Then he abruptly stood.  “Shall we?” he asked, and we gingerly made our way down the steep hill to the water’s edge.

Once there he piped the same notes again.  Cornelis looked at the water unconcernedly.  I looked at him impatiently.

“I don’t see anything.  What’s supposed to be happening?” I wanted to know, but the infuriating man ignored me.  “Should you do it again?” I asked motioning to the jade flute.

The Dutchman’s mouth twitched to one side in a dissatisfied way.  “Perhaps I should…” he speculated.

As Cornelis raised the flute to his lips the water started to bubble and gently swirl.  He lowered the flute without playing another note.  He wriggled his bushy eyebrows and grinned.

“You’re going to love this,” he told Alastair.Mushrooms Victorian christmas

Wong looked somewhat apprehensive.  After all, he certainly had reason to be concerned, after the wayward alchemy caused his washing machine to break down the storage building door, and do assorted other damage at his hot spring.  But he quickly caught the contagious gleam of excitement in the Dutchman’s eyes.

The movement of the water became intense.  Something was rising to the surface.  Involuntarily I took a step backward.  Victoria took Copper’s hand and pulled her several feet away from the shore.

For a moment I thought a whale was breaching.  Then I realized it was no living thing.  Wong beheld the sight with gaping mouth, but I had the impression that he at least thought he knew what was coming to the surface.  Expressions of worry and wonder were at war on his face.

When the entire large shape was in full view, I still didn’t know what it could be.  “Cornelis…” I began, but found I was at a loss for words.  “Wha—”

Cornelis Drebbel clasped his hands and a gleeful expression lit his face, as if he beheld something he had long missed.

“It’s my submarine!” he crowed.

Drebbel submarine

***

Don’t get off the steam engine yet — here’s the recipe for this episode.  It’s something for all the carnivores out there!  Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Porcini-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Truffle Butter Sauce

Porcini-Crusted Beef

Photo and Recipe Credit:  Epicurious.com

***

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

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

UPDATE: New Interactive Serial – What do YOU want?

Hello everyone,

As of Monday evening, most people want to start an all new serial from scratch.  If that’s not the option you’d choose, then be sure to cast your vote!

The poll will stay open until Friday, January 16th.

No need to re-comment on this update unless…

Whatever form the new serial takes, I’m going to bring back the culinary aspect of the story.  However, the “random things” do more to drive the plot.  So, this time I will ask you for a combination of Random Things and Food-related Things.  You are also welcome to send Recipes to share as part of an episode.

So if you want to see the first episode of the new serial (whatever it may be) next weekend, then leave a comment with three things/ingredients.

Sincerely,

Teagan

Sign FutureThis is your chance.  You can put the next serial story on a completely new road. Or you can keep it as it is.  Or it can be a little of both!

Last weekend I gave you the conclusion of the re-wind of Three Things. So now it’s time for a new, original, reader-propelled serial.  Once again I’ll put you in the driver’s seat.

Sign Slippery car

My main purpose in giving you a serial episode each week is to engage you, the reader. I do that by making the serial “interactive” — getting readers to send three random things or ingredients (food related things). As I write each episode I let those things inspire and guide what happens in the story.

Sign Heart Shattered

Doing that in the first serial is what resulted in the 1920’s setting.  It’s even what brought you the cast of characters.

Sign Gator

Now that we are ready to begin a new story-line, I want to bring you into the process right away — before a single word is written. That’s what I’ve always done.

In the second and third stories, most people wanted to keep the same characters. But it is time that I asked for your feedback again.  So I’m giving the WordPress handy-dandy poll thingamajig a try. (I’m crossing my fingers that I did it right!)

Sign Vote Exit

This poll should let you leave comments as well, or elaborate on the option you chose.  I look forward to your feedback.

 

You’re behind the wheel! So — Please vote.

This poll will only be open through Friday, January 16, 2015.

If you have other thoughts that the poll doesn’t cover, then just leave a comment.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Mega-hugs!

Three Ingredients: The Mess in the “Kitchen”

Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell

Forgive me everyone.  I tried to send Pip with a message postponing the next episode of The Three Ingredients, but she pouted and wouldn’t even look at me.

Yesterday I celebrated a small personal “positive” hoping it would get me back on track, but here I sit, making excuses despite that.

