What Pegman Saw – Follower

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. Many thanks to Karen and Josh for organising this most stimulating prompt!

WPS - Follower 190601

Balbulol Dive Resort, Indonesia | Lera 76, Google Maps

Follower

He’s here again, not doing anything, just sitting and watching me.

At first he hid. He’s bolder now, in plain view.

I chant invocations as I shovel ash from a bonfire into a sack and put it into my outrigger. Nine and ninety days it has sat in sun and rain, and now it’s ready to bless the land and the sea.

I paddle hard for hours, and as I approach the atoll the sun is at its zenith. Has my pursuer had the stamina to keep up with me? I can’t see him. Perhaps the heat has overcome him? I shrug. If it has, he will not do.

I have been quick. The sun must be three-quarters through her journey before I scatter the ash. I eat and drink, and, behold, my hunter paddles slowly to the beach. His head droops.

He’ll do. I shall make him my apprentice.

Friday Fictioneers – A Warm Deed

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

A special thank you to Na’ama for the photo and Rochelle for choosing it. It’s a marvellous prompt!

PHOTO PROMPT © NA’AMA YEHUDA

A warm deed

Jack strode beside the security fence, kicking up snow. He wasn’t frightened, but he slowed when he saw a figure on the far side.

The boy was as tall as Jack, but skinny and shivering.

“You look freezing.”

The boy nodded.

“I have no coat.”

“Not even at home?”

“No.”

Jack stripped off his new duffel-coat and threw it up the fence. It didn’t even reach halfway. He tried again. No better.

“I know,” he said, and climbed a tree almost overhanging the fence. He threw, and the coat sailed over the fence.

The boy put it on, and smiled.

InLinkz – click here to join in the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Steel Town

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © J HARDY CARROLL

Steel Town

When I was a kid, there were eight taverns in our town – nine, if you counted the Temperance. There’s only one now, and that’s closing soon – put out of business by the discount liquor store.

The houses used to be neat, lawns and white-painted picket fences. Now, every third house has broken windows. You can tell someone’s doing well if they have a working pick-up on the driveway; doesn’t matter if it’s a rust-bucket, just as long as it runs.

Bethlehem Steel closed and it knocked the heart out of the town.

I’m glad I got out when I did.

Inlinkz – click here to join the fun!

The End of an Era

A few weeks ago I wrote a Friday Fictioneers story with the title “The end of an era?” It felt like a story with potential and I said I would post a longer version. Here it is!

The end of an era

Giorgios sat with his youngest grandson, Yiannis, looking across the Gulf of Argos, over a  sea that was motionless, a lacquered blue-grey. He drank occasionally from a glass of ouzo, rolling the liquid around his mouth, appreciating the flavour of aniseed and herbs. His posture suggested contentment, but his eyes were troubled.

“There’ll be a storm tonight,” suggested Yiannis.

Giorgios frowned. “Perhaps.”

Memories. So many memories burdened a man, he thought. Once he had been decisive, quick to sum up options, quick to plan necessary actions. Where was that ability now, when he needed it most of all? He missed Eirene at his side; how lonely he had been since she left him a widower.

“What do think of your cousin Katerina?” he asked Yiannis.

Yiannis sipped his ouzo as he considered the question.

“She’s bright. She can be too hasty sometimes.”

Giorgios turned back to the sea. The sun’s reflection in the water was dimpled like beaten bronze.  

Hasty.

How different life was nowadays from when he was growing up. He remembered his teenage years, the years of German occupation, the years of resistance. You had to be quick, or you were dead. You had to be ready to save yourself, and not be too fussy about your neighbour.

And you made mistakes. You shot, and maybe the person you hit wasn’t German.

Giorgios closed his eyes. It had been a long time since he’d thought of Gennadios, Some things were best forgotten.

He heard Yiannis. “You’re tired, Grandfather. Would you like me to take you home?”

Giorgios opened his eyes and scowled.

“I want another ouzo,” he said.

Yiannis knew better than to argue. He ordered two more ouzos.

“Your Uncle Spiros thinks he should be my successor,” said Giorgios. He looked intently at Yiannis, who smiled.

“He is your eldest son. Why should he not inherit the business?”

Giorgios grunted. Clouds were building in the west, great mounds of cumulus racing heavenwards.

“You’re right. We shall have a storm. I’m glad Katerina invested in awnings with a guttering system. Our guests will stay dry. Take me back home now.”

Yiannis pushed Giorgios’ wheelchair back to the café, positioning him just inside the doors where he could watch the customers – and the staff. Georgios looked at the mighty plane tree sheltering one end of his café. He remembered Eirene planting it when they had just started the business. He remembered the thoughtful expression on her face as she firmed the soil around the sapling. “What are you thinking about?” he had asked, but she hadn’t answered. It had been an inspiration of hers, though, the mature tree drawing customers into its shade throughout the day.

