Spot 009: Aphorisms

 

IN FOR A PENNY
by Gita Smith

At the soiree with 47 beautiful people,
you sidled up to me just as I slipped on
my Party Mask of Indifference.

The floor vibrated with dance steps
(the tune, in case you need to know,
in case you want to make it “our song,”
was Soul Sacrifice by Santana)
and you were a glowing object on my periphery.

“Dance?” you asked.

I turned, seeing you for the first time, taking in your loose-limbed posture, your frank and curious eyes
and answered, “Sure, why not?”

Some hours later when the crowd had thinned,
you placed your hand on mine and leaned in close.

“I’d like to take you home,” you said.

“To meet your mother?”

“Something like that,” you laughed.

With no more sureness than a baby bird
about to take its first, precarious flight,
I contemplated gravity.

I judged your pull to be non-fatal
and answered, “Sure, why not?”

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.

 

 

REVELATIONS
by Joe Gensle

My daughter’s generation doesn’t understand their children. She’s annoyed with my grandchildrens’ “Whatever” as a dismissal but it really irks her when they say, “It’s all good.” She yells at ‘em to speak ‘normally.’

I lost patience with my daughter, had to pull her off of ‘em, scolding ‘em for this very thing.

“Enough, Belva-Jean! The kids aren’t the problem. You are.”
“PAPA! How COULD you!!”
“You don’t speak their language so you can’t understand it.”
“How’s that, Papa?” she demanded, indignant.
“I raised you right, didn’t I?”
“What’s the point?!”
“Took you to church, right?”
“Sometimes.”
“My grandkids are havin’ a religious experience!”

She glared, hands on hips.

“Sure, honey. ‘It’s all good.’ That’s biblical! Romans, chapter 8 an’ 28– QUOTE:
‘And we know that in all things God works for the good,’ blah-blah. See? It’s ALL GOOD, Belva-Jean!”

She fought a smile. I winked at the kids, who laughed and bumped fists.

“That’s not FAIR, Papa!” she said with a stomp in mock anger, spreading a grin.
“What-EV-ER, Belva-Jean!”

The grandkids lost it. Belva-Jean threw a throw pillow.

“Careful! I can quote ‘Whatever’ from the Good Book, too!”

I wasn’t the grandkids’ hero very long once she told them I showed her the error of her ways. My daughter’s dragging them to church this Sunday and every Sunday, thereafter.

Seems I have a fishing engagement and can’t join ‘em. Poor little bastards.

Belva-Jean’s mama sure wasn’t a vindictive bitch.

Now where’d that gol-dern rod an’ reel get to….

See Authors page for Joe’s bio.

 

 

THE BOX
by Paul de Denus

Danny Cole, in perfect shape and impeccable health received the small box on Friday at 1:14 in the afternoon. His wife found him dead moments later, a Vitruvian Man in a pool of blood, an exploded hole gaping from his chest. The box he’d received, sat on the floor beside him, its once plain brown wrapping faded, almost translucent in appearance. Its delivered contents: remnants of a bloodied deformed organ.

On the same day – at exactly the same time – ninety-seven-year old Carmen Whitehead, a suffering multi-billionaire recluse, received a similar box.
“The joys of the rich,” he smirked, absently rubbing his chest as his spindly assistant skittered about, making last-minute preparations around the life-support system.

Carmen couldn’t remember when he had first discovered the box. It had been long ago, in some long forgotten country where fantasy and reality seemed to meld together. He couldn’t recall the details. It was as if the box had always been. It was everything then, the box giving him virtually all the wealth and power he desired, allowing him to do things he’d never questioned, not even now.

In the operating room of his private island’s medical center, a shark’s smile swallowed his hardened face as he examined the contents of the box again. The newly delivered heart appeared perfect, absolutely perfect.

Good gifts come in small packages.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

 

 

“COGITO ERGO SUM”
by Bill Lapham

Timothy Cohen always seemed to be on the winning team, even if the team was one—him. His high school baseball, football and wrestling teams were state and regional champions. He won spelling bees, poetry slams, math competitions, everything. He got straight A’s in school, took AP courses in his junior and senior year, attained perfect scores on the ACT and SAT’s, went to Harvard and Yale Law School for free and became a very successful Wall Street investor and financial advisor to the stars. He owned a house on each coast and one in the mountains, a yacht and a jet. He had a beautiful wife whom he adored and they had three children who grew up to be successful in their own rights. Tim read the classics and the not-so-classics and he was a popular lecturer who earned top dollar for talking for an hour, which he donated to charity. He retired early and he and his wife enjoyed the many fruits of their hard work.

“The Most Interesting Man in the World” ran a distant second to Tim, he just didn’t brag about it; he let the Dos Equis beer man enjoy all the fame. Tim cared for none of it.

Then one day Tim couldn’t remember his wife’s name. He saw a doctor who ordered tests that came back positive for early onset dementia. When the doctor gave Tim the diagnosis, he drove home, put the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the…

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.

