Kreative Kue 210 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.
The Lesson by John W. Howell © 2019
“Now my son. It is time you learned the ways of the sea.”
“Ways of the sea? What do you mean Papa?”
“Soon you will be a man and the duty of providing for your family will fall to you.”
“I don’t have a family except for you, Mama, and sister.”
“There will be a time when you will take a spouse, my son.”
“That is a long way off I hope.”
“Yet that time will come. And then you will have children.”
“Wait, Papa. I don’t want to rush into anything.”
“Just so you are prepared to be able to provide for them it is time we begin your lessons of the sea.”
“Can we hurry. I have a baseball game this afternoon.”
“The first lesson is very brief, my son.”
“Are you sure we need to begin this future life thingy now?”
“The mysteries of the sea will take years to learn. There is no time like the present to begin.”
“Very well, Papa. I will try to do my best. What is the first lesson?”
“Now you make me very proud, my son. My heart is bursting with my love for you.”
“Thank you, Papa. What do I need to know first?”
“See the water, my son. It is filled with millions of fishes and other good things to eat. If you know its ways, you can live a fine life from its bounty.”
“I love to eat fish, Papa.”
“So here is the first thing you need to know.”
“You have my attention.”
“Take this, my son.”
“Your phone Papa?”
“Yes. Dial 210-555-5555.”
“Okay now what?”
“Tell them this is a pickup for four orders of the deep-fried fish and chips with cole slaw.”
And this from Kristian, who blogs regularly at Tales from the mind of Kristian.
A Picture by the Sea Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 14/March/2019
I took a picture of you,
Standing in the sea,
the water lapping at your feet,
as you smiled up at me.
Those days were simply perfect,
Though we didn’t know it then,
That life, as often happens,
Would change and change again.
Not long after the picture was taken,
I said farewell to you,
I watched you sail from my life
I cried for a week or two.
That seems a lifetime ago,
In many ways it was,
Our lives have drifted far apart,
And I’m to blame, because,
I left those words unspoken,
I didn’t tell you how I felt,
And that’s why our lives were broken
By the bitter hand, fate dealt.
Each and every day I wander,
By the water’s edge, I lurk,
Gazing at the sea that took you
Into the darkness and the murk.
It’s here I took a picture of you,
Standing in that sea,
How I wish that here and now,
You were smiling next to me.
Meanwhile, my effort was:
I know that you’re trying to portray
This scene at the fag end of day
But I think that you might
Want what’s left of the light
So make haste, let’s have no more delay
The tide’s coming in rather fast
This photo may well be your last
Set me back on dry land
Plant my feet in the sand
Ere the beauteous moment has passed.
The sun is now sinking apace
It’s so dark you can scarce see my face
There will only, quite soon,
Be the weak light of moon
To attempt to illumine to the place.
It is forecast that in this locality
The moon will eclipse in totality
If it’s as I recall,
You won’t see me at all
Does your phone offer flash functionality?
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 email@example.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.
In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.
As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.
A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.
Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.
Knight after Knight. Chapter two, part two.
While Jen went to the kitchen to arrange tea and biscuits, I took the opportunity to have a man-to-man with Pepu.
“Tell me something about your background, Pepu,” I asked.
“What do you want to know, Sir?”
“When you came to this country and why.”
“Why I left Zimbabwe or why did I come here?”
“Okay, Sir. I had to leave Zimbabwe when I was twelve because my father was an opponent of the president. He was rounded up with many of his friends and shot. My mother took the family, three boys and two girls, and fled. You see, Sir, sons of the president’s opponents were believed to be as dangerous as their fathers.
“We travelled partly in the backs of lorries and partly by jumping onto trains, but mostly on foot, until we reached a port. In the port, we were spotted by some bad people. Mother and the girls were taken – we knew that was a risk, but Mother thought it was worth taking. As far as I know, they were probably forced into sex work. My brothers and I were seized, too. I don’t know what happened to my brothers, but I managed to escape and hide on a ship. I didn’t know or really care where the ship was going; it was taking me away from Zimbabwe and danger, and from the bad people in the port city.
