Friday Fictioneers – Relief

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 (C) LISA FOX

Relief

‘I don’t know how long I can hold on, Richard,’ I gasped. Every bump in the road – and there were many – doubled the feeling of urgency in my bowels.

Snow lay a foot deep on the verge and our tyre chains crunched in ice; it must have been twenty below.

‘Look! Look there! Stop!’

There was a quaint little hut at the side of the road, two narrow stories high.

‘I guess it’s a toilet,’ said Richard, ‘but look at the signs on the doors. Voters below – politicians above!’

‘I don’t care. It beats digging a hole in the snow.’

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Friday Fictioneers – Darn Dog!

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 (C) DALE ROGERSON

Darn Dog

Greg hated the basement flat, hated its poky windows, hated that he couldn’t afford somewhere better to live with his beloved Louisa, hated the neighbours in the flat above, with their parties, their hearty greetings, and above all their dog, which left messes on the grass.

One evening, Louisa sighed, ‘That dog misbehaved again today, Greg.’

‘More mess?’

‘Worse than that. It pissed on the window by the woodpile.’

Greg paled.

‘Right. That animal’s history!’

‘Don’t hurt him,’ gasped Louisa.

Greg grabbed his shotgun and stormed out.

There was a shot and howling. Greg crept back.

‘Darn it! I missed.’

Inlinkz – click here to join in the fun!

Book Review – Started Early, Took My Dog

Book Review – Started Early, Took My Dog

Title – Started Early, Took My Dog

Genre – Crime fiction

Author – Kate Atkinson

Published – 2010

Enjoyment rating – 7/10

*       *       *

This novel is a whodunit (indeed, a whodunexactlywhat), combined with a pursuit thriller and leavened with plenty of humour.

A whodunit requires a good plot, and this novel certainly ticks that box. There are numerous characters, and the mystery to be solved is how those figures were involved in a murder and a kidnapping. To make the mystery more difficult, these events took place some thirty years earlier. The novel is told with flashback as a means of revealing the characters and motivations of the principal actors. We know the outline of the solution from early on, but there’s plenty of satisfying detail to hold the interest.

In addition, there is a storyline set entirely in the present day. One of the principal characters, Tracy Waterhouse, was a rookie police officer at the time of the earlier crime; she was one of the officers attending the scene. In a not quite entirely unbelievable way Tracy acquires a small girl, and is then pursued both by those investigating the old crime and those trying to cover it up.

Just in case this isn’t enough for you, the novel is laced with plenty of humour. This is not humour that raises a quiet smirk; it’s laugh out loud stuff. I couldn’t help reading out the funniest bits to anyone who would listen.

The three strands of this novel were ample to pull me in and keep me reading, with the humour ensuring that I enjoyed what I read. The solving of the mystery involved some bloodshed, but this was set in the context of a fairly upbeat emotional resolution to the storylines. Even the obligatory nods in the direction of nihilism were faced down by the author’s fundamental optimism.

The novel has a substantial sub-plot involving an actress, Tilly, who has passed her prime. What does she add to the story? Her story collides with the main plot, but I’m not convinced that this is necessary. In retrospect, I realise I skim-read the passages in which she appeared.

I wasn’t completely happy with characterisation, either. Most of the characters were sketched in with little detail.

The main character (in terms of words devoted to him) is a private investigator named Jackson. Although the author supplies plausible motivations to drive his actions, I don’t find them convincing. I don’t really sympathise with him, either. I don’t wince when he gets beaten up.

Tracy Waterhouse, though, is a different matter. She engaged me from the start, with her laconic humour, and her plethora of little vices. There’s something immediately endearing about a person who regularly buys Thornton’s Viennese truffles as a treat. Her actions are highly unlikely and yet they feel believable, in part because her motivation is the desire to have a child.

She acquires a child, and what a child she is! Wonderfully idiosyncratic in the way of all children everywhere. I could believe in her, no trouble at all.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and it kept me reading which is the first requirement of a novel. Profound it is not. Entertaining it certainly is.

Friday Fictioneers – The Singer

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

The Singer

He would ask Anna out tonight, after the gig.

As Eddie made the decision, his hands shook and he fumbled the set-up of his keyboard,

The gig started. The band played brilliantly; the audience were on fire.

Anna’s voice thrilled him. That slight vibrato – so sexy! And when she dropped into the lower register…wow!

The lights dimmed. The music slowed, grew gentler. Anna was singing a ballad, backed only by Eddie’s keyboard. He felt as though she was singing for him alone.

Backstage after the gig, Anna called the group together.

“Let me introduce Phil, my new boyfriend,” she said.

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Friday Fictioneers – Boat for Sale

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!

smart

PHOTO PROMPT © C E AYR

Boat for sale

It’s an immaculate vessel. The fishing tackle in the bow looks brand-new. The engine fires at the first attempt. The paintwork is almost unmarked. It’s also pink. Hmm.

I ask the agent who is handling the sale how long it has been on the market. He shrugs.

