Spot 047: Wandering Around Town

by Bill Lapham

A glint in the eye. A corner of his mouth, the spot where the lips meet. A wisp of hair. A forehead wrinkle, or a crow’s-foot. The edge of a nostril, a reflection in a bead of sweat, dripping. A cochlear ripple, a freckle, a dimple, a wink. Some delicate detail in every human face reminded me of him. And the voices, the sinister chuckles, the venomous tempers. Gesticulations and flinches, strange gestures on exhibit in too familiar ways.
But he was dead. I saw him. They had left his casket open; not so much for us to seek closure, but to reassure us the bastard was really dead.
I saw features of him in every face, like déjà vu, and with each recognition, my heart took another shot of adrenaline, and my stomach soured, contracted, felt like it would eject its contents and make a nuisance of itself. He was everywhere, in everyone, and nowhere, no one.
My anxiety was worse now that he was dead. Before I could make sure I knew where he was at all times. Police departments kept me informed. Now, I felt his presence in every human face. Even in some inhuman ones: Underfed Doberman Guard Dogs on CrazyChains, Teased with Raw Blood-soaked Steak reminded me of him. Or Mike Tyson in his Terrible Twenties, the unleashed years.
Where was I going to find comfort? How was I going to live with the ghost of him everywhere I looked?

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.


by Sandra Davies

Dovercourt, in Essex, where I was born, I saw as tame and modern and was more inclined to claim as a birthplace its cheek-by-jowl neighbour, Harwich, whose shipbuilding history intertwined with Christopher Jones’ ‘Mayfair’ and randy diarist Samuel Pepys, both M.P and Secretary for the Navy. It was a surprise to discover that Dovercourt, once well-known for its brickfields, was in the Domesday book and Harwich not.
While I lived there the most exciting things were the circular boating lake where I learnt to row, the pale green, bench-seat tricycles ridden by visitors to the holiday camp and the semi-circular turreted first-floor corner of the Co-op restaurant from where stop-start traffic at the crossroads could be viewed while consuming ice cream from an aluminium dish. And, of course the beach, with its damp-black wooden groynes, its two pepper-pot-on-stilts lighthouses, the war memorial of spouting dolphins, the bay safe-enclosed by Felixstowe to the left and Clacton’s genteel neighbour Walton-on-the-Naze to the south.
We used to walk down past the football ground (its back lane fencing doubtless the source of my fascination with bill-postered, rusty, graffiti-ed corrugated iron), past the Royal Oak pub whose pungent hop-based smell caused me to ache to be grown up so I could taste what had made it, and to the stationers’ shop which my Grandad managed. There I was allowed, if I behaved, to peep into the sky-lit photographic studio at the rear, its pale, painted backcloth implying lack of colour meant more refined.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

by Paul de Denus

Opening one eye, Harlan was greeted with a wedge of bright light slicing through the drawn dark curtain.
“I wish someone would turn that damn streetlight out,” he grumbled, rolling onto his back. He could hear hushed voices in the hall, the gentle ring of a phone down by the nurse’s station. Turning onto his side, he saw someone standing in the doorway.
“Dr. Frego?”
“No,” a voice said, “it’s Winston… the night nurse. Jus’ checkin’ you out Mr. Harlan. Everythin’ okay?”
Harlan grunted.
“Think you could go outside and shut that goddamn streetlight off?”

Night nurse… my ass, Harlan thought. It was Doctor Frego. He was always there checking on him, only this time the doctor wore a white t-shirt and white pants. That was nothing new. He constantly changed outfits. It was part of the scam. Appearing as another staff member was another golden billing opportunity. He even wore a nurse’s uniform once. What a joke. The game here: more tests… more blood… more money… up the bill and take everything he had.

Doctor Frego was still standing in the doorway. The hall light behind draped him in shadow.
“What will you be taking now?” Harlan said.
Doctor Frego said nothing. He’d changed his clothing again. The white t-shirt was now black, floor-length with a hood. Something moved behind Doctor Frego’s back, spreading wide. Harlan shifted nervously in his bed, then stiffened. He could have sworn he saw wings.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

by Michael D. Brown

When Johnny ascertained that he was awake, observing his double shaving, then getting dressed, he asked if he could explain what was happening, Johnny 2 said it was his lucky day. He could spend it however he wished. He could not reckon why he deserved the treat, but lay back in his king-sized bed and read another chapter of Dostoevsky. Unfortunately, The Double left him feeling queasy. Afterwards, he discovered Johnny 2 must have drunk the last of the coffee, and taken his car.
Walking around town, he fared no better. He saw himself entering the cinema, and thought he could not enjoy a film with a lookalike sitting somewhere close. Plus he was upset that both of them had skipped work, so he walked to the office.
In the lobby, he bumped into his supervisor, who said, “Hey, have you done any work on the accounts I gave you thirty minutes ago?” It came to him then there were at least two duplicates, and Johnny 2 had indeed taken his job.
Later, he left and wandered around town for three hours, but grew disconcerted upon spotting five more copies in various places, and so he went home.
He knew he was in hell opening his door, finding six Johnnies arguing over his clothes, and would probably find more doing the same over space in his bed.
On the unluckiest day of his multiple lives, Johnny 1 sat down on the steps, covered his face, and wished he were dead.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

Illustrations for Spot 047 adapted and HoW.


4 Comments to “Spot 047: Wandering Around Town”

  1. always such a variety of interpretation here! well done, all!

  2. That theme was a little challenging- I had a hard time “feeling” it but it sure got the mind working as I’ve not been writing much recently- might be the weather??

  3. Like Paul I found this difficult to fly with … and those that did took uncomfortble directions indeed.

  4. I find all of these difficult to fly with. This is part of the reason they appear so late. Something, anything suggests a theme, and then I have nothing for it. Usually Bill or Paul send over something first, and I can see where maybe I want to go, then Sandra sends over her piece and it goes in a different direction. Finally I cobble together 250 words and it appears to fit. And then there are almost no graphics on file that seem appropriate, and I’m off again.
    I really do want to thank those of you who are hanging in there. We are quite close now to the finish line (for one year, that is), and who knows what’s coming up next?

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