Iron Poet #4

IronBillyShakes

Iron Poet #4

Meter / Style: Sonnet [Shakespearean]
Theme / keyword: twilight (clarification: NOT THE BOOK / MOVIE SERIES, BELLA)

The word “twilight” itself does not have to be used. Any form of the word, synonyms, concepts, etc. may be used. The Iron Poet allows even thematic reference as opposed to the use of the actual keyword.

The Iron Poet expects an attempt at iambic pentameter (kinda like Shakespeare, himself).

—–

Mamie Pound
At first, his love was only for the night,
but night, it turned so soft, into the day.
The web, she wove was spun of stars and light,
and though he tried, he could not get away.

The sky, at once, unwrapped a silver moon,
silk white, spell cast, fell soft as sifting sand.
On earth, he waits, alone, too cold, too soon.
His heart adrift, let go his lover’s hand.

How sweet, the dark that hides the subtle song.
Jet black, the orb unveils its changing face.
But love, in haste, it casts its lot all wrong.
And fate, anew, withdraws its subtle grace.

Soot black, the night, her face, it will not glow.
Her love, he seeks, but never will he know.

—–

D Lee Cox

“Time to Come Home”

Out shortly after the dawns mist rises
and in briefly for the midday repast
Back out into the afternoon surprises
a boy attempts to make the summer last

Bicycles and ramps, makeshift forts and dirt
beetles, June bugs, rolly-pollies and ants
slip of a stick and there’s blood on his shirt
painting a fence makes white paint on his pants

Ride cardboard, ride a skateboard, ride a bike
play army, play cars, play with best of friends
David, Billy, Henry, Mary and Mike
big silly arguments then make amends

Street lights, cars lights, and the sun is falling
over every neighborhood mom is calling

—–

Megan Cypress

“Twilight in the Summertime”

The moon smiles and lights up the night sky
Sending its joy to the people on Earth
The stars twinkle and the planets shine bright
As the crickets chirp chirp to prove their worth

Around my house, windows are cracked open
The curtain sheers, they dance, dance in the wind
As I prepare for the long day to end
Before a new one starts over again

The breeze is warm; the air, it smells so sweet
The cat, she mews from on top of the bed
She kneads and purrs and rests down by feet
She snores and snores as I lay down my head

Tucked in my bed, the night becomes the day
For in my dreams, I play the day away

—–

Tina Biscuit

“Kine Koan”

Bovine bundles drop soft in the meadow,
Heifers licking, offspring animated.
Sunlight has melted the last of the snow,
Calf unsteady, the cow liberated.

The field awaits, soft cud ripened to chew,
Filling with strength, still a wobble remains.
Lambs share the field, never far from a ewe.
Shadows growing, swallows chirp their refrains.

A bark so loud, sounds the falling of light.
A crepuscular veil snuffs out the fire.
The day seemed forever, until the night.
Hiding the sun, behind shingled byre.

Dog chases badger, a skunk with no smell.
Claws drawn sharply, it never ends well.

—–

C.S.E. Greenberg

“Twilight”

Burgundy wine, untouched by crimson lips
In shimm’ring glass, embraced by sinking sun
Blonde hair about her iv’ry visage whips
Lawless winds, respecter of no person.

Alas! For tears now trickle slowly down
The hourglass of her figure, as she hopes;
Horizon bound, her gaze leaps to hill’s crown
For man shaped glint to alight on its slopes.

Now hours late, yet still stomach held tight
If he arrives, her honor he’ll redeem
But quickly cedes dominion, day to night;
Rays fading now from glow to lowly gleam.

She quaffs her wine; the scent of almond clear
And falls asleep, no longer now to fear.

——

Johnna Murphy

“Gloaming”

Watching her live the end of her years
The setting sun on its due course does fly
The sorrow and sum of my hidden fears
The dulling of the twinkle in her eye

Seeing her slow and sedentary state
Tears now forever locked inside her mind
Wondering what feelings may permeate
When friends fly off while she is left behind

Not quite gone yet, the sunlight lingers still
The brighter times my mind’s eye sees quite clear
Mother/daughter lunches of bygone thrill
Remembering even as dusk appears

Fond memories time can not take away
Even after the closing of her day

—–

Jennie Richmond

As crimson rays of sun begin to fade,
And darkness stalks the shadows of thy land,
Into mine thoughts walketh a lovely maid,
Who stills my beating heart with icy hand.

