Speakeasy #162: The Art of Albrecht Dürer


Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy, unblinking eyes.
The fixed gaze and unlined countenance of the Merchant Krel,
Staring upward, unseeing, through the canopy of trees.
Death did not surprise him. He appears accepting, though mildly perplexed;
As though he has been interrupted while seeking to understand the motivation of his assailants,
Those coarse highwaymen, long gone.
The tear in his leather tunic and the bloodstain on his stark white blouse scream violence.
His eyes and the fixture of his face whisper peace.



Daily Prompt: Unexpected Guests

Daily Prompt: Unexpected Guests

 You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next.



Lucille was older now. She’d been married three times. Had four children with two husbands, three boys and a girl – there were seven grandkids. Current husband, husband number three, was named Roscoe. Retired now, he had been the sales manager at Simmons Chevrolet in OKC. He was a good man and he had talked her into touring the country in their RV. They’d been on the road for almost a month.

“Look at these woods Goldie, they’re beautiful,” Roscoe nudged her awake. He called her Goldie sometimes, a pet name, because although her hair was now silver he had seen photos of her when she was young – photos that showed her golden blonde hair worn curling over her shoulders and framing her radiant smile.

She rubbed her eyes, stretched and yawned. She looked out the window for awhile and then turned towards Roscoe. “Roscoe, I know these woods, I grew up here. Pull over when you can, would you?”

A few miles further on, they came to a rest stop on the side of the road. Not much more than a wide spot and a picnic table. Lucille undid her seat belt and went back to the door. Stepping out of the RV she looked around, closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. “God, I forgot how good it smells in the forest. Roscoe, come out here and breath, will ya?” She spun around slowly, studying the trees.

“I know where I am,” she said. “I used to have friends with a cabin not far from here. Let’s go see if we can find them.” She took Roscoe by the hand and led him straight to the woods where they disappeared between two large pines. It was darker in here than it had been at the rest stop and, it smelled a little mustier.

“I don’t know Luce, do you think it’s safe to wander in these woods?”

“I used to do it all the time. Besides, we’re not really wandering. I know where we are and where we’re going.” She clutched his hand a little tighter and headed deeper into the forest.

In almost no time they crested a rise and looked down on a pastoral valley. The tree line ended about halfway down the slope and a verdant meadow prevailed. A small creek meandered through, making a crooked pathway towards a log cabin nestled there. A wisp of smoke curled from the cabin’s stone chimney.

“Let’s go say hi.” She said excitedly.

Running down the slope Roscoe hurried to keep up. When he got to the cabin door Lucille was already there, straightening her blouse and her hair. After prepping, Roscoe took her hand and she knocked. There was no reply so, she pushed on the door and leaned forward, as it swung in. “Hello?” she said tentatively into the void behind the door. “Are you guys’ home?” Still no answer.

Pulling Roscoe inside she said, “come on, we’ll wait inside for a while and see if they come back.”

“I don’t know Lucille. It doesn’t seem right going into their house when they aren’t home. We should wait out here.”

“Don’t be silly, this is what folks do in this neck of the woods. If it wasn’t OK they wouldn’t have left their front door unlocked,” she argued. Reluctantly, Roscoe followed her in.

As his eyes adjusted to the dim light he became aware of the surroundings. The cabin was a single room. It was tidy, as neat as a pin. There were three beds on one side of the room and a kitchen on the other. There was no TV but an old Philco Radio stood on a low table under the front window. On the dining table sat a Bundt cake on a porcelain plate. Goldie headed to the table and took one of the chairs. She pulled another, slightly larger one, out for Roscoe.

“How well do you know these folks?” he asked her.

“Pretty well,” she replied, “but, I haven’t seen them in years.” She picked up a knife, carved off a large slice of cake and handed it to Roscoe. She carved off a smaller one for herself and took a dainty bite. “Mmmm.”

“I don’t think we should be eating their cake.” Roscoe looked worried.

“Don’t worry silly, if it wasn’t OK they wouldn’t have left it on the table.”

At that moment the front door swung slowly open and a large bear lumbered in. “Who’re you?” the bear rumbled.

Lucille dropped her cake and jumped to her feet. “Papa bear,” she exclaimed. “It’s me Goldie. It’s great to see you. Been a long time.”

“Goldie?” The bear said and he put on his specs to get a better look. “I’ll be damned, it is you. Look how you’ve grown.” He came over and gave her a big bear hug. “Last time I saw you, you were eating our porridge.  Now you’re eating our cake, huh?  Who’s your young man?” he smiled and looked at Roscoe.


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Light and Shade Challenge: The Ghost of Blackfriars

“You want ghost stories,” he said. “I’ve got a ghost story.”

“It was a while back, the late 1980’s if my memory serves. It was late, almost midnight. I was making my way on foot to the river crossing at Blackfriars, having spent a pleasant evening at the Fox and Firkin in Elephant Castle, an establishment which has since shuttered their doors.

It used to be a good place to tip a glass or two though. My wife, my sweetheart, the love of my life, tells me that the bar closed because I moved and no longer supported it. There may be some truth to that statement, but I doubt it is 100 percent accurate and I am sure, it could never be proven.

“There has been a bridge crossing at Blackfriars since the mid 1700’s but not the bridge I was crossing that night. This was a newer bridge. Designed by Joseph Cubitt this new bridge was opened almost exactly 100 years after the original. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1869, it was. As I set foot on the southern end that evening, I spied someone at mid-span, climbing the rail. It appeared to be a small slender young woman in a long, flowing white frock, her hair done up in an old fashioned way, wrapped on the crown of her head. I sensed that she intended to jump. I shouted for her to wait and began to run that direction. She glanced at me, then looked down at the inky, dark waters below. She silently and deliberately stepped from the railing just before I reached her.

“I hit the side hard, looking down; nothing, no girl, no splash, nothing… not a trace of her. I stood on the bridge looking below as the clocks began striking midnight. My god, I’ve got to get help. I ran on and when I reached Queen Victoria, happened upon a constable. Breathlessly I related my story of the jumper and implored him to call for assistance.

“’Was it a girl?’ he asked. ‘A slim young girl in a white dress?’

“I nodded my head and begged him to help.

“’Did you see her hit the water?’

“’No,’ I shook my head.

“’No one ever does,’ he continued. ‘You see sir, it happens occasionally, always at midnight when there’s a new moon. People, like you, you see her jump but she never hits the water. We’ve had search boats and divers out time and again. There’s nothing to find. She’s not there. Scotland Yard has even gone so far to hire a consultant. That consultant told us that she is an apparition. A ghost if you will. Go home sir. What you saw tonight may have happened long ago but it didn’t happen today. There’s nothing to be done.’

“’Are you certain?’ I asked.

“He nodded his head. I staggered, in shock, slowly towards the embankment and hailed a cab to take me home.”


Light and Shade Challenge – Monday 19 May 2014

There were two prompts.  A photo and a quote.  The photo supplied wasn’t doing it for me but the quote begged for attention.

The quote:

I stood on the bridge at midnight as the clocks were striking the hour -Longfellow

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