Welcome back to the 1920’s everyone. I really appreciate you dropping by for this “rewind” of the first interactive serial.
But first, I want to update you on my My National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) progress, since that is what has taken me away from writing the serials. This is what my homepage showed me Friday.
1969 Jean Shrimpton as Luci
I’m on track, but next week I’ll be at the office more, and similar progress is not too likely.
However, I’m happy to say my planning has helped. My characters have become very solid in my mind. Apparently so has the setting… because yesterday I kept thinking it was New Years Eve! (The Guitar Mancer opens on December 31, 1969.)
Meet my heroine, Luci. She’s smart and shy, but she’s got spunk. She also has a flare for those 1969/70 fashions! She has a soon to emerge magical, musical talent. Luci doesn’t know it yet, but she is a mancer.
Unlike my novels, which I loosely plan, the blog’s serials are off the cuff pantser fun. I’m hoping you can see into my processes and have a better idea of how I let the random “things” drive the plot and settings, and develop the characters. It’s completely unplanned. I do, however, research each thing or ingredient to make sure I’ve used them consistently with the era. (Sometimes you gave me something unfamiliar that I got to learn about — but that added to the fun.)
On with this rewind, beginning with the introduction to Episode-10. Enjoy!
Enchantment… Doesn’t the word make you think of that harp-like sound effect? Of bright sunshiny magic, and unbridled potential? No? Maybe I’m feeling homesick then. Today’s “three things” come to you from the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, courtesy of RC.
Remember, you can do catch-up reading at the Three Things Serial page. Now, the next episode.
10. Grandma, Big Feet, Woodpile
I was stunned by what had just happened. For a moment I couldn’t think what to do. Boris the Ballerina ran pell-mell into the night after a burglar, (or maybe something worse). I knew one person had already been badly hurt, or possibly killed, that night back at the theatre. Had that glint of metal been a gun? A knife maybe? Should I try to catch up with Boris, and what would I do if I did? The other man had seemed pretty big.
In the instant it took for those questions to run through my head, Andy and Mona came running up to see what had happened. They both looked frightened. As I described the scene their eyes got wider. And wider. Andy the Astronaut, ever the reluctant hero, at least when Mona was around, bravely plunged past his fear.
“I’m going after them,” he proclaimed. Then there was a heartbeat’s hesitation on his part. However, he took a breath and started running in the direction I had pointed.
As Andy rounded the corner, I heard a bump-tumble-crash from the woodpile in back of our building. A muffled “I’m okay!” followed the commotion, and the sound of Andy’s running feet began.
It took a moment for me to decide, because I didn’t want to intrude on Boris’ privacy, but I went upstairs to look at his apartment — I mean office. The door was standing wide open. I hesitated, and then went inside, Mona at my heels. She seemed more than curious. She was positively eager for a look inside the Russian’s home. When I stepped over the threshold I gasped. Everything that had a drawer had been ransacked. Papers, clothing, photos, and books were strewn around the room.
A collection of Russian nesting dolls was overturned and disassembled. Then I spotted a beautiful ceramic vase that looked like it had been deliberately broken against the corner of the table. When I picked up the top half I realized that the vase had been made with a false bottom. The bottom part had a stopper that secured a small opening. I could see how it might be easier to put something inside it than to get it back out again. It would have to be something quite narrow though.
Had Boris hidden something the strange vase? And maybe the man who ransacked the place had gotten in a hurry and shattered the vase to get whatever out quickly? But what and why? I mean, what kind of valuable would fit? Jewelry? Or maybe… Jeepers!
I clutched my pocketbook. I felt the bent key still inside. But the guy couldn’t have been looking for the key, because it dropped from the getaway car. But if it had been dropped by the old woman… maybe Boris also had a key to the same thing. Whatever it might be.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of male voices outside. Mona and I exchanged a “were busted” glance. We both felt guilty for going into Boris’ place without invitation, so we hurried quietly to the building’s entry foyer. I recognized Andy first because the streetlight caught his glasses. Boris was supported by Andy and another man — a large man with only one shoe. Then I realized that man was Frankie.
Clara Bow as Mona the Movie Star
Mona rushed to Boris to make sure he was unharmed, and backed away awkwardly when everyone noticed how much attention she was showering on the retired dancer. He had not been attacked, but the chase was too much for his injured knee. Andy said that he thought Boris also twisted his back when he tripped, chasing the burglar.
“Frankie, I thought you went home,” I said. “And what happened to your shoe?”
“Oh I went back and got it,” Frankie said holding up the shoe. “I just didn’t stop long enough to put it back on.” When he saw my puzzled face he explained, “When I got home I saw a note from my cousin Flavio, asking me to go over to my grandma’s and help with something. So I was headed that way when some jerk half ran into me. Then Boris here charged up behind him. I figured the first guy was up to no good. But I’m not so fast. Coach used to say my muscles slow me down. Anyhow I knew I couldn’t catch the guy so I threw my shoe at him.”
I stood in mute amazement. He threw his shoe at a thief? Andy chimed in, “Yeah, beaned him good too!” I tied him up and we left him there for the police. Frankie went back inside to call the coppers to come and get him.”