And there she promenades all through the night,
And occupies my thoughts from dusk ’til dawn,
The lady stays for silvery twilight stars,
And doesn’t leave until the murky morn.

But then, again, alas! I am alone,
For she is but a dream inside my mind.
But, I feeleth, if I start to roam,
The lovely keeper of mine heart, I’ll find.

Oh, mistress of my slumbers, art thou true?
Hither, ’tis sure, mine life belongs to you.

—–

The Iron Writer Challenge #159 – 2016 Spring Open Challenge #7

Consume ads. jpg

The Iron Writer Challenge #159

2016 Spring Open Challenge #7

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

 Malissa Greenwood, Tina Biscuit, W. P. Cannon, Mathew W. Weaver

The Elements:

The image above
Something tedious
Roller skating fiddle player
400 lb man whose teeshirt does not cover his belly

Roll Right In

Malissa Greenwood

Marcus stood behind the bar top with a knife, cutting board, and box of limes before him. He began slicing the fruit into convenient, ready-to-squeeze triangles; one tedious task in a long list of opening duties at the Bottleneck Bar where he’d been manager for eight years.

As he cut the limes he gazed out the wall of windows facing one of the busiest intersections in Sydney. The view used to be something Marcus enjoyed; he’d watch the pedestrians and cyclists ramble by, or the couples chatting on scattered benches and think how lucky he was to be working in the heart of the city. But today there was a new sight – a crew was putting up yet another billboard right outside the window. “New Double BBQ Bacon Stacker!” the sign practically shouted.

Another one?! Marcus thought to himself. The place is already packed with ‘em, all promoting the same crap food and the same cheap clothes.

He sighed and continued cutting fruit until he was disturbed by a loud bang on the window by the front door. He looked over and saw a young woman trying to steady herself on roller skates clutching a black case.

He wiped his hands on the towel as he went to go open the door.

“You OK out here ma’am?”

“Yeah I just -” suddenly she was falling backward, knocking into a bench, unsettling a massive man with a pile of fast food around him. “Sorry sir! It’s these dang skates!”

The man grumbled a response before stuffing a handful of fries into his mouth. He reached for his drink and made a lame attempt to pull his shirt over his enormous belly.

Marcus extended his hand to the woman and hoisted her off the ground. “Come on inside, I’ll fix ya a drink while you take a load off.”

“Um… OK. But…” She glanced at the sign on the door, “Are you even open?”

“Close enough. Sit before you knock anything over.” Marcus said with a wink as he pulled her towards the bar stools.

She smiled shyly as she relaxed onto the stool, put the case on the counter and leaned on her elbow. “Thanks for this. I’ve been rehearsing for what’s supposed to be my new group – The Roller Skating Jam Band. They need a fiddler and I need a job but… I don’t think I’m cut out for it.”

“Roller skatin’ jam band, huh? Sounds exciting. But I suppose it would take a lot of coordination to play a fiddle while skatin’ about.” Marcus said while he mixed ingredients into a glass.

“Well, I’ve gotta find some way to make money or I’m moving back to Tamworth.” She said before she took a long sip. “Mmm. That’s good.”

“Darlin’… Today’s your lucky day. Because it just so happens that I run this bar, and we could use some new entertainment to spice the place up.” Marcus smiled at her, thrilled when he saw her face light up.

“Are you serious?! You’d give me a shot?”

“Course. How else am I supposed to get to know ya before you have to leave the city?”

Serenity Skated

W.P. Cannon

I want to go home.

Home? For what?

I’m not at all comfortable here. I feel like I’m being bullied. Pushed. This place; it’s too bossy for me. Don’t you feel the tedium?

I ignore it.

I wish you’d look coming here…

I’m not sure I want to.

It’s huge! I have never in all my days seen such a sight. And is that…what’s he carrying?

Looks like an instrument case. That’s a whole lot of fiddler.

We’ve got to follow that fellow. He’s going places.