“A few months, maybe.”

“Who owned it?” I ask, curious.

“A lady.”

“Did she ever use it?”

The agent shrugs again.

“She took it out every day, monsieur, sometimes more than once.”

“Did she catch many fish?”

He grins.

“Not fish, monsieur. She had a large, pink bed in the hold!”

Vive l’amour!

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Friday Fictioneers – Change the Date

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 - Change the Date 190320

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Change the Date

Once more Denise counted the lamp-posts to the bridge. She was sure she was waiting in the right place.

She called Alan again. No answer.

Something must be wrong! He wouldn’t stand her up. Not on New Year’s Eve. Would he?

The minutes were ticking away, and the crowd was growing steadily thicker, noisier and more exuberant.

Her phone pinged. A message. From Alan.

“Sorry. Dozed off. Enjoy the fireworks!”

Before she could answer, she felt a tap on her shoulder.

“Mark! How lovely to see you!”

“Here for the fireworks? Shall we watch them together?”

Why not? Bugger Alan!

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What Pegman Saw – The First Sunny Day

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Terni in Italy, the birthplace of St Valentine.

WPS - The first sunny day 180210

The first sunny day

Italy in August is supposed to be hot and sunny, but for the first week of my holiday it had been cold and rainy. I might just as well have been in Wales. Mind you, the weather hadn’t deterred the mosquitos. Worse, one bite on my ankle had become infected and swollen, and I’d had to pay for treatment.

When the sun eventually came out, the heat was sultry, heavy, enervating. I was strolling up the street, wondering half-heartedly if I could allow myself a beer, when I heard a peculiar sound.

“Huffa-huffa-huffa…” I looked right and left. Nothing.

“Huffa-huffa-huffa…”

And there, in the porch of a house, I saw him, a dog mounted on a bitch.

“Huffa-huffa-huffa…”

He looked at me with world-weary eyes, as though to say, “A gentleman must pass the time somehow.”

“Huffa-huffa-huffa…”

I gave him a grin, and strolled on to buy myself that beer.

What Pegman Saw – Five Star Wife

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview, and this week it takes us to a beach resort in Mexico. Using the 360 degree view of the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code.

WPS - Five Star Wife - 171118

Five Star Wife

“What a dump!”

“Sun, you said. Sun, sand and sea! And there they are!” Sue gestured at the gritty beach with the sullen Pacific half a mile away. The sun beat down. It was thirty degrees and only ten in the morning.

“Five star luxury, you said” grumbled Jeff.

“The hotel is lovely. If you don’t fancy the beach, go back, sit by the pool and ogle that American girl!”

“I didn’t…” began Jeff.

“Oh, it’s all right. Look, but don’t touch.”

“Anyway, I’d rather be with you.”

“Then sit here, in the shade, and quit moaning.”

The barman smiled at her.

“Could I get a sangria for me and a beer for him?”

“Of course, Senora. I’ll bring them to your table.”

“Do you have wifi?”

“Naturally.” He handed her a printed card. “Network. Password.”

Sue strolled back to Jeff and ruffled his hair.

“Miserable old git,” she said, tenderly.

What Pegman saw – Literary Fiction

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the 360 degree view of the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code.

WPS Poisson-Blanc Quebec 170901

Literary Fiction

Every mile driven between the trees was a mile further from civilisation, a mile further from the concerts, plays and libraries that Estelle enjoyed so much.

“Never mind,” she thought. “Next year, when I start my postgrad studies, I’ll have a cast-iron excuse not to holiday with the family.” And at least the books in the car’s trunk should last through the fortnight – probably.

The resort was beautiful, the lake deep blue in the evening twilight. Birdsong filled the air, and the fresh breeze carried a scent of pine. Their host proudly told them about the camp sites on the islands dotting the lake. He seemed to feel that the provision of latrines was a cause for celebration.

“And here,” he concluded, “are your canoes.”

Canoes. We paddle there? Really?

Estelle stared at him.

He was tall, well-muscled, attractive – and he had a copy of “Wolf Hall” in his hand.

Short story – The trouble with heaven

Every Saturday I have been posting an episode of ‘At first sight’, and last Saturday was episode 5. There are (probably) three more to go. I suddenly realised that I’m missing writing other stuff, and some of my readers might prefer more variety too. So here is a whimsical piece of flash fiction that I hope you’ll enjoy!

Trouble with heaven 170628

“The trouble with heaven,” thought Edwin, “is the singing.” It was all very well if you had a wonderful voice like his best mate, Luciano. Or if you were a rock god (oops, sorry, he thought) like his other best mate, Brian. You could sing your heart out, as though you were headlining at Glastonbury. Very satisfying, no doubt, only he was tone-deaf with a sense of rhythm that stuttered like a car running out of fuel.

Other people told him how lucky he was to stand between Luciano and Brian. Edwin, though, felt it was probably a ruse by Saint Peter to ensure that he didn’t spoil the ensemble of the heavenly host.

Then he was handed the microphone for a solo.