Brother Love 4 — A Domino

Saturday, May 18, 2019

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

Various names on different colored cards in fancy text

Chuttersnap at Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time to go to the crossroads.

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

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

Brother Love

4 — A Domino

Round Domino, Nine, and Faberge Egg

Round Dominoes, by Dan Antion

Round Dominoes, by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magpie on ground listening_PicturesofScotland Pixaby

Magpie, Pixabay

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

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

Jinx acted like he wanted it back.

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

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

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

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

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

***

Church reflected in river Dan Antion

Church reflected in the river, by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

1948 Nash Rambler-a1-Rex Gray-2-

Birdie’s old 1948 Nash Rambler, by Rex Gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

1950s Hat Purse Gloves ad

Pattern ad circa 1950

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I knew that face.

End Chapter 4.

***

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

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

***

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

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

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

 

Brother Love 3 — A Hymn

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Brother Love promo image

Brother Love composite by Teagan R. Geneviene

Welcome back to the crossroads everyone!   

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

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

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

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

Church reflected in river Dan Antion

Church reflected in the river, by Dan Antion

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

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

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

Fog, by Dan Antion

Fog, by Dan Antion

It’s time to go to the crossroads.

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

Brother Love

3 — A Hymn

Fog, Fox, and Hymnal

Rusted old tractor, photo by Dan Antion

Rusted old tractor, photo by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*********

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

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

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

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

Vintage birdcage, by Dan Antion

Vintage birdcage, by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pages of a Methodist hymnal, by Dan Antion

Pages of a Methodist hymnal, by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

The magpie flew to perch on the windowsill.

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

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

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

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

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

Fox, photo by Dan Antion

Fox, photo by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antique globe showing the Mississippi Delta, by Dan Antion

Antique globe showing the Mississippi Delta, by Dan Antion

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

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

The woman looked at me with desperation in her eyes.

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

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

Birdie Devovo's house as imagined by Dan Antion

Birdie Devovo’s house as imagined by Dan Antion

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

I laughed in surprise.

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

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

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

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

Ready to Travel statue Dan Antion

Ready to Travel, by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Chapter 3.

***

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

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

Real World Notes — A Hoodoo

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

***

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

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

***

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

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

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USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

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

 

Brother Love 2 — A Shadow

Saturday, May 4, 2019

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

Country kitchen 3 windows_Mariamichelle_vermont-Pixabay

Maria Michelle, Pixabay

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

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

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

Skull of the Alchemist Cover 1

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

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

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

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

No Facilities blog header photo by Dan Antion

No Facilities blog photo by Dan Antion

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

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

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

Previously with Brother Love

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

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

Brother Love 2

A Shadow

Shadow, Rain, and Croquet Mallet

Flash cropped image Dan Antion

Flash, from one of Dan’s photos

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

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

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

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

Flimsy screen door on a shabby red wall

Photo by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fist against red Pixaby

Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copiah County MS crossroads Google Maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statue of woman and man kissing, World War II era

The Kissing Couple, Photo by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men's wingtip shoes

Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

Audience looking at stage with lights

Stage Lights by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Crow on a high pine branch

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

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

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

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

***

Real World Notes — Southern Magnolia

Magnolia_flower n foliage Duke_campus Wikimedia.jpg

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

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

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

***

Real World Notes — The Kissing Couple

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

Ready to Travel statue Dan Antion

Ready to Travel, by Dan Antion

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

***

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

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

***

More storytelling by Teagan

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

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

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

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USA:  Atonement in Bloom

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

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USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

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

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

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

 

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Magpie wall mural by marina-salles

Marina Salles, Unsplash

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

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

Crystal n Robs Sunset

Crystal with one of Rob Goldstein‘s images.

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

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

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

***

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

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

Amazon UK

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USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

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

 

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Brother Love promo image

Brother Love collage by Teagan Geneviene

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brother Love 1

Prologue — A Sinnerman

Dead Trees mysterious area snow roadside Dan Antion

Mysteriously dead trees, by Dan Antion

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

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

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

African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery

African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preacher inside a church, back turned

Photo by Dan Antion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guitar head stock BW_Simone Pixaby

Simone at Pixaby

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

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

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

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

***

1 — A House at the Crossroads

Baseball, Excited, and Pickles

House at a crossroads

Antranias at Pixaby

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

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

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

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

Church reflected in river Dan Antion

Church reflected in the river, by Dan Antion

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

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

At last a breeze! I thought with a sigh.

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

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

PahAM to Hawaii ad

Pan Am ad 1960s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Real World Notes — Hats Back in the Day

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

KC Collins

K.C. Collins sports a Trilby

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

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

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

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

USA:  Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Amazon UK

USA:  Atonement in Bloom

Amazon UK

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

Amazon UK

Atonement Video Cover copy

USA:  Atonement, Tennessee

(E-book still on sale at 99¢ )

Amazon UK

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

Copyright ©  2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

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

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

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays — 1 Million Years B-Lulu

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

LULU Arrival 2.