All of this going on and your interest is peeked by a fat boy on skates whose clothes don’t fit? I’m not sure that case contains music. Could be bad news.

Those skates have got to be at their maximum allowable load.

He’s not really that fat. Look at his arms and legs.

You’re right. That gut is not in proportion to the rest of his body. And it’s taunt; not a jelly belly.

Either way, he’s a sight with that shirt he’s trying to wear. Looks like the show’s about to start.

The skater had come to a park. He skated in a circle in front of a crowd of women and their children who were at play. The man in the uncomfortable clothes was bathed in perspiration. He stopped and placed his case on a pedestal beside the playground. He open the case, took out a bow and timeworn violin. He removed a white towel from the case; wiped the sweat from his face and placed the folded towel beneath his left cheek and then rested the violin against it.

Have you noticed the quiet that has suddenly engulfed this park?

As though a spell has been cast in anticipation of the music. Now that I see him still and quiet, I see that his belly is not at all fat, he’s carrying a tumor.

He’s gifted. I don’t know when I have been more at peace. The anxiety of that canyon of humanity was bringing me down. Now I’m reinvigorated; loving life.

The man played, every note as if a prayer. He was pregnant with a debilitating injury of fate—playing music was all he cared to do as he waited for the pull of death to drown him in a pool of mortality.

He played to allay not fear, or pain, but loneliness and boredom. His death sentence, handed down over a year ago, was ‘three to six months’. He refused to submit to treatment. ‘I’m tired of this being alive business, he assured himself, let’s get it over with. Maybe, he thought, ‘I’ve died and this is heaven, or hell’.

I enjoyed the music, you have a gift. A calming and meditative, contemplative mood came over me while I listened.

I’m very glad we followed you here and heard you play.

I play here as often as I possibly can. I never know when I’ll come. I have no set schedule. I’m glad you both found comfort and peace.

There was no place for gratuities; why not use your case?

I’m not here for reward, but to reward myself.

Walk This Way

Tina Biscuit

You put your cap on with both hands, holding the last package in your mouth; you look both ways, conceal it under your arm, and filter into the crowd.

Tables are set out; people are laughing, drinking, and shouting. The signs are all there.

The smell of coffee entices you; you move over to the quieter side of the street. You walk in the gutter – the clearest path: where the dregs of yesterday’s coffee fester in the heat; where expensive shoes don’t tread. The sun can’t reach down to caress your shoulders, but its smouldering heat percolates tension through the towering offices that surround you.

You tip your cap over your eyes; you could do this walk from memory. The bakery wafts wholemeal air from its vents. Once you thought you would be eating such bread; now you know you never will. You close your eyes, trying to taste the air as you pass. You keep them closed as you walk your route; the kerb- stone keeps you straight, scuffing the previously worn leather with every second step. 

There is no scream, nor wince; your foot sinks in deep and traps your leg, but your momentum carries you forward. You straddle the obstacle; your reflexes stretch out a defensive arm to break your fall. You raise your cap and open your eyes; he doesn’t open his. The crushed briefcase underneath him must have strained to hold his 400lb body upright – let alone you on top of him. You push against his belly, kneading it like a cat; his tee shirt rides up his ample girth as you extract your foot from beneath his supine bulk, and the package from beside him. There is heat in your hands as they leave this mortal embrace, but the fire is out. You pick yourself up, brushing the indignity from your clothes. The sign above your head flashes: STAY ASLEEP. You obey. People don’t look up – the signs transmit messages subliminally from above the shop fronts, while people dip their heads; their eyes never meet. 

You walk on, pull down your cap once more, and continue your errand: you hand the package to the receptionist, who signs your docket. Her eyes rise to the level of the desk, and you return to the street.

You pull out a Marlboro, take out a match, and strike a pose. The old signs told you to smoke; you didn’t see the STOP sign. Your yellow fingers pinch at the filter as you give up.

The notes of a violin flow over you like a personal lament. The tempo quickens as the mellifluous wind caresses your ears. The roller-skater glides past as a crescendo is reached.

