Not as expected, but the rent is cheap and suddenly available. Sally checked the agency’s note. The landlord, Mr Bates, had the keys; she knocked. It’s the top flat. She followed him into a tiny room. You’re beautiful. He scratched his beard. Sorry! A pretty view. See the park. Oh yes, nice. Is that jasmine shampoo? She moved to the exit. No, no, this way. A dark bedroom with narrow windows, a carpet stain and a new mattress. He scratched at his neck. Should we forget about this month’s rent? She smiled. Maybe not, as my boyfriend would kill you.
This week’s picture, to me, is a reminder of the Burma -Death Railway built with forced labour by the Japanese Army during WW2. It is estimated that 90,000 labourers and 16000 allied prisoners of war died during it’s construction. The brutality of the period reverberates with us still, in books and in films. One film, The Railway Man, is an adaptation of the account of a British Army Officer, Eric Lomax, captured and tortured by the Japanese. Years after the war Lomax confronts his Japanese counterpart and they become friends. As they say; time heals. Perhaps, but only for some.
My story has nothing to do with that tragic period.
Their shift had ended 200 years ago, and the bearded miners packed the “Journey’s End” pub. The flaming fire warmed the room, but at midnight the atmosphere turned sullen.
John sipped his ale.
Outside, a train screeching to a halt stirred all the men to drink up and leave. John followed them into a fog of hissing steam that obscured a locomotive. The miners climbed into the carriages, and the engine pulled away in the dark above dilapidated tracks. John marvelled at this silver miners’ mystery.
He returned indoors to his bitter ale, and the crowded pub of bearded miners.
‘I have something important –’ ‘Not now,’ said Carolyn, and flashed her new Breitling watch. ‘Meet me at Le-Petite around five.’ She cycled away and tinkled her bell. ‘Still waiting,’ toned Maurice. He lifted my cup. ‘Another coffee?’ ‘No.’ I paid him and stared out the window. Carolyn’s Diamond watch niggled me.
We worked out at weekends in Bros Gym, where people ogled her glowing appeal. Lately, without an explanation, she would disappear for days. No calls. Was it my business? I dare not ask. But today! She was never late. I was going to New York. Would she come along?
The wonderful Dale has given us a picture of a garlic string to stir our imagination and taste buds. I understand that the greatest benefit from garlic is to eat it raw in salads. Does anyone really eat the cloves raw?
Radiant with the beauty of eternal youth, Silvia enchanted a fluttering of men like lavender surrounded by buzzing bees. Four of her husbands died of broken hearts and the fifth during a moment of rampant ecstasy, and she howled pitiless that night. It was her curse to devour the passion from the souls of men.
In Vulcan, the women called her ‘She Wolf’ and fortified their homes with strings of garlic.
Late afternoons, wearing fine leather and furs, she would ride her sleek stallion to lure a lusting youth.
By midnight, her mourning and howling would haunt the mountain villages.
Damn, how Malcolm preferred the office than coming home. He kicked a box out of his way. The City garbage strike was a health hazard.
Then he saw it. Hell! Mary has flipped. Another of her tantrums since the IVF failed, and for the last time. Dr Nolan said it was pointless.
Malcolm suggested adopting a baby girl. No, she wouldn’t listen to him.
In the flat, the aroma of baking eased his tension as Mary pecked his cheek in a gregarious mood.
‘Oh, Malcolm. I’ve decided to adopt.’
‘Then, why throw out the chair?’
‘Because Charlie is three already.’
I always admire the skill and patience it takes to handcraft art that produces aesthetic pleasure and brightens up our lives. Even more so when the item is an antique with a checkered history. This week’s picture reminds me of wandering through street flea markets and searching in curiosity shops for nothing in particular.
Carla, me and Joey loved Old Hickory’s shop. We spent Saturday afternoons enchanted by the curiosities. To us, every item oozed a magical secret.
Old Hickory frightened us with murderous tales of the polished pirate’s chest. Full of gold. He grinned. Inside is a world of dangerous dreams, and he laughed like Bluebeard himself.
One day, lifting the creaking lid, we took a peek, and heard Hickory cough and spit in the backroom.
No, we said, but Carla climbed inside looking for adventure. Don’t tell, she giggled.
For years now, Joey and me, we have stood outside praying for Carla.
‘It looks kind of grey, it wants painting.’
‘Yep, Grandpa was colour blind, it didn’t matter to him.’
Sally-Anne wasn’t sure about this legacy and expectation. It needed a lot of maintenance.
Grandpa was a Christian and provided a home for orphaned children of every race. Fifty children grew up here and all have prosperous concerns in the town and attend the Gospel Church, yet they are reluctant to help.
Grandpa wanted a new hostel for teenagers providing educational activities.
‘I don’t think anyone cares, Sally.’
‘Oh, they will. I’ll say, what this town needs is a honky-tonk northern bordello.’
You can read the stories from other contributors, here.
Dolphins are Guardian Angels
I admired the parrot fish shoal dashing past, then wham! The impact dislodged my facemask; my flippers were clamped in the teeth of a shark. I struggled my feet free, readjusted my mask and mouthpiece, and swam to a coral buttress. I watched John climb into the boat ten metres above.
The excited bull shark circled and raced towards me. I was trapped.
I heard a screech of whistles and clicks, and a dolphin struck the shark’s underbelly. The pod harassed and chased the menace away.
My saviours escorted me to the surface, and to the safety of the boat.
At first, Beryl laughed. It seemed harmless. She arrived home from work each evening to a cluttered kitchen.
Although, she was certain the place was spotless when she left in the morning.
This problem started soon after the accident. An inconsiderate driver had knocked her from her bicycle, and she spent the night in hospital with concussion. The doctor advised that her head injury may lead to confusion and disorientation: take it easy.
She took pictures of the kitchen and kept a diary; it was not her imagination!
She lived alone.
Did someone else stay in her flat?