Lulu’s clumsiness sends the train to 1 million years BC. Art by Rob Goldstein

It’s finally time!  I’ve been promising you a short story with illustrations by Rob Goldstein.  Lulu, Gramps, and Valentino are joined by a couple of unexpected characters in this one episode story.  I call it “One Million Years B-Lulu.”  It’s a little riff on “One Million Years BC,” which featured Raquel Welsh.  Don’t ask me why that particular scenario popped into my head.  I’ve told you that I’m just not wired right. The three random things Rob gave me to drive the story are velociraptor, stone axe, and capacitors.

Rob is featuring the story as a guest post today at Sue Vincent‘s blog, so I hope you’ll click over and visit them.  I’m posting it here as well.  Without further ado…

All aboard!

One Million Years B-Lulu

Lulu Gramps Valentino control room blue

Lulu, Gramps, and Valentino in the control room of the diesel-punk train. Art by Rob Goldstein

Soft clicking noises took on a familiar rhythm.  I looked over at the blue-gold angel-bot as he worked at a control station of Valentino’s amazing train.  The bot started humming to match the beat of his clicks and whirrs.  The sound reminded me of a music box.

Most of the train’s angel-bots were gold.  This clockwork creature was the only blue hued one.  Of all the bots, he was the savviest to the workings of the mysterious train.  I had named him Moon, after the song “Cuban Moon,” because of the subtle Spanish accent of his deep voice.  That’s the tune he hummed.

I loved to dance, so I did a few steps of the Brazilian Samba to his humming.  One turn caused me to bump into a table.  Exotic, futuristic looking instruments wobbled dangerously.  Fortunately, nothing fell ― that time.  I admit that I’m known for my clumsiness.  They didn’t sing “Don’t Bring Lulu” when they talked about me for nothin’.

Back on The Train

Lulu by Rob Goldstein

“Lulu, how many times have I told you ― don’t touch anything,” Valentino complained as he walked into the control room.

I stopped dancing.  Moon gave me a sheepish look, as if he felt partly responsible.  Valentino raised one eyebrow suspiciously at the angel-bot’s reaction.

“Don’t mind him, Moon.  He’s just grumpy because those pointy-toed dog kennels hurt his feet,” I told my clockwork friend.  “Go ahead and hum.”

The enigmatic Valentino looked from me to the bot in surprise.

“You’ve taught him to hum?  I wasn’t aware that they could,” Valentino commented.

An odd device I hadn’t noticed sat on one of the train’s control tables.  It resembled an hourglass, but rather than sand, it contained a gooey glowing substance.  Fascinated, I extended one finger toward the slowly moving molten goo.

“Lulu, don’t touch anything,” Gramps spoke by rote as he strode into the room.

“Especially not the time delineator!” Valentino added.

Valentino Bots Green Metropolis 6

Valentino and the angel-bots. Art by Rob Goldstein

Startled, I jerked my finger back so hard that the feather in my headband wobbled and the fringe of my short skirt swayed.  I wasn’t expecting my grandfather.

“Ah!  Sir.  Good.  I have finished the adjustments to your pocket watch,” Moon called to Gramps from across the room.

The angel-bot extended his mechanical arm to twice its usual length to hand me the pocket watch, since I was closest to my grandfather.  I was in a playful mood, so I decided to toss it to Gramps, rather than walk around the control tables and across the room to hand the timepiece to him.

I drew back my arm to make the toss.  The watch went into the air, rotating as it flew.  When my arm came back down, I knocked over the goo-filled hourglass thingy Valentino called the time delineator.

The glass cracked.  In midair, a drop of glowing goo splashed against the engraved pocket-watch my grandfather cherished.  It had been a gift from my late grandmother.

Abruptly I felt like a heavy weight sat on my head.  My feet tingled like they were asleep.  My stomach was up where my throat was supposed to be.  Plus, I felt like I had sneezed ― but in reverse.

The pocket-watch slowed until time really did stand still.  The glow of the goo grew until it became spherical, surrounding the pocket-watch.  Abruptly, both disappeared in a sphere of sparks.

When I opened my eyes after the inverse sneeze, everything around me looked like a Slavador Dali painting.  Then the world went black.

***

Lulu train pink-green 1 Million B-Lulu

Lulu’s clumsiness sent the diesel-punk train to 1 million years BC. Art by Rob Goldstein

I’m not sure how much time passed, but as consciousness returned to my aching head, I realized that I was face down on the ground.  And I do mean ground.  It wasn’t the floor of the control room against my face.

Warm breath snuffled against my face, sniffing.  My nose wrinkled.  The sniffer had bad breath.  I cracked open one peeper for a discrete look, and found a human eye locked on mine.  He grunted and sniffed some more.  When his nose headed where it had no business going, I scrambled backward.

“Hey!  Watch it!” I exclaimed.  “I’m not some easy biscuit.  Mind your manners.”

The train sat all catawampus nearby.  Amid the enormous leaves of strange plants, it looked as out of place as a wallflower at a speakeasy.

I sprawled on rocky terrain with scraggly bushes and gnarled trees.  Behind me was the mouth of a cave.  Leaning curiously over me was the smelly, fur clad man who woke me with his sniffing.