I haven’t been able to buy a home in this capitol of overpriced housing. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been repeatedly invaded by bargain basement contractors whom I have no choice in choosing. (You should have seen the guy I had to allow into my home Thursday — chewing gum and winking every few sentences.  But that was an improvement on the one with the creepy serial killer voice. Imagine talking to him on the phone, expecting him to say something like “Well, Clarice – have the lambs stopped screaming?“)

I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice man — but seriously would you want to meet him alone inside your house?

Anyway, there are two separate things going on with my home, one of which is truly major, both of which were preventable (but I didn’t have any say in that either). The other one involves an appliance delivery — something that I offered to pay half the cost of a new one when I moved in five years ago, but my offer wasn’t considered. In stead I’ve paid a lot more on my electric bill until the dinosaur finally succumbed to the proverbial tar pit.

But there’s no need to put you through the agony of that soap opera.  Suffice to say that it has not concluded either.  However, the guys for this secondary drama showed up with no appointment (again) yesterday — Saturday, when I was trying to write this weekend’s episode. Now I have a new appliance that can’t be installed, and nothing to use meanwhile. You really don’t want to know more than that…

I think Granny Fanny went chasing the delivery truck with her broom to swat the men for tracking mud through her house and knocking down a shelf in the kitchen.  Pip must still be upset from last week, because she just won’t talk to me.  Andy wanted to tell his side of the story, but now I’ve no idea where he is.

If the merman would come back, I’d dive into the ocean with him.  Or hop onto ghost-rider Breaking BadCaleb’s fire-snorting horse and ride away into the sunset.

Of course this is all on top of the work issues I’ve hinted at now and then.  Suffice to say that I’m ready to go back to my old joke. (Now what is she talking about? you ask.)  I used to joke that I would buy a used RV and move to the desert (rent free), and put the cats on a leash and send them out to catch lizards for our dinner.  But then someone told me about a TV show called “Breaking Bad.”  Well, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was in that line of business!  But without the illegal stuff, I’m back to the RV in the desert idea.

It is my sincere hope that you’ll come back next weekend.  I promise, that neither serial-killer-voiced repairmen, uninvited delivery men, nor an RV in the desert will prevent me from having the next episode ready by then!Mini Aristream desert

Sheiks and Sheba’s — I wish all of you a beautiful weekend and sunshine super hugs!

Teagan sig

 

,

 

 

Three Ingredients: Granny Is Angry, What Would You Do?

Gatsby carGranny Fanny was so angry, frustrated, and worried about Pip that she couldn’t take any more.  Granny says she’s sending our flapper home to her father!

You know… I just realized that last weekend I forgot to add a “ghostly ingredient” from the Jar of Spooky Things.  But that’s beside the point.  I had an idea that it would be fun for everyone to take their turn at imagining part of the story.

I thought it would be fun to play with the “interactive” aspect of this serial and invite all of you to leave a comment with a short scenario (a few sentences) about how they think this latest twist might play out — or anything else that tickles your fancy.

So come on out and play! What do you think might happen? Let your imagination run wild. We’ll have fun reading everyone’s thoughts.

It doesn’t have to be about Granny Fanny sending Pip home.  You could imagine any of your favorite characters.

What if Maestro met a lovely lady ghost?

What would the merman do if he came back?

What if Hank Hertz picks up a ghostly radio transmission?

What if Granny’s pristine Model-T got possessed?Perils_of_Pauline_-_1947_Poster

You get the idea — right?  Let your imagination off its leash. I expect there has been at least one time when you wished things went differently.  Here’s your chance!

Remember, it’s only fun if you leave a comment. Get behind the wheel and play along with our interactive culinary mystery.

I can’t wait to read your scenarios!

Hugs all around,

Teagan sig

Three Ingredients II – 11: Red Currants, Baked Beans, Polish Sausage

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

Am I in an odd “place” or is it just the weather? The moon? Solar flares maybe? Could it be this week’s ghostly ingredient from the Jar of Spooky Things?

I can’t define it — this odd mood, so I may as well just roll with it.  However, be warned that it might make this episode of Cookbook-2 a little peculiar too!

Not everything writers do is influenced by the nature and contents of our mood, mind or memories. Some characters have nothing at all to do with our personalities or pain. And some do. However, I think most of what we write is influenced by our experiences. It would take a talented writer indeed to fully remove self from the words.