Your feet tap, matching the tempo. You listen, blindly, as the sounds of the city fade to gone. All you can hear is her tune. The roller-skater beckons your soft shoes, with the enchanting brushes of her bow. 

You DON’T WALK.

You DANCE.

One Good DayMathew W Weaver

Mathew W. Weaver

“Wheels, in position. Sound off.”

“Hagrid, on bench.”

“Stirling, all clear.”

Times Square was the same as ever, a hub to the gluttonous, self-serving rat racers sprinting to their graves in the wheel labelled life. The brilliantly flickering ads and hoardings might have just screamed out “CONSUME”, “OBEY”, “REPRODUCE” and “BUY” for all the meaning they carried.

“Hagrid, your belly is showing.”

“Wouldn’t, if you’d gotten me something larger.”

“Sorry, Chief,” Allison shrugged, weaving between pedestrians, “They don’t make inconspicuous clothing for four hundred pounders anymore.”

“Don’t I know it,” Chief Thompson grunted, lowering his newspapers to conceal five inches between the bottom of his ridiculously tiny tee-shirt and his jeans’ waistline. Stakeouts were tedious tasks, and this was a long shot at best. There was no chance their man would show, but Thompson needed a day away from the desk, from the rat race his own life had descended into. Even out here was something better.

Allison pirouetted on her roller-skates, put the fiddle to her shoulder and started to play. Passersby took notice, and some even began to clap along to the beat.

“Easy there, Stirling, don’t mess up the com,” Wheels crackled in Thompson’s ear, “but damn, girl, you carry a tune.”

Thompson looked over his newspaper as Allison flipped her ponytail at the compliment. Despite himself, he realized he was bobbing his head. The audience was into the beat, and few were already recording her on their phones.

“So much for undercover, Stirling?” Thompson muttered.

“Whoa, okay. Alright, eyes up,” Wheels interrupted, “All units, wake up, we have incoming. Purple hoodie, shades. Stirling, your three.”

Their suspect had paused at the edge of the crowd, observing Allison play.

“Confirmed,” Thompson said, “That’s him. He’s watching you, Stirling.”

She twirled again, and finished off the last notes to applause and a bow. Looking up, her eyes involuntarily fell on his. It lasted only a second.

“He made her,” Thompson snapped.

The man grabbed the nearest person and shoved her at Allison before taking off.

“All units, he’s running,” Wheels crackled, “Move, now!”

Allison desperately tried to reach him, but he managed to keep the panicked crowd in between them. He turned sharply.

“Hagrid, coming your way.”

“I see him.” Thompson raised his papers higher.

“Three…” Wheels said, “two…”

Chief Thompson launched himself out of the bench, newspapers erupting like confetti around him. The quarry hardly had time to look before four hundred pounds of pure tired-of-life police chief barreled into him, driving him to the ground and pinning him under his bulk.

“YOU ARE UNDER ARREST!” he bellowed, well aware that his lips were directly over the man’s ear, “YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT!”

Allison finally arrived, circling around them with her gun trained on them till the others arrived with their sirens. As they bundled him into the van and Thompson dusted himself off, Allison joined him to watch, skates over one shoulder and fiddle under an arm.

“Good job, Chief,” she said.

He chuckled, “It’s funny, isn’t it? How one good day can change… everything?”

“What’s that, sir?”

He smiled, “Good job, Detective. Let’s go celebrate.”

#TIWC members, please vote here.

 

The Iron Writer Challenge #150

barrow tomb

The Iron Writer Challenge #150

2016 Winter Equinox #8

500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements

The Authors:

Mathew W. Weaver, Maureen Larter, D. Lee Cox, Alis Van Doorn, Peter Lusher

The Elements:

Barrow Tombs

A Witch or Warlock

Drunkenness

A Photographer

Be Careful What You SummonMathew W Weaver

Mathew W. Weaver

They gathered at the graveyard, well chilled and of varied temperaments.

The self-proclaimed witch valiantly balanced the massive book on one arm, reading the faded text with lips murmuring in silence.

The fearful believer hugged herself and shivered, her glasses all but frozen to the backs of her ears.

The Pulitzer Prize hopeful continued adjusting his camera lens, clicking his tongue again in impatience at the cloudy midnight sky.