I remembered the goo-filled hourglass falling.  I gulped.  Hard.

Exploring-With Valentino Lulu dinosaurs

Art by Rob Goldstein

A rapid rhythm of clicks and whirrs emanated from Moon, the angel-bot.  Valentino’s head was down.  He murmured in low worried tones as the angel-bot clicked.

Gramps stooped to pick up his sunglasses.  He blew the dust off them and tucked the spectacles into the breast pocket inside his jacket.  Reflexively he reached to the watch pocket of his vest.  He patted the empty pocket.

His pocket-watch was gone.

Bushwa!” he muttered, though he looked heartbroken.

I gasped as fire singed my eyebrows.  The caveman waved a flaming stick, jabbing it toward my bobbed hair.

“Yes, her hair is the color of fire,” Valentino spoke in placating tones that one might use with a frightened animal.

The smelly sniffer appeared to take Valentino’s word for it that the fiery hue was normal for my hair, however unusual it must have been to him.

“Lulu!” Gramps hissed in a cautionary way, and I knew he thought the caveman was dangerous.

Laying my hand against my chest, I spoke slowly.

“I’m Lulu.  Who are you?” I pointed to him as I asked.

“Loana.  Fair one,” his gravelly voice pronounced and reached toward my bubs.

Tumac be Lulu’s daddy-4

Lulu meets Tumac. Art by Rob Goldstein

“Hey!  Watch yourself.  I’m a nice girl,” I cautioned him as I jumped backward.

Valentino snorted and I shot him a glare.

“No,” I continued from three feet away.  “Lulu.  I’m Lu-lu.”

He nodded and clapped his hand against his chest.

“Tumac.  Tumac strong!  Tumac be Lulu’s daddy,” he added with a leer.

“Where did you learn that language,” Valentino raised an eyebrow and asked suspiciously.

“Nupondi,” Tumac replied.  “Nupondi look like you,” he added with a sweeping motion that indicated Valentino head to toe.

“Someone dressed like me?” Valentino asked, though Tumac clearly didn’t understand the words.

Gramps had a worried expression on his face.

“Nupondi come back when he smells grub.”

Tumac motioned toward a fire-pit where a large carcass of something roasted on a spit.  I didn’t know what it was, but the aroma made my stomach growl.  The cave man chortled at the sound.  He gave me a companionable shove toward the fire and I stumbled.  Tumac really was strong, that was no boast.

What's cookin -2 Valentino Bot Lulu Tumac Gramps

What’s Cookin’? by Rob Goldstein

Soon I held the biggest crispy drumstick I had ever seen.  Juice ran down my arm as I hungrily sunk my teeth into it.

“Where does she get her appetite?” Valentino asked my grandfather in a tone that combined revulsion and stunned admiration.

My grand father shrugged.  He had been more interested in poking around in the bushes, looking for his pocket-watch than eating.  However, when Tumac acted offended that he wouldn’t eat, Gramps finally sat down at the fire.

“It really isn’t bad,” Gramps commented and pointedly made a yummy sound to gratify Tumac.  “I wonder what it is.”

“V’locy.  Mama v’locy,” Tumac mumbled around a mouthful.  “Find eggs too.  Big breakfast at sunup.”

Near the entrance of a cave I spotted the clutch of eggs.  Each one was about the size of a pigskin football.  I couldn’t imagine what kind of chicken could lay eggs so big.

“V’locy?” Valentino repeated and his face blanched.  “Velociraptor?” he exclaimed.  “Lulu, leave those eggs alone.  Even a hatchling could be deadly.”

“Oh, don’t give me that phonus balonus!” I told him and inspected the eggs.

The bushes rustled.  Tumac sniffed the air.  Gramps quickly grabbed the burning stick the caveman had waved around earlier.  He held it defensively.

Gramps Gets the Watch-3

Gramps by Rob Goldstein

The caveman didn’t seem concerned.  He grunted and muttered “Nupondi.”

Gramps jabbed the flaming stick toward the bushes.

Horsefeathers!  Have a care or you’ll set the whole place on fire!” an unexpectedly familiar voice protested.

“Tom?” I exclaimed as he nonchalantly tucked something into his pocket.  “Tom Driberg!  You were on the lamb from those hooligans.  So, this is where you wound up?”

Tom had betrayed us all, particularly my pal Rose.  We weren’t the only ones he quatched.  It turned out he had been a spy for both the Americans and the Russians.

That small motion of his hand to his pocket didn’t escape my notice.  Gramps squinted.  He had seen it too.  Tom was being a little too smooth, even for Tom.  He gave a guilty glance at Gramps.  Tom looked like a man who knew he had been caught.

“Well, Lulu.  Aren’t you just the cat’s particulars,” Tom said, stepping toward me.

Suddenly, Tom grabbed me and a surprisingly sharp stone axe was pressed against my throat.

“Give me that pocket-watch, Driberg,” Gramps demanded.  “It’s meaningless to you.”

