Speakeasy #142: Interpretations

Big Ben UK

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Yeshasvi whispered.

“Oh, well. I’m going to do it anyway.”

Jack stalked the cold streets of London, hands dug into the pockets of his frock coat. The tools of his trade, hanging from the leather apron hidden underneath his bend, clinked as he strode the lit walk. The noise caused coves and haybags to glance his direction, but the beauty of the moon and the weight of their own cares pulled their attention away from him.

He espied a ladybird flouncing her wares to all and sundry. He admired her nancy-sway, and pulled down the brim of his top hat as she chatted up a crusher on the corner. The judy undoubtedly made plans to dab it up with the copper. Jack believed she was just a dollymop, but maybe the rozzer was her abbot.

A feral grin distorted Jack’s features as the tail scampered off with a wave.

“Wait, wait, wait! Ladybird? Nancy-sway? Dollymop? What are these words?” Miss Anja demanded.

“I have a translation at the end, Miss Anja. Just be patient.”

“Jay…” she said in her warning tone. She sighed at his innocent expression. “Continue.”

Jack scurried after his pidgeon flying the coop, ducking his head as he passed the miltonian. He needn’t have bothered as the pig stared through him, no hint of alarm aside from a slight shiver.

The mark strolled her merry way to The Chapel, his old hunting grounds. He passed sharps taking muck snipes for their last mag, while mumpers on the blob wrangled a fadge from grasping fists as Nox deepened her sway over London.


“Yes, Miss Anja?”

“Nothing,” she said, cradling her forehead in her palm. “Carry on.”

London Particular rolled in, further obscuring him from the toffer. Thoughts of her Miss Laycock made his Nebuchadnezzar fight the constraining kecks. He wouldn’t put him out to grass, that wasn’t his way, but he would satisfy the old king.


“Yes, ma’am?”

“Did that mean what I think it meant?”

“Well, tell me what you think it meant and I’ll tell you.”

Miss Anja opened her lips, but the expectant looks of a full classroom stopped her. “After class.”

“May I continue?”

“Yes.” She shook her head and muttered, “Why did I ever become a teacher?”

The nemmo ducked into an alleyway, confused by the pea soup. Jack kept a weather eye out for mug-hunters and stepped to the alley mouth. He heard a Prater squall, “The End Is Nigh!”, behind him. Appropriate.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Jack whirled at the voice. A tall, lean man appeared from the white-bank. “Spring-Heel, what are you doing here?”

Spring-Heel nodded in the direction of the alley. “Them nobblers from America is waitin’ on you. They’s right punishers, those Yanks.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed as his hand tightened on his Neddy. “I’m not afraid of some rampers from the colonies.”

A voice yelled from down the alley, “And we ain’t afraid of no ghosts!”

“Oh, God!” Miss Anja moaned.

“What now?”

She glared at her recalcitrant student. “You know what! Ghostbusters? Seriously?”

“It fits the milieu.”

Miss Anja threw up her hands. “Just finish, if only because I can’t believe you know the word ‘milieu.'”

Four varicolored beams lit the alley in oranges and purples. Jack and Spring-Heel screamed as the energy streams pierced their incorporeal forms, dragging them to a small box. One of the men, with tall hair and glasses, stepped on a pad and the top opened up, light pouring forth and blinding the two specters.

Jack felt his essence distend as he warped and twisted into the trap. A rotten egg smell caused the four men and their decoy to gag a little bit. The man with frizzy black hair looked at the woman they hired to play bait. “So, how much?”

“I think that’s enough!” Miss Anja held out her hand. “Paper, please.”

Jay shuffled forward, inching the paper out. Miss Anja read the list of translations, eyebrow arching as she went along. “To the principal’s office, young man. We’re calling your parents.”

“Awww! Why? I did the assignment!”

“The assignment was to write a scene from a play in the style of Shakespeare!”

“Murder, ghosts…sounds pretty Shakespearean to me.”

“Go!” She pointed to the door.

“So, I guess I don’t get any pudding?”


“You know…the song?”

“Yes, you don’t get any pudding if you don’t eat your meat…” A titter roiled through the class.

Jay snickered and left.

Word Count: 750

Speakeasy #142. This week’s prompts: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” To be used anywhere in the story. There is also a photo prompt, which can be seen at the top of the post. The challenge: Use 750 words or less to tell a story incorporating those elements in some way.

I was going to go dark, but decided to lighten it up a bit. As promised, Miss Anja, here are the translations 😀 Please don’t give me detention (I mean, I didn’t kill you off 😉 )!

I believe this is the site Jay used (ahem) when he wrote his story: Victorian Slang Glossary

Cove: man

Haybag: woman

bend: waistcoat, vest

ladybird: a prostitute

nancy: buttocks (so nancy-sway is…you get the picture)

crusher: policeman

judy: a woman, specifically a prostitute

dab: to bed (dab it up with ____ means sexual intercourse)

Copper: a policeman

dollymop: a prostitute, often an amateur or part-time street girl; a midinette.

Rozzer(s): policmen

abbot: the husband, or preferred man of an Abbess (a woman who runs a brothel. A Madame.)

tail: prostitute (I really should have grouped these together 😉 )

pidgeon: victim

Miltonian: policeman

pig: survives to this day…you know this one

The Chapel: Whitechapel

sharps: card swindlers

muck snipes: people who are “down and out”

Mag: Ha’pence

mumpers: begger or scrounger

on the blob: begging by telling hard-luck stories

fadge: farthing

London Particular: London “pea soup” fog

toffer: a superior prostitute

Miss Laycock: female sexual organs

Nebuchadnezzar (out to grass): male sexual organs; to put out to grass = engage in sexual intercourse

kecks: trousers

nemmo: woman

mug-hunters: a street-robber or footpad. Hence the modern “Mugger”

Prater: a bogus itinerate preacher

nobblers: (1) One who inflicts grevious bodily harm.  (2) A sharper’s confederate

punishers: Superior nobblers.  Men employed to give severe beatings

Neddy: cosh

rampers: a tearaway or hoodlum.

Head over to Speakeasy on Sundays for the prompts and Tuesday through Thursday for some great writers who participate in this challenge.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn