‘Have you been to the arch?’
Jimbob shuddered. ‘No one goes there, mate.’
Budboy sniggered. ‘You scared?’
‘Everyone’s scared. That creep and his death wish. They say if you answer him, you’re next.’
Budboy pulled his coat to him. ‘Well I dare you.’
Jimbob’s shoulders sank. ‘Don’t dare me, Budboy.’
But he did. And so it was that Budboy and Jimbob found themselves standing nervously by the old arch as it looked out to sea. ‘What is this place Budboy?’
Budboy shuffled nervously. ‘No idea. You’d better ask him.’
Jimbob had been dared so he gathered himself and stepped round to the seaward side. There sat the old man. He’d sat there for generations staring angrily out to sea. No one knew why. Was he guarding something?
Jimboy coughed and the old man turned and, as he had for generations, said, ‘Is that you, Death?’ The legend was clear. The arch was the gate to hell and if you answered in a way to displease the gatekeeper, you’d be whisked away for an eternity of damnation.
Jimboy never really listened to that stuff. He just knew he’d been dared. ‘No, it’s Jimbob.’
Budboy sucked in a breath, not daring to believe his friend had actually answered. He waited for him to be whisked away.
‘Oh. Do you know when Death will be along?’ The old man looked out to sea. ‘He promised.’
Jimbob sat next to the ancient. ‘You don’t want Death, surely?’
‘Why’d I want someone else? I paid the crook, didn’t I?’
‘You paid Death? What for?’ Budboy joined in the conversation.
‘What for? This is what for.’ A twisted gnarled hand waved at the arch. ‘He’s not going to get away with it, you know?’
Budboy and Jimbob exchanged glances. ‘Why’d you pay Death for an arch?’
The old man pushed himself to his feet. ‘Come.’ He walked to the cliff edge and turned to face the stonework. The boys shuffled next to him. ‘Alright. So what’s that?’
He shook his head causing an awful grinding noise to issue from his neck. ‘It’s not just an arch. What moron would build just an arch? What’s it look like.’
‘A doorway.’ Jimboy jumped as he felt himself slapped on the shoulder.
‘Exactly. A door. Bloody Frank Death builds the doorway, takes my cash so he can ‘get a few more stones’ and disappears. Never let a builder go until he’s finished your job, boys. Believe me. You could be waiting years. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to put off the plumbers.’
This is in response to Sue Vincent’s latest #writephoto prompt