“I thought I’d be okay hiding in one of the ship’s lifeboats, but they found me when they did a drill. They threw me into some kind of cell on the ship and told me the captain would come and deal with me. The captain, an English man, questioned me about why I had hidden on his ship. When I explained my situation to him, he said I’d suffered enough and deserved a break. He put me to work as a kitchen-hand. When we arrived at the ship’s destination, which was Southampton, he handed me over to the authorities.
“I told them my story and they asked me if I was applying for asylum and told me what that meant. I agreed it was what I wanted. As a thirteen-year-old boy with no family in England, or anywhere else for that matter, I lived in a lot of temporary homes, being looked after by different people. I went to school, too, and even passed some exams.
“When I became eighteen, I had to leave the family I was with and start to look after myself. By then I had the visas and permission to remain as a refugee. At a hostel in London, I met Jen. Her story was even more horrific than mine. Her father was also a dissident, and she had suffered all manner of abuse on her journey and since. We did a lot of different jobs but never had a proper home. Getting married helped in some ways but not in others. You see, Sir, it’s easier for a single person to find somewhere to live and a job than it is for a couple. That’s why we are so grateful to you and Mrs Knight.”
“And you are very welcome, Pepu. We want you to feel welcomed and at home here. As long as you do your jobs well, and are straight and honest with us, you have a secure and safe home.”
“One thing we would ask, Pepu,” Sophie said, “if you have any problems, any difficulties, whether with work, with money or anything else, anything at all, for goodness’ sake, come and talk to us about it,” seeing Jen, enter with tea and biscuits, Sophie added, “That goes for you, too, Jen. Don’t try to fix it on your own.”
“That’s right,” I said, “we have a big organisation behind us. When you work for me, you become part of the Knight Global Trading family. And we look after our own.”
Jen sat at the table and wept. Pepu comforted her. Once she’d calmed a little, she said, “We never, ever expected to find such kindness. Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“Are we interrupting anything?” Eddie said as he and Martha entered the lounge.
“No, Dad, but you’re too late for tea,” Sophie said.
“Are these the people you told me about, Hannice?” Eddie asked.
“They are. Eddie, Martha, meet Pepu and Jen Kunonga. Pepu is our new driver, groundsman and general handyman, Jen, his wife, is our new cook/housekeeper. Pepu, Jen, these fine people are Mrs Knight’s parents, Mr and Mrs Beard.”
“Eddie and Martha, please.”
“You are very old,” Jen said.
“Jen, that’s rude,” Pepu insisted, “nice English people don’t say that sort of thing.”
“No, but perhaps they should,” Eddie said, “it’s true, we are very old, over eighty, both of us. I like your honesty… Jen, is it?”
“Yes, and I’m sorry if I was rude.”
“Nothing to apologise for, but a cup of tea would be nice. Ooh – do I see double-chocolate chip cookies?”
“Yes, Mr Eddie,” Jen said, “I’ll get you both some tea.”
“I like this girl,” Eddie said as Jen prepared to go through to the kitchen, “such a pretty thing.”
Pepu looked at Eddie with an expression I had difficulty reading. Was it annoyance? Pride? Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t a smile. He looked back to his wife and took her hand in what seemed to be a protective gesture.
“Down, tiger, you don’t want to start your palpitations again,” Martha said, trying to take the edge off the situation.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” Pepu said, “but my Jen has suffered some bad treatment from white men, especially older ones. And it usually started with them saying she was pretty.”
“No, I’m sorry,” Eddie responded, “I didn’t mean any harm. I was just trying to be nice…”
Jen just looked at Eddie, smiled, and said, “Thank you, Mr Eddie.”
“It’s good that you like them, Eddie,” I said, “because they’re going to be around for a while.”
