Archive for March, 2012

March 25, 2012

Spot 035: Springing Into Action

 

THAT’S WHAT LOVE WILL DO
by Sandra Davies

I can’t remember what the row was about – usual stuff probably, which encompasses a wide range of possibilities, although one thing I am sure about, it would not have been about money because we never rowed about that. Nor would it have been about the housework I didn’t do, because I never had done it, much, and he knew that when he married me.
Whatever, it had been a row, me storming off, crosser than ever because I am so bloody inarticulate, so slow and cannot think of the right sort of response, that one pertinently killing phrase which would, if it were a script-written play, have reduced him to stunned silence at the undeniable logical rightness of my argument.
Probably, though, it was of the usual “You don’t talk to me!” variety.
Anyway, having (probably) slammed a door or two, having stormed upstairs and gone into my study to take refuge … I came to a halt.
Stood immobile for at least thirty seconds, and then returned downstairs, confident in the outcome of this particular dilemma.
“Steve, there’s a spider …”

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

 

 

HIT
by Bill Lapham

I was Running; and then I wasn’t Running. I wasn’t even Standing.
Somebody rolled me over so I could see the Sky. The Vultures were circling already. I heard Faint Voices, and Loud Static.
I faded to Black. Black black. Laptop Black. Death Black. Middle of the Universe Black. Black Matter Black.
Somebody was dragging me by my Shoulder Straps. Two Guys maybe. I could see my Legs, they were limp. My right Boot hit a Rock. I didn’t feel it. Then I heard a Buzz, a Ring, a Very Loud Hum.
I was laying in the Dirt, looking up at a Robin’s Egg. The Sun burned. Heat on Mercury hot.
I was Capital ‘T’ Thirsty. Real Thirsty. Thirstiest I’ve ever been Thirsty. I had no Saliva, only Dirt And Dust in my Mouth Thirsty. All I could think about was Water Thirsty.
How am I going to get the Brown Blood Stains on my Tunic out?
I gripped my Weapon. “Never let go of your Weapon,” I heard. Over and over and over again. “Never let go of your Weapon; your Weapon is your Life.” Over and again, over.
I was levitating. I heard whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. I was inside a box. Somebody was looking down at me and hollering, Something, I couldn’t hear Him.
It was like being stuck in a Cartoon. A Super Heroes Cartoon. Only I wasn’t the Super Hero. I was the Object of the Super Heroes’ Consideration.
And that couldn’t be good.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.

 

 

BENDER
by Paul de Denus

A half block up the road, Ben saw the spinning groceries fly haphazardly like some mad juggler attempting an impossible feat, saw the car do a dance floor rumba – left – right – left – rear lights flashing on the fins like the blue fins from those 50’s Chevy commercials. He remembered lying on the fresh-carpeted floors of their empty suburban home, sitting his little sister Kath, as the action of Highway Patrol wailed on the television. The old man was out, abusing a bender somewhere. Staggering home, the abuse would continue. Ben took the brunt of it, protected Kath from most of it.

People stood on the curb. Some cars in the intersection had stopped. Crawling by, Ben glanced at the red lump of crumpled skirt surrounded by oranges and pears and the red head of lettuce. He accelerated away and chased after the fin. Up near the school on Logan, he saw it disappear past the gym complex and swerve into the apartment complex driveway.

His guts tightened, sweat oozed from his pores. There were no wailing police sirens and he pondered pulling over and calling 911. Better still; keep driving.

Ben pulled up behind the fin and got out. The kid staggered out of the car, accompanied by an old friend, Johnny Walker.

“Hey big brother?” Kath slurred. “Somethin’ wrong?”
“Give me the keys, Kath,” Ben said. “I’ll take care of it. I promise I will.”

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

 

 

TRENDS
by Michael D. Brown

Janna wore a mint-green tunic blouse with a sizable neon peplum dressing up the waistband over a tangerine skirt. She had always favored pastels and was glad they were in fashion in this her last free season. She did not believe either of her parents could see she was three months gone. None of the women in her family showed during their early months. Ostensibly, too, all had waited to give birth within respectable time frames. She could not say if any had undergone secret abortions, and doubted that had ever been a thing to consider, for her cousins Brittany, Sara, Analise, or Fanny, with none of whom she was close. She often wished she had a sister, who would of course have to be younger, to talk things over, certainly not for advice, but as a sounding board. She put up with more than enough advice from her supposed friend Dita, who was two years older, and overheard enough of the gossip, true or otherwise, being spread around by that silly, overweight bitch Regan and her acolytes to know that missteps encouraged them beyond what any of them were worth. That was the kind of thing that bothered her more than ill-fitting clothes, but she knew pretty soon she was going to have to come to terms on that front also. It was hard accepting that decisions made this particular spring would be so far-reaching, and how she wished her only concern was what to pick up while shopping.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

 


 

Illustrations for Spot 035 supplied by Gita M. Smith.

