Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 2.1 – St. Patrick’s Day Edition

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Year 2, Week 1!

 This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

 The rules; 

 500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

 Post your entry right in the comments section of this post. 


 The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at MIDNIGHT Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this week’s song prompt is a rousing tune by none other than the mighty Pogues…

The song is, “Sally MacLennane”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/mUeeZK_FDsw

This week’s Judge is… The Purple Queen herself… Miranda Kate.

The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs through midnight PACIFIC TIME on Friday March 14th.

Now, have a Guinness and go write!!!!



Posted on March 18, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Leavin’ on a Liner

    The air was fresh and awash with the scent of sea salt and fish parts as Larry stood on the dock waiting to board a large, dark imposing liner to a new land.

    He was the seventh son of a devout Irish Catholic family with eight children and no parents prosperous enough to feed them all. Because of his family’s destitution, he and three of his youngest siblings were extracted from the family home and placed in Industrial Schools. At sixteen, after several years under their watch, the Christian Brothers determined it was time for him to leave.

    He was a son of Erin, but no longer knew where his place was on this island haunted by hundreds of years of systematic, unrelenting abuse and dogmatic sadism. Bewildered and with no other recourse, Larry set out on a daring journey to a new land away from the brutality of the Brothers at the Industrial School and far from a family he had long ago been amputated from.

    The day was finally allowed to leave, he refused to allow himself to believe he would no longer have to endure daily scoldings, beatings, and starvation.

    As he walked out of the school, then away from the schoolyard and onto the pebble road out of a Johnathan Swift novel, he could not let the feeling of freedom take him over; he feared the Christian Brothers would angrily tear him from his path and punish him for trying to leave or for having failed some sort of test they were trying to administer.

    Miles down the road, when the school was a speck that could no longer be seen through the dark green trees, Larry vigilantly glanced back to make sure no one was behind him. When he saw no one on his tail, he continued his hurried pace.

    When he reached the port, he was as far as he had ever been from the school and even on the dock, he anxiously waited to board. Looking about the ship yard, he continued to vet the wharf for any dark garbed men who might be waiting for him to let his guard down.

    Breathing nervously and sweating profusely in the chilly sea air, Larry clenched his eyelids and out of ritualistic indoctrination and habit, he stuck his hand in his pocket and pinched a wooden bead on his the rosary the Christian Brothers had given him as a parting gift for the years of neglect and injustice he’d suffered under their care; feverishly, he prayed under his breath. After several verses, he had managed to calm himself a bit and slowly opened his eyes.

    His heart suddenly jumped into his throat as an older looking man in a raven colored robe approached him; the beads on the old man’s belt clanked as he approached Larry.

    All the sea moistened air was exorcised from Larry’s lungs and he stood paralyzed with fear as the old man grew closer.

    “And where do you think you’re going young man?” the priest smirked holding his hands behind his back like older men tended to do.

    Nothing but silence emerged from Larry’s unyielding mouth.

    The priest smiled and laughed lightly, “Are ya nervous about the trip son?”

    Larry continued to stand silently.

    “Well, son,” the priest began with Gallic warmth, “There’s nothin’ to worry about. Many a vessel has left this port and made it to the other side,” he bent forward, “I’ll bless ya and the ship to make sure ya have a safe journey,” the priest made the sign of the cross. “’In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen,’” he smiled, “Have a pleasant journey my son.”

    It took several minutes after the priest walked away before Larry could take in air again.

    He knew he wouldn’t be able to truly feel at ease until he was on American shores. With apprehensive hope in his heart and Ireland at his back, Larry boarded the ship without looking back again.

    688 Words @skarlitsunrise


    • the paralysis of fear is a crippling thing, poor Larry.


      • Thank you so much for your feedback Cecilia. The story is a fictional account of my grandfather-in-law’s experience as a child in Ireland. His older brother, Peter Tyrrell, actually wrote a book about what it was like living in those industrial schools.


  2. Prompts are a funny thing, there are no limitations to what they will inspire. This week’s Pogue-prompt took on a life of it’s own painting a lovely little St. Patrick’s Day story that alas is too long for this challenge – even with the “slushy” word count – coming in at a stout pour just over 1300 words…the first few paragraphs, however, stand alone in cold Dublin alley, in need of a pint of Sally MacLennane.

