Posts tagged ‘bolton carley’

October 27, 2012

Spot 053: Abandonment

by Diana Backhouse

With the speed of light he won his race,
The pride of the trainer showed on his face.
He was led from the track to collect his prize,
The best dog ever in his owner’s eyes.

by Paul de Denus

We stay beneath the wood behind the man and woman’s house, Bella by my side, his black fur sleek and shiny. We wait patiently while the man and woman leave food and milk, slip away a distance to watch, their eyes warm like the sun.

by Sandra Davies

The scarlet handset appeared to have spewed a map of South Africa, matching stain spreading and disappearing beneath the sprawled body of the dark-haired woman.

‘What’s that godawful noise?’

by Michael D. Brown

Tuesday night, I sat in the absolute darkness of what is jokingly called my living room and lit a single candle. When I realized I was becoming mesmerized by the tiny ovoid flame, I blew it out.
My left temple ached, and I could feel my hands trembling because I knew Lilith was not coming back.


by Kristine E. Shmenco

One step in front of the other, with his little hand in mine (or what I recall of its feeling in my palm), I walked the long way of the river. I tried not to think of him the whole way, but it was impossible. The river kept its eye on me, never letting me get too far, always keeping me in sight. I kept walking.

September 15, 2012

HoW3 Book Ready

Sandra advises that the book is just about ready to go after a few minor tweaks, and it looks terrific! It feels so good to have something of such high quality to take one back to a blissful few days with imagination running rampant and being surrounded by good friends, good food, and great writing.

P.S.: You know you can have your bio updated at any time, and this blog remains active.

July 31, 2012

HoW 3

Spirit Lake, Perry, Kansas: 26 – 29 July 2012

The House of Writers, better known as HoW, had its third get-together at Spirit Lake. The first was in New Orleans on Labor Day weekend, 2010. The second was at Blowing Rock, N.C., on Bastille Day weekend, 2011. We enjoyed writing to prompts, reading work in group sessions, and challenging each other in games of Ex Libris among other activities. The setting around the lake was tranquil and inspirational, and an enjoyable publication should be forthcoming.
I regret that we only get to do this once a year. The fifty-two Spots preceding this post and featuring the work of HoW authors writing to themes were meant to serve as a bridge between meetings.
Those in attendance this time around were:

Bolton Carley
Bolton’s pieces can be found on 6S and her personal Bolton Carley’s Blog at wordpress.

Sandra Davies
Sandra Davies is a writer and printmaker, occasionally combining both disciplines as in ‘Edge: curve, arc, circle’ and ‘One that got away’ the precursor to four more novels. Recent poetry has been published in Pigeon Bike’s ‘Beyond the Broken Bridge’ and more is forthcoming from Scribble and Scatter. Sandra’s main writing blog is lines of communication from which links to printmaking blogs can be accessed.

Ed Dean
Ed Dean grew up in Dearborn and Highland Park, Michigan until being drafted into the army and subsequently into the N.S.A. Having been in sales and marketing most of his life, Mr. Dean is now semi-retired and spends much of his time writing. His own experiences in the military, traveling throughout the U.S. and Europe, and as a wine enthusiast provided much of the background to his book. Mr. Dean has three books in the works, including a sequel to The Wine Thief.

Mike Handley
A career journalist, artist and member of the zipper club, Mike mourns sausage made from non-flying things. His musings can be seen at Handlets, and his paintings at Mike Handley Wildlife Artist.

Dorothy Pendleton
Dorothy has a solid grounding in the liberal arts, and can tell you which German preposition takes a dative ending, which an accusative, and which either/or (It’s all about movement and occupying space), but is mystified by how an engineer can go through the day with such faith in fact. She has just moved to Portland, Oregon — a lovely city with a young vibe and very genuine people. Some of her work can be read on Thinking Ten.

Jen Schneider
Jen is an English teacher. Married. She is currently writing a young adult novel and finding daily inspiration through her family and students. Her site is Life on Shuffle.

