December 30, 2020 – January 13, 2021 Writing Prompt “The Vow of the Peacock”

Theme: The Vow of the Peacock

Word Count: 1,200

As with many holiday traditions, most New Year’s resolutions have religious roots. Babylonians were thought to be some of the first to make such resolutions, making promises to the gods to return borrowed objects and pay debts at the start of each year. Drawing from this earlier tradition, Romans also made promises to the two-faced god Janus, namesake of the month January.

During the Medieval Era, there was yet another New Years-resolution tradition, known as the Vow of the Peacock, that has fallen out of practice in modern times. In Charles Dickens’ periodical All the Year Round, he wrote about the Vow of the Peacock, explaining that peacocks (and occasionally pheasants) represented “by the splendour and variety of their colors, the majesty of kings during the middle ages”—and were thought to be “the peculiar diet of valiant knights and heart-stricken lovers.” Therefore, in the new year, a great feast was held with a roasted peacock as its centerpiece. Each knight would make a vow of chivalry to the bird, after which it would be carved and divided among all those present.

The code of chivalry—which knights in question pledged to uphold—can be found below. (Click the image to enlarge.)

The Prompt:

There is unrest in the land (whatever land, modern or days past). You’re sipping champagne at the stroke of midnight on January 1, (whatever year you choose), enjoying your celebration and not giving much thought to tomorrow. Suddenly, you notice that there is a large peacock standing beside you. You’re not quite sure where it came from, or if the bird is even real. The peacock cranes its slender neck to look up at you, then politely asks if you intend to uphold the code of chivalry and make the Vow of the Peacock in the new year. What do you do?

And how does your choice affect the unrest in the land?

(“The land” can be used loosely, it could encompass the world, a nation, or even a household.)

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134 thoughts on “December 30, 2020 – January 13, 2021 Writing Prompt “The Vow of the Peacock”

  • December 28, 2020 at 8:34 am
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    Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked in this comment within a day or two, feel free to use the contact form to let Carrie know she somehow missed it.

    Meanwhile, please be patient, we are down to one moderator, and she is not always online. We’ll get to it as soon as possible. Thank you.)

    Reply
    • December 28, 2020 at 10:35 am
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      Hahaha thank you!

      Reply
  • December 28, 2020 at 10:31 am
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    Well, congratulations on a successful migration. I know these things are not necessarily straightforward to do!

    Reply
    • December 28, 2020 at 10:35 am
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      Thanks!! 😊

      Reply
  • December 28, 2020 at 12:59 pm
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    Hope to be able to write something worthwhile.

    Reply
    • December 28, 2020 at 3:09 pm
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      Love your stories!!

      Reply
  • December 28, 2020 at 3:07 pm
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    Yay, thanks! We’re in a lockdown (again), & I really need an escape, if only imaginary.

    BTW, is the story supposed to be told in the first person?

    Reply
    • December 28, 2020 at 3:08 pm
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      No it can be in the third person if you’d like.

      Reply
      • December 29, 2020 at 2:39 pm
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        Thanks Carrie,
        I also forgot to ask: does the new year in question *have* to be 2021? Especially since the prompt also specifies that the story can be set “in times past”.

        Reply
        • December 29, 2020 at 2:42 pm
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          Oh yeah good catch.
          I’ll amend it to any year not just 2021.

          Reply
  • December 28, 2020 at 3:30 pm
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    Good to see the new prompt. Hope to get creative this whattayear end.
    Merry Christmas everyone!

    Reply
    • December 28, 2020 at 3:37 pm
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      Merry Christmas to you too! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

      Reply
  • December 30, 2020 at 2:06 pm
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    It says comments are disabled. Obviously not if our comments are up. Looking forward to doing some writing. Happy New Year 2021 and let us hope it is better than 2020. Some have the custom of opening their front door to let the old year depart and the new year to enter. Think I want to open all windows and doors and the chimney to let 2020 out and say Welcome 2021!!

    Reply
    • December 30, 2020 at 2:19 pm
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      Oh snap.
      I forgot to update that to “post your story here”! Thanks for the heads up!

      Reply
  • December 31, 2020 at 11:00 am
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    OVER THE EDGE
    by Ken Miles
    (1,200 words)

    “Do you even know for which fuck’n team you’re playing, stupido Sebastiano!”

    The members of the jury gasp as the Prosecutor plays the footage of Coach Michelis’s tirade from that fateful soccer match. Judge Maria DeGregori watches with an implacable expression planted firmly on her middle-aged face.

    Coach Michelis was loud and harsh on the pitch, with the boys of his Under-16 squad. But in the courtroom, his recorded voice rings even louder, his reaction to Sebastiano’s unfortunate own-goal sounds even more livid and disproportionate.

    Sebastiano’s mother sobs on seeing the last images of her son alive. He took his own life that same evening, only hours after the match. The Prosecutor sits his microphone close enough to the mother for her sobs to fill the packed courtroom. Soon enough, her plight infects the whole audience, and the Judge has to use her gavel to bring the room back to order.

    “Did you, Mr. Michelis, not realize how your crushing words would impact Sebastiano?” the Prosecutor asks the defendant without giving him time to answer, “or, if you didn’t realize there and then, did you apologize to him afterwards?”

    “No, I didn’t. The boy scored an own-goal! That’s a goal for the rival team, do you understand that?” Michelis hits back. “What message do you think I’d be passing to my team if I took that lightly?”

    The Prosecutor expects that reply and has his next question ready, “Sebastiano had earlier scored a goal for his team, a proper goal. Did you praise him for it? He got scolded for the bad goal, did he get a cuddle for the good goal?”

    Michelis’s blood boils.

    “A cuddle? Am I the Fairy Godmother!? For fuck’s sake! I’m a soccer trainer, and former Marine if you must know. I make men out of boys. Not teddybears! Let ’em sit on their laurels, and all the good work falls apart…”

    “Objection, Your Honor!” Michelis’s defense Attorney finally opens his mouth, “we’re here to examine if there’s an empirical connection between anything illegal my client may or may not have done and Sebastiano’s untimely death. The Prosecution’s questioning my client’s soccer-coaching techniques is irrelevant.”

    The Judge looks intensely at the defense Attorney and after a long moment of silence declares, “Objection overruled. The defendant’s coaching techniques are very relevant to Sebastiano’s death.”

    The audience applauds heartily to that.

    “The Defense asks for empirical proof, Your Honor. I request eminent child psychiatrist Dr. Patrizia Bugie to testify.”

    Dr. Bugie enters the courtroom. Looking even younger than her twenty-three years – and radiantly beautiful – she’s already made a name for herself as a star psychiatrist on popular TV shows.

    “Dr. Bugie, your work clearly manifests that a father-figure, let’s say a church minister – or a soccer-coach – can have a definite influence on a child’s actions…”

    “Indeed, research for my upcoming PhD shows that imbalances in the dual-mechanism of praising and chastising can lead an adolescent to come off the rails…”

    “In other words, Your Honor,” the Prosecutor tactfully puts words in the Psychiatrist’s mouth, “Coach Michelis’s military-style handling of the kids pushed Sebastiano over the edge. He’s not only aware of this, but proud of his ways. This isn’t even a manslaughter case. Sebastiano’s was a deliberate murder!”

    The audience claps again and some members of the jury nod.

    “Objection, Your Honor! Dr. Bugie hasn’t even published her dissertation yet. How could my client be aware of its contents?”

    “Objection sustained.” The Judge asks Dr. Bugie, “Is your work published in some form?”

    “No, Your Honor, but I spoke about it ample times on television…”

    The Prosecutor’s quick to regain control. “No more questions, Dr. Bugie.” He turns to the defendant, “I spoke to your boys, they said they’re scared of you. They all think you killed Sebastiano. What have you got to say to that?”

    “What I say? At the beginning of this year I thought I was handed over a soccer-team, not a bunch of sissies. I wanted to give my boys nothing but a taste of glory. Like in times more chivalrous than ours – when men were men – the New Year Peacock asked me what I wanted from this year, and I vowed I’d take my team to the top. Give it all, whatever it takes. Win or die.”

    “Objection, Your Honor!” the defense Attorney steps in again, before his client talked too much, “I’d like to consult my client in private.”

    The Judge grants a well-received ten-minute recess, a toilet break for many: they’ve been going round in circles for some two hours now.

    Michelis and his Attorney retreat to the counsel-chamber.

    “You’re digging yourself in a deeper hole… What’s this peacock nonsense shit you came up with? Win or die!? You’re gaining no sympathy. The men and women on the jury are hurting over poor Sebastiano and his weeping mamma. They don’t give a damn about your valiant attitude with the soccer-team!”

    “Sympathy? That’s what the courts go by these days? Tell me – what laws did I break?”

    “Please understand. It’s a trial by jury, a fifteen year-old has died, emotions naturally run high. His family wants someone inside, before they can sleep again…”

    “That madman out there’s now pushing for premeditated murder, ain’t he! What’s even the sentence for that?”

    “Forty-two years. But I’m not thinking along those lines. I’ll raise hell against that.”

    “Sure you will…”

    “If you let me do the damn talking.”

    That’s enough jackassery for Michelis to finally lose his shit. He grabs his lawyer by the tie and nearly chokes him as he yells to his face, shooting out spit with each word.

    “What did you even do to oppose the choice of judge? Huh? What chances do I have? A woman’s always gonna wanna flay me in a case like this, involving a child. And this is a woman who’s herself lost her own son! What did you do about it? Nothing! Huh?”

    The Attorney manages to free himself and backs off, rubbing his neck and padding his face dry with a handkerchief.

    “I can’t object to a Judge because of her gender…,” he squeals both forcefully and fearfully, “male judge or female judge, you’re doing it to yourself. With your attitude, whoever the judge may be, you’re done in…”

    The courtroom bell rings.

    “I’m not entering that circus again,” says Michelis.

    Uneager to re-engage with his violent client, the Attorney leaves the counsel-chamber, simply saying: “If I were you, I’d use my own feet; it’s not a nice feeling getting dragged…”

    The Attorney installs himself amongst the audience, and, on the Judge’s request, explains, “I’m no longer offering my services to my client. And he refuses to return.”

    “Refuses?” That’s all the Judge says. With a slight hand gesture she signals the Bailiff and two officers to bring over the defendant.

    On returning – without Michelis – the Bailiff speaks to the Judge, with the dignity of a man nearing retirement and loudly enough for everyone to hear.

    “This Court stands accused of exactly the same thing the defendant himself was being accused of. There’s a smashed window in the counsel-chamber, Your Honor. Nine floors below there’s a commotion. The defendant’s body lay sprawled on the sidewalk.”
    </font color>

    Reply
    • January 3, 2021 at 12:42 pm
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      Great moralissimo, General Miles. A tasteful dissection of the dichotomy between individual rights, and the power of the state.

      A small flaw in the ending. Last two lines should be exposition, not dialogue. Pretty good example of that below. (Plus, the ‘court is guilty,’ not accused.)

      “This court is guilty of the same exact crime that the defendant was accused of, and has thrown himself from the window in the counsel-chamber, Your Honor.”
      On the sidewalk nine floors below, a small crowd gathers around the defendant’s sprawled and shattered body.

      After a little thought you could reverse the order of the delivery. (The bailiff looks out the broken window in the council-chamber and sees the defendant’s lifeless body, etc., etc. And then returns to the courtroom to deliver the news, his ‘verdict.’

      It’s an excellent story. It could use a little irony. Some similarity in something the defendant said to his kids, and something the judge says to the bailiff.

      Also, I could see ways to better demonstrate the harsh reality of team sports. (Or any voluntary endeavor. If you can’t muster the requisite commitment, you get summarily demoted or cut from the team altogether. You know, like: “There were a lot of things I made the kids do that they didn’t like. I’m a coach, not a nanny. Laps around the field build discipline and stamina. Of course nobody likes them, that’s why I use them as punishment. I don’t molly-coddle them, the assistants do that.”

      This is a story that could use another three hundred words to turn that coach into a human being. Right now, he’s just a victim, a pawn, a literary device used to make a point.

      For all my advice and suggestions, I really like this story, Ken. It’s worth tweaking. At least change the last two, tree lines.

      Reply
      • January 13, 2021 at 9:45 am
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        Hi Ken,

        Thanks for liking my story and for telling me you did. It’s been a couple of stories or so ago since I last truly and verily amused you with something I’ve written. So I’m glad to regain your fanhood!

        I very much like the tightening up of the last line(s) the way you suggested. I was aware of the bailiff talking for a bit too long to deliver what should’ve been a punchy last line. (That’s actually why I then painted him as someone “with the dignity of a man nearing retirement” in order to sort of justify his oratory style… but I should’ve sought a solution in restructuring the whole ending – the way you kindly did for me – rather than fixing the character to fit the ending…).

        Yes, with a few more words, I could have done more… but well, the word limit is, as often happens, a harsh unnegotiable axe. I’m thinking of rewriting some of my stories for an anthology which I may call “The 2021 Stories” – 2021 the year, and 2021 the number of words in each story.

        Or I’ll wait till next year, and I’ll have 2022 words at my disposal (and more time to waste on Netflix, this year)…

        Cheers!
        Ken

        Reply
    • January 10, 2021 at 11:24 am
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      Hi Ken,

      It’s nice to be back here for another year. Thankfully, the K team is back in action as this is Ken F, posting a message to Ken M having read comments made by Ken C.

      There’s lots to commend your story and I could relate well to elements of it bearing in mind that I trained as a teacher of physical education and coached many teams in a number of sports. I certainly do not recognise myself in Michelis but I do see others that I have known. It takes all sorts, I guess. I would have been the softer coach, trying to lift a youngster’s head after he had scored an own goal AND praising him for scoring a real goal. My feeling is that the model coach, at least the USA model that I have seen on TV, is under much more pressure to get results. My job was to teach a variety of sports in school time. Running teams was an extra-curricular activity but certainly a part of the job.

