What Pegman Saw: Oversight

The hill cut the sky in half, a black shrug between the dappled water and slabs of slate grey cloud. Six pylons prickled the horizon, three groups of three, arm in arm.

Even here, the weight wouldn’t lift. The sky pressed down, hills pushed at his back, pylons watchful.

He tied another fishing fly, plucked the silken fluff from the shaft of a quail feather, twisted the cord, trapping more feathers. Once the fly was done, he added it to the others lined up on the pontoon.

They stirred in the wind, a twitch like the flex of dying muscles. He scuffed the bundles of feather and cord into the water.

“It’s time.” The aide was at his side, signalling towards the car. “They need your signature to go ahead.”

“Yes.” He watched the feathers float away.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its jumping off point. This week we visit Newfoundland and Labrador. See here to join in.

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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: Ironwood

Image: Google Street View

The Compound was as I’d imagined – clipped lawns, blocky redbrick buildings, rows of undernourished Ironwood trees lining cobbled paths. Everything beautifully neat and clean, conscientiously scrubbed of personality.

It was hard to imagine Fiona teaching there. Her rooms at Oxford had been a cave of crumbling books on every subject from alchemy to growing bonsai trees, archaic scientific instruments, fossils – there had even been a stuffed alligator suspended from the ceiling until the porters put in a complaint to the college chancellor.

How could the jigsaw of her personality – the pot smoking, Scotch drinking, jazz playing academic – possibly slot into that sterile institution?

“Hi-ho, stranger!” She pulled me into a bear hug, at once uncomfortable and comforting. “How you doing?” She held me at arms length, examining my face. “Let’s retire to my snug,” she said, threading her arm through mine. “Jim Beam is waiting.”

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Singapore. See here to join the fun.

Notes

The Ironwood tree (Eusideroxylon zwageri) is a rare hardwood tree native to Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines known for its resistance to fungus, insects and bacteria. It’s a tough old devil, in other words and I thought it made a good analogy for Fiona – resistant to change, very much a survivor!

What Pegman Saw: Ox blood red

The bar’s corrugated iron walls were ox blood red, the roof patched with the hood of an old army truck and an oil drum beaten flat. It smelt of the Mekong – weed and runoff from the sugar factory a mile upstream.

Sunny nodded. “I’ll take it.”

The For Sale sign came down, tables and chairs brought in. Some nights a local band would play on the river bank – the bar was too small, too weak to hold them – the reedy voice of the khene reaching across the water to Thailand.

He imagined the music – the thread of his longing carried on the wind – drifting over her as she lay in bed, curled and dozing. Would she smile as she slept? Dream of her old love?

The bar would empty, the band clear a table to play cards. Sunny would sit alone on the river bank, his thoughts following the music and the wind.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Laos.

Notes

The Mekong River acts as a natural border between Laos and Thailand.

A stretch of the Mekong River was turned black earlier this year by the runoff from a sugar factory.

The Khene is a wind instrument local to Laos and Cambodia made from bamboo and used in traditional – often bawdy or satirical – folk music.

What Pegman Saw: There are no windows here

Image: Google Streetview

There are no windows here, no interruption in the walls other than the pock marks in the plaster, the parts where the surface is powdery, or damp, or scabbed with old paint. No interruption other than the cell door.

There is a gap under the door a fingers’ width deep. If I lie on my side, nose pressed to the gap I can see the corridor – floor tiles (black, beige, rust red diamonds) specks of rat shit, balls of hair, once a scrap of torn boot lace.

But beyond them is the gate. Cast iron acanthus leaves, palm fronds, stamens grown too big for their flowers.

And it reminds me.

Of walks in Song Festival Park. Of how the trees cut the sunlight into shadows, how that light took fire in your hair but turned your eyes to ice.

It reminds me I was once someone more, something more than this.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. This week we are in Riga, Latvia.

I found this image in the old KGB building where tours are run by the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. The country was occupied – brutally – by the Soviet Union in 1940-41, then by the Nazis, then by the Soviet Union again from 1944 to 1991. The museum’s slogan is Remember, Commemorate, Remind.

Friday Fictioneers: Gatecrasher

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

Storm Philippa had touched down at around 2 am, buckling the thin poles of the discount store gazebo, tearing canvas, flooding the gas barbecue Trevor had hired especially. Their 25th anniversary party in ruins.

Sheila couldn’t help a bitter smile.

The mess of shoddy steel and nylon was the perfect metaphor for her marriage – something unforeseen had intruded from beyond Sheila’s comfortable domestic bubble and destroyed that too.

Only her name wasn’t Philippa.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Peruse the pic and write an appropriate tale. See here to join the fun.

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.