The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Red Cap’s Passenger
by Marge Simon
On a Pullman train in the olden times, a dark-skinned man in a red cap is at work. Wearing immaculate white gloves and a beautiful smile, he helps a woman on board. She flaunts a ratty fox stole, her eyebrows plucked and penciled on a powdered canvas of wrinkles. Through lips firmly pursed in a perpetual scowl, she calls him boy.
In the dining car with white tablecloths and shining cutlery there is an extensive menu with elegant service by a personable brown man. But none of it is to her liking: the knives and forks aren’t clean enough, there are crumbs on the carpet, her soup is too hot, her tea too weak, and in a strident voice she calls the waiter boy. In the smoking car, where passengers engage in convivial conversations, she intrudes her opinions, drinks too many Manhattan’s and calls the barman boy. When she chokes on a cherry pit, no one comes rushing to her aid. A voodoo spell, a shaman’s curse? There’s no evidence to tell, but her time upon this mortal coil expires.
A Redcap lays her body in a birth. He buttons up the heavy curtains, respectful of the newly dead – a woman damned to dreams of serving churly passengers with unaccustomed smiles.
Fiction © Copyright Marge Simon
Image courtesy of Rie Sheridan Rose.
More from Marge Simon:
The Demeter Diaries
‘The Demeter Diaries’ is a record of love and longing and the inevitable horror that arises between the minds of Mina Harker and Vlad Dracula as they court one another in waking dreams. The dialogue, written in both poetry and prose, imagines a psychic connection that develops between the two even before Dracula arrives in England. As Dracula makes his way from Transylvania to Whitby on the doomed ship Demeter, the two would-be lovers transmit their thoughts across the waves and lands that separate them, alternately wooing and terrifying one another with the idea of love eternal and all the dark delicacies necessary to ensure it. Front cover art by Wendy Saber Core, interior illustrations by Luke Spooner.