Kristine E. Shmenco
Kristine is married to a patient rust farmer and says she’s working on being a writer who’s still learning the art and diplomacy of commenting to posts. We say she’s far too humble. Her site is Mirrors * Doorknobs * Dreams at wordpress

Gita Smith
Gita posts flash fiction at 6S and longer work at MuDJoB and LitFire. She blogs at Oh, Fine, Just Fine.

Travis Smith
Travis Smith lives in North Carolina where his day job as an ecologist supports his desire to write fiction. More of his work can be found on 6S and T10.

Michael D. Brown
Currently teaching English in Mexico, Michael maintains MuDJoB and MudSpots (and various other muddy projects) featuring his own and the work of other writers, and would love more than anything to be preparing for the next HoW, right here, right now, but will wait (impatiently) to be with his friends in the flesh next summer.

July 30, 2012

A Year of MudSpots

achilles’ heel amy hale auker aphorisms beauty benefit bill floyd bill lapham bolton carley brian michael barbeito camera candles burning catch up compunction darkness ed dean elliott cox fables gita smith golden grey johnson heavy jen schneider jk davies joe gensle kristine shmenco light michael brown mike handley mirrors need nicole hirschi numbers paul de denus peace renewal revolver robert crisman sam raddon sandra davies smoke stolen travis smith unwritten rules wee small hours within

July 21, 2012

Spot 052: The Last Dance

by Sandra Davies

A school-friend’s fourteenth birthday party in a too-large-for-the-numbers wooden-floored church hall. Nineteen sixty, the year that a brown two-piece – the words run together to become ‘toupees’ – a pleated skirt and a boxy sort of short-sleeved top, was the only thing to wear. (The only way I would have worn it since our school uniform was brown and the colour never did suit me.) My version (cheap for sure) had a unique additional glisten as if briefly dunked in petrol and imperfectly allowed to dry. The pleats were too narrow as well.
But she, this friend called Jennifer, she knew boys. Boys. From Bishop Stortford College. Posh, well-spoken, rich. Smooth-skinned and lustrous-eyed. Exotic ones I only ever caught a glimpse of from the top deck of our rickety school bus. In the summer they wore beautiful scarlet blazers, pale straw boaters with a dark ribbon round the crown. God-like. Of a different breed to anything we had in our village, where most were of the agricultural ilk.
As were my social skills. Knock-kneed dumb ineptness, uncertain smile and a total lack of quips or speed of mind with which to greet their quick-flit confidence.
I was kissed in a cupboard by a boy called Mark.
And Ben E. King’s ‘Save the last dance for me’ played on repeat all evening.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

by Bill Lapham

We are never alerted to the fact that what we are about to do will be the last time we ever do it. If we were, what would we do? Try harder? Seek to enjoy the sensation more? Get drunk? Stay sober? Not do the thing we’re about to do? Do more of it, for a longer time, if we can? Savor the taste? Eat a hot dog? Wash it down with a gin and tonic? Listen closer? Tune ourselves to the wavelength of the experience better? Smell more roses? Piss off more popes?

What if this was my last Mudspot submission, the last thing I ever wrote in my life? Have I said the thing I’d want you to always remember?

Yes, I think so.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.


by Jen Schneider

For Denise

“It doesn’t look good,” the doctor said the words I had been dreading. Remission, better, improvement, hope: those were words that I prayed for every day. That was the language of optimism that I longed for.

But it wasn’t. “It’s spread to her brain.”

My mind was in absolute turmoil. My daughter was dying. She’d never have children, my grandchildren, or walk down the aisle. I’d never dance with my beautiful daughter on her wedding day.

Diana’s boyfriend, Peter, was in the waiting room when I left the doctor’s office, holding my 34-year-old daughter’s hand. “Thirty four.” I thought. She’ll be buried before her thirty-fifth birthday.

Peter ran his hand through his hair and dropped to his knee. “Diana?” His eyes told me what question he was going to ask. “Will you marry me?”

“Peter,” my daughter’s eyes filled with tears. “I can only promise to love you as long as we shall live, and well,” she stammered, “that won’t be much longer.”

