I could call this week’s post – “The Art of Visualization: The Key Element to Writing, Art and Photography”, but the result of that ability is “On The Radio – Meet Hank”. I’m doing a joint collaboration with one of my favorite authors, Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene. One of my most consistent comments to her after reading her writing is: “I love it…I am instantly pulled in because I can visualize everything you are writing about”. When she asked me to do this joint post, her request was simple: “Go through your art and photography portfolio and send me a picture that you would like to have me weave into one of my novels”. I narrowed it down to Cedar Rapids Barn because this capture of an old dilapidated barn created a visualization of a rural setting and the mystery surrounding the structure (side note: I was driving on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the heavily wooded hills along the river when I spotted this structure nestled in the trees. Of course I had to stop…hike into the woods and take some shots with my camera). So with that, I would like to turn it over to the star of this visualization, Teagan:
Hi Kirt! Hello everyone, I’m Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, from the blog, Teagan’s Books. It’s my pleasure to be a guest here at The Wall Gallery. Thanks to Kirt for working with me on this joint post!
As I get ready for the takeoff of my next 1920s novel, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I, I’m doing some collaborative posts with other bloggers. We’re combining their unique talents with my stories. From his wonderful collection, Kirt chose this image, Cedar Rapids Barn. I let it spontaneously lead me to the story below.
This tale is set in the Roaring Twenties world of my flapper character, Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip. (For more about Pip, see The Three Things Serial Story click here.)
Today meet Hank Hertz. This vignette is part of Hank’s backstory. He’s a young man Pip will meet when she is sent to live in Savannah, Georgia with her grandmother. However, this vignette takes place at some point not too long before Pip arrives there, so she is not in this story.
On the Radio — Meet Hank
No harm in trying one more time, Hank Hertz thought as he stacked all manner of electronic components on the counter.
“Hi, Mr. Hardscrabble,” Hank mumbled, trying to avoid eye contact with the hardware store’s proprietor.
“Hank, I already told you. Your ma told me not to sell you any of this gadgetry tomfoolery. You might as well put all that stuff back on the shelves, son.”
Hardscrabble put a hand to his balding head in a frustrated gesture. He found his spectacles there and smiled because he’d forgotten where he put them. However, he brightened when the door opened. One of “Savannah’s finest,” Detective Dabney Daniels strolled into Hardscrabble Hardware. His finely chiseled features remained neutral, but he raised an eyebrow at the tableau at the counter.
“Now get on with you, boy. Put everything back. I can’t take your money,” the store owner repeated before turning to a real customer. “That boy gets more like his granddaddy every day. Detective, what can I do for you?”
“No need to rest on formality, Homer. I can’t find my flashlight, so I’m here for another one,” the detective replied then looked sheepish. “Go ahead and laugh about things going missing at a police station. I can tell you’re holding it back.”
Hank watched the exchange between the tall detective and the portly shopkeeper as he reluctantly made trips from the sales counter back to the shelves. He could have carried more things at one time, but he delayed the inevitable, hoping Mr. Hardscrabble would change his mind. As he picked up a few more items to return to the shelf, the detective stopped him.
“What is all that stuff, son? If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were building a ham radio. Or at least intended to before Homer shut you down.”
For a moment Hank’s face lit up at the mention of his passion — all things electronic, especially radios. He looked dejectedly at his feet.
“Momma wants me to study law. She says electronics and inventions are a distraction. She even said they were toys!”
“So all the old fogies are conspiring against you, huh? Well, you’d better ankle all that stuff back where it came from, like Homer told you.”
After supper Hank got an armload of books and headed out the kitchen door. His mother looked at the heavy tomes and gave a satisfied nod. Hank knew she was watching from the window above the sink as he walked to the little red barn. Vines of Cherokee roses ran riot over the building. The Hertz family used the barn for storage, but Hank made it his personal spot to study or just hang out. He also had a workbench tucked in one corner where he discretely kept his radio equipment.
The horizon blazed red with sunset when Hank slipped out of the barn. He pedaled the motorized bicycle he had made until he was far enough away that his parents wouldn’t hear the noise of the motor. Dusk descended as he rode into town.
Hank didn’t pay any attention to the dark Ford parked on the corner, or to the fact that someone sat inside it. He rode down the alley and came up behind Hardscrabble Hardware. The back door was locked, but he found a window he could open. He took his flashlight and climbed into the store.
He knew exactly where to find everything he wanted. So it didn’t take Hank long to gather all the electronics he tried to buy that afternoon. He stood at the sales counter and added up all the prices. He figured the tax. Then he left the full amount of the purchase, plus two cents, because he didn’t have enough pennies to leave the exact change.
Putting everything into his bag, Hank turned toward the back of the shop. It felt like an electric charge shot from his neck down his arm when he heard a cough behind him. Hank jerked around to face the sound.
The boy thought he’d lose everything he ate for supper when he saw the police detective standing there, arms folded.
“So you actually broke into the store and paid for the things Homer wouldn’t sell you? Son, I don’t know what to make of that.”
Hank stumbled back a step. He wanted to run, but the copper knew who he was and where he lived. Besides, Hank had a pretty good idea that those long legs could catch up with him before he got to his bicycle. His breath caught in his throat. Hank couldn’t have spoken even if he’d known what to say.
The detective closed the distance to the counter in a single step. He pointed his new flashlight to the paper where Hank had added up his purchase. Then he pursed his lips as he thought. He stared at Hank as if he could see every fib the boy had ever told. Hank gulped.
“Where’d you get the money for this stuff, son? Allowance? Money for odd jobs?”
Hank only nodded, still unable to talk. Finally he found his voice and croaked out a reply. “It’s my money sir. Fair and square. I wouldn’t steal anything.”
“I guess I’m going to have to have a talk with your parents,” the Dabney Daniels said, slowly shaking his head.
Poor Hank felt like he might sink through the floor, right then and there. His knees felt weak.
“But this,” the copper motioned at Hank’s bag full of stuff. “I don’t see as any law has really been broken. After all, I walked in through the front door, which was unlocked. I know Homer leaves through the back door and forgets to lock the front. But being as you’re here, I assume he left it open for you.”
Hank gazed at Daniels in wide eyed confusion.
“Besides, I hate doing paperwork. If you had actually broken into this store, I’d have to haul you to the station and spend the rest of the night writing up the report. I do have to talk to your parents though,” he added causing Hank to sink further.
The young man managed a groan.
“You know, I really need an intern down at the station. I think your mother will see that working for me would be a good learning experience for a future lawyer. In a way, that’s where law starts isn’t it? With the police? Meanwhile you can put your talent with radio gadgetry to use. How does that sound?”
And so Savannah’s youngest policeman began his career. If you want to know more about the other characters in Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-I, click here. Thanks for reading.
Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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