The skeptic watched the proceedings skeptically, foot tapping and lips pouted.

And the fifth, not their companion yet present for the occasion, took another swig from his bottle and offered a hiccup.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this,” the fearful one whispered again, “It’s forbidden to disturb forces unknown.”

“Can we get it over with?” the photographer muttered, “I have stuff in the morning.”

“You know that if this works, chances are you can’t control it,” the bespectacled one whimpered, “They’re known to begin zombie apocalypses.”

“I’m only testing my limits,” the witch said, “See if I can really do this. The right place, unfortunately, is at barrow tombs, in England. But since none of us can afford plane tickets…”

“Or want to…” the skeptic interjected.

“…this will have to do.”

The witch indulged in a shiver of excitement, and then extended her arms.

“In the name of the Even, Hail, Drought and the Nerfec, I command thee to do my bidding!” she cried, “Rise!!”

“Are we done?” the skeptic groaned, “Can we go now?”

“I command thee…” the witch persisted, “Rise!!”

For a moment, air was still.

Then the wind howled, the gravestone shone bright green, and the ground began to tremble.

“It actually…” the skeptic whispered.

A rotten, emaciated fist pounded out of the dirt at the feet of the tombstone, and was greeted by screams of shock, awe, and trousers spontaneously gaining moisture.

As the creature clawed its way out of its grave, grunting in effort, there was a sharp crack of something very expensive hitting the ground very hard, followed closely by a mad scrambling of the congregation disassembling with as much haste as could be mustered.

By the time the newly resurrected former cadaver was basking in the full moonlight, the only witness the spectacle still held claim on was the drunk.

The remains of the departed now returned cast its eyeless sockets to the half empty six-pack, abandoned on the ground

“Pass me one of those, would you?” it beseeched, “Eleven years gives you a HELL of a thirst.”

The man tossed it a can of beer, and it popped the top and threw it back a hearty chug.

“That’s the stuff,” it sighed, wiping its lipless maw with the back of a decomposing hand. It nodded its peeling skull at the backs of the retreating companions.

“What’s with them?”

“Beats me,” his sozzled companion shrugged.

“College teens.” The cadaver would have rolled its eyes if it had any.

“I hear ya.” The drunk chuckled.

“So… what now?” the corpse wondered.

“I ain’t got nothing better to do,” the drunk help up a packet of crisps.

The rotten gums beamed.

“You da man, chief,” it said, “You da man.”

A Warlock in WiltshireAlis Van Doorn

Alis VanDoorn

Olive stepped briskly into The Hoary Hound, a tiny pub just south of the village of Wiltshire. And stopped suddenly, resolve faltering.

“Hello, can anyone give me directions to a cottage called Heath Hill?” Dead silence.

“It belongs to a chap called Barrick…” Olive trailed off in confusion seeing amused faces. “Does he not live around here anymore, then?”

“He’s still around, reckon he always will be. The Barrick’s have been here since the beginning of time.” grunted a man, looking like the beginning of time, himself.

“What do you want with Tholow? Come down here wanting a “Love Spell’? Good luck with that!” snorted another.

“Why? Isn’t he practicing any longer?” asked Olive in dismay.

“He’s able to cast a spell; might not be the one you want…” snickered someone.

“Why?”

“Nevermind.”, said the barkeep enigmatically, if kindly. “Here, you’ll need this if you’re to get what you want from Tholow.” And handed Olive a huge jug of water.

“Follow this lane for about five miles, take a left at the gate, go till you pass the barrow tomb, keep going a bit, it’s on the right.”

Olive pulled up to Heath Hill, knocked firmly on the door. Waited. Knocked again. Waited. Walked around back only to stop short. “Oh Christ on a bloody cracker!” the necessity for the water becoming clear. “Great! A drunken warlock.” Olive dumped the cold water on the passed out warlock.

“Whaaat the bloody hell…” spluttered the enraged warlock.

“Sober yet?” inquired Olive sweetly. “Because I need your help, desperately, in fact.”

Tholow looked up balefully, his look changing to interest quickly.

“Why are you here? Need a spell for some fool to fall in love with you?”

