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.

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Crimson’s Creative Challenge #14: Four and twenty blackbirds

Marsh Road

CCC#14

‘Blackbirds!’ called Aunty Evie, hopping excitedly from foot to foot.

‘They not blackbirds, dumbo,’ said Cass. ‘They’re crows.’ He limped on towards the telegraph poles, lame foot dragging on the cracked road. ‘Twice the size of sodding blackbirds.’

‘Leave her be,’ I mumbled. ‘Every black bird is a blackbird to her.’

She was singing a nursery rhyme now, reedy, rushy voice a mix of adult and child.

‘Simple,’ muttered Cass. ‘Brain like a bag of candy floss.’

Up ahead, Evie struggled through long dried grass, hand outstretched to a boundary fence. Beyond, the field was already dull, waiting to sleep.

Cass pointed with his cane. ‘Stop her, will you.’

I saw what she was reaching for – a row of wings pinned to the wire, flapping a black rainbow in the wind.

Somewhere we’d taken a wrong turn.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge#14. See here to join in.

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.

Friday Fictioneers: Third Love


PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

First love. Uncle Jack’s red Bugeye Sprite. Seven years old, twisting along the B roads, school tie tugging tight in the wind.

Second love. A black and gold Ford Capri straight off the forecourt. Driving the length of the M1 – Catthorpe Interchange to Gretna – just to see Eileen with the tawny eyes and endless legs.

Third love. A silver Bentley Continental bought with the commission from his first big deal.

Abandoned in Kielder Forest under a Hunter’s Moon. The smell of burnt rubber and oil. The ting of cooling metal. The Moon reflected in a pair of blank tawny eyes.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale. And what a cracking photo this week. Pop along here to join in.

What Pegman Saw : Second smile

Image : Google Street View

Dari and Purl’s first kiss was under those trees, the New Year’s Eve Purl was sixteen. Their last was two or more years later under the same trees, sun blazing down, pricking the sweat from Purl’s skin like she’d been caught in a storm. She was crying that time.

This was where Sunny learned to ride pillion and where he got that scar like a second smile on his chin. Fell off the back of the Honda. Told Dari not to try wheelies.

It’s where we smoked – away from our parents, too far into the maze of tenements for the police to find us, to quiet for the gangs to bother.

It’s where they found Purl the New Year’s Day she would have been nineteen. Lying on her back, staring up through those self same trees, her throat cut like a second smile. And she had a lovely smile.

I wonder where Dari is now.

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

Friday Fictioneers : Odd Fish

PHOTO PROMPT © Randy Mazie

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‘Odd Fish.’

The old women whispered as he passed the yard, rocking in their chairs, fanning damp faces with crimped newspaper. Samuel dipped his head, avoiding their dry, puckered gaze.

Clouds of dust rose as he crossed to the cemetery. Passing sharp, white headstones he reached a wooden cross in the shade. Taking out a well-thumbed book, he peered closely at the text.

‘Here’s the book I was telling you about, Mama.’

Clearing his throat, he read, ‘If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born …’

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Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in, to read and comment on the other tales.

I’ve been away for a while and what a joy to be back in my blogging home.

Note – Samuel is reading the opening lines of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

What Pegman Saw : Always so cold …

Image : Google Street View 

‘They can’t be grave markers.’ Dr Stephanie Grayling crouched by the nearest stone.

‘Nonsense,’ said Professor Hill. ‘How many burial sites have you excavated in Ethiopia with the same style of carving, the same themes of weaponry and plant life?’ 

Grayling ran a finger over the grainy stone, felt the grooves mesh with the whorls in her skin. Always so cold, even on the hottest days … 

Hill must have heard the rumours circulating the dig team, but she’d worked with him often enough to know he never listened to chatter, only ever focusing on the facts as they presented themselves.

She stood beside him. ‘There are just too many, Craig.’ Thousands of markers sticking from the scrubby grass, accusing fingers of stone in every direction. She tried to fight off the panic, the feeling some had subtly shifted position since the day before.

‘We should never have come here.’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as a jumping off point. This week we visit a fascinating archaeological site in Ethiopia. See here to join in, share, read and comment.