Frankie held his shoe closer to me and I saw that there was blood on the heel where it must have hit the guy.
“Good thing I’ve got big feet! I get them from my grandma,” Frankie said proudly.
Special thanks to Lynn for dropping by and giving me “three things” that took me to the setting. She was very specific with “sound,” indicating that she meant a body of water. That took my mind to Florida. … And now episode eleven.
11. Ice Cream, Sound, Thimble
It had been a crazy night, what with the shooting at the theatre, and then the weird burglary at Boris’ place. It took hours before I could settle down enough to go to sleep. Not that I didn’t try. I knew I had a big day ahead — a lot bigger than going out for ice cream with my pals. Mona had invited me to go with her to a party thrown by a movie studio bigwig.
The shindig was going to be out at Santa Rosa Sound, and it was going to be real ritzy. I admit I was a little nervous about it too. I didn’t think I’d fit in with those actors and studio types, but I’d put on my glad rags and go for Mona’s sake. I could tell that she felt nervous about the whole thing. She was probably worried about some of those producer jobbies coming on too strong.
Anyhow Mona said that studio bigwig had planned the whole to-do around a big race around the island, Santa Rosa Island, that is. It was going to be a hundred mile race for sailboats that ran half its course through the sound. The movie people were going to film it, and she was hoping to get a part. Mona said one day it would be a big annual event, but I didn’t see how they’d ever manage to pull anything that pricey together again. After the land boom went bust, most folks could put their entertainment money in a thimble. Either way, I figured it’d be swell to check it out.
This time the story is driven by three things from Michigan. Then next time the “things” will be from the greater DC area. I’m delighted to have gotten two sets of three during the past week. So I’ll use the new words in the order received. And now, episode twelve of our little 1920’s story.
12. Italy, Family, Thunderstorm
I thought Mona and I looked real spiffy as we headed down the stairs. Though I had to admit, Mona always looked prettier. Since she was an aspiring actress, she had to have nice clothes. She wore a light green dress with a dropped waist. It had wide ivory lace gathered at the waist and at the hem, with strip of similar lace at the fluttery sleeves. Mona finished the ensemble with a scarf-hat of the same fabric and lace. I pushed my pink cloche hat further onto my head to make sure it didn’t come off. It looked kind of breezy outside, and I hoped we didn’t end up with a thunderstorm ruining the party.
The “movie star” had kept up a nonstop stream of chatter, so I hadn’t found out many details about the shindig. But one thing was really bothering me, so I interrupted her. “Hold on a sec, Mona. How are we going to get out there? Santa Rosa Sound is not exactly around the corner.”
By then we were in the building’s foyer. I heard the sound of a big motor right outside. Mona grabbed my hand and we went out the door. I was stunned. Mona waived her arm grandly, bowed and said, “Madame, your chariot awaits!”
Our ride was a fire truck? Granted, it was the old one that was mostly used in parades. It wasn’t the main truck the department would use for a fire. But a fire truck? “How…? Err, why?” I sputtered.
“If I want a big part in a film, then I need to make a big entrance!” Mona cried gleefully.
“But who…?” I began, the proverbial cat still having a firm hold on my tongue.
Then a familiar looking guy jumped down from the fire engine. At first I thought it was Frankie, but then I spotted his broad shoulders as he backed away from a couple of other guys that were still on the truck. He caught up with the first guy. There was quite a resemblance between the two young men. I knew they must be family. A moment later Frankie introduced me to his cousin Flavio. I squinted looking at the two guys remaining on the truck as they climbed down. There was more than a resemblance between the last two — they were twins.
“Hey Flavio!” one called as they walked. Then he elbowed his twin for the low whistle he made at Mona. “Cut it out. Be a gentleman.” Then he urged Flavio, “Aren’t you going to introduce us to these dolls? I mean ladies?”
Frankie made as if to swat the two younger guys with his hat. “Grandma would have you by the ear,” he muttered and the two quickly straightened up.
Flavio seemed to be the eldest of the group. “These two mugs are my brothers, Fedel and Frediano. Don’t mind them. They’re partin’ company with us here and going into town.”
I tilted my head, and looked a question at Frankie because my thoughts were flipping with all the “F” names. He seemed to get what was on my mind. Fedel and Frediano gave me matching crooked grins. Then the fireman said, “A lot of Fabros came over from Italy. Every different branch of the family seems to favor a particular letter of the alphabet for names. It’s sort of a tradition with the Fabros.”
“Betcha can’t guess which letter our branch of the family tree uses,” Flavio added, and Mona and I laughed.
I learned that Mona had met Flavio when she went down to the fire station with her big plan to use the old truck. When Frankie learned about the shindig he’d asked to come along. It actually wasn’t hard to believe my friend had secured a fire engine as transportation. Regular guys just couldn’t say no to Mona.
As the boys help us up into the cab of the fire engine, I commented about the large bag Mona carried. I had thought it was a bathing suit but it sounded like there was paper inside. Sure enough she pulled out a brightly colored end. “Streamers!” she said. “When we’re nearly at Santa Rosa Sound, we’ll stop and decorate the truck!”
