Friday Fictioneers: Modern

You too can be a Friday Fictioneer! Just hop over to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ site, read the guidelines and look at the picture, and write your own hundred word (more or less) story.

And if that doesn’t sound like your kind of fun, follow Rochelle’s InLinkz collection to enjoy an unpredictable assortment of tales inspired by this photo –


New York harbor. Looming masts and low-lying steamships.

“It’s been a quick trip, for sail. But steam’s the future,” says a young man in a bowler. The man beside him grunts. “With a steamship, you just plow straight ahead steady as a train. Modern.” Bowler-hat smiles at the harbor, the city, the world.

“The fare’s too much.”

Something’s happening. Men jostle up the gangplank and take hold of the grunter. “Here, you can’t…” says bowler-hat.

“Albert Gregory?”

“What’s it to you?”

“You’re under arrest for burglary…”

“I ain’t even set foot in your country yet!”

“Theft, and murder…”

Bowler-hat gapes. “He hasn’t been off the ship!”

“In London, sir,” says one of the intruders to bowler-hat. “They want him bad. Paid my passage by steamship. I’ve been waiting here ten days.” Albert Gregory is hustled away, struggling.

Bowler-hat shakes his head in wonder as he watches them go. “Steam,” he murmurs to himself. “That’s the future, all right.”

* * *

A couple of notes:

First, I’ve never heard of a real person named Albert Gregory (I picked the name because it sounded vaguely appropriate for the mid to late nineteenth century). If there are any actual men of that name, this story has nothing to do with them.

On the other hand, my story is closely based on a real incident. I can’t locate the details right now, but during the period when sailing ships were losing the competition with newer technology, someone broke into an elderly London woman’s home and robbed and murdered her.

Unfortunately, by the time Scotland Yard knew who they wanted to arrest, he was in the middle of the Atlantic sailing to New York. So the detective in charge of the case was provided with a steamship ticket, and when the criminal’s ship docked the detective was waiting to arrest him.

As far as I know, the young man with the bowler hat is my invention. But he could have been there.

14 responses to “Friday Fictioneers: Modern

  1. Good tale made more interesting by the fact that it’s based on a true story. Nice.

  2. Well I’m glad you made brought it to life and shared with us 🙂

  3. Dear Sharon,

    Bummer of a trip. To think Mr. Gregory nearly made it. No thanks. We have met our quota for murderers and thieves this year. Nice one.



  4. Dear Sharon,

    Albert Gregory was a great choice of name. Fit your story perfectly. Sail, steam, diesel, electricity, air planes, jets, Concorde, warp speed, Mr. Sulu. This time the bad guy should have chosen steam. I love ho you picked this incident and tailored it to your tale.



    • Thank you! I like to think that “my” murderer’s parents named their sweet little baby boy after Prince Albert. But he’d probably tell you that it’s all his victim’s fault (and now we’re talking about the real victim and real murderer and real crime again) that he was on a sailing ship – she didn’t have enough money in the house to pay for an expensive steamship ticket.

      Also – I’m so glad you realized that the point of the story (well, aside from telling about an odd little incident) is the way what’s modern keeps moving on!

  5. That story is so interesting! Thank you for turning it into this lovely little drabble and sharing it with us. 🙂

  6. Great story! It’s amazing what a photograph can inspire. 🙂

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