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by Laurence 

Posted: 07 November 2009
Word Count: 521
Summary: Week 279 Challenge 'Fireworks and Bonfires'

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Charlie was a kindly soul he wished no one harm; he preferred the title ‘Gentleman of the road’ rather than tramp. He delighted in the open air even when the weather was inclement and other mortals were making for their warm cosy houses. Charlie knew when each village had their festivities and he would turn up for free food and drink.

As bonfire night was drawing nearer Charlie needed to organise his visits because he knew if he was very careful he could visit several parties over the space of a week. Hailing End was always his favourite village he was always assured of a great welcome he felt he was apart of this community. He would be given a bed at the village hall if the weather was too bad. Mrs Green would fetch him some hot food and several other kindly villagers would provide him with new boots and clothes. Charlie couldn’t want for much more.

He arrived early evening and the whole of the village was shrouded in a low swirling mist coming down from the hills. He could see lights on in the cottages and as he passed Mrs Green’s he was about to knock but decided not to disturb; he carried on towards the village green. The few street lights in the village revealed an enormous bonfire; the biggest he had seen for a long time. There was dampness in the air from the mist and he thought he felt the odd drop of rain. He pulled back a few branches and tunnelled into the bonfire for some shelter. Rather than being disturbed he put the branches back in place and pulled his coat tightly around him and lay down. He wasn’t the only living thing keeping shelter from the weather he could make out a couple of hedgehogs searching for tasty morsels and a fox which put it nose right up to Charlie, it froze and then darted off back across the green. Charlie knew there would be no festivities tonight so fell into a deep sleep.

Several hours later Charlie was coughing from inhaling a large quantity of smoke. He could feel heat all around him and it took him a moment to realise where he was and what he had foolishly done. His screams for help were drowned by the sound of delighted villagers watching the guy burning on top of the bonfire and the loud rockets whooshing into the night sky. Charlie thrashed around trying to get out but his exit was impeded by burning wood.

Charlie was found later that evening in the smouldering ashes. It was a small child who first noticed and raised the alarm. The festivities were brought to an abrupt halt. Children were taken away from the area; the police cordoned off the area. Mrs Green was being comforted by friends as she looked down at the remains of poor old Charlie and blamed herself. She had seen him pass her window and was going to call out to him but was just too busy. She sobbed as the body was being removed ‘He was my husband.’

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Comments by other Members

tusker at 14:52 on 07 November 2009  Report this post
A sad tale, Laurence.

You've captured a good sense of place and your character Charlie is painted well.

One nit pick: 2nd paragraph, Hailing End was always his favourite village he was always assured of a great welcome he felt he was part of the community.

This sentence jarred a little. A suggestion: Hailing End was his favourite village. Whenever he visited, he always received a great welcome which made him feel part of the community.

Also, I wouldn't have Charlie assume that there'd be no celebrations as the bonfire had been built and normally the celebration goes ahead.

I'd have Charlie crawling in to shelter out of the rain until the proceedings began but he fell asleep.

But, this is a lovely story apart from poor Charlie's demise.


Prospero at 16:30 on 07 November 2009  Report this post
This is very sad, Laurence, particularly when we found out he was married to Mrs Green. She obviously cared and loved him enough to allow him to go his own way. A rare thing, in this or any age.

Thank you for the read.



Bunbry at 17:19 on 07 November 2009  Report this post
Hi Laurence, a good tale but a couple of quick points to consider.

I'm not sure about the last paragraph for a few reasons.

Firstly I'm not sure the burnt body would be identified that quickly - if the fire was at the ashes stage the body would be in a right old state!

Secondly 'he was my husband' is a weird thing to say in the circumstances, so smacks of tell (ie the author telling the story through dialogue rather than letting the thing unfold naturally).

Lastly, would Charlie refer to his ex as Mrs Green?

Hope some of this helps.


crowspark at 18:42 on 07 November 2009  Report this post
Hi Lawrence.
Lovely storytelling. The burning is nicely trailed with the hedgehog.
The ending felt a little rushed to me. This could be fixed, and improve the opener imho, by starting with your 3rd para, "He arrived ..." and put reflective/backstory nearer the end to draw out the action and up the stakes by having fex him wishing he could get back with Mrs Green?


Cholero at 22:49 on 07 November 2009  Report this post

I got an impressively strong sense of atmosphere and a clear image of the damp, cool night setting. Really nicely done.

I found the ending a little rushed, especially the final revelation.

Great mood piece and very sad.


Laurence at 22:56 on 07 November 2009  Report this post
Thanks for the comments. I will certainly take them on board. I wrote this today as some light relief from writing the Nano challenge.


choille at 23:36 on 07 November 2009  Report this post
Hi Laurence - lovely sad story.

I think the tramp calling Mrs Green Mrs green wouldn't happen.

I think it needs an edit to get rid of too much repetition of 'he' in the first couple of paragraphs.

Children were taken away from the area; the police cordoned off the area.
here I would scrub the 'away from the area', as you have 'the area' again in the second part of the same sentence.

After a slash of editing it would be really good.

All the best

Laurence at 23:41 on 07 November 2009  Report this post
Thanks for your comments Caroline i don't think i have the time at the moment to start redrafting but will consider doing so if i decide to take it further.


V`yonne at 23:43 on 07 November 2009  Report this post
Just a tip - when writing flash
As bonfire night was drawing nearer

drew near is shorter!

organise his visits because he knew if he was very careful he could visit
replace the first visit with itinary? Another thing you can avoid is
was being removed
when was removed would do. It didn't matter this time but it saves words. 'some' is also a word that is usually redundant.

I liked the atmosphere you created. It was a dreadful ending to an open relationship. I think you could trim this and extend the pathois a bit. It's a fine idea!

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