All I could do was shake my head. She thought of everything when it came to being noticed.
08-18-1920 Suffrage Parade, NYC
As promised in the previous post, these things come from the DC area. Also remember your three things keep the serial going! Maybe some readers from Canada will play? Or someone in the UK will send three things? Or from India? Or Turkey? Everyone is welcome to send three words or phrases! Just remember it’s a 1920’s story when you pick your three things, and that it’s a “G” rated blog.
13. Miracle, Hedgehog, Gloaming
When I climbed up into the outdated fire engine I thought it would be a miracle if made it all the way to Santa Rosa Sound. But the old thing must have still had some heart left, because we didn’t have any problems. We were almost there when Mona asked Flavio to pull over so we could decorate the truck with the streamers and flags she’d brought.
Frankie bent over the seemingly bottomless bag of stuff, passing streamers and such to the rest of us. I heard the tink sound of metal and turned toward Frankie. As he pulled out an old tin lunchbox, the rest of us gathered round.
“Hey sweet cheeks,” Flavio said to Mona. “I thought you said there’d be gourmet grub at this swank shindig.”
“Be careful!” Mona said in a worried voice when Flavio took the lunch pail from Frankie and started to open it.
I heard a scrabbling sound from inside the container and drew back. Had a mouse gotten into Mona’s lunch? And why had she brought lunch in the first place? And, holy Hannah! If there was a mouse in her lunchbox, there were probably mice in our building!
Mona quickly took the tin box from Flavio. That’s when I noticed there were several little holes piercing both ends of the pail. To my astonishment, she opened the container and scooped up a strange spinney rat. Or maybe it was a baby opossum with matted hair. Or, oh applesauce, who knew what!
“Oh Pear, you poor baby,” Mona cooed over the thing. “Are you alright?”
Then she held it out at Flavio who jumped back with a shriek. “Don’t be silly,” Mona chided. “It’s just Pear. I couldn’t leave him alone all day. I just got him. And it’ll be later than the gloaming when we get home tonight.” She smiled coquettishly at the expression her comment brought to Flavio’s face. Yep, Mona sure knew how to get her way. “Yes, you can be sure it’ll be much later than twilight before this party is over,” she told him with her eyelashes aflutter.
“But… Pear?” I asked.
“Why, for Prickly Pear, of course. He’s a hedgehog. Didn’t you know?” Mona told me as if it was all utterly obvious.
Today’s “things” are from an innovative thinker in Albuquerque. I think they help bring life to the story and our characters — a glimpse of their day-to-day life.
14. Finger Waves, Shoe Horn, Cummerbund
The old fire engine roared up to the party at Santa Rosa Sound, streamers flying and bells ringing. Frankie was driving. Mona kicked off her shoes do she could stand on the highest point, arms raised and holding a flag in each hand, Flavio held her steady to make sure she didn’t fall off. I just enjoyed the ride, our grand entrance, and the utter wonder of extravagance that was spread before my eyes.
The partygoers were dressed in all manner of attire, from elegant daywear to party duds I wouldn’t have expected to see ‘til after five, but everyone wore the latest fashions. Women in nice dresses stood talking to others in beaded flapper gear with expensive jewels in their sleek bobbed hair. Some men wore bowties and straw hats while others wore tuxedoes complete with cummerbunds.
I decided to take off my hat. It wasn’t really fancy enough for this party or for my dress. I cautiously touched my finger waves to make sure my hairdo was okay. “Don’t worry,” Frankie assured me. “You’re the cat’s meow.”
So was he. I smiled at the fireman as he looked for a spot where he wouldn’t get blocked in, and parked the old fire truck. I looked at all the nice cars. There were a couple of chauffeurs idly polishing limousines. I did a double take. My eyes were pulled back to an ordinary car. It was familiar, though I was sure it didn’t belong to anyone I knew.
Mona had definitely gotten the attention of the crowd, though it only lasted for a moment. Wow. That group was hard to impress. I thought she’d be the first one down from the truck, but when I looked around, Mona was struggling with her shoe. In a jiffy Flavio had a shoe horn and carefully helped her, like Prince Charming with Cinderella. He kept his hand on her foot for rather longer than necessary. Mona gave me a sideways look and then batted her eyes at her new beau. I rolled my eyes at her and let Frankie help me down from the truck.
Something was nagging at me. I turned back to that car, tilting my head as I looked at it. “What’s up Pip?” Frankie asked.
For an answer I motioned for him to come with me as I headed toward the source of the nagging. That car. Frankie wanted to know why I was so interested in an ordinary car, nice though it was, when there were many more luxe vehicles. I walked all the way around the car. Twice. Then I stooped and ran my hand across a fender.
“There!” I exclaimed quietly.
Mona and Flavio had just reached us. Everyone came closer to see what I was doing. “It’s a bullet hole. Right there. It’s almost hidden,” I said.
“That’s the car from the Nickelodeon, isn’t it,” Frankie said and took a quick look over his shoulder. “The one that old woman got dragged into.”
Mona gasped. “Are you sure Pip? It was pretty dark,” She said.
I nodded in answer. Pear scrabbled in his lunch pail eating his snack.