“Why are you drunk in the middle of the day? “

“I’m not” replied Tholow with dignity, “This is last night’s drunk.”

“Same question.”

“I’m drunk because I spend my existence casting spells for idiots instead of pursuing my passion.”

“Wow! Could you be any more melodramatic? Or absurd? Why can’t you do both?”

“You wouldn’t understand. It has to do with an artistic temperament. Of which you clearly know nothing. Now what do you want, so I can go back to being miserable in peace?”

“What I want is a spell cast to make my new project successful.”

“What kind of project?”

“A gallery I’m starting, featuring fine art, photography. I only have one artist signed; I’m worried, the opening is a few weeks”

“What artist?”

“Prunifer Parker.”

“Good God, she is amazing! I love her, uh, I mean her work.”

Olive hid a smile. “Really?” “But that doesn’t solve my problem, I need an amazing photographer.”

“But, but…” sputtered Tholow, “I’m a photographer! “

“Yes, Actually, I know, it’s your work I want at my gallery. So see, you’ve already successfully spellcast, well, partially. There’s just one more tiny bit of a spell I need, but it can wait.” “ So, what do you say, want to exhibit in my gallery?”

“Yes. Wait what was your name again?”

“Well, actually, my name is Prunifer Olive Parker.”

“But I’m kind of partial to Olive Barrick.”

Warlockian PhotogPeter Lusher

Peter Lusher

The gray light of dawn was the photographers favorite time of day.  Free-lance and loving it, he was out late most nights.  Before he made it his profession he was the friend that would take candid pictures of his friends debauching themselves.  As his friends got older the debauchery tapered.  A night which, as youngsters, would have amounts of alcoholic beverages enough to slake the thirst of the fifth-fleet, over-time became a volume of alcohol that might wet the tongue of two elderly hamsters.  He still found himself at night clubs, only now for work.

While he walked home the sun turned the clouds into a rumpled blanket of pastel colors and flannel-like patterns.  Early song-birds were out and, his favorite part since he had moved out to the ‘burbs, it was all his.  Even the over-zealous runners weren’t up yet.  He walked and smiled at the ache in his knees from being on his feet on all night.  The ache reminded him of his first contract.

The first contract he had secured took him abroad, embedded with a team of trekkers and academics hired by National Geographic to go to Africa to write about the Ashanti kingdom struggling to exist after the European colonials had drawn self-serving borders.  The team spent as many days walking between villages as they had in cities.  He was told before he left that a good pair of boots would make the trip survivable.  The photographer followed the advice, unaware that breaking them in was expected and unspoken.  Walking home from the train-station reminded him of those days, not least because of the blisters currently forming.

Nearing home, the sun rushing to get above the horizon, excited to start the day, the trees threw shadows sharp enough to cut yourself on.  Memories of Africa continued to play, and the smile that had been riding his face dismounted for a walk.  His camera, slung around his shoulders, bumped his hip.  It was much lighter than his first boxy device.  How times had changed.  

As with many twenty-somethings, getting old was an ever-present worry.  That worry sent him to a Uruba medicine-man.  The medicine-man informed the photographer that he could help.  For a price.

Little did the photographer know that part of the price precluded him from seeing the full light of day forever-more.  Nor did he know that part of the price of agelessness was to take the medicine-man’s workload. He had been back in England for several generations and now was better known as ‘The Warlock of Bowland’.

Shutting the heavy steel door of his barrow-home behind him.  He hung his keys on their hook by the door and threw on the overhead light.  The witch he was seeing was not in evidence, so he sat to his desk glancing over the correspondence related to being a warlock.  He absent-mindedly riffled through them before texting his employer to inform him the night’s snaps were on their way after he had a nap.

TravelogueMaureen Larter

Maureen Larter

Paul scrambled up the hill lugging his equipment with him. When he got to the top, he stood, bent over, with his hands on his thighs, trying to catch his breath.

“Damn hill. Wish I was fitter,” he panted as he gulped in the crisp, silent air of the countryside around him.

When he began to breathe normally again, he straightened and looked around. The beauty of clean, green fields made him immediately pick up his camera. He swiveled one hundred and eighty degrees and a village appeared in his viewfinder; a picturesque English village with a church spire stabbing its point into the sky.  Trees hugged the hamlet, and a stone bridge arched over what he presumed would be a bubbling brook.