“Can I ask you something, Sir?” Pepu said to me.
“When we move our clothes into the flat in this house, is there a back entrance we can use to come and go, so we don’t disturb Sir and Mrs Knight?”
“There is, but I don’t think you need to use that unless you really want to. Provided we continue to get on well, you will be treated like family. You can use the front door. It has an electronic lock that responds to numbered badges and facial recognition. I’ve organised a badge for each of you.” I handed the two badges to Pepu and Jen. Each was on a long lanyard. “Hang them around your necks – under your clothing is fine – it will prime the door lock. I’ll record your face details in my office after we’ve had our tea, then you’ll be set.”
“Will you show us how it works, Sir?”
“I have things I have to do now, Pepu, but I’m sure Eddie will be happy to walk you through it.” I cast a look at Eddie. He nodded and smiled.
Waist of Space, part one of the Unlikelihood series, followed Commanders Tarquin Stuart-Lane and Meredith Winstanley; hapless heroes of the Royal Space Regiment; who were sent on a mission to the Moon from which they were not expected to return. There they met with a group of aliens who had forged a living under the surface of the moon, and whose forebears were testing a new kind of spacecraft.
In part two, FLATUS, our dynamic duo help the aliens (and the RSR) build their own multi-locatable craft. Will the ships be built and if so, will the drives work? What are the possible effects of having three such craft in space at one time? FLATUS — Fantastically Large Assembly for Travel at Unbelievable Speeds. The most unlikely spacecraft never built?
Part three follows the preparation and development of the Gap Travel Initiative (code named GTI) and the developing relationships among and between species, races and genders. Will humankind achieve the nirvana of limitless travel and if so, at what cost. Stick with Tarquin and Meredith as they navigate their route through an uncertain future.
GTI. Chapter six, scene one
The trip to the moon was as smooth as should be expected from a ship-to-shore transport that was now, since its recent refit, fully automated. Yes, I know Andrea liked to pilot it herself, but that says less about the craft and more about her background, upbringing and personality – and especially the struggles she had being taken seriously as a remarkably (some would say dangerously) attractive young blond woman in fields of endeavour that are still traditionally reserved for men. In a nod to the military’s penchant for belt-and-braces, it is still possible for the pilot – referenced in the manual as ‘seat one occupant’ – to override the automation and take manual control, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Rear Admiral would at every opportunity take full advantage of what is affectionately known as the Smithson over-ride.
The landing was textbook. Had Tarquin not been in conversation with his superior officer, it is most likely he would have slept through the whole thing. Yes, it was that smooth. Looking out of the small window, Tarquin noticed something different.
“I say, Commodore, Sir…” Tarquin said, a hint of excitement in his voice.
“What is it, Tarquin,” Jason replied with a notably different emotion.
“They’ve sent someone out to meet us, Sir. Look.”
“So I see, Tarquin. Isn’t it normal practice? SRORs dictate—”
“Yes, Sir. I know what the regimental operating regulations say, but this is the moon. No-one ever comes to meet us. We just make our way to the centre and de-suit. Sir.”
The two officers secured and pressurised their helmets, popped the door, exited and climbed down the ladder. A space-suited individual beckoned them to follow him and marched off towards the office block. Yes, that’s right, he marched. Very smartly and very formally. Unusually, given the low gravity on the moon, he didn’t look like he was on a trampoline. He looked like he was on a parade ground. In fact, he appeared to have more gravity than the moon! Jason and Tarquin bounced along behind him.
Entering the building, they passed through atmosphere control and removed their helmets. Sorry, I forgot to mention that Jason and Tarquin were field-testing prototype 3mm GTI suits and so didn’t need the pressure suits worn on the moon by other humans.
Once he’d de-suited, they saw the newcomer in his full glory. He had the dress, attitude and demeanour of one more accustomed to commanding the parade deck of a training ship than meeting officer-class visitors at a regimental outpost.