So for most of us, a piece of the heart, the soul goes into what we write. The same Episode 11is true for great cooks — a little of their spirit and a lot of their love is stirred into everything they prepare.  Take a tour of A Pug in the Kitchen, and you’ll see an example of how true that is.  Suzanne supplied the ingredients for this episode.  Her blog is packed with great food and clear instructions. But what makes it a truly special place are the touches of real life, the bits of her that you’ll find in each recipe and post.

And now, a brief reminder of where we left things last time…

Bon appétit!

***

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.

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.

***

11.  Red Currants, Baked Beans, Polish Sausage

With Supernatural

Esther Williams

Esther Williams

It was a big soft cushion of black velvet.  I settled against it as I floated down.  Down.

The world was so quiet and peaceful.  I relaxed and drifted further into dark serenity.  A gentle downward motion cradled me.  Peace.  It was a wonderful calm feeling.  I never wanted to let go of it.

Then icy cold stabbed through me, jolting my arms, my legs with abrupt freezing pain.  Shocked, my eyes bulged open, but I couldn’t see.  The world around me was black and empty.  Suddenly I realized that I couldn’t breathe.

I finally understood that I was under water.  My arms and legs floundered as my mind told them to move, to swim.  However, in the shock of the cold depths, my body didn’t listen to what my brain said.  My muscles seemed confused, trying but not succeeding to comply with mental demands.

Something scaly brushed past my legs.  I twisted in the Atlantic, still descending.  Then I felt a soft caress, like a hand on my shin, gently pulling me even farther down.  I swung out my leg instinctively.  A bubbling chuckle answered my kick.

1920s La Vie Parisienne Mermaid by hérouardIn the darkness I saw a glimmer reflect from opalescent scales and a broad fishtail.  Bright green eyes were unexpectedly locked with mine.  I saw a beautiful face that could have been either male or female, surrounded by a nimbus of long floating green hair.  The face loomed closer and I was kissed passionately.

At first I struggled in fear.  Then I realized that my lungs were filling with air.  He backed away, and I saw his bare chest, marked with what appeared to be strange tattoos.  I stretched out my hand beseechingly.  I tried to plead for help, but only succeeded in taking in more of the ocean.  With another watery chuckle he glided closer, eyes softly glowing in the night.  He licked his lips and the light in his eyes intensified.  His expression scared me more than the prospect of drowning.

Abruptly he broke eye contact and looked around suspiciously.  Something about the way his green hair floated made me think he was using it in a sensory way.  His fierce expression turned fearful.  With a powerful thrust of the broad fin of his tail he plunged deeper into the Atlantic and disappeared.

Applesauce!  A mermaid.  No, a merman, I corrected myself as I struggled in vain to reach the surface.  I had always thought mer… people were supposed to be playful rescuers.  But that guy really scared me. Then I remembered something from school, about long ago sailors telling tales of men being dragged to their deaths by mermaids.  I 1903 Seahorse cigarette carddidn’t know what to think.  It had to be a hallucination anyway.  After all, I was drowning, and with that I realized the breath of air he gave me was already exhausted.

Despite the frigid ocean, my lungs burned, ready to explode.  I saw a narrow stream of small blood red bubbles, and I thought perhaps my lungs really had burst.  Although I knew that had not happened.  Yet.

I looked at the tiny bubbles in fascination as they floated toward me in single file.  They reminded me of ripe red currants.  The line of translucent red currant bubbles became a loop and it circled around me.  I heard a pop-fizz sound and the red bubbles drew snuggly around me, no longer a loop but a lariat.

A current surged against me, pushing me halfway around.  Charging toward me was a giant seahorse.  As it drew close, the seahorse reared back, snorting supernatural fire the ocean could not quench.  The glowing white form of a Stetson hat shone from behind the creature’s head.  Caleb Colman leaned forward, took off his hat, and gave me a dazzling grin.

“Hey little filly,” he said.  “It looks like you’re in a mite of trouble,” the erstwhile ghost-rider said as he gave the supernatural lasso a gentle tug.

Caleb put an arm around me and placed me in front of him where he sat astride the enormous seahorse.  He whipped the lasso, cracking it heavenward.  The seahorse snorted fire and bolted upward.

Boy and SeahorseIt was still pitch black, but I sensed we neared the surface of the Atlantic.  Caleb leaned down and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I know that I owe my chance at redemption to Maestro Martino, and I hope you’ll thank him for me.  But if it hadn’t been for you Miss Pip, it never would have happened.  I’m just trying to say that I’m grateful to you.  And I’m grateful to be able to help you in return,” Caleb said.