“Quite the contrary old man,” Tom replied with a smirk.  “There aren’t any capacitors here.  Your beloved watch isn’t special just because it came from your wife, you know.  It can be modified to work as a time delineator, and I can finally go home!”

Tom’s sentence ended with an oof!  Tumac snuck up behind him and grabbed both of us, lifting us off the ground.  I heard Tom make a strangled noise and he dropped the axe.  With a hefty toss, Tumac sent Tom and me tumbling.

I saw the pocket-watch fall.  In the same instant I heard a shrill cry from above.

“Your sheba has found you,” Tumac chortled at Tom.

Your Sheba Has Found You

Pterodactyl swoops & gets Tom as Gramps retrieves his pocket watch. Art by Rob Goldstein

Huge wings darkened the sky.  Dust and ashes from the fire-pit clouded the air as gusts buffeted us.  Gramps put on his sunglasses as if they were goggles.

Blinking, I gaped speechlessly.  A pterodactyl settled to the ground.

Sunlight glinted off the pocket-watch.  The dinosaur’s eyes darted to the watch.

“Sheba like shiny,” Tumac muttered to Tom.  “Maybe she take it, not you.”

“What?” I couldn’t help asking, even it that circumstance.

“The damn dyno.  I was there when she hatched.  She imprinted on me.  Thinks I’m her chick or something,” Tom said as he cowered behind Valentino.

“You realize it’s not a bird, don’t you?” Valentino told him, as if that mattered at such a time.

Abruptly, Gramps darted and grabbed his watch.  The pterodactyl screeched.  Her sharp beak jutted dangerously toward him.

The sun flashed off his spectacles.  The dinosaur tilted her head as Gramps spoke.

“There, there now.  You don’t want this.  It’s not good to eat,” my grandfather cajoled.

The pterodactyl took another huge step toward him.  Surprised, I realized she saw her reflection in his sunglasses.  I whispered the fact to Gramps.  He slowly removed the shades and held them toward her.

“Careful,” Valentino cautioned.  “She could take your entire arm if she grabs the spectacles.”

Then a fierce look glinted in Valentino’s eyes.  I had always thought he had a ruthless streak, hidden under all that smoldering brooding.

Valentino_close Hat

Valentino by Rob Goldstein

Valentino reached behind himself, where Tom cowered.  He grabbed the spy’s arm and shoved him into the open.

“This is what you really want, isn’t it,” Valentino called to the pterodactyl.

The dinosaur made a pained noise, followed by a series of croaks that sounded like a mother chastising her offspring.  Tom ran as fast as he could.

With a blast of air that knocked me to the ground, the pterodactyl flapped her wings and took flight.  In a moment she had Tom in her clutches.  She flew with him toward a rocky outcropping.

Tumac laughed so hard that he rolled on the ground.

I stood gobsmacked.

“She take Nupondi to nest.  She love Nupondi,” Tumac explained between chortles.  Nupondi not go hungry.  His sheba vomit breakfast for him.  Haha!  All over his head.”

***

Lulu Header 1-

Art by Rob Goldstein

In no time Moon had modified the pocket-watch to work as a time delineator for Valentino’s train.  Through a hand-held telescope, I saw Tom gingerly climbing down from the pterodactyl’s nest.  He was drenched in something, presumably regurgitated dinner, but seemed unharmed.  We bade a fond farewell to Tumac, our host.

When I walked past Tumac, he laughed, because he saw that I was hiding something behind my back.  I winked and hoped he knew to keep quiet.

The big Orthophonic Victrola in the train’s control room blared out “Toot, Toot, Tootsie! Good-bye,” and I knew we would be leaving in a moment.

“Are you alright, Lulu?” Gramps asked me.  “You look like something isn’t sitting well on your stomach.”

“Maybe some under-cooked dinosaur,” I replied weakly and mustered up a belch.

Delicately I put one hand to my lips, while the other was firmly behind my back.

“If not for that decidedly unladylike burp, I would go back and count all those velociraptor eggs,” Valentino told me with narrowed eyes as he climbed aboard the train.

“Well, I never…” I protested even though he hit the nail on the head.

Then I felt the egg move.  I twitched at the surprise, and nearly dropped it.  Valentino turned back at my abrupt movement.  I put my free hand to my stomach and groaned dramatically.  Clara Bow couldn’t have given a better performance.

A shining gold angel-bot leaned from the train.  It was Dynamite.

“All aboard!” Dynamite called.

I made sure Gramps and Valentino were both all the way inside the train before I let Dynamite help me aboard.  By then, the egg was practically dancing the Charleston.

The train’s Orthophonic Victrola always seemed to know more than it should be able to understand.  Not to mention that it had a mean disposition.  As the dinosaur egg lurched, the device started playing “Don’t Bring Lulu.”

Portrait of Lulu

Lulu back on the train, by Rob Goldstein

***

The end.

Update:  Rob has just finished a fabulous video of this story.  Do check it out and pay him a visit as well.  http://robertmgoldstein.com/

You’re the cat’s pajamas!

 

 

And don’t forget!

Coming in Spring

Another Roaring Twenties Pantser Tale

Continuing the adventures of Pip and Granny, it’s…

Three Ingredients 2

A Ghost in the Kitchen!

