Spot 030: The Big Picture

 

WAR IS HELL in Two Parts: Part II
by Bill Lapham

[Note: Read Part I here.]

“You ain’t quite got the big picture, do you, shitbird?” the chief said. He didn’t need a bullhorn, he had a megaphone mouth. “You weren’t sent out here for no pleasure cruise. Now git yer ass down to the galley and report to the galley watch captain for assignment as a mess cook.” Then he paused and looked out to sea like I was and yelled, “Move!”

It took me two hours to find the mess decks, another hour to work up the nerve to find the galley watch captain. By that time it was time to serve supper. The galley watch captain assigned me to a kid named Panagiotis Potaskevopoulos, the lead mess cook in the scullery. We just called him Pans’n’Pots. He put me on pots and pans, which had been piled in a sink so high I couldn’t reach the faucets.

But I got to work and sometime around midnight, I got done. Pans’n’Pots showed me to my rack. Four hours later, he woke me up again, and twenty hours after that, he showed me to my rack again. This went on for three months before my chief rescued me.

When we got back to the hangar bay, the chief asked me some questions about my time on the mess decks and what I’d like to do now that I was out. I was all “Yes, chief; no, chief; whatever you say, chief.”

I was ready to fight a war. Kill people and shit.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.

 


 

CHANGE OF FOCUS
by Sandra Davies

I usually say ‘no thanks’ when they offer me the box, but these were ordered for delivery and arrived well-stuffed and protected with loads of screwed-up tissue paper. Ankle-high black boots, not exactly what I wanted but the others didn’t fit. And perforce I read the label and saw the name this style had been given.
A long, long time ago I worked one summer in a shoe shop, back and forth from the narrow-aisled and ladder high-shelved stockroom, becoming familiar with the order and the fancy names the different styles went by.
From longer still before then my father had a last – triple-legged, three different sizes, heavy and portently fascinating to a child. And I know shoes of the sort I buy are factory-made, never saw a last (and are sometimes barely made to either) and I found myself thinking that these days it’s likely that whoever made the names up for the styles is probably considered more important than the factory workers, although how coming up with ‘Barely edible’ for bog standard boots equates to the skill of a master cobbler I will never know.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

 

 

CLEAR COLOR
by Paul de Denus

The little girl fidgets; it’s boring waiting in line but it is what her patient mother wants them to do; she sees the value of it. It’s not until they are in the gallery and entered the room that the little girl understands.

It dominates a plain wall, six feet high and forty feet long. The bright continuous panels remind her of the graffiti covered subway cars she saw on the way to the museum. It is a painting- Monet’s Reflections of Clouds on the Water-lily Pond. The colors speak to her and she will remember.

These days, she’s walled in with canvas. On a plain white surface behind her desk sits a row of clear glass. Each glass contains groupings of colored pencils, each in its specific color group. When she looks at them, she finds they please her in the simplest of ways, calmly creating highlights and undertones to her day. A smile draws across her face as she fidgets with a blank canvas. The color takes on a shape and the little girl sees.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

 

 

SUNLIGHT OFF GLASS
by Michael D. Brown

The mural on the wall displaying the growing of corn and reflection of sunlight off glass explains the mission succinctly in a way even the indigenous, ostensibly unsophisticated parents from outside the city limits, who have never had the wherewithal to fully understand the overarching ways the children of privilege have had developed for them, would comprehend. This school forms leaders. There are no indigenous at tonight’s meeting. They cannot afford the tuition. But there is an annex, a quadrangle of adobe huts, sans the great murals, where dark-skinned, barefooted women in wraparound skirts can learn to sew on machines left over from the last century, and will be given coupons for bags of corn and other grains if they will participate in the birth control program, and that is tuition-free. The discussion underway this evening revolves around ways to make the program more widely known, and there are coffee and cookies, baked by the staff, allowed to linger so they may hear the decisions and bring the news home to their dusky hardworking wives who are trying to make do in these grainless times. Humberto, the head chef, who trained in Mexico City, and still single, nudges Julio Cesar, who has a wife and five children, and whispers, “What do you think of that blond sitting alone at the big table?” forgetting that Julio has trouble with Spanish as he was raised by parents who only spoke pure Nahuatl until he brought home a few words from elementary school.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

 

 

NIGHT CLASS
by Gita M. Smith

Pipefitters Local 212 occupied a squat cinderblock rectangle on Broad Street. Daytime business was conducted in small beige offices. By night, the spacious banquet hall was used for social events.
Occasionally, pipefitters got in the mood for something a little offbeat. I was asked to teach Tuesday Night Art For Beginners.

First, I showed slides of American landscapes and European Impressionists. We discussed the use of light and shadow, of certain colors or effects. Finally, I clicked to Van Houte’s Dutch modernist painting of a boy in a middy-blouse with neckerchief and jaunty blue cap.

The energy in the room shifted from polite interest to vivid focus.

“How come he has no face?” asked Pete Vanelli. “Did the painter forget the face?”

“Shit, that looks exactly like a picture my Ma has of my kid brother,” said Johnny DeFalco. “He had a suit just like that. You remember our Petey?” he asked the man beside him.

“Sure,” the man said, “he’s the one died in Vietnam.”

Pain made a crooked stick of Johnny’s mouth.

“Hey,” said a man with a wad of Copenhagen in his cheek, I had that same red kerchief.”

“So how come he has no face?” Vanelli repeated. “What kind of painter paints a little kid with no face?”

I wanted to say that good art has universal meaning, that the facelessness was exactly what allowed them to relate to the painting, each man imprinting his own beloved boy on the canvas. But all I could bring myself to say right then was, “Hey, that’s modern art for you.”

Note: Another version of this story appeared on Thinking Ten: A Writer’s Playground. See Authors page for Gita’s bio.

 


 

Illustrations for Spot 030 supplied by Sandra Davies and Gita M. Smith.

 

Advertisements

6 Comments to “Spot 030: The Big Picture”

  1. Bill’s second instalment has a sort of inevitability about it – sad and potentially worrying – and the final paragraph of Paul’s ‘Clear color’ has a similar sort of denseness as Michael appears to so effortlessly achieve – such depth of thought-provokingness. Impressive all.

  2. The group is smaller but the challenges and challengers bigger and better- love the pics too Michael. It made me think that perhaps posting a picture as the Theme would be interesting. I know you showed pics before looking for titles. Perhaps those would work? Just say’in

  3. Intrigued by Gita’s reluctance to explain the facelessness … in some ways the ‘that’s modern art for you’ would seem to be the more off-putting. And I loved that the tale proved that fact so effectively. And I loved too her take on this, which makes me wish wish my head had been elsewhere when I did this challenge.

  4. I wish the teacher in Gita’s story had found the courage to engage the pipefitters with the same thoughtfulness that they had brought to the exercise. Instead, the learning opportunity is stifled by a teacher who succumbs to stereotype. That’s very sad to me.

  5. Sorry I posted so late. I have been trying to think of something to say here that’s different from my ususal “oh my, look at all the different takes on the theme.”
    So here is my new method: Did a story make me sweat? And if so, how much? This week’s “Dripping Wet” award goes to Lapham for his exhausting tale of penitence in a galley. Dishes piled so high that the guy couldn’t reach the taps and four hours of sleep a night.. Whew!

  6. I, too, thought COB’s light was brightest this go-’round. I also (no surprise) loved the art references. Sandra, I’m blown away by the shoe name. Is that for real? WTF? Oh, and your father had a triple-legged what?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: