What Pegman Saw: Cisco’s mission

Image : Google Street View

Every day Cisco sat in the Plaza De Armas, overlooked by the Cathedral and the Jesuit Iglesia.

When drizzle speckled his lashes he pulled up his hood. When the sun blazed he did the same, ignoring the children selling day trips to the mountains or alpaca wool hats. The young hawkers would stare with their deep, curious eyes before scurrying after tourists with deep pockets.

All the while, he’d try to keep the same scene running through his mind and when his rumbling stomach or stiff limbs distracted him, guilt would descend like a cloud. Because how else would God know what he wanted – what his family needed – if he couldn’t keep the image clear in his head?

The kitchen at home. Mama at the stove. The scent of chilli chicken.

Papa walking in through the back door, face wide with a smile.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. See here to join in and to read other tales.

Advertisements

Friday Fictioneers: The simplest act


PHOTO PROMPT© Sandra Crook

There lies Fournier the weaver.

His head is bare, curled wig lost to the Thames. The coral pink silk stockings of which he was so proud are torn and muddied, rucked at the ankle.

The constable will seek answers, question the Spitalfields’ innkeepers and lightermen, turn beady eyes on fellow weavers, those resentful of this recent miasma of incomers.

But murder is often the simplest act.

There lies a bloated panderer who plucked a goose too close to home, turned those clever fingers to a guild man’s daughter.

A sharp knife and the river remedy all.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Write a tale and join in here.

Notes

Spitalfields is part of the East End in London, once well known for its silk weavers and a refuge for French Huguenots fleeing religious intolerance in their own country.

Fournier is one of these Huguenot weavers, Calvinist Protestants who made their home in the East End during the eighteenth century. They were not always welcomed by the English, especially by native weavers who saw them as a threat to their trade.

Lightermen where boatmen who ferried goods in flat bottomed barges along the Thames.

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.

Short story publication set in Cottonopolis

Cotton mill, Yorkshire, Hebden Water, Gibsons Mill
Image : Pixabay

I grew up in Derbyshire, just a short, uphill train ride from Manchester.

Living in a small town there was little excitement – scouting for bargains at the local Kwik Save supermarket, a tatty nightclub on the market place called the Gaslight, Saturday nights watching drunks evicted from the Gaslight fighting outside Kwik Save …

In comparison, Manchester was impossibly exciting, kind of glamorous in a dirty, dishevelled way and not a little unnerving.

Yes, it was grubby back then, all tumbleweed chip papers and drunks begging for a light, and the valleys of old mill buildings channelled the wind so your face was constantly sandblasted by good Northern grit, but even before its financial and cultural renaissance over recent decades, the city held its head high.

All those towering brick edifices spoke of the great wealth that had poured into 19th century Manchester as the cotton spun in its many mills poured out (The city had 108 cotton mills at its peak in 1853, hence the sobriquet Cottonopolis) and that impressive architectural legacy left an impression on me.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve set my People’s Friend short story

A Straw Hat for Hetty’

in nineteenth century Manchester. The young heroine has grown up in the shadow of the mills, in the choking city slums of the Industrial Revolution.

Writing Hetty’s story has given me a grand excuse to use a smattering of the dialect words I grew up with – ‘summat’, ‘owt’, ‘nowt’ – and to explore the slums of Angel Meadow and the mills of Ancoats.

If you’d like to learn what happens to Hetty, The People’s Friend Special number 171 is due out tomorrow.

So, stop mitherin’, pour yersen a brew and let me spin you a tale, lad.

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.