Kreative Kue 384 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
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
Live by John W. Howell © 2022
“Look at the leaves.”
“What are you saying? They’re gorgeous.”
“Well, besides the fact that beau in French means handsome I think that sign is rather odd.”
“Oh, I see it now.”
“Might be a fun detour. Any town that is called Beau can’t be all bad.”
“I don’t know. We are running behind already.”
“Where do we have to be?”
“If we miss the ferry at 5:00 we will have to stay the night near the ferry dock.”
“Not the biggest threat in the world.”
“Yes, but then we will be a half day behind the rest of the trip.”
“Okay, then we skip Beau. I wish we could do this at a more leisurely pace.”
“You know we agreed on the itinerary.”
“I know but once into it the pace seems hectic.”
“I think you may be right. Let’s think about this for a minute. If we go to Beau we might miss the Ferry. If we miss the ferry we have an overnight we didn’t plan on. If we have an overnight we didn’t plan on we have extra money and time spent. If we have extra money and time spent we might fall behind and miss something. If we miss something . . .”
“Yes? If we miss something.”
“I’m coming up with so what if we miss something?”
“Let’s go to Beau and take our chances. I say we live for now.”
“You rebel you.”
Raymond Walker offered this sinister tale. Raymond is a prolific author whose main web site is at http://raytwalker.com/. Details of Raymond’s books can be found on his Amazon author page
Beau © 2022 Raymond Walker
“What a strange name for a town or village, Beau. It is French for handsome or manly, I think though my French is basic in the extreme. I always wonder why places are named the way they are” I said to my son sharing the front of the car with me as we passed the cut off for “Beau”.
There is a village near Inverness called “Dull” last year it was twinned with a town in Oregon called “Boring” I know that sounds like a joke “Dull and Boring”, but I suspect that they did it for a laugh. Anyway “Dull” is Scots Gaelic or perhaps Pictish for “meadow”. I heard that both towns also bonded with a town in Australia called “Bland”, but I do not know if that is true, or someone was just having a laugh with me.
“Do you remember grandmother?” My son asked which disoriented me for a second until I remembered “The Town in Quebec, I do, you know I looked it up on the internet when we got home to make sure that we were not hallucinating, there truly is a town called “Grandmother” but as its Quebec it is called “Grand-Mere”.
This was the first time my son and I had taken a long trip together since his mother and I had split up, a boy at the time, he was now a man, and this trip was to help us bond again. It had not been easy, a little lingering resentment remained over the divorce but mainly it had been good and enjoyable. He was like me in so many ways though I expect that if you were to ask him, he would say that we were dissimilar. I would have said the same about my father when I was thirty. It is only in later years that I have become so much like him that it is uncanny.
“Do you remember ‘Ae’ the creepy little village in Dumfries and Galloway?” I drew a blank for a second and then remembered “The one with the totem pole?”
“That’s the one” he said, “In the depths of the Galloway Forest, so little sunlight under the canopy of trees, you said it was like a scene from ‘The Wicker Man’ but even though I was frightened you made me get out of the car and go for a walk in the dark”
“Was it not early when we got there?” I asked.
“It was” he replied “but there was no sun, there is only shadow, everything is shaded, and I was scared but you had to see the carved totem pole. You thought it wonderful and creepy; I was frightened. Frightened of your glee, at the dismal horror of the place, and do you remember the strange woman. The one with the stained yellow teeth, the one that took me into her house for a Pepsi”.
My son turned sideways towards me “I do, she seemed like a nice elderly lady to me even if she could have done with a little dental work” or even some whitening toothpaste. “She did not hurt you or anything?”. I asked as his voice was growing tense, filled with angry undercurrents, discomfiting me.
“No, do not worry dad, she did not hurt me, or anything. She just warned me about darkness and what it would lead us to. She told me that she was a witch but a good witch, she followed the light and that there was a darkness deep within, one that could never be cured”. “She told me that I need not worry until the day we passed ‘Beau’. That was the time when the monster would appear”.
I gasped as the knife entered under my ribs. “I could always see it dad, the way you treated my mum, my sister and I, the rage boiling just beneath the palatable surface that you showed to everyone else. I love you dad, but I just could not live with the darkness growing worse and all-consuming and we have passed “Beau”
I placed his body in a deep ravine covering it with heavy rocks and drove back. I turned off the main road as we grew close to “Ae” and drove through the darkening forest to the witch’s house.
