Alastair’s Photo Fiction – River’s End


Jerren Hawkins had been working the Mississippi Riverboats for nigh on 20 years. Most days you’d likely catch a glimpse of him on three or four of the river’s finest steamers. Those days were nearly at and end: Jerren was heading for dry land and the family pig farm in Wyoming. The Hawkins were big in pigs; Jerren was the only one of his siblings not already rearing prime pork. However, the sickness had taken his older brother and Jerren had been called up.

On his last day Jerren was interrupted as he quietly surveyed the decks of the Marylou-Bell.  ‘Step this way Mr Hawkins,’ said the Chief Steward. Jerren looked worried. 20 years above suspicion and now this.

‘Surprise!’ they all shouted as Jerren was ushered into the staff dining room. Most of these people didn’t know who he was or what he did, but Jerren’s was a familiar face and people, it seems, just like to say goodbye.

As the Marylou docked Jerren was waved off on his way. Once he’d faded from view he checked his inside pocket – fob watch, snuff box and two wallets. Not a bad haul for his last day on the job. Leaving parties sure were good for business.


These 200’ish words form my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of

11 thoughts on “Alastair’s Photo Fiction – River’s End

  1. Jo-Anne Teal (@jtvancouver)

    Well of course I wandered over when I read your allusion to Fagin. Love the musical ‘Oliver’!
    This is well written, Paul! Well paced and unusual. “The Hawkins were big in pigs.” lol! A great introduction to a larger piece and a nice flash on its own.

    Always pleased to see new writings from you!

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Thanks Jo-Anne. Just started reading Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” and Tom Joad was buzzing around in mind when writing this. I’m sure Steinbeck is rolling in his grave at this thought! Always appreciate you dropping by Jo-Anne.

  2. Alastair

    Excellent. Reminds me of a sign in a café near me. It says “Thieves are working in this area” I did ask one of the people who worked there where I signed up 😉

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Cheers Alastair. Yep, the vibe was people knew Jerren but didn’t know what he did. Everyone just assumed he did “something”. He did. Picked pockets!

  3. EagleAye

    Aha, clever man. A successful pickpocket for 20 years? That’s impressive. Love the twist in the end. Nicely written story with a fully developed character.


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