Alta’s Boarding House

PROMPTUARIUM: They don’t know.

Wilhelm Roegge


On the top floor of Mrs Alta Wellington’s  house is an attic that has been divided into two rooms. One room is bright and sunny and Alta rents that room to an artist named Jorry Tomford.

Jorry is a painter, and a sometimes sculptor who likes to take his sketchbook to the park by the river. He sits at a bench on the main path and as he sketches he will look up from his pad and grit his teeth and scowl at people as people walk by so that they will have no doubt that they have interupted an important work of art in progress

But they haven’t of course. Jorry hasn’t painted a picture or gone to parties and drank to much or had affairs with women who drank poison after turned them away from his door and denied them his love since he took the room at Mrs. Wellingston’s house.

The other room is a little darker and a little cooler on hot Summer days and freezing on slightly cooler days and that room is occupied by Neely Hanan who writes stories about vampires who tear open women’s corsets before  they drink their victim’s blood and poems  where she compares women’s breasts to cupcakes and chocolate cordials.

Neely will tell you she doesn’t write “rapey” stories but really, she does. She also likes to day dream about pushing people in front of buses or cars and then walking away.

Neely and Jorry sometimes pass each other going up or down the attic stairs and sometimes they leave the house at exactly the same time and never once  have they said hello to each other, or goodby or even go to Hell.

As far as they were concerned the other did not exist.

One day they were forced into a conversation, so on that day they had to actually look each other in the eye.

As they were both leaving the house that day they both saw a newspaper on the hall table and on the front page was a picture of a circus train and in front of the cars where tigers and lions rode were some of the performers decked out in their costumes.

Nobody was smiling-except for the tigers.

The headline read: Circus Train Disapears on route to Seattle, Washington

300 Passengers, Crew and Animals Unaccounted For.

Neely reached out for the paper, she picked it up and read it. Then she handed it to Jorry.

” You know what this means, don’t you? ” she asked Jorry.

Jorry folded the paper in half, then he rolled it up. ” She’s going to be bringing in new tennants.” he said.

” I suppose she’s going to want our rooms. ”

” As if it’s our fault she-”

Jorry and Neely hear a click. It’s as loud as a gunshot and as the sound echoes and begins to fade away they both look up and then they look at each other and scowl.


Alta is sitting in front of her laptop with a yellowpost it note stuck to the side. It reads:

Check this out – from 1918

Circus Train Disapears on route to Seattle, Washington

300 Passengers, Crew and Animals Unaccounted For.

She opens up a new  window and makes a few notes and then she goes to another tab marked” Crazy Artist ” and closes it and then she clicks one that says” Serial Killer author “.

Her finger circles around and around the delete key, she bites her lip and then she looks at the post it and smiles and then she hits the delete key.


On the top floor of Mrs Alta Wellington’s house is an attic that has been divided into three rooms.

One room is dark,  the other room  is light and the third room  has a bars across it’s windows and Mrs Alta’s five new tennants will be arriving shortly after dusk, by train.



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