Spiros bustled over, frowning at Yiannis. “Go and help Ajax in the kitchen,” he snapped. “We’re very busy tonight.” He scanned the tables. “Father, I wish you’d have a word with Demetrios.” Giorgios followed his gaze.

“Send him over to me,” he said. “He knows better than to sit down with our customers.”

As Demetrios minced towards him, Giorgios saw him compose his face, hiding resentment with a smile.

“You’re going to tick me off, I know, but that young man is so handsome I couldn’t help myself!”

“Don’t use your perversion as an excuse for unprofessional behaviour. I don’t want to see you sitting at a table again.” He waved Demetrios away.

He must make a decision. Who should inherit the café, the family business he started so many years ago? He sensed his time was running short.

Katerina joined him.

“You should eat something, Grandfather. Would you like Ajax to make you an omelette?”

“With mushrooms?”

“Yes, with mushrooms.”

As she served him the omelette, Katerina said, “Ajax is an excellent chef, a real asset. I heard other tavernas had approached him, so I’ve given him a pay rise – I hope that’s okay?”

Giorgios grunted. “What did your Uncle Spiros have to say about that?”

“Nothing. I asked him who he had in mind to replace Ajax when he left.” She smiled.

“How is Yiannis getting on? He’s been working with you, hasn’t he?”

“He’s good. Methodical, thorough, and with some flair. I let him negotiate our contract for ice-cream, and he did a good job.”

Giorgios pushed away the half-eaten omelette. “It’s good,” he said, “but I’m not hungry. Bring me a coffee.”

“You know what the doctor said about coffee.”

Giorgios glowered at her.

“I suppose one won’t hurt,” she said.

“Send Yiannis to me with the coffee.”

When Yiannis came, Giorgios glanced around. Was anybody listening?

“How would you feel if I left you the café?”

“There are others who have a greater claim than I.”

“But could you run it?”

Yiannis looked troubled. “Well, yes, I think I could if they let me. But don’t you think the family would oppose me?”

“Could you not talk them round? To run a business you need cunning and determination. Have you got those qualities?”

Giorgios watched Yiannis intently. Perhaps it would be unfair to burden him with the challenge of running the family business. Maybe the time had come to let control pass from the family.

“Don’t look so glum. It may never happen. A storm is the worst we’re likely to see tonight! Now, take me to my bedroom. And make sure the bell is on my bedside table.”

Although his wife, Eirene, had been dead four years, Giorgios still slept solely on the left hand side of the bed. But tonight, sleep eluded him. He thought of Eirene, beautiful, tranquil to the end of her life. As a young man he had loved her passionately; in middle age he loved her as the mother of his children, cherishing her; in old age desire had still burned, albeit with a cooler fire.

For some reason, the distant rumbles of thunder reminded him of Nazi artillery. Why had he thought that?

He dozed.

The hammering of torrential rain woke him. He clambered out of bed, and gazed out of the window at the plane tree. The raindrops slammed into the leaves like machine-gun fire, making them rattle, and beating them to the ground.

His chest hurt. He was used to that. Too much ouzo and coffee. “I don’t care if they do kill me,” he muttered, as though answering someone. The café was closed, the guests all gone.

“I must decide,” he thought. “I must decide.”

Giorgios stood panting. The room felt stuffy. His cheeks felt cold and clammy, and yet he was sweating.

Eirene had always loved Katerina more than the others. And now that he thought of it, Eirene had urged him to give her responsibility in the business. Eirene would want Katerina to inherit the business. He would leave it to her.

But the pain in his chest was too great. The air he breathed felt heavy as water. Giorgios stumbled to his desk and turned on the light. His hand found the notebook and pen without looking – he always kept them handy to jot down good ideas, day or night.

“Katerina is to have the café outright,” he wrote, “The remainder of my estate is to be split equally between my children.”

He added his signature, stumbled back to his bedside table, and rang the bell as loudly as he could. The pain was overwhelming. ‘Is this what Gennadios felt as my bullet ripped through his flesh, and his life gushed away?’ thought Giorgios.

He saw Eirene’s face, her teenage face, filled with desperate grief for Gennadios, and now he could see the shadow of that grief in every memory throughout her life. “She knew,” he marvelled. “How could she love me knowing that?”

Why had he never noticed?

Even as his bedroom door burst open there was a brilliant flash and an immediate shattering explosion of thunder.

“The tree!” exclaimed Yiannis.

“Katerina is to have the café,” gasped Giorgios, scarcely able to articulate the words. Eirene’s grief-laden stare, the terrified pallor of the dying Gennadios, accused him.

“Murder. I murdered him.”