“I’d hate to be one of his new recruits,” Tarquin whispered to Jason.
“And why would that be? Sir?” the new man asked pointedly, “Yes, I heard. Not much gets past these ears,” he added, touching his ears with extended index fingers; ears that Tarquin couldn’t help but notice were significantly smaller than he would have expected to see on a large man with tightly-shorn hair. Jason saw Tarquin’s eyebrows raise and heard his intake of breath preparatory, no doubt, to saying something, probably something at best insensitive, at worst downright stupid and rude. Jason touched his charge’s shoulder to attract his attention and shook his head gently to dissuade any possible embarrassing outburst.
Jason studied the newcomer’s uniform, its insignia and name badge. “Warrant Officer de Sauderley, is it?” he asked, trying his best to sound aloof.
“It is Sir.”
“And your purpose here is?”
“My brief is to maintain discipline and morale amongst the other ranks and civilians, Sir.”
“Then why did you meet us from the SOPT? We are neither other ranks nor civilians.”
“Begging your pardon, Sir, but I was specifically ordered to meet Captain Stuart-Lane and escort him to Rear Admiral Smithson’s ante-room.”
“I need to speak to the Rear Admiral before she meets with the Captain.”
“Yes, Sir. The Rear Admiral’s ante-room is a secure location—”
“You’re putting me in a holding cell, aren’t you?” Tarquin interjected.
“We don’t call it that, Captain.”
“But I’ll bet that’s what it bally-well is.” On anyone else, Tarquin’s expression would have been described as indignant or even incandescent. Being singularly ill-equipped to carry off such a complex emotion, the poor lad merely looked as though he were about to cry.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” the WO said to Tarquin, “I have my orders.” He barked something neither of the travellers understood and stepped back as two burly marines entered the room and as politely and gently as their dispositions allowed, escorted Tarquin away.
“Tell me about yourself, Warrant Officer,” Jason said.
“Not much to tell, Sir,” he replied, “Eighteen years in the Regiment; been in all the major kerfuffles. Injured, too. Oh, yes. More than once, but when WO de Sauderley gets knocked down, what does he do?”
“I imagine he bounces back again?” Jason offered.
“WO de Sauderley gets back up again, Sir. That’s what he does. The higher-ups finally decided to transfer me to what they called a place of safety. Prefer the heat of battle, Sir, truth be told. Spent the last three years as chief drill and discipline instructor.”
“And you fancied a change?”
“Not my place to fancy anything, Sir. Specially requested by the Admiral, I was. I go where I’m told, Sir.”
“You mean the Rear Admiral?”
“You were specially requested by Rear Admiral Smithson.”
“Oh, no, Sir. The request came from Admiral Winstanley herself.”
“But I was with her less than a week ago. She said nothing to me.”
“Not my place to comment, Sir.”
“Very well, de Sauderley. Can you tell me one thing, though?”
“What would that be Sir?”
“How do you march in this low gravity as though you were on Terra Firma?”
“Just a knack, Sir. Can’t tell you how; it just seems to come naturally. Earned me a nickname, it has, too. One I’m not unhappy with, as it happens.”
“What do they call you?”
“Gravit Ass, Sir,” he said with a chuckle, his face displaying something akin to pride.
Jason made his way with the WO to Andrea’s office. The Warrant Officer marched, Jason bounced. On arrival, the NCO knocked on her door and, on hearing the buzzer, opened it and announced Jason. He then turned and marched smartly away.
“Strange fellow,” Jason said, walking in and taking a seat opposite Andrea.
“Who, Gravit Ass?”
“Don’t let him hear you calling him that, though. No sense of humour, I’m afraid.”
“You think? He told me about the nickname. Said he didn’t mind it and looked almost proud of it. So, what should I call him? Warrant Officer’s too formal and his surname is—”
“I know. I had the same trouble. He’s happy with his given name, once he gets to know you.”
“And that is?”