#WEP/IWSG February 2019 challenge – 28 Days

My #WEP/IWSG post for February is part of the 2019 WEP/IWSG Challenge and the conclusion of the incident from my Halloween/Deja Vu or Voodoo postWhite Lady. and my December Ribbons and Candles post, Rushlight Wreathes.

However, this is not the only incident in the career of Sparkle Anwyl that unfolds in Fevered Few, Book 1 of the Snowdon Shadows police procedural series. I m.ay return to Wales for future WEP/IWSG entries but I need o avoid spoilers – at least in relation to the main plot 

Pongal Blood

Dark brown splatters.

Shivers tease me. Blood can signify crime, accident or nature.

The spots on the kitchen counter would have been suspect at a crime scene. A reason for luminol spray and light. But no weapon. Not even a knife. A wooden love spoon bears witness on the wall.

It wasn’t me – even in our bathroom where Kama has heightened my sense of cleanliness.

My time of the month was as cyclical as the moon, but work stress has played games with it. Kama is more constant. Does meditation help her? Is that why she is now in our garden staring at the sun?

Clues are on the counter.

By her head movement, Kama hears me open the garden door onto the small paved area where she has traced the auspicious kolam design in white lime powder in the early morning after bathing.

She continues her ceremony, raising her face to the sun, then bending to our makeshift firepit.

The fragrance of rice and milk wraps around me. Chakkara pongal preparation. The golden jaggery stains were the main clue – and the empty package from India.

I squat beside her. She is dressed in a simple saree and blouse with face and arm markings – more traditional than my black trouser suit kameez.

The earthenware pot of milk has boiled and overflowed, so Kama has added the rice, even if the harvest that the sun made possible is the one back in the Southern Hemisphere, in Tamil Nadu.

#

“Our colleagues at CID may not recognise Pongal,” says Kama zipping up her leathers, “But they respect our days-off.”

“Until some serious crime intervenes. Let’s escape while we can.”

A fifteen-minute ride out beyond Prenteg, takes us to a well-maintained farm track off the B4410 leading to some modernised farm buildings with a restored farmhouse.

We park the Ducati and Ninja beside a spotless 4×4 Mitsubishi Shogun.

Raimund Virtanen is working on a chassis with an arc-welder but hears us approaching as if he has super-hearing. Weird for a coachbuilder.

He removes the helmet revealing blond hair and blue eyes. Six foot three inches and strongly built. I estimate mid-forties.

“You are the two Heddlu with a carriage mystery – intriguing-like. Come inside and we’ll talk.”

The farmhouse kitchen is a modern and expensive take on a traditional Welsh one. It reminds me of my grandparents’ home except this one looks as spotless as the Shogun. Does this man eat or drive? Our roads aren’t dirt-free, and the salt-laden air can coat things.

“How do you partake of your tea or coffee, ladies?”

“Two black coffees, please.”

I can’t place his accent. Not one that tallies with those foreign visitors I’ve met on the streets of Porthmadog.

“We were wondering if you can identify a vehicle from a local painting – puzzling as it’s the reflection in a mirror.”

He takes the printout and studies it under a magnifying glass for a few minutes.

“This is a phaeton, I’m sure. Drawn by one or two horses, a phaeton features a lightly sprung body atop four extravagantly large wheels. With open seating, it is fast and dangerous, so its name, drawn from the mythical Phaëton, son of Helios, who nearly set the earth on fire while attempting to drive the chariot of the sun.”

“A common carriage?”

“Not around here. There weren’t many made locally. Ten at most – more like half that.”

“Do you know who owned them?” Kama clutches the group painting but holds it back. “Locally, for instance?”

Virtanen goes to a filing cabinet and removes a folder. “This is a list that I compile of vehicles that I trace – not many but a few notable ones like Captain William Yong. He raced other owners and win – for money.”

“And he lived locally? Do you know what he looked like?”

The carriage expert throws up his hands and shrugs. “I only know he lived in Porthmadog and marries into a Tremadog family – make his fortune by investing in his in-law’s business. No more. Why are the police interested?”

“More our personal interest.” The compelling urge to confess is too much for me. “More like ghost-hunting. We encountered a female figure on Halloween that might have been killed in a carriage accident.”

“This phaeton crashed? Unlikely if Captain Yong is driving – he has a reputation as an expert at ‘Hunting the Squirrel’. Side-swiping a rival’s carriage requires certain accuracy.”

Accuracy needed to hit a fleeing lover.

“A pedestrian was hit at night,” Kama says. “No headlights I presume back then. So accidental – perhaps.”

“Agree. The horses won’t have seen someone crossing a dark road – until they crush the poor woman,” His expression is tortured. “Back home…I am knocked over by horses as a child…and savaged bad. Hooves are strong and sharp, especially with shoes. I hate to think of your woman’s injuries.” He hesitates. “If you see a ghost – the horses killed her. Back home that will be blame on the animals – punishment.”

“Back home?” asks Kama who shares my curiosity.

