What Pegman Saw : The Moses Rickson Poker Club

 

 

We’d sit out the back of the casino after our shift, packing crate as a makeshift table,  three plastic chairs Moses had rescued from a skip because he was ‘too damn old to sit on the kerb.’ We’d smoke, pass a bottle of pétrole, stagger home at dawn and sleep till it was time to do it all again.

The poker club was Moses’ idea. He thought it was funny, watching rich fools lose thousands of francs all night, then going out back by the steaming dumpsters, playing cards for matches by torchlight. We’d shiver under blankets in the dry season and in the rainy season, we’d string up a plastic sheet, listen to the drains gulp down the rats.

Tonight is the last time the poker club will meet. We’ll smoke, laugh, drink too much home brew and toast the empty chair where Moses once sat his skinny behind.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week, we visit Kinshasa, Congo. See here to join in.

I haven’t posted for two weeks, the longest gap since I started blogging over three years ago. Work and family issues have taken up too much of my time to commit to being here, so sorry for my absence, dear blogging friends.

NB

Pétrole is the slang name for Lotoko, a home brewed moonshine commonly made in Congo from maize, plantain or cassava. It can be up to 50% proof.

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43 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw : The Moses Rickson Poker Club

  1. Haunting and, as so often, you arrange it so that we want to go over it again to pick up all the little clues, spot the signposts, that lead us to the inevitable but initially unsuspected conclusion — signposts like the title’s significance, appreciated only in retrospect.

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    1. Thank you, very much Chris. Took a bit of drafting, this one – I’m out of practice writing shorts! Glad you felt it worked, though. I just spotted those men out the back of a dodgy looking casino and the idea came from there. Thanks for reading, hope you’re well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your character, Moses, is wonderful. You give us such a good picture of him (and all done indirectly with only the briefest of direct description) that I can visualise him clearly. Like Karen, I love the drain gulping down the rats – I can hear the sound; it’s a perfect description.
    It’s great to have you blogging again, Lynn!

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    1. Ah, thank you Penny! Yes, the blog has been neglected as other matters took over – life does that, doesn’t it? Glad you thought the story worked well and especially glad Moses came through too – I visualise him with a particularly broad, toothy grin! Thanks for your kind, useful comments and for reading 🙂

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  3. Hi Lynn, very evocative as ever but I have to say the continuity in the speaker of this piece is a bit of an odd one. The opening phrasing suggests an American speaker, the mention of ‘francs’ shifts the local to a French city, possibly Paris and then the mention of ‘home brew’ is very specifically British.

    It was definitely a sensory piece, you already create a great sense of place. but this geographical jumping made it hard to settle – take as you will, meant with much love, glad to have you back! x

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    1. Hi Pola. I get what you mean about the home brew but not sure about the rest. The Congo have francs as their currency and obviously the ‘too damn old’ is a translation into English but I’m pretty sure the sentiment carries across nations – we all feel like that as we grow older! Thanks for the feedback

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  4. Another great piece, Lynn! Just to chime in on the comment above, I did not notice any Americanisms in the opening. In fact, ‘skip’ is unfamiliar to most of us, I think, and ‘kerb’ would be spelled ‘curb’ over here. ‘Home brew’ is definitely in common use, didn’t know there was anything specifically British about it. One thing’s for sure though — I always learn something from your writing! (Had no idea there was a concoction called Petrole!)

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    1. Thank you Walt – always interesting to learn where our English overlaps and where it doesn’t! I wonder what you guys call a ‘skip’ then – it’s a big, open topped metal container used for the disposal of large scale waste, often at building sites but individuals hire them too and you often see them on the street outside a house that’s being worked on. I love peering into skips, seeing what people have thrown out and there are some who make a habit of scouring them, fishing out items to use themselves. Just looked it up and it’s come down from the Old Norse ‘skeppa’ or basket. Didn’t know that! And I hadn’t heard of petrole until today either Walt – another nugget of gold on Wiki. Thank you so much for the insightful comment and for reading.

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      1. Ah, yes, I know the word but thought it just referred to a big waste container that gets emptied regularly rather than one for building waste and rubble. Trust the Brits to have a separate word for each! Thanks for reading Walt

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      2. Sadly, I’ve now looked into this (I’m not proud to admit it, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t wrong!) Seems we do use the same word for both but sometimes add a qualifier, like “roll off” dumpster (when it is rolled off a truck for temporary placement), or by indicating it’s size (20-yard dumpster, 40-yard dumpster, etc.) They might sometimes be called “open-top containers,” too. Each of those is a lot clunkier than skip, though. In general, I’d say different things deserve different words! 🙂 Okay, now you know way more than you want/need to know about our trash container vocabulary!