“The rest of your life is all I ask, but I will love you for the rest of mine,” he said.

As my daughter murmured her affirmative reply through her muffled tears, I prayed that I would have that last dance with my little girl on her wedding day.

Just days later, if only for a moment, I took my daughter in my arms, lifting her from her wheelchair on her wedding day. I never thought I’d see this moment. It would be our last dance.

See Authors page for Jen’s bio.

by Bolton Carley

Wiggling in under the covers, Tony pushed his way over nearer to Tanya. Fully engrossed, Tanya paid little attention as she cranked up the volume another notch in an attempt to hear the TV better over his rustling sheets.
Tony rolled over, throwing his arm over Tan’s flat stomach. Tan sighed and squirmed further up out of the blankets glued to the TV. To no avail, Tony edged over even closer to Tanya hoping for a quick rendezvous, the kind that puts a man into a deep sleep. Having none of it, Tanya ignored Tony for her favorite show caught up in the fox trot, the tango, and a hip-hop number in which she marveled at their flexibility. The way the girl slithered under her partner who did push-ups symbolizing a roll in the hay, oh, how Tanya envied their sex appeal. Tony nuzzled Tanya’s ear, noticing her breathing change at the sexual innuendo of the final piece of the night.
Tony had no love for So You Think You Can Dance. He pretty much referred to it as two hours of misery, but every once in awhile the last dance was a risqué number that put his girl in “the mood.” Leaning in, Tony kissed the crease in Tan’s neck making her giggle like a bubble gum wrapper joke. Grabbing the remote, Tony clicked off the TV and whispered like a teenage boy in a car backseat, “Wanna make that last dance a reality?”

See Authors page for Bolton’s bio.

by Travis Smith

Tears streamed down Tracy’s cheek, dripping from her face to fall towards the river winding through the rocks below. The months of planning: choosing a dress, picking a hair style, buying the perfect jewelry, the hours in the gym to look her best. All wasted.
This was supposed to be her debut. Yes, the ball was opened to all of the debutantes in the area. Yes, the ball was to raise money for charity, but she was the reigning Miss Jackson County. She was the class president. She should be the center of the ball. Bobby Marcum should be dancing with her, not that red-headed bitch from Knoll County.
“Isn’t it beautiful out here?”
Tracy turned towards the voice.
“I can’t believe he is dancing with me,” the girl went on. “It is like a dream come true.” She spun gracefully, her white dress flaring out.
Her scream lasted only a moment.
Yes, it is like a dream come true, Tracy thought.
The girls red hair was visible splayed out over the rocks where she had landed and Tracy watched as all sparks of life went extinct in the broken body below. She turned towards the sound of music starting again and carefully dabbed the tears from her eyes.
What luck, she thought seeing that no one was around. It may look like an accident.
She smoothed her dress as she walked inside, intent on being Bobby Marcum’s partner for the next dance.

See Authors page for Travis’s bio.

by Kristine E. Shmenco

She floated up slowly from the depths, broke the surface of sleep, reluctant to leave her dreams. She dipped below the surface to look for his eyes. Reached out to find his arms, felt his waist and hard ribs beneath her fingertips. A smile for her alone. Music, faint, rose up and surrounded her, buoyed her back to the surface. It was time to leave him, to rise and walk into sunlight. She smiled beneath the covers knowing whatever stumbled her during the day, she could close her eyes and hear that music and rise.

See Authors page for Kristine’s bio.

by Sandra Davies

The last dance.
The last kiss.
The last time he touched me.
That was the night before. He said he did not want me at the station. Said it would be too distressing, he did not want to show himself up as weak in front of his pals.
I thought they would surely be feeling the same way, saying goodbye to their own best girls, wives, children. Mothers, too though they would be brave for them. More futile in a way because mothers know more death, about damage done to bodies. Know that that glory is too close to gory.
But I wanted to see him one last, last time.
So I went to the station. The high glass dome almost hidden behind drifting sepia-coloured smoke, perfect for the desperate sadness of the day. Tangible, cloying, khaki, the almost snot-green smoke from poor grade coal. Enough on its own to clog the throat, sting the eyes.
Not all khaki. Over by the ABC caff there was a dozen or so in dusty air-force blue.
Blue interspersed with the drabness of too-many-seasons-worn winter-weight woollen coats.
And even had there been more than a dozen he would have been easy to spot, at six feet three. Plus the gold of his hair, suddenly spot-lit by the reluctant emergence of the November sun.
As was the similarly-coloured hair of the woman he had his arms around. As were the two blonde children clinging onto the hem of his jacket.