 

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March 17, 2012

Spot 034: Candidate for Sainthood

 

LAS CRUCES
by Paul de Denus

Smith sat quietly inside the stagecoach, thumbing the rotating cylinder. Bullets had been flying. When the coach stopped, the guard riding shotgun had dropped to the ground heavy, like a sack of barley seed, a hole through his throat.

“Everybody out,” one of the riders had shouted.

Smith was thinking about a simple premise his Pa had taught back on the farm.

“Size up the situation, figure out what’s possible, take your best shot.”

Smith and his wife Millie, had worked hard, scraped the land bare for the meager return the parched ground had been willing to release. It was never enough. His Millie deserved better. Now, after losing the farm and his Pa, they were headed south.

“I said, everybody out.”

Smith gave Millie a steady nod, then calmly stepped from the stage. Without hesitation, he flashed the gun and fired four shots, his steady hand as sure as the truth. The three riders tumbled from their vaulting horses.

The stagecoach driver, Hank Barrett sat gravely wounded on the carriage deck.
“You saved us son,” he whispered. “The bank too.” He rubbed a slow hand along the silver strong box. “Over ten thousand dollars worth I’d say.”

Smith rotated the cylinder; there were two cartridges left. He thought about his Pa’s words as he put one through Barrett’s left eye. He turned to Millie who looked out at him through the coach window, a beatific smile crossing her face.

“Darlin’. Would you like to see Mexico?”

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

 


 

TRIGGER HAPPY
by Gita Smith

The reason I’m a candidate for sainthood is, I didn’t shoot him.
Oh, trust me. I wanted to.
I had a loaded shotgun in hand. I had motive and means. Sweeter yet, no Alabama jury would have convicted me.
Despite my fury, I could see it all play out: the front page photos of me in hunting camo, Nancy Grace on CNN talking about redneck rage, his grieving family, the telegram of congratulations from his ex-wife.
But, did I want to be a party to such a cliché? No! I was better than that. I took the high road.
Whereas he, with malice aforethought, had raised his gun, aimed and shot the gobbling turkey that was walking towards me, I would forgive. Whereas I had slogged through marsh and sawgrass, climbed steep piney ridges and sweltered in mosquito-ravaged misery for hours to call that bird into shotgun range, I would forget.
Whereas he, in a testosterone-cocktail fueled moment had done me wrong, I let him live.
Oh, I swung on him. I aimed that 12-gauge at his beefy midsection and uttered the words, “Die, you fucktwit,” under my breath.
But I didn’t shoot.
I let him rush to the fallen bird, nearly tripping himself on his camo bootlaces, and hoist it for a victory lap. I waited until his yee-haws died down.
I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, was I not an angel of mercy to let him live? Should I not get recognition for my superhuman self-control?
Canonizing me would be justice served.

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.

 


 

POOR JOE
by Bill Lapham

At the end of an endless string of boring days, Joe decided to row a kayak from Michigan, across Lake Huron, to Ontario. Depressed, he boarded the small, but exquisite, rented canoe [1] and shoved off from Lakeport State Park [2] on a warm spring morning not long after the equinox. He pointed the bow of the kayak at the rising rose-colored sun and paddled in an easy rhythm he thought he could carry for the length of the day. He ate a PowerBar™ for lunch and drank Gatorade G2™ for hydration. Later, when the sun went down behind him, the lake was clear of traffic as far as he could see in 360 degrees. Alas, poor Joe only made it halfway across the Great Lake [3] before he collided with a northbound freighter doing twelve knots. Pieces of his kayak were found floating in the water the next day, but Joe went missing and was never heard from again. Today, many students of recreational therapy consider Joe a martyr to the cause of innovative interventions.

[1] Handmade wooden kayaks by Nick Schade: Source: http://www.woodenkayaks.com/
[2] Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lakeport, MI: Source: http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=466&type=SPRK
[3] Huron is one of the five officially designated Great Lakes: Michigan, Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario. “There are ongoing proposals for [Lake St. Clair’s] official recognition as a Great Lake, which would affect its inclusion in scientific research projects, etc., designated as being for ‘The Great Lakes’, [but none have been approved].” Source: Wikipedia.
See Authors page for Bill’s bio.