Stay tuned, shieks and shebas!  

You’re the cat’s pajamas! 

***

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

Copyright © 2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 39 Conclusion

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Copper conclusion image

It’s time for Hidebound Hump Day, my chuckaboos!  I’m grateful to everyone who started this wild ride on the #steampunk train, and then the submarine.  What mode of transportation will we take next? 

As you know, the serials on this blog are pantser stories. They are completely unplanned. I let the “three things” readers send drive the plot of each episode.  This conclusion is the exception. It was not driven by three things — rather it was formed by the “things” from each of the previous episodes — so that’s 99 things!  I warn you that it’s a long chapter, but like I said —  99 things!   

Hang on tight.  The story concludes today!

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 38.  Cal Hicks held Felicity’s arm.  “Quickly,” he hissed into her ear.  “Get into the gondola.”

When Felicity turned she saw that Copper was already climbing into the aerial screw.  Absinthe and Aubrieta fluttered around it, touching various apparatus with their tiny paws.  Felicity looked back at the interlopers from her own world.  They were looking right at her.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

39 — Conclusion

Featured Image -- 23594

Dreamstime

I’m sorry my friend, there’s no time for proper goodbyes!” Corenlis Drebbel called to Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape.  “It will save an enormous amount of energy if we take the aerial screw through the opening the villains created.”

“I understand, Lord of Alchemy,” Hicks told him.

Just then Itsy ran back into view.  The chimpanzee rushed straight for Cal Hicks and I thought she meant him harm.  I yelled for Cornelis to do something, but he only gave me that pucker-faced contemplative look of his.  Itsy slipped as she ran at Hicks.  She slid to a stop, sobbing at his feet.

To my astonishment she turned her tear-streaked face up to Hicks and handed him the mystic people harmonic tuner.  Itsy seemed to be apologizing, but it was difficult to distinguish her words with all the weeping and wailing.

“What the devil?” I began.

Cornelis cast an impatient gaze on me and I didn’t finish my sentence. 

“Do you really mean to tell me that you didn’t know?” he asked with a sardonic twist of his mouth.

“Know what?” I sputtered. 

Reading Ape purple

The alchemist gave a negligent waive of his hand at the contrivance above our heads.  The threads of the device glowed yellow-green and the noise was magically silenced.  I could hear Itsy clearly as she spoke to Cal Hicks, repeating her remorse.

“They said they’d kill you!” she cried.  “Ced told me so.  Those people are the ones who enslaved Ced.  Thinking he was only a stupid animal, the fiends discussed it in front of him.  They plan to kill your doppelgänger, once they get what they want.  And we think you will die when your double is killed!” Itsy bawled.  “I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you Cal— I mean Mr. Hicks.”

“No, no dear child,” Hicks told Itsy as he patted her hand.  “It doesn’t work like that with the doppelgängers.  If they wanted to kill me, then they’d have to kill me.”

The villains, including Bitsy the erstwhile maid at the Belle Inn, moved closer.  Abruptly Itsy gave a horrified look at Cal Hicks, and put both hands to her mouth, desperately trying to avoid sicking-up.  Still halfway across the burned out yard, I saw Bitsy being less successful at controlling her reaction to the nearness of her double.

“Do you mean to tell me Itsy was in love with Cal Hicks and you deduced it that quickly?” I demanded crossly of Cornelis Drebbel.

The Dutchman of course, only gave a self-satisfied smirk. 

“I know what they were after too,” he added with a wriggle of his bushy blonde eyebrows at the foes who chased us all the way into the amethyst world.

I tapped my foot, silently waiting for him to answer.  I wouldn’t give the man the satisfaction of asking.

“What did they want?” Copper asked, spoiling the point I was trying to get across.

“Why you are standing in it, Copper!” Cornelis said and tousled her new penny colored curls.  “We all knew it was a potential, we just didn’t really think they knew about the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.”Aerial Screw drawing

“So they wanted to make one of these things?  Will it really fly enough to carry us?” Copper asked.

“Oh yes, Copper.  This one will fly and carry us wherever we want to go,” Cornelis Drebbel told the girl and grinned before turning to me.

Copper looked preoccupied with her surroundings.  The alchemist moved closer to me and spoke in a faint whisper. 

“They knew about the valuable drawings all along,” he told me.  “But they needed a talented inventor if they were to have any hope of making it work.  Calvin Hixon slipped through their fingers.  So they set out to kidnap his daughter, planning to use Copper to force her father to do their bidding,” Cornelis finished.

 

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

“Ignatius,” I hissed accusingly.  “Bitsy got the information from him, one way or another, didn’t she,” I said and Cornelis nodded.  “Hixon surely told him about the drawings when he tried to bring Ignatius into the family fold, if he in fact didn’t tell him before.”

“Wave goodbye, Copper.  We must hurry and be off,” Cornelis told her and she waved and blew kisses to Cal Hicks, who looked very sad to see us leave.

A horrified expression came to Copper’s blue eyes. 

