What the heck is a punt?

Before I answer that question I’d like to give the results of last week’s vote:


Black & Ramer Insurance graphic contest winner Martha Kelley

The majority has spoken and the third ending …  poetic justice won. I am happy to report that I discovered we still have some romantics among us, and happily some twisted readers like me.

Thanks to all who participated.

I’d love at some point to send this off and see whether other bloggers would do the same, write a series of flash fiction that spans their genre.

This week’s prompt was the first I received that Wednesday morning.

what comes first

An educational game by Mayer Johnson

Tell me if  you would. When you hear a new word or an old word used a different way, do you take the time to look it up? I did that and I also did some quick research on rivers in Australia. The Darling River is in the outback of New South Whales and of late she is in terrible condition.

Okay, okay.

… a punt is what a member of a football team does when the team has to reliquish the ball

… or it’s a flat bottomed boat that is used primarily on narrow riverways to negotiation shallow waters.

It is also part of the writing prompt contributed by my dear friend, Debra Eve, at Late Bloomer.

Thank you, Debra. Here is your story:

“She was rumored to have traveled to Australia after the trial, with nothing more than a punt, a Pekinese, and two bottles of old bourbon.”

Sadie McCloud sat on the front steps of her family’s house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Her mind was addled from three days of slogging half way around the globe to come to this location. A location she had run from over forty years before.

She was rumored to have traveled to Australia after the trial, with nothing more than a punt, a Pekinese, and two bottles of old bourbon.

Rumors could not be relied on for the whole truth. The whole truth was that the punt came to her by default in the outback. It came in damn handy when she needed to negotiate the Darling River after the spring rains. The Pekinese was a ratty pup who attached himself to her ankles. When she couldn’t kick him away, she decided to feed him. For a time, she thought the little runt would out live her. Now all that was left were his bones buried deep in the ground off the river’s edge.

She reached into an old leather sack and felt around for the cool of the bottle. Well, at least that part was spot on. Sadie never traveled anywhere without her bourbon.

She was born in 1942. A breach her mother told her. “Even then you did everything ass backwards.”

Her given name was Sarah Patricia O’Connor. In 2012, the year of Our Lord, Sadie had reached seven full decades on this good earth. She stomped her foot on the concrete and grinned. Not much earth under my old feet this day.

She was a tall woman, sturdy and muscular. Her skin was tanned to leather. Her hair was thick and wild and white, her clear blue eyes needed no lenses for reading or to judge distance, and her brain was sharper than someone half her age.

She warned the young ones who tapped messages on tiny screens. “Best watch your manners or you’ll be sorry.”

Her sudden appearance might have caused alarm if there was anyone left alive that she knew. But for the two hours she waited for her nephew to come, she didn’t see one familiar face. Across the avenue, Becker’s Grocery, the old Italian shoe maker, and the Sweed’s bakery were all gone. Replaced by a Starbucks, and a small restaurant called The Eatery.

She could have waited inside the house. The keys came in the post with all the paperwork. One of the young ones read through the papers, tapped on more keys and sent email. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”

At first she had refused to come in person. Modern technology made it possible to do everything with electronic gadgets and overnight mail; fast and furious like the world had become.

Sadie stood and stretched, and turned to the front door four steps above the sidewalk. It’s the same damn door that closed on my ass forty years ago.

Why had she come back to this place? She fingered the keys hearing her mother’s voice. “You lose another set of keys, I’ll lay into you with the strap.”

She let her eyes scroll up to the third floor, counting windows to find her old bedroom. Then scrolled down to the basement door, hidden under the front steps. It was fitting that this door should be hidden below the steps. The door that brought her to trial. The door that had ended her life as Sarah O’Connor and began her life of Sadie; hippie, wanderer. Sadie; murderer.

She had traveled from another world to stand by that door and by all that was right in the heavens, she would face it down at last.

She hoisted her bag, and fingering the keys, found the one that opened the basement door. The first time she tried to slip the key into the lock, her hands shook so violently, the keys clattered to the ground.

She finally opened it and was assaulted by the dank stench of filth and neglect. Without needing to look she reached out and flipped on the light at the entrance. She tried the other lights but only the one had a bulb, the others sat on the ceiling like skulls, their eyes gouged out.

It was dark that night, darker than death. But the darkness made her feel safe. She took the bottle from the brown paper bag and crouched down behind the old water heater. She heard him call from the steps. “Get out here or I’ll snap your neck like a chicken.”

She was dizzy from too much drink. Then she heard the sounds of gunshots, of sirens, women screaming, lights flashing.

“Aunt Sadie? Is that you in there?”

She turned to see her nephew, the one who send electronic mail and talked on cell phones. “You should at least see the place one more time before you sell it.”

The young ones told her. “Get out now, Sadie. The river is polluted. The town is dead. Leave now and start over.”

She told her nephew on the phone. “Who starts over at seventy?”

“You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to. But at least come back and see the place. There are four people who are bidding ridiculous amounts of money. The neighborhood has changed and the Vietnamese are buying up everything in sight.”

