Friday Fictioneers – A room upstairs

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - A room upstairs 180227

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

A room upstairs

Hank ran his boxing gym with tight discipline. His coach had been a successful professional. His volunteers were all trained in safeguarding; he wanted no scandal. The club was a happy place, “an asset to our town, and a great place for our kids to learn values,” as the mayor put it.

Few people knew, and nobody cared, that Hank kept a room upstairs where he occasionally entertained a young woman. She was never one of the townsfolk. After a while, nobody even noticed the comings and goings.

Nobody cared.

Until the police came.

It was too late by then.

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87 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – A room upstairs

    • Dear Neil
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully.
      You’re right that I’m concerned about how reputation blinds us to possible wickedness.
      I take your point about “girl” instead of “young woman”. However, I deliberately chose “young woman” – I wanted to show clearly that he was not a paedophile. Indeed, he makes sure that the safeguarding in his gym is done properly.
      “She was never one of the townsfolk” is a key sentence; as they weren’t from this town, who were they? How did they get there? What happened to them?
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This was very well done, Penny and so creepy and sinister, especially as a Mum with young teens who are just starting to venture out, and I know too many stories of the youth leader, the scout leader, someone at Church, a teacher, a priest. You have to trust, but you still need to have your eyes open. Fortunately, I still go along with them to many things at this stage and and am in the background somewhere.
    When I’m been to writing seminars about writing character, they’ve talked about having good in your villain to make them more believable and you’ve done that really well.
    Please lock him up and I hope he wasn’t the muscly hunk in the previous take.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rowena
      Thank you for reading, and for such a thoughtful comment. I’m glad you found my villain believable. I’m sure you’re very careful with your children, which will protect them from almost everything. They certainly wouldn’t have been vulnerable to Hank; he only took people with no past, no-one to care – no-one to notice.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, one can only hope as a parent that sticking your nose in now and then can ward off trouble. I think the teenage years require us to have our antennae really switched on yet at the same time keep our distance and hopefully get on with some more of our own stuff.
        Best wishes,
        Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You made my heart stop with the last lines. Wonderfully told, as always.who would have guessed the man who so carefully and skilfully hid behind a mask was someone totally different? So terribly sad about these young women and all other such young women around the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Moon
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It might only have taken one person to notice and raise their suspicions with the police to have stopped his activities. But it’s very hard to call time on a neighbour, especially one who seems to be a pillar of the community.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was thinking, what’s the big deal that he entertains upstairs… unless the young women are TOO young… and unless they start disappearing.
    Your not filling in the blanks makes it all the more interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jilly
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right – it is a disturbing story. We should all be better about looking out for each other – but it’s tremendously difficult to know how and when to raise the alarm. I had a neighbour once, about whose safety I felt concerned – I thought she was probably being abused – but I never had any positive evidence, and she resisted attempts at friendship. I felt helpless, and I still wonder if I should have done more…(they’ve moved away now).
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear James
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Too much is overlooked; witness the extent of modern-day slavery, which the police and the media are just beginning to uncover in the UK.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  4. Dear Alice
    Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, I’m afraid the story is very dark.
    BTW
    I welcome constructive criticism if you ever feel like providing it. Often unpalatable feedback is the most useful! So never be afraid to say if you don’t like one of my pieces!
    With very best wishes
    Penny

    Like

  5. Whoa. I like how this slowly descends (or ascends) into darkness. At first, okay, he has a little something on the side, not great if he has a wife and kids but okay, and then it gets darker. I love the ambiguity of the phrase “comings and goings” that takes a more sinister tone when you wonder what or who was “going” out. Shiver!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jan
      Thank you for reading and for your insightful comment.
      ‘There are always stories behind the stories’; yes, thank you so much for reminding me to think of this explicitly as I work out plots. I tend to use back-story for character, but of course it can drive plot as well – I had been forgetting that! Great! I must sit down and write a story using the thought!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  6. Dear Liz
    Thank you for reading and commenting.
    You may well be right about the young women, although I rather think that any murders would have been done ‘off the premises’. Still, as the author doesn’t say, it’s the reader who decides!
    With best wishes
    Penny

    Like

    • Dear Isadora
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I aimed for just enough to stimulate the imagination. In the light of the comments, I might have a go at a slightly longer piece which would give my take on the back story.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

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