 


 

POOLE HARBOUR 1971
by Sandra Davies

Tourists, from the way they strolled, looking at the ordinary same as the extraordinary, and pointing. New to parenthood too, both from their youth and the minuteness of the baby, glimpsed as the top half of the pram was tilted as he, the long-haired and scruffy-bearded father, manoeuvred it into the back of the grey van, while she, long straight hair, blowing from the light breeze off the sea, folded down the frame.
All loaded, they sat, heads together poring, presumably, over a map. Came to a decision, sat back and he prepared to move, releasing handbrake and looking back to check the road was clear.
She spoke again, he paused and looked where she was finger-indicating, an alternative route perhaps.
But they’d never have reached it, nor lived much longer, had I not hooted, having seen their van roll inexorably towards the harbour edge. The father managed just a panic-faced acknowledgement, before I drove away.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

 


 

CHIGGERS
by Author

Had Barbara been their heir, her parents might have been happier. Nature did not play fair sending Babita along first, when the two of them were trying so hard, long before she granted them sickly little Benito’s existence. Anyone could see the boy was unlikely to make it to adulthood. Paputs’ older sisters, Griselle and Agnetha, tut-tutted in unison each time they stood over Benito’s crib, then looked at Babita with the same disdain, as if his affliction were somehow her fault. Surely, she had compromised the child’s health by making her mother wait until having another baby proved a dangerous proposition. She was the cause of their sister’s current malady, why she often took to her bed these days. Between them, they had four strapping young offspring, already out working, but unfortunately not bearers of the family name.
Barbara piously worked hard to make up for the terrible discrepancy. She cooked, cleaned house, cared lovingly for her malformed little brother, performed all the beneficences a healthy mother would be expected to do but received little recognition for all her sacrifices.
Some said she had been poisoned by the chiggers or some other venomous insect, something external, because she did not appear to be in her right mind when her cousin Axel found her cradling, trying to console the whimpering baby, surrounded by the slumped and lifeless bodies of her mother, and father, and both the aunts at their last family meal, the arsenic-laced mousse still cooling on the sideboard.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

 


 

Spot 034 piously left unillustrated.

 

March 10, 2012

Spot 033: Revolver

 

TAXMAN
by Michael D. Brown

“Let me tell you how it will be. I’m taking everything, Frank.” She was in one of her raunchier moods.
“Well, if you’ll allow me to be frank,” he said, “There’s going to be very little left to take.” He had been careful about investing vast sums in tax hedges he never told her about, and she was not the brightest star.
Her lawyer was her sister-in-law’s brother, and on his relationship with Marcus he would never be frank. Ostensibly, the two men did not get along, but in fact they did and in an intimate way Lisa would never be able to fathom. Indeed, she never reasoned why he was not contesting a divorce.
He had not counted on Eric, Lisa’s brother, who, although he also gave off dim light, was aware of something occurring between Frank and Marcus, but did not know what to call it, surreptitious though firm backslaps and ass pats notwithstanding.
“The taxman cometh,” Frank now said by way of humorous diffusion, “and he’s going to plow through our savings like Grant took Richmond.”
Lisa, who suffered mood swings, was trying on false eyelashes, and he believed she was already hatching a plan to flirt with the auditor, as yet unseen, and for all the good it would do her, while Frank thought maybe a few baseball games would provide the space he needed to explain to her brother the vicissitudes of friendship and how he would always consider him family no matter what happened.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

 

 

ELEANOR RIGBY (MacKenzie’s Tale)
by Sandra Davies

The press got hold of it, of course. I might’ve guessed, mid-August and precious little else in the way of news, but not that they’d take quite so much interest, sending a film crew to the funeral, and then to have turned it into a song, a sort of mini-musical, string quartet backing and all the rest. It was them, the songwriters, who gave her that fancy name, made her sound better than she was. I mean, Eleanor was a queen, Castile, all those memorial crosses Edward I had erected in 1290 or thereabouts, whereas Nelly was little more than the nameless slut she was when I got her.
She was a quick learner, though, I’ll give her that – even at darning socks! – but that wasn’t what I needed her for. Just not always as … compliant … as I intended her to be. And more secretive than ever I gave her credit for.
At least they never found that it was not just her name that was buried along with her.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

 


 

I’M ONLY SLEEPING
by Travis Smith

[should join us shortly}

See Authors page for Travis’s bio.