See Authors page again for Sandra’s bio.

by Gita M. Smith

Why are you calling me here? I told you never to call me here.
I didn’t know what else to do.
There are a hundred other things to do like wait until tomorrow night. You are impossible!
It’s important and I thought you’d want to –
What I ‘want to’ do is hang up and forget you bothered me. Now go –
Stewart! Listen to me. I can’t meet you tomorrow night. I have to cancel.
What do you mean? Thursday is our night. We agreed it would always take precedence.
Stewart, I just can’t this week.
Can’t? Why would you make any other plans? Do you know the inconvenience our arrangement has caused me over the years? The excuses I’ve had to make? How dare you schedule something else for Thursday?
I didn’t schedule anything. That is, not exactly.
Malina, you’re not making sense. Spit it out. This call has gone on long enough.
I’ve met someone. I don’t feel comfortable keeping Thursday.
You what? You met someone since last Thursday?
Earlier, actually.
How could you do this to me?
You’re married, Stewart. I don’t see that I’ve done anything to you.
Malina! Thursdays are what I live for! Please don’t do this.
I deserve someone, Stewart. Someone full time, I mean.
I’ll fall apart, Malina. Please! Please meet me tomorrow. Just one last time? To say goodbye? Our usual place?
Just once?
Just once. And Malina, thank you… for calling.

See Authors page again for Gita’s bio.

by Paul de Denus

To distract myself, I escape out the window.

Clouds flirt and tango. Panache brassieres, full and fleeting boogie overhead, such happy pillows on which to bury one’s dream. Along the distant telephone wires, a musical staff of black birds line dance. The sky is but a light blue slip.

Walking up the sky, upper winds now sheer-shape the clouds Disney-esque, forming mickey mouse ears and goofy stovetop hats. A package of hard rain lands against the window banging a heavy beat but I’m whistling Happy Trails and everything’s clear. As the billowing ballet waltzes slowly across the promenade, the dark curtain pulls away and I remember I don’t like to dance. I don’t like anything about dance; I’m afraid I don’t know how.

My room is warm and in shadow, my bed feels like its floating, sleepy head on those happy pillows. Next to me, I notice a tiny dancer swing low on a gossamer cloud.
“Time for your medication,” the tiny dancer sings. Her eyes crinkle seductively, softening her small face.
“Would you like to dance?” she asks.
“You know I don’t want to,” I say.
“I’ll be gentle.”
Hooking my arm, we skirt along the hem of the horizon.

See Authors page again for Paul’s bio.

by Michael D. Brown

Ed waited all night to dance with the attractive brunette with the friendly smile. She beamed when she arrived, then was immediately surrounded by the cadre of clear-complexioned, well-built young men who exuded their wealth. What chance had he with his acne scars, and awkwardness in making interesting conversation? They had little in common outside of enthusiasm. He avoided his usually stealthy drink at snack time in order to maintain a clear outlook. From the other side of the room he gazed feeling her personality wafting across. She was clearly a star. He recalled once discussing the weather with someone and having something green stuck to his teeth because that woman had laughed in an odd superior way, staring at the words leaving his mouth. He kept licking his teeth and afterwards checked in a mirror but found nothing. His insecurity was his greatest flaw.
Now at the end of the evening, he danced like the trouper he dreamed of being. He was Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and a bit of John Travolta rolled into one. He convinced himself it was worth waiting for the other guys to have their turn, so he could outshine them. Still, he wished for an audience in his moment, and the mop he gallantly tossed was not a responsive partner.
After he changed into his street clothes and shut the lights, he took one last look back at the empty hall, telling himself next time he would foxtrot as that displayed his best moves.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

Illustrations for Spot 052 provided by mdjb.

