Spot 014: Modern Fables


by Gita Smith

A fox moved her den close to a pleasant farm with a chicken house. She prowled the perimeter every night, seeking a hole in the fence or a wayward chick who’d wriggled through the wire. She had three kits to feed, and poultry was their favorite food group.
One evening, during her usual reconnaissance, the entire flock broke through the fence. Chickens by the dozens were ba-kawww-ing frantically as Bard Rocks and Rhode Island Reds ran helter skelter.
“Why are you all amok?” asked the fox, concerned about rabies and other contagions.
“There’s a fucking HAWK in the coop,” shrieked a dowager hen, “and it’s eating all the Banties and chicks.”
“I’ll fix that!” the fox said, and she rushed the coop with bared fangs.
Moments later, she emerged with a limp hawk in her jaws. The hens thronged the coop to survey the damage. But the rooster, always well-mannered, bowed to the fox, saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend. How can I repay you?”
Fox pondered this main chance and said, “Would you trade me that plump dowager hen for this tough old hawk so that my kits can eat well tonight?”
Rooster grew very sad, for he knew that graciousness required him to say yes. He hated to sacrifice one of his own, but he was smart enough to know that a fox makes a better friend than an enemy.
And that, children, is the way of business in the world: It’s all about accommodation.

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Sandra Davies

To begin with, before he saw that, no matter how she tried to hide it, she was besotted with Guido, Eric had assumed Penny was there, at those long, lazy meandering Sunday night meals, because of him. Eventually he told her that she was wasting her time. ‘You’re way out of his league – he only goes for posh girls, and always Venetians – rich bitches, daddy’s money and daddy telling them to keep their legs crossed. And you know why don’t you?
‘Why they keep their legs crossed?’
‘No, you silly girl, why he always goes for the money?’
‘… I suppose it’s what he’s used to, he’s obviously from a rich family.’
Eric laughed, nastily. ‘Likes to give that impression doesn’t he? Truth is very different – he needs it to keep his family afloat – literally.’
Penny wondered whether Eric laughed nastily – high-pitched, giggly – because he was nasty? He certainly wasn’t nice: overweight, permanently pink and shiny, like naked Turkish Delight after someone’s licked the icing sugar off, but what he said rang sufficiently true for her to back off, too well aware of her poverty and her lack of sophistication.
Later, five years too late, she learnt, from Guido himself, that he had never been rich, that Eric had lied to and manipulated him as much as he had her, that they both had underestimated him. Soon after, Guido was dead, but not before giving her the wherewithal to exact revenge.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by Bill Lapham

The hawk dove out of the sky and snatched a fish out of the water. Flapping its wings hard to regain altitude, it was making headway when a bald eagle, attacking out of the sun, swooped down and thumped the hawk in the head with its massive talons. Shaken, the hawk dropped the fish and veered off toward the safety of the forest. Meanwhile, the eagle dove for the water and grabbed the stunned fish before it could swim away. Pumping hard to gain altitude like the hawk had done, it flew to its nest at the top of a telephone pole on the other side of the lake. The eagle screeched before biting into its lunch.
Jake heard the eagle’s echo on the other side of the lake as he fought to bring a vigorous bass to the surface. When he got its head out of the water, he grabbed it by the gill, hauled it up and pulled the hook out of its mouth. Just then, Frankie, Jake’s friend and the guy who owned the bright red bass boat with the two hundred horsepower Merc, punched Jake’s forearm, made it go numb and caused Jake to drop the fish back in the water. Frankie scooped the bass into a landing net, reached in and pulled out the fish.
Frankie was smiling. He was very pleased with the size of the fish. “Jake, quick, take our picture,” he said.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Travis Smith