    “A Pint, Wager, and a Song”

    It was cold, the kind of cold that only a Dublin morn’ can oblige. The glass didn’t help any, either. It hit like broken shards of ice; spraying across his back and shoulder as he turned away. He shook the cold glass from his hair and checked his back the best he could – no blood, no foul. The whore hadn’t been as lucky. She lay on her back, across a bed of cardboard boxes, a narrow shard of glass embedded in her neck.
    She looked at him as he knelt over her. She tried to speak, her voice lost somewhere in the alley as he pulled the glass out. Blood flowed like an open tap. There was a lot he didn’t know – why he was in the alley; from where the plate of glass had been served; why he’d looked away and she’d looked up – none of which mattered at the moment. What he did know was that she was going to die here – in a cold, Dublin alley, under the echo of a drunken, distant harmonica riff. He slipped his finger into the wound, finding the tear – and like a boy with a summer hose, closed his finger into the opening diverting the spray away from her brain. It would be quicker that way. With bloodstained fingertips, he closed her eyelids.
    When he felt she was gone, he stood – only then appraising his situation – the alley was deserted, present company excluded, what had once been a window somewhere above him now crunched under his feet, present company excluded, and it was cold, present company . . .
    As a boy, things exploded all the time – lots of glass, along with brick, mortar and dust, lots of dust – it was always loud; not silently dropped from above. He felt glass move under the heel of his boot, as a boy the shopkeepers would sweep the glass into the gutter and the rain would clean what it didn’t wash away. He wondered if that would happen now.
    He started back the way he’d been walking, this time checking doors along the alley as he went. The first three locked tight, the forth – a pub kitchen door opened easily – the volume of the band poured into the alley. He saw no one from the door, quickly slipped a leather jacket from the coat hook and just as quickly, made his retreat. Closing the door, the band returned to a muffled back beat that he remembered hearing before the glass; before he saw the girl – that’s right, he saw her walking toward him. He remembered now, she said something to him, but he couldn’t here because of the band. That fahkin’ bahnd. Loud and drunker than the grieving souls they played for – loud, drum driven covers of Shane McGowan songs – having to play some songs twice to fill out the night’s set list. He slipped the jacket on and left the alley.
    Other than his hands, there was a pair of gloves and twenty-two Euros in the jacket’s pocket. Enough for a pint to take away the chill – ah, yeah a pint of Sally MacLennane, she’d do the trick alright – a quiet pub though, no band, no fahkin’ bahnd.

    538 words


    • Still have not figured out how to mantain formating while postin here, I apologize for the tab free structure and the auto-corrected mis-spelling of hear.. For the record, “That fahkin’ bahnd” should be in italics – in an attempt to type in dialect.


  3. He was an ugly little bastard but who looked at his face once he opened his mouth. Not me that’s for sure. I was tempted to say ‘to be sure’ in this pub but decided I liked my teeth right where they are. The women looked tougher than the men and I was on foreign soil and needed to keep my own mouth shut. I watched the bloke with his twin necked guitar, a cigarette stuck filter end in the curl of string sticking up from the tuning knob. His fingers flew across the strings like demented spiders and he was turning ordinary lyrics into something magic. The creases on his pug nosed face lent a touch of pathos to the song and I felt my throat close with unshed tears and I couldn’t understand not one in five of the words he said, he was that good. Mind you it could have been the green sludge swirling in the glass I was gripping. There is something about the Irish when you spend enough time with them you want to be Irish. They are opinionated and arrogant and they drink hard, eat hard, smoke hard and make the merriest music to twitch even the feet of a stone statue. When they sing it is like a doorway into the world of Fey.
    Gawd I was going nuts in this pub. I shook my head to clear it and realised the music had stopped. I got my brain back into working order, I think it was anyway. The muso elbowed his way to the bar and stood beside me.
    “Watcha drinkin’ love?” He smiled and the ugly disappeared in the twinkling eyes.
    “St Patricks piss I think?” I put the last mouthful of green back on the bar and grimaced.
    “You’d not be from around here then?” he could’ve been threatening to immolate me and I wouldn’t have cared. My ears were in love with the rolling vowels and lilts. I shook my head.
    “Well we best be showing yer how to have a good time then.” I felt the silly grin attach to my face even as I slid from the stool and let him drag me to the dance floor. A band was setting up and I was quickly being jigged around the floor. The lead vocalist sounded like he had swallowed razor blades for breakfast but that didn’t stop his voice from bypassing my brain and switching on the twitch in my feet and legs. I couldn’t stop if I had wanted to and sweat trickled down my back as my legs pumped into one crazy energetic dance after another. A squeeze box, banjo and tin whistle pulled the strings of the dancers through one jaunty tune after another.
    My ugly musician grinned and twirled me about, finally deciding we both needed some fresh air. The cold hit me and I shivered. He took off his coat and slid it over my shoulders. It smelled of tobacco, booze and sweat and it was warm. I think I was really nuts by then because it smelled good. He took my hand and I liked the leathery feel of it. He threw his cigarette butt on the ground and put it out with his heel.
    “Come on, I’ll show yer some places you won’t be seein’ on a tourist map.” He showed me sights I’ll never forget and come dawn I never wanted to leave.
    “I must be on my way” I told him sadly so he walked me through the drizzling dawn to the train station. He kissed me one last time but I knew I’d be seeing him again. 611