February 11, 2012

Spot 029: The Fine Print


BINDING CONTRACT (The Malefic Bureaucrat)
by Bill Floyd

You’ll say I’m in the details, like it’s my fault, or the details’ fault. If you people paid the least bit of attention, exercised even minimal diligence, I couldn’t get away with any of it, could I?

It’s right there in black-and-white when you click ACCEPT.

You surrendered your right to a fair trail when you signed on so you could access the service, and if said service turned out not only to be not quite what you thought you were getting but something altogether shoddier and more disposable, well, blame yourselves.

It was right there in black-and-white when you signed the line.

(But you could taste it, you couldn’t wait. I barely had to sweeten the deal, barely had to touch it up with the airbrush.)

Now your only recourse is to an arbitrator, one who gets paid by me and decides in my favor 99% of the time. (And believe you me, he gets an earful about that 1%.) This was clearly stated in Section I44b, “Allowances and Restrictions, Cont.”, line 4,779.

I used to walk in the sun, among the angels. But I got shorted, deprived of the attention I deserved, and I guess I kind of pitched a fit. Cast down from the beatific realms, my name cursed by the human units of our currency, the ones whose value gives a clue to our true nature.

Now I’m just another bloody lawyer.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



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

The fine print said the government would assign me to a branch of service and a theater of operations according to its needs; God and the chief petty officers would do the rest. I thought, “Geez, that’s swell, whatever I can do to help.”

I signed on the dotted line. The sergeant said, “You look like a swabbie to me, son.”

“Swabbie,” I learned, is slang for a sailor in the Navy. Shoot, I ain’t never seen more water than could fit in a bath tub.

I went to boot camp at Great Lakes. Never been colder in my life. Then advanced shipboard training in San Diego. Up and forward on the starboard side; down and aft on the port side; General Quarters and man battle stations; bend over and kiss your ass good-bye. All that shit.

When I finally got my orders, it was to this behemoth fucking aircraft carrier. Hell, the only thing I knew could fly was a baseball and some birds. When I saw the ship for the first time, I thought, “Hell, yeah, I can get lost in that thing for a couple of years, ain’t nobody gonna find me.”

That was wrong. I got this chief who figured my ass was made to shine his boot. He was always gittin in my shit. First time I ever got underway on that ship I was leaning on the lifelines looking out at all that water when boom—up the ass with his boot.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Sandra Davies

some print’s too fine to read
some prints so fine and only feel will do
some prince – but that’s for the blind to hear
sum prints, thumb prints, one on one prints
finger on skin prints
yours on mine, prince
finger whorls shadow as the sun goes down
delight whirls damp as your hand slips down
your imprint in mine forever known
some prints are fine

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by bolton carley

“So did you call the doctor or the drug company?”
“Company. I was so furious. Probably more with myself than them by the time I got done. I was on the phone with them for two hours. I finally just asked the customer service rep to pass me on to the manager who went rounds with me like it was a boxing match. Perhaps I was a giant fool to believe that over the course of six weeks, a pill with the magical powers of a genie could grant me a stomach plain instead the rolling hills of flab I possessed. Guess it was wishful thinking on my part. But damn those companies with their detailed messages hidden on the bottom of the box in writing as foreign as Sanskrit! I swear it’s like they’re muttering under their breath, ‘Duh, U Missed Big Awful Secret Side-effects!’
So then I wondered to myself, ‘What was I smokin’ that I didn’t look at the fine print? No wonder I’m looking like Santa Claus on steroids!’ I’m tellin’ you though, Rick, dumbass or not, they still took advantage of me!”

See Authors page for bolton’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

The guy was a genius. Marlon Fine, I mean. You know, the renowned artist. My God, have you looked closely at those brush strokes? He applied the paint in such believable layers one could almost feel the movement of the fabric. Like the famous portrait, ‘Major D’Abernville’; the uniform glows in hues of dazzling white and gray. And the intimate ‘Mrs. Cowen’, the drape and folds of her yellow gown… utterly radiant. As for ‘The Wellsley Children Seated in the Garden’… well what can one say other than, ‘completely masterful’. It’s agreed; color was important. I heard he studied and mixed his own pigments using techniques the Old Masters employed. But to my mind, it was his attention to detail that paid off.