Unexpectedly when I broke the surface of the water, I sailed up several feet into the air, like a dolphin.  But what goes up must come down, and I hit the water again with a cold splash.  I heard Andy scream my name and immediately after, a life preserver plopped into the ocean next to me.

***

Sputtering, wheezing, coughing, and finally a belch of smoke preceded the reanimation of the ferry’s engine.  The captain’s soot streaked face broke into a smile.  Some of the passengers cheered, but half of them were too wet, cold, and shocked to express emotions.  The small craft limped to the dock at Tybee Island.1920s Fish Costumes

To my surprise a line of torches lit the shore.  A dozen people moved forward, eagerly greeting the passengers of the unlucky boat.  They had made fire pits, and had blankets ready, which was a great comfort to everyone.  The aroma of food came to my nose and I was suddenly hungry.  A woman came toward Andy and me with a bowl in each hand.

“It’s only baked beans,” she apologized.  “That’s all we could do on short notice.  I was already cooking them for the picnic tomorrow, but this is a more important use for them.  C’mon they’re warm and hearty.  Have some; it’ll do you good,” she said as she handed us the bowls which we gratefully accepted.

She called over her shoulder to someone.  “Vance Varley, will you please hurry up and give these kids some blankets?” she said, though I couldn’t tell to whom she spoke.

The woman was right.  Having some warm food in my belly did make me feel better.  At that moment, filet mignon couldn’t have been any better than those baked beans.

Heinz baked beans adA man put a blanket around my shoulders.  A bit of white at his collar shone in the firelight.  He turned and put another blanket around Andy.  The man quickly moved to someone behind us.  I heard the voice of Mattie Maddox talking enthusiastically to him as he tucked a blanket around her.  I was glad to see that the older woman had taken one of the few camp chairs.  He told her not to worry, that they would make sure everyone got home safely.

“Vicar Varley, how could you possibly have known, especially in time to get all this together?” she asked him.

“I tell you Mattie, it was the oddest thing,” the clergyman began.  “I was in the kitchen Vintage Mermaid Seahorsewhen I heard the radio start making all kinds of noise.  The dial was spinning crazily, not even on any normal channel.  The static and screeching were so fierce that I covered my ears.  Then I heard a foreign man.  He said the ferry was in trouble and that we had to be ready to care for the passengers when it got to shore.”

“A foreigner, you say?” Mattie Maddox said in a curious tone.

“I-talian, I think he was,” the cleric said.  “I believe he said his name was Mister Martino, but I’m not familiar with any Martinos in Savannah.”

Andy and I looked at each other, our jaws hanging open.  I moved my mouth to ask how, but the word didn’t come out.  Andy got that look on his face that he gets when he’s thinking up something for one of his stories.

“They say that spirits can control electrical things, like the telephones and radios,” Andy said in an amazed voice.  “Maestro must have pulled some kind of poltergeist switchboard shenanigan.  But I don’t understand how he could have known.”

Memory came clearly despite my frazzled and soggy state.  “Maestro knew I was upset when the ghost-riders accidentally took you,” I told Andy.  “He said the presence of the riders and the Devil’s Herd are such a strong phenomenon that he felt them, and somehow that let him tune into me as well,” I said but Andy didn’t seem to understand, so I tried to explain.  “Just before I went overboard, I saw the Devil’s Herd in the sky.  I 1920s Mermaidsalso saw a horizontal bolt of red lightning that seemed to point straight at the island,” I added and looked inland.

Andy followed my gaze.  The church steeple was alight.  A smaller, partially obscured building stood next to the church.  The lights were also on there.  I supposed it was the rectory.  I took a few steps in that direction so that I could see past a clump of needle palm trees.  The unobstructed view showed me an arched stained glass window that glowed golden and aqua in the night.

I shivered, and it wasn’t because I was soaked to the skin.  I was looking at the exact window that Daisy had made appear in the abandoned warehouse.

Mattie Maddox looked my way when I moved.  I gave her an encouraging smile.  She turned back to Vicar Vance Varley.  “That nice young couple over there,” she said in a quieter voice, but I was easily within earshot.  “They were planning to ask for beds in the hostel.  But are you going to have room? I expect some of these other passengers are going to need a place to stay the night.  It’s awfully late for anybody to be trying to get home,” Mattie said in a concerned voice.