“I grow up in rural community – in Finland. Many years ago. Poor – so I move here as I want to learn to build vehicles like horseboxes – to help them. I call this ‘reparation’ – my making terms with the past and moving on. Do we know the woman’s name?”

There seems to be no harm in telling him. “Dinah Quinlan.”

“Strange matter that I will not forget. Blood is easy shed.”

He escorts us back to our bikes.

Is our cold case closed? Until anything new emerges.

#

The moon is full when we celebrate the last day of Pongal.  My arm around Kama, I’m oblivious to the calendar with the four days in mid-January highlighted.

My mind is on November 1836.

 “That old nineteenth century painting indicts Captain Yong for murder – four weeks before he married his victim’s sister. The artist knew the truth.”

***

Word Count 999: MPA

For more information on the Pongal Festival visit: http://www.pongalfestival.org/

Comments are welcome as usual, but for the WEP/IWSG Challenge, the following applies:

(FCA welcome – if you want to send one, just let me know in the comments.)

Please enjoy other participants’ entries in the Challenge via this list for which the links will be updated as the post appear: https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/

43 thoughts on “#WEP/IWSG February 2019 challenge – 28 Days

  1. Hi Roland! Great to enjoy more adventures of Sparkle Anwyl I love how you’ve continued his story through two, or is it three, WEP challenges? That’s quite a painless way to write. This investigator is relentless. He won’t give up until he’s solved the mystery, will he? Also, it was good to offer us more info on the Pongal Festival. So interesting.

    Thank you for participating in the WEP Roland. I’m glad you’ve been able to continue your story.

    Denise

    Liked by 1 person

    • WEP has been an inspiration for Sparkle’s investigations, although this is only part of a much more extensive plotline – and a novel called Fevered Few, provisionally. Whether I use any other episodes for WEP is unknown at present, but this ends this case.
      Sparkle is female – hence ‘my time of the month” – as is Kama. I have written an earlier episode when they first met and fell in love. Yes, they are queer/lesbian.

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  2. Nicely done. I admire writers who can weave all the different prompts at WEP into a single story – takes a lot of creativity. I like that you showcase two different and geographically distant cultures, that takes some doing too. Sparkle is one persistent lady!

    One tiny point – Tamil Nadu is in South India, all of India is in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Nilanjana. The story emerged because of the October prompt initially, and then I developed the story during NaNoWriMo knowing about the December theme. Pongal was an after-thought.

      Thanks for the correction. Stupid me – saying Southern Hemisphere was my bad as I have never been across the Equator but I have been to Tamil Nadu, travelling as far as Kanyakumari. Fascinated by the culture so hence Kama, although she grew up in South Wales. I suspect ‘harvest’ got me confused – forgetting two monsoons means two harvests. [I will need an Indian beta reader, I suspect.}

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  3. I love that you’ve shared more of Sparkle’s story with us! I love how you began the story talking about how blood can signify horrifying things, but it is tied also to a woman’s time of the month. You did a great job of portraying culture and setting in this piece, and I am intrigued by the murder mystery. A ghost and a cold case from so long ago make for a great story!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi,
    Since I have been competing in the WEP, I have seen continuity in your writing. With this story about Sparkle and also in other stories you have grown as a writer tremendously. Thank you for sharing.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jemima. The cold case can’t be resurrected as everyone is dead, but there is one element with a modern link. But that’s part of the novel’s storyline so harder to use in the challenge.

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  5. I hope you put all these writings for the prompts together so that they can be enjoyed in a steady stream. The story is so nuanced and detailed – love it. May I point out that Tamil Nadu is not in the Southern Hemisphere! All the other details are quite authentic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you love the story, Kalpana. The steady stream is now a flashback chapter in my WIP novel, and elements play into the main plotline/case.

      Nilanjana picked up my Southern hemisphere mistake – above – and I owned up to my crass slip. I need an Indian beta reader for sure. [And a Welsh one, plus others………………]

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  6. I love how you continue your story with each prompt. It was interesting to see her “time of the month” pop up in this installment. I’ve grown to like Sparkle. I enjoy her persistence in solving this old cold case and her knowledge of different cultures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Toi. When your suggestion won and became the theme. I was unsure what to do. Hence the ‘time of the month’ opening. But then I realised that 28 days and therefore four weeks worked with the murder. Sparkle and Kama have done what the can with this cold case – where everyone directly involved has died – but I have a new case developing around the rest of the 2019 prompts. Sparkle and Kama will be back in April.

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  7. Hi Roland – I’ve learnt … re the Pongal festival as I hadn’t heard about it. Interesting that you’ve included the aspects of a cold case … and the mystery being uncovered through a painting. Great story telling … I’ll enjoy reading more – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  8. An interesting story, as others have said. I like hearing about cultures I’m not that familiar with. I’ve continued stories across WEP prompts too, and it allows us to add more to the story, in installments for the readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s fascinating researching other cultures, DG. I’m better at spreading prompts than doing short flashes. I’m working on making the next five prompts into another case for Sparkle and Kama.

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