I studied too. I learned to copy his work and must say – no pun intended – I did a fine job. I followed every detail and stroke, even chemically aged both canvas and frame. It was very lucrative; there were plenty of happy art dealers willing to cough up big money to get their hands on one. Everybody was happy… until I was caught.

I’ve been charged with a treasonable act. Here in Mr. Fine’s country of birth, he is revered; it seems the authorities are overly protective. The offense carries a life sentence. I have been going over the details of the court transcripts and the laws regarding forgeries. I need to fool the judge. The key is in the fine print.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

Marvin took up popular causes. He contributed spare change to whoever stuck a collection box in front of him, and when someone told him they wanted to form a union to increase their hourly wage, he signed the petition. He did not really feel they had a chance in hell (his words at an extended liquid lunch with his boss at The Angler) of getting anywhere with their plans, but he liked Angela, who never quite finished her business degree as every cent went to her parents, and she was usually sent to approach him for his input. Marvin had his own fish to fry. He was in line for a promotion, and if it took getting bombed twice a week while listening to his manager’s marriage problems, he would. He liked the Angler’s seafood platter, but it was murder with gin. After three months’ of wicked weekend hangovers, he was finally promoted. His first thought was to celebrate by asking Angela out, but that Thursday, Othmar called him into his office. Curiously sober, he laid out Marvin’s contract telling him to look over the fine print. He pointed to one particular paragraph. “So, as you see,” he said when Marvin looked up, “Management cannot participate in the forming of unions. As a matter of fact, the first order of business is I want you to find some way to get rid of Bill Stefanofsky, that goddamn insurrectionist, and your girlfriend, too, what’s her name, the bleeding heart in Accounting.”

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



October 27, 2011

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.


September 22, 2011

Spot 009: Aphorisms


by Gita Smith

At the soiree with 47 beautiful people,
you sidled up to me just as I slipped on
my Party Mask of Indifference.

The floor vibrated with dance steps
(the tune, in case you need to know,
in case you want to make it “our song,”
was Soul Sacrifice by Santana)
and you were a glowing object on my periphery.

“Dance?” you asked.

I turned, seeing you for the first time, taking in your loose-limbed posture, your frank and curious eyes
and answered, “Sure, why not?”

Some hours later when the crowd had thinned,
you placed your hand on mine and leaned in close.

“I’d like to take you home,” you said.

“To meet your mother?”

“Something like that,” you laughed.

With no more sureness than a baby bird
about to take its first, precarious flight,
I contemplated gravity.

I judged your pull to be non-fatal
and answered, “Sure, why not?”

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Joe Gensle

My daughter’s generation doesn’t understand their children. She’s annoyed with my grandchildrens’ “Whatever” as a dismissal but it really irks her when they say, “It’s all good.” She yells at ‘em to speak ‘normally.’

I lost patience with my daughter, had to pull her off of ‘em, scolding ‘em for this very thing.

“Enough, Belva-Jean! The kids aren’t the problem. You are.”
“PAPA! How COULD you!!”
“You don’t speak their language so you can’t understand it.”
“How’s that, Papa?” she demanded, indignant.
“I raised you right, didn’t I?”
“What’s the point?!”
“Took you to church, right?”
“My grandkids are havin’ a religious experience!”

She glared, hands on hips.

“Sure, honey. ‘It’s all good.’ That’s biblical! Romans, chapter 8 an’ 28– QUOTE:
‘And we know that in all things God works for the good,’ blah-blah. See? It’s ALL GOOD, Belva-Jean!”

She fought a smile. I winked at the kids, who laughed and bumped fists.

“That’s not FAIR, Papa!” she said with a stomp in mock anger, spreading a grin.
“What-EV-ER, Belva-Jean!”