Vicar Varley patted Mattie’s shoulder.  “Don’t you worry your sweet head about it Miss 1920s MermaidenMattie.  The hostel was already full, but we’ll manage in a time of need,” he said in a confident voice, but his face looked uncertain.

“No,” Mattie said flatly.  “I already offered to let them stay with me, but I could tell they just didn’t want to put me to any trouble when they said they’d go to the church hostel.  Vance,” she added with authority and switched from calling him Vicar to using his first name.

“You’ll have to insist to them for me.  It won’t be any trouble at all.  I even have a nice supper with Polish sausage already cooked and waiting in the icebox.  And it’s too much for just me.  Polish sausage, cabbage, pierogies — why that’s too good to let it go to waste.  Those two can stay the night at my house, and that’s that,” she said.

I had not expected Mattie Maddox to be such a forceful woman.  It seemed like she had known Vicar Varley for a long time, based on the way they acted with each other.  I had to laugh.  I’d hate to be on the wrong side of an argument with her.  Mattie had the heart of a flapper for sure.

The stained glass window in the rectory pulled my gaze back toward the churchyard.  That was definitely the window in Mattie’s painting.  I was certain that it was also the one Daisy, the ghost woman showed us as a clue to the mystery of who killed her. 1924 Peterpan Mermaids

I bit my lip in frustration, wishing poor Daisy hadn’t been too devastated to remember much of anything.  However, I shuddered to think what might be so horrible that even in death the memory was unbearable.  But then again, I guessed that anyone who was murdered would be traumatized.  Holy Hannah, what an awful thing!

I could imagine someone sweet and gentle like Daisy befriending Mattie Maddox.  Daisy was from a very poor family, and she wouldn’t have thought twice about her status being harmed by that kind of friendship.  Not Daisy.  If Mattie had been her friend before Henry Kingston fell in love and married her, then Daisy wouldn’t have ended the friendship just because Mattie was a maid rather than a socialite.Argosy Weekly Story Magazine The Sea Girl Ray Cummings

Another idea came to me before that thought even finished running through my waterlogged noodle.  A wealthy man like Kingston would have had a lot of servants, just like his son had a whole staff to take care of that swanky mansion.  Maybe I had it backwards. What if Mattie had worked for the Kingstons and then became friendly with Daisy?

No… I told myself that whole line of thought was crazy.  Savannah had plenty of rich bluenose aristocrat types who could afford maids.  Mattie knowing Daisy the Dainty Dish was too much of a longshot.

As I looked at Mattie, a pinkish aura appeared around the older woman.  I blinked.  Was I going to start seeing auras as well as ghosts?  I wondered what “pink” meant.

A moment later Daisy appeared behind Mattie.  The spirit frowned as she looked down at the woman.  I didn’t think her expression was one of anger.  Rather Daisy looked pensive or perhaps confused.  After a moment Daisy’s form disappeared.  Mattie turned around, as if she felt someone behind her.  The older woman looked at me and gave a cheery little wave.

The sound of the ocean drew me.  I pulled the rough blanket closer around myself and strolled out onto the beach.  Twinkling stars reflected in the water as it lapped against the shore.  The breeze hummed a hypnotic tune in my ears.  I saw two specks of sparkling green out on the gentle waves.

The emerald sparks started to move closer, and I realized they didn’t come from reflected starlight of any kind.  They were eyes.  A broad shimmering green tailfin surfaced and slapped the water with a loud splash before heading back to sea.VIntage Mermaid and baby

***

Recipe:  Baked Beans with Salt Pork

Recipe Credit: Mrs. Wilson’s Cook Book (1920).

Ingredients

1 pound of beans

1 can of tomatoes

1 cup of chopped onions

1/2 cup of syrup

1 pound of salt pork cut in pieces

2 tablespoons of salt

1 tablespoon of paprika

Instructions

Soak the beans over night or early in the morning. At noon place in a kettle and cover with water. Bring to a boil and drain off the water. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for fifteen minutes. Drain.

Now add tomatoes, onions, syrup, pork, salt, and paprika. Add sufficient water to cover beans one inch deep. Mix well and then cover the pot closely and bake in a slow oven for four hours.

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Tune in next weekend for a new episode with “ingredients” from Willy Nilly To and Fro ~ The Philosophy of Inanity.

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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