Category Archives: what pegman saw

What Pegman Saw: Inomoca

It was Inomoca who was first to see them—far from shore, in a canoe as vast as the biggest hut in the village. It carried with it the billow of a cloud the very color of cassava flesh.

It was Inomoca who ran tall to the beach to greet them—those strange men with their bird-colored legs, who covered their bodies in women’s aprons. It was Inomoca who traded his sister’s earrings for a silver hat as hard as the mountain.

It was Inomoca who outsmarted Guama, and won the right to make all future trades. It was Inomoca who made his new hut the grandest in all the Taíno villages. It was Inomoca who took more wives than even Anacoana.

And it was Inomoca who was first to lose a hand when the men came back, and he had failed to fill the hawks bell up with gold.

149 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. Click here to read more stories inspired by this week’s location (Dominican Republic), or to submit your own.

As is sometimes the case in writing, I could not get this story to go exactly where I wanted it to go, and so I had to settle with a cautionary tale of greed.

When Columbus landed on the Caribbean islands in 1492, he said this of the Taíno people:

“They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will … they took great delight in pleasing us … They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal…Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people … They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.”

On his second voyage, Columbus began to retire tribute from the Taino. Each adult was expected to deliver a hawks bell full of gold every three months. If the tribute was not paid, the Spanish cut off the hands of the offending Taíno, and left them to bleed to death. Then, by early 1500, small pox arrived to finish the job. Within sixty years, only a few hundred Taíno remained.

Remnants live on, both in fragments of DNA found in islanders, and echoes of their language, which can be heard whenever we eat barbecue (barbacoa), paddle a canoe (kanoa), smoke tobacco (tabaco), or hunker down for a hurricane (juracán).

As always, thanks for reading!

What Pegman Saw: The Advance

Out of the Blue, a vacation rental home in Fiji © Booking.com

“What time are we meeting for dinner?”

“Rochelle said the chef suggested seven.”

“Perfect. Did you hear if Lish’s plane arrived?”

“Looks like Lish and Eric just landed. Do you suppose James wants to ride out in the helicopter this time to pick them up?

“I’ll text him.”

“Penny and Lynn wound up on the same flight. Lynn was saying they got so rowdy on the way over, the flight attendant threatened to throw them off. Penny said as long as they got parachutes, she was fine with that.”

“It’s going to be a great week. While we’re waiting for everyone to arrive, how about a toast?”

“Josh, Karen—out of the pool!”

Kelvin walked out to the cabana where Lavanya, Ali and Prior sat reclining. Josh and Karen walked over, wrapped in the oversized towels from the luxury rental. All raised a glass.

“To eight-figure book advances.”

150 words

Okay, that was pure silliness. But I figured that after the winter we’ve had so far, and the past two prompts, I figured we could all use a vacation. And apparently, one of the Pegman contributors deserves an eight-figure book advance. The rental in the photo is actually Bora Bora

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

What Pegman Saw: Syria

Syria © Google Maps

 

“Are these seats taken?”

He glanced at the seat between us. “No.”

There was something unrecognizable in his softly accented English. I studied his clothing and face for a clue.

“My parents are coming. My husband’s parents too.” I rested my coat and bags on the adjacent seats. “Do you have family coming?”

“No.”

Again, the unrecognizable accent. And so, I chattered on about the show, about my daughter, about his son. We talked about the honor. And though he sometimes smiled, it seemed that every word trailed off in sadness.

“You must be very proud. Will your family be coming to the finals?”

He shook his head.

“Do they live abroad?” And in his nod, I sensed a choked-back sob.

I tried to fathom where could be so far, what could be so sad. All around us, excited parents filled the auditorium. I turned to him. “Where do they live?”

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. I went five words over the limit this week, which is 155 words more than I wanted to write. This felt like one of those homework assignments where you want to yell at the teacher. Oh well. Done my duty to Pegman this week.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

 

Chernysh Runs Scout

Talnakh, Russia © Alexey Ralphs, Google Maps

Chernysh knows his man will walk today. He thumps his tail to say that he is glad, and that he will run scout.

The job of scout is hard one. He must watch the man. He must stay close. He must run ahead, and back. He must know the risk in every smell, he must ponderate each danger.

On this walk, he scents it. He presses nose to gritty snow and breathes. Overtop the late-night vodka piss, beneath the old man’s factory-walk: Stray Dog. A wolf-eye howler. This one comes with hungry teeth and bad intentions.

Chernysh growls quite low—then hellhound race down snow canyon, until the scent is lost to smelt and sulfur wind. He barks good riddance! He barks don’t come back!

He nudges up when good man pats his head. The good man never needs to know the danger—not while Chernysh keeps his watch.

149 words (if you don’t count how I cheated the hyphenation game!)