Ever since he had arrived in this country on the photographic assignment for the magazine he worked for, he had gone from sardonic to enchantment, fascinated by the history held within the castles, monuments and fields. He had visited Stonehenge on Salisbury Plains and the Roman baths at Bath. He had seen London and the changing of the guard and walked through tatty little shops with big personalities in the Soho district. His camera always at the ready, taking images of anything and everything that caught his eye. The magazine bosses were going to have a lot of great photos to choose from.

Now he was in Pembrokeshire, South Wales – nicknamed little England.

He clicked off several shots, then looked closer – zooming into what appeared to be a street procession in the village below. A line of costumed characters could be seen weaving along the cobbled street. ‘They are obviously enjoying themselves,’ Paul thought. He grinned to himself. ‘Probably fueled by alcohol. Look at them – prancing and cavorting in a drunken high.’

He peered through the camera again. He could see impressive stilt walkers, a couple of clowns, a wizard or two and a comely group of serving wenches.

Somewhere, in the depths of his being, energy refreshed. He grabbed his camera and equipment and raced, half falling, down the sides of the barrow tomb, rushed to his car and decided to join them in the fun.

The Rowanshire BarrowLee Cox

D. Lee Cox

Miranda Austin walked into the poorly lit pub on a mission. She was up against her deadline with nothing worth showing for her 6 weeks in Wales.

She surveilled the room: drunken local merchants playing cards on the left, drunk podunk farmers to the right, smoking pipes. At the bar sat three scruffs. Two chatted with the bartender, the third at the far end of the bar, head down, apparently singing. Or moaning. She couldn’t tell.

“Ahem,” she exhaled. One of the merchants glanced at her, but then turned back to his cards.

Incensed, she tried again, “I said, ‘AHEM’!”

The pub came to a halt and all eyes turned to her.

“My name is Miranda Austin, I am a photojournalist with Citizen Earth…” she paused for effect, “and I’m currently on assignment here in Rowanshire.”

The drunk on the end lifted his head and yelled, “Manchester YOOOoooo!!!”

The bartender threw his dishrag at him. “Shaddup, Jimmy, can’t you see the lady’s trying to speak?”

A farmer took a long slow drag from his pipe. Silence.

She began, “I’m looking to photograph something with great history and mystique, and I need to do it now. Do any of you gentlemen have a suggestion?”

Not an eye left her.

“Yeah, Jimmy’s bar tab!”

Laughter bounced off the ancient wattle and daub walls.

Miranda shoulders slumped. She made her way to the bar and ordered a pint.

One of the scruffs at the bar turned to her and said, “Have you been out to the barrow, miss?”

“The ‘barrow’?”

“A tomb, miss, built in prehistoric days. 2000 years it’s been, mysterious as anything you can imagine. Fine night for it too. Clear sky, a bit of mist about.”

“A tomb you say?” Her interest was piqued.

“Yes, built by antediluvian clans. Its speculated that witches and warlocks conducted strange ceremonies within it.”

“How close to this ‘barrow’ do you think I can get?”

“Oh, quite close. Some say if the wind is right you can still catch a wiff of death blowing off the mound.”

“Where is this barrow?”

The other scruff leaned forward and grabbed the first man’s arm, “No, John, you mustn’t reveal its location.”

“I’ll buy a round for the house for the location!”

She turned to the rest of the pub, “A round for the house!”

A great “HURRAY!” swept the room.

“Ok miss, but be sure you don’t stay long. Sometimes a body doesn’t come back!”

The bartender poured pint after pint as the scruff scribbled a map on a napkin.

“Thanks so much, mister!” She put her camera away and rushed out the door.

After a moment one of the farmers ambled up to the bar.

“You sent her to my compost heap, didn’t ya?”

“Gordon, that thing is so big you could fertilize the lower half of Scotland!”

The bar erupted in laughter.

“Let me borrow your cell. I’ll have to call my wife and tell her not to shoot the poor girl.”

Laughter rang out through the village for the rest of the evening.

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