Despite the fact it had been nearly twenty years ago I had last visited she knew me and welcomed me in, saying nothing, opening the fridge and placing an ice-cold Pepsi in front of me. I took a gulp out of it before I said anything.
“We passed Beau” I said, “I took care of things”.
“What did you take care of?” she asked, her dark eyes looking directly into mine as though probing my soul. “My Father, I took care of him after we passed ‘Beau’ as you asked me to do, he is gone, the darkness with him.”
It is only in old or bad horror films that you hear a witch cackle, but I have heard it in real life. “You stupid boy” She said and laughed, “you very silly, wilful, evil boy, when you passed ‘Beau’ you became the darkness. Your father would not have taken a life and all the anger you saw concealed, he kept hidden. Did he ever harm you, your sister or mother? No, he just left.
I lifted my Pepsi and drank. It was cold and sweet. I love Pepsi but I hate witches. She screamed as I nailed her to the totem pole. I drove away laughing, thinking of the distraught faces in the morning when they found her.
Beau, Such a silly name for a place.
My effort was:
“Isn’t nature wonderful, George? So clever and so… I don’t know… kind.”
“Kind? You haven’t read much Tennyson, have you?”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Red in tooth and claw, Madge. Red in tooth and claw.”
“Tennyson. In Memoriam, canto 56 ‘Who trusted God was love indeed / And love Creation’s final law / Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw / With ravine, shriek’d against his creed’. That.”
“Don’t know what that means.”
“It means nature is the lion taking down a gazelle, ripping it to pieces and eating it. It means the sparrowhawk raiding our bird table and eating a finch or two. And it means the blackbird ripping an earthworm out of the soil and the ladybird devouring aphids. Nature is the food chain. Nature is… let me put it this way: however big a fish you are, there’s always a bigger fish somewhere out there looking to make a meal of you.”
“What’s that got to do with trees changing colour? Look at it. It’s beautiful. It’s stunning. And nature did that for our enjoyment. Ours. Don’t you get that? Doesn’t that make you humble?”
“I get that, in winter, there’s not enough warmth and sunlight for the leaves to photosynthesise the sugars that the tree needs to grow. I get that as an exercise in self-preservation, the tree closes off the supply of sap to the leaves, causing the leaves to dry, lose their greenness and reveal their underlying colour, wither, fall and die. I get that if the tree didn’t shut down and go into a form of hibernation, it could well die itself. In that regard I’d agree: nature is… no, not wonderful; more like resourceful, intelligent even. But I don’t think it happens for our benefit any more than a peacock displays its tail for our enjoyment.”
“Why else would he do it?”
“For the same reason you’d put on an alluring dress to go on an evening out, and I’d put on my smartest gear when we were younger.”
“And that was?”
“For sex, of course.”
“George Appleby. I have never dressed up hoping for sex. How dare you make such an insinuation? How very dare you?”
“To look my best.”
“To maybe attract and meet a nice boy. Like I did you.”
“Because every girl; and every boy, I dare say; wants more than anything else to settle down in a stable, loving relationship and raise a family.”
“So the whole point of dressing up is, ultimately, to have kids?”
“If you put it that way…”
“And how do two human beings – in fact two of most types of animal – generally start the process of having kids?”
“But… but that’s not the real reason we dressed up.”
“Not explicitly, perhaps. You may not even have realised it, but subconsciously…”
“No. I can’t believe…”
“You’re sounding less convinced, my dear.”
“Well, you’re confusing me with all this talk about things eating things, things dying and things having… you-know.”
“I’m sorry. I was just playing with your head. You know I love you, don’t you? And, what you were saying – I don’t think it was done for our benefit as such, but it is nice, isn’t it?”
“It is. Even the sign at the side of the road says so.”
“And the sun doesn’t shine for our benefit, but we do benefit from it.”
“So I wasn’t completely wrong?”
“No, you weren’t. And you know what I said about having kids.”
“Oh, no. I don’t want any more kids. We’ve only just started to live for ourselves after devoting most of our lives to them.”
“I don’t either, Madge. But it can’t hurt to go through the motions, can it? A sort of tribute to nature?”
“I suppose not, George. I suppose not.”
Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put your offering (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at email@example.com before Sunday evening UK time. 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. Thank you for taking part.
3 thoughts on “Kreative Kue 385”
Thanks for posting my story, Keith. I also enjoyed Ray’s. Here is tomorrow’s https://johnwhowell.com/2022/11/08/tuesday-anything-possibe-kreative-kue-385-by-keith-channing/
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