FFfAW: Another’s fate is sealed

This week’s photo prompt is provided by TJ Paris. Thank you TJ for our photo prompt!


The pair meet at Moll King’s coffee house.

An unlikely couple, one small, slight, linen clean and crisp. The other’s face is hidden beneath a cape that smells of chop houses, the red stench of the abattoir.

Surrounded by the usual pickpockets and whores plying their trade among the foolish rich, the sons of lords and earls who think it fashionably daring to drink a bitter brew with London’s unwashed.

It’s summer, so the rot of the market competes with tobacco and unwashed bodies, the composting rushes on the floor bringing the smell of the Thames in Autumn.

A bag of coins appears from a spotless sleeve, sags to the table, spirited away beneath the vast cape.

Without a word, one man leaves, vanishing into the throng. The small man stays, orders coffee he doesn’t drink, refuses offers of flesh old and young.

Money changes hands and another’s fate is sealed. He will not sleep tonight.


Written for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. To join in and read other stories see here.

Moll King was a formidable woman of many ‘talents’, most of them disreputable. Read more about her life here. And more about the coffee house she and her husband Tom ran here.


32 thoughts on “FFfAW: Another’s fate is sealed

    1. Aw, thank you so much Joy. The 18th century isn’t really my period, though I love the idea of a coffee house, filled with a cross section of society, intellectual and polictical intrigue – fascinating places. Thanks for another great photo 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joy! I have a wonderful book called Hubbub by a historian called Emily Cockayne all about how dirty, noisy and smelly the 17th-18th centuries were in English cities. Revolting but absolutely fascinating, so maybe some of that info lodged in the back of my head somewhere 🙂 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hubbub-Filth-Stench-England-1600-1770/dp/0300137567
      I struggled with this one, truth be told. But cobbled a story together in the end. Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That sounds like such an interesting book! It’s hard for us to remember these days how dirty and smelly and smoggy most cities were (until relatively recently, really). All those regulations and advancements really did work wonders!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re quite right – in the 18th century, building owners were responsible for the upkeep of the pavement in front of their houses, so the state of them was diabolical! And there was little mains sewerage, so people pumped theirs into their own cellars until it leaked into the neighbours’s house. No wonder disease was endemic. It’s a great book, Joy, I recommend it highly 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Angie. Tricky not to overload the passage with description – I do love to emphasise how dirty and smelly we were in the past! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Jade! I do enjoy a bit of historical fiction, though it’s often Victorian or Tudor rather than 18th century. Some one invent a time machine 🙂 Thanks so much for reading

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Iain. I love the historical fiction (could be due to the fact I have a degree in it!) love the hubbub of those coffee houses – fascinating places. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you! I did a history degree and always loved it, so I suppose I’ve absorbed a fair few details through the years, though my knowledge is patchy. Than you so much for your lovely comments. 🙂


      1. Thank you so much. I’m a sucker for historical fiction – give me a London peasouper fog, a hackney carriage and some dark deeds and I’m happy 🙂


      2. Ooh, exciting – nice to compare notes. Apart from the ones written at the time you’d expect (Dickens, Austen, the Brontes, Eliot, Hardy, Henry James) I’ve enjoyed some of the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson was wonderful, as is anything by Sarah Waters (the Fingersmith etc) and Kate Atkinson (though hers are usually 20th century) and The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin, set in 30s New Orleans. Hilary Mantell is wonderful for reproducing the Tudor period (I mean, really, really amazing) and C.J Sansom is a brilliant medievalist (if a bit overdramatic with the murders). I still have a soft spot for Ellis Peters’ Cadfael books ( a medieval Benedictine monk who solved murders ) though they’re a bit too cosy to be realistic and are rather formulaic. Phew! Sorry if that’s a bit of a ramble 🙂


      3. I loved watching Cadfael on PBS — but have never read the books.
        Imogene Robertson is good for the country and city in the 1700s. Her best are the first two — I’ll send you the titles.
        I like Sherlocke Holmes and some of those who have carried on his legacy. There is a series with Conan-Doyle and Oscar Wilde as friends and murder solvers — a bit slow, but interesting.
        Anne Perry writes formulmatic 1800 mysteries — too cozy tho her first 2 were good.
        Peter Lovesy used to write mysteries set in Victorian England which were excellent. I don’t think he’s done that genre in years, but I found a reprint at a used books store. Phew. Gotta run. More books later. Thanks for your list!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Anthony Horowitz has written some Holmes books which are supposed to be very good, which is interesting. I like the idea of Doyle and Wilde as crime solvers – sounds like great fun. I’ll look into some of those authors too – sounds great. Thanks 🙂


  1. I’m so grateful that I did not live back in those times. Your awesome descriptions put me there for a few minutes to get the real feel and odor of the place…and that is enough! Great job on this! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Gina! I do love to write about how the world used to smell – I think it’s a viceral way to show how very different the past is. Thanks very much for reading 🙂


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