He had learned early in his life to cherish what he had because death was always around the next corner. It wasn’t easy though. He was small and not very strong. He was smart though. Not book smart, there were no schools in the depths of the city, but smart, and eventually he had made his way out. When the war broke out he had realized it was his path out of that hell and over the course of the war his brain, and seniority as the death toll climbed, had propelled him to higher and higher ranks. Now he stood in front of his men, veterans alongside new recruits. His heart heavy as he looked at them, knowing he was about to send a few to certain death. One recruit caught his eye and recognition opened doors in his mind.
His mind drifted back to that time before, the time that seem like an eternity of death in hell. Back then he tried hard to stay out of trouble. Tried to stay hidden and beneath notice. It hadn’t always worked. One group in particular had been the bane of his existence. They sought him out. Tormented him. Some days he got away. Some days he didn’t and the sounds of their laughter still haunted him.
Looking back at the new recruit a smile lifted the corner of his mouth. At least he would not feel bad about one of the deaths.

Based (loosely) on “The Heifer and the Ox.” See Authors page for Travis’s bio.



by bolton carley

Out for a big night in the national park, Patty Porcupine and Porsha Peacock were single and ready to mingle. They’d spend hours prepping. Porsha had feathered her plumage 80’s style while Patty needled her endlessly about her ‘fro of epic proportions.
“You know I earned every colorful feather I’ve got!” Porsha pointed out.
“Oh, I know who you slept with to get ‘em, alright!”
“You have no room to judge, Patty. Someone’s not exactly quill-less even with that prickly nature of hers!” Patty’s cacti-like coat raised sky-high in fake dismay.
“Whatever. Let’s just get going before the good ones are taken.” Patty bristled.
“Don’t act all pious. You know what I always say, ‘we is who we is and we be damn proud of it!’”
The discussion continued as they made their way to the campfire. Porsha started strutting her stuff the minute she saw the opossums hanging around and heard the owls hooting comments. Patty was right there with her, parading around like she owned the place. Even the frogs were chirping about them until Sasha showed up.
Porsha glared at the competition. “Damn that Sasha!”
“I know.” Patty agreed. “Look at her – matted down, cloaked in black with her one white stripe from head to toe. What kind of statement is that?”
“Exactly. I can’t stand her and her nasty ass perfume.”
“Me, either, but the males sure don’t seem to mind.”

The moral of the story: Appearances are often deceptive. See Authors page for bolton’s bio.



by Kristine E. Shmenco

Little Creature slept on Father’s chest and was content, but one evening, Little Creature awoke, thrilled—amazed—spellbound by the glow and the lights of his brother Duskbird, and wanted to take his place. He pushed off Father’s chest and asked, “May I wear those lights like Duskbird and settle the world to sleep?” Father Blowing Rock said, “Dear one, no! You are my singer, my sweet Storyteller, and no one can replace our Duskbird.”
Little Creature had no form, no shape, and struggled to know his place in everything. Certainly he sang greater than any, and told tales that made the moon stand still until Father set the moon free. But Little Creature had no form and wanted very much to be colorful, loud, and beautiful like the stained glass Duskbird. Little Creature scuttled about, trying to figure ways to impress Father and astonish Man. Father Blowing Rock knew what was in Little Creature’s heart and did nothing to stop it. A creature will be what they will, as water flows its way down the easiest path.
One day, Little Creature crept up to Duskbird after a long day of calling, and he gladly (proudly?) told Little Creature about its songs and his inspiration. Little Creature pounced and tore the wings from Duskbird, wrapping the stained glass warmth and beauty around itself. When Father learned what transpired, he transformed it into a songless creature, placed him upside down in a tree and abandoned him to his disobedience.
Little Creature, humbled, watches us from branches and scribes our hearts. Beware what he tells Father Blowing Rock…

See Authors page for Kristine’s bio.



by Amy Hale Auker

I’ve spent my life carrying donkeys, eating the goose that laid my golden eggs, petitioning Juniper for a better master.
I’ve underestimated the slow and the steady, hurt myself with hate, deemed the high grapes sour.
I’ve gathered and stored and sung and danced, hoping to find a balance between fun and drudgery.
“We are not wise, and not very often kind,” says another poet, and so each day dawns brand new.
I will celebrate the parts of you hidden from the common view, until the time is right to spread your wings, and I’ll bundle my sticks together with yours, say “ha!” to a world that would break us.
I’ll drop pebbles into the jar until we can quench our thirst.
But nature does indeed exceed nurture, and so I will again need your stories, your fables, your songs, to remind me that I am a mouse in need of a king.