 


 

LOVE YOU TO
by Michael D. Brown

Each day goes so fast. The mornings, despite my hacking and sniffling, are filled with bright thoughts of all I want to accomplish, which I don’t get round to in spite of best intentions. Then, most nights I stay up too late, noodling and doodling. It’s the twelve hours in between that dissipate like the smoke from one of my too, too many cigarettes. Of course, when I finally work up the energy to do a little housecleaning, I find that again. Everything is yellow with a film I can only imagine has blackened my lungs.
I’m reminded of the baby, little Bobby, who did not reach the age of two. Your mom and sisters finally getting it together to paint the wretched apartment. You had fun all afternoon drawing silly pictures on the walls before covering them over with that pale blue until late in the evening when you put down your brushes and turned off the radio to admire your newly brightened home. Nobody realized, even during his feeding, that Bobby was being asphyxiated by the fumes.
More than one person remarked how long his little body looked in the tiny casket, and how it did not signify when later you gashed holes in all the wooden walls. You have never been right since the loss of your little brother, have you?
I know it’s hard to commit, but I would love you to be here now.
I’m not sure what I should do about all these holes.

 


 

LOVE YOU TO: DIALOGUE
by Gita M. Smith

“Hello?”
“Barb, it’s Madge!”
“Madge? Oh… my goodness. We haven’t heard from you in ages. (Hand over receiver: Honey, it’s your sister.”)
“I know, and that’s why I’m calling! We have so much catching up to do. I’ve been on a retreat with my guru – you remember Sri Dev Hatmankandu – and he told us that we should return to the world after being sequestered for three months in Bangalore – you would NOT believe what passes for sanitation in some places — and to be with family as part of our re-entry.”
“I see…so…”
“SO! I am coming to visit you and Bart just as soon as I can eat solid food again. I caught a teeny parasite over there – all of us did, actually – and I’m almost recovered. My naturopath said it isn’t contagious.”
“Ah, Madge, dear, please hang on a sec while I get a cake out of the oven. I just heard the timer ding. (Bart, she said she’s coming to visit. I don’t know when. When she stops having diarrhea! THINK!)
“Heyyyy, I’m back! It’s so great that you traveled to India. And you know, about the visit? I’d love you to – and so would Bart. But he just, well he surprised me with the Winnebago I’ve been wanting for years and we’re about to hit the open road ourselves.”
“Will you be gone long?”
“Very long.”
“What should I do?
“Just sit tight. We’ll come to you. Eventually.”
“Oh! I’d love you to.”
“Buh-bye.”
“Namaste!”

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.

 


 

HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
by Paul de Denus

Here
Detective Avery marks and bags several bottles of narcotic sitting on the nightstand. His partner Madison cork-fingers and bags the bottle of Jack, the one with granulated residue on the bottom. The woman – one Sarah Hope – has also been bagged and tagged and removed to the county morgue. The bedroom shows no sign of struggle. Her Chevy Vega sits quiet in the driveway; her purse still contains her keys and ID. No sign of cash. No sign of her twelve-year-old son either.

There
is a spew of blood painted on the back seat of the car. DNA is being checked.
There are accusations of abuse – according to the sister-in-law – flags like meth-lab and pill-mill activity mixed in too. The father took off months ago, resides in Little Woods, the next town over. “The boy suffered mightily at their hands,” the sister-in-law says. “Damaged goods.” Detective Avery digests the murder/suicide theory. “Happens all the time. Pill-popping mom kills son… dumps body… offs herself. Only thing missing is a suicide note.” Madison nods, adds, “And the boy.”

Everywhere
perhaps under darkened walkways or bleak alleys is where you’ll find them. Their noses hurt from the self-inflicted punch; didn’t think they’d bleed that much. The backseat blood fest should keep the police occupied for a while. Black thoughts caper and dance. “Momma had it coming… paid hard. Daddy will too.” They begin to walk again, then run, only a half-mile outside of Little Woods.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

 


 

THE YELLOW SUBMARINE
by Bill Lapham

When the wind blew and Neptune’s mood was dark, waves smashed against the shore-borne rocks and the spray would reach all the way to the windows of our house. In the winter, the water froze and the view was like looking through a crystal ball — with no future in sight. Not often did we see blue skies at that latitude, but quite often the sea was green as the vegetation it slopped ashore.

Not far away was a submarine base, and on a clear day, I could see them get underway. When the sun glinted off their hulls at just the right angle, the reflection had a golden, almost yellow, glow. With binoculars I could track them until they opened their vents and vanished, as if they’d been exiled for crimes against humanity.
I always wondered how the crews spent their hours underwater, living in a machine loaded with weapons of mass destruction, weapons of total annihilation. How could they live with that knowledge? Would they really launch them?

Once they were out of sight, they seemed to be non-existent. Then, in a different season, they would appear again, inbound, headed for their home port, families and safety. A place where the crew could rest and walk the highlands and think — until the next time they went to sea.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.