      Now we complicate matters ( take a divorce as an example) when we involve lawyers and the courts. The only people who gain from a long, drawn out divorce, are the lawyers. There is a huge distance, sadly, between The Law and Justice. Or so John Grisham tells me and I have read every one of his books.

      I think the key aspect of this story, for me, is that we need to be very selective about who we employ to teach our children as the role of teacher is so crucial and I’m sure we can all tell tales from firsthand experience.

      Finally, my verdict. Verbal abuse, by an adult in a position of authority towards a child or young person, is totally unacceptable. I think Michelis’ behaviour should have been brought to light sooner and he should have been sacked. Can’t see how he could be charged with murder but then, what do I know? There was a Scout leader in a town I used to live in and my son briefly joined his soccer team. The man’s verbal abuse was dreadful and he used to throw stuff around the changing room. My son couldn’t get out of that team soon enough but some of the boys really liked him.

      I think Ken C deals well with the final few sentences that I also found a bit “clunky.” However, I quite like the idea that bullying the youth made him take his own life and the coach experienced the same thing.

      Happy 2021, Ken.

      Kind regards,

      Ken F

      Reply
      • January 13, 2021 at 10:15 am
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        Hi Ken,

        Oh yes… I remember you telling me that you were a PE teacher; so this story must have really struck a chord with you.

        I’m glad to hear that you were a much better coach to your kids than my Michelis. I based the character of Michelis on a children soccer team coach I’ve myself witnessed at a local tournament shouting abuse at his boys each time they lost the ball (no own-goals actually happened when I was present, for if they did, well… lo and behold!). I was disgusted by his behaviour.

        The court case itself is based on the unsuccesful trial of Ozzy Osbourne, in which the musician was accused of causing the death of a teen who had just listened to his “Suicide Solution” track.

        The main target of my story is the legal system and how emotions (especially when a trial by jury is involved) may sometimes thwart justice. I call them Courts of Law, never Courts of Justice. And the law can of course be an ass. That is not to defend, in any way, Michelis’s attitude to soccer and the kids, but the Courts can be disgusting in their own way too.

        Especially in a case like this, where you’ve got a cunning prosecuting lawyer on one side and a dead-fish defence lawyer on the the other. Plus a judge that, due personal experiences, may be biased. It may sometimes boil down to rhetoric and courtroom emotions more than anything else. Apparently, former Marine Michelis saw it coming – he could’ve ended up in jail for a very long time, and rather than rotting in a cell he prefered to end his life. He should have rather ended his coaching career sooner, since he wasn’t cut out for it…

        Thanks for your comment, Ken, and I’m pleased you liked it.

        Cheers!
        Ken

        Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 12:02 pm
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      I really like this, KenM – it involves two things that I’m a great fan of: football and court dramas. The facts are well established (though I would have left this line of exposition for one of the characters’ dialogue later in the story: “He took his own life that same evening, only hours after the match.”) The karmic twist is a good one. The dialogue is generally great … though some of the courtroom bits are not quite right (“I request eminent child psychiatrist Dr. Patrizia Bugie to testify.” > “I call … to the stand.”). Also, some of the court procedure is not quite right: the prosecutor can’t be questioning the defendant if he’s not on the stand. But this is detail because the story and the moral are very good.

      Reply
      • January 11, 2021 at 11:32 pm
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        Phil, Ken M. and Ken F.,

        I don’t mean to hog the thread but wanted to comment on the comments. I noticed the things that you noticed Phil, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on them. So those were excellent observations.

        To Ken F.

        I hope I don’t sound quarrelsome Ken. It’s certainly true that a murder charge is pushing the limits, but I’m willing to believe it (or suspend disbelief) for the sake of the story. I think. The behavior of the coach? Well, you said it yourself, because of the coach, your son couldn’t wait to get off the team. It’s amazing what kind of behaviors are tolerated for the sake of a winning program. You can look up Coach Sandusky and Joe Paterno here in the good old USA. Paterno was a head coach for 45 years. They had a bronze statue of him on campus, while he was STILL the COACH! Then they found out what Sandusky was doing, and good old Joe knew, but looked the other way. No more Joe, no more statue, and Sandusky’s in a penitentiary.

        Trust me Ken, the story is believable enough. (If Ken would just take Phil’s advice and fix the courtroom terminology. I see no problems here.)

        You know, having three Ken’s here is confusing. I would go by my middle name for the sake of our collective sanity, but then we’d have two Phil’s and two Ken’s. That’s hardly an improvement. (and don’t even think about calling me Shirley.)

        Reply
        • January 13, 2021 at 11:59 am
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          Shirley? Forget about it – that’s my middle name… Ken Ph. Cartisano…? Three Kens or two Kens and two Philips? I have a Philips DVD player at home, too (yes, I still watch DVDs). That makes it too many Philips. Hmmm. Let’s keep things as they are, shall we? Just think of it, it could have been seven Jürgens.
          (we don’t even use middle names in this part of the world).

          Thanks again, fellow Ken, for your sustained praise and support for my story. I don’t usually like writing court-case stories (except to revel in trashing the courts), so I’m not very well-versed in court terminology and I’ll be taking a note of Phil’s advice.

          As to Michelis’s murder charges being perhaps exaggarated, I actually based my story on Ozzy Osbourne’s trial in which the prosecution held him responsible for the death of a young man who had just listened to Ozzy’s “Suicide Solution” before he took his own life.

          Ozzy won the case. The courts were very much aware of potentially opening a big bag of worms there, if they found a musician responsible for ‘killing by lyrics’. What would have become of the music, film, book and videogame industries if the courts set that kind of legal precedent? Would violent artworks in churches have had to be painted over? And sport coach vocabulary and volume levels

          I don’t think Michelis would have ended up in jail (although one never knows, when emotions run high), but he must have panicked… And, well, anyway, he helped me make my point.

          Cheers!
          Ken

          Reply
      • January 13, 2021 at 12:14 pm
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        Hi Phil,

        I’m pleased you like it (and also to have provided you with court drama and football in one and the same story!).

        You’re right, of course, about the court terminology and procedure. Since this is not exactly my favourite subject, I didn’t bother to research the right wording (and hoped no-one would notice!).

        On the issue of correct court procedure, I sort of knew, from court theatrics in film and TV shows, that the defendant and the witnesses can only be grilled while they’re on the stand, and not in the sort of conversational manner I’ve pictured it – but I thought of saving some words there by cutting that corner. My bad.

        I will keep a note of your useful advice and fix this story if I get to use it again somewhere else. Or if I write more court case stories in the future. Or even take a liking to this genre.

        By the way, for those who don’t speak Italian, Bugie, the main witness’s surname actually means “lies”. Just saying, as a bonus Easter egg. It’s not anything similar in Portuguese, is it?

        Cheers!
        Ken

        Reply
    • January 12, 2021 at 9:59 am
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      Ken M., I have to fall in line with the two Kens and Phil on this one regarding their already mentioned observations. What I like most about it was how you used the prompt, although you did leave out the valuable sip of champagne. It’s the one thing I like most about this site. The various ways authors (that’s us) use a prompt to convey the story they want to tell. And, you told a very good story. Self esteem being what it is, and as frail as it can be in some people, could very easily tip the scale for someone to follow through on a suicide threat. My self esteem has never been in doubt (I don’t think) as far back as I can remember.

      I’ve always felt I am alive for a reason and it’s not my place to take it without first having accomplished that task, whatever it may be. Maybe, in the not to distant future, as I lay on my death bed, I will realize I have accomplished that preset goal and will be allowed to say my last farewell. At least that’s my current plan.

      Your story is well told and was a good read. The ending could be a tad tighter, as Ken C., suggested, as in guilty instead of accused, and I might have written The defendant took his life by leaping to his death, or something slightly different than the defendant’s body lay sprawled on the sidewalk.

      Roy

      Reply
      • January 13, 2021 at 12:39 pm
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        Hi Roy,

        Thanks for your appraisal of my story and I’m glad you liked it.

        A sip of champagne? Ooops! I had to go back to the prompt description to see what you’re talking about, and – truth be told – probably in my enthusiasm to start writing, I hadn’t even seen that bit! Otherwise I could have easily thrown it in somewhere. I’ll have a sip of champagne myself right after I’m done writing this, ok? Will that count? I’ll have some red wine, actually, instead of champagne. Or some Cynar (do you know Cynar? It’s a beautiful Italian liquor made from artichokes. They put grapes to shame. I’ve just obtained a bottle of it). I don’t actually like champagne too much (truth be told again).

        I enjoyed reading your take on self-esteem and how, come what may, you’ll never let it it topple you. But, true, some people can be totally unravelled if their self-esteem is squashed. Especially young people who are still trying to find their feet in the world. That’s what must have happened to my Sebastiano. Michelis, on the other hand, must have been squashed by anguish and real fear of ending up behind bars. Like a defeated Samurai, this ex-Marine undid himself before the system undid him.

        Yes, it’s incredible how one prompt can lead to so many different stories and interpretations. It’s one big plus of this site and its motley crew of writers.

        Cheers!
        Ken

        Reply
  • January 2, 2021 at 4:13 am
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    Hello friends,
    here I am again. In the last months it was difficult for me to write, but now I have done a little piece for you to enjoy. Have a happy New Year everyone!
    Greetings from Hamburg, Germany
    Jürgen

    Reply
  • January 2, 2021 at 4:17 am
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    The Vow of the Peacock

    On New Year’s morning the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, I saw two magnificent peacocks standing in front of it. They were beautiful creatures. One peacock was very tall and slender, the other rather stocky; he seemed to be a good eater.

    “Good afternoon!” said the tall one, “Do you have a moment? We would like to talk with you about chivalry.”

    “Oh!” I replied, “I’m still in my pyjamas, but no problem, go ahead and sit in the kitchen.”

    I was very nervous because I had never had two peacocks in my kitchen before. My pyjamas weren’t very clean either. Sometimes I get hungry at night and then I take a little something out of the refrigerator, and if that little something is anything with sauce, there can be ugly stains. So I wanted to put something else on. But what do you wear when you have two peacocks sitting in the kitchen?

    Peacocks look very majestic with their blue-green sparkling plumage. I would have loved to put on my black suit and pin on my gold medal. But that was not possible, because I had neither a black suit nor a medal.

    Since I worked primarily from home, I wore my pyjamas throughout the day. For conferences via Zoom, I put on a sweater. For shopping, I wore a coat on top and sneakers. When I got to the kitchen, the two peacocks had already made themselves comfortable and were making coffee. They were sitting on my two kitchen chairs, so I had to stand.

    “About chivalry …” the tall one began.

    “Can you display your tail feathers?” I asked him.

    “That’s not so easy,” the good eater replied. “We have to be aroused for that. Displaying them is a consequence of arousal, like blushing is for humans. Are you capable of arousing us?”

    “I’m not sure,” I replied. “I haven’t aroused anyone lately. I’ve been all alone at home, after all. Would it be enough if I called you names?”

    “Let’s talk about the virtues of chivalry,” the tall peacock changed the subject.

    “What do you want us to talk about?”

    “We are here to invite you to take the Vow of the Peacock. It’s a medieval ritual. You must profess the virtues of chivalry.”

    “Can I do that as a modern man? I have no armour, no horse, nor sword nor lance. At a tournament I would make a dreadful fool of myself.”

    “It doesn’t matter,” the other peacock now replied. “You must profess the knightly virtues. For example, you should live moderately, be faithful, polite and kind. Very important is the “minne”. It’s also called courtly love which means you should serve a lady and all other ladies with her. To do this, you must treat a noble lady like a precious jewel. Do you understand?”

    “Well,” I countered, ” if I owned a precious gem of jewelry, I would have auctioned it off on ebay a long time ago. You see, I like to eat that kind of pizza that a leather-clad fellow brings to your house on a motorcycle. Unfortunately, I can’t afford such a treat. Working from home, my earnings are almost non-existent.”

    “That’s not a chivalrous answer at all.” said the taller peacock with a very serious expression. Then he turned to the good eater.

    “Come on Joey, we’re just wasting our time here. This guy is no knight at all; he wears nothing but pyjamas all day.” The peacocks seemed to get quite angry.

    Now they were both showing their tailfeathers, and we had to wait until they‘d calmed down again, because they couldn’t fit through the kitchen door like that.

    When they‘d gone, I poured myself another cup of coffee and swore for the 1000th time to stop taking so many drugs.
    </font color>

    Reply
    • January 3, 2021 at 2:18 pm
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      Juergen,

      You’re back! With a funny story. Peacockery. That’s what this is. I feel like you and I may be of a similar frame of reference on this particular prompt.

      (In that,) When I read the prompt I thought, ‘The only way to comply with this prompt is to incorporate drugs into the story, or the author, or both. All other similarities between us are coincidental, I’m sure. (You’re black and white, I’m color, for example. You live in Hamburg, I eat that on a bun. I’m a serious-ass writer, you are as serious a writer. Totally different. Words there.)

      Fun story. Great dialogue, or I should say, very well written.
      The fact that this takes place in the kitchen is a nice touch. (shades of ‘Breaking Bad.’)

      Since the story was in English I assume the location is England. (There’s a ban on peacocks here in the U.S. I don’t know why. No peacocks for anyone.)

      Okay so whatever, even if it took place in England where, as I understand it, they speak some rudimentary form of English. (and are suffering from a glut of peacocks) It’s pretty amazing that these two pulp-fiction peacocks were so fluent in English, a language other than their own… native…. tongue. (Peacockney?) Were these peacocks natural polyglots?