  4. Crossroads

    Her eyes flashed in the darkness.
    There was huge energy in the place tonight.
    I felt her watching me, judging me, driving me on. But with the energy came a sullen and dangerous undercurrent. Spilled drinks might mean spilled blood and a clumsy push might be met with a glassed face. But God, I felt on fire!
    By the final set of the evening, the walls ran with sweat and the people surged like a rowdy, restless storm tide against the stage. I stepped up a pace or two, towards the front, oblivious to hands grasping at my ankles. I sang with new ferocity, feeding on their emotion. My harp licks were sharp and breathless, prodding and driving the crowd ever higher as my voice soared across the songs.
    Davie moved in close and prodded me with his bass, eyes searching for what had got into me. I short armed him back and he slid on the beer slick floor, almost losing the beat along with his footing.
    In the pause before the final number I basked in the warm swell of raucous noise.
    Instead of the familiar strains of my only minor radio hit, I stamped and clapped a quick, high tempo intro and launched into an edgy, rock version of an old folk song that I hadn’t done on stage for years, beckoning the band to follow me.
    As they fell in with the frantic, unfamiliar rhythm, I saw her drift to the front, right below me, staring up at me. The footlights’ glare framed her glowing eyes and wild grin in a red henna halo, writhing snakes biting at her face as she bounced and swung her head to the beat, one hand on the air. I goaded the crowd now, conducting them in repeated, ever louder chants of the chorus, before finally dropping my hand to end the song like flicking a master switch. The sudden silence stunned them and they stopped for a second before erupting in a final, frenzied, feral roar.
    I jumped the footlights, grabbed her hand and fished her from the swirling maelstrom, hauling her up, weightless, to stand triumphant beside me. She grabbed me by the neck, wrenching me around to face her and I felt her tongue probing for the roots of my songs. Tiny mirrored images of me danced, reflected in her jade green eyes, and I clung to her, like a drowning sailor to a spar. I reeled back when flashing lights from lack of air dappled my vision. Still clutching my hand, she dragged me urgently from the stage and toward the street.
    The clammy heat of the gig steamed from our clothes and hair as we ran, headlong, towards the sodium oases scattered among the buildings by the few, still working street lights.
    She pulled me on, hair flicking at my face as I tried to match her wanton energy. At last she stopped near the shadowed doorway of a boarded up brownstone and I doubled over as the midnight chill stole my breath away, and my ears rang with the unamplified silence.
    A china white finger under my chin forced my head up and I stood with it, still gasping, marvelling at her pale, shining composure.
    “Did you feel it?” she asked. “Did you feel the power?”
    “Yeah, it was a good gig, sure…”
    “Good? It was your best – ever…” She stepped back, regarding me, her face a porcelain mask. “…and you can have that, and more. You can have great.”
    Another backward step into the doorway left only her beckoning hand in the light. She hooked a finger in a slow, hypnotic rhythm. I peered for her in the gloom.
    Her voice slipped sinuously into my ears and tugged at my soul.
    “Do you want it? You know what you need to do. Come and get it…”
    I paused, but then, my treacherous foot moved towards her.
    Her eyes flashed in the darkness.
    And she laughed.