 


 

SHE SAID SHE SAID
by Sandra Davies

‘So, when she told me – and obviously I was completely gobsmacked, felt quite wobbly in myself for a bit, like I did when I saw that accident last week – I told you about that didn’t I? Yes, thought I did, gave me a proper turn that did! Anyway, I said to her, I said, well asked more like, I said ‘Isn’t it about time you told me the truth?‘… my God look at the state of her, no, not that one, the one in the red dress, yes that’s the one, if that’s not mutton dressed as lamb I don’t know what is! … Where was I? Oh yes, last night. Well, yesterday afternoon I suppose it was, it must’ve only been four o’clock, if that, because the football results hadn’t been on and I know he’d’ve shut me up then, he always does, though, as I always say to him, none of it really matters does it, they’ll only be playing again next week, and anyway he always reads them again in the Sunday paper, all over the blooming breakfast table. And it’s only bloody football after all, load of overpaid prima donnas – did you read about that one and those models? It was in last week’s paper, three of them together, and Bollinger and goodness knows what else – more money than sense, obviously. But you’ve only got to look at her that I was telling you about, to know that, although what she did certainly takes some beating.’

 


 

SHE SAID SHE SAID: DIALOGUE
by Bill Floyd

She said: I’m gone.
He said: But why?
You know.
Please stay.
I can’t.
Why not?
My heart.
Oh, that.
Undone.
Can’t be.
Is so.
I’ll change.
You won’t.
It’s him.
It’s you.
Undying.
Unborn.
No choice?
Too late.
Come here.
Fat chance.
Come back.
I’m gone,
she said.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.

 


 

SHE SAID SHE SAID
by Paul de Denus

She said I was cute. She said I was the best she ever had. She said let’s get married. She said she didn’t want any kids. She said my apartment was too small. She said we needed more room. She said the over-priced house was perfect. She said we should get a new car. She said I should clean up the garage. She said I should put my clubs in the attic. She said she wanted a bigger house. She said she didn’t care for my parent’s attitude. She said she didn’t want my family coming over anymore. She said my friends were immature. She said she didn’t want my friends coming over anymore. She said she was going shopping again. She said she needed a bigger closet. She said I didn’t make enough money. She said I should get a better job. She said the house was a mess. She said we needed a maid. She said she was bored. She said I never took her anywhere. She said she wanted something different. She said she didn’t think she loved me anymore. She said I should move out. She said, “What are you doing?” She said, “Is that a gun?” She said, “But honey-bun…” She said no more.

 

 

GOOD DAY SUNSHINE
by Mike Handley

I’d long buried the memory until a friend, perhaps giddy because he was sitting on my porch wearing nothing but a whiskey sour, felt compelled to remember the first time he disrobed without being self-conscious.

A teenager, he was hunting deer when inexplicably struck with a primal urge to stand naked among trees. His grin was a toothpaste commercial complete with pinging starburst.

“Oh my god, it was so cool,” he said.

To that point, I thought I alone had done such a thing.

I’d been in my mid-20s, afield before sunrise in the middle of an Alabama winter. Around midmorning, fascinated by the play of light and shadows across my clothes and the sun’s warm caress, I took off my many layers, folded and placed them on the log where I’d sat.

I basked for the next half-hour, watching the sun dapple my body, igniting the fine blond hair on my forearms and the coppery thatch at my groin. I wanted to stay that way forever, but the whistle of an approaching train snatched me out of Eden.

Interviewing the police chief not long afterward about a bust in which camo-clad officers had staked out a patch of marijuana in the middle of the woods and caught the grower, wearing only boots, coming to check his plants, I decided I wasn’t so eager to return to my private playground.

“What kind of freak would do that?” the chief asked.

“Beats me,” I lied.

See Authors page for Mike’s bio.

 


 

AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING
by Michael D. Brown

Chas spent the summer in London before moving on to the job in Lisle. On his penultimate day in town, he had drinks with Neville, who said although he knew Chas could not pass up the opportunity awaiting him, nevertheless he did not want to call this a goodbye luncheon.
“You’ve got the flat with all a bloke could want, and you’re trusting me to hold it together for you until November. How do you know we won’t hold wild smoking parties and destroy everything?”
“Is that your plan?”
“No. Course not. I’m just saying.”
“There was something else I wanted to ask of you, but I don’t quite know how to put it other than bluntly. Could you keep an eye on Heather?”
“How do you mean?” The fluttering under Neville’s left eye was confirming what Chas had suspected. He had already lost her.
“We promised to keep in touch and all, but, and it’s not as if I don’t trust her, just that she’s so pretty, and popular…”
“And she sings like a bird. Did I tell you I finally got a chance to go listen to her perform at the club last Friday? I know you think we’re not copacetic but I really do like her artistic bent. She’s like one of those beatnik chicks left over from the last generation, and…” Neville was rambling—always a sure sign he was covering up.
Yes, Heather could sing all right, and like a bird she had already flown.

