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Shane Campbell

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The Frenchman and The Red Baron (Prologue)

by Shane Campbell » Thu Nov 24, 2011 8:18 pm

The Frenchman and the Red Baron

The Baron's dream became possible when the Frenchman and his beautiful wife suddenly appeared in town. They were the jewel of the Harvest Festival, outshining even the colored glass gewgaws being hawked outside the beer hall on Bank Street. This year marked the 44th annual festival held in October. For four days large crowds flocked to sample a riot of tasty treats on offer; kettle corn, roasted nuts, funnel cakes, brats, roasted chicken, gyros and of course giant turkey drumsticks. Up and down Market Street the air was filled with the delightful smells and the sounds of a small town by the river at play.

The most popular treat this year was not the pumpkin ice cream or the persimmon puddings, or even the chicken and dumplings, but the succulent savories of duck l'orange and lamb au jus served in paper cups by the Frenchman and his wife. New and exotic to the festival this year, both Louis and his wife, who were from the Armagnac region in southwest France known for brandy, were adored for their kind manner, French accents, and most of all the unique delicacies they sold out of each day. While the adults loved the savories, it was their globes of spun sugar, a royal parisian pastry only two and half inches in diameter with a tuft-like plume on top that captured the hearts of the children.

Nearly lighter than air, these shimmering creations were spun from pure cane sugar and floated lightly above the crowds like glass bubbles, drifting up and down with the air currents to be caught in the grasping hands of giggling babes and adults alike. These floating crystalline wonders would weigh most heavy in future events.

The crowds parted fluidly as the Red Baron wandered through the fair. The crowds didn't seem to be consciously aware of his presence and he not at all of theirs, but nevertheless they parted as if invisible waves of currents were moving them aside. The Baron was lost in thought as he often was, working out the perpetual riddle of how to best accomplish his goals. As he moved along, he would subtly indicate with a nod or a slight gesture and immediately one of his party would present him with the indicated treat. An apple turnover, a roasted ear of corn, a flavored ice; one bite maybe two, and for a moment it would appear that the Baron was pondering the prudence of finishing the treat. Then his arm would arch back over his shoulder and like magic, a bucket would rise up to collect the remainder. This had gone on for some time and several large buckets were already filled. These would be carted up the steep knobs to St Mary's of the Hill where the orphans would feast on the Baron's leftover treats this evening. Then a shining ball of iridescence caught the Baron's eye. He stopped short.

At first he wasn't quite sure what he was seeing, a small balloon maybe? He followed the bubble shaped object until it landed in the hand of a boy who shrieked with glee. The bubble burst and the child immediately began to lick his fingers. He spotted another bubble and the Baron tracked his gaze back along its path where he spotted two more. Then he saw one rise up from a spot in the crowd and he began to move towards it.

As he neared the Frenchman's stall the crowd parted to let him through until he was standing right in front of the stall. The crowed seemed to take no notice of him; certainly no one complained that he had cut the line. The Baron stared down into the stall and watched as another shinning globe floated up into the air from a machine like none he'd seen before. This machine bore some resemblance to a cotton candy machine except this one was very old and made from wood. It was being operated by the Frenchman's wife who was seated in front of the open well where her hands seemed to dance with colors. Something was spinning and something was whirring. It sounded like a calliope and the smell rising up on streaming currents was...intoxicating.

The Baron stared intently, he could see that she was keeping the machine spinning with a foot pedal which she pumped steadily with her right foot. But, it was what she was doing with her hands that made him catch his breath. As she was collecting the diaphanous strands in each hand, she would alternately flick her slim fingers in to several small vats of colored liquid adding flavors to the spheres.

Could this be the final piece of the puzzle? His heart raced and he whispered to one of his party to get Pierce. He must see this. Could it be that a child's sweet would deliver his dream after years of toil?

Next: Dark Clouds

Notes & Links:
1. The Frenchman and his beautiful wife opened “Louise Le Francais” at 133 East Market St in New Albany in November. They are currently offering a limited prix fixe menu priced at $25. John NA provided a review on Hotbytes recently. The Courier also did an article in October.
http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20111020/NEWS02/310200064/New-Albany-gets-taste-France-new-restaurant
2. The beer hall on Bank St is of course the Bank Street Brew House at 415 Bank St in New Albany. The Bank Street Brewhouse taproom restaurant takes its inspiration from the brasseries and gastropubs of Europe. http://www.newalbanian.com/nabcsite2008/bsb_at_a_glance.html
3. The festival is New Albany's annual Harvest Homecoming Festival for more information:
http://www.harvesthomecoming.com/
4. The Armagnac: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armagnac_(province)
5. Eau-De-Vie (water of life) http://www.francetoday.com/articles/2011/08/14/eau-de-vie.html
I'm a bitter drinker....I just prefer it that way
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Ed Vermillion

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Re: The Frenchman and The Red Baron (Prologue)

by Ed Vermillion » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:22 am

Nicely done, Shane. Nicely done.

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