      As you can see, Juergen, your story left me with more questions than spent matches, and that, is (okay, I’ll admit it) a small victory in your column. Or as my French-speaking sister would say, ‘a small column in your pack pocket.’
      Very enjoyable story.

      Ken

      Reply
      • January 4, 2021 at 6:56 am
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        Ken C, you said “ (There’s a ban on peacocks here in the U.S. I don’t know why. No peacocks for anyone.)” Not where I Live. My son-in-law has five of them [ actually one peacock and four peahens] to guard his exotic pheasant farm.

        Reply
        • January 4, 2021 at 7:00 am
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          My mom has one in Arkansas. They make excellent guard dogs!

          Reply
          • January 11, 2021 at 11:36 pm
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            You mean guard birds. They make excellent guard birds.

        • January 4, 2021 at 11:32 am
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          Robt.

          We do a lot of stupid stuff here in the U.S. but we haven’t gotten that stupid yet. (Well, I take that back. I take that back immediately!) I ‘actually’ don’t know anything about peacocks, and given a moment to consider it, they seem almost domesticated. Your comment seems to confirm that.

          I confess that I don’t know if, ‘to guard his exotic pheasant farm.’ is a joke. It sounds funny whether it’s true or not. (Why does he have peacocks? To guard the exotic pheasants… of course.’

          I live near a wildlife refuge and at various times during the year millions of birds roost there. Crane, Egret, Heron, Flamingo, Ibis. No peacocks. So, you know, as a writer I went from, ‘I don’t see any peacocks, to: There aren’t any peacocks, they’ve been banned, and the govt. (those bastards) have clamped down on the illegal peacock peddling trade. They’ve vowed to stamp it out. And have turned this country into a police state in their persecution of people with peacocks. (Speaking of vows.)

          We here at People Preserving the Peacock (PPtP) are dedicated to the eventual legalization of peacock possession, and already we’ve seen, in some states, a reluctant easing of rules, a kind of passive, or pastoral peacock possession, where the peacocks are just, ‘around’ and nobody really ‘possesses’ them. If you know what I mean.

          If you’re interested, PPtP has a PAC and would be delighted to accept donations of any denomination to further the cause of peacock preservation. Our goal, seriously, is a plethora of peacocks. Here, there, peacocks everywhere.

          I think there may be a story in there somewhere.

          I could name it: ‘Farenheit 450 Peacocks.’ Charge a million dollars a book and just sell one. (Or maybe two.) I’ll be rich, but for the moment, I just need to scrounge up a couple of dollars for a hamburger. See ya later.

          Reply
          • January 6, 2021 at 6:14 am
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            Ken C, you’re right. I re-read ‘to guard his exotic pheasant farm.’ And it does sound funny. But it’s true. My S-I-L has breeding pheasants from more than a dozen countries. Because he knows what he’s doing, his birds are one-third to one-half larger than average. People who call themselves ‘sportsmen’ love to demonstrate their prowess and display trophies. S-I-L sends the feathers etc. to taxidermists around the country. What happens to the rest of the bird? I bring the wine. Hey, someone has to do it.
            If you don’t have a guard dog, peafowl can make a reasonable substitute. If a stray animal or unfamiliar person comes near the pheasant enclosure, Peafowls let you know: they are louder than geese. They are fiercely territorial, aggressive, birds. Also, they keep the egg-sucking snakes population down.
            They fight dirty. Peafowl have ‘kicking thorns,’ [sharp spurs about an inch long and razor sharp]. They can inflict substantial damage by slashing predators.
            But the truth is – the peafowl are guards and nothing more. He gives the tail feathers to a local charity to sell at their annual bazaar. What could be more common than peafowl guarding a bird farm? People don’t seem surprised at seeing half a dozen house dogs playing about in the yard of a dog kennel.

      • January 10, 2021 at 11:43 am
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        Hi Jurgen,

        Best wishes for 2021.

        An entertaining story that really made me smile about the whole pyjama issue and working from home, putting a coat over the top to go to the store, the stains, arousing the peacocks, the black suit and the gold medal, peacocks making coffee and sitting on kitchen stools. Weird, wonderful and Jurgen-quirky.

        After I read some of the other comments, mainly Ken C’s I must admit, I did a bit of research about keeping Peafowl which includes peahens and peacocks. Apparently, it’s perfectly legal to keep them in your garden in the UK but you need a big garden and they might need a tree in which to roost and the ideal family group is four females to one male. They are virtually impossible to catch by hand ( for instance, if they escape into your neighbour’s garden) and the males are quite noisy but they are good for security because of this. They also look gorgeous.

        Good story, Jurgen, as always. You really hit the prompt too.

        Kind regards,

        Ken Frape.

        Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 8:18 am
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      Hi Jürgen, welcome back, mate! Where’ve you been? It took two peacocks to bring you back…

      I can’t help seeing two Jehovah Witnesses visiting a junkie, in your evocatively told story. Of course, it wasn’t going to work out. They soon realize they’re wasting their precious time. Giving up on this poor soul means their time could be used to convert more gullegible (gullible and eligible) others to their noble cause. Never mind what their boss once said that a doctor’s job is to tend to the sick and not to the healthy…

      It’s so funny when the peacocks can’t get out, their inflated egos (and tails) blocking their way through the door. That’s my favourite part.

      I would’ve gone on with it a little further. I wouldn’t have let them leave.

      “With all their fluff and feathers, peacocks taste very much like chicken,” [the narrator] mumbles as he wipes blood off his large kitchen knife. Not that he’s entirely disappointed. After all, it’s been a while since he last feasted on so much food.

      But that’s me. I know. It’s evil.

      Cheers! (nonetheless)
      Ken

      Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 12:11 pm
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      Welcome back, Jürgen! It’s always refreshing to read your stories because of their simplicity … which unfolds to reveal something else. Here, I really like how the narrator doesn’t bat an eyelid when two ‘peacocks’ come to his door – he just invites them in. And then we know we’re in a strange dimension – real or literary. Absurdity piles on other absurdity but we go along with it because of that simplicity (‘naivety’?), and then at the end we get a very neat (possible) explanation of the whole thing. But what’s it ‘really’ all about? That’s what we’re left wondering … and that’s a nice process.

      Reply
    • January 12, 2021 at 10:06 am
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      Jurgen, I am so happy you are back with your particularly colorful outlook on writing. Excellent story and certainly a different use of the prompt, (which I have come to expect) although they should have stayed for the champagne before they left.

      I have no bones to pick regarding the writing.

      Roy

      Reply
  • January 3, 2021 at 3:06 am
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    A & E

    G had invited him to the party, which A had tried to get out of. But G was a very persuasive fellow and as A had nothing better to do, and as it was New Year’s Eve … well, he was finally convinced.

    And so here he sat in the cold, nursing his small glass of schnapps and conversing energetically with G. He took a sip occasionally, just to humour G, but if the truth be told, he liked alcohol as much as he liked meat – which was to say not at all – and neither liked him; digestive problems had plagued him all his life.

    He’d brought E with him, but she was off dancing to the raucous music provided by the brass ensemble; through the window, he could see her blonde hair bobbing up and down amongst the crowd as she danced with a girlfriend of hers.

    The country was a pressure cooker, and A believed, urged by G, that he was the one to first turn up the heat, then step in and declare himself a saviour. G’s help was vital: public perception was all, and manipulation of that was G’s art. And so the two friends talked the evening away, oblivious to the approaching moment when one year would become another.

    At one point, a waiter passed with champagne on a tray and laid two glasses on the table, anticipating the chimes. G took advantage of the natural break in conversation to excuse himself; unlike A, G liked a drink very much, and biology was taking its course. Before he left, he took a pamphlet out of his pocket and placed it in front of A.

    “Have a look at that and tell me what you think,” he said smiling.

    Alone at the table, A leafed through the pamphlet, nodding with appreciation. When he’d finished, he looked in through the window again at the blonde head bobbing. He was glad that E wasn’t with him and G because he was perfectly aware that she wasn’t so bright – she was a simple photographer’s model, after all. She had her uses, of course, but it was better for her not to be at the table since he and G had lots to talk about, and she would merely have been bored.

    A shifted his gaze back to the pamphlet and jumped; by the side of the table was a bird – a peacock. A had seen some of them already tonight, wandering around the Biergarten. But this one was very bold and stood next to him, staring into his eyes. It cocked its head.

    “Good evening,” it said confidently.

    A recoiled with a shriek, his chair scraping on the concrete.

    “Don’t be alarmed,” the peacock went on. “I mean you no harm.”

    A checked his glass; it was still three-quarters full, so he doubted that the schnapps had any influence over … whatever was happening. And he hadn’t even started on the champagne yet.

    “Wha–“ A began, but he couldn’t think of a coherent questions to ask.

    “I don’t blame you for your befuddlement,“ said the peacock with a soothing sibilance. “Let me explain.”

    The peacock took two tiny steps closer. A glanced towards the dance-floor and saw that G and E were dancing together now. His sudden pang of jealousy was immediately overtaken by a surge of relief; he wouldn’t want his credibility undermined by being seen talking to a bird.

    “It’s like this,” the peacock whispered, as if what he was about to impart was top secret. “On the eve of the 33rd year of every century – 33 is a mystical number, you see, though I must admit its significance has been lost over the millennia – we peacocks can choose a human to interact with. My friends are doing the same.”

    It stopped talking, as if that was all it had to say.

    A noticed that the other peacocks had in fact disappeared. He scowled.

    “And?”

    “And we invite you to take a vow.”

    A scoffed loudly.

    “Ha! You … what?! I’m beholden to my God and country, nothing more.”

    “Yes, yes,” said the peacock, sounding irritated. ‘How dare it!’, thought A.

    Once again, the peacock paused, staring into A’s dark eyes. The pause lengthened, and despite himself, A shifted in his chair, uncomfortable.

    “All right, so what is it, this … vow?”

    “I’m glad you asked,” said the peacock. “It is …”

    And here it looked around, apparently to make sure that no one was near.

    “It is HKH.”

    A gaped at the bird.

    “HKH?”

    “Yes.”

    “What zur Hölle does that mean?!”

    “Honesty. Kindness. Honour.”

    A shook his head, as if to clear it.

    The peacock seemed unaware of A’s confusion.

    “Honesty, kindness and honour?”

    “Exactly,” confirmed the peacock.

    “And what am I supposed to do with that?” It was A getting irritated now.

    “Feel it, my friend. Feel it.”

    A couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw a smile on the peacock’s beak.

    A shook his head again.

    “This is ridiculous.”

    “Is it, though?” the bird reasoned. “Is it really? Just think: how have you been feeling these last few years? Happy? Really happy? Or bitter? Bitter and angry?”

    A thought about it briefly, then voiced an earlier thought.

    “How dare you?!”

    That beaky smile again.

    “I dare because I am the future. I am change. I am hope.”

    At this, the peacock turned its back on A, moved away a metre or so and shook its body.

    Fireworks were beginning to crackle in the night sky, but they were as nothing compared to the explosion of copper-green-gold-turquoise of the peacock’s tail feathers as they unfurled. A watched on, transfixed.

    And as he stared, the shimmering spots on the feathers multiplied, and multiplied again, and kept on multiplying, and each became (though A could not have articulated this) a soul, and each entered A and touched HIS soul – a hundred … no, a thousand … a million … two … four … no, six million souls. And A stared on, felt their pain. Became them.

    “A pfennig for your thoughts!” laughed E, bringing A out of his trance.

    A looked up; E was standing by the table with G, both with champagne in their hands.

    “I … I was just …”

    A stopped; once again, he didn’t want to be seen talking to a bird. But when he turned back, the peacock had disappeared.

    “Come on, darling,” E said, holding out her hand. A got up and enveloped E in his arms, feeling her warmth, and now another warmth, deep inside him.

    They could hear the crowd in the ballroom counting down to midnight. G raised his glass.

    “To the Fatherland!”

    A picked up his glass and chinked it against E’s.

    “To us.”

    G frowned, confused, and glanced over at the table to where he expected the pamphlet to be but spotted it on the ground, under A’s foot.

    “Happy New Year,” A said softly to E, pulling her closer still.

    .</font color>

    Reply
    • January 12, 2021 at 8:31 am
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      Hi Phil,

      Wishing you a very good 2021. We all hope it’s a better year than 2020. It has to be, doesn’t it?

      A very interesting story. I missed the clever intention behind your use of letters for names, until Ken Cartisano raised it. Clever of you and clever of him to spot it. Once it was mentioned I did a bit of research too regarding E ( not wishing to say more and spoil things.

      It’s just fascinating how well people have managed to follow this prompt and write stuff that includes peacocks.

      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • January 13, 2021 at 10:26 am
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      Phil, great story, well written and nice use of the three main characters. If I’m honest I was a bit annoyed at the use of initials. I’ve been annoyed with that since reading Poe and others who refer to people by the first or last letters of their names, and that goes all the way back to the early 1950’s. That’s how long I’ve been annoyed all these years and purposefully avoiding stories that use that method of characterization.

      However, after reading comments by others, and, since I have to vote, I reread the story. Aha! I said to myself. “Roy, you know who these people are, and when I discovered that I wasn’t so annoyed. And, I understand why you did it. But, I think if G figures out you are talking about him, you might have a small problem down the road to eternity. But, you can always feign ignorance and say you talking about King George, King Albert and Queen Elizabeth, but you and I know the truth, don’t we?

      Again, nice story.

