What Pegman Saw: The Brotherhood of Blackheads

Brotherhood of Blackheads, Riga, Latvia } Google Maps

Alvis never had any need for a woman, that was for certain. A nagging wife thrusting out a bunch of hungry mouths to feed. He never got the attraction in it. Women were too soft, too insubstantial. He had decided long ago to remain a bachelor.

At an alehouse in Riga he learned about the Brotherhood. He had heard of brotherhoods before, full pious friars and with all their senseless god-chanting. He had no use for that either.

“No, no. You got it wrong. These are fighting men,” the tavern keeper said as he filled Alvis’s cup.

Fighting was not a thing that Alvis longed for, but the thought of being surrounded by fighting men was quite appealing. Especially if they were as strapping as the man who poured the mead.

“Who do they fight?” Alvis asked.

“Invaders,” the man shrugged.

Alvis nodded. This might be the place for him.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

From Wikipedia:

The Brotherhood of Blackheads (EstonianMustpeade vennaskondGermanBruderschaft der SchwarzhäupterLatvianMelngalvju biedrība) is an association of local unmarried merchantsship owners, and foreigners that was active in Livonia(present-day Estonia and Latvia) from the mid-14th century till 1940 but still remains active in present day Hamburg.


  1. Great story. The Latvians have a long tradition of resisting oppressors (most notably with the Forest Brothers in both world wars). It seems like he has found his place. I love “thrusting out a bunch of hungry mouths to feed.” Great image there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, J Hardy. It seems they also have a history of names that capture the imagination. Brotherhood of Blackheads and Forest Brothers are practically stories by themselves!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Josh and Karen, I loved that line, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good one. Caught the feel of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad 🙂 Thanks for reading Crispina and thanks for the great comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well done, Karen. Not a family-man-type so why not become a fighter? Give his life some purpose…I, too, liked the “thrusting out a bunch of hungry mouths to feed”.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Dale! He’s found his niche for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now if only I can get my thinking cap on for this one 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Looking forward to seeing where the inspiration takes you!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I may be reading too much into this, but Alvis struck me as someone who wants something that (given his upbringing and culture) he can’t even admit to himself — which is why he’s willing to risk his life to spend more time in the company of strapping young men, and if it kills him, well, maybe that’s for the best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL, love the way you put this. I don’t think you are reading too much into this at all. That’s an astute take 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, good – thanks for confirming!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. My mind went in a few directions with this well-told story. First: that Alvis would put all the blame on a woman for thrusting out babies. Not that that is unusual but it is so neanderthal! Second: the line “full pious friars with all their senseless god-chanting” made me think of my Catholic upbringing. Our original pastor was a real piece of work, the following made me want to be a Catholic forever, but the nuns took care of that. Third: “Especially if they were as strapping as the man who poured the mead” took me to a homosexual vent. All-in-all, this is wonderfully thought-provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Enjoyed your comments. So you are no longer Catholic? Have you ever thought about giving it one more chance to change your mind? Not that I’m Catholic, I’m just curious.

      Thanks for your careful reading, I enjoyed reading your reactions!


    2. My first impression of the story led me to believe this brotherhood was white supremacist, with the Invaders being unwanted immigrants. And the little bit of hypocritical self-closeting in the midst of all that testosterone gave me a giggle, anticipating what might come next. Could easily be present-day Europe or US, at least on the fringes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh man I hadn’t really looked at it that way but you make some good points!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I really got a feel for this man’s personality and outlook on life – and although I think he might be disappointed (make that disillusioned) if the fighting gets tough – he still might have found a place that fits him more than maybe the cookie cutter lifestyle some feel forced into – and who knows – who could become a fighter and find that part suits him as well.
    enjoyed this

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right. You make a lot of good points. Thanks so much for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 and wishing you a nice week

        Liked by 1 person

  7. […] always, thanks to Karen and Josh for heading up the […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Karen,

    Alvis needed purpose in his life. Why not become a fighter? I’ll join the others in casting my vote for “thrusting out a bunch of hungry mouths to feed.” Definitely not family man material. Well done in the character development department.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rochelle. I wasn’t sure about “thrusting” but I couldn’t come up with a word I liked better. Maybe there isn’t a word. Sometimes the thesaurus is no help whatsoever…. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was wondering about Alvis too. As Joy says, he seems very keen to be with men rather than women, though it’s a dangerous way to find amenable companions! Well written and fascinating slice of history

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lynn. Good point about Alvis, he may have trouble seeking the companionship he desires…

      Liked by 1 person

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