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Street Clock Green...A Short Story in Response to Billybuc's Photo Challenge/Prompt #5


Bill's challenge was to write a short story that one or more of his photos of Puget Sound inspired. I chose all three of his photos to create my story: The Street Clock; the Mansion; the Bair Museum. (I added my own photo at the closing paragraph.) One of the challenges in writing this flash fiction short was maintaining the street clock's tone of narration when I decided to use the clock as the storyteller from his point of view, while not including any dialogue that I love to write.

I took the liberty of combining a few facts with a lot of fiction in 'Street Clock Green.' It was fun. Thank you, Bill.


Street Clock Green

My home is in an old small town off of Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. I've stood here for over thirty years embedded in streetscape pavement, immutable as the cast iron tower that holds me. My face is luminous-round like the moon, with hands that summon and guide the wanderers of time. Solitary but not alone, I have many friends in neighboring cities and towns. Some are more ornate, taller or older than others. Yet locals, tourists and strays still find comfort in our mystic beacons of the past, and the sureness of the heart that beats -- melodious or silent. We whisper to each other in the small hours of the morning. You may have heard us on the wind or in your dreams. For we are the clock watchers...and oh, the stories we could tell.

Aside from the beautiful vistas of blue water, something else distinguishes my coastal community: Ghosts. I can see them at night and hear them during the day. You would be surprised to learn how many revenants linger in your world. They have either a possessive nature that binds them to memories that no longer remember them, or a debt that must be repaid before they part the veil and answer the welcoming calls of Heaven. Souls who have sinned unspeakably are not invited.


To the right of my view of Puget Sound rests a stately Victorian mansion, painted street clock green. It has borne many enterprises over the years, including a bed and breakfast once owned by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Pugsley.

What is not commonly known -- at least, not on the fleshly plane of the living -- is that Samuel murdered his wife, Katherine. Like the salt-sea air, the energy of the ill-departed can seep furtively into the surrounding walls. Kate sought refuge there as she imposed her revenge. Swathed in white, she would float in the air near the ceiling along the hallways. Her vaporous image and mournful wails soon spurred the hasty departure of her husband's guests.

She has since journeyed through the welcoming gateways of Heaven. Samuel was never called. Having little tolerance for the social norms, after his death, he would make his presence known by causing parts of his decaying torso to materialize in the main foyer. He has mellowed in recent decades. The current owners are wise to shrug off the occasional scratching sounds in the attic, the cold drafts, the sporadic flickering of lights. It is fortunate they cannot see the red coals of Samuel's eyes.

The wanderers of time should never engage the uninvited, no matter how ardent and taunting their overtures may seem. To do so gives them the power they seek to possess the living, growing inside -- slowly, imperceptibly -- until they become replicants of their former selves. I have seen this happen.


To the left of my view of The Sound rests the Bair Drug and Hardware Museum. Originally built in 1895, the pharmacy was expanded with the addition of a hardware store, post office and soda fountain. The white clapboard building is now a museum, managed by members of a local historical society who lease the rear section to the owners of a cozy bistro.

The founder, Warren Bair, was a kindly man. Meticulous by nature, he spent many hours attending to his beloved business. I know this because he is still there. Fearing that his mark upon the world would be erased if he moved on, he preferred instead to define his presence by a different clock. And he is not alone. After his daughter, Mary, succumbed to pneumonia, rather than traveling to the higher spiritual realm, her heart chose another path...to remain behind with the father she loved.

Nocturnal in their endeavors, Warren busies himself with wiping imaginary dust from the old potbelly stove or adjusting bottles on the fountain counter-top. Mary prefers kitchen tasks that afford other tactile stimulation, such as polishing the cutlery.

Dramas do occur. One evening, a tourist entered the museum with a large and unruly Sheepdog tethered to a leash. Appalled at her impertinence, Warren shot a blast of hot breath down the back of the woman's neck. He chuckled quietly as she fled the establishment in a tight-lipped panic, dragging the bewildered dog behind her. Mary was not amused. She later scolded her father for his behavior by scorching bagels on the bistro grill. The offensive odor lingered throughout the soda fountain for hours.

Such family squabbles are rare and fleeting, however. More often, their silent presence speaks through other mediums -- the restaurant chairs that overturn themselves into tidy huddles, the scent of cinnamon that warms the morning air. Both owners and patrons accept these odd happenings with the same spirit of humor and grace they are intended.


My stories must come to a close for now. The sun grows frail on the horizon and the whispers will soon begin. How pleasant it is to watch the ocean coax the molten gold and copper from the sky.