      Roy

      Reply
      • January 14, 2021 at 3:44 am
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        Thanks, Roy! Actually, if I get your drift, then you’re way off the mark re ‘G’! 😉

        Reply
    • January 14, 2021 at 8:21 am
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      Hi Phil,

      I am quite familiar with (and fascinated by, in a non-admiring way) that period in history (in fact I also wrote a couple of stories here, featuring A; and I remember your On Ze Beach too), so the mere mention of 1933 got my attention and gave me an important clue. The inclusion of a bit of German, here and there, helped further. And we’re at a biergarten. And there’s the obsession with the Fatherland…

      Then, E was easily guessed. G gave me some more trouble, but on second reading, it became quite clear: “a very persuasive
      fellow”, a master of the art of manipulation, a believer in public perception. So it’s Joseph G. At first I thought Göring too might be a candidate, but no, it’s gotta be Joseph. So is G for the surname? Well, I dunno. It must be him. He’s better known by his surname. “J” would have been too obscure.

      While reading this story, the next prompt came in my inbox, with Frape’s Enduring Love theme. And A&E would have fitted in that quite well too! Is A&E 2 coming up in a wesbsite near us, in the coming week, by any chance?

      And that pamphlet on the floor seals a well-told, if a little obscure (especially for the unitiated) story.

      Let me now be brutally direct. I don’t like the structuring of this story. It takes too long to get going. If it didn’t have your name on it, Phil (and also because I need to vote)… I think I would have stopped reading after the first few paragraphs. The long intro to set the party scene and the relationship between A, G and E didn’t quite absorb me, and I only read on because I know that Phil being Phil there’ll be something worth reading on for in the end (and there was).

      I think the first five (or even six or seven) paragraphs could have been woven into the story a bit later on. There is important backstory in the beginning, but it could have been shortened and placed after the really amusing drama starts.

      I would have interspersed the backstory within the peacock scene: Already confounded by the fact he was talking to a bird, A has at the same to contend with seeing G dancing with E, with the contents of the inflammatory pamphlet and if he’s going to let it influence his life and so on. Also with the fact he’s been drinking (a brilliant possibile explanation for readers who don’t believe in talking peacocks).

      In short, I would have preferred it if you showed us the various elements of the backstory through A’s own eyes and sentiments, rather than telling us a priori where he stood in his love and life before he met the peacock that may have changed world history.

      I loved this story when it got going and I understood its significance. I would have preferred to get absorbed in it from the word go.

      Tschüss!
      Ken

      Reply
      • January 14, 2021 at 4:52 pm
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        That’s a very careful and sensible critique, KenM … and I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks!

        Reply
  • January 3, 2021 at 2:40 pm
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    Philip,

    At first, I thought this story made about as much sense as this borrowed prompt. (None.) But after a second reading I had to wonder about your use of letters for each character’s names. Why would Phil do that? (I asked my sleeping cat.)

    Did you use letters for the characters because they’re real historical figures, but you’ve re-written ‘a what-if’ version of history?

    Reply
    • January 4, 2021 at 9:50 pm
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      Getting warm, KenC. Very warm. Boiling, in fact. (A bit clunky really.)

      Reply
      • January 5, 2021 at 10:45 am
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        Phil,
        No, it was pretty obscure, using initials was the clue that there was more to this story than first seemed apparent. The only real give-away, which is a must, if you ask me, is the comment regarding ‘E’s background. After I posted the comment, I googled her specifically and my suspicions were confirmed. It’s very clever Phil, and, true to your form, almost too subtle for my unsophisticated sensibilities.
        (But I don’t need to remind anyone of how unsophisticated I am.)`

        Reply
        • January 14, 2021 at 3:46 am
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          KenC – I think you’re much more sophisticated than you would like us to think you think you are. (Or something.)

          Reply
  • January 4, 2021 at 2:12 am
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    Hey Writers, just wanted to let you know that I am no longer a moderator for this wonderful group. From now on Carrie is the sole moderator, any questions or issues address them solely to her. I have greatly enjoyed my time here and will be back here on occasion with a story or two. But for now, I’m taking some time to figure out where I want to go as a writer, and also using this off time to do some writing I’ve been putting off for far too long.

    This group is where I got my start, this group of people who have always been honest and supportive. You all have been amazing and Carrie was a great partner in all of this. See you around, and I wish you all the best.

    Take care,
    Alice

    Reply
    • January 4, 2021 at 12:06 pm
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      Well that sucks. (Alice. I don’t have time for this.) I’m going on strike then. You can’t leave. Leave Carrie on her own? (Hah. These people will eat her alive. They’ll walk all over her without you snarling from time to time. Nope, sorry, I don’t believe it. You’re still the moderator.) No el accepto. You know what that means? It’s el Spanishistimo for ‘el nopeyo. nada teenyo.’ No–wayo.

      Sorry. That’s my feeling on that.

      You should definitely be writing though. About something. While you moderate. Or stay involved. Now that you’re not a moderator, you can compete. Alright make up your mind. What are you going to do, moderate? Or compete? Those are your only two options. (As I see it. How long are you gonna straddle this fence?) (I look forward to kicking your ass, occasionally. Okay, rarely.) But it’s up to you, of course. That’s it of course, you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, and now you want to get into the fray. (Yiikes. Wait a minute, let me re-think this.) Okay I’ve re-thunk enough. Whatever you do is great, Alice. I support whatever decision you make. (As long as it’s the right one.)

      Reply
    • January 4, 2021 at 9:52 pm
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      That’s a real shame, Alice – I always think of you and Carrie as the ‘Terrible Twosome’ (in the nicest possible way, of course). Happy writing, and hope to see you back here on occasion, or preferably more often than that.

      Reply
    • January 12, 2021 at 6:19 am
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      Hi Alice,

      Really sorry to see you go but I suppose everybody has to move on at some time. I guess there is a huge amount of “stuff” that gets done in the background that you and Carrie manage so we can just get on with the writing.

      Good to hear that you are hoping to devote more time to your own projects.

      Thanks for all your efforts on our behalf.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • January 13, 2021 at 10:33 am
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      Alice, I’m bummed out. Hopefully, you will contribute a story every now and again, ’cause I don’t know if I can go without an Alice story on these pages to write against occasionally. Having been where you’re at, I understand probably better than anyone when it’s time to step back. Good Luck with your ventures.

      Roy

      Reply
    • January 13, 2021 at 3:41 pm
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      All the best, Alice! This group’s loss is your future works’ readers’ gain.
      Thanks for all the work you put in as a moderator.

      Reply
    • January 14, 2021 at 8:39 am
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      It’s sad (and somewhat strange to me) to see you go, Alice. All so suddenly. I found this group last year thanks to finding you first, and then Carrie too, with the podcasts (which I’d listen on my commute to and from work). So, this Place is going to look a little bit unusual without you co-motherating it. Thank you for looking after this site and I hope we’ll be seeing more of your brilliant stories (and maybe more comments from you too, now that you have less reason to be impartial). Good luck and thanks again.

      Ken

      Reply
  • January 5, 2021 at 7:28 am
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    Signing up for comments and stories.

    Reply
  • January 6, 2021 at 1:29 pm
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    I’ll Pass
    by Robt. Emmett ©2021
    [1200 words]

    The night light setting of my laptop caused it to dim. I counted off eleven seconds. The desk lamp dimmed – 9:05. The coffee is ready, but there’s no one to share it with. The dogs in the kennel have settled in for the night. Looking to the window, two views present themselves: The reflection of the flickering embers in the small hearth behind me and the beginning of the projected storm. A few fat flakes ambled their way to the ground past the imperfection in the cylinder blown glass of the garret window. I’ve grown accustomed to the vagaries of the waves and bubble pockets. They’re old … like me.
    Below, in the yard, the last of the fallen leaves hid in the lee corner where the carriage house and the kennel meet. I planned to rake them but never found the time.
    The pair of night guard dogs, making their rounds, stop to sniff at the stump of the maple lost in the spring sleet storm and then ambled on to the gap in the stone wall. Two more projects I never completed.
    The rabbit, near the woodpile, foraged for a snack before the storm.
    “When the time comes, will you renew?” The voice within me wanted to know.
    A good question. Many reasons could be made for renewing, and only one reason not to. Was it big enough to cancel the multitude?
    “That’s why we’re here tonight, isn’t it, Will?”
    “I guess so,” I replied.
    “Do you remember how it all started?” the voice wanted to know.
    “Oh, yes, I do. Mom, being a typical 50s mother, knew what her son needed. She started a Cub Scout Pack at our kitchen table. The dozen of us were age seven and starting the second grade. It was the beginning.”
    “Later, well into our sophomore year. Coach dismissed Gym a little early. As we headed to the showers, by name, he called us aside. Mickey, the exhibitionist, put his gym shorts back on. Coach wondered why we, seemingly, had a code. We explained how we’d started and how scouting had taught us to act a certain way.
    Coach then summed up our explanation in a single word: Chivalry.
    “‘Yeah,” Terry said, “But we ain’t got no horses.’” Coach rolled his eyes.
    “Boys, turn around. See that bird? The biggest one I ever shot in South Dakota. To honor it, I had it mounted.” It reminded me of a Phoenix rising. Its eyes bore into mine. Its majestic tail nearly touched the floor.
    The coach told us ‘vouhans’ where to place our hands. We swore a vow, the twelve of us.
    Each year, the plan was that we’d renew the vow at the wall outside of the coach’s office.
    I believe we all tried our best to live up to the code Coach called Chivalry. Willy Grey and Bob Waterman would have undoubtedly qualified to have a seat at Camelot. I can’t vouch for the rest, but I know I failed and often.
    My first break happened the following summer. Tom and Jerry had taken two of the girls I was dating to the lake, ostensibly to swim. I learned of their ploy from one of the girl’s younger siblings. She was told that I knew about the get-together and would join them. I didn’t know, but I made an appearance.

    On the first anniversary of our vow taking, I picked the lock on the outside gym door. It was in an unlit alley. I was the last to leave the recommitment. The only bad news was about Paul. The County Mounties busted him for racing on County Road B … again.
    Her soft voice stopped the door’s closing. “I overheard. Next year, please tell me when, and I will unlock the door for you.” She did.

    At the graduation dance, we slipped away from our dates and recommitted our lives. We were one again. Past fallings-out forgot.

    Five years after graduation, we met, at least, most of us did. Jack had gone to California and never heard from again. So we never learned if the weather improved his golf game or not. On a cold Atlantic morning in April, two hundred-twenty miles east of Cape Cod, the USS Thresher sank. Taking Mickey and his dreams 1300 feet into Davy Jones’s locker. Paul limped in. He’d rolled and burned up his ‘57 Chevy but managed to walk away … sorta.

    Before the ten-year reunion, we changed the meeting time to the end of the meet-N-greet of the class reunion and before the High Mass in the Cathedral. In a wheelchair, Paul had grown up, stopped car racing, and told his father to retire. He was taking over the family plumbing business. Better late than never. We all slipped away and reconvened at the bird. After the others had left, I closed the door and waited.
    “It worried me, not knowing if you guys would show.”

    The twenty-year reunion was a complete fiasco. I had to unlock the door. The majestic tail that once nearly touched the floor was bent to one side. There were no feathers in the back of its head. Willy’d quit as a basketball talent scout so he could move his parents in with him.

    At the next reunion, after placing our hands on an unrecognizable caricature of a once beautiful creature, Bob announced his retirement from teaching. As did Johnny, Terry, and Dan. Johnny took over his father’s liquor store. And joined AA. Terry sold the pneumatic company he and his wife started. They moved to the Villages in Florida. Dan’d spent decades rebuilding failed grocery stores in the northern half of the state. Now his kids took over the corporation and sent him home to spend more time with Mary Ann, his high school sweetheart.

    The five-year meetings came and went. The once-proud bird became a tatted memory of its former self, as are my vows; bent, broken, and ignored the ideals. Yet, I will always see it as it originally was, and the ideals will remain my guiding beliefs.
    Unhappy with the decrease in attendance at the quinquennial meeting, the thing shriveled. Last time, I was alone in the silent chamber; Just me and the wooden base hanging loosely from the nail. I took it down before the janitor did. It’s too precious a thing to be junked.
    “Will you be taking part?” the Peacock asked.
    “What’s the need?”
    The Peacock rolled her shoulders as she shifted, and …
    Whoa, wait a minute! She? What gives?
    She took the empty coffee cup from my hand. “Finish your flash fiction story in the morning.”
    I yawn. “Your right. Let’s go to bed.”
    — Ԙ —
    </font color>

    Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 8:59 pm
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      Robert,

      Your story has a nice blend of atmosphere and nostalgia with a nice, flippant little ending. I like the title and… I agree with it. How about that?
      I was not clear about who the voice was. There were two versions of the story at first and I read both of them. I liked this one the best. But I never quite figured out that reference to the voice.

      BTW The link to this story doesn’t work. You might want to ask Carrie to fix that.

      Reply
      • January 11, 2021 at 9:07 pm
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        I fixed it! I think it got submitted twice and I grabbed the old hyperlink.
        It should be working now.
        Thanks for the heads up!

        Reply
    • January 12, 2021 at 9:15 am
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      Hi Robert,

      Wishing you a much more normal 2021.

      Enjoyed your story and the way you have woven the peacock into your story. I always find it interesting the way people in different parts of the world seem to have these regular reunions. Never really seems to have caught on in my part of the world. I have been to a couple of college events and they were really strange affairs.

      Particularly enjoyed the notion of the peacock being the trophy and the way it gradually deteriorates. Some ambiguity regarding the gender but I guess this was deliberate on your part.

      Great idea to take a bunch of kids to swear to abide by a code of honour and then meet up regularly to reaffirm. It’s rather poignant really, the way our childish naivety gets hammered by life.

      Well done, Robert. A very thought-provoking story.

      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • January 13, 2021 at 10:36 am
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      Interesting story, Robt. By the way, once again, you have impressed me with how you’ve grown as a writer and some of your descriptive phrases make me a little jealous. Nice work. Interesting take on the prompt, and one that is unique and probably reflects a lot of Robt. in it. Good Job.