 


 

FOR NO ONE
by Kristine Shmenco

She liked to sing in the shower, and sometimes she liked to practice for her next audition there. He liked to stand outside the door and listen while she entertained herself, hot water fading tepid. He listened to one late-night shower (she’d been out all night with the girls and wanted to wash the smoke from her hair, she said, before bed) and wondered what she was auditioning for this time. The lines went something like “it wasn’t all lies but it wasn’t all love, either.” She hummed through rooms dusting picture frames that were gone the next day and he wondered why she didn’t take the nails, too. He began taking long walks down by the pond in town and wondered why her hand wasn’t in his. Tired of walking, he took long turns at the bar wondering why she wasn’t sitting there, arguing the fine points of some crappy movie they watched eight years ago. He knew where she was. More importantly, she knew where he was, and it was easier this way. She hoped the ice in his glass tasted sweet, thinking about his gentle eyes. She knew he’d be okay the farther away she went and it wouldn’t be her getting smaller in the distance. She left it all in the house and took her convertible one last turn through a neighborhood she would never miss. She was happy for the first time in a long time and felt connected to herself and the sun.

See Authors page for Kristine’s bio.

 


 

DOCTOR ROBERT
by Paul de Denus

In his waiting room, the first thing you’ll notice is the upscale décor. The walls are lined with Eames, the single molded plywood type. They fit your body like perfect dentures. A 3-seat black leather sofa occupies the opposite wall and you’ll want to sit there awhile, just to feel it opiate your senses. A Skagen coffee table crouches between the sofa and chairs. It is adorned with picture perfect worlds that offer tastes you can only imagine. The doctor always delivers.

Stephanie will guide you in to the pleasure chair. Above your head, drop pendant lights hang like plucked eyeballs still attached to the optic nerve. You’ll try not to giggle. In the corner of the room, there is an empty dome-shaped birdcage. You’ll imagine a yellow canary on the empty swing singing a familiar soundless tune.

When the doctor appears, his hands will barely touch your face as he painlessly injects your mouth. His small hands will move like those of a mime. Your tongue will tingle as he tinkles the ivories and he’ll polish you off with a tasty minor flourish. His face will be close enough to kiss. He will nod in rhythm as if hearing the soundless music, perhaps the song of the imagined canary.

As you leave, Stephanie will hand you – discreetly of course – a white velvet bag. It’s what you came for, isn’t it? What’s inside will soon have you humming another tune.

 


 

I WANT TO TELL YOU
by Paul de Denus

I’ve been all over the album cover. Oh man, have you seen it? It’s a mixed bag of black and white caricature and photos. Some guy named Klaus Voormann did it. He’s on the far right, in George’s hair. If I’d known they loved this kind of art, I’d have submitted something to their Fan Club. It’s the kind of thing I draw. Ask Mr. Monteith, my art teacher. He’s also my Math teacher but he’s a damn good artist too and let me tell you, he’d know! I’m not knocking this Klaus guy. He’s fantastic! He went nuts on their hair. Shit, I wish I could grow my hair that long. Dad won’t let me – says it’s for girls. He’s having a hard time keeping up these days. But I’ve seen his foot clocking to Taxman.

The photos on the cover look like my dad took them, all dark and lousy. They’re cropped badly. I bet they slapped them together after dropping some bad LSD. The back cover has a dark photo too but it’s really cool. They’re all wearing glasses and paisley and suits and grinning like they’re high except for Paul. I bet that means something. I’ve looked for a revolver in the picture too. It’s probably buried in there somewhere. George looks like he’s holding something. Man, I just wanted to tell you, they’re totally capable of cool stuff like that. They really are.

 


 

GOT TO GET HER INTO MY LIFE
by Gita M. Smith

I live inside a snow globe at a Stuckey’s by the I-70 off-ramp to Torrington, Conn. It takes some getting used to, this life does. Snowglobe dwellers, or ‘Globers,’ as we like to call ourselves, forever have a 360-degree view of the world. Because of the convex curve of the globe’s glass walls, things on the outside look unpleasantly enlarged. A human eyeball approaching the glass surface appears like a vast milky moon with a watery dark center. A hand that grasps us is magnified a hundredfold. Fingerprints leave giant troughs and hills on the surface of our sky where they smear and mingle with other fingerprints.
Like whales, we hear sound waves through the medium of water. Normally, water mutes sounds, but the round walls bounce noise around and magnify it. But I am happy because I’m taken care of by Shelly, the store manager. How delicately and tenderly she picks up my snow globe to wipe away customer fingerprints. She peeks at me and smiles when the snow-glitter drifts down on my head and shoulders. “Well hello, there, little fellow,” she says, as sultry as the dark hair that falls over my world when she bends to dust my shelf.
Tragically, there has never been a successful relationship between a Glober and a human. Yet I hold out hope that someday soon, either she will shrink or I will grow. I long to be with her and hold the hand that holds my universe in its loving grasp.

