Spot 031: Peripatetic Parallelism


by Sandra Davies

As far as physical distance was concerned, it was no distance at all – I could see her house from my bedroom window. (What was her house – she committed suicide in 1989.) What I’d hoped to find in going there was that I had travelled, had learnt some social skills, some understanding of the language, the mores of such civilisations in my half a dozen years of going out and partying.
But despite a moment when I held the floor – when midway through the occasion she received a heavy-breathing-then-suggestive phone call, similar to one I’d had a couple days previously, and I could reassure and explain that laughter effectively dissuaded (which I’d done accidentally, thinking it a friend of my husband, playing a trick) – I discovered nothing had changed. I was as tongue-tied, incapable of both thought and speech and as bored and claustrophobic as ever. Without a shared interest, a reason to be there, such as the demonstration of the (excellent) children’s books I sold via party plan, I was incapable of functioning at a purely social, neighbourly coffee morning.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

Luckily for Crissetti, the bank was on the outskirts of town; nobody chased his dust. Peeling away, he passed the gas station next to the bank. He saw Stupid Sloan standing by the empty pumps eyeballing him. No problem. The retard – a kid from high school – wouldn’t remember seeing anything.
Crissetti sped north on I- 80, the First National telescoping down his rearview mirror. Two bags with overflow cash rustled next to him. The bank had been virtually empty, an easy knock-off. He licked his lips, fired up a blunt and eased off the gas. Stay cool. No time to draw attention.
He’d spent his whole life in Loomis; the bank job now paid his way out. Though he loved the dreamy comfort of California, there were more worlds waiting. For the next several miles of open stretch, Crissetti absorbed his surroundings, passing through California’s dry yellow hills, clusters of pine, eucalyptus and juniper and a heavy patch of tule fog that rolled over the highway. Exiting it, he viewed the trees, road and sky again, imagined the exact same scenery anywhere in America. Could be in Pennsylvania or Tennessee, he mused. A smile zigzagged his face as he crossed into Nevada.
The mile marker indicated the town of Sparks up ahead. He saw a gas station and started to pull in. Stupid Sloan stood at the pump, a finger pointing at him. Just beyond, sat the bank. Anywhere in America, Crissetti thought as police cars wailed. Behind him too.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Bill Lapham

I woke not knowing where I was or how I had gotten there. I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open, it was so dark. Gravity was the only way I could tell I was laying on my back, otherwise I could have been in the void of invisible space.
I straightened my arm in front of my face and touched something solid, wooden. I pressed against it and it didn’t move. I felt a surge of adrenaline and tried to resist the onset of panic. I relaxed my arm and set it down by my side. I was breathing very fast. Too fast, I decided, and tried to slow it down, tried to relax, like when somebody is taking my blood pressure.
I could feel the various parts of my body, wriggled my fingers and toes, turned my head from side to side. I was thinking, therefore Descartes could have been right. I was pretty sure I was alive.
I lifted my arm again and this time pushed as hard as I could against the solidness above me. It moved, fractionally, and a ray of light entered the box. Encouraged, I continued to push the lid open and as quickly as the panic had set in, it vanished, leaving me relieved, relaxed and pleased. I climbed out of my friend’s cargo trailer and went inside his house.
“Where the hell have you been?” he asked.
“Out getting a second chance,” I said.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Gita M. Smith

We had stopped for a bathroom break, Sal and I, at a low cinderblock roadhouse that smelled of gin and Dr. Pepper (please God don’t let that be an actual drink).
The jukebox was set on soft, but I could still hear the words of a long-ago and far-away song: “The kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol when they do the Bristol Stomp.”
Next to me, a slouch of a drinker mumbled, “Far out song.”
A sidelong glance showed me shaggy hair and bell-bottoms.
“Help you?” the bartender asked.
“A Cosmopolitan, please” Sal said, lighting a Doral 100.
“Wow, never seen that brand before,” Slouchy said.
The bartender told Sal he’d never heard of a Cosmo.
We ordered two Buds instead, but something had started nagging at me.
The cash register was the old-fashioned, non-computer type. The two beers had cost $1.
“How much to play the jukebox?” I asked.
“Nickel gets you one, a quarter buys six,” barkeep replied, still perusing his guidebook for Cosmos.
Sal and I exchanged an electric look, the kind that couples sometimes share.
She approached the jukebox as if it were a hot stove. A small scream escaped her lips. All her high school favorites were there: “Poetry in Motion,” “Palisades Park,” and “You’re Sixteen.”
I knew the answer, but still had to ask, “Bartender, who’s the vice president nowadays?”
“Lyndon Johnson!” he said disdainfully.
That’s when Sal grabbed me and we ran to our car – the only one in the parking lot without a carburetor.

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

He recalled early morning dew glistening on Mrs. Mooreheart’s Crimson Beauties and the distant calliope of a Good Humor van almost drowned out by the nine boys and a girl choosing sides for an impromptu game by chanting, “One potato, two potato…”
The stout, elderly woman, smiling at Everett on his way to the curb, did not seem to think it odd he was not taking the Chevy. She could not have known he was not on his way to work, nor that it was possibly the last time their eyes would meet, though she might have intuited he would not be returning for Round Two in the evening. She must have overheard most of the shenanigans occurring with increasing frequency those days inside 2513, but kept her own counsel and made the most of a morning’s greeting.
Now, Everett went about mostly on foot, uncomfortable dickering in high school Spanish with taxi drivers, unconscionably excessive in overtipping according to his past norms, and ineluctably excluded from newfound neighbors.
Standing in his garden late one afternoon, Señor Cal y Mayor appeared to be contemplating some unpardonable misstep, as the water delivery truck dragged chains and pieces of bent steel clanging down the road, and five girls sang out a choosing song, familiar only to themselves, while one tiny urchin dressed in tatters, barefooted, clutched a weathered doll to her chest and stared longingly, shifting her gaze between the man among the roses and the laughing children, never looking at Everett.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



Are there illustrations for Spot 031?



4 Comments to “Spot 031: Peripatetic Parallelism”

  1. Michael – I’d completely forgotten ‘one potato, two potato’ until I read this – thank you. Glad that Gita had Sal to share her dislocation with, relieved at Bill’s escape and totally discombobulated by Paul’s parallel gas stations.

  2. I might say I am sort of lost by this round of theme- maybe I’m in another universe, but I had a hard time “getting” some of these- my bad

  3. What Spots lacks in quantity these days is overshadowed by quality. I can see each of these expanded into episodes of The Twilight Zone. I almost heard Rod Serling’s voice in my head.

  4. I hope that Paul didn’t have trouble getting the jist of my Spot, but if he did, that’s my own fault. It was meant to be a time warp thing — a parallel universe existing only in a small bar in the middle of nowhere.
    I liked all of these. Sandra, also, time-traveled and found herself emotionally locked into an old self. Many of us experience that when we go home to visit parents or childhood haunts.
    Paul’s circuitous journey reminded me of a Twilight Zone-ish episode in which no man can escape his crimes. I could almost hear the theme song.
    Lapham’s gave me horrid claustrophobia until it turned out that the guy was not, after all, trapped in a coffin. Good ending. I will say that I didn’t fully understand Michael’s piece in terms of the theme, but that didn’t stop me from loving the one-potato-two-potato game and the imagery of a neighborhood where everyone knows far too much about everyone’s business.

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