What’s afoot?


“Have you noticed, Trevor, that whenever he-who-shall-not-be-named is stuck for a photo prompt, he digs out an old one of us?”

“Don’t ask me, Podge. What I want to know is, whose boot is that?”

“Himself is in front of us. Look up and you’ll see.”

“I can’t look up! The boot might do something.”

“Like what?”

“How am I supposed to know? I’m just a dog! You two can look up if you like, but what if that boot does something. What if it… oh, I don’t know… what if it moves or something?”

“It’s attached to him. What’s it going to do?”



“Who is it attached to?”

“Not who – whom? And it’s he-who-shall-not-be-named.”

“Are you sure?”

“Stop looking at the boot and look up. You’ll see it’s him.”

“Okay, I’ll tell you what. You two look at him and let me know straight away if you see anything suspicious.”

“And what, pray, will you be doing whilst Shitsu and I are doing that?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I’ll keep looking at this boot. I need to know straight away if it does anything, like moves.”

“Trevor, my old chum, my old mucker, my old mate, my old china, my old—”

“WHAT? And make it quick. I’m busy.”

“How old are you?”

“Oh, God. I need to move out of this story.”


“This picture was take in 2010. Fifth of August to be exact. I was four then. Four. Now I’m fourteen! I can’t keep this up, trying to think like a four-year-old.”

“Don’t tell his reader that. What if he finds out this is all just words made up by he-who-shall-not-be-named? Okay, so you’re ten years older than you were then – care to consider my backstory?”

“What do you mean? What backstory?”

“When did Eos appear on the scene?”

“2015, why?”

“Think about this carefully, Trev. Can you remember why Eos appeared on the scene?”

“Of course. They thought I’d be lonely after you… oh.”

“Precisely. Oh. Shall we carry on?”

“Best not. I don’t think we can squeeze any more out of this photo. Let’s just hope he can find something better for next week.”

“Say bye Trevor.”

“Bye Trevor.”

This was written in response to Kreative Kue 274 published on this site.

Kreative Kue 274

Kreative Kue 273 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

2007-06-17 10-51-13_0003a

John W Howell is a multiple nominated and award-winning author who blogs at Fiction Favorites. Details of John’s books can be found on his Amazon author page

Old Bean by John W. Howell © 2020

My effort was

Is this true?

I remember the day we moved into the new house on a big, brand-new housing estate. I was two at the time. I found the whole moving thing confusing and a tiny bit scary (I’ve never been much good with new things). It was a good job that my brother was there with me that day. He was nearly four and that, to my eyes, was practically a grown-up. He was brave and clever and knew all sorts of stuff. He wasn’t always nice to me but he told me that big brothers were supposed to be a bit mean to help the younger ones to toughen up and I believed him.

We went outside the house together and he showed me what would be the back garden when Daddy had time to work on it. I remember he put his arm around my shoulder and looked down at me with an expression that I had seen once or twice before, and that worried me every time I saw it. He said I didn’t have to worry about anything. The only thing that would hurt me in this new house was him. He looked around to make sure Mummy and Daddy weren’t in sight, then he reached down and hit me in the tummy. Hard. Three times.

I screamed. Mummy came running out and asked what had happened and why I was holding my tummy and crying. My brother said that he didn’t know, that I was like it when he found me. He said he had been looking at a cat in the shed when he heard me scream and ran to see what it was. Mummy said what a good, caring brother he was and how lucky I was to have him. She didn’t see his ‘tell’ – his tongue pushing his cheek out. I did.

Later, I tried to tell Mummy and Daddy what had really happened that day, and how it was becoming a regular thing. Their response was to tell me off for making up lies. Telling stories, they called it.

Later, after our sister was born, we boys gradually became somewhat closer. We were less than two years apart in age and I could do almost all the things he could – except ride a bike and tie my shoelaces. It took me a long time to learn both of those, although my reading and stuff were better than his which made up for it. Over time, the thumpings stopped and we got up to all sorts of mischief together. Sadly, dear little sister made life harder for us when she turned out to be a real snitch. Every time we did something wrong when Mummy and Daddy were out, she told them about as soon as they got back. My brother’s job was to persuade her to stop telling on us, which was not easy because – well, everybody knows you’re not allowed to hit girls. So that didn’t work. My job was to tell our side of the story so we didn’t get punished. Again, I was always accused of lying, making up stories. So that didn’t work either.