I have enjoyed our visit together, and wish you well on your journey and choice of paths. My name is Ezra. Perhaps we shall meet again...either here, on the wind or in your dreams. Only time will tell.

(Although the Bair Museum is reputed to be haunted, the local historical society and Bair Bistro do not endorse such events by members of the Bair family. These stories are purely fiction. The names, Samuel and Katharine Pugsley, are products of the author's imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.)

2020 Genna Eastman

© 2020 Genna East


Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 16, 2020:

Hi Chris...

Thanks so much. The challenge when writing this was to sustain Ezra's voice throughout his narration...it's kind of like writing a story with one character, which is not something I'm used to. I like to "mix it up" with my characters.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on July 15, 2020:

This is such a unique approach to the prompt. I enjoyed reading about life on the other side. Thanks for sharing.

Genna East on July 09, 2020:

Thank you, Lawrence. Good to see you. -)

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 06, 2020:


What an enjoyable story.

Genna on June 29, 2020:

Thank you Bill for helping to make HP so special. Enjoy your holiday weekend my friend.

billbuc on June 29, 2020:

Just dropping by to wish you a Happy 4th of July. I hope you are safe and healthy, my friend. Thank you for being a part of my HP community.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on June 20, 2020:

Hello Fawzan...

My sincere apologies at being so late in responding. I must have missed this email about your comment. Thanks so much for that nice comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. :-)

Fawzan Studio on June 09, 2020:

Great work Genna . You are really talented in writing .

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 31, 2020:

Hello Mark...

This was fun to write...and I have to say that the credit belongs to Bill and his wonderful photos that awaken and stir our imaginations. Thank you for the visit and thoughtful comment.

Mark Tulin from Palm Springs, California on May 30, 2020:

I enjoyed this story very much, Genna. Your love for the characters comes through, and I especially enjoyed your inclusion into the spiritual world.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 29, 2020:

Hi Greg...

Thank you for those very kind words. I wanted the street clock to have the name of Ezra, but didn't want to divulge that until the end of the story.

The closing line you quoted...I used something similar in another story or poem years ago -- I can't remember which -- but some of the words popped into my head again as I looked at the photo of the sunset. Actually, I don't think words can do justice to the beauty of nature, no matter how hard we try. It is a language unto itself. Rather, we are like children with our faces pressed against the glass, eyeing something delicious, desirable, divine and dispassionate that we can see but cannot have, fully describe or understand -- at least, not until we get to the other side. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 29, 2020:

Hello Verlie...

What a generous comment; thank you. It's good to see you. Hope all is well in Canada and that you are well, and are staying safe. Meilleurs, mon amie.

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on May 29, 2020:

Genna - this is an impressive piece. I zoomed in on the same lines Bill did, so 'nuff said about that. I also, however, love-loved this:

"How lovely to watch the ocean coax the molten gold and copper from the sky."

That's perfected craft, coming as the story is winding down and Ezra identifies as the narrator for the closing. Simply superb.

Nicely done!

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on May 29, 2020:

Wonderful storytelling Genna, all that Mike said, and more. Your craftsmanship is impeccable.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 29, 2020:

Hi Flourish...

Keeping the vernacular was the challenge with this piece, so I appreciate that comment. Thank you! Imagination visits us when we least expect it. Your limitless imagination in writing your wonderful musical song themes always amazes me. Have a great weekend. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 29, 2020:

Hello Rajan...

I'm pleased you enjoyed the story. Many thanks for the visit and kind comment.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 29, 2020:

Hi Linda...

Thank you. This was fun to write. Bill gives us such interesting photos that stir the imagination. Enjoy your weekend. :-)

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 28, 2020:

You have quite a talent for these ghostly stories. I like how you add an authentic vernacular to the narrative. Nicely done! I hope you continue these.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 28, 2020:

What a captivating story you have woven around the pictures. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 27, 2020:

I love this story, Genna. You have a great imagination and you are a skillful writer. That's a wonderful combination. I enjoy reading ghost stories. You've created an excellent example.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 27, 2020:

Hi Shauna...

Thanks so much for the visit. I enjoyed your story. My starting point was the street clock and what kind of stories he would tell. That's when I researched Bair, as I mentioned in my comments below. I wanted the "ghost" story to represent the choices we make in life, and their imprints on time -- and others. This was such fun, wasn't it? :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 27, 2020:


Hello my friend. Thank you for the generous, melodic and poetic comment. Very original. :-) I have to check on the "edits" HP made to this; I understand they felt the need for changes.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 27, 2020:

Genna, I love a good ghost story and this certainly fits the bill. When I responded to Bill's challenge, I wanted to bring the man in the drugstore window to life through death. But my muse took a different direction. Kudos to you for making him part of your otherworldly story.

