Close One – Sunday Photo Fiction

Photo by: Joe Owens

Close One

The doorbell rang again, more insistent this time. Justin locked the back door and ran to the front door. He opened it and smiled beatifically. “Mr. Cohen! Come in, please.”

The dourly dressed insurance agent entered with an affable grin. He looked around at the odd mix of furniture. Curios from Borneo, African Congo, and Egypt littered the room in apparent disarray. Paintings of strange creatures lined the walls. “So this is the famous Winterbaum mansion,” he said with a touch of awe. He sat down upon an Elizabethan couch. “I understand your father was quite the explorer.”

Justin sat across from him on a rattan couch from New Guinea. Yes, I dare say he was.”

“My condolences, by the way. Are you settling in alright?”

“It’s only been a few months, but I’m already feeling quite comfortable, thank you.”

“I’m sorry to say my predecessor couldn’t attend. Medical issues, you see. However, I have spoken with him at length about your insurance policy.”

“He’s not injured too badly, I hope,” said Justin.

“Oh, nothing of the sort. Stress got to him, apparently. Medication will clear up his mind.” Cohen withdrew a document from his satchel. “Well, then. Let’s begin. I have here your insurance claim for the loss of an entire herd of goats.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Apparently, the same storm that stripped away the paint on the lower levels of the mansion, also swept away the goats.”


“As I said before, I spoke at length with my predecessor. Your father made similar claims about lost goats, and paint, in 2012, 2010, 2009, and 2007! I’d almost think you were eating the goats.”

Justin shifted uncomfortably. “Never been a goat man, myself. I prefer lamb.”

“I note that no other houses in the area reported any damage.”

Justin cleared his throat. “Perhaps they weren’t close to the sea.”

“These were beachfront properties.”

“Yes, well, who knows? Haha! Chaos Theory, I suppose.”

“There are rumors about goings on in this house, you know…”

“She said she was 18!”

Cohen continued in flat tones, “…About your father.”

“Oh, right.”

“Your neighbors claim your father was sacrificing goats…”

“Preposterous!” roared Justin.

“…To a sea monster he kept as a pet. One he named, Nicholas?”

“Sea monster?” squeaked Justin. “Even more ridiculous. Did you know my neighbors grow the most interesting mushrooms?”

“Yes well, apparently my predecessor, Mr. Hartly, actually witnessed such an exchange.”

“I see.” Justin smoothed the fabric on the cushion beside him. “The same man who experienced a mental break? Perhaps he visited the neighbor’s garden first?”

“I couldn’t say. Still, I feel I should ask, do you have a sea monster as a pet?”

“A sea monster?” Justin smoothed his hair vigorously. “Do you know how ludicrous that sounds?”

“There’s significant evidence. Perhaps I should investigate the property?”

Justin slumped in his seat. He stared at Cohen, apparently having arrived at an important decision. “Well, if you insist, you could look for a sea monster if you like.” He pointed at the back door. “Perhaps we’ll begin there?”

Cohen guffawed. “I have more important work than chasing imaginary creatures, Mr. Winterbaum. I’m not so easily fooled.”

“Exactly!” Justin laughed emphatically. “Sea monsters? Pish posh!”

Cohen handed a document to Justin. “My company will pay for your goats, again. I understand new ones will be arriving later today. Good day, sir.” Cohen showed himself out.

Justin opened the back door and a 6-foot long snout forced its way in. It nuzzled his leg insistently. Justin looked out at the long serpentine neck extending from the beach below. He patted Niko’s head warmly. “That was a close one, Niko. Anyway, don’t worry. There’s another goat herd coming as I promised. Just stop humping the house, would you? You’re stripping off the paint!”
Each Sunday, it’s time to post a new piece of flash fiction for Sunday Photo Fiction. This is my story in answer to the photo from Joe Owens. Look here for more stories based upon the pic:


About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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10 Responses to Close One – Sunday Photo Fiction

  1. Hahahahaha!!!! Great story! The ending is priceless. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lyn says:

    Eric, I’m disappointed 😦 I fully expected you to throw Mr Cohen to Niko. Or at least scare the daylights out of him. LOL but great story all the same 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      I know! Shocking isn’t it? No one died! Well, I just ate some extra-good Dim Sum, so I was feeling generous. It actually was really close. The story is entitled “Close One” for several reasons. Having to explain to police why an insurance man disappeared right after another one lost his mind at the same house, could be problematic. On the other hand, from Cohen’s perspective, he very nearly lost his life. Justin was done with backpeddling and was ready to allow Cohen to chase his own doom. It was a Close One for Cohen as much as it was for Justin. Glad you still enjoyed it. Thanks much, Lyn! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mara Fields says:

    I’m still giggling. What I particularly liked was your building of suspense–is the insurance guy gonna keep pushing? Is he gonna pay? What’s really going on behind that door? I think your use of body language for Justin was key to building this sense of tension. Him shifting in a chair, his slumping, etc. Fun, funny, and well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Love that. I wanted to make giggles and laughs with this one. I’m glad you got something from his body language. Justin is a terrible liar, and it’s his mannerisms which give him away. On the other hand, investigating would’ve been quite deadly for Cohen. Luckily, for Cohen, he simply thought the notion of a sea monster was ridiculous. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, and got as much out of it as I put into it. Thanks so much, Mara! 🙂


  4. Joe Owens says:

    Well this pulled a chuckle from deep in my throat. Nicho has designs on the house huh? This particular mansion is being built by a petroleum magnate in Belize. I hope when I go back this Spring to get a photo of the completed mansion, all $5 million worth.

    Liked by 1 person

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