What Pegman Saw : The drowned man of Ram’s Island

Image: Google Streetview

The thing that upset Ma most was not having Uncle Niall’s body.

When family die, there’s a way things go, you know? The women wash and dress the dead fella, lay him in his box on a table in the parlour. There’ll be the uncles with their greased down hair and card collars, gripping pints of plain. There’ll be the aunties with their washed-out faces, fingers crimped round tea not drunk, wake cake not eaten.

But from the day Niall was found floating face down near the hide, the questions started. A poacher with no traps or snares. A smoker with no tobacco pouch, no matches. A married man with his ring finger cut clean off at the knuckle.

Time’s passed and more folk have vanished. Now Ram’s Island’s left to the heron’s and the coots, the mute mouthed salmon.

But as Ma says, ‘Some bastard knows, don’t they?’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, a prompt that uses Google Street View at it’s jumping off point. This week ,we are at Ram’s Island, Northern Island.

Why did that nature lover’s hide prompt me to write a murder mystery? It looks pretty isolated, pretty lonely out in the water, the perfect place for bad things to happen. It could also be the overhanging Brexit negotiations that threaten the peace in Ireland, the recent parcel bombs that have been claimed by the IRA. Whatever inspired this tale, it seems trouble is never far away.

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Friday Fictioneers: Miss Bucher’s legacy


PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

The Bosendorfer piano sat drunkenly on Alexandre Frick’s lawn, rain splashing on the pared keys.

The instrument once belonged to his tutor, Miss Bucher, the woman who had convinced him he could be a classical pianist. The plan had been to restore it, but moth grubs had eaten the felt and woodworm was turning the frame to powder.

Alexandre’s wife Sofia stood beside him, huddling under her umbrella. ‘I have an idea,’ she said.

Four months later, geraniums shone scarlet from the frame, purple campanula and lobelia tumbled over the keyboard, blooming just as Alexandre had thanks to Miss Bucher.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the photo to become inspired and write a tale of your own. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw: The failed gardener

Image : Google Street View

The wind brings the scent of Loch Finlaggan and the distant Paps of Jura – tinny water, dying heather, the fuller smell of barnacle geese, now gathering for the winter. Angus scrapes his spade clean, knocks mud from the tines of his fork.

There was a time Moira would come with him, insist on planting sunflowers and cosmos, open faced blooms she said would lure in the bees. He would smile, back bent over his cabbage seedlings.

The wind scorched the feathery fronds of the cosmos, slugs feasted on the sunflowers, biting through the hairy stems, only stumps remaining. Soon Moira stayed at home, leaving the Loch to Angus and the geese.

Perhaps that was when Moira decided to leave, when she realised nothing she planted would flower.

He still grows vegetables but once picked he throws them on the compost heap to rot.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we are in Greenland, though my story is based on the Island of Islay, part of the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. There is a link between the two locations, however – the barnacle geese mentioned are Greenland natives but overwinter on the west coast of Scotland. I just followed their flight path to find Angus.

Friday Fictioneers: Magda’s Triumph


PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

We’d hear the phut-phut of the old Triumph motor bike minutes before seeing it. As it drew nearer, other sounds – the twin rattles of the sidecar’s loose wheel and the cage strapped to the pillion with cable ties.

The din snaked along cobbled lanes, in through open windows, drowned out the excited yabber of playing kids, of old time tunes on the radio.

Then Magda would appear in scratched goggles and a flying helmet, squint-eyed cat pressed to the floor of the cage, claws locked round the wires.

Magda chose to be alone, mum said, but I never learned why.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale and don’t forget to read and comment on others, found here.

What Pegman Saw : Last night I dreamt …

Image : Google Street View

I saw them often, the housekeeper and the new wife.

The housekeeper always pinned and pressed, neat and stiff as a mannequin. The new wife trotting along behind, stockings runkled, collar tucked in. Far too young for that suave husband, don’t you think? Young enough to be his daughter.

So different from the first wife. All fur stoles and satin gowns and diamonds. Flinty, though, a cruel twist to her mouth. What happened to her? Drowned? She didn’t look the boating type.

Well, this evening as I was putting Dotty to bed, I smelled burning, sharp and bitter – very close. I pulled back the curtain and there it was – Manderley burning, flames licking the window frames, the roof a blaze of red, tiles shattering to the ground.

I do hope … Do you think anyone was inside?

***

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

I saw this view and it looked as if the white house was watching the grand one in the foreground, spying almost. Then for some reason I thought of the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, of a neighbour watching the comings and goings at Manderley, Maxim and the second Mrs de Winter and Mrs Danvers …

The title is taken from the opening line of the novel – Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

Friday Fictioneers : The end of Coral Ludd


PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

You know the Red Mountain Market and Deli? Closed up, oh, fifteen years ago I guess. Round the time we had that spate of fires.

Owner was a guy called Stanley Ludd – brick-coloured hair, smelled of old books and floral disinfectant. Ran the place with his mother, Coral, and what a mean old biddy she was – used to bawl poor Stanley out in front of the customers, beat him sometimes.

She died in one of those fires, got trapped in the library somehow.

Never saw a prettier sight than all that paper burning, flames the colour of new bricks.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

What Pegman Saw : A cold case

‘There are several slash like tattoos on the body, mainly at the joints and the lumber region.’ Doctor Balsano pulled a tissue from her sleeve, dabbed at her dripping nose. ‘I expect to find more once he’s out of the ice.’

The wind cut along the glacier, nipping at Koffler’s fingertips, even through his gloves. ‘Any obvious wounds?’ He stamped his feet, shaking the scree loose, sending it tinkling down the slope.

‘Quite a list actually. A head wound, an incision in the left shoulder, possibly an entry wound. Defensive cuts to the palms of his hands, a broken nose -‘

‘Sounds more like a boxer than a farmer.’ Koffler stared down the valley to the huddle of hikers below, their brightly coloured jackets and hats shimmering against the shale and grubby ice. He grinned. ‘Gave them a shock, huh?’

Balsano shrugged. ‘Murder’s murder, no matter how cold the case.’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Mount Everest, Nepal.

The story was inspired by the discovery of Ötzi ‘The Iceman’ by hikers in the Tyrolean Mountains in 1991. At first, the body was assumed to have been an unfortunate mountaineer, until it was realised how very old he was … over 5,300 years old.

Ötzi has 61 tattoos – thought to be attempts at remedying joint pain – and in recent years scientists have learned that he was, indeed, a murder victim.

He has become one of the most studied human beings on the planet.

Take a look here to learn more.