What pegman saw : When the old devil calls

This week Pegman takes us to Wroclaw, Poland


I huddle under the sign of the Blind Beggar, the first flakes of snow snatching at my coat as darkness reclaims Alms Street. A pair of bangtails scurry from the rookery, shawls pulled tight to keep out the chill, their conversation shrill with drink.

I don’t see the child until a tiny hand slips into mine. A boy – I think – no more than four, eyes too-wide in a narrow face, like a creature adapted to the night.

‘Says he’s ready.’ The voice is faint, a hiss through narrow pipes. The child vanishes into a low alley, bare feet silent on the cobbles.

The only sound is the shush of falling snow as I follow Old Noah’s messenger into the slum. When the devil calls you come, but fear has me like a hook, trying to pull me away to anywhere but this place, this night.


Written for What Pegman Saw, a writing prompt using Google Streetview. See here to join in and to read the other stories. I saw the statue above the doorway with her blank face and clapsed hands and the rest came from there.

Bangtail – Victorian slang term for a prostitute

Rookery – Victorian slum reknowned for crime and prostitution, the most notorious of which was the Old Nichol.


42 thoughts on “What pegman saw : When the old devil calls

    1. Thanks so much Rochelle. I always find writing this period very enjoyable – probably read more Dicken than is healthy! Really glad you liked it 🙂


    1. Thanks Walt, glad you liked it. Did you go to Wroclaw when you were over there? I confess, I know little about the country, which is shameful as we have quite large Polish communities here now in the UK


      1. I visited Wroclaw briefly, but spent most of my time in Lodz, which is not far from Warsaw. Made frequent trips to Warsaw, and got around to Krakow, Poznan, Gdansk, and some other small towns. A picture like that one could have been taken in pretty much any urban area, with the style of buildings and the graffiti. It began to feel like home after a while… I want to go back! And yes, I recall visiting your neck of the woods after Poland joined the EU and noticed how many Poles had relocated.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sounds like you got to know the area pretty well. Can you speak the language too? Yes, we’ve had a lot of Polish folk over here – some amazing Polish lads did our house removal – a good few Polish grocers springing up. Sadly, the Brexit vote has led many to feel insecure and unwanted. We’re not actually sure yet if people who have come over to work are going to be made to leave. Ridiculous, narrowminded, shortsighted for a country whose culture is built on immigration.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I speak what I call caveman Polish, like “me need food!” or “fire bad!” I can understand some caveman Polish when I hear it, but as far as having a conversation, not so much. As for ridiculous, narrow-minded, etc., we over here can’t relate to that at all, because everything is going just great! 😉

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    1. Thanks so much Mara! It is a great prompt, especially as you’re not confined to the original image, you can go onto Streetview and have a virtual wander around. Really good fun. Thanks so much for reading and I’m really glad you liked it 🙂


    1. I could have made this clearer, you’re quite right. If you look at the arched doorway there is a small carved figure wearing a skirt right above the door, its hands together as if in prayer or begging for something. If you zoom in, the figure seems to be featureless – to be blind – although I guess she must be mute too! Take a look here to see what I mean https://www.google.pl/maps/@51.1015606,17.0383802,3a,15y,222.5h,103.05t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sdE21u0ZRanjbV-H5wRmnuQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=pl When I focussed in on her, the phrase The Blind Beggar sprang into my head – it’s a pub in Whitechapel in London notorious for a gangland killing in the 1960s, though I just nicked the name for the story. Sorry for my lack of clarity. 🙂

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      1. It is an interesting way to come up with prompts, very creative. I like how different writers can take different angles from the same scene. Sad that it almost never works for me, though, given that they’re all in modern settings. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, it’s tricky for you with FF too isn’t it? You always have to find an equivalent that would fit with the period. Though I think the vaguest link is acceptable. Look at this Pegman prompt – a photo from a modern Polish city and I set a story in Victorian London! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Rochelle doesn’t mind that I choose another photo for the header of my post, and I can usually find *something* that fits with Eneana and is reasonably relevant. But sometimes, not so much: I end up spending more time looking for a decent photo than I had set aside for writing the story in the first place, and I just give up. With Pegman, though, it’s so specific to that place and time; I just don’t see how I could keep replacing that week’s photo with yet another Medieval city street scene (or even whether they’d be cool about that).

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You could always run the idea by Joah or Karen. They seem pretty easy going people. Though I appreciate the time factor too – sometimes it takes me half an hour to find an appropriate photo for a story and I’m not matching it to an original as well 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The time factor really is the killer These days I’m not finding time for my non-blog writing and still can only manage to get one flash fiction piece in a week, *maybe* two. It’s not a good time to start a new photo challenge, if I can’t keep up with the ones I have!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, J.M. Really glad you liked it. I love the Victorian slang, though too much and it sounds like a parody, so I have to restrain myself. Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve always admired writers who can do dialect well. I don’t think I can, so I don’t try. I think you need a lot of exposure to be able to do it convincingly.

        Liked by 1 person

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