David Macpherson is a writer living in Massachusetts. His work as been published by Every Day Fiction, Haggard and Halloo, The Binnacle, and Worcester Review, among others. 



The Impertinent Traveler

David Macpherson


Miss Helena Orobos of Upingly was considered the finest badminton player in the county.

She had her shuttlecocks made specifically by Feerer’s and Sons of Lower Palliton Falls. The shuttlecocks glistened with diamond dust and a small purple stone embedded in the nose of each. 

Her signature move to finish a match was known as the Impertinent Traveler. No one knew who christened it, but when they saw the feat performed, they all agreed it could have no other name.

Helena was not a gracious winner.

Despite her renown, she did not play often. Some whispered that the reason was because no one wanted to go on the field with her. 

After long negotiations, she was finally granted a match with Mrs. Amelia Norewith, the greatest player in the country.

Helena presented a generous spread for luncheon before the match. Mrs. Norewith begged exhaustion and did not try any of the delicacies, even the pickled eggs that the kitchens of Upingly were known for.

After an hour of vicious play, the match was even. Miss Helena Orobos attempted the Impertinent Traveler. 

For the first time, someone was able to reply to the play. Mrs. Norewith hit the shuttlecock right back at Helena.

The jeweled encrusted shuttlecock embedded itself into Miss Orobos’s eye. 

She wore a fetching eye patch and never played again.

As years went by, people saw her less and less. They say she collected antique German dolls. She was spied at auctions in the city, bidding past her means.

Passers-by to her house noticed she was entertaining men unknown to the neighborhood. All of these male guests also sported eye patches. 

One particular gentleman was seen often. People believed that he was a famous cricket player, though others believed he was a smuggler. No one felt up to confronting Helena about it. Though several regretted not doing so when her body was discovered in the limestone quarry. 

After the inquest, which identified no suspects, her possessions and belongings were reviewed. No one found a single badminton racket or shuttlecock. They did come across a chest filled with shattered doll heads. Hundreds of porcelain German doll heads pummeled into small dusty pieces.