The grandkids lost it. Belva-Jean threw a throw pillow.

“Careful! I can quote ‘Whatever’ from the Good Book, too!”

I wasn’t the grandkids’ hero very long once she told them I showed her the error of her ways. My daughter’s dragging them to church this Sunday and every Sunday, thereafter.

Seems I have a fishing engagement and can’t join ‘em. Poor little bastards.

Belva-Jean’s mama sure wasn’t a vindictive bitch.

Now where’d that gol-dern rod an’ reel get to….

See Authors page for Joe’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

Danny Cole, in perfect shape and impeccable health received the small box on Friday at 1:14 in the afternoon. His wife found him dead moments later, a Vitruvian Man in a pool of blood, an exploded hole gaping from his chest. The box he’d received, sat on the floor beside him, its once plain brown wrapping faded, almost translucent in appearance. Its delivered contents: remnants of a bloodied deformed organ.

On the same day – at exactly the same time – ninety-seven-year old Carmen Whitehead, a suffering multi-billionaire recluse, received a similar box.
“The joys of the rich,” he smirked, absently rubbing his chest as his spindly assistant skittered about, making last-minute preparations around the life-support system.

Carmen couldn’t remember when he had first discovered the box. It had been long ago, in some long forgotten country where fantasy and reality seemed to meld together. He couldn’t recall the details. It was as if the box had always been. It was everything then, the box giving him virtually all the wealth and power he desired, allowing him to do things he’d never questioned, not even now.

In the operating room of his private island’s medical center, a shark’s smile swallowed his hardened face as he examined the contents of the box again. The newly delivered heart appeared perfect, absolutely perfect.

Good gifts come in small packages.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Bill Lapham

Timothy Cohen always seemed to be on the winning team, even if the team was one—him. His high school baseball, football and wrestling teams were state and regional champions. He won spelling bees, poetry slams, math competitions, everything. He got straight A’s in school, took AP courses in his junior and senior year, attained perfect scores on the ACT and SAT’s, went to Harvard and Yale Law School for free and became a very successful Wall Street investor and financial advisor to the stars. He owned a house on each coast and one in the mountains, a yacht and a jet. He had a beautiful wife whom he adored and they had three children who grew up to be successful in their own rights. Tim read the classics and the not-so-classics and he was a popular lecturer who earned top dollar for talking for an hour, which he donated to charity. He retired early and he and his wife enjoyed the many fruits of their hard work.

“The Most Interesting Man in the World” ran a distant second to Tim, he just didn’t brag about it; he let the Dos Equis beer man enjoy all the fame. Tim cared for none of it.

Then one day Tim couldn’t remember his wife’s name. He saw a doctor who ordered tests that came back positive for early onset dementia. When the doctor gave Tim the diagnosis, he drove home, put the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the…

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Sandra Davies

He saw that she was trying to keep open the option of returning, but this was the second time they had decided it was not working and he refused to contemplate a third.

Last night’s meal had ended in argument, this morning she had appeared just before nine, immaculate as ever, despite it being Sunday. His answering the door, unshaven and barefoot, wearing old jeans and an ancient university sweatshirt, graphically underlined her failure to integrate him within her world. She did pride herself on her success in infiltrating his, but had she told him – not that he needed telling, since he was more astute than people credited him for – he would have laughed in her face knowing that she was merely paddling in the shallows, was unaware of the depths.

He recognised that she was, to put it crudely, posh girl believing she had found herself a bit of rough, and although he had behaved well within the bounds of civilisation, not bothering to act up to her fantasy, she still wanted to smooth his uneven edges. He had been both irritated and resistant and neither wanted nor needed her enough to let himself be so polished, but saw no point in hurting or antagonising her. Steering between truth and tact as he closed the boot of her car on the last of her neatly-boxed possessions he said ‘I hear that the ‘Herald’ has a new arts reporter, I suggest you get yourself along to ‘Tosca’ next week.’