 


 

TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
by Nicole E. Hirschi

My senses refuse to focus.
I feel like I’m dying,
forgetting Here and Now,
drifting in dreams of Past,
believing wasted half-truths,
of loves come and gone,
lives spent in the briefest moments
of happiness outdone by sorrow.
Yesterday, I wished-
not for a second of Today
but for an eternity
of what lies beyond
in a world of Tomorrows.

My senses begin to fade.
Dying? But not dead.
Too much, TOO MUCH!
Today’s thoughts of doubt
struck down my reachable goals-
my promises of untold glory
waiting patiently on the shelves
of the ‘morrow.
Remembering Yesterday, I cry.
With back turned
to hide my face,
I give a poor farewell
to Yesterday’s wasted wishes.

My senses try to focus.
Surviving, but confused and hurt.
I try to comfort my heart,
burning for dreams to hold-
even if broken- to mold.
For what doubts festered in Today
will Tomorrow, become Yesterday’s.
Dreading what’s Past, but
scared of the Future,
I live through Tonight to realize
there is no need for wasted suffering
because after Today,
Tomorrow Never Knows…

See Authors page for Nicole’s bio.

 


 

Illustrations for Spot 033 inspired by Klaus Voorman and Sandra Davies.

 

March 3, 2012

Spot 032: The Tyranny of Things

 

UNDERWOOD
by Gita M. Smith

The shootings continue.
Last night, they eliminated teenaged girls who had gone mad when they could no longer text. The night before, it had been 13-year-old boys who were berserk over the loss of video games.
Fuck the whiny-baby pissants, anyway. It’s time young people learned to fend.
I myself have been very careful to stay in the weeds, and when asked how I’m doing, I say, “It’s a great day for golf, sure is!”
Out in mid-town park, there is fear and chaos. People have gathered, and they are stoking each other’s panic.
“If the machines never restart,” people cry, “what of the future?”
Yes, when the machines first quit, the quiet was eerie. But without radios, TVs or internal combustion engines, the world is actually quite a lovely place.
Noise was just another form of tyranny, when you think about it, because you could never escape it.
Once, I’d been fishing in far northern Canada where you would think you could get away from man-made sounds. But every 15 minutes or so, jets would boom overhead.
No, it’s definitely best not to whine or complain about what’s missing. Best to come up with a plan, and mine is to get out the old Underwood with sticky keys from the attic and bang out as many copies as possible of a newsletter.
My daddy always said, “Better believe it, he who controls the press, controls the people.”
To which I’d like to add, “and controls the future.”

This week’s theme was suggested by Gita. See Authors page for her bio.

 


 

FEDEX-PLETIVE
by Paul de Denus

“WHAT-THE-FU…!”
My pen is dead, out of ink.
“MOTHER-FU…”
The word falls with a heavy thud from my quivering lips. It transfers to my hand – the cramped one, the one doing all the writing, the one that presses through the four-layered shipping label, pen tip carving the heavy paper veneer, initialing a jagged trench along the tabletop.
“SUCKING-DOG-BAL…!”
The air bill is torn. It shouts at me: Please print and press hard.
“SHIT-FUCKER…!”
Ripe, it slips from between my teeth as I punctuate the air bill with spittle before crumpling it up, firing it across the room. If I have to write that FedEx account number one more time, I’ll…
“BITCH-HOLES…!”
I’m almost out of FedEx slips.

The FedEx system is down. How can that be? Hello? Press some buttons dudes and get it up again! You’re the world’s best delivery system, aren’t you? Please.
It took me two hours to find my print out copy with all these addresses. Sixty-one locations. I may kill myself.
SIXTY-ONE-HANDWRITTEN-BASTARD-DINKHOLE-LOCATIONS!!!

