Category Archives: Flash Fiction

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.

What Pegman Saw: Marie

BSA Big Munson Island – Front Yard – Sargassum Beach CTS | Peter Khor

“Look, it’s a sea cucumber.” She grinned, a fisherman’s net of wrinkles cast across each cheek.

Before I could wade my way out, she’d lowered the creature into the shallows and let it rest in the sea grass. Then she was off, squinting up at the sun before splashing into another inlet, her bare legs freckled with age. She sported a skirted-swimming suit and a hat with a brim wider than Calusa Beach.

I could barely keep up with her. She knew the name of every sea star and prickly urchin that ever stitched its way through the shoals of Coupon Bight. She pulled up each kind in turn, greeting them like snowbirds in November, turning their bellies up to marvel at their workings.

“Once I had a nurse shark swim right between my legs,” she said for no reason.

She had a million stories and I believed them all.

150 words

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

This little vignette was inspired by my former mother-in-law, a woman as fearless as she is joyful. The woman has a Carolina drawl sweeter than southern comfort and twice as intoxicating. What a delightful woman, I miss her still.

And Then There Was One

Somewhere in Manitoba | Phillip Compton, Google Maps

Started coming up here in ’69, hale and hearty as we were. Rode as far as Winnepeg in my VW bus with our gear strapped on the roof. Two weeks every August when the pike were biting.

’81 was the year Eddie caught a 32-inch walleye. Had it mounted in his bar. Us drunk on the dock, singin’ ‘Oh Manitoba’. Next year Randy died all sudden-like and no one felt like singing.

Phil got the cancer in ‘95 and stayed home to fight it. Next year he flew out anyway, cancer riding copilot, trademark ballcap loose on his bald head.

By 2001, most of the rest of us were retired, but feelin’ fine.

The tens were rough and by ’18 it was just me and Eddie.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” he said on the phone a month before. But wouldn’t you know it, his wife just called.

Manitoba’s seen the last of us, I fear.

150 words

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

Badlands?

Deer Haven, Badlands, South Dakota | Darius Nabors, Google Maps

The bouncing jeep headed down a faint dirt roadway towards the rocky outline of the Badlands.

A half mile later, a more unexpected and disconcerting thing happened. A horizontal split wrenched across the landscape–dividing the world into two distinct views. Above was the world he knew: pinnacles, hoodoos and mesas. Beneath, lay a city, both ancient-looking and impossibly new.

It wasn’t as if the split had just happened, perhaps it had always been this way. Tom had never actually been way out here. No one really did. As they drove down a slope and into the gap, he watched the familiar features of the Badlands evaporate overhead. From here, it was evident that this part of the landscape was only a projection over the city that lay below. He turned to the woman, astounded.

“Holographic camouflage,” she said, pointing up. “It’s a mirage, essentially.”

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

Two things:

  1. Sorry for being so late to the party. A family trip and a fallen tree had me playing catch-up these past few days.
  2. I owe you an explanation on the story–it’s actually an excerpt from the first novel I ever wrote. I started it in August of 2011 following a family trip to the Black Hills. It’s my write-er-versary. The book was called Panacea, the story of a young man who finds himself in a secret compound in the Badlands, where science and magic collide.

The Measure of Success

Mahseer fish

Mahseer fish

The fourth dragon prince sat, his bare feet dangling from the dock. He had traveled the world and been educated in the finest schools, but in all his experience, there was no greater joy than the glimpse of the gold-plated scales of the mahseer from the depths of the Manas. It was good luck to see one.

Tomorrow he would be king, and he must be a good king.

He had learned much about the world, the industries and economies. Yet what was the measure of success? Was it wealth? Was it growth? For it seemed to him where there were riches, there was also poverty. No, there had to be a better measure.

And then he saw it in the same instant: the fish and the answer. Such was not the way of happiness. No happiness was a thing as contagious as cough, but as satisfying as ema datshi.

150 words

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

It’s great to see everyone this week! Looking forward to getting around and reading everyone’s stories.

When I selected Bhutan for the destination this week, I knew nothing about it. I was delighted by the things I learned, especially the Fourth Dragon King of Bhutan and the concept of Gross National Happiness.

What a Perfect House

3 Milch Court, Loxton, Australia | Google Maps

Charlotte hosed the garbage can out and wheeled it to the side of the garage. She made a face as she dried her hands. “Maybe we should hire out. These municipal sanitation workers…they just don’t care.”

“Charlotte, I’m—”

She gave me a sharp look. The words withered in my mouth. Instead, I followed her back into the garage, hands stuffed in my pocket. Would she ever forgive me? How could she, if we could never talk about it?

She fitted the recycling container into its niche and stared out the open garage door. “They’re not straight.”

“Excuse me?”

“The junipers. They’ve never been straight. I want to cut them down.”

I looked out at the landscaping, astonished. The neat spindles of evergreen along the property line had been one of the reasons we’d bought the place. That day, she’d clapped her hands, delighted. “What a perfect house,” she’d said.

150 words

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

A Common Tongue

Long John’s Showbar, Great Yarmouth, UK } Google Maps

He was a beef of a man, broad as a London bus with a jutting jaw. He eyed the tourists perched at the hightop across the pub. “What you think they be on about?”

“Americans.” The bartender shrugged. “Jollificeartions is me guess.”

The man nodded, brow asquiggle. “Putting on parts is me guess.”

“Aye, could be.” Both men turned to eye the three ladies.

“I got this,” the big man said at least. He lumbered toward them.

At the ladies’ table, his ale sloshed in the glass. “Ar yer orrite bor?”

The blonde’s mouth dropped open. The redhead turned to the brunette, whispering, “What did he say?”

The brunette squared her shoulders and shot him a bold look. “You want to shoot the breeze, fella?”

“Oy,” he said. He took a step back, then pivoted for the bar.

“Wha’d they say?”

“Cor blast me, brother. Was a loada ole squit!”

150 words

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

To understand this story, you might need this:

Norfolk dialect translator