[Adapted from a longer piece and loosely based on Marcus Aurelius’ eighth ‘Counsel when offended’: ‘Our anger and annoyance are more detrimental to us than the things themselves which anger or annoy us’] See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by Amy Hale Auker

Lightning pops all around, drills the ground high on the mesa above, and following every heart-stopping zigzag comes a hammering boom that does not allow for the resumption of heartbeats. With every crack of thunder, the big white horse beneath me leaps and spins and acts a fool, trying to escape what he can’t see. The sky is black, the wind ominous, the drenching imminent. My hands are full, and the field we are gathering seems exposed and exposing. I am powerless to protect myself from something I cannot control.
We are seven miles from the nearest man-made building, and we’ve just gotten our cows thrown together for the trek towards home. Of course, one of the babies in the herd is without his mother, but he doesn’t want to leave the safety of aunties and cousins, no matter how hard we try to cut him back. He huddles, perhaps smarter than we are, under the necks and flanks of mama cows who stand with heads down, waiting the storm. Without us, they’d be off in the creek, down low, lying quietly chewing their cud, content that thunder happens and storms come.
A bright and dense finger of lightning descends, zapping the red rock rim above me. You yell, “STEP OFF!”
I stand on solid ground as my horse tries to jerk the reins from my hands and run. He is shod with iron.
I curse the cowboy who once said, “We’ll take a rain or a calf, any day.”

See Authors page for Amy’s bio.



by Bolton Carley

“What about her?” Missy questioned.
“The one with the Q-tip afro perm?” I asked.
“Yeah, her. What do you think she’s like now?” Missy and I had spent many an hour staring at old yearbooks in the school library envisioning people’s lives post small town upbringings.
“Oh, there’s no question about her. Look at that cat t-shirt. It couldn’t be more obvious.” I state confidently.
“What does the cat t-shirt have to do with anything?” she asked as I stared at her in dismay. How could she not get it?
“A cat t-shirt says it all. It is a well-known fact if you wear kitty-cats rolling a ball of yarn as a child you become a grandma-type by age 26. The only difference is that they start dressing in standard issue gray sweatshirts with lavendar and pink ribbons instead of t-shirts because they get cold so easily. That sweatshirt will hide a crumpled Kleenex tucked in the sleeve and be worn with pajama pants or elastic-waist jeans that taper in at her orthopedic white sneakers. Guarantee she still has curly hair, has never even considered dying it even though it’s as gray as foggy mornings, lives with at least 2 cats, and a husband who doesn’t deserve her. She babysits her grandkids for free every day, needlepoints cat dish towels and doilies in her rocking chair every evening, and hand-paints calicos and Siamese Christmas ornaments for the annual craft fair which she arrives at wearing her parka and furry mittens calling everybody ‘honey’. Bottom line: everybody knows that a kitten shirt equals a naively sweet woman.”

Bolton’s pieces can be found on 6S and her personal blog



by Michael D. Brown

“I don’t get it.”
“Enjoy it for what it is. When we met–something about your eyes–couldn’t say for sure, but the longer I looked, the less I wanted to leave. Matter of fact, because we didn’t hit it off at first I knew it was a thing.”
“You make me question my own esthetics.”
“Not a bad thing.”
Len nods. Annoyed?
“Do you always trust first impressions?”
“How do you take step two, if the first isn’t on firm ground?”
“People continue to reveal themselves over years.”
“Are you trying to Gaslight me?”
“It’s the sincerity of your smile when you’re amused. How appealing. Of course, now I’ve mentioned it…”
A child looking at the sculpture in front of us brings his hand to his lips. Giggles. Touches marble as I have. Then looks at us and stops giggling but continues smiling.
“How charming is this little guy?” Len asks, reaching to pat his head, but the child walks away. He stops with his back to us at a sculpture of a nude woman.
“Touch this,” I suggest. It’s cold and sensual at the same time. He puts his hand on the nodule close to the plinth but his eyes are on the nude in front of the child. If he can get it he appreciates it. Some things just take time. Years ago I was the same way.
Len smiles and I feel an urge to say something clever.
He says, “Let’s go look at some paintings.”

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



All illustrations for Spot 009 supplied by Sandra Davies.