      Roy

      Reply
      • January 14, 2021 at 6:59 am
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        There is nostalgia in the piece. Twelve of us bonded as Cub Scouts. Eleven of us transitioned into high school. Dan, an ideal fit, joined us. Why always twelve, don’t know? There’s much strangeness about us. Mikey’s murder; why? Because of his unscrupulous bad land deals? Who knows!.
        Three of us, with foreign-born parents and being career “enlisted men,” were allowed, by security, to enter the 40th with concealed weapons.
        Steven wouldn’t tell all concerning Nixon’s 18 missing minutes concerning Watergate.
        Jack’s high maintenance, arm-candy wife, but they weren’t married.
        In short – we aimed high, but …
        Enough!

        Ken C. liked the title.” KEN, take your meds.”
        About the voice, readers who are “an only child” will understand.

        Ken F and the rest of you … us, my wish is for a normal 2021, whatever normal is. However, I don’t think it will be. The dominoes being aligned, and I have a feeling of Déjà vu in the pit of my stomach. As to “poignant really, the way our childish naivety gets hammered by life.” Yes, we start out in our shiny armor on our strong destriers or coursers, knowing we’re invincible. Your life’s role defined by wet-behind-the-ears teenagers. Which is symbolized by the peacock gradually disappearing. And in the end, we submit verses to be judged by the unknown.

        Roy, “descriptive phrases make me a little jealous” Questionably, you jest. But thanks for the compliment. If, as you say, my writing has improved it for chasing you. As I expounded to Ken C, there were “us.”

        Reply
  • January 6, 2021 at 5:12 pm
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    Phil and Ken, thanks guys. I will miss your stories, and Ken’s “humor.” You’ll see me again, I just can not say when. Happy writing, and take care.

    Reply
  • January 7, 2021 at 7:00 am
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    I’m going to try to sign up again because I’m not receiving comments or stories

    Reply
  • January 7, 2021 at 10:34 am
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    I’m going to try from a different computer first. I think on my tablet, the fact I didn’t put down my website is the problem. So, here goes nothing and we’ll see if I get the email participation prompt.

    Reply
  • January 7, 2021 at 12:53 pm
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    Signing in. Not sure of a story this go around. I’m amusing the doctors by going through some cardiac tests. I expected my doctor to blow me off when I mentioned some random chest pains but he over-reacted and is putting me through the ringer. I have faith all will be well. Just not feeling up to writing at the moment. I will enjoy the reading however.

    Reply
    • January 8, 2021 at 9:19 am
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      We’ll keep you on our thoughts and prayers, just pans or no joke and nothing to mess around with!

      Reply
      • January 13, 2021 at 1:14 pm
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        Translation:
        Adi,
        We’ll keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Chest pains are no joke and nothing to mess around with.

        Reply
  • January 8, 2021 at 9:06 am
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    Just tried something new. Even though I tried signing up for the newsletter when this prompt first came out, thinking I needed to do that, it said I was already signed up. I still haven’t gotten any comments, so I tried signing up again, and lo and behold it said I was now updated. Now we will see if I get the prompt. If not, Carrie, I will be looking to you for advice. I’ll let you know.

    Roy

    Reply
  • January 8, 2021 at 10:28 am
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    Love and Honor
    by Roy York
    1197 words

    I really didn’t want to be at the party. I was far more comfortable back at Headquarters trying to work out the logistics of our next move against the pandemic. But, the Commanding General wanted all officers to be at this New Year’s celebration and be seen … said it would be good for public moral.

    I took a glass of champagne from a young female civilian as she walked by enticing everyone with her tray of specialties, not to mention tempting us with her uncommonly good looks. The recent pandemic, responsible for the deaths of over half the female population in the country, was far more kind to those of the male persuasion, of which the pandemic had killed only a quarter. Women were in high demand. Young, good looking, desirable women were almost non existent as they stayed out of the public eye, lest they be preyed upon by those with bad intentions.

    I sipped my champagne and watched her walk away with desire in my eyes and lust in my heart. It had been almost a year since I’d been with a woman – in the biblical sense, of course. A movement on my right caught my attention and I glanced that way surprised by what I beheld.

    I did a double take, closed my eyes and looked again. Standing next to me was a large peacock. Yes, a peacock. Blue, green, iridescent feathers and all.

    It looked up at me, sideways, like only birds can. I touched it … it was real. I looked around to see what kind of a joke the General was trying to play on us when the peacock spoke.

    “Colonel Hargood, I’d like to think I can count on you to uphold the Code of Chivalry and make the Vow of the Peacock for this coming year.”

    I couldn’t tell if it’s voice was male or female when the realization hit me that it was a peacock … as in male. Not to mention the fact that it was a talking peacock. I looked down at the glass I had just sipped from trying to decide if I’d been drugged.

    “Don’t worry,” the peacock continued, “There’s nothing wrong with your drink.”

    “I’m not worried,” I said. “It’s just that I’ve never talked to a peacock before.” The bird simply stared at me. “I had a friend who used to have discussions with his cat all the time – as if cats could talk.” I said. “My dog and I had a good laugh over that.”

    If peacocks could smile, I’m sure I tickled it’s tail feathers. At least that’s the impression I got.

    “Seriously,” the bird said. “The Vow of the Peacock. Are you going to uphold it’s code, or are you going to be one of those who is all talk and never follows through?”

    “I’m unfamiliar with the Vow of the Peacock. Why don’t you enlighten me?”

    “It’s my pleasure, but can we go somewhere away from here? There are too many distractions.” the bird said.

    “My place or yours?” I asked.

    “My heavens,” the bird said, “neither. I simply meant we could walk over by one of those tables in the corner. My place is too far away, and I would never compromise myself by being alone with another male.”

    “That’s fine,” I muttered, although I didn’t understand why I was even entertaining the idea of sitting down to discuss anything with a bird.

    Later, enlightened by the peacock, who’s name was Harold, I thought I had the gist of what he was trying to tell me. The ancient Knight’s Code of Chivalry, which had all kinds of rules about honor, decency and fairness, apparently was something that all Knights of the Realm adhered to, even at the cost of their own lives.

    “Will you live by the code,” it asked.

    “Of course,” I said, “I’m a Marine. We also have a code.”

    During the viral pandemic the world had become chaotic. Sides were chosen by countries as to which path to take. A complete and total lockdown of every man, woman and child across the entire country until the virus was eradicated, or disregard the science, let nature take it’s course, and rebuild from there.

    The military had been called in to quell the riots that had broken out across the planet between the Lockdowners and the Free Will people. Some countries, like mine, were slow to respond trying to keep everyone happy and, of course, succeeding in keeping no one happy.

    Vaccines were developed and were being steadily administered, but were only good until the virus mutated; at which time they became ineffective. The only good thing that happened, was once anyone infected with the disease survived, they were immune, including any new mutations.

    As a survivor, and a Marine, my job was to find those who had survived the disease and offer them protection, and, if possible, get them to offer their antibodies to our scientists to find an effective cure.

    I finished my champagne just as the young lady serving drinks came by. “Would you like another,” she asked, holding out a full glass. She was even more dazzling than I originally perceived.

    “Thank you,” I said, and took another glass. If she saw the peacock, she didn’t let on. “Tell, me,” I asked, “Are you a survivor.”

    She smiled and nodded. “One of the first. I’m totally virus free.”

    “That,” I said, “is a good thing.” I stood up. “Colonel Buzz Hargood, United States Marine Corps, at your service. I can offer you protection and you would be doing your country a great service.” I set the drink on the table. “It is my honor and my duty to see that you are kept safe.”

    “What would that mean?”

    “For starters, it would mean you accompany me to my suite and we discuss the possibilities over a bottle of rare wine I happen to have.”

    She blushed and looked around. “Give me a minute to take this to the bar. I’ll be right back.” As she walked away, the bird spoke up. “Surely, you are not going to break the Vow of the Peacock by besmirching that young lady’s honor?” it said.

    “Of course not, I am an officer and a gentleman. However, if she offers her honor, “ I said, “I will … honor her offer.” Moments later the young lady came over and we left for my suite, with the peacock following.

    “I don’t need any help,” I said.

    “I must uphold the young lady’s honor,” it said.

    In the suite, I poured two glasses of wine, and gave one to the young lady. The night grew late as we laughed and talked. “Would you like to have breakfast with me in the morning?” I asked.

    “That would be lovely.”

    “Shall I call you when it’s ready, or just nudge you.” She laughed. ‘Oh, Colonel Hargood, you move fast. Can I take this wine with me?” She took my arm as we headed toward the bedroom. The peacock moved as if to get between us. It shouldn’t have done that.

    * * * * *

    “What do you think?” I asked.

    “Umm, yummy,” she said, “tastes just like chicken.”
    </font color>

    Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 12:35 pm
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      Nicely done, Roy! The dialogue’s great, and there’s a nice, light touch to the whole thing (“who’s [whose] name was Harold” – an amusing bit of info, though later you could refer to the peacock as ‘he’ not ‘it’ maybe?). The background – what’s happened in the pandemic (not so different to what’s happened with ours) – is efficiently related (though I didn’t really understand why the narrator has to protect the survivors). The ‘offers her honour’ line is a good one. Do you know the extended version of that? (I told it to a woman called Honour once and got into serious trouble): “She offered her honour, I honoured her offfer, and all night long I was on her and off her.” (with apologies to anyone offended). I wasn’t sure where they would cook the peacock if it was a hotel (?) Finally … you know I’m an English teacher, right? So I have to mention: morale; its; whose. And that will seem like pettiness (and possibly arrogance), but it’s stronger than me! And it’s a very enjoyable story.

      Reply
      • January 12, 2021 at 7:53 am
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        Phil, I sit here redfacd because I saw those very indescretions: whose, its and morale, while I was rereading my story. I’m red-faced because I constantly am guilty of those sins by allowing spell checker to be an editor and then failing to notice the errors while proofreading for them. I’m also kicking myself in the rear end for not making those changes when noticed, but allowed the sin of ‘I’ll fix that as soon as I can’ have its way with me, as it often does.

        Thank you for your kind and honest review. I appreciate it.

        Roy

        Reply
      • January 14, 2021 at 9:54 am
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        Phil,

        Yes, I am familiar with that extended version except the ending in my extended version, while similar, was simply – After she offered her honor, and I honored her offer, it was on her and off her all night.

        And, as you said, I extend my apologies to those who feel this line is a bit crass, but a the time, I thought it was a funny joke. These days, however, being PC does take a bit of the humor out of our lives, lest we ‘trigger’ someone’s emotions.

        I was pleased with this story and my venture into the world of humor because I finally succeeded in making my wife laugh at one of my stories. In fact, she gave me a pat on the back with a big grin after she handed the paper version I gave her to proofread, back. Over the years I have been well known in the family for joke telling and usually have succeeded in being the ‘life of the party’ at several events, except with my biggest fan, and my biggest critic, the Mrs.

        Roy

        Reply
        • January 14, 2021 at 4:59 pm
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          I like that joke, too, Roy. I often find myself saying things these days and wondering “Can I say that?!” I suppose it’s not entirely a bad thing, though … unless it gets radical.

          (I like how your wife’s involved in your writing process – like KenC’s.)

          Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 9:27 pm
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      Roy,

      ‘My dog and I had a good laugh over that.’

      I laughed right out loud at that line.

      Nice fun story, great dialogue, a masterful concoction of truth and blarney. It was great fun. One thing though, one little thing. At what point does Colonel Hargood realize that the pretty young woman sees the peacock too? (Don’t tell me it’s metaphorical. I don’t believe in metaphorical peacocks.)

      Reply
      • January 13, 2021 at 10:44 am
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        Ken C.,

        I actually ran out of words and had to cut her line about, “Who’s he, your wingman?”, on their way to the bedroom – bummer Huh? Maybe I should have left it in. I was on a roll.

        Thanks for your pleasant review. I always like it when I hit someone’s funny bone. I had Ken F., laugh out loud at a line in one of my recent stories. It’s nice when that’s your intention.

        Roy

        Reply
        • January 13, 2021 at 1:21 pm
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          Roy,

          Regarding: “Who’s he, your wingman?”

          Another hilarious line, and a perfect fit for that story. You never should have deleted it. Oh well. And yes, comedy is very hard to pull off successfully, but this story does it with ease.

          Reply
    • January 12, 2021 at 9:34 am
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      Hi Roy,

      Happy 2021.

      Loved the story and I also followed up Phil’s comments .

      I assume the young lady was being protected from the evil intentions of lots of surviving men and to get the antibodies from their blood samples. I suppose room service could be prevailed upon to cook a pheasant by a VIP Colonel. I can set aside any objections, after all, we are talking about a talking peacock.

      Some great lines:
      If peacocks could smile…..
      My dog and I had a good laugh over that..
      Tastes like chicken

      It’s a really good take on the prompt and a very clever twist on the pandemic.

      Well done, Roy.

      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • January 14, 2021 at 9:35 am
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      Hi Roy,

      Ha! I did take the peacock as metaphorical (whatever Ken C. chooses to believe); a metaphor to the narrator’s expandable conscience. And he did the right thing with it, when he cooked it, and then served his unnecessarily elaborate and feathery conscience dead on a plate, while unhesitantly ‘honoring that lady’s offer’.

      I liked some of the concepts your story brings in for our times:

      the lockdowners vs the free-will people (why not free-willers?)
      trying to keep everyone happy and, of course, succeeding in keeping no one happy.
      a disease that kills most of the women and not-so-much the men? In medieval times, the crusades killed so many men, that in some parts of the world they allowed one man to marry up to four women, so that all women got at least a little chance to have sex (and they never really abandoned the idea, even when the gender balance was re-established). Will we have women allowed to take more than one man, in your scenario, so that all men got a chance? Well, an interesting SoSciFi (social-science fiction) scenario.

