What Pegman Saw: Lost, found, stolen

Image: Google Maps

We were led along a narrow lane into the backyard of a house. A hosepipe coiled round the base of a banyan tree – emerald green and dusty – an equally dusty tortoiseshell cat coiled on a nearby garden chair.

The gallery was a wooden construction built onto the back of the house, the roof glass, letting in any dappled light that escaped the clutches of the banyan.

Sonny handed his kyats over to the elderly artist and strode in. I watched the twitch of his shoulders through his sweat-soaked shirt as he moved from one image to the next. The trip had been good for us. Time to heal, learn how to be a couple again, not a family.

‘Kim.’ An edge in his voice.

A painting. A little girl with Sonny’s charcoal eyes, my ash-blond hair. Our little girl, holding the ragged Mr Ted we buried with her.

***

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

What Pegman Saw: The sound of metal on stone

Image: Google Street View

Aidee hadn’t noticed the guy in Speedos.

He and his friends had been looking at Didier’s new Jeep, a 2 litre turbocharged Wrangler, four wheel drive. Hakim had squinted at the faultless paintwork, one dusty foot resting on the other, spat his jealousy on the kerb. Golden paced, cursed his family, his bad fortune, temporarily forgetting he was a lazy degenerado who spent his days sitting on the couch with his hand down his shorts.

The sound of metal on stone made Aidee look to the pavement. A scalpel. The guy in Speedos turned, hands spread, two bloody vees yawning on his wrists.

The man looked at Aidee, right at him.

That face would wake Aidee for weeks, return years later when he was old and lost. It was the look of a being who’s heart still beats when the man inside is dead.

Aidee never saw a Jeep again without feeling sick.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that takes us around the world, courtesy of Google Street View. This week we visit Angola. See here to join in.

Notes

Portuguese is the main language spoken in Angola, hence degenerado which is Portuguese for degenerate.

What Pegman Saw: Blue Hole

Image: Google Street View

I told Bernie to meet me at Blue Hole today after church.

Big soft lug didn’t ask why, just winked, nodded, carried on loading the barrels on the truck like Pa told him.

He’ll come alone – Bernie’s always alone when he’s not trailing after me.

I gaze out over the near-still water and the lake shows me how it got its name. It’s a mirror for the sky and the perfection of it makes a bubble of hurt swell and burst in my chest. It’s the bluest blue, like Callie’s eyes the day she told me no, the day she slipped below the glassy surface, leaving only her canvas shoes and a trail of bubbles behind.

If only Bernie hadn’t followed me down here that day, if only he hadn’t seen me bury those shoes.

A sound from behind makes me turn.

‘Hi Bernie,’ I say.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we visit Middle Torch Key in Florida and don’t ask me why such a stunningly beautiful spot made my mind turn this dark way – it’s just how I am.

I’ve been away from the blog a few weeks and how lovely it is to be back. I’ve been finishing up a submission package for my WIP. The cover letter has been crafted, synopsis pared down (again and again!), the opening pages tweaked to an inch of their lives and I’ve subbed to four agents. Expecting four rejections, but you never know, at least one of them may have something helpful to say.

Wish me luck.

What Pegman Saw: Loxton Crook

The site was out on Karoonda Highway. On one side, the green swathe of Murray Barrandura’s vineyard, on the other a dusty khaki patchwork of Bush.

Two vehicles blocked the junction for Kingston Road – one I recognised as Murray’s faded blue ute. The other was Lachy Tuner’s Hilux.

‘Murray, Lachlan.’ I slammed the car door and came to stand beside them.

‘Rum thing,’ said Murray, scratching his thinning curls. ‘Not seen since Grandfather’s time.’

‘1930, the last one,’ said Lachy.

‘Did you see the flash?’ I said. ‘Lit up the sky like fireworks. Lucky it didn’t hit closer to town.’ The meteorite was the size of my fist, the surface like pumice flecked with chips of silica. ‘Made quite a hole.’

‘People got crook then.’ Murray sucked at his cheeks.

‘In 1930? That was flu. Meteorites don’t cause flu epidemics,’ scoffed Lachy.

Murray’s gaze drifted towards town, to the cluster of twinkling streetlights.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we are in Loxton, South Australia.

Notes

Back in 1930, a meteor shattered in the sky above Karoonda. The pieces weighed a total of 92 lbs.

Many Aboriginal cultures see meteors as harbingers, warnings of coming death or signs of evil spirits coming to suck water from the land. Read more here.

In Australian slang, crook means ill, likely to die.

Serial Publication: People’s Friend

Just a little reminder that the final part of my People’s Friend serial, The secret of Kingsbarrow Folly is out on the 29th of this month, concluding the story of Steph and the family secret she’s determined to unravel with the help of archaeologist Jamie.

After all the ups and downs, can the pair find a happy ending?

Serial publication: The People’s Friend

Susan’s life is falling apart.

Her village museum – what remains of her family’s estate – is on the verge of bankruptcy, the folly her late father so loved derelict and crumbling. Susan’s son is about to leave home for university and the relationship with her mother, Barbara, is under strain as stories from the past resurface.

Yes, all is not well in the village of Kingsbarrow.

Until Susan meets a tall, sandy haired archaeologist with an interesting proposal …

I’ve been very fortunate in having another of my stories accepted by The People’s Friend magazine. This one is set in the rolling hills of Derbyshire, involves family secrets, painful home truths and a tumble down folly that our heroine finds hard to part with.

The first part of the three part story is due out on the 15th June and the story is called “The Secret Of Kingsbarrow Folly”. The other two parts are out on the 22nd and 29th of this month.

And coincidentally, whilst searching Pixabay for an image to illustrate this post, I found the above – a picture of Solomon’s Temple, my home town of Buxton’s own folly in the Derbyshire hills. Whilst not as picturesquely derelict as my invented Kingsbarrow Folly, I couldn’t resist including Solly’s.

If you love a folly as much as I do, Dinton Folly in Buckinghamshire was the inspiration for Kingsbarrow. It has since been renovated – see here for the transformation.

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.