Posts tagged ‘michael brown’

December 1, 2012

Spot 057: Envy and Regret

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PURGATORY SEX TWINS
by Callan

My sister and I hold hands as we walk up the long flight of cold, white, marble stairs. The stairs gleam in the perpetual blackness. I can not see the bottom of the steps when I am at the top and I can not see the top of them when I am at the bottom. When we reach the last step I let go of her hand, and the great empty dark space grows still dimmer.
“I can’t go with you any further.” My voice booms out in the cavernous darkness much louder than I intend.

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IT’S NOT ME, IT’S HYMN
by Sandra Davies

I’m not immortal, only feel like I’m invisible and, God knows, not at all wise, none of which would normally make a blind bit of difference, but that article in the paper, the one about divorces amongst the over-sixties being on the rise really made me think.
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ONLY ON A SUNDAY
by Diana E. Backhouse

Dear Lord, forgive me all my sins
Send my demons far away.
I really promise to be good, Lord,
But only on a Sunday.

On Monday, with licentiousness,
My head and heart are full of lust.
On Tuesday gluttony takes charge;
I eat until I’m fit to bust.

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A MIDNIGHT CALL TO ACTION
by Edward Strand

…If I could redeem myself in her eyes, everything would turn out nicely. I had said some things in the morning, which I later regretted. Those remarks left me feeling as if I had been bound in duct tape and left on the old rail lines outside Scranton. My pride was smashed for one thing, and I felt like a single shoe pocketed in an old felt shoe bag without its mate, an outcast in my own neighborhood. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can sour the whole morning. By noon, I experienced a sense of déjà vu. I was checking out the bookstore’s latest acquisitions and recalled the day in 1985 when we were laughing and joking in Hemlock’s, by Row S, when someone from my past said hello, and she got all uptight about the encounter as if I had arranged for it to happen.
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SLIPSTREAM
by Michael D. Brown

…She was the one who first noticed the wispy-haired older man who lay tanning himself, on his blanket every afternoon, staring at the kids with what appeared to be envy, though he never spoke to any of them, and then when the other girls mentioned that they thought he was creepy, she said she found it kind of sad that he was always there alone. One day in late August, Stephanie did not show up, and when she didn’t come the next day, or the day after, Andrew went calling for her, and discovered that she and her mother no longer lived in the two-family house on Crichton Avenue, that in fact, they had just up and moved away from the neighborhood, telling no one where they were going.
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November 17, 2012

Spot 056: Deception and Acquisition

OTTO & THE CLOTH BABY
by Harris Tobias

OTTO and the Cloth Baby were just changing back into civilian dress after yet another astounding super caper involving an international crime cartel whose attempt to smuggle drugs in hollowed out cucumbers met with a stunning defeat. The two Department of Agriculture super heroes were going off duty and, hopefully, getting some much needed R & R.
They had changed into their secret identities: Otto as Clanston Mudridge, wealthy bachelor and gay man about town; and The Cloth Baby as his illegitimate son, Drone.

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THE CAT THAT GOT THE CREAM
by Diana E. Backhouse

Kitty had a coat of silk,
she groomed to make it gleam.
She didn’t care much for her milk
preferring only cream.

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IF YOU TRY SOMETIME
by Michael D. Brown

“Well, you know,” I reminded her, “One of the prime facets of due diligence is you have to understand the custom obtaining in the target’s home jurisdiction.”
“Mmmm,” she agreed in an ostensibly distracted way as if to let me know she did not enjoy being advised in regard to the job she was paid to do. She knew her stuff, and I knew that she knew by the way she skimmed two blood-red fingernails down the side of her wineglass while keeping it perfectly balanced with the rest.
The Stones were playing on the piped-in system but sounding somewhere off in the distance. Low and not at all antagonistic.
No, you can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime, you just might find

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November 10, 2012

Spot 055: Compensation

MAD ABOUT YOU
by Paul de Denus

So yeah, we were friends, she a bit younger, a naïve doll-face with breasts that ran around her sweater whenever she moved, which I suppose was the initial attraction for most of us that hounded after her. She was seeing an older guy, a lawyer who decided his law would be abusive, slapped her with bruises and nightmares as part of his practiced sex routine, hammered her self-worth into self-doubt and she’d call me for advice as if I were some kind of friendly lawyer myself with constructive answers. I’d suggest she either dump the prick or kill him but she would always go back, believing she could fix him.
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THE SCAPULAR
by Donal Mahoney

The money debated and settled,
flipped from his wallet, tossed in her purse,
they prepare to take off.