Nobody could hear him. The rain hammered. Sirens shrieked. Even as Yiannis ran to his bedside, Giorgios died.

Friday Fictioneers – Life and Death

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Life and Death

I have walked many days through the primeval forest to reach this tree. Red bark, dark leaves, it stretches into the sky, a monarch. As I lay my hand along that red bark, I feel the sharp rebuke of the tree:

Pay some respect.

I step away and make namaste; I honour the spirit within.

I hear the life of the forest, its growing and its dying; I feel the shelter it gives to small creatures and to large; I share their reverence for the trees. The forest is alive, conscious.

In the distance, a chainsaw snarls.

InLinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Legitimate cause for pride

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © RUSSELL GAYER

Legitimate Cause for Pride

“Honey, why are we stopping?”

“That!” said Jack, pointing.

There, on the driveway of an abandoned clapboard house, mouldered a pickup with an extended passenger section.

“Sure. It’s a truck. Can we please get going? We told Mary we’d be with her by 4 o’clock.”

“I just want a quick look. No more than ten minutes.”

Helen pouted.

“Honey, it’s a truck and it’s covered in mildew. And look – there’s ivy coiling round the wheels!”

“Ah, it’s not just any truck, it’s a Vandura. Back in ’62 I worked in Chevrolet’s design department. See that door mirror? I designed that!”

InLinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – The end of an era?

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © BRENDA COX

The end of an era?

The café lay under a mighty plane tree in a marble-paved square. It was always busy, from dawn until well after midnight.

Giorgios gazed over the café he’d started. He thought of his sons and grandsons working the tables. He thought of his unmarried daughter Katerina, so shrewd. His other daughters were happily married with children. Giorgios smiled briefly.

His heart laboured as he wondered to whom he should leave the business.

That night, lightning felled the plane tree. The deafening crash woke Giorgios. His chest tightened until he couldn’t breathe. Hastily he scrawled, “The café is Katerina’s.”

And died.

InLinkz – click here to join in the fun!

Note – I’m planning to write a longer version of this story and post it on Sunday or Monday. Just sayin’!

Friday Fictioneers – Home

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © ALICIA JAMTAAS

Home

“Hello, Dad.”

Who’s speaking? Who’s this man so tall and strong, crowding my room? I don’t like him. 

“Dad, it’s Colin.”

I stare at him.

“My son was called Colin. Do you know him?” Somehow the words come out jumbled.

Why am I here? Am I in prison? I want to be home. I want to be home in my cabin, nothing but trees for miles.

I knew the forest. I knew the trees, from sapling to maturity. In summer the dry ground was springy; in winter, the mud clamped my boots.

“Dad!”

Who’s speaking? I don’t like him.

InLinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Dare!

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © ALICIA JAMTAAS

Dare!

Tom and James crept closer to the shack in the woods.

“The door’s shut.”

“Bet it’s not locked.”

“Try it!”

“Somebody might be inside.”

“Dare you!”

Tom swallowed. He looked back down the path.

“Chicken!” jeered James.

Hesitant, Tom grasped the door handle and tugged. The door scraped against the ground.

“Coo! Bet we’re the first people in years been inside,” he said.

There was a cupboard, a table, a ratty old chair.

“Look, there’s a drawer in the table,” exclaimed James. Excitedly, he yanked it open. Heavy, metallic, deadly, the revolver gleamed in the drawer.

Outside, footsteps crunched.

InLinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Solar Storm

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © DALE ROGERSON

Solar Storm

Demetrios could have wept at the sight of Miseon, shaking with fatigue after her second six-hour spacewalk in twenty-four hours. Sixty was too old for such brutal labour, but everyone on Space Station L1 was working double shifts. Extra protection against radiation was essential.

All pregnant women had been flown to the Lunar Base; the rest of the colonists would have to endure the biggest solar storm ever.

Demetrios held Miseon gently.

“We’ve done all we can,” he murmured.

Miseon pushed him. “Go in the command area. It’s safer. It’s your duty!”

“No. My place is with you,” he said.

InLinkz – click here to join the fun!

Friday Fictioneers – Leaving

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 on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

PHOTO PROMPT © LIZ YOUNG

Leaving

It’s little things that betray her. She’s wearing perfume. When I ask how her day has been, she says, “Oh, you know…” She’s not telling me where she’s been in her car. She’s happy.

And I’m not.

I provide for her, protect her. All I ask is that she puts me first.

So be it. She’s using her car to cheat on me; her car will end the affair. Last night I made a pinhole in the hydraulics.

*       *       *

“You’re leaving him? Thank goodness.”

“Yes. Tomorrow. Thank you for so much support, Jenny.”

“Take care as you drive home, Sarah.”

InLinkz – click here to join the fun!