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      3. Haha! I love learning these differences though. I guess here we know more about US language and culture than many Americans know about ours (passed the cliches of tea drinking, royalty and bad teeth of course!) just because we watch so many of your TV shows and films. But how often do Hollywood blockbusters feature skips? Not often! Thanks for the education Walt 🙂

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  5. Dear Lynn,

    As always, you do have a way with words. Chalk me up for drains gulping rats. Loved that, too. And the voice plants the reader firmly in one of the plastic chairs. I lift my cup to Moses—and to you.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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    1. Thank you very much Rochelle, you’re very kind. So glad you enjoyed the gulped rats! Sadly, I’ve been absent from FF for a few weeks – have a lot going on at the moment and little time to read or comment on other blogs, so didn’t feel it was fair to take part. Hopefully things will calm down some day soon. All best wishes

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      1. I understand. Even though I choose the prompts and schedule my stories weeks in advance, reading and commenting to take time.
        I’m now heavily into a new novel so I might be a bit thready on participation.
        That said, I so enjoy your writing and really do feel your absences. Take care of yourself.

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      2. It’s a credit to you that the prompt is so popular, that so many take part. But yes, a tricky one to keep on top of, especially if you’re writing a new novel. That sounds very exciting, though – how is it going? Do you find you’re a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’, a planner or one who makes things up as they go along? It’s always interesting to learn how other writers work. Is it a historical novel? You’re so strong on your history, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t!
        I am missing FF – such a great community of talented people, such support – and such leadership 🙂 And I really think the discipline has improved my writing. Hopefully things will improve soon and I’ll be back. Take care, Rochelle and best wishes

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  6. We have missed you! And what a fabulous return (as I have come to expect from you..)
    This was so good on every level. I was *there* with them…

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    1. Thank you Dale! Yes, things are a bit odd at the moment, with work and family. A little too taxing. Hopefully we’ll settle down soon and normal service will resume. Thank you for the lovely comment. Hope you’re well

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  7. I really like the sense of place and time in this one, and how you capture the way that these friends’ traditions start — and end. Nicely done.

    I’d missed seeing your posts, but figured that it was because I’ve not been posting or visiting much myself these days. As you say, busy busy busy. I hope that yours settles down soon. Mine is probably going to just get worse for a while, as I have two conferences in mid August and a huge pile of deadlines still to do.

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    1. Thank you Joy! Your life sounds hectic, not just busy, but then you never exactly sound like an idle person! Must be making it hard for you to write up the novel you were working on for NaNo. Always need more hours in the day – or just an extra day a week with no commitments other than to ourselves would be good 🙂 Hope things settle for you by the end of the summer.

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      1. I’m actually finding myself drawn back into my earlier novel, Corwallen Manor. I keep getting more ideas about the characters and certain plot issues. I really hope I can take some time off this November and work on it during NaNo, but work deadlines are just getting worse and worse…

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      2. I have a novel draft I’d like to return to at some time, so I understand your attraction. If the story keeps luring you back, I say it must be worth sticking with. Persevere with it Joy

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      3. I’d always planned on coming back to this one, so this is reassuring, that the ideas seem to be ripening nicely. It’s clear that when I first started that novel, I just did *not* have the experience or skill level to do it justice. Hopefully I do now, we’ll see.

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      4. Ooh, I know what you mean. I feel like that about the novel I have on hold. It was the second I attempted – first draft written really badly – and I feel if I could go back, re-plot, rethink some of the characters and situations, I could actually make a really good stab at it now. I told my 14 year old the premise the other day and he was impressed – and he’s not that easy to impress! Good luck with it. I’m sure you’ll do the idea justice

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jane. Yes, it’s been a busy couple of months though things are a little calmer for now. Thank you so much for thinking of me – I’m fine, just plodding through what life throws up as we all do. Hope you’re well x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes – sometimes violently so. There were a couple of nasty stabbings in li’l ol’ Barny over the weekend – one of them fatal; in the middle of the day, outside Tesco. He was a friend of Paul’s.

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      2. I’m so sorry to hear that, Jane. I saw the man who did it was arrested – small comfort for Paul and the victim’s family, but at least the man can’t hurt anyone else. There was a stabbing near us recently too – something so shocking about seeing the forensics tent up and the buses still passing by as usual. My condolences to Paul.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ll, there’s always something bad going on in the city, but a little rain does dampen things, you’re right. Tempers aren’t quite as frayed when it’s cooler. Hope things stay quiet in Barnstaple x

      Liked by 1 person

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