What Pegman Saw : Beyond the Pale

 

Indri was already running, sandals slapping flagstones. ‘I know where they’ll come out!’

His legs were longer than Pina’s and he’d soon rounded the corner of the alley, dodged a pomegranate seller, vaulted the legs of Zaru the beggar, careening into the opposite wall before stumbling on. Complaints rang around her.

‘That boy!’

‘Pina, tell your brother -‘

She yelled her apologies, tucked her head down and ran after him. ‘Indri! Where are we going?’

But soon the city gate was looming overhead and she knew – outside the wall.

‘The Pale?’ she yelled. ‘You think they’ll come out at the Pale?’

Outside the protection of the city walls, where traitors were executed, where outcasts cried and screamed for home.

Indri had stopped under the golden halo of the gate.

She came panting to his side. ‘What …?’

He pointed towards the baked earth of the Pale as it cracked open.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Stretview. See here to share, read and comment. Today, we visit Mdina in Malta.

So, what do you think is coming out of the earth? I have my own ideas, but I’d like to hear yours.

Notes

The Pale – a term borrowed from County Down, Ireland when governed by the English.

Beyond the pale – There were many ‘Pales’ (a term that signified home ground, being within paling, meaning fencing) and to be beyond it means going outside the confines of what is acceptable.

 

 

 

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What Pegman Saw : The revenge of Dinah

 

 

Dinah tucked up her skirts and stepped into the green water, the mud sucking at the heels of her boots. Five steps in she crouched, careful not to let her petticoats drop – getting smeared in algae would warrant a beating.

She gazed into the periwinkle eyes. The fact he still had eyes meant he’d been dead less than a day. Yellowed, smashed teeth showed through puffy lips. His nose was broken, knuckles bloodied – he’d fought back.

The ink swallow on his neck marked him as a sailor, one of the many that swarmed the docks, drinking, whoring, fighting. Mama kept the girls inside when a new ship docked, in case.

Dinah stood, the disturbed water shifting his pale hands as if he was about to swim. She placed one muddy boot in the centre of his chest and pushed, watched the periwinkle eyes submerge.

‘Goodbye to bad rubbish,’ she said.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its inspiration. This week we visit Treasure Cay in the Bahamas – beautiful but with a sometimes less than glamorous history. See here to join our growing throng, read and comment do.

When looking into the history of the Bahamas, I was tempted by tales of pirates and seafarers, but English Puritans settled there too and I wondered what happened when those groups of people met. See here for further history of the islands and here for an interesting post about pirates and tattoos.

And here is the story of the Biblical Dinah.

 

What Pegman Saw : Spangles and sparkles and rainbow shells

‘Roll up, my babber!

‘Wanna forget that pox-scarred mug of yours for a time? The face that scares the pretty maids and leaves you thrashing alone in your truckle bed, sweating and wracked with a guilty glow at your own sinning?

‘Wanna leave that slum you call home, choked with jaspers and river stink in the summer, crumbling into the Avon with the black damp in winter?

‘You wanna see a mermaid, my dove, her tail flash with sparkles, head acrowned with abalone shells bright as a rainbow?

‘Wanna see a prince, all ‘andsome, bedecked with spangles, limbs straight at a plumb line, not like mine that’s bent as a sail in full blow.

‘Forget the dog eggs and horse shit, forget the rent’s past due and you’ll soon be toshing to make ends meet. Inside’s love and loss and happy endings ever after.

‘And who don’t want that?’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Streetview.

Well, how could I resist this one? I know this fair city rather well, having lived here for the last thirteen years. There are many rundown, twisting alleys to inspire dark tales, there’s the harbour with its seafaring history, local pubs like the Llandoger Trow (supposedly the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow Inn in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island), or the Hatchett Inn on Frogmore Street, where the door is reputedly covered in human skin.

But I chose the historic Bristol Old Vic Theatre. Built in 1766, it’s Britain’s oldest continually working theatre and during recent refurbishments a gutter was discovered down which cannon balls could be rolled to mimic the sound of thunder.

And for those of you not from the southwest of England …

Brizzle Dictionary

Avon – main river running the centre of the city, separating North Bristol from South Bristol.

Babber – mate, pal.

Brizzle – Bristol

Jaspers – wasps

 

General and historical notes

Dog eggs – canine faeces

Toshing – searching the sewer for lost valuables.