      Then there were the hilarious bits:

      ‘My dog and I had a good laugh over that.’
      The offer the honor and honor the offer, bit (also Phil’s extended version).
      And that wingman bit that should have stayed. At the expense of the very metaphor, perhaps.

      I would have been tempted to go on a little with this one:
      “It’s my pleasure, but can we go somewhere away from here? There are too many distractions.” the bird said. His other eye, on the far side of his head, must have been firmly set on the lady with the drinks.

      Sometimes, the dialogue gets a little bit too flowery, IMO. I know that this kind of dialogue may add to the comic effect, but, for example, I’m not sure if “I’m unfamiliar with the Vow of the Peacock. Why don’t you enlighten me?” would come out of a Marine’s mouth. There could be a poetically-bent Marine, for all I know. But I think it would be more like: “The Vow of the Peacock? And what’s that?” or simply “The Vow of the Peacock?”

      Cheers!
      Ken

      Reply
      • January 14, 2021 at 9:42 am
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        Ken M.,

        Thanks for your critique and considerable praise. I am kicking myself for not leaving in the wingman line. You are right on the money regarding the Marine being too erudite. I should have had him a bit more gruff, but I let my characters say what they like, and in this case, the Marine was being polite, when what he actually wanted to do was rip the feathers off the peacock and share it as dinner with his fellow officers. Lust reached him first, so he was being polite. At least that’s what he told me when I informed him of your comments.

        Roy

        Reply
    • January 8, 2021 at 2:31 pm
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      Hopefully it works!

      Reply
    • January 9, 2021 at 4:16 pm
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      Yes Roy, I really liked the way you dealt with this prompt. The peacock sacrifices himself for chivalry and ends up as a scrumptious meal for two lovers. Top marks. Thank you for the excellent read.

      Reply
  • January 8, 2021 at 4:34 pm
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    Carrie, Hasn’t yet. But, I can get to the site and comment, so I’ll just keep checking in for comments and stories.

    Roy

    Reply
  • January 9, 2021 at 11:33 am
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    The Peacock Prophecy.

    by Ken Frape

    It was the tenth year of Uthred The Ungodly’s reign. The crown did not sit easily upon his head whilst there was so much unrest throughout his Kingdom. In the richly decorated Great Banquet Hall, the End of Year revelries did little to ease his discomfort. The trestle tables were groaning with roast meats, duck, pheasant, beef, lamb, sweetmeats lathered in rich sauces, golden freshly baked loaves, platters laden with fruit and nuts and flagons of wine on every table. Candles flickered in the evening light and the scene was set for the biggest party of the year.

    Odric, The Jester, attired in his multi-coloured tunic and three pointed hat, did cartwheels and somersaults across the floor in front of the King, then turned on his comic face and wild antics. All to no avail. King Uthred was depressed and the more wine he drunk, the more depressed he became. He sat alone with his chin resting upon his hand, a blank expression on his battle-scarred face. The Queen had long since retired to her bedchamber, having endured more than enough of the King’s sour moods.

    The year 1020 had been a bad year throughout Uthred’s Kingdom. The weather had been too dry when rain was needed and severe storms had battered the ripening crops at Harvest time. His tax collectors had been attacked by starving peasants and they had returned bruised and empty-handed. The King’s reprisals were swift and brutal but for every peasant he hanged, there was one less person to work the land and pay taxes. His knights were restless, some openly mutinous and he had punished them mercilessly by taking back their lands and castles. It was whispered that he was losing control.

    The final blow came when Uthred’s spies brought news that his exiled older brother Elfred was gathering an army to attack him. Elfred had always expected to become King until the cunning Uthred had him arrested and imprisoned in the deepest dungeon in the castle. Eventually, a band of Uthred’s most unhappy knights had drugged the guards and rescued Elfred in the middle of the night and spirited him out of the Kingdom. A dangerous enemy on the loose.

    Uthred’s enormous Golden Throne, beautifully carved and draped with silk, embroidered with gold and sliver threads, was placed nearest to the roaring fire. With one glance the King could command the whole room and no enemy could attack from behind. Thus, he was surprised to feel a gentle tug on his sleeve. In one smooth movement he twisted to one side, his hand instantly reaching for the hilt of his sword as he sprung to his feet. His Knights and Noblemen and even the semi-comatose guards jumped to their feet and within moments a hundred swords were glistening in the light from the fire and the candles. They searched all around the Great Hall, checking in every corner, behind every curtain and under every table, none having a clue as to what they were seeking.

    Soon the clamour died down. The King returned his sword to its scabbard and made himself comfortable once more as all around him his Knights and Noblemen and guards also returned to their previous positions, muttering amongst themselves about “strange goings-on.”

    Suddenly the King sprung to his feet again as he felt another gentle tug on his sleeve. This time he whipped his needle-pointed dagger from his belt and raised it high above his head. Several of his most senior Knights were instantly at his side, swords drawn once more, their eyes roving rapidly in every direction, seeking out the threat to their King. They detected nothing and eventually returned to their tables, shaking their heads, now, more than ever, concerned for the state of The King’s Mind.

    The King was seated again, alone and he seemed to be mumbling to himself. In fact, he was carrying out a conversation with a plump and well spoken peacock whose head had mysteriously popped up from inside the folds of the King’s cloak, unseen by others. The King would have felt foolish leaping up for the third time so now he was listening carefully as Peacock whispered into his ear.

    “O, King, your sadness distresses me. Would that I could ease your discomfort.”

    “What can a peacock do that a King cannot?” he asked, turning towards Peacock’s beadlike eye.

    “Majesty, surely it must be clear that I am no ordinary peacock.”

    The King laughed, for the first time in months. There was a collective sigh of relief around the room.

    “So you think you can solve my problems, do you, Master Peacock?”

    “My King, I crave your indulgence to speak candidly.”

    The King looked at Peacock with suspicion but went on, “Very well, go on.”

    “Thank you, my King. Firstly, your subjects believe you have treated them unjustly, taxing them beyond their limit when they are starving and brutally punishing them when they could not pay.”

    The King’s eyes narrowed dangerously and his hand moved towards his dagger but he did not speak. With one sweep of his hand he could slice off Peacock’s head.

    “Alas, Sire, even your most loyal knights believe you have treated them unjustly too, stripping some of them of their lands whilst demanding their continued fealty. Why else would some of them have contrived to rescue your brother Elfred?”

    The King laughed sarcastically. “Surely, I decide who pays taxes, who lives and dies and who I give lands to.” Then he sighed. He knew Peacock spoke the truth.

    “And what would you have me do, Master Peacock?”

    Mysteriously, Peacock produced a scroll of velum. “The Peacock Prophecy, my Lord King,” he replied.

    “What is this then, this Prophecy?” the King asked, curious now.

    “If Your Majesty were to adopt The Prophecy’s Six Principles, your people will love you, your Knights and Noblemen will remain loyal and your armies will conquer all your enemies, making your Kingdom rich and all-powerful.”

    “Six Principles, you say?”

    Peacock placed the scroll into the King’s hand. “Fair play, Nobility, Valor, Honour, Courtesy and Loyalty.”

    “That’s all?” the King asked.

    Peacock nodded. Then he withdrew his head into the folds of rich cloth and was gone.

    The King’s most senior advisers were watching all this, seeing their King, clearly deranged, carrying on a conversation with himself, turning to one side repeatedly and waving his hands around and clutching his dagger. Suddenly the King leapt to his feet and raised his right hand. He was holding the scroll. Instantly silence descended.

    “My noble Lords and Ladies,” his old and familiar stentorian voice returning, “something tells me,” he turned back towards the throne with a smile, “that I am going to make some changes around here.“ They waited. “You may cheer.” They cheered. “But first, a toast!” With that he seized the nearest jug of wine and raised it high.

    “To the Peacock Prophecy,” he roared and the crowd roared back, “The Peacock Prophecy.”

    The King really is mad, they thought but no one dared say so.
    </font color>

    Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 12:52 pm
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      A lovely tale, KenF. You set the scene beautifully (the banquet), then the rule of 3 to take us to the appearance of the peacock. then the very elegant dialogue, with a flavour of the times (this is great: ‘“You may cheer.” They cheered.’), a very good ending – the king’s enthusiasm being perceived as madness. And a nice feeling about what the future will hold for this kingdom and its people. This doesn’t seem to be logical: “…he had punished them mercilessly by taking back their lands and castles. It was whispered that he was losing control.” It seems like he’s well in control – too well. Also ‘sprang’. But that’s all I could find. Great stuff.

      Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 9:48 pm
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      God damn, Ken. THAT–is some amazing writing. I’ve never read anything so slowly in my life. I savored every goddamned paragraph.
      Fuck.
      Unbelievable.
      Wonderful story, brilliant writing, Ken. Damn.

      Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Perfect title. ‘The Peacock Prophecy.’ I was hooked at the title. As soon as I read that title I thought, ‘This is gonna be good.’ Turns out that was an understatement.
      Nice going Mr. Frape.

      Reply
      • January 12, 2021 at 7:38 am
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        Hi Ken C, (Shirley),

        Thanks so much for your comments. They mean a lot coming from you.

        Once the prompt was posted I immediately had a few ideas, at least one of which I thought would turn into a fully-fledged story about a peacock. Instead, they were turkeys. I then stopped thinking about the writing for a couple of days and when I came back to it, things seemed to flow. Took about two hours to write and days to edit to my satisfaction.

        I am hoping that this time round, I am going to be able to comment on all of the stories, including one from your good self???

        Ken F

        Reply
    • January 13, 2021 at 10:50 am
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      A nicely told tale, Ken Frape. I always get excited when I see a Ken F., story, because I’m never, ever disappointed. I remember reading your very first story on these pages – a Christmas story – and knew then that the new blood in town was a force to be reckoned with. Well done. No complaints about the writing at all.

      Roy

      Reply
      • January 13, 2021 at 11:59 am
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        Hi Roy,

        Thanks for your kind words. I certainly remember that first story too, “Christmas Gold.”

        Ken Frape.

        Reply
    • January 14, 2021 at 10:19 am
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      Hi Ken,

      Here’s once again another finely told story, in full Frape vein. I usually get bored with descriptive writing, paragraph upon chunky paragraph setting the scene. But somehow, with you style of writing (and this is not the first time) your descriptive flair keeps me hooked and mesmerised, catapulting me, body and soul, into a different world.

      At first I thought this was a metaphor of our times. (I’m always looking for metaphors). And it may as well be:

      “Uthred The Ungodly… The crown did not sit easily upon his head whilst there was so much unrest throughout his Kingdom.”

      Doesn’t this King Uthred remind us of someone very much in the news, right now? In a much troubled land.

      I don’t know if you had any of that in mind, but I just couldn’t help seeing the parallels between your medieval tale and our times. There’s that constant fear that Elfred may usurp his throne, “Stop the Steal”, I could hear King Uthred calling out, not once but twice futilely cutting the air with sword and dagger.

      In the end, he speaks with the unlikely tone of solidarity, to his noble Lords and Ladies. But he comes across as mad. All too familiar. Alas.

      But it can’t really be him; he drinks wine, this Uthred. Our man is a teetotaler.

      Cheers!
      Ken

      Reply
      • January 14, 2021 at 10:34 am
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        Hi Ken,

        Thanks for the comments. You are right in that some writers, myself included, may have a tendency to use too much descriptive prose and if I can tone it down a tad, as I tried to do here, then it might just work.

        I wasn’t really thinking about a particular person when I wrote the story but I can see what you mean. I deliberately avoided mentioning plague when I listed the reasons for the unrest in the Kingdom BUT I did choose the year deliberately as a parallel. What’s the odd millennium between friends?

        Ken Frape

        Reply
  • January 9, 2021 at 3:59 pm
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    A BRIEF RESPITE
    By Victoria Chvatal
    (897 words)

    Finally, the blessed quiet. The gloom and chill of the empty chamber are worth the chance to sip my wine in peace. Slipping out of the revels greeting the coming year is a break with with tradition, especially for me, but I doubt anyone noticed.

    … Hang on, the bird shouldn’t be here. It’s a peacock, I think – at least, it looks like the peacocks on the frescoes: the riot of colours; the magnificent tail unfurling; the crown-like tuft of feathers on its head; the slender neck … Be as it may, I check – surreptitiously – that my daggers are within reach.

    I’m also certain the bird isn’t supposed to speak, as it does while fixing me with a beady eye:

    “You know the reason for my visit, do you not?”

    “Someone drugged my wine?” I raise an eyebrow.

    “It’s no time for jesting!” the peacock squawks in indignation. “Your land is beset by strife; and the only cure for its ills is bringing back chivalry. The Vow of the Peacock is a time-honoured tradition for …”

    “Now YOU are jesting!” I interrupt, “We wouldn’t be in this mess if not for damned chivalrous fools. Let me see … It all started when Prince Trondel challenged Baron Scielli for insulting Countess Paritano – whom Trondel had chosen as his Lady, you see. Then, funnily enough, Count Paritano took exception to the Prince meddling with his wife … To cut a long story short, this is why I sit on the throne instead of King Marcellius’ son and heir … And meanwhile, the Paritanos, Sciellis, and now also Kilianos and Friassios burn each other’s fields and holdings at will. Because let’s face it, single combat is chivalrous, but burning a bunch of peasants is a far safer option. Plus peasants don’t count as far as chivalry is concerned, do they now? So half the country is up in flames, and we’re facing a famine before long …”

    I head off the peacock as it tries to butt in:

    “Perhaps you’ll ask why Marcellius himself isn’t still king, o noble peacock? Why, the old fool not only challenged General Graaft to single combat to avoid battle between our army and Zeendar’s. He was also too honourable to strike when Graaft’s back was turned. A sure way to lose against a man thirty years younger, and far better with a sword. Now Graaft, on the other hand … not an honourable bone in his body – and never lost a battle, either.”

