The River’s Secrets

rabelo boat

Rabelos in the Duoro river, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal – Credit: Diego Delso, published under license CC BY-SA

The wine is transported from the valley to Porto in tanker trucks these days, but Rodrigo still made his way down the Duoro on his father’s Rabelo boat loaded with barrels. Now that the tourists were gone, he felt a sense of peace. It was a quiet morning on the water. He lit a cigar, what his wife had called a “stinking weed,” and enjoyed its pleasing aroma.

“Ah, Matilde. You always failed to understand the simple pleasures of life. I am not an ambitious man nor do I desire to become one.”

He scanned the water fore and aft. The shoreline was empty. No one would see that he was about to lose one precious barrel, which would mysteriously sink to the bottom rather than float.

Matilde left him for another man, or so he would say. No one would find her body. The Duoro has many secrets.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Duoro Valley, Portugal. As usual, I did a bunch of Googling, and focused on the history of the Douro Valley and river and Rabelo boats.

I feel like I’m cheating slightly because I’ve written similar stories in the past, but that’s where the muse took me this morning. Oh, the maximum depth of the Duoro river is 131 feet, and let’s say that’s where my protagonist decides to lose his one special barrel.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

30 thoughts on “The River’s Secrets

  1. Oh dear, and Rodrigo seemed like such a nice man, too. So I guess the moral is that any man can turn out to be a brutal murderer with no problems of conscience? (Shiver.) I just hope the man who really cared for Mathilde finds out what happens and Rodrigo pay the price for his crime.


  2. I cant look it up right now, but isnt Rodrigo the name of the villain in the play Jo March first stages in the early chapters of little women? I saw a video on port and those barrels do look big enough to put a body into! There was also a shot of the river boats, loaded high with barrels shooting the rapids so at first I thought it might just be the cost if doing business. Nice story! Mine is about port, too.


  3. No coming back from that! Was she such a terrible nag that he felt he had to send her to Davy Jones’ locker, or where their worse crimes? devilish spin on the pic James


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