    662 words


  5. Siren Song

    Time stands still as we sit there, listening to Pat sing; harmonica battling bravely against the storms. Winds whistling outside; rattling against the wooden doors, shut against the howl. Time and again, we have been lured inside to listen. So many times, perhaps, we have forgotten – or simply forgotten to keep count. It scarcely matters. The music is its own allure. We are held in its thrall. It holds all else at bay, until the morning dawns; until the song, like the storm, breaks.

    Grouped together, so we gather, evening upon evening. Mid week, Friday; weekends. Incapable of leaving. Starving for comfort; knowing the grief of loss, before it has begun, by virtue of anticipation. Lulled into lethargy, unable to pass, still knowing the need for safe passage by.

    He hails from pastures strange; Pat who holds other names, if you catch hold of the worlds beneath his words and tie them fast; quickly, quickly! Singer of the small isle of Sirenum scopuli, rotting corpses in his wake, skin shrivelling about their bones. Heed him; yet not too well, for fear you will not live to tell the tale. These words hold your warning amongst them.

    I listen with half an ear only, most evenings. Those who came before me mentioned the need to plug my ears, barman to barman. The old remedies work; beeswax comes well recommended, so they say, the unmentioned and unmentionable predecessors. To date, I have not known it fail. Week upon week, I make good my escape. Still, there is always a first time. When the slow and steady crawl home at dawn fails to materialise. So I am told. It happens to us all, unless guarded against well, at all times.

    I dare not ask how many have poured their pints before me. I think I am better not knowing the numbers for those who have headed heavenwards without word or warning. I am already deep enough in. I always return, though I leave, resolved to be on my way. My feet bring me back, far from the beyond I think I am aiming for. Bodily betrayal, time and again. It defeats me, chained as much as the punters I serve.

    Mirror man, he is – Parthenope, shortened to Pat – I think I would be glad not to have caught the glimpse of his true reflection; feather and wing; scaly feet. Now I carry it with me wherever I go. The singing I leave behind, albeit momentarily, ever to return. The silence into which the images creep unbidden – that I cannot escape. Never, ever. That I carry with me, after. Perhaps it is my penance for exposure to the truth; the sentence awarded for close proximity. Perhaps it is due diligence. Perhaps, I do not care. Perhaps I care too much. Perhaps not at all. Perhaps, perhaps. Perhaps the imponderables will bring me full circle before the song is played out and the lyrics leave. Perhaps, perhaps. Perhaps. I do not know. Not really. I suspect none of the others did either. Maybe this is how the music played out for them too, before they left for the last train to their final destination.

    I clear the bar one last time. One for the road, for what it’s worth. I suspect little, although I seek to delude myself, even midst recognition. There will be none to walk me to the station, for the journey. The newest crowd crush themselves into the corner; enamoured. There will be no stirring them until the dawn breaks. Been there, done that. They cannot help themselves. Neither can I help them from the hold they find themselves in. Circle full cycle, though my time within it comes to an end. All so inevitable. Still, I raise a final glass to the best little boozer, as I take my leave unnoticed, new barman already at the helm. I suspect I will be seeing some of the faces before me again, though I must be on my way now. Travelling far, far away. Their journey lies before them. Soon enough, they may follow my footsteps. Then, I may have company. Now, I look for the footprints of those who passed before me.

    700 words


  6. Once a year, on March 17th, those of us who haven’t died yet, celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day at the Sally MacLennane. This year was no different. My grandson wheeled me in, “Now, Grandfather. You know you’re not supposed to drink.”

    “On this day, I drink, and you know it!”

    Jamie, Liam, Conner and Dillon all raised their tankards and belted out, “Hear! Hear! We’ll drink to that!”

    “I see Ryan’s not here this year,” I observed, as I studied the room.

    “He took the train to Dublin three weeks ago,” Liam took another chug. “Should be with the others now.”

    Dillon hollered at the barkeeper, “Bring Gavin his first round!”

    “I’m on it! I’m on it!” came the answer.

    Conner raised his drink, “Aye! Won’t be long before we’ll be joining them!”

    Ah, I wished I were 50 years younger when the barmaid handed me my drink. She was grandly built, and my old eyes followed her as she walked away, her little kilt barely covering anything as her hips danced the way a pretty woman’s always had.

    Jamie roared, “I see you’ve noticed our dear new friend!”

