What Pegman Saw : The king of meaningless expressions

 

The sun slumped low in the sky as we pulled into the drive-in. Kids clustered at the entrance, the girls whispering and giggling behind cupped hands, a boy tossing a ball on baked concrete.

Mansell turned off the engine, cuffing his top lip. His shirt collar was dark with sweat, his tie hanging limp. ‘Damn this weather, eh? Hot as asses out here.’

My partner was king of the meaningless expression.

Pulling on his suit jacket, he nodded towards the drive-in shelter, its corrugated iron roof, its strings of dusty bunting. ‘The boy’s parents run this place, you say?’

I checked the manila file on my lap. ‘For the last five years. Mother and stepfather.’

He opened the door to the SUV, pulling his jacket collar straight. ‘I’ll lead.’ He nodded to the open file. ‘Keep those photographs hidden. We need answers – the sight of blood only ever brings more questions.’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a photo prompt using Google Streetview. See here to join in and to join in.

 

 

 

 

#tuesdayuseitinasentence : A prop to occupy my time

Sue has to work hard to occupy her time.

There is the ceiling to look at, its network of bumps and cracks, the hint of stains painted over. The wall opposite is not a viable option because of the painting hanging lopsidedly from the picture rail. It’s a seascape in oils, the brushwork amateurish, the use of cadmium yellow and scarlet lake clashing violently with cerulean blue, the mishmash of poor composition and worse execution making her strangely angry.

Before she would have carried the thing into the garden and taken pleasure in dumping it in the firepit, watching the clotted paint blister in the flames. Now all she can do is look towards the ceiling, finding river valleys in the cracks, lakes in the old stains, painting her own landscapes with wallpaper and damaged plaster.

 


Written for Stephanie at Word Adeventures’ #tuesdayuseitinasentence. Use the word – today it’s OCCUPY – in a sentence or blog post. See here to join in the fun.

The title was inspired by the R.E.M song, The One I Love – one of their finest singles I’d say.

Friday Fictioneers : Toy soldiers

PHOTO PROMPT © Karuna


 

Diana found them at the allotment one evening. The sun was setting through russet leaves and the scent of summer passing rose from the earth. Two teddy bears and one bald plastic baby doll, strangely sinister, fur and booties ruined by mud.

She almost left them on the compost heap. But then she imagined small, sticky hands gripping them to fast-beating hearts, brave sentries to keep the nightmares at bay.

Perched atop her barrow of squashes and windfall apples, they were battle hardened warriors.

Besides. Night was falling fast and Diana needed all the protection she could get.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale and pop along here to read the other stories.

#tuesdayuseitinasentence : If only

Bed sheets, linen

Image : Pixabay

His gaze fell upon the flower still clinging behind her ear. Its petals were flushed coral, curled back like lips parted in surprise. Her hair tumbled from its clip, curls lapping her neck. A tangle of sheets pillowed her head, exposed a shoulder, an arm thrown behind her, fingers still gripping the fabric even now.

If only she had said yes.

 


Well, that went creepier than I expected!

Written for Stephanie at Word Adventures’ #tuesdayuseitinasentence. Today the word is GAZE. Pop along here and join the fun.

Always old fashioned

They sat in Terry’s office on stiff-backed chairs. Two untouched mugs of tea and a plate of soggy Bourbons perched on reams of paperwork on his desk. Terry didn’t like tea, but he always made himself one when visitors came because it seemed to make people less self-conscious than when they drank alone. Now things such as tea and biscuits seemed old-fashioned in this newly made world. But Terry didn’t mind that. He’d felt old-fashioned since he was a small boy.

The surface of the tea had formed a skin,  wrinkling under the air conditioning like geriatric flesh. He thought of mentioning his observation to the man from the Government – Donald was it? Or Dennis? – but his thoughts often made other people feel uncomfortable. Though Janey had never minded.

The Government man’s suit was as creased as his face, as if he’d used the jacket as a pillow. His skin was greasy, grey as the ring of dirt around his shirt collar. Yes, standards had dropped since the beginning of the outbreak.

Donald / Dennis scratched his forehead with bitten down nails. ‘Doctor Goddard, if you can tell me anything about Doctor Faber’s movements over the last few days. Anything at all.’

The man looked exhausted, but then they all were. He and Janey had taken to napping on the chaise longue in the corner of the office rather than bothering to drive home. They were both single. No one missed them. He gazed at the sofa now, at the threads of gold that could only be strands of her hair.

‘Doctor Goddard. Please. This is a matter of national security.’

‘We were trying to find a cure -‘

Donald / Dennis leaned forward, his tie shifting the papers on the desk. ‘A cure funded by the government, with key research and statistics supplied by our departments.’

All Terry knew was that she had been there one evening, peering over her notes, twisting her hair on top of her head with a biro, and gone the next morning. He hadn’t noticed the slides were missing until the phone rang.

The Government man’s jaw clenched. ‘I cannot stress how important it is we regain those samples.’

He didn’t mention Janey’s safety, that she was out there alone, the world dying around her.

When Terry had picked up the phone, her voice had been faint and breathy through the receiver. He thought she might have been running. Or crying. ‘I’m sorry, Terry,’ was all she’d said. ‘I’m so very sorry.’

Donald would take the words as an admission of her guilt, but Terry knew them for what they were. A goodbye.

 


I fancied revisiting Terry and Janey, two scientists caught in the jaws of a catastrophic disease outbreak. To read their first outing, When the time comes, see here.

What pegman saw : Mystified Cottage

 

 

 

Mystified Cottage it was called, a stocky one storey building snuggled in the lap of the Dales.

In the parlour two Carver chairs scuffed their backs against a worn sideboard, in the kitchen a Welsh dresser wore a motley of grease from generations of braised brisket and pigs head pies, gifts from the blackened range.

Tom Dunty the coalman would chuckle under the slick collar of his backing hat that the cottage was so called because all were mystified as to how the Crofts raised seven children inside. Though as Tom signed the register on his wedding day with an X, I’d guess he was parroting his snippish wife Mary.

He was wrong of course.

The name was no riddle to any who stayed a night beneath its eaves, any who dreamed of oily black feathers, of straw dollies swinging from dusty beams. Who heard The Lady call their name …

 


Written for What pegman saw, a weekly prompt using Google Streetview as its inspiration. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

The ‘backing hat’ Tom Dunty wears was a cap with a strip of leather sewn to hang from the back in order to protect a coalman’s neck and shoulders. See here to learn more.

What pegman saw : Yaya’s secret

 

My yaya’s house was the brightest spot in the whole colonia.

She painted the walls turquoise herself with a balding brush and though it had grills on the doors and windows like every other house, the gaps behind the iron were stuffed with pots of trailing vines and geraniums and spider plants that tickled my wrists when I reached up with the long necked watering can. Plaster toucans and parrots roosted on the first floor, nodding to smiling suns and moons.

Her living room was snug, cluttered with clasp-handed Virgins, candles and crucifixes, each object draped with cloths or doilies or tied with the florists bows she saved from bunches of gladioli and coxcombs Uncle Arturo brought her each Sunday.

Upstairs, though, behind knotted satin drapes the colour of cayenne pepper, was a mystery.

‘Es un secreto,’ she would say, kissing my forehead with feathery lips.

So it stayed until the day she passed away …

 


What do you think yaya’s secret was? Rude, lewd, romantic, violent or just plain bizarre? Let me know what you think and maybe we’ll get a sequel.

Written for What pegman saw, the hugely enjoyable writing prompt using Google Streetview – this week, we’re in Mexico City. See here to join in and to read the other tales.