Great job on answering Bill's challenge, Genna!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 27, 2020:

Hi Genna - Writing as smooth as a wave rolling up on a New England shoreline. As graceful as a gull gliding down after the crust of Manhatten Clam Chowder bread bowl. As comforting as the gulls cry, sent out to greet the rising sun.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 26, 2020:

Hi Linda...

I did some research on Bair Drug & Hardware as I was curious about its history -- Bill's photo seemed to invite that curiosity for me. That's when I found out it was rumored to be haunted. This gave me the idea to create a "ghost" story as a metaphor for the choices we make in life and the ways they can leave an imprint on time.

No one knows who is haunting Bair -- some speculate it might be Warren, his wife, or another family member. So I decided to put Warren there along with his daughter, a reason to support that contention, then made up the story about the Sheepdog. The story then seemed to take on life of its own. But I had to include the disclaimer at the conclusion just to be safe.

You live in a lovely coastal community, Linda. It is a gem. I hope this stays a hidden one, or you will have far more than 6,000 residents once the secret is out.

Thanks so much for that very generous comment. It brought such a huge smile. :-)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 26, 2020:

Hi Maria...

Spending time with Ezra -- very clever. :-) I would too. Thanks so much for the visit and kind comment. Love you.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on May 26, 2020:

Holy goodness gracious Genna; I might never go downtown again! This is my home, the first town incorporated in the State of Washington, with a population of about 6,000 (living) souls.

Obviously you've done your homework on Steilacoom, but have taken this brief series of snapshots far beyond what anyone (even Bill) could have imagined. You simply MUST keep writing. Write a book. You are truly a gifted author.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on May 26, 2020:

I would love to spend time with Ezra any time, dear Genna.

Listening to Enya is an added bonus this morning.

Thank you for a mysterious and compelling read. Love, Maria

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 26, 2020:

Hi Bill.

Thank you! Your comment leaves me humbled and grateful, as I view you as the gem of HP. You are the writer's writer, and will always be one of my favorites. I don't know what we at HP would do without you, your encouragement and support. :-) The paragraph you picked is perhaps the centerpiece of this story. But you deserve the credit for this piece, my friend, with your choice of photographs.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 26, 2020:

Hi John.

Very perceptive. The Bair Museum is actually reputed to be haunted. But this gave me the idea of using the "Ghost" story as a metaphor for the choices we make in life, and how they can leave an imprint on time. I chose the name Ezra, the ancient scribe, for the street clock. Thank you for that thoughtful comment. Enya has always been one of my favorites.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 26, 2020:

Hello Pamela. Thanks so much for the visit and kind words. I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 25, 2020:

"The wanderers of time should never engage the uninvited, no matter how ardent and taunting their overtures may seem. To do so gives them the power they seek to possess the living, growing inside -- slowly, imperceptibly -- until they become replicants of their former selves. I have seen this happen."...that is such good writing, my friend. Really first-rate and a pleasure to read. For every thousand specks of sand on HP, occasionally a rare gem comes along, restoring the faith for us all. You are that gem!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on May 25, 2020:

Genna, a very enjoyable "ghost" story. I loved the narration by Ezra, and you made it all sound it very believable. Enya's music always has that haunting quality too.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 25, 2020:

This ghost story is very good. I like the way you incorporated the pictures into the story. I would say you met the challenge.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 25, 2020:

Hi Ruby...

What is enjoyable about writing short stories is not only the opportunity to use our imaginations, but also creating dialogue with multiple characters as it helps to define who they are. The challenge with this one was in sustaining Ezra's "voice" or narration. It was a departure for me, and I don't know if I'd try this again. (Lol.) Thank you, dear Ruby, for your encouraging words. Happy Memorial Day!

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on May 25, 2020:

Thank you, Peg. It was fun. I don't have much time to write these days but I enjoyed Bill's challenge. I hope you had an enjoyable holiday weekend.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 25, 2020:

What can I say except you're a talented story teller. The paranormal adds much to the story. Wouldn't it be great if we could choose to stay with our loved ones until they're ready to make that celestial journey? Bravo Genna!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 25, 2020:

This is a good ghost story, or haunting story if you will. I believe you did an imaginative good job with the photo challenge of Bill's.

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