Wednesday 11 December 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 137

This week's picture prompt is of Barber's chair in the Eastern State Penitentiary, also known as ESP, a former American prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is now abandoned but was was operational from 1829 until 1971. Taken in 2004, by Wiki contributor Bruce Cooper known as CentPacRR

This one went dark, as I suspected it might! In some ways not as dark as it could have gone, but still. 

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He lay back in the chair as the barber pumped the foot, raising him up. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of someone touching his hair. It wasn’t often these days that he got to experience such luxury as the caress of another human. He missed the sensation of skin on skin, even if only finger tips on scalp. He enjoyed the warmth of the massage and the thrill of it. He squeezed his legs together hoping that thrill wouldn’t show. It seemed crazy for a grown man to react such a way, especially as it was a male barber, but still, it had been years, more than twenty now.

He thought about other things he missed to take his mind off it: walks in the park holding hands with someone, seeing others moving about in the sunshine, the movement of trees and how clouds would sail across the sky.

He imagined the air on his face and the smell of it. He took a deep breath, almost tasting it. He thought about all those bodies moving around in it, expending their energy. How he used to enjoy people-watching during the day – and at night, too. He’d walk along the street and catch glimpses of them in their living rooms. Occasionally he would stand on the other side of the street and look for longer. He’d envy them their cosy warmth, cuddled up with a loved one, or surrounded by family or friends, all so snugly, never really knowing what it was to be alone and rejected by society, by your peers, and especially by your family.

He shuffled in the seat, trying to shift the unpleasant feelings such remembrances brought. Instead he turned his mind to her – the one.

He’d loved her intensely. People said it wasn’t possible to love someone like that from afar, but he had done. He’d watched her and followed her, and kept her safe. She’d had no idea how many men he’d diverted and disposed of for her.

But eventually he’d wanted to be close to her – needed to be close to her. He’d wanted to have her to himself. And he’d known she’d wouldn’t come willingly, oh no, not to him.

That’s when everything had started to slide. He’d had to keep her locked up, because she would make so much noise and protest so much when he’d wanted to touch her. It hadn’t gone as well as he’d hoped or imagined. She hadn’t eventually given in and loved him back as he had believed. And then she’d managed to break free one day and the police had turned up.

His brain hadn’t retained much of the details, not after all this time or after all the things they had done to him in here; all the electric shock treatments and other delights for the criminally insane.

He shuffled in the chair again. His face was itching now the barber had shaved his face, but he couldn’t reach it. He’d have to wait until they took him back to his cell and took this straight jacket off. It was the worst part of the six-weekly visits to the prison barber.


  1. This story feels like the veil lifting into the dark past of the penitentiary. Through my love of paranormal things I know the place well, and I feel you captured life there well in a few short words. I love how let us know what the criminal did in such a creative way too. Great job!

  2. Here is my take on this and last weeks pictures all rolled into one. Thanks to both fitting one of Holly's scenes perfectly. Choked in a Chalk Mine Hope you like it.