What Pegman Saw : Four brothers

‘What’s happening?’ Sweat stands in pimples on Dan’s top lip, darkens the collar of his shirt. No one answers.

Stevie stares out over the turgid brown river, over stained concrete and steel. He reminds me more of Dad every day  – the silences, the sudden rage. Carl asked me to watch him ‘in case’, but I don’t know what I’m meant to do. No one could control Dad either.

Carl keeps trying the phone number, but no answer. He’s biting his lip and that’s more unsettling than losing the car, almost more than losing the bag.

‘We’re fucked. We’re just fucked.’

‘Shut up, Dan,’ Stevie grunts, a bear in chinos.

I know there’s going to be a row, but all I can do is watch Carl.

Finally, he smiles. They picked up. There’s a short conversation, then it’s over. His eyes are empty and I know.

For once, Dan’s right.


Written for What Pegman Saw, a writing prompt using Google Streetview. This week Pegman visited Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. To join in and share, see here.



What Pegman Saw : The drugstore kid’s Mom


When Donny said to meet by the juniper tree, I knew which one. There were dozens of gnarly old trees out there whittled and twisted by the wind, but only one we’d carved our initials on. Only one we’d swore oaths under.

My heart sank when I saw Carl was with him.

‘You need protection now, Donny?’ I called, trying to laugh, the sound drying in my throat.

Donny shrugged. ‘Carl was just passing by.’

I guess he was just passing by when that kid at the drugstore lost an eye. I knew the kid’s Mom. Nice lady.

‘You broke your promise,’ he said quietly.

‘You broke yours first.’ I stepped back, rocks rolling under my feet, tumbling down the ravine.

Carl reached into his pocket.

A deafening blast, the stink of cordite … For the drugstore kid’s Mom.

‘Let’s talk, Donny,’ I said.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the photo writing prompt using Google Streetview as its source. See the pic, create, share, read and comment. See here to join in.



What Pegman Saw : The sun finally sets


Water laps the shore, the wind rising up sharply as the sun is swallowed by distant crags. For a moment the lake shines gold, fingers of light shivering, reaching towards me. Then light snuffs out, the orange sky sliding through green to midnight blue. Cold rises from the lake, from the grit beneath my feet.

A hand grips my shoulder. ‘Come in the house now,’ he says.

For a second I pull against him but the fight in me quickly fades. I cannot stop this anymore than I could stop the sun from setting. He leads me inside.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Streetview. See the location and write a tale and don’t forget to share, read and comment. See here and click on the blue frog.

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.








What Pegman Saw : Mass Extinction Event


Alvarez brushed his hand down the tree trunk. The bark turned to ash under his touch, coating his glove, catching in his throat like hot wood smoke. There was that smell again – like oil on fire.

‘When did this happen?’

Matias spoke to the farmer in his singsong voice, a faint smile in his dark eyes. Thanks to him, all the locals they’d spoken to had stayed calm, reassured. Official policy was to skirt the truth without telling an outright lie, but if Matias’s hints at government compensation meant they got off the island without causing a riot, Alvarez was content to turn a deaf ear.

As they plodded back to the truck, worry peeled away his friend’s smile. ‘How can this happen overnight, jefe? And across the island?’

And in Siberia, along the Congo, Bolivia, France, Norway …

‘Beer, amigo,’ said Alvarez, as the engine growled to life. ‘We need beer.’


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

I saw one of the photospheres from the Dominican Republic this week and wondered what had caused this stand of trees to fail so dramatically. Naturally, my mind wandered to the end of life as we know it …


What Pegman Saw : Lely the seal girl


Each day through the holidays, Tarek, Sami and I would walk to the waterfall.

Tarek would lead, long toes curled round the tips of his sandals, skin paled from the dusty road. Sami would take the middle, eyes on Tarek’s heels, towel trailing from his arm onto the path. As the youngest, I would bring up the rear, trotting to catch up when I lagged behind, when I had to stop to pull up my sagging hand-me-down shorts.

The oasis was a miracle, a splash of lush green, nodding grasses and pink flower spikes erupting from barren rock and bare dirt.

We met Lely there one day, swimming dark and sleak as a seal through the green water. We all loved her I think, all blushed when she splashed us, all wanted to catch her round the waist in our games of tag.

She never allowed herself to be caught.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the photo prompt that uses Google Streetview as its starting point. Today we visit Tel Saki in Syria. See here to join in and to read the other tales.


What Pegman Saw : On the fifth day


On the fifth day, the first snows of winter fell, deadening Artur’s mood along with the city. The traffic grew muffled and sluggish along with the dark slick of river – even the smoke from the refinery’s chimney grew leaden with the cold, sitting hunched over the rooftops.

He spent the next three days anxiously watching the snow settle and harden, the ploughs turn the roads into grey-walled canyons. Then despite his careful planning, the promises he’d made to himself, the waiting became too much.

Buka darted ahead when he opened the apartment door, the little terrier leading the way, following his nose along the beaten snow path between lines of garages, until they reached the One. At the padlocked door, Buka held back, sniffing, cautious, fuzzy tail drooping.

For a moment, Artur paused, key in hand. Then he heard movement inside followed by wet cough.

Artur smiled.


On Saturday, Pegman wandered to Talnakh, in Krasonoyarsk Krai, Russia, where I found this little scene and wondered what was drawing that dog towards the locked hut …

Do join in if the Muse moves you – share a story and read others here.