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by Heckyspice 

Posted: 24 January 2005
Word Count: 855
Summary: A piece of flash fiction. After reading Popps by Dryyzz, I had an image of man wanting to protect someone in a park.

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The cigarette smoke curled around his finger as if it was trying to hide the mark where his wedding ring had been. He let the ash drop away from the dying stem of the Marlboro, grey raindrops falling onto his feet. It was dawn. Now he clutched the dog end that was the colour of the rising sun, a rusty brown with no hint of warmth. Winter had imposed itself again on the world.

Frank threw the butt onto the pavement and began his march down the street. A glance back at his parked car before resuming his slow approach to the park. He fumbled inside his coat pocket for reassurance. The cold metal was still where he had placed it. The knurled pattern of the handle dug into his palm. Just touching it added weight to his struggle. His walk turning into a shuffle. Head bowed, he looked a gargoyle escaping from the roof a cathedral.

He reached the entrance of the park. Black railings stretching as far as he could see. Patches of mist lurked over the grass, wisps that hung between the playground and the goalposts. Frank looked for a disturbance in the mist, there was nothing there. He was alone.


He found a hiding place. It was a patch of bushes near a disused monument. Some fountain or memorial. An jungle of ivy covered the monument as if it was a lost city waiting to be discovered by Tarzan or Indiana Jones. Old gravestones had been used to make a path around the monument, the testaments of mill worker and servants who died before England ever knew the names of Trafalger or Waterloo. The mist coiled itself around the monument like a snake, a primeval warning to those who ventured to close the neglect of the monument.

Frank burrowed into a space at the base of the monument. He pulled the ivy close, imaging for an instance that he was like a viet cong waiting for young GIs to learn the hardest lesson. Damp sneaked in to his shoes and knees, squeaking like a violin bow. He fumbled with the metal in his pocket. The sun had been wiped away by clouds and the coldness that remained was worse than he could ever remember. He tried to focus by taking the reason for his journey out of another pocket. It was a newspaper clipping of a story about a stalker in the park. This park.

Frank reread the story. A young woman reported that a stalker had following her while she jogged to work. It was a brief story with a coda from the police for people using the park to be careful. The woman’s name was Ellie Wilson. A normal person, nothing special to most people, except to Frank. It was his daughter. He had not seen her for twenty years. Since his wife had taken Ellie away, shouting that Frank’s drinking and gambling was destroying them. That was not true.

Frank had survived his descent into vice. He had beaten drink and gambling and was now a monk compared to his previous life. He had tried to find both his wife and Ellie in the years between but had no luck. Now destiny had shown a hand and offered Frank a chance to reclaim his daughter. What better way to show how much he had changed than to protect her.

The flurry of birds alerted him to the arrival of a jogger. It was a woman, short and compact, a clean healthy face and a smart bob of hair. This could be Ellie, it had to be Ellie. The woman took nice long strides; she was entirely absorbed in her work. Frank was amazed at how graceful Ellie was, fit and strong. What a father he had been.

Ellie was coming nearer. He could see the swirl of steam from her lips as she breathed in the cold morning air.

As she reached the monument path he launched himself from the bushes. The knife in his pocket was out in the open, a wicked flickblade brought from France when he was a teenager. “Ellie,” Frank shouted, “It’s Daddy.”

The woman stopped and threw an arm out to deflect the knife. “Go, Go, Go”, she shouted. Frank slipped on the gravestone pavement; an arm was suddenly thrust up and twisted behind his back. The breath was knocked out of him as a knee was hammered into the base of his spine. He crashed onto the pavement, his jaw cracking. He could hear something it might have been Ellie or it could have been his wife, or maybe some boyfriend or husband.

“I am arresting you on suspicion…harm your defence… may rely on …”

Yesterday the jogger had not been Ellie, the day before the jogger had not been Ellie. Why today had she not come today? Frank was convinced the other joggers would have told Ellie how safe it was now Daddy was back to watch her. He looked up and saw that the sun had been eclipsed by twin blue stars that were as cold as the day.

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Comments by other Members

Dee at 21:09 on 26 January 2005  Report this post
Nice one, David.

It’s kind of sad, the man believing he’s found his daughter.

A few pickies:

A glance back at his parked car before resuming his slow approach to the park.
You don’t need ‘parked’. We can assume it’s parked, as he’s walking away from it, and it makes ‘park’ read like a repetition.

he looked a gargoyle like a gargoyle?

An jungle of ivy A jungle.
You use ‘monument’ five times in this paragraph. It’s a damned difficult word to find alternatives for but I do think you should try to rewrite this para to avoid the repetition.

imaging for an instance imagining

Great story.


dryyzz at 10:22 on 27 January 2005  Report this post

Nice story. The twist does bring unexpected sadness into the tale. Are you going to leave this one as it is? I do feel the story has the legs to be worth working or maybe expanding on. I do feel some of the prose may lack a little clarity, but Dee didn't mention it so perhaps it's just me. And you did seem to have put the story together very quickly. Perhaps worth spending more time on? I think so.


Heckyspice at 10:28 on 27 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Dee,

Good points. The problem with the repitition with the word monument was difficult. I could not grasp any other way to describe it with out going into daft synonyms. As an exercise I should re-write the para to learn ways to avoid ths pitfall.

BTW the memorial really exists, there is a small park near to my home where the pavement is made up of old gravestones and that the memorial is covered by a vines and ivy and goodness what other types of climbing plants (I have no idea of their names,I am no Percy Thrower, that's for sure.)

Thanks for reading,


Heckyspice at 10:35 on 27 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Darryl,

This was written on the fly as it was one of those ideas that came about between battling emails and finding ways to avoid some boring jobs... hope my boss is not reading this... I thought it could be a good idea to show the flip side of the stranger in the park, someone thinking they were a guardian.

Undoubtly Frank is a dangerous person, anyone who carries a knife with the intent to use is. I think that Frank does deserve some sympathy and perhaps a longer story could do justice to this. Having said that, I have other stories that I am working on so I don't think Ellie will be revised in the immediate future.

Best wishes,


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