See Authors page for Amy’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

Lion had been the General Director for a number of years, and everyone at school was pleased working under his regime, but the time had come for him to retire and write scholarly papers as his legacy. All the animals were called to a junta wherein he announced his successor should be elected.
The Cow from Accounting, taking minutes, assumed it would be she, but being demure wouldn’t ring her own bell, and was hoping the Director’s secretary, a Fox, who knew the Cow’s moods, would speak on her behalf.
When the Bear who taught Philosophy nominated himself claiming he could make ethical decisions, and then the new Rabbit intern piped in with the need for a fresh point of view, everyone noticed how she nervously thumped her foot in time to her words, and the Parrot, who had been around as long as the Lion, brushed his still colorful plumage repeating their words backed with a thumping sound of his own. He did this after each nomination. Eventually, he was elected. It seemed Parrot had qualities similar to all the other animals combined, making him the obvious choice. Relieved to have come to a quick decision, the animals ended the meeting and went home early.
Not three months later, when the school was in deep financial difficulties requiring firm action, and the Parrot’s only response was, “I should be Director, aarghk, because I can make ethical decisions, thump, thump, thump,” the animals realized what deep shit they were in.

The moral of the story: Think quick. Where have I heard this before? See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



All illustrations for Spot 014 supplied by Michael D. Brown.


9 Comments to “Spot 014: Modern Fables”

  1. I have adjusted my expectation from Thursday mornings to Friday and just celebrate Spots as the great start to my weekend.
    This was a fun change of pace. As always, the page is whimsical and perfect for the mood. I’ll comment on everyone’s pieces when it’s not 12:15 a.m.

  2. Another widely varyig selection – Travis, Amy and Kristine get my top three vote this week.

  3. gita – accommodations make me think of school. so perfectly said!
    michael – love the graphics with this one!
    sandra – turkish delight – great line! and your dialogue is always great!
    bill – those are the kind of friends i dread! well told!
    travis – yikes! what an ending. and i like your tie-in to heifer and the ox.
    kristine – you sly dog using the reference to our trip. this type of writing suits you sooooo well!
    amy – that last line is gorgeous! you are so poetic!

    michael – that piece is epic. love the animals fitting the characters, especially the cow. laughed out loud!

  4. Just another excellent week – the variety, as always, is really great. Michael, the graphics this week are really great.

  5. LOVE the graphics, Michael!
    Sandra, this is the best line I have read in weeks: “permanently pink and shiny, like naked Turkish Delight after someone’s licked the icing sugar off”
    You made my day!!!

  6. I’m having a bad day. Best not to comment today. I’m glad you liked the theme. You guys rock.

  7. Travis–yikes! this was dark and really good.
    Amy, you mentioned one of my favorite fables, the crow and the pitcher. Persistence.
    Bolton, what could be worse than being upstaged by a skunk. loved these characters. (my fable was hard to write. struggled with it.)
    Gita, not just a fable but a universal truth… i wonder how we can change that.
    Michael, this must be the only explanation for how things happen in the board room.
    Sandra, I agree with the title of your story. it holds a mirror to ourselves, and also liked the description Amy quoted, that was brilliant.
    Bill, the men in the boat would never.ever.think of what you showed us, or understood the irony.

  8. contented sigh … Sandra’s description was perfect … Kristine’s clever … and Amy’s, as usual, was like a sip of Black Velvet in front of a fire … but I enjoyed all immensely! Sorry I couldn’t participate. I was AWOL last week.

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