More than six decades have passed since those days and here I am still making up stories. True, they tend to be longer and more complex these days, but I believe that it’s thanks in large part to the training and experience gained as a boy, that I now have ten books on my bookshelf with my name on the spine!

Important things, families.


On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.

Sunday serialisation – Rory (ret’d) 5.1

Rory Rogerson is 67; an overweight, unfit, retired ‘protection officer’ (that’s PC for hired muscle). He is also a prolific and, by his own reckoning, successful author of crime fiction.

Penny (60) is his headmistress wife and Charlie Watkiss is the bloke next door.

Together, they make a formidable team!


Rory (ret’d). Chapter five, part one.

The Masaala Ghar Indian restaurant is only about a hundred and fifty yards from the house, so we invariably walk there except, of course, when the weather is unusually foul, as it was on this particular evening.

I shouted up to Penny as she was getting ready for the evening, “Walk with umbrella, raincoats and even probably galoshes, or—”

“Hail a ride,” she replied. Ever the dutiful husband, I summoned a car, making sure it was a decent size. No way do I want to try and squeeze my frame into one of those tiny city-cars. “Fifteen minutes,” I shouted up.

“Will that get us there in time?” my wife asked.

“Should do,” I replied, “two or three minutes late at worst.”

“Okay,” she said, walking into the dining room where I’d been standing waiting for her.

“By golly, you look ravishing this evening, Mrs Rogerson,” I said, “had I not been… you know… I’d have been sorely tempted to throw you across the dining table and ravage you right now.”

“Oh, stop it, you soft old bugger,” she said, blushing prettily, “are you going like that?”

“What do you mean, like that?”

“You’ve got half of your lunch all over your shirt.”

“Where?” I asked, looking down.

“There,” she said, pointing a finger close to my solar plexus and bringing it up quickly to flick my nose.

I stepped back and laughed.

“No, seriously, there’s tomato ketchup on your shirt. Go and change it, there’s plenty in your shirt drawer.”

“No time,” I said, hearing the cab draw up the drive.

“Do it!” she commanded.

I did it. I climbed the stairs as quickly as I could, ripped my shirt off, took another from the drawer and put it on, tucking it into the waistband of my trousers as I was descending the staircase. I went through the open front door, closed and locked it and set the alarm before stepping into the car – a generously-proportioned SUV of a type I hadn’t seen before.

“Masaala Ghar?” the driver asked.

“Please,” I replied as we pulled silently out of the drive. “Is this car electric?” I asked.

“Sure is. I’ve got it for a couple of weeks to evaluate. If it works out, we’ll replace all our diesel cars with electric over the next year or so.”


“Yeah. I’ve got the EQC and my mate Eric has the MG ZS. Other people around the country are trialling different models. We’re here, by the way.”

“Thanks, and good luck. Nice car, by the way.”

“Thank you,” he said as Penny and I exited the vehicle, “have a pleasant evening.”

I chuckled slightly at that. Whatever I was expecting of this evening, I certainly wouldn’t imagine the word ‘pleasant’ would be appropriate.

As we entered the restaurant, the head waiter, Ravinderpal, approached me. “Good evening Mr Rory, Mrs Rory,” he said.

“Good evening, Ravi. I hope you’re well. Pity about the weather.”

“Not a problem, Sir. It’s warm and dry in here.” I smiled. “Mr Charlie is waiting for you in the Langar room, shall I show you through?”

I know exactly where the Langar room is and I have no need of help finding it. However, I learned a long time ago that what Ravi, in common with many of his compatriots, was displaying was not subservience and certainly wasn’t paying lip-service to the attitudes fostered during the Raj, the days when the light-skinned man was master and the role of the dark-skinned man or woman was servant. No, what Ravi was displaying was a level of service, not servitude, that conferred as much dignity and self-respect on him as it gave to us, his customers. So I accepted his offer in good grace. “You’re very kind,” I said, “Thank you.”

“Thank you, Sir,” he replied, “It is my pleasure to be of service.”