    … And the only reason why Graaft isn’t marching on our copper mines in the Red Mountains right now is because he judged Dellonian pastureland to be easier pickings. For now. Yes, there’s plenty to do – and I sit here arguing with a peacock that may or may not be real.

    “But how would ladies’ honour be protected without chivalry?!” The glorified chicken just won’t give up. “Don’t you know what happens to women when chivalry dies? Surely, you’ve heard the sorrowful tale of Lady Neanna …”

    “So I have. And my sympathy is all with her sister, Lady Anella. Poisoned all those who’d wronged her … oh, except for the one she stabbed in his sleep. Really, I’d appoint the woman to my council, were she still alive. … And may I remind you that chivalry only protects ladies, but peasant girls are fair game? Have I mentioned that we have a revolt in Desaine ‘cos the peasants are sick of the lords treating their wenches like whores? No pleasing those peasants, eh?”

    “You see!” the peacock rallies, “you could improve on the laws of chivalry, extend them to protect peasants as well. All will be happier for it!”

    I’ve heard enough of this drivel from the halfwits in court. Could they have snuck me a trained bird? Nah, they don’t have the wit. I roll my eyes.

    “Nah, won’t work – people have to be bastards to somebody. As I see it, best if the gentry stab each other in the back to their hearts content, and leave the peasants alone to do what they do best, which is grow our food. … Hmm, come to think of it, I could bring back tourneys and quests and all that nonsense, to keep the noble fools occupied. I’d do it, really, if I had a way of forbidding anyone with half a brain from taking part.”

    The bird looks crestfallen.

    “Fret not, my friend,” I tell it, “there’s one part of the tradition I could oblige you with.” The peacock perks up. “I believe it involves serving a roast peacock for all to partake in,” I finish with my widest grin.

    He looks stricken for a moment, then rallies bravely, “I’ll gladly sacrifice myself for a greater good.”

    “Greater good, eh? Well, you’ll taste good. Or maybe you’ll taste like shit, I wouldn’t know. But the whole court would lap it up, just for the honour and rarity of eating a real peacock .”

    With those words, I reach ostentatiously for my dagger. When I turn back, the peacock is gone.

    Well. First: check if my wine was drugged, and by whom. There aren’t many who could, so that shouldn’t be hard. And if the peacock was real? Why, then I should keep that wow and serve it roasted at the next banquet. Perhaps under a special sauce for some special guest, hmmm? …

    But trifles aside, there are people who need to die.
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    Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 10:27 pm
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      Very creative story Vicki. This plot had more twists than a peacock has tailfeathers. A fun bunch of characters, motives and miscreants. Quite a lot of wicked fun here.
      Nicely done.

      Reply
    • January 12, 2021 at 7:53 am
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      Hi Vicki,

      I loved this story. Especially the way both participants are determined to stick to their guns and no amount of chatting puts them off.

      There are some memorable lines too:
      “But trifles aside, there are people who need to die.”
      “Greater good,eh? Well, you’ll taste good…………”
      “The bird looks crestfallen.”
      “People have to be bastards to somebody
      “The glorified chicken won’t give up.”………………………” to name just a few.

      Really enjoyed this one, Vicki.

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
    • January 13, 2021 at 5:02 am
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      Excellent story, Vicki. I gave up trying to follow too closely the (mis)deeds of all the characters, but I think you didn’t intend us to follow them really – it’s just a deluge of grievances from the King (or Queen?) – he/she seems to be a protector of the working class to some extent, which is ok by me. But all of those characters and events are like a rich tapestry, full of colour and delicious detail. I love the last line and, importantly, the first: it’s hard to kick off well, but you really nail it with that first paragraph. Great stuff!

      Reply
    • January 13, 2021 at 11:01 am
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      Victoria,

      Loved the line ‘glorified chicken’. I liked the story, but I did find a couple of things all in a row you might want to look at.

      You wrote, Plus peasants don’t count as far as chivalry is concerned, do they now? So half the country is up in flames, and we’re facing a famine before long …” (Plus, should have a comma after it, other wise I read plus as defining a peasant.)

      I head off the peacock as it tries to butt in:

      “Perhaps you’ll ask why Marcellius himself isn’t still king, o noble peacock? Why, the old fool not only challenged General Graaft to single combat to avoid battle between our army and Zeendar’s. He was also too honourable to strike when Graaft’s back was turned.

      (The paragraph starting with perhaps should be one space after the colon, and then, a comma, not a period should follow Zeendars. with a lower case h on he. Otherwise, you have an incomplete sentence. Thought it might be a typo until I saw the capital H.

      I comment you for keeping peasants and pheasants straight through out the story. I would have screwed that up in all likelihood had I done it.

      Keep those stories coming.

      Roy

      Reply
  • January 9, 2021 at 4:06 pm
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    The Vow
    “Sire, you won’t like what I’m about to inform you.”

    Jordon stood head bowed respectfully at the foot of the steps to his father’s throne. His father’s now frail figure dwarfed by the massive arch of the decorative peacock feathers worked in precious gems and metals that radiated out from the solid white gold throne. The throne had been the seat of sixty-nine generations of the Almen-Aiy family. His father sipped the sweet tonic that eased his pain from a silver goblet offered him by a kneeling slave so still he appeared as if carved from obsidian. The slave was naked except for the gold chains that encircled his waist, ankles, wrists and neck. Of late, family members afraid of assassination had insisted all serving maids and palace eunuchs be similarly attired to prevent the carrying of weapons that may harm the aging ruler.

    Finally, the emperor spoke – soft, his voice a rasping whisper.

    “Why might that be my son?” Jordon was one of the favourites of his one hundred and forty-eight sons and two hundred and six daughters. The imbalance in the genders of his offspring used to bother the emperor, but that was not the case now.
    “Well, Sire it’s Princess Brianna. There was talk of a rebellion in the northern provinces of the kingdom. I investigated as you asked me to do…”

    “And she’s the leader?” The old emperor’s tone was hard. He looked at Prince Jordan. “So, what is your next move?

    Rehabilitation, then marry the witch off to a neighbouring prince or exterminate her and the other ringleaders?” The emperor watched his son through hooded eyes.

    Jordan shifted uncomfortably shuffling his feet momentarily uncertain of the next move.

    “We could marry her off Sire, but my guess is, given her nature, if she did not like her intended husband, she would get herself impregnated then have him taken care of and set herself and her child up as the new ruler of any kingdom we “presented” her to, then she would endeavour to take revenge on the rest of us one day. She’s always been ambitious. Too ambitious and too ruthless.”

    The old man nodded and muttered to himself for a minute or two before replying.

    “Right. Take her prisoner and have her brought to the Peacock Throne next week on New Year’s Eve. At 11.30 pm.” He raised his sceptre with the peacock insignia to dismiss the boy.

    After the young man had left the old emperor was pensive. He knew what he would have done been given a similar order by his father. Prince Jordan was too soft, or was he? It would remain to be seen whether the Princess Brianna would arrive in one piece at the throne room at the appointed time.

    Seven days later, Princess Brianna was dragged with little ceremony into the throne room before her ailing father. Bound by strong silver chains attached to metal bracelets encircling her ankles and wrists attached to a central chain that was fixed to another metal collar around her neck, she was a fetching young woman of barely nineteen years. The old emperor observed her closely.

    She knelt before him clumsily.

    “Greetings beloved father. May the coming year bless you with much health and abundance of all that you desire.” She smiled at him batting long lashes that framed liquid hazel eyes, and offset an alarmingly beautiful face and despite the scratches and bruises of her capture, an enticing body that radiated sensual promise.

    “The little witch.” He thought to himself. “Barely a week ago she was plotting to have me killed and herself installed as the empress. Now, she plays the devoted daughter. Two can play that game.”

    “Peace my devoted daughter. So, what brings you before me at the turning of the new year?”

    “Honoured father, some people have been telling lies about me. Hence,” she paused and moved her arms, “the present style of my jewellery.”

    “And who might these story tellers be, my daughter?”

    The girl bowed her head, then looked up through the tangle of her reddish gold mane. “It is not worth my life to tell you such names Sire. Walls have eyes and ears. I would be dead before the first daybreak of the new year if I were to say.”

    The old emperor shook his head slowly and beckoned to two huge guards standing on either side of the Peacock throne. At his command they opened their mouths to reveal stumps of tongues.

    “They are loyal to a fault.” The old man stated blandly. Then he turned to a servant girl who had appeared to the right of the throne. “Bring the champagne. My daughter and I will bring in the new year in style. Would you share some quail with me, my daughter? The sauce is delicious.”

    Swiftly a table was bought into the room and set beside the throne. Two elegant glasses and a tall, frosted decanter of champagne was set at its centre. Then dishes of luscious food were set around the drink and two places set, and a smaller stool bought in for the chained girl who hobbled hungrily towards the table. She sat and waited for the food tasters to partake of all the dishes and drink a small glass from the decanter. She looked up at her father who appeared almost asleep. Once the tasters were finished, she ate as did her father with the help of a servant who placed small morsels of food into his mouth.
    Five minutes to midnight and the old emperor sipped his champagne and finally spoke.

    “What will happen in the next few minutes is decreed in our history. You have proved worthier than the others.” The girl looked perplexed. She took a mouthful of champagne and rolled the liquid around her mouth. She was thinking how to gain her freedom and move from the mess she had found herself in. Pity she had trusted her lover the warlord, but still, perhaps she could redeem herself with her father.

    She looked over at him. He appeared shrivelled and small.

    Suddenly there was a flash of light making her gasp in astonishment. Before her stood a tall peacock who slowly extended his tail into a fan of colourful eyes.

    “Greetings Empress Brianna, the 70th monarch of the Peacock Kingdom.”

    “Whaattt are you …?”

    The peacock fanned his tail vigorously, the eyes on his tail feathers shimmered and shook. He peered at her, rather arrogantly she thought, over his beak.

    “I am the keeper of the Peacock Kingdom’s moral codes. You have been chosen as the next ruler. I am here to ensure you take the vow of every ruler since the first Emperor Julian Articulus.”

    Regaining confidence, Brianna stuttered “And if I don’t want…?”

    “Oh, you will.” Said the bird. “You have the right mix of ambition and ruthlessness with intellect. You will. You want to be Empress, don’t you?”

    “Yes, I do.”

    “Why?”

    “I know I’m the right person to rule the Kingdom.”

    “There.” Said the bird and there was flash of pure white light.

    Then Brianna found herself alone. Her father was slumped in his seat at midnight.
    </font color>
    </font color>

    Reply
    • January 11, 2021 at 11:06 pm
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      This story has flair. A nice feeling of authenticity. Satisfies the prompt and ends fittingly. My reluctant criticism is that the story seems like it could use less setting and more detail in what I feel were two wonderful characters and a kind of inevitable dynamic.

      It took me a minute or two to figure out what made her qualified. (Her ambition, her ruthlessness.) Quite the compliment considering how thick the competition was. Very clever story, Ilana. Excellent writing.

      Reply
    • January 12, 2021 at 9:51 am
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      Hi Ilana,

      A really nice, flowing story. I like the setting and the way the weaker son sees Brianna as a threat and seeks to get rid of her, unsuccessfully. Boy, was that old King fertile or what? That’s 354 children! I’ll bet his family gatherings were massive affairs and imagine trying to remember all those birthdays.

      Like Ken, I wasn’t sure just how Brianna was deemed to be successful, being caught and brought in chains but then she skillfully used her feminine charms to such good effect upon her father.

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • January 12, 2021 at 11:54 am
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        Thanks Ken and Ken
        I wasn’t sure how to spin this one out. Needed more words as I started imagining the scenario of a court with a lot of power plays and jockeying for power at whatever cost. To be honest, those who reach the pinnacles of power in life are often not the nicest of people. They murder, back stab and do all manner of unethical things to reach that position. Power truly corrupts in many cases. I am a pseudo-royalist if you like. I admire the Queen of England who has taken on the mantle of a ruler ship and often has had to make choices that involve personal sacrifice despite the painful emotional cost to her. She puts country first as so many do not.
        I am trying not to read too much news especially that from America – totally crass on both sides of the political spectrum and it is a pity Mick Pence was not up for president as I think he and a few others have been ships in the raging storm. He’s damned it he does and damned if he doesn’t. The amount of people acting with their egos and not for the good of the country is frightening, but I would not have expected anything less given the personalities involved both Trump and the stupid witch Pelosi could have acted with more respect for their office. They should act in the interests of their electors and set an example. Trump needed to accept with dignity even if the election was rigged which many elections are these days because we live in horrible times. I do not like the whole system in the USA and frankly it disgusts me and where will it end. If you believe in a higher power, things have a way of sorting themselves, I believe strongly in karma being a bitch.
        Pence is a strong personality and he will be a force in the USA one day. He is not reactionary. Too many politicians are riding on their egos and out to settle personal scores. Very few of them care for others and that is the sad thing about this.
        And the media is into demonising people and creating their own little kings and queens. Reflection and common sense is sadly lacking in today’s world. Makes me want to run away to a mountain top and just hide in a cave somewhere with my goats and a few good books and a typewriter. Not a computer.
        I now have to try and remember the password to my internet as my phone updated during the night and I have forgotten the password to my internet. I have about 40 passwords and rely on google.
        I believe it is dangerous to keep one for everything. Remember working in prisons and the number of passwords we had and changing the things every month etc etc. Don’t ask. Plus being in trouble because some high ranking idiot “borrowed” a spare access key card created in my name in the administration office drawer and tried to access an area in the high security prison that I did not have access to it. I was an education officer and only had access to the education block and he had tried to access a prisoner area that I would not have had any reason to go to nor permission. Luckily I was not at the prison on that day and could prove I was at the town where I lived at the time 120 kilometres away.
        The misuse of power and those who wield it intrigues me. So many personalities strive to be public figures and yet when they get to the pinnacle they are self seeking despite the initial impetus being for good. Power corrupts and few can handle it. God should bless us all with the right motives and the desire to do good and for the benefit of others and not just ourselves in this world.

