Trifecta 108 – Three Men (One Wise)

doorFrom outside, the sandstone tenement stands as bold and regal as the day it welcomed its first hopeful occupants. Inside, the faded splendour now barely houses even whispered echoes of those first, innocent days. Dark, musty corridors vibrate to the shrill tones of screaming children, while droning televisions go unwatched.  Behind anonymous doors lovers argue and hungry dogs bark. Emergency sirens rise and fall like the threat of approaching thunder before once more fading into the distance.

On the third floor two suited gentlemen challenge a misguided stare.  The warned eyes sensibly sliding back into the safer confines of their room. From the suffocating murkyness one last door begins to form. Blocking the way sits a crumpled old man, seemingly daydreaming as he follows the night stars through an open window. As the men pass under a lone bare bulb he slowly turns to size up the spotlighted visitors.

“Aw right, father? Is he in?” the taller of the two suited men asks, as the fleetingly awkward silence is broken.

The old man locks his gaze on the tall man’s colleague. The silent man appears to squirm under the scrutiny of those wise, if somewhat tired and bloodshot, eyes.

“He is, but he doesn’t want to see you. Not today. Do yourselves a favour lads and go home. Kiss the wife; tell your children a story. Enjoy your Christmas. This can surely wait.”

The one who spoke turned towards his colleague and chuckled.

“Come on old man, move it. We haven’t got all night,” he said.

The two suits squeezed past, the now unguarded door gliding partially open at the merest touch. Scented, smoky air  billowed gently into the corridor as they walked through.

“Hello? Hello!? What the hell is going on in here.”

The door clicked shut; the key turning firmly in the lock.

The old man opens a beer and swallows hard before grimacing; a single tear flows down his weathered cheek. His bones creak and grind as he stands and shuffles away from his post.


These words, based on the third definition of the word ‘father‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 108 writing challenge.The picture used to frame the story is courtesy of Kenneth Todd.

This piece was placed third by my fellow writers within the Trifecta Challenge community. As ever I am flattered that those judging saw something in my work. Much appreciated!

9 thoughts on “Trifecta 108 – Three Men (One Wise)

    1. paulmclem Post author

      That’s one possible scenario i.e. the door to hell. Being honest I haven’t finally decided myself who the old man is working for. Sometimes it’s interesting to leave things ambiguous and see what conclusions people draw. Yours is probably the direction I’m leaning.

  1. ym1611

    Great story, so much mystery in here. I think that it’s the door leading to a three-headed-dog who gives you three choices– if you pick wrong he eats you up 😛
    How’s that for ambiguity 😉

  2. Jo-Anne Teal (@jtvancouver)

    You ended this at the perfect spot, leaving us completely enthralled and wanting more. I enjoyed the entire piece, but those opening sentences make me green with jealousy! Really nicely written, Paul. And, also enjoyed the bits of perfectly placed dialogue.

    Well done and belated, Happy Christmas! :))

  3. trifectawriting

    I like what you said up there about not yet knowing what it all means. I don’t know if you saw the link I posted on Facebook awhile back. A student asked famous writers if their symbolism was intended or not. The overwhelming answer was no. We take from writing what we need, it seems, regardless of what the author intends. Thanks for linking up, Paul. I always enjoy reading your work.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Appreciate the comment Trifecta person. Means a lot when you say you enjoy reading my work. I’m still new to this game but feel I’m making progress, in part due to your testing challenges. Cheers!


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