“Absinthe hurry — come here!  Aubrieta!” Copper yelled to the little fairies.

The last time I noticed the Green Fairy and his mate the two skunk-looking fae fluttered around the upper parts of the aerial screw, making adjustments.  However, I followed Copper’s gaze and saw them through the tall window of the laboratory.  They were inside the building and investigated the array of gadgets on the long worktable.

Aubrieta, the Purple Fairy who had been trapped in a transformation as the one-eyed-one-horned-flying-purple-people-eater when she first came to this realm, chirped as she darted from one instrument to another.  Absinthe, the Green Fairy behaved similarly.  The two moved a few strange looking implements aside for reasons only they knew.

Purple one horned dragon

Racheal Marie, Pixaby

The acute hearing of the fae caused them to stop what they were doing and turn toward Copper’s voice.  The fairies dotted on the girl.  A purple and green aura surrounded the small collection of implements.  Absinthe shook his fluffy striped tail at the aura and it disappeared — along with all the devices it covered.  Aubrieta nodded to her mate in a satisfied seeming way and the two fairies popped out of sight.

An instant later Absinthe appeared on Copper’s shoulder.  Aubrieta fluttered in the air beside her, delicately playing with a strand of her coppery hair.  The display was charmingly affectionate, but it seemed sad to me.

A tear rolled down each of Copper’s cheeks.  Absinthe kissed one and Aubrieta kissed the other.  Without realizing I spoke aloud, I had murmured the word no.  Absinthe flew to me and playfully pulled the bright purple streak in my hair.  I knew the metering device would turn completely purple if we stayed too long in the amethyst world.  But the alchemist never warned me that my hair might begin to turn ultra-violet!

Absinthe turned his bantam backside toward me and fluffed out his tail, pretending he was about to spray his potent potable of super-powered absinthe poot.  Aubrieta chirped a warning at him, but both still seemed playful to me.green skunk palm

“They’re not coming with us?” I asked Cornelis, but I already knew the answer.

“Felicity, I do believe you’ve become attached to our farting fae,” Cornelis said.  “No they aren’t coming,” he continued.  “Well, not right away.  They’re far too fond of Copper to stay away.  No, they’ll make sure the portal closes properly behind us.  We don’t want all manner of riffraff from our world coming into this idyllic purple place.”

“So they’ll join us again in moments,” I said hopefully.

Copper shook her head sadly, but then brightened. 

“They have a surprise for Cornelis,” she confided in an over-loud whisper that immediately got the alchemist’s attention.  “They’re going to stay and fix his submarine.  Then they’ll bring it with them,” she told me as a grinning Cornelis turned his back, pretending he didn’t hear.

As the threads of the contraption whirred the gondola lifted up into the air.  Cornelis didn’t take it up very high though.  The portal through which the hydrofoil entered was not far above the ground.  The aerial screw entered the edge of the bright pink aura that outlined the opening to our world.  Copper looked intently all around at the crowd of simians.

“Viola’s not here.  I didn’t get to say goodbye, and I really liked her.  Can’t we go back so I can tell her?  Maybe she’d like to go with us,” Copper pleaded.

“No child,” Cornelis told her looking genuinely regretful as the flying machine began to enter the gateway.  “Do you remember when I said this portal was not expertly made?  Things and beings can only use this particular portal once.  If we tried to go back now, we’d be lost between.”

“Between what?” I had to ask.

Jamie Murray as Felicity

Jamie Murray as Felicity

“Between here and there,” Cornelis said and my mouth twisted, because I should have known he’d say something to annoy me.  “I hear it’s not a terribly pleasant place,” he added.

When I looked back toward the laboratory, I saw the lavender sky.  Turning my head the other direction I saw a sky of blue.  I sighed a relieved, happy breath.  Sometimes I wondered if I would ever see that blue sky again.

Just as the gondola finished traversing the gateway, I looked back and saw the hydrofoil charging toward us.

“Oh no…” Cornelis muttered.

I could see Bitsy’s angry face.  The men with her held up guns aimed at us, ready to fire the minute they got close enough.

“Cornelis, shouldn’t you put some kind of shield around us.  Those guns fire real bullets, you realize,” I reminded the alchemist.

“He wasn’t oh-no-ing about the guns,” Copper said with a light of comprehension in her blue eyes as she watched the scene in wonder.

The hydrofoil entered the portal and immediately the view was dimmed by a foggy veil.  The craft lurched violently.  Then it rocked as if in slow motion. 

The mist became so thick we could no longer see inside the portal.  The fog bulged out from the gateway and then drew back.  I heard the hydrofoil’s engine cough and muffled yelling from the people manning the craft.  After a moment there was silence.

Forlanini hydrofoil

Alexander Graham Bell’s HD-4 hydrofoil, 1919

Copper, the alchemist, and I stared dumbfounded.  Finally, the shrill cry of a hawk broke the silence.  I gave an involuntary shudder, pondering the kind of place that must sit between the two worlds.  I wondered if Bitsy and those men deserved whatever their fate actually was.  However, I reminded myself that they were willing to do harm to Calvin Hixon and to Copper to get what they wanted.  Suddenly, the idea of their fate didn’t bother me so much.