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TAKING STOCK OF MY PUNISHMENT
by Diana E. Backhouse

It could have been six lashes of the cat o’ nine tails or a spell on the rack until I was six inches taller.
Maybe walking the plank at six bells with six evil pirates brandishing their cutlasses behind me, or facing a firing squad of six riflemen.

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THE BLACKSMITH’S WIFE, PART 8
by Sandra Davies

‘If I reek of roasted meat, will you still want me? As you wanted me before ever we were wed?”
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This is part 8 of ‘The blacksmith’s wife’ …The story can be read in its entirety here.


COMPENSATION
by Michael D. Brown

I do like the idea of transcendence, but that could be because I get to wallow first, for it is said we never appreciate that which comes easily, and you cannot swim with dolphins without getting wet. I have mucked about long enough. The return on my investment is greater than I could have imagined, for though the beans are small, and the cheese hard, they are unquestionably edible, sustaining, and of a singular provenance.
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THE SECRET KEEPER
by Gita M. Smith

“A secret is a funny thing, Harry. If you know a set of facts, they lie there in your brain like a potato – completely ordinary and not especially tasty. But if someone tells you, ‘that set of facts is top-secret,’ you won’t be able to wait to set it on a silver platter and show it to at least one other person. A secret will give you the bends, Harry, and you will want nothing as badly as to share it, just to take the pressure off. You must resist that impulse, boy. For if you share the secrets I’m about to tell you, that will be the end of all your hopes and dreams.”
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November 3, 2012

Spot 054: Boasting and Modesty

DAY 12 NaNo – 30940
by Sandra Davies

Lots of words today, but not ones I’m very pleased about. A couple of sections are cliche-ridden and boring and I knew this as I typed them, but the idea was to get the episode down, to work through the plot of it – the confrontation, the explanation, the threat, the frightening bits … and I was surprised that even out of this quite uncomfortable way of writing, a new development made itself known, so that I have this poor girl who may or may not have been murdered, who disappears but it isn’t clear who, if anyone, might have caused it to happen. Was it murder or misfortune? I don’t know yet …
But what I do know is that I can go back and tighten, improve the words later…

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POINT MADE
by Kerry Logan

She could still feel the heat from the surge of indignant rage that had washed through her. But her pulse, now, was beginning to return to normal. She licked the wound on her upper lip and wondered what it looked like. Was her blood thin, orange tinted, and watery from the spray, running down her face in rivulets or was it more like thick molasses, clotting right near the surface of each small hole. Knowing her, it was probably the later. She kept everything close on a boat, including her blood.
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FALLEN STAR
by Michael D. Brown

After my performance on Tuesday, there was talk of the Tin Cat Pub discontinuing karaoke nights. Everyone knows what a ham I am. Hell, I know it. Of course, they were all unaware of the hours I had spent in front of a mirror rehearsing in an attempt to appear naturally talented when called upon, momentarily protesting, to do my moonwalking Michael Jackson, or soulful Jackson Browne. Let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight segueing between the two with a large stain covering your crotch…
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AM I WRITE? (Not a Lot)
by Diana E. Backhouse

With no degree in literature or journalism, nor a published novel to my name, I’m sure that many would disagree with me when I say I am a writer.
I am a writer simply because I write, as I am a needlewoman and an artist due to the fact that I sew and draw, and a gardener because I am the one who does the majority of the gardening in our household.

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October 27, 2012

Spot 053: Abandonment

LUCKY’S STORY
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.
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INSIDE OUTSIDE IN
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.
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A CHANGE OF FOCUS
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?’
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ABANDONED
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.

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IN TRANSIT
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.
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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.

September 8, 2012

Lost

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

DECEMBER
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.

THE QUESTIONS OF 52
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.

 


OUR LAST DANCE
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.

TAKES TWO TO TANGO
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.


THE COMPETITION
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.

THE LAST DANCE
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.


THE LAST KISS
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.

“WHY ARE YOU CALLING?”
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.


HAPPY TRAILS
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.

ENDTITLE
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.