Prologue To The Hangman’s Tale

Bloggers note: A prologue is a cheesy device by which we set the time and place of the forthcoming story without having to worry about plot development or other stuff that makes your head hurt.

Old Bristle is a dreary seaside village in the north of England. From its creaking, splintered wharfs you can look across the briny deep toward Ireland and dream of something green. A stony gray wash is the prevailing hue of everything and everybody in town. So, the hope of something as near as an Irish island that God painted green is a longing that underlies all that inhabits Old Bristle.

You would think a seafaring village’s docks would be bustling with fishing boats, sea-soaked knotted nets and makeshift shops hawking the catch of the day. Truth be told, when a fishing boat takes to the water and its crew realizes there is an horizon to sail for, the boats rarely return. The source of Old Bristle’s commerce and the only industry it boasts (other than the dozens of public houses, drink being a great pastime in such places) is the broom factory at the edge of town.

The Straw Pole Broom Works employs most of Old Bristle’s working class. They produce a fine broom and revel in the fact that the Royal Family uses Straw Pole brooms to sweep out the Royal stables. Flimsy, brittle weak-straw brooms from the south would be no match for the weight and bearing of HRH’s well-fed equine’s road apples. It requires a real “stiffy” of a broom, and those are made only in Old Bristle. The locals are fond of saying, “Ye never saw any horse shit on the Bonny Prince’s boots after a ride, have ye? You can thank the stiff, sturdy sweeping the stables get with a Straw Pole broom. God save the Queen!”

The locals are indeed a sad and dreary lot.

Aside from the broom factory, tourists do arrive at the Old Village rail station to visit one of the world’s most historic and storied golf courses. The course at St. Mildew’s has been one of the sport’s most hallowed venues. The difficulty of its play is infamous. Even the most skilled players curse its unforgiving fairways and hidden traps. But, St. Mildew’s is the social hub of the village. It’s pub house, The Vomiting Hound, serves as town hall as well as the secular church of the dank souls inhabiting this foggy stretch of English peat moss. It has done so since the late 17th century and is the one landmark known to both the young and the dying. There could be no Old Bristle without the Vomiting Hound. There would be no need for the hound to vomit without Old Bristle.

But, today, the wind seems a bit colder and the streets a bit danker. The gray cloud that leaves its imprint everywhere on Old Bristle seems heavier. The sky’s color more charcoal. Even the seabirds seem restless and almost completely disinterested in their scaveging.

Something is about to change. And change has never been kind to Old Bristle.

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One Comment on “Prologue To The Hangman’s Tale”

  1. Uncle E Says:

    I can tell right now that you won’t be able to write fast enough for me, Phil. Great opening, I really get the ‘feel’ of the town (right down to the smell of Guinness puke and horse apples!) from your prologue.

    Now, get back to writing more, ye cartooning scallywag!


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