There are so many flash fiction timed competitions now, the sort where you are given a photo or word prompt and a set time – often mere hours – to write a punchy flash fiction. I sign up to them and swear blind I’ll enter this week honestly, but I never do.
It’s the time element that doesn’t suit me, I think; but I’ve used such prompts quite a lot and worked on the flashes until I’m happy with them. I saw this photo on the Angry Hourglass site back in October 2014:
The photo reminded me of the sort of characters we have in Liverpool. The city is full of them, the wonderful busker Jacky (aka Plinkety Plink, because he mimed playing a cardboard guitar and sang “plinkety-plink” to Beatles songs, no matter the actual lyric) who performed outside Probe Records in the 1980s. Jacky died and was replaced by a doppleganger who carried on in his stead, like a tribute act of sorts.
I remember too Cherry Red frequenting pubs in the city centre, so called because he put shoe polish on his head in an effort to conceal his balding pate. The Cherry Red and Plinkety-Plink monikers were not meant as cruel or nasty, but affectionately and both men are still spoken about with fondness.
So when I saw the pic of the man in his top hat on Angry Hourglass I imagined him prancing about in Liverpool or another city and getting up to all sorts. I wrote a flash fiction about him called Follow The Finger; it went quite dark in the end, as my flashes often do. Last week some six months after I first saw the photo Follow The Finger was published over at Flash Fiction Magazine. You can read it here.