    “I’ll drink to that!” I tipped my drink, and let the brown pour. “Well, Ryan, the least you could have done was drop a postcard in the mail when you got there.”

    We drank away the night, into the early dawn. My Grandson joined right in, it wasn’t like he had a choice. We told the stories once again, of our wives, and sons and daughters, and of all our friends now gone, all gone, on the train to Dublin and beyond.

    “Was Eathan that left first, as I recall.”

    “Aye, he did,” Dillon agreed. “And we all cried like little girls that day, we did.”

    Liam set his drink upon the table, “It was the first time one of us left.” He stared into his drink, “The first time.”

    Conner shook his head, “He could have told us he was leaving. Going to Dublin and beyond.” He raised his drink and drained some more, “Was rather rude of him, you know. Not telling us about the train.”

    And as the dark began to fade away, falling before the sun, we sat there at our table with our drinks, and remember every name.

    What does it mean, when ancient men like us, get sloshed on Saint Patrick’s Day, you might wonder. It’s what old men do to live with the memories of all the friends and loves long gone, so we don’t feel so alone. And we never say they’re dead and gone, buried in the cold hard ground. That would be so permanent. It’s better, don’t you know, to leave hope and dreams alive. And say they’ve caught the train to Dublin and beyond. And someday know our turns will come, and we’ll ride that train, and join them.

    In Dublin, and beyond.

    480 Words


    • I’m in that pub at the very next table. The prose flows as smooth as ale. I am left with melancholy aftertaste and memories gone stale. nicely done.


  7. Going Home to Friends
    @BryantheTinker, 572 words

    “Kiss me, baby, I’m Irish!”

    For the 3rd time, Johnny tried to stand up straight as the waitress brought another trio of green beer towers. She just rolled her eyes playfully right back at him. “The only thing Irish in you is the whiskey, bless your heart.”

    Any further flirting from him was cut off as the Irish punk band in kilts and mohawks started another set. An electric guitar screams out the notes of a series of classic Celtic drinking songs, with the flying fingers of a bagpiper keeping a toe tapping harmony. The yearly parade had ended just down the block, and people from the street were pouring in with faces painted and all manner of green accessories. Before long, the bar was a throng of celebration, with a din rivaling that of the band on stage.

    Within a tiny island of stillness, one older man sits on a stool at the bar, with hair the color of snow and a sweater that had seen too many winters, looking at a stack of old pictures. With each picture, he raises one glass of dark beer and takes a drink. Another glass sits next to his, filled to the top, like it’s waiting for someone to sit down and drink. Every time the bartender passes by, they trade a few words about whoever is in the current picture. Some of the yellowed photos cause a loud guffaw at a shared memory, but more than one causes the two men to make the Sign of the Cross across their chests, and for just a moment they pause and forget the pressing mass of patrons.

    Such a sight was soon noticed by the trio of college students at the nearby table. Johnny wobbled through the crowd over to lean on the bar, over the shoulder of the white-haired man. “You gotta drink that beer before it gets warm, you know!”

    Softly, blue eyes turn to face the young man with bouncing shamrock antennae. “Lad, tha’ beer there is for another. Used to live in this neighborhood, too, a long time ago. We used to drink right at this very bar, and talk about women and the world.” Even though the bar is painfully loud, the old man’s voice is strong to the youth leaning close.

    “What’s with the pictures?”

    “These are people from long ago. Some go back as far as when Charlie here was barely tall enough to reach the top of the bar. Right, Charlie?” The bartender nodded and smiled wistfully as he passed by with 4 pitchers of beer precariously held in practiced hands.

    “In fact, young man, I’m going out to see them again, just as soon as I finish this drink. Can I buy you and your friends another round of…whatever those things are?”

    “Sure, Gramps. If you’re buying us drinks, you’re my new best friend!” Johnny weaves back through the crowd to collect his friends. When the 3 make their way back to the bar to thank their new friend, the old man has slipped away into the crowd. At the bar, though, 3 emerald towers are waiting, surrounding the stack of pictures. Unsteady, Johnny sloshes his beer all over the pictures. “Guess he went to go see his friends.”

    The topmost picture, now stained a sickly green from the beer, shows only white marble stones, carved precisely and all in orderly lines, filling an entire field.


  1. Pingback: #MWBB Week 2.1 : Sally MacLennane | My Soul's Tears

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