Truckle bed – low wooden bed, often on casters, that can slide under another bed when not in use. Often used by servants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers : Ariadne leaves the maze

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot


 

Ariadne wove along the tangled path, through nodding rosebay willowherb and scabious, nettles snatching at her skirts.

Her mind wandered ahead to the hive, the warm, sweet buzz of the comb then back to him, his warmth. He was often sweet but always tinged sour with beer or sweat, hard words, hard hands.

The sound reached her first, a thousand singular insect voices weaving to form a low hum. The brown cloud enveloped her as she drew close, furry bodies bouncing against her hands, her cheeks, welcoming her.

‘He’s dead,’ she whispered.

She turned and followed the path back home.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. Join in, read and share here.

At first glance there may seem no connection between my story and the prompt photograph, but the shapes in the net reminded me of a honeycomb, which led my mind to bees and the tradition of telling them when someone in the family dies. To read more about this tradition take a look here.

Friday Fictioneers : Christmas 1914

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg


 

Winter of 1914, we made a parcel for Albert – a block of Ma’s sherry-soaked Christmas cake, two packs of Woodbines, a bar of Fry’s chocolate and a hat she’d knitted herself.

‘He’ll need summat warm over there.’ She carressed the stitches, brown and thick as our Albert’s flop of hair.

I hadn’t told her what I’d heard whispered down the pub – the ankle deep water, the bodies lain still and stiff in No Man’s Land till bombs turned them to Flanders mud … the rats.

She slipped a card in too, signed ‘your loving Mother’.

‘That’ll warm him.’ I tried to smile.

 


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale. Visit Rochelle’s site to share and to read the other stories.

Notes

Woodbines – at the time, a popular brand of cigarettes mad by the Wills tobacco company here in Bristol. Cigarettes helped with morale in the trenches and were also used as currency.

I was going to use the brand name Five Boys chocolate but didn’t quite have the word count. Five Boys was made by Fry and Son – another Bristol company – and was famous for the image on the front of the wrapper, see below.

 

Image result for five boys chocolate

 

Friday Fictioneers : The fate of the flower seller

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook


 

Ninny, they called her.

Sold flowers under the gas lamp, corner of Great Earl Street and Queen Street, Seven Dials. Old enough to be your Nana, though not yet old enough to be mine. Hair dyed black as a coal hole, always a pheasant feather or a silk rose tucked in her crumbling straw hat. Face like a patch of dried chamois leather. Shared a room with some other biddies – a boot lace seller, a sheet music peddlar and one who peddled herself, if you know what I mean.

Nah, don’t know where she went. People just vanish, lad.

 


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

Notes

Seven Dials is part of the St Giles area of London, not far from Covent Garden. It long had a reputation for being disreputable and was part of the St Giles ‘rookery’ or slum. To read more about the area’s history, see here.

What Pegman Saw : An incorruptible crown

The morning is bitter, hard as only January can be.

Even here in London, far from the fens, the forests, the mist-heavy marshes of my varied Kingdom, ice forms on every sill, beards the wherries as they pull and pause on the troubled waters of the Thames. The lamps burn brighter when the morning is frost-hard.

I must make ready, but the day is bone cold … What if I shiver on that cursed step that waits for me? What if the people believe I quake from terror at my own fall?

For in truth, I am unafraid. I give up a tarnished crown for one incorruptible.

And yet, there is the cold … I shall wear two shirts. They will preserve my body until … Until there is nothing of this body left to save.

I hear another wherry – it is time.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

Historical notes.

For those unaware of the fact, England has not had an uninterrupted monarchy.

During the 17th century there was a rebellion, a war largely caused by religion (the threat of Catholicism returning to what was by then a Protestant nation) but also by a poverty stricken king (Charles I) who wanted free access to the nation’s wealth without the inconvenience of asking for it. So he abolished government and raided the coffers.

After some prevarication, the English Civil Wars began and continued on and off for nine years. The rebels won, the king was eventually seized and executed at Westminster, London in January 1649. The country was a republic for eleven years until the restoration of the monarchy in the form of Charles’s son, Charles II in 1660.

On his long journey to the scaffold, Charles I was held at Carisbrooke Castle – from where he tried to escape at least twice. And come the January day of his execution he famously wore two shirts to stave off the cold so he wouldn’t be seen to shiver.