When I looked down I expected to see the tops of giant redwood trees, or the beaches of the Pacific coastal area where we were before we accidentally entered the amethyst world.  Yet I didn’t see anything of the kind.

“Cornelis, that doesn’t look like California or Oregon or any part of the Pacific coast,” I pointed down and declared.

Aerial view of the English countryside

Aerial view of the English countryside, Wikimedia

“No?” he said and nonchalantly looked down from our vantage point, which was much higher after we went through the portal.  “Well, it is not exactly to be expected that the flying machine would return us to the place where we left in the submarine.  That portal was opened haphazardly, without professional design or calculations,” he said, finally looking a little bit concerned.

“Actually there’s no telling where it opened or where we are,” the alchemist said with that sardonic twist that curled his upper lip while his lower lip twisted to the side.

“There’s something down there that looks pretty large,” I commented, trying to see through a feathery white cloud.

Cornelis pulled a lever and twisted a crystal knob and the aerial screw moved gently lower.  I saw a massive complex of stone buildings.

Windsor Castle seen from above

Windsor Castle, Wikipedia

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” Cornelis exclaimed to gales of laughter from Copper.  “It’s Windsor Castle.  We’re in England.  I haven’t been to England in at least a hundred years!  Shall we pay them a visit, Copper?”

“I don’t know Cornelis,” I began.  “That seems like a bad idea.  One doesn’t simply drop in on the Queen.”

Naturally, the Dutchman paid no attention whatsoever to my protest.  The aerial screw hovered above a green area within the castle walls.  They seemed to be holding a small faire on the lawn.  I thought it must be to showcase inventions, as several large and unusual things were on display on each side of the lawn.

Sm Steamboat

A Paddle Steamer

I saw a boat dry docked that looked a lot like the paddle steamer that belonged to Ignatius Belle, as well as a dirigible tethered by a rope so that it floated twenty feet above the ground.  There was something made of gleaming metal that I supposed was a steam powered motor car.  Then I saw what I could have sworn was our road locomotive!

Our flying machine slowly drew closer to the ground and I could see the people clearly.  A tallish Asian man stood before an elaborately decorated seating area.  He wore a brocade of a white lion and a very tiny woman stood next to him.  “Alastair!” I cried in astonishment when I recognized Alastair Wong and Victoria.

640px-Road_locomotive__John_boy__(5605531950)

Road Locomotive, Wikimedia Commons

With my shout, everyone on the ground turned to look up at us.  I was even more surprised, if less pleasantly so, to see Sheriff Bullard and Ignatius Belle inspecting the strange looking motor car.

However, it was no surprise when the alchemy went awry and Cornelis began having difficulty controlling the aerial screw.  Our craft loomed dangerously close to a tall model of the Eiffel Tower.  The gondola became ensnared on the tower.

Alastair Wong, nimble as ever, rapidly climbed the scale model of the French wonder.  In a moment he freed the gondola and hopped onboard.  I stared in stunned appreciation of his feat.

Sessue_Hayakawa

Sessu Hayakawa as Alastair Wong

“I hope you didn’t expect me to climb back down,” Wong commented jokingly.  “It’s only fair that I get to experience this magnificent machine from up here.”

Of course we assailed him with questions about the event below and the people we knew.  We already knew about the money problems of Copper’s father.  Alastair informed us that Calvin Hixon had reached out to nobility all across Europe, looking for a benefactor for his inventions.  He had kept that mostly to himself, in fear of rejection.

It turned out that Copper’s father had not abandoned her at all.  Hixon got a response to one of his requests for a sponsor.  He arranged for a woman to take care of his daughter while he, on last minute notice in the form of a royal command, sailed across the Atlantic to meet his new benefactor.

Copper with Flowers

Unfortunately, the woman he hired to take care of his daughter was Bitsy.  The conniving maid had already been at work on Ignatius, having overheard conversations between the two men that revealed Ignatius was Hixon’s illegitimate son.  She also heard them discuss re-creating Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions.  She suspected that Hixon possessed the priceless drawings.

Bitsy intercepted Hixon’s communications so no one knew where he had gone.  She made it look like Copper had been abandoned.  Bitsy went to Ether Farthing of Merciful Haven Orphanage and put a bug in her ear that Copper had been left on her own.  Bitsy had thought that if the orphanage took Copper, the girl would be neatly out of Bitsy’s way.  Then Bitsy could search for the drawings and anything else that might be of use in her scheme.

One thing in Alastair’s narration surprised me. I would have thought the mean-spirited people from Merciful Haven were involved in the mess.  However, it seemed that they were simply bad people, and not otherwise involved.

Ethel Farthing

Cornelis regained control of the aerial screw and the threads twisted smoothly again.  We floated slowly closer to the grandstand where Alastair and tiny Victoria were standing when we arrived.

I gasped. 

“Oh! That’s the Queen isn’t it?  Queen Victoria?” I said excitedly and Alastair chuckled and confirmed my brilliant bit of deduction.