I’ll show them. I’ll make them work for it. Here’s an initial in front of my surname, an abbreviation for Street, one for Drive, random digits for phone numbers, a scribble for a signature. Does this shipment contain dangerous goods? Oh, it will. I promise. My hand pounds the table. I make a fist. It’s all I can do to attempt a middle finger. The hands too cramped to open.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

 


 

AFTER THE MACHINES FREAKED
by Bill Lapham

The day the machines freaked, the U.S. Defense Department felt the impact first and hardest. All its submarines, surface ships, fighters, bombers and drones, all the defense radars, missiles, guns and satellites were rendered useless.

The Pentagon requisitioned every sailboat in every marina on both coasts and Hawaii and dispatched them around the world to rescue stranded crews at sea. For months, convoys of sailboats brought the armed forces home.

With no means to generate power, everything that relied on electricity sat idle. Without pumps, production of petroleum products failed, and mechanized transportation ground to a halt.

Borders became indefensible. Governments, their laws and law enforcement became futile.

Populations migrated on foot to places that stayed warm and supported limited, organic farming. With the mass migrations, and the attendant bank failures, the architecture of religious organizations collapsed.

Competition for scarce resources became ferocious and homicide by blade and garrote proliferated. Blood ran in perilous streets and soaked the barren soil. The population of the world fell precipitously due to wide-spread famine, localized wars, and genocide. Viruses went viral.

With time, the population of Homo sapiens reached a sustainable equilibrium. Cells of families formed tribes. Those that found defensible cave complexes to live in, thrived by resorting to ancient hunting and gathering methods. With the evaporation of leadership, anarchy became the only workable political philosophy.

In the west, the most successful cells became known as Apaches; in the east they were called al-Qaeda. Separated by oceans, they lived peacefully for centuries.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.

 


 

I DON’T SUCCUMB TO TYRANNY BUT I WONDER…
by Sandra Davies

I never would have continued without the Amstrad enabling me to type it up – my handwriting is so bad ¬– and although I was as willing as the rest to pay for pink and green certificates, to heave the slab-sized books around in dusty subterranean rooms, to scrabble away the ivy from the stones, I couldn’t help admitting it was easier when so much was made available on-line.
For convenience and cross-reference I pretty near abandoned multiple ring-binders of typed trees, pencilled annotations faded and photocopied documents taking space. Without the skills of Photoshop to zoom in and then compare the faces, the people in the photo albums would have remained unknown. Exchanging information with the similarly-minded from around the world would not have taken place.
But now my children tell me ‘If you really want us to know you will have to put our kin on Kindle’ I wonder whether when it all goes blank it will be as if I and my family’s history never was.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

 


 

THE TYRANNY OF THINGS
by Michael D. Brown

I wanted to sound clever and tell everyone present a story of some poor schlep who tried his damnedest to make things work, but who kept coming up against obstacles on which he had not counted, and then, you would all smile because you would see yourself in him and say oh, yes, well, it be that way sometimes, and really, what are you going to do about it? Unfortunately, the schlep turned out to be me, and I do not find the situation amusing enough to relate it in a way to evoke that smile. I am fucking pissed about where I find myself, if you want to know the truth. I never foresaw how being put in charge of friends and companions would place me in a different camp altogether nor how they would nod in agreement to everything and then proceed to follow their separate agendas. I never foresaw how being too busy to comply with an activity that brought me happiness would leave me sad all the time. I never thought I would have to beg off going to Kansas to be with other friends. I guess I just never thought ahead, period. The real tyranny is in how I trusted to fate, and it screwed me royally, and there isn’t much amusement in that. Things may yet be resolved in my favor, but at the moment, I’m feeling glum. I just wanted to share 250 words in an attempt to sidestep the malignancy. Everything sucks.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

 


 

IN THE BEGINNING
by Kristine E Shmenco

The sun lit the face of the earth, time zone by time zone, as it had since before machines recorded time. There was no herald, no precursor, no sign that it would happen. People took to their holy books to see if they could divine the meaning, but there was no prophecy, no name given to understand why we lost our machines. What horseman had come in the night and took the power away? No answer was found, no prayer answered.
It was a mercy that simple machines like wedge or pulley did continue to work, and that is probably all that saved us. People’s dreams began to change, and they dreamed of candles and clean water. Clean water—suddenly everyone on the face of the earth felt the same way about it—understood what it really meant. Families living in remotest Brazil, China, India, would find our new lives unremarkable. We all now stood on the same ground, only we were astonished. Agonized at the loss of connection.
The words “rain barrel” were resurrected. Men with horses were kings, and for a time there were riots for bottled water and when that was gone, we learned to cry over spilled water. The face of the earth changed, forever, in one night. The changes I’m certain you can imagine. I don’t know why I feel the need to write down what happened, because right now no one cares about why. But on this ship with pen and ink, I must write.

See Authors page for Kristine’s bio.

 


Illustrations?