Three months later, Sadie McCord sat inside a screened patio near the beach in Southern California. The young ones met her there. “Did you get a lot of money for the house?”

“Don’t be putting your noses in places they don’t belong.”

She thought of John McCord and the life they had on the Darling River. “You should be glad we don’t have a basement, John.”

“Why’s that, Sadie?”

She took a pull from the bottle. ” ‘Cause last time I was in a basement, I got drunk and got away with murder.”


How do you do research for a new story?

Have you ever used writing promts to exercise your gray cells?

fOIS In The Ctiy

Next week the sentence contributed by Anne R. Allen.


Filed under Flash Fiction

29 responses to “What the heck is a punt?

  1. Brava, Florence! Love Sadie, love the ending. I want to know more about her. Did she run afoul of Prohibition perhaps? Punt was also the name for the Irish pound until 2002, and without even knowing that, you gave Sadie an Irish name. Thanks for a great story!


  2. Hi Florence!

    Yep I love to research! And one of my fave things about my kindle is the easiness of defining words. I’m researching so much for the story I’m working on too. It’s half the job!

    Sorry I missed the contest! Hope you’re well. 😀


  3. How can I not connect with Sadie? I’ve been backasswards ever since my birth, too. Debra’s fantastic prompt deserved a wicked ending, and you delivered.


  4. Oooh, I loved this one, Florence. Then again, when do I not?
    Thanks for letting me read this this morning. It started my day off with a positive bang.
    You are just SO good at this.


    • Hey, Patti. I think I love it too. So when we truly love something we get better at it, don’t we? Glad you enjoyed the little flash. What would you think of doing a round robin with a group of other bloggers?? Anywho … glad I started your day with a bang 🙂


  5. christicorbett

    Amazing as always! This is my favorite so far…and the ending! Wow!

    Christi Corbett


  6. vicki batman

    Oh, Florence, you have stunned me. Wow–shaking head–wow!!!


  7. Ooooo, now a “punt” for us Londoners is when we “take a punt” meaning make a bet, place a bet or take a chance lol



  8. Florence, You own a certain kind of magic when it comes to snatching a beginning line, letting the plot line roll out of you, and allowing your imagined characters to reveal themselves. But you are one wicked lady when it comes to story conclusions. I adore your wickedness, but I’d wear a bulletproof vest and carry a Sicilian butter knife in my silk stocking were I to visit you, even on a good day.

    Prompts? I’ve never been much good with them. I can see my way through a brief scene by way of a painted picture, but I’m the kind of writer who edits as he goes. Sentence by sentence. I sculpt and I mold.

    Research? Well, right now I’m reading a biography of one of my favorite authors, Richard Yates. As I read, I take note of questions that arise inside my crooked mind. As well, I look to find parallels between his life and my own (as in “write what you think you know”).

    You are a talented writer. I’ll wager a bet that you’re a graceful dancer and a warm-hearted singer, too.


    • Anthony, I can’t imagine the process one must go through to construct poetry. It certainly is a different world you live and research. Ah, a Sicillain butter knife? Then we are both wicked.

      I appreciate you kind words and truthfully, I have cut a rug or two and love to sing 🙂


  9. All my research tends to be through Google. Haven’t used writing prompts, but I do love journaling from my character’s POV when I’m ‘stuck.’


  10. You have an amazing imagination, Florence. I love Sadie’s story and now I want to know, are you going to write the rest of it. Because, you know, I’m hanging here ….


  11. Positively delicious. Sadie’s story is magical from the first word and keeps getting better and better. You placed your reader in a tumbler wheel with her and gave each of us a grand ride.


  12. Florence,

    If I need a prompt, I generally just have to look around me. Or pull out some photos. Or think a bit more about the scene or topic or character I’m dealing with.

    As for research, I use what the subject demands, maps, internet sites for places or data (used to be encyclopedias), other books on the topic, people who are involved in the subject or career or have expert knowledge.

    I have to say you came up with a most interesting character and backstory to pull us in this time. Yippee for you.


  13. Research? Blech. Curiousity? WOOT!

    It’s all in the phrasing for me, Florence.

    Research suggests history. History leads to history class. History class wakens memories of chalkboard erasers whizzing past my head because I stared out the window daydreaming rather than let the droner teacher drone away my fantasy glee.

    I again(!) missed The Day of The Post.

    But, I think I was meant to read it today. Today is the day I finally, finally bid farewell to house staging and get back to telling lies writing fiction, and living vicariously through my characters.

    What better way to start my day than with a stellar read from an aces writer who put me on-scene in a rank basement in Brooklyn? KUDOS! You rocked that one!


    • Gloria, we rebels must find new ways to learn and not get those flash backs of eracers flying, heads shaking and Oh … did you also get the lecture about throwing your potential out the window??? I learn better on my own to a point and since I am the one who knows what that point is … doing the research has now become more of a fun challenge.

      So we are both getting back to our WIP?? Good for us both. Glad you liked Sadie … really strange things can happen in rank basements 🙂


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