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by MarkT 

Posted: 06 August 2006
Word Count: 228
Summary: Small one for the Lemon challenge

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The painted houses clinging to the hillside glare orange in the late-afternoon sun. It is impossible to look across the harbour without shielding your eyes. A single yacht tugs at its moorings and twists to meet the returning tide.

The man leans forward, elbows on knees and steeples his fingers under his chin. He considers the vista for a few moments before looking to his right.

'It's good to see you again, Fernando,' he says. 'How many years is it?' 'You know exactly how many, he snapped.

The finger architect nods and agrees. 'Indeed my friend,' he says. 'I am paid to.'

He reaches towards the single, tall glass on the table between them and picks it up; ice cubes chatter merrily. He takes a sip and smiles. 'I could retire here.'

'I almost did,' sighed Fernando, and then jolts twice before looking quizzically at the assassin, who is busily pocketing a silenced pistol.

The limoncello clicks back on the mosaic table; condensation pools round the bottom of the glass.

The killer stands.

He walks over and places a hat on the head of the dead man, tilting it over his questioning face; the man is now merely sleeping off an afternoon drink.

He removes the coffee cup from the still hands and drains the contents.

Overhead a gull cries murder and wheels away up the Amalfi coast.

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Comments by other Members

Elbowsnitch at 05:49 on 07 August 2006  Report this post
Whoo - a swift and effective murder story. I like the way you keep the reasons for the shooting mysterious - perhaps it is a contract or mafia/gangland killing? Excellent detail, especially in the first paragraph, and the gull crying murder and:

The limoncello goes back to the mosaic table with a click; condensation pools round the bottom of the glass.

'without shielding eyes' - I felt a 'your' was needed here

tiny quibbles - 'Indeed' He says, better as 'Indeed,' he says.

Likewise, "'I almost did.' Said the other man and then jolts twice" - should be "'I almost did," says"

Ah, the taste of limoncello!

great flash - all the best, Frances

MarkT at 06:32 on 07 August 2006  Report this post
Hi, glad you liked it.

Taken your advice on-board and have edited the few points and yes, does read better.



tiger_bright at 07:43 on 07 August 2006  Report this post
Mark, this was brilliantly macabre withoutthe least hint of sentiment. I really liked it, particularly this line: "ice cubes chatter merrily" which seemed to strike the perfect note of amused distance from the crime being committed. Wonderful.


Okkervil at 16:39 on 07 August 2006  Report this post
Yeah, I too found the incongruity of 'chatter merrily' striking. This is a really tight little piece, the scene set with such a sparse few brush strokes, enough for the reader to conjure up some vista completely engrossing. Enjoyed it.
I don't know, would it benefit from a teensy bit more ambiguity? Say, for instance, 'the assassain'- is there an alternative less explicit? I was wondering if that might allow small comments like 'my friend' to breath a little more, even if they're of no real significance. I thought maybe 'assassain', and to an extent, 'the killer' made it a little more... proffessional... than it need be. Jus' a thought.
This has a crisp sunny feel, a holiday snap-shot of a murder. I like it!


crowspark at 19:34 on 08 August 2006  Report this post
Crisp flash, and under 225 words!

Great hook in that opening para. I stumbled over the first sentence. Needs some commas?


The limoncello goes back to the mosaic table with a click; condensation pools round the bottom of the glass.

Nice work.

MarkT at 19:44 on 08 August 2006  Report this post

Added a comma - yup, reads better!

cheers Bill.


Elbowsnitch at 08:00 on 09 August 2006  Report this post
Quibble! Wrongly placed comma! (I think)

[quote]The painted houses clinging to the hillside, glare orange with the late-afternoon sun.[/quote]

Take that comma out again! Or, alternatively, add another comma, after 'houses'. That would be grammatically OK - making 'clinging to the hillside' a subordinate clause.

[quote]The painted houses, clinging to the hillside, glare orange with the late-afternoon sun.[/quote]

Also, I think it should be

[quote]'I almost did," says the other man[quote]

- comma rather than full stop after 'did'.

F (a stickler)


Why aren't my quote boxes working?

MarkT at 08:11 on 09 August 2006  Report this post
lol - thanks for the pointers.

I have re-read that opening paragraph so many times and changed it a lot.

I think i'll go for the extra comma!

thanks all.



hmm - with the extra comma it doesn't 'flow' as well.

I am going to remove all of them I think.


Elbowsnitch at 08:47 on 09 August 2006  Report this post
I think you've made the right decision! That first sentence reads better to me without commas. However, in the same paragraph, I think you need a comma after 'silently'.


choille at 20:18 on 09 August 2006  Report this post
Hi Mark T,

Your not Mark Thomas, my favourite anarchist are you?

Great stuff. Lovely opening scene with the boat curving towards the tide.
Dry and almost clinical detail, which suits the mood of the assination.
Deftly done and I loved the witness of the seagull.

Lovely tone & the coolness of it works exceptionally well.

All the best

MarkT at 20:21 on 09 August 2006  Report this post
Hi Caroline,

Unfortunately no, although I wish I had his money!

Thank you for the lovely feedback.


SamMorris at 09:24 on 11 August 2006  Report this post
Mark, there's something wonderfully enigmatic about this. The two men on the beach deep in private conversation, the strange, understated murder, and the cries of the circling gulls at the end.

Very enjoyable flash, it's hard to believe that it's only two hundred words.


MarkT at 09:30 on 11 August 2006  Report this post
Thank you Sam!

Glad you liked it.


Jumbo at 16:41 on 12 August 2006  Report this post

Nice writing.

Great scene building - and a superb last line.

Well done


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