        Reply
        • January 13, 2021 at 12:42 pm
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          Ilana,

          The only thing I agree with in your comment is the last sentence. ‘God should bless us all…’

          I don’t know much about your country, and I have no desire to insult you, but I feel compelled to set the record straight as far as my country is concerned.

          Elections in the U.S. are largely free of fraud, still, despite an intense and relentless misinformation campaign to the contrary. Foreign meddling is confined to social media. Most government agencies are filled with dedicated civil servants who act within the confines of the law. Corruption is not the norm.

          Since you are not a citizen of the USA, and you don’t live here, nobody cares whether you like ‘our system’ or not. I’m pretty satisfied with it. We revolted against the last and only King we ever had, and composed a constitution to guard against any such future possibility. It is that Constitution that we all swear allegiance to. Some of the less educated among us seem to think that their allegiance is only to a person, or the flag, a mere symbol of that Constitution.

          ‘Mick’ Pence has proven to be a solid advocate of the rule of law. He has my respect, along with a handful of other enlightened conservatives.

          I don’t know what specific actions you found so despicable about my country’s liberal parties, but nothing I’ve seen them do compares to the horrific and disgraceful chaos visited upon our Capitol by a wild band of roving miscreants who some people mistakenly think are patriots. They are not. I don’t even think they’re republicans.

          Finally, the woman you refer to as a ‘stupid witch’, who has more courage in her right hand than most men have in their entire smelly bodies, is the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives. The third highest ranking elected official in this country, she represents ‘We, the people…’ That includes all American citizens, even those who don’t know that she represents them. They are like hateful children who curse their mother for reining in their worst impulses.

          I don’t know what makes you think that she should be a target for your verbal abuse and disrespect, any more than I would consider it appropriate to insult the Queen of England. Your self-proclaimed deference to ‘royalty’ would make you a lousy American, but a conversely wonderful republican.

          You can insult me, hate me and hate our system, but please, don’t insult The Speaker of the House. Because we both live in free, democratic republics, you have the right to do that if you wish, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t.

          Thanks,
          Ken C.

          Reply
          • January 13, 2021 at 4:12 pm
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            Ken
            I think you should take a chill pill. I don’t like what Trump is doing because he has disrespected himself and others by his latest actions, but Nancy Pelosi to my way of thinking lacks dignity and is spiteful and childish given her displays in the senate which only served to inflame Trump and the whole situation. I look at Mick Pence with absolute admiration. The guy is bloody amazing and they need to bottle his blood because he has worked with respect for self and others for years. He is not an egotist but a peace maker and a truly great person. If you think I approve of the rabble that razed your capitol building, you are seriously misguided. I view them the same way I view the looting and riots of so called Black Lives Matter activists /opportunists and they do not really care about Black Lives otherwise they would not be putting themselves and other black lives at risk by their illegal actions. The rioters at the capitol were not real republicans as I understand what a republican is. And I have studied a little USA history.

            You have read far more into my comments than is actually there. I feel rather afraid of your aggression towards me. I have a USA sister in law who I quite despise because she has alienated all my remaining family from me with her lies and fake stories and I am feeling quite at odds here.
            People like Pence deserve their office because they have self respect and dignity.

            Gee Ken calm down. People say stuff about Australians and Israelis and as a citizen of both countries, I get a bit miffed but I don’t go off at people the way you have just channelled off at me.
            I have an opinion and right the fact that I would not want to live in America is my personal choice. You do but please do not browbeat me into saying that the USA is the greatest country on Earth because in my opinion, it is not. And that is my opinion. Don’t be so bloody defensive. I feel Australia and Israel are the greatest counties on earth for me and I could not live anywhere else except on maybe a deserted island the way I feel about the world and the people in it at the moment. Five people lost their lives for no good reason and we need to remember that.
            There have been many great Americans Martin Luther King, JFK (despite his infidelities) Robert Kennedy, Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, John Wayne and a few others, many others as well as great Australians (the swaggie in Waltzing Matilda and John Howard, Tony Abbott, the two Bobs Menzies and Hawke and my car mechanic Darryl and his wife Jill for example).
            Just calm down. You can build a statue to Pelosi if you want and lay flowers there every Monday or Sunday. I will cheer on the pigeons that roost there on her nose and forehead. Pelosi has been instrumental in a hate campaign and seriously I think Trump played worse because of her.
            He is a businessman and has done some good but wiped it out with the stuff that has happened recently. You are right, I am not an American citizen and maybe I have no right to comment but that is just my opinion so you can leave it and you have a right to your opinion, just as I have a right to my opinion.
            I just think there should be more people like Mick Pence in the world, calm and respectful of the laws of the land. And Ken I cannot believe that you believe the elections in the USA are completely above board? You are an intelligent person. The UK is probably the only country that I would say has little corruption in the voting system. The world is riddled with corruption in voting systems unfortunately. Please do not bury your head in the sand. Even in Australia people move electoral boundaries to benefit their causes when they are allowed through the legal loopholes. To think your system is totally incorruptible is both foolish and naïve.
            I am sorry if I have offended you, but I am a truthsayer as i see it. Peace and love my friend.

    • January 13, 2021 at 5:44 am
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      A well-worked story, Ilana, with the scene very nicely set – some great description. The facts are such that it all seems other-worldly (the number of children for a start, and of course the speaking peacock). It’s good to have a strong woman as the heir. The ending is a nice clean break – the emperor dead, the young princess primed to take over. This line confused me a bit: “Peace my devoted daughter. So, what brings you before me at the turning of the new year?” – didn’t the emperor himself have her arrested and brought to him? I agree with KenC I think that there could perhaps have been less set-up and more about and between the two main characters. But it’s a good story, well told.

      Reply
    • January 14, 2021 at 9:21 am
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      Ilana, you know I respect your writing ability, and this story is no exception. However, I think your ending left me a bit flat. The last sentences for example have a glaring error. How can Brianna be alone with her father slumped in his chair? Unless, of course, he is dead, in which case she is still not alone. I would have you rather Ended it this way, (for me, anyway):

      “There.” Said the bird and there was flash of pure white light. Brianna found herself on the throne, her father nowhere in sight. Or, something similar. Otherwise you have a fairly good story, although the flash of light is a bit trite. As good as you are, I expected something a bit less flashy – ahem – no pun intended.

      Roy

      Reply
      • January 14, 2021 at 6:57 pm
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        I always love your feed back Roy and it’s always constructive. Yes, I looked at that and thought later “clunky, clunky girl” and that it needed another draft or two. Tied up with the NY Writers challenge happening on the 22nd and going to try my luck again there. Do not get as much time for writing as I would like. Family stuff is taking time and fighting for my son to get a decent education has been a challenge lately. Lots of speech therapy appointments and psychologist appointments and other stuff to help him navigate this often cruel world with bullying and teasing. He is a very sensitive kid and some other kids are quite frankly rough and inappropriately sexual in their comments. He’s had girls ask him things like “Are you a virgin?” and “How big is your dick?” etc etc I do not know what is wrong with some young women these days. There seems to be no romanticism in the world – just animal crude vulgarities and frankly quite disturbing.
        Whether it is because he is half Nigerian that is inviting these comments from ignorant young women, but he is more of a romantic and falls in love or perhaps lust with a romantic overlay and who knows but we are presently navigating the pitfalls of teenage relationships and trying to get him an education and its bloody exhausting.
        I’ve told him it’s best to be friends with girls and boys for now and finish his education and get a job and when the right girl comes along you will know because she will treat you with respect and you will treat her equally with respect.
        As a survivor of three marriages and several relationships in the past, I know how difficult it is and all about betrayals and so it pains me to see his confusion at times. I don’t want him to make my mistakes.
        I am so much more settled after nearly 18 years single, since his father and I separated and divorced. SIGH

        Reply
  • January 10, 2021 at 9:58 am
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    @All – the UI kept defaulting back to “Enable the “subscribe to comments” is disabled.
    I’ve re-enabled it with a bit of bullying.

    If you post a test comment, please check the “Notify me of new comments via email.”
    I’ll post a comment later and we’ll see if everyone gets the notification. 🙂

    Reply
  • January 10, 2021 at 10:17 am
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    Test Comment

    Reply
  • January 10, 2021 at 10:19 am
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    Test Comment #2

    Reply
  • January 10, 2021 at 10:23 am
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    Ok – I commented and signed up to receive comments using some different email addresses.
    It worked for me.
    So whatever was wonky is fixed!

    Reply
  • January 10, 2021 at 3:15 pm
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    Our hard working moderator Carrie, asked me to post something and see if I get a comment notificatioñ. Here goes , and hoping it works.

    Roy

    Reply
    • January 10, 2021 at 3:20 pm
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      Awesome Roy!
      And thanks for the kind words lol

      Reply
  • January 10, 2021 at 3:20 pm
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    Yes, indeed, I got the notification and I am now in the ‘receiving’ fold. I’m so 😊😊😊 happy.

    Roy

    Reply
    • January 10, 2021 at 4:39 pm
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      If you checked the box to receive comments via email you should get this one!

      Reply
  • January 12, 2021 at 11:02 am
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    I added berlinermax and Robt test comments, I haven’t seen any comments from them and want to make sure they get the email notifications too.

    Reply
    • January 13, 2021 at 9:08 am
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      Thanks to all of you who commented on my story. I have no chance to read your stories. Therefore don’t vote for me, I won’t vote at all. I hope I’ll be able to do better next time.

      Reply
      • January 13, 2021 at 12:36 pm
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        Jurgen,

        What a shame! I had you down as a high placer in this one but I understand about how much time it takes to read everything.

        Ken Frape

        Reply
  • January 14, 2021 at 12:06 pm
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    And without further ado here are your winners!
    Coming in at 1st Place is Roy York’s tale “Love and Honor”!!

    2nd Place: The Peacock Prophecy by Ken Frape
    3rd Place: A & E by Phil Town
    4th Place: A Brief Respite by Vicki Chvatal
    5th Place: The Vow by Ilana Leeds
    6th Place: Over the Edge by Ken Miles
    7th Place: I’ll Pass by Robt. Emmett

    The favorite character this go round was Colonel Buzz Hargood, United States Marine Corps from Roy’s story “Love and Honor”.
    Everyone loved the dialogue in Phil’s story “A & E”.

    Congrats to all!
    What a way to start off the year!
    As a reminder, the new prompt “Enduring Love” can be found here: http://fictionwritersgroup.com/2021-enduring-love/

    Reply
    • January 14, 2021 at 4:47 pm
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      Congratulations Roy! And Ken, and Vicki, and … shoot, everyone!

      Reply
  • January 14, 2021 at 4:07 pm
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    Congratulations on the win, Roy. That was a fun, upbeat story on a really crazy prompt.
    Speaking of fun.
    Ilana, I think you’re just lusting after Pence’s hunky old man body. Try to control yourself. BTW, his name is Mike, not Mick. Don’t let this ‘deep-state’ secret identification knowledge leak out to the Q-heads. (Lester and Fester.) Thanks.

    Reply
  • January 14, 2021 at 7:11 pm
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    Congratulations Roy. Great story. I loved it and also Phil’s delightful dialogue.

    And Ken No definitely do not lust after any political figure’s body however hunky. I still love you even though we disagree on Madam Peloser. Yes, I can be rude about her and any other politician who wants to be childish. We do not have any sacred cows over here.
    I am so disappointed in Trump. I thought he would have more dignity and style. I feel sorry for Melania and Byron and the rest of his family. Trouble is I hate nobody. Maybe that inspires others to hate me.
    I still love your craggy tough guy Italian good looks. Still a fan of your writing too. That stirs my lust more than old man bodies. I like minds Yumm Yumm Yum.
    Tell you who makes me wish I was thirty years younger is this guy. He’s good looking and he makes you laugh.

    Reply
  • January 14, 2021 at 7:25 pm
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    And Ken despite his youthfulness I do know he’s a married man just like you. I never take a player on any time. Had it done too many times to me. Maybe my fault for going out with popular guys who have succumbed to temptations or I picked fake women friends.
    Just for a good laugh here’s another comedy sketch.

    Reply
    • January 15, 2021 at 11:09 am
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      Ilana,

      I know. I’m a pompous ass sometimes. Some would say often (but those are just my relatives, you can’t possibly trust them.) So–you decided to use flattery on me, eh? Good choice. Good choice. You like my stories. It worked so well, that I’m writing you this comment when I should be working on Kim’s taxes. (Don’t worry, she’ll never know, she doesn’t read anything I write unless I bar her path between the refrigerator and the checkbook.)
      I’m kidding of course.
      Sure, no one is sacred, but certain ‘things’ are. Intangible things, which we both understand. So, forgive me if I sounded hostile. (Belligerant is bad enough.) Thanks for taking it lightly. I gotta go back to work now.
      Cheers K

      p.s. I’m kidding about Kim — she reads all my stories. Hell, she dreams up half of them. But please, don’t tell her. She’s got a big enough ego as it is!!!!

      Reply
  • January 15, 2021 at 7:16 am
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    Hi Roy,

    Well done. Great story. It’s nice to be the filling in the sandwich between you and Phil.

    Ken Frape

    Reply

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