#FlashFiction: The Thesaurus Challenge

A quick reminder that this week’s challenge was to select five words from a list of  synonyms for walk. For the full list, see last week’s prompt post here.

My five words: lumber / stride / shamble / plod / race

Rag ‘n Bone

Peering through the late afternoon gloom, Mick was a worried man. Sheltering against the rain, his shoulders hunched from the cold, Mick lit yet another smoke. He was in serious trouble with Doris, for there was no doubting he’d let her down. For years now, Doris had taken in washing from the big house. She’d saved up hard and even got herself a machine, but it had sprung a leak a few weeks back. He’d promised to fix it, even getting so far as to ask Stan to look out for a suitable bit of pipe for him. He’d got a message Stan has found something, but had been diverted by the pigeon racing season, spending evenings down the pub with the other lads, and forgotten all about it.

Finally, what felt like hours later, he heard the unmistakable rumble of wagon wheels on cobble stones. First came Harry, calling out to announce their arrival, striding from door-to-door with the all vigour of youth, picking up anything on offer to show his Dad. Stan followed, shambling alongside his beloved cart horses. They plodded along at their usual pace – slow and steady, not stopping unless Stan called out “Whoa!” to them.

Racing across the cobbles Mick blurted out to Stan “Got that pipe still?”
Stan gave him an old fashioned look “I bin holding on to it for you for 6 week now …”
“Don’t mess about Stan, have you still got it?”
“I has lad, but only for I knows it be for your Doris. She done paid me for it too.”

Spitting to show his disgust, Stan gave Mick the pipe, then turned to Old Mrs Roberts who, as usual, wanted to barter over her old rubbish, trying to get an extra penny or two out of him.

Embarrassed by old Stan putting him firmly in his place, Mick hurried indoors. Doris’d had to turn to the neighbours to help her out this week, so the money she made would be shared out among them. He’d spoken to her sharply when she’d told him so this morning, telling her off for making a fool of him in front of their neighbours. Unusually for her, she’d snapped right back at him: “I give you plenty of rope Mick. Even though I work hard for that money, I don’t begrudge you your drinking, nor your time with the lads. But you’ve made a right fool of me to my friends. I stand up for you whenever folks call you lazy, and now I’ve had to go cap in hand to them all ‘cos you’ve proven them right and me wrong. My savings jar will be feeding us, ‘n buying the kids new shoes. You’ll be going without your nights out till it’s filled up again my lad.”

Pulling out his tools, Mick turned in time to catch sight of Stan and Harry’s rag ‘n bone cart lumbering on in the gloom, their round nearly at an end for another week.

© Debra Carey, 2020


I got slightly carried away with this one!

In addition to meandered / plodded / promenaded / sauntered / shuffled /stumped / trudged, there are three Easter eggs for you to look out for.  Let me know if you spot them!

Dark doings on a summer’s day

Sarah and James meandered through the streets of town, busy with milling tourists now summer was here.  Eventually they found themselves down at the docks.  Their friend Wendel was perched on a bollard, taking in all the sights and sounds.  A docker plodded past on his way to help unload the ferry.  In truth, this dock was not on the scale of the grand passenger docks of Southampton, nor yet the busy cargo port of Felixstow.  But for all that, Greycliffe had a rich heritage, once having been the haunt of smugglers.  Today, there was the daily ferry, a few fisherman, and a small marina for private boats.  The three children promenaded around the harbour with all the dignity of aldermen, skirting around holiday makers waiting to travel to the island just off the coast.

“Look over there!” Wendel pointed.  In the bay, moored out of the way of shipping but in deeper water was a schooner.  Smaller than the ferry, but much larger than the pleasure craft they were used to seeing, it sat at rest, dark and brooding.  They watched as three men climbed down a rope ladder to a dinghy that had been brought alongside by a fourth.  Once they were all aboard, the dinghy set out for the sea wall.

The three children talked and watched and watched and talked.  Sarah and James were enthusing about the summer reading challenge.  Wendel was not such a big reader as the twins, but this time the challenge was themed around his specialist subject: pirates, and by extension smugglers, particularly those that had haunted Greycliffe in the 17th Century.

As they talked, the scuffed dinghy from the schooner drew closer, finally tying up at some steps leading up to the quay.   At right angles to the steps, the children had a clear view of the occupants as they disembarked and climbed up to the wharf.  Sarah let out a little squeak and Wendel drew in his breath sharply.

“They’re a villainous looking crew!” James said gleefully.

Villainous, but also a tad theatrical.  One was wearing a tricorn hat.  Another, with long hair, greasy and straggling, had an eye-patch.  The last man to come up the steps had a wooden leg.

A sudden movement caught their attention and they saw another disreputable fellow, who had been lurking in the shelter of a stack of lumber, waiting to be loaded onto the ferry.  He was beckoning to the little knot of sailors – pirates? – who sauntered over to join him.  They put their heads together, conspiratorially.

The children looked at each.  What was going on there, then?

The huddle broke up.  Two of the pirates – surely pirates! – shuffled back to the steps and back down to the waiting dinghy and cast off.  They sculled away from the quay and then lay to their oars.  The peg-legged man stumped off down the quay; the remaining sailor trudged off in the direction of town with the man they had met.  The game was afoot…

©David Jesson, 2020

Author: debscarey

Tweets @debsdespatches My personal blog is Debs Despatches, where I ramble on a variety of topics, including #ISWG reflections; I write fiction on co-hosted site Fiction Can Be Fun and my Life Coaching business is Caring Coaching. I originally blogged at Bunny and the Bloke - now in mothballs.

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