An interesting event this afternoon. Actually, ‘event’ is too grand a word for it. It was more of a moment in time, but quite a strange one all the same.
This week we’ve had some old friends and their children staying with us. Today being the last day of their visit we decided to hire a couple of canoes and paddle up the river to the pub, where we would have lunch. There was a break in the clouds and the sun shone on our little expedition; the river was calm and almost empty of other river craft. Our journey through the bucolic countryside was punctuated with wildlife and the city-dwelling kids were enchanted.
In the course of the conversation over the meal, I explained to our friends that my writing group homework stipulated a short story featuring a crime, and I needed an idea to base it on. The short format requires a small crime, nothing too complicated, which would be resolved by the end of the story. It could be deadly serious, humorous or tongue in cheek, but there had to be a crime.
Just then I noticed a large group of teenagers walk into the pub garden, about twelve of them. I also noticed that they were all Jewish, all wearing dark trousers, walking boots and kippahs, the little skullcaps or yarmulkes. Now Jewish teenagers aren’t in themselves unusual, but remember where we are: deep, deep in the Norfolk countryside, at a public house that is sometimes inaccessible except by boat. The track leading from the village is straight out of ‘An American Werewolf in London’ – two miles of bad road, very bad road.
So where had these teenagers come from? And where were they going? They had arrived on foot, each with a backpack, and we heard a variety of accents, predominantly American. There are numerous air bases in Norfolk and Suffolk and US airmen were here in great numbers during the second World War, but this can’t be the reason they’re here.
As we pondered the possibilities another batch arrived; anther twelve or so, also on foot. You can’t image how odd this seemed to us, in these particular surroundings. They ordered Cokes, ate their own sandwiches – frowned on by the management – folded their Ordnance Survey maps neatly and set off across the fields.
I knew then that the arrival of twenty-four Jewish teenagers in a pub garden so far off the beaten track it didn’t figure on any maps, just had to feature in my short crime story. All sorts of plots were suggested over the table but nothing gelled. It was a gift for a writer, and I’ve already applied the four ‘Ws’ rule. Who were they? Why were they there? What were they doing? When did this occur?
There might be a reason why they arrived today, and not yesterday, or tomorrow. And this might hold a clue. Were they involved in a crime? Or was a crime committed against them? And why?
I don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but give me till the weekend. There has to be a story here.
Hi – ooh – love this. You know who they are, you listed everything that made them who they are. Try ‘what if?’
I love what if. Once you get started there are thousands of ideas that come off what if.
What if they are university students – one of their number lived nearby and was drowned in the river – they have come back one year later to pay respects.
What if they are on a retreat at one of the big houses in the district?
What if – I could go on and on and on.
And so can you.
Add ‘what if’ to your list of ‘w’ questions.
And have fun with it.
Now that sounds like the makings of a great story. There are so many paths you could take with this inspiration! I’d love to see what you do with this story.
What a fun, mysterious start! I, too, would like to see where you go with it.
Don’t forget the ‘Where’ of it all. Of course they were last seen trekking across a field; but, where is their actual destination point calling them to, and where were they coming from? There were two groups that were seen while you were there. Were there more, that you didn’t see? Maybe, just maybe, there was someone else watching them from the trees; watching everyone from the trees, while you all were too busy watching them walk across the fields. — Ahh, loads of options. I hope you find the one that best suits what you’re in search of.
Thank you all – some great inspiration here. I like the idea of the boys being watched, or the day being the anniversary of some dastardly deed. I’ll post the finished article – and that’s another challenge. No going back now. 🙂
That is a great idea. Yes please post the finish.