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

As the occasional host of What Pegman Saw, I selected this place some time ago, and saved it for the dead of winter. I refrained from doing any research on it until the post went live on Saturday. And that’s when I fell into a fascinating pit of research which I found difficult to dig out of. Such is the hazard of Pegman! I guess every now and then one is bound to get lost.

In Talnakh, I had the sense of countless untold stories, a feeling of stories waiting to happen. My dear hubby, J. Hardy, referred to it as a ‘living dystopia’ after watching this video, and I found that as apt as anything I could ever say about the place. I started and abandoned many stories before at last settling on this one, which begins (ironically) right back where I started.

When I stumbled upon this place it was solely because of one ambitious photographer by the name of Alexey Ralphs. Mr. Ralphs has contributed more than 1,000 photospheres and streetview scenes to Google Maps. In these photos, I saw an appreciation for the harsh beauty of it. I saw a world I will never see personally, both due to its remote location and the fact that this mining town is closed city. However, as I staggered down those streets and byways, in that drunken streetview lurch, I noticed something else: a little black dog.

The same dog appeared time and again—sometimes ahead of the camera, sometimes pensive and waiting, sometimes running, sometimes walking, sometimes nose to the ground. The dog’s pride was evident—even from five thousand miles away.

How many miles had they logged together, that man and his dog, chasing the sun as it slung  low on the horizon? It stayed with me. And so I wanted to thank them both—Alexey Ralphs and his little black dog—for capturing my imagination so completely this weekend.

By the way, I have no idea what that little dog’s name is, but I picked Chernyl since Google told me it was the Russian version of “Blackie”.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Wishing you all good things in the coming year.

Karen

The Elf, the Wealth, and the Craigslist Santa

taken for What Pegman Saw

“Tiffany’s elf brought her another present yesterday.”

Que bueno, flacita.”

“Stormy’s elf writes letters. She brought one to school. It’s covered with glitter.” Her dark eyes shone with a sad longing.

I didn’t know what to say. Our elf was overworked and underpaid. Some elves baked cookies or staged hilarious tableaus. Our elf forgot to move on days I worked the late shift. I stroked her hair. “Well, our elf told me a secret.”

Her eyes went wide.

I cleared my throat. “Our elf said Santa’s coming to our house. Tomorrow.”

Her mouth fell open in a gasp. “Really?”

“That’s right hijita. He’s coming to meet you.”

“Oh,” she said, full of wonder.

As she hurried off to tidy her room, I wondered where I’d find a red suit and a white beard and a jolly man to wear them. For under twenty bucks. Two days before Christmas.

Craigslist.

150 words

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

For those not familiar with the Elf on the Shelf craze, it’s a fifteen-inch tall stuffed ‘scout elf’ that comes to live at your home over the holidays. It’s mission is to gather intelligence. It’s a great tool for teaching your kids those important skills needed for living in a surveillance state. Plus, it fosters an environment of competitive elving in your child’s home and classroom. The Elf on the Shelf has been stirring up strife since 2005. If you’re looking to teach your kids that important lesson that “being good means gifts”, I suggest you buy one today. I can give you a good price, if you’re interested 😉

1981

Somewhere in Iowa © Google Maps

The farm crisis that started in 1980 and the extinction of the family farm is a subject near to my heart. It is a topic very difficult to fit into 150-words. Here’s one try:

“Maybe we could sell the tractor,” she said.

Selling the tractor would pay the mortgage on a field they couldn’t farm without it. He shook his head. “We’ll figure something out.”

Out the kitchen window, the broken bronze stalks of last summer’s corn waded in a thin skim of snow. The money from the harvest was long spent. Maybe sell the south forty, he thought. It was higher up and dry most years. They’d still have the rich eighty by the river.

But what if it flooded? What if next year’s crop was just as poor—what then? What would be left of his grandfather’s farm if he had to cut off a piece of it for every bad year? He never should’ve gotten the mortgage.

Eddie flung his sippy cup from his high chair and gurgled.

Insurance money, he decided. He stood. “I’m going out to the barn.”

149 words

This has been and edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

Marquise de Maintenon

Palace of Versailles, France © Google Maps

“It feels like we’re going in circles.”

“Nonsense, darling. It’s just the way it’s designed—part of the experience.”

“We’re supposed to feel dizzy?”

He curled an arm around her. “Don’t worry. I’ve been here before.”

She nodded, then brushed him way, distracted. “Oh my.”

He turned to look. The tall hedges met in a T-intersection behind them. He saw nothing. “What did you see?”

“She’s lovely,” she said, walking back the end of the aisle.

“We’ve already been that way, love.”

She glanced at him reprovingly. “You never told me the employees wore costumes. I’ve never seen one so elegant.”

He’d never told her because frankly, he’d never seen anyone in costume. He followed her, curious.

A lady stood, face pale as vellum, a waterfall of dark curls down her nape; the hedgerow clearly visible through her gown.

He cleared his throat. “I don’t think she works here.”

149 words.

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