What Pegman Saw : What me and Tolly heard at the top of the stairs

Nights, me and Tolly would creep out of bed to sit on the top step. Toes curled against the chill, we’d listen to the grown-ups sing songs from the old country.

Sometimes they’d start with a jig, a tune slapped out on the catcall piano, pedals squeaking, drowning out hammered strings. Some nights, the mood was heavy, the air thick with tobacco and gin. Those nights were for sad songs of missed, misty mountains, lost love and lost virtue. After the doors were bolted, the singing would zigzag to silence along the street below.

One night Tolly was dozing, head knocking my shoulder, when the voices turned sour as the air. The piano lid crashed shut. A scuff of boots. A sound like a sack of flour dropped to the floor.

The next night there was one less voice at the piano.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its kick off point. This week we are at the Billinidgel Hotel in New South Wales, Australia. See here to join in, share and read others.




35 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw : What me and Tolly heard at the top of the stairs

  1. Took me back to the times I too crept out of bed to listen at the top of the stairs to the mysterious goings on of adults in a downstairs room. We’ve all done it, and rarely was much revealed except that grown-ups are a weird bunch. Certainly not anything as violent as here — well, hopefully not. Another fine demonstration, as if any confirmation was needed, of how how well you provoke with the shock of the familiar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was around for a couple of my parents’ parties back in the 70s / early 80s. I remember finding them vaguely disturbing, as the adults lost their inhibitions and got louder and more badly behaved. Much wine, much loud music, flares and mackerel pate as I recall! Thank you very much for reading and for the generous comment Chris

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Ha! I think my mum’s was basically mackerel and cottage cheese with seasoning. I remember it being ok but I was a kid and only knew mum’s cooking 🙂


    1. Thanks so much Crispina. I’m usually cautious of alliteration – it can sound jokey, can’t it? But I felt I just about got away with this. Glad you liked my catcall piano too! Thanks so much for reading

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your generous comment Dale. Another setting that might have potential, I think, but not enough hours in the day. Glad the place came through clearly for you. Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautifully described situation. The battered, out-of-tune piano with the squeaking pedals was particularly vivid. And then the finale, the sour voices, the scuff of boots and the muffled thud – and one less voice at the piano thereafter. Drama played out just beyond the view of the witnesses, so we never learn whether or not the altercation was lethal – we can only speculate with dread that it must have been.
    Great writing, Lynn!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Penny. So glad you liked those elements and you felt they worked. You’re quite right, we have no idea if the fight was fatal or just resulted in a ban. Perhaps the children never knew either. Children interpret adult actions in several ways, don’t they? They might see something as more sinister than a adult would (fear of the dark etc) or they can read things in a more innocent way because they lack the knowledge and experience. Perhaps the children never knew what happened in the pub either. Thank you again Penny


    1. Thank you so much! I like writing from a child’s eye view – the world looks different from there and the reader can deduce what’s happening without me having to spell things out. It can make instances more poignant and shocking. Thank so much for reading


  3. Toes curled against the chill. This line sets the scene.
    a tune slapped out on the catcall piano. This one adds foreboding.
    the air thick with tobacco and gin. And this line makes things overbearing and ripe.
    The piano lid crashed shut. Boom. Things have changed.
    The next night there was one less voice at the piano. And here it is….
    So nicely done, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Lish. So much of writing is instinctive, isn’t it? I wanted a certain atmosphere but didn’t consciously sit and included the elements you mentioned to create it. Glad you felt it worked though. Thanks for the kind comment


    1. I do hope it wasn’t a memory of yours, Casey! Though I remember listening to some conversations between my parents, being upstairs when they had friends round. Adult time was always odd, unsettling, unknowable. Thank you so much for reading


      1. I haven’t thought of an answer for it, no. Pretty rubbish at riddles though. I imagine he’d be pretty good at most things, to be fair


      2. Ha! Okay, it’s probably not fair to give you a hint, but I think it would be fun to do a post about your blog so… think about what all bloggers want a lot of….and what he has a lot of… 😉


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