 

 

GRACEFUL, GRATEFUL ENDING
by Sandra Davies

He saw that she was trying to keep open the option of returning, but this was the second time they had decided it was not working and he refused to contemplate a third.

Last night’s meal had ended in argument, this morning she had appeared just before nine, immaculate as ever, despite it being Sunday. His answering the door, unshaven and barefoot, wearing old jeans and an ancient university sweatshirt, graphically underlined her failure to integrate him within her world. She did pride herself on her success in infiltrating his, but had she told him – not that he needed telling, since he was more astute than people credited him for – he would have laughed in her face knowing that she was merely paddling in the shallows, was unaware of the depths.

He recognised that she was, to put it crudely, posh girl believing she had found herself a bit of rough, and although he had behaved well within the bounds of civilisation, not bothering to act up to her fantasy, she still wanted to smooth his uneven edges. He had been both irritated and resistant and neither wanted nor needed her enough to let himself be so polished, but saw no point in hurting or antagonising her. Steering between truth and tact as he closed the boot of her car on the last of her neatly-boxed possessions he said ‘I hear that the ‘Herald’ has a new arts reporter, I suggest you get yourself along to ‘Tosca’ next week.’

[Adapted from a longer piece and loosely based on Marcus Aurelius’ eighth ‘Counsel when offended’: ‘Our anger and annoyance are more detrimental to us than the things themselves which anger or annoy us’] See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

 

 

JUST A TUESDAY
by Amy Hale Auker

Lightning pops all around, drills the ground high on the mesa above, and following every heart-stopping zigzag comes a hammering boom that does not allow for the resumption of heartbeats. With every crack of thunder, the big white horse beneath me leaps and spins and acts a fool, trying to escape what he can’t see. The sky is black, the wind ominous, the drenching imminent. My hands are full, and the field we are gathering seems exposed and exposing. I am powerless to protect myself from something I cannot control.
We are seven miles from the nearest man-made building, and we’ve just gotten our cows thrown together for the trek towards home. Of course, one of the babies in the herd is without his mother, but he doesn’t want to leave the safety of aunties and cousins, no matter how hard we try to cut him back. He huddles, perhaps smarter than we are, under the necks and flanks of mama cows who stand with heads down, waiting the storm. Without us, they’d be off in the creek, down low, lying quietly chewing their cud, content that thunder happens and storms come.
A bright and dense finger of lightning descends, zapping the red rock rim above me. You yell, “STEP OFF!”
I stand on solid ground as my horse tries to jerk the reins from my hands and run. He is shod with iron.
I curse the cowboy who once said, “We’ll take a rain or a calf, any day.”

See Authors page for Amy’s bio.

 

 

HONEY, ROLL THAT BALL OF YARN OVER HERE
by Bolton Carley

“What about her?” Missy questioned.
“The one with the Q-tip afro perm?” I asked.
“Yeah, her. What do you think she’s like now?” Missy and I had spent many an hour staring at old yearbooks in the school library envisioning people’s lives post small town upbringings.
“Oh, there’s no question about her. Look at that cat t-shirt. It couldn’t be more obvious.” I state confidently.
“What does the cat t-shirt have to do with anything?” she asked as I stared at her in dismay. How could she not get it?
“A cat t-shirt says it all. It is a well-known fact if you wear kitty-cats rolling a ball of yarn as a child you become a grandma-type by age 26. The only difference is that they start dressing in standard issue gray sweatshirts with lavendar and pink ribbons instead of t-shirts because they get cold so easily. That sweatshirt will hide a crumpled Kleenex tucked in the sleeve and be worn with pajama pants or elastic-waist jeans that taper in at her orthopedic white sneakers. Guarantee she still has curly hair, has never even considered dying it even though it’s as gray as foggy mornings, lives with at least 2 cats, and a husband who doesn’t deserve her. She babysits her grandkids for free every day, needlepoints cat dish towels and doilies in her rocking chair every evening, and hand-paints calicos and Siamese Christmas ornaments for the annual craft fair which she arrives at wearing her parka and furry mittens calling everybody ‘honey’. Bottom line: everybody knows that a kitten shirt equals a naively sweet woman.”

Bolton’s pieces can be found on 6S and her personal blog www.boltoncarley.wordpress.com.

