What Pegman Saw: Death of a swimmer

Image: Google Street View

Charles swam every morning, whether the sea was ruffled by breeze or chopped to spiky breakers, baby-bath warm or prickling with ice.

A veteran, some said, though there seemed little evidence for that aside from his upright bearing and buffed shoes.

He rarely spoke, would only nod at the post mistress and the baker, Gerard, though neither knew what they had done to deserve the honour.

During the years he lived in Roscanvel, Charles held no more than ten conversations and afterwards, no-one could agree on whether he lisped or if his false teeth clicked when he spoke.

When Simone found his body on the shingle one late-frost morning in May, she was disturbed enough to shake as she described the scene. But not enough to cry without imagining her own mother’s death.

All the residents were at a loss at to why anyone would murder Charles.

All, except one.

***

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

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.

What Pegman Saw: An unforeseen event

Image : Google Street View

Stickler was talking into a mobile phone and didn’t see her enter the gallery. His hair was a shade greyer, she noticed, his jawline softened by the years.

He looked up at the scuff of her shoes. Those eyes hadn’t changed – Moss once said they held all the emotional depth of polished marble.

With a paper thin smile, Stickler beckoned her over. He muttered into the phone, ‘… the package could not be delivered within the agreed timescale. An unforeseen event occurred that was not factored in to the original calculations.’

An unforeseen event? She could almost feel Moss’s hand in hers, feel the last squeeze.

The phone clicked off. ‘I told you I didn’t want to meet here.’ He looked up. ‘Too many teeth.’

Prouse leaned into him, her lips against his ear. ‘And I told you – sometimes the minnow eats the shark. This is for Moss.’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its inspiration. This week we are in Manhattan, in the American Museum of Natural History. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

What Pegman Saw : Ghost girl

‘Why did we have to meet here?’

The leaves have long fallen, the creek’s fringed with ice. A wind cuts along the path, sneaking beneath my sweater, raising my skin to pimples.

‘You know why,’ snaps Flick, checking her phone signal.

There are still ribbons of police tape further along the track, tangled in the twigs like black and yellow bunting, the only sign remaining that anything happened here.

Madison and Lily are silent, Lily trailing behind as always. Madison’s gained weight since we last met – she always eats when she’s worried. And Lily … she’s a ghost girl. Silent, bony, big eyes staring like she’s seeing things that aren’t there. Maybe she’s sneaking some of her mom’s sleeping pills. I’m old enough to buy my own.

We’re together in this, a bond unbreakable.

Though I wish with all my heart I never had to lay eyes on these bitches again.

*******

Written for What Pegman Saw, the fantastic prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. Today, we are at Bridal Veil Falls, Utah. See here to join in, share, read and comment on others.

Friday Fictioneers : A world too perfect to endure

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg


 

‘Where did it happen?’

‘Perhaps it’s best if you don’t hear all the details -‘

‘I need to know.’

‘Further along. Past the sign.’

‘I want to see the exact spot.’

‘I don’t know why -‘

A sigh so deep, it cracked in his throat. ‘There was a point she could have stopped. Saved herself. I have to know why she didn’t.’

The ground was marked with police tape, scuffed by dozens of heavy boots. But there, beyond the yellow line, two small footprints.

Jerry gazed across the wooded valley, smelt the almond blossom on the warm breeze. And he knew.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join in, read and comment.

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Where did you sleep last night?

 

‘Tell me again why you were here, Stephen,’ said Walker.

The kid’s preppy clothes were grubby, shirt cuff button missing. His knuckles were scuffed bloody, one cheek purpled by a bruise the size of an egg.

‘I said.’ Stephen sniffed, wiped his nose on his sleeve. ‘Everyone comes to Cedar Pond in the summer. We hang out.’

‘Yeah.’ Walker crossed his arms, leaned against the squad car. ‘I came here when I was your age. Swam. Smoked some blow. Were you guys smoking , Stephen?’

The kid’s head dipped, eyes on the ground.

‘Man, we used to get up to some stuff.’ Walker crouched beside the boy who winced as he took his hand. ‘Never ended up with knuckles like that though.’ He stared into the terrified eyes, then past him, across the wide glassy black of the lake. ‘My girlfriend never went missing either. Where is she? Where’s Jennifer?’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Streetview as its jumping off point. Do join in, share, read and comment on the other stories. See here to do just that.

I know the trees in the picture aren’t pines, but something about the area – and the dark tales surrounding Clinton Road – reminded me of ‘In the pines’ also called ‘Where did you sleep last night?’ I was familiar with the Nirvana Unplugged version and Kurt Cobain’s screaming last chorus (always makes my hair stand on end – in a good way) but I only today listened to an early Lead Belly recording. Equally magical.

 

Friday Fictioneers : Speckled crimson

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson


 

The world was swollen that night, heavy snow turning hedges and curbs to fat pillows. Beneath were the same thorns, the same sharp corners to catch unwary toes.

As she looked across a garden glazed white, she realised that was what her marriage had always been – pristine to the casual observer, while beneath that shallow surface …

Despite everything, she saw beauty in those contrasts of soft and sharp, sweet perfection and hidden terror.

Her favourite contrast lay beyond the misted window pane. Crisp, white snow, smeared and speckled crimson.

Her grip slackened around the knife’s bone handle.

 


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

A pair of red-rimmed eyes


 

All she could remember was the stink – that’s what she told the WPC with the baggy face and the red-rimmed eyes.

Urine – sharp enough to prickle her nose. And paint fumes – aerosol paint. How did she know it was aerosol paint? She shrugged. She just knew.

She wanted to get clean, to wash the smell from her sticky skin, but the WPC said no, not yet sweet. So she sat in the paper suit that crinkled when she breathed and thought of her rabbit Snickers. Of how his eyes had been rimmed with red before he went to the vet and never came home.

 

 

Three Line Tales : A simple lie

three line tales week 74: an empty school

Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash


 

It was a simple lie. I didn’t even have to form the thought into words, Weber saw to that.

‘A yes is all we need. A yes and all of this can be over for you.’ His shirt was dark with sweat and even from the other side of the desk, I could smell last night’s schnapps on his breath, the sharp fug of raw onions.

One ‘yes’ and Professor Greenspan’s room became a store cupboard, his class taken by the oily Professor Marlin.

I walked past Greenspan’s apartment today. The windows were boarded up, misspelt obscenities scrawled across the warped wood. With a pen, I wrote in shaky text, I’m Sorry.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. See the pic and write a story. Go here to join in and to read the other tales.

 

#tuesdayuseitinasentence : Glamour shot


 

The Sands of Love.’ Sy pulled on one glove then the other, his fingers resembling over-stuffed sausages, straining against the latex.

‘What was that?’

‘Her first film role. Nineteen fifty three. Blink and you’d miss her.’

Francie looked down at her paperwork. ‘Never seen it.’

‘Not missing much. Gangster B movie. But she had glamour. Stood out, you know?’

Francie scribbled her signature at the bottom of the form before looking up.

Soap scum floated on the bath water, strands of long grey hair looped on the enamel. A crumpled square if tin foil – grubby brown shining at its centre – lay by the taps. One of the officers had found a teaspoon and a lighter in the bottom of the bath wedged under the body. She must have wriggled some as she died.

‘Doesn’t look too glamorous now. Okay, Sy. You can move her.’

 


Written for Stephanie at Word Adventures’ #tuesdayuseitinasentence. See here to join in and to read the other stories.