Cornelis really didn’t need to snigger at me the way he did.  Looking down I saw an elegant man of middle years.  He bowed down on one knee before the Queen of England.  He seem completely focused on the monarch, hardly even noticing our flying machine.

 

Abruptly Copper gave a shrill cry, “Daddy!”

Calvin Hixon looked upward toward his child’s cry and a broad smile split his face.  Finally he noticed the aerial screw and wonder lit his eyes.  The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India was utterly forgotten the moment Calvin Hixon saw his daughter.

It wouldn’t have been Cornelis Drebbel if we had landed smoothly.  The contrivance that carried us gave a loud screech.  The Dutchman said he’d have it fixed in a jiffy.

Drebbel stamp

Cornelis Drebbel stamp, Wikimedia Commons

“Cornelis, no!  Please, let’s just land as best we can.  We’re not that far above the ground,” I pleaded.

“Actually Felicity, we’re at enough of a height to risk serious injury,” Alastair said in a reasonable voice.  “I know you wouldn’t put Copper at risk,” he added and I slumped in resignation.

A yellowish green aura surrounded the alchemist.  Cornelis climbed to balance on the edge of the gondola.  He was doing something to the threads of the screw, but I couldn’t see what he did.  The machine stopped making that shrill sound and it appeared to run smoothly.

“See!” Cornelis exclaimed proudly, still balanced on the rim of the gondola.  “Simple as that,” he said with a satisfied nod.

The threads of the screw began to rotate rapidly. 

“Alastair! The brass lever behind you,” Cornelis cried.

Alastair Wong whirled to move the lever.  When he touched it, the aerial screw lurched violently, but immediately slowed to normal and continued to descend.

However, Cornelis Drebble fell from the gondola when the craft lurched.  I saw his body falling rapidly toward the ground.  At the last instant he popped out of sight. 

Sometimes when he popped away like that it was a while before the alchemist could return.  I never understood how the pop works.

Alastair Wong, ever a gentleman helped me alight from the gondola — not that I needed assistance thank you.  I was just being polite.  I was not conforming to the constraints of society.

anna-may-wong

Anna May Wong

The diminutive Victoria Wong rushed to join us, delighted to see Copper again.  Not to mention the fact that she was quietly pleased with Alastair’s theatrical rescue of the air machine from being snared on the tower.  She gazed at her older cousin with an expression that bespoke hero worship.

Copper and her father had a joyous reunion.  Hixon had sent an excited telegram to Ignatius Belle when Queen Victoria asked him to take part in the faire that was in progress.  Ignatius hurried to join him and let him know the fullness of what was happening at home.  However, none of them knew about the amethyst world.

“So where is this amazing alchemist?” Calvin Hixon wanted to know.

I looked around, beginning to feel worried that Cornelis hadn’t yet reappeared.  Then I heard a sharp pop.  A woman screamed and Palace Guards hurried to her side.  When I got a look between the broad shoulders of the guards, I cringed and shook my head.

Cornelis Drebbel had rematerialized.  The Dutchman sat in the lap of Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria olderThe Queen’s eyes narrowed as she looked at the strange man who appeared out of nowhere and landed in her royal lap.  I feared she’d demand his head right then and there.  Then I remembered his skull was safely in my hatbox.  He wasn’t exactly alive, so he couldn’t precisely be killed.  Although he could suffer terribly.

I was absolutely aghast when Cornelis Drebbel wriggled his bushy blonde eyebrows at Queen Victoria.

Her eyes widened as she looked at the alchemist. 

“We are not amused,” she said evenly.

It was even more surprising when a wicked glint came to her eyes and abruptly the Queen pinched his bottom!  Cornelis shot up from her lap.  For the very first time, I saw shock paint the face of Cornelis Drebbel.

The end

***

silhouette of Victorian woman, flower designs

Pixabay

***

Well dash my wig!  That’s all, isn’t it, my chuckaboos…   Everyone was so enthuzimuzzy that I’ve truly enjoyed rerunning this serial.  It’s been absolutely hanging having you along for the ride.

Cornelis Drebbel gets another adventure — eventually…  I started the novel a couple of years ago.  I had outlined a very detailed plot and story-line, in the planning for National Novel Writing Month.  That’s right — for once I was not going full on pantser

Then, days before I was to start writing it, I saw a delightful animated movie.  The blasted thing had all the details of my intended plot. I do mean details too, from smoke belching steampunk machines,  to a missing father (I deliberately echoed that aspect of this serial), to a mother’s betrayal, to an evil scientist!  It was April and the Extraordinary World.

Skull of the Alchemist Cover 1

The Skull of the Alchemist — coming… someday

Some people call that kind of thing “the Creative One-mind.”  Whatever spin you want to put on it, I was completely derailed.  I endeavored to create a new plot for Cornelis and a grown-up Copper, but I was thoroughly undermined.  I’ve never gone back to the story I tried so hard to produce that November.  However, it’s high on my list of novels to finish writing!

The next serial you will see from me is the collaboration with blogger extraordinaire, Dan Antion of No Facilities.

See you next time!

***

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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 © 2015 and 2019 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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