 

 

ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY
by Michael D. Brown

“I don’t get it.”
“Enjoy it for what it is. When we met–something about your eyes–couldn’t say for sure, but the longer I looked, the less I wanted to leave. Matter of fact, because we didn’t hit it off at first I knew it was a thing.”
“You make me question my own esthetics.”
“Not a bad thing.”
Len nods. Annoyed?
“Do you always trust first impressions?”
“How do you take step two, if the first isn’t on firm ground?”
“People continue to reveal themselves over years.”
“Are you trying to Gaslight me?”
“It’s the sincerity of your smile when you’re amused. How appealing. Of course, now I’ve mentioned it…”
A child looking at the sculpture in front of us brings his hand to his lips. Giggles. Touches marble as I have. Then looks at us and stops giggling but continues smiling.
“How charming is this little guy?” Len asks, reaching to pat his head, but the child walks away. He stops with his back to us at a sculpture of a nude woman.
“Touch this,” I suggest. It’s cold and sensual at the same time. He puts his hand on the nodule close to the plinth but his eyes are on the nude in front of the child. If he can get it he appreciates it. Some things just take time. Years ago I was the same way.
Len smiles and I feel an urge to say something clever.
He says, “Let’s go look at some paintings.”

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

 


 

All illustrations for Spot 009 supplied by Sandra Davies.

 

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9 Comments to “Spot 009: Aphorisms”

  1. WHAT a disparate selection this week, and although I am still no clearer as to what EXACTLY an aphorism is Gita’s ‘In for a penny’ both makes the idea more accessible and tops the bill for me this week, not only for the ‘sureness of a baby bird’. Amy’s description of standing about waiting for lightning to strike is delicious.

  2. i’m with Sandra. Lots of variety and loved Gita’s thought. I know that routine, but then again I loved them all as they’re by so many of my faves from lightning to dementia to nudes.

  3. Reading this week’s SPOT was like sitting in a cabaret or watching an Ed Sullivan show (for those of you under age 50, it was a popular TV variety show) because the acts were so different and entertaining. In a couple of cases I had to look for the aphorism within because it was not immediately obvious. I liked that and regretted making mine so obvious with the title. Lapham’s piece gut-punched me.
    ( I was glad not to be following him this week!) The fact is, I’ve thought of doing the same thing as Tim if I receive the dementia diagnosis when I am cogent enough to drive home and do it. The photos are once again REALLY beautiful. There is a color palette that I am coming to think of as the MuDSpots palette which consists of different pale tones in a pleasing composition with a surprise bright tone somewhere in the mix.
    Michael’s piece made me laugh because I’ve been there. It was not always art. In fact, once it was hockey!
    Bolton — you are SO wrong about kitten t-shirts. I know of a case where one of those girls went on to be a fighter pilot! (okay, I made that up.)
    Amy’s spot took me out of the small room with fluorescent lights where I sit five days a week and transported me. And isn’t that what a good story does?
    Sandra’s quote from Marcus Aurelius made me wish I’d read that years ago. Behind that quiet exterior is a sage. “Steering between truth and tact” is a talent that I don’t have.
    Joe’s piece has such authentic voices. I absolutely can hear the irritation in the mother and the “what-EV-er” that permeates the national dialogue. If you ask me a little more rod would not be a bad thing.
    Paul’s gruesome little morsel may have been my favorite because I was all set, expecting that the killing was part of a tontine. But no, as always, he came up with a far better ending. And I’d like to say this about my own piece: the instant I saw the theme of aphorisms I just pulled up a blank screen and had fun.

  4. I so agree with Gita that this was like watching a variety show… you never know what you are going to get when the curtain opens again! What a ride! Couple of notes: Bill L’s piece was so timely for me, because a dear friend, only 60 years old and in excellent physical condition has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Michael, my friend, you rock. And your piece was definitely worth the wait! Small comment about my piece: This really was my experience on my Tuesday past, and I worked it up for an oral presentation, and then it just fell right into place with this prompt. Thank you for a great ride, everyone who contributed!

  5. Just a note on the graphics. My original idea for this theme was Rust Never Sleeps, which I thought was more universal, but in researching, I found it almost exclusively now refers to the Neil Young album and tour once he co-opted it from Rust-Oleum Paints. I mentioned this to Sandra and she then forwarded the great photos. I decided not to go with that specific theme because I wanted something more general, but I couldn’t not use the great photos.
    The idea of tying MudSpots into a landmark album did stick, however, and will be forthcoming as you all know.
    So, one thing leads to another. Isn’t that the way of things?
    Of course the texts are terrific. How could they not be when it involves you all, but I would like to applaud Sandra and her discerning eye for once again coming through with a marvelously, thematically unified group of images.

  6. I haven’t had much time to indulge but ‘m proud to be a part of these.

  7. All that I can say is….wow. You folks never cease to amaze me. It’s a wonderful feeling to have rubbed elbows with you all.

  8. Confidential to Elliott — you never rubbed my elbows. I feel left out. Please come back and write a Spot and rub me.

  9. I just now realized that I hadn’t commented, although I read everything twice on the day it was posted. Thursdays are for MudSpots. I wanted to join in this one, but I had the ick and lost my muse. Now I’m sorta glad that happened, because you all have set the bar so high. I love your words, your imaginations, Michael’s wonderful idea and dedication to do this, and I’m DEFINITELY up for the next two, even if y’all force me to write, edit, tweak and re-tweak in order to hang loosely with the best.

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