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A prodigal return

by Prospero 

Posted: 22 June 2012
Word Count: 300
Summary: A re-tread on the theme of returning

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“You crazy bastard, don’t expect me to come looking for you. You’re gonna die up there. Y'hear!”
Thorn waved or maybe he was batting at a fly, it was hard to tell with his back turned like that. Gimp cussed and spat into a puddle. ‘Godammit, if that boy ain't the most ornery summabitch in all a God’s green acres.’ He watched as Thorn, the mule laden with provisions and the little flock of sheep struggled upwards through the snow and mud until they disappeared behind a rock fall. 'Wasn’t the Yukon tough enough without taking off into the mountains in the middle of winter like that.' "Good luck, Jason", he muttered to himself. Then limped towards the saloon and the promise of beer with a whiskey chaser.

It was well into summer when an emaciated figure staggered back down the trail into Dawson City. The man was weighed down under what looked like a huge sack and his tattered boots left bloody spoor at every step. Although he limped and weaved as he walked there was a fierce determination about him that stopped anyone from offering to help though a chinaman with a handcart hovered close just in case.

The man was scanning the storefronts as he passed and when he turned into the Land Registry there was a flutter of interest amongst the on-lookers. When he came out again an hour later clutching a brown envelope which could only mean a registered claim the crowd second guessed him and headed for the Assay Office. Only those near the front heard him say. “I used an old Indian trick and staked sheep skins to the river bed to leech the gold out of the water up at Moose Creek. Tell my Pa, Jason has returned with a golden fleece."

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Comments by other Members

Bunbry at 10:25 on 23 June 2012  Report this post
Very visual John, I could see him disappear into the distance only to return nearly broken months later. A cracking last line too.

A couple of suggestions - I don't think the title fits 'Prodigal' means wasteful and this chap is anything but.

Secondly, you have some sections in single speech marks and others in double ones which threw me. You don't use speech marks for thoughts if that is what you were doing.

Hope that helps


Prospero at 10:49 on 23 June 2012  Report this post
Hi Nick

Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully.



fiona_j at 11:54 on 23 June 2012  Report this post

This is a good story of a son returning with good fortune against all odds. I love the last line too, definitely a good mix of mythical stories in this.


euclid at 19:17 on 23 June 2012  Report this post
Hi John,

It wasn't clear to me that this was a father-son story,
not at the beginning or even at the end.

The last paragraph has too many "when"s in. (imo)

And: What is "bloody spoor"?

Nice story.


Cornelia at 20:28 on 23 June 2012  Report this post
Lol. A clever one. I liked the details, especially the hovering chinaman with the handcart, whom I suspected was the town coffin maker.


blob at 08:31 on 24 June 2012  Report this post
This another clever story - like JJs too big a story for 500 words IMO! I've said this before but there is a school of thought that says don't start a story with dialogue and in this case, I would agree - the line distracted me and prevented me from getting into the real story.

Great last line!!

crowspark at 08:48 on 24 June 2012  Report this post
An excellent flash, John. It has your signature jump-off-the-page character and great writing.


Earl Grey at 17:26 on 05 July 2012  Report this post
It's good without being brilliant.

'...The man was weighed down under what looked like a huge sack and his tattered boots left bloody spoor at every step...' - great line. You taught me a new word so thank you!

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