Posts tagged ‘nicole hirschi’

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

March 10, 2012

Spot 033: Revolver


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.



by Travis Smith

[should join us shortly}

See Authors page for Travis’s bio.



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.



by Gita M. Smith

“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.”

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

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.

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.”

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.



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.



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.’



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.
Can’t be.
Is so.
I’ll change.
You won’t.
It’s him.
It’s you.
No choice?
Too late.
Come here.
Fat chance.
Come back.
I’m gone,
she said.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


December 17, 2011

Spot 021: Peace in the Midst of Turmoil


by Nicole E. Hirschi

I find that all I seem to be doing is bitching, about being behind at work, about my divorce not being finished, about not writing, and not as loudly, about my need to change who I have become. I never thought myself a narcissist, at least not until recently, and now that’s all I’m able to see.

I look for peace in all my turmoil of life, but in looking harder and harder for it, I know I’m missing it. Looking, but never seeing, reading, but not between the lines, searching, but never finding – and it all has my mind in a chaotic state.

I’m coming more to terms with myself only to find that I no longer like who I am, and I’m confused. Who am I, and who do I want to become? Will I change but unknowingly hold on to my narcissism and other bad habits? What parts of me am I willing to change and which parts am I not? I haven’t yet decided.

No one holds the old skeleton key to ornate treasure chest containing the answers anymore; it’s long been buried in the unknown desert sands of time. Alone and desperate, I know, it’s a waste to shed tears over my personal disgrace, but I will put my glass up and drink to acknowledging my years of failure, and wonder if anyone ever truly finds peace in this life.

See Authors page for Nicole’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

My job is simple: keep the peace. I will be the moderate voice of tolerance. Yelling, cursing, hair pulling, eye poking, food throwing, gravy spilling, spitting, dead-eye staring, index finger across throat, and utensil wagging will be reviewed and most likely denounced. There is one unbreakable rule: nobody dies unless of course someone has a heart attack or gets food poisoning. Let me clarify, food poisoned on purpose! I am here at the head of the table orchestrating the big event, the family Holiday dinner. I’ve already cribbed my notes. Keep Aunt Rene away from Aunt Clara at all costs. Intertwining cheating husbands is a complicated matter and will not be resolved this year. Seat Uncle William next to his brother Carl, as they will spend the whole evening safely discussing sports and not attempt to hit on my girl Shelly, she with the double D wardrobe. Keep my sisters Margaret, Sonya and Beth out of the kitchen. There are too many utensils and moving appliances to issue a ‘safety zone’ designation. Place Shelly D, (she with the double D wardrobe) between Rodney and Carson. Perhaps they can discuss fashion tips. All children will be sequestered in the living room with the flat screen and video games. Uncle Louie – who is a sometimes lawyer – has told them that should they misbehave, he will personally issue a restraining order against Santa from visiting the house. Ahhh, I see glassy-eyed Clara reaching for the gravy boat. Time for a toast.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Sandra Davies

And then, as she had done so many times before, she grasped the hem of her dress, pulled it up and over her head, so that it was inside out, turned it the right way round, folded it lengthways and laid it on the chair before climbing onto the bed. He saw that he had guessed right – she had worn nothing underneath all day.
He had lit the large oil lamp which stood on the low chest beside him, and now was overwhelmed by the softness of its light, and of her in it. She was totally relaxed, leaning back against the new cotton of the pillowcase, whose right-angled, straight-out-of-the-packet folds were sharp enough to cast shadows. Her hair was gathered on her shoulders or fell behind her back, save a strand which reached below her breast. Her right foot was tucked under her left leg which was extended, soles of both feet a little grubby, hands lay loose on her thighs, fingers interlinked, palms upturned, peaceful, content and calm.
Without a mark on her skin, as if she was, once again, simply posing for him.
Not a mark.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by Bill Lapham

I remember that day.
I was on my hands and knees pulling weeds in the garden. Fucking hot, it was. Sweat dripped off my nose and made mud spots in the soil. When my tee shirt got wet, I took it off and wrung the water out of it, put it back on so I wouldn’t burn up in the sun.
Most of the neighbors weren’t home, had gone to work, or shopping. Mrs. Canfield, who lived next door, she was cleaning candle stick holders down at the church, spending time with that new priest she liked.
Me? I live alone. Been that way my whole life. Like it that way, nice and quiet.
The sky got dark real fast that afternoon. The clouds looked like a swirling brew of hot lava, deep purples, blue and black, flashes of lightning. There wasn’t much rain but the wind blew like a mother scorned and everything not tied down flew.
The freight train sounded too close, the tracks were on the other side of town. I thought it must have been some kind of sound channel bringing it in the wind. I didn’t realize until later that it was the wind. Trees bent and broke. Branches crashed on houses. A roof flew like a Frisbee. Bikes and picnic tables and bricks and kiddy pools.
I laid flat on the ground, stuck my face in the dirt, tried to bury myself. Whatever it was, passed right over me, left me laying there, wondering.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

I believed I was running dry. This post itself was very late getting to the page. Prior to Sandra’s rescue effort, I hadn’t a clue as to appropriate accompanying images. I had hoped if I left these things open, something might come along, and am grateful. The year ends and it feels as if the Spots might do as well. Should properly just post the pieces that have been sent my way, but I had a perfect record along with Bill and am reluctant to admit defeat.
Feels like plenty of turmoil going on at the moment, but I don’t wish to bore anyone with the details, besides, I have done already several times, and this is the season to be jolly. I wrote thousand-word essays, so it’s not a block. It’s too bad this piece has no peace to share.
I think of going on hiatus until the new year, but there’s no guarantee my muse will return from holiday ready, and able to kick into fiction. And, I am afraid if I lie low for too long others will lose interest and stop sending all those marvelous stories. Could be I’m not ready to write about peace in the midst of turmoil because my life is not tumultuous enough, and I exaggerate my discomfort. But I have to say, these last few weeks have been murder on my self-esteem. Surely, I survived with a smile, but I never convinced myself that it was more than a facial contortion.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



Illustrations for Spot 021 generously provided by Sandra Davies.

October 6, 2011

Spot 011: In the Wee Small Hours


by Gita Smith

I was telling Ralph – you know my brother, right? – the other day. I said, “I can’t get a good night’s rest. I wish I could sleep like a teenager again.”
Well then, of course, he launches into a whole megillah about his insomnia – it’s Ralph after all – with acid reflux this and restless leg that. Whatever you have, he has worse.
If you told him you had a neck tumor, he’d tell you he’s got stage four brain tumor.
So anyway, I can’t sleep for nuthin’. It’s driving me nuts. We have a TV in the bedroom, but if I turn it on, I’ll wake Estelle.
It’s 1 a.m., then 2, then I hear noises in the attic. My balls itch, and I worry about the bedbug epidemic. I tell you, insomnia can make you a lunatic.
Then I get this idea. I’ll go in the den and call Ralph. If he’s sleeping while I’m tossing, that puts the kibosh on his long-suffering act. No more one-upmanship.
If he’s awake, hey, we can talk about the Phillies’ chances in the World Series.
So I call, and after six rings he says, “Benji, I was out on the deck. I have terrible insomnia — for two days, now — my blood pressure’s in the tank, we have bedbugs and there’s a rattlesnake in the attic.”
I can’t win with that guy. My one satisfaction is that when I die, the miserable little shit will die too. Just to show me.

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.


by Joe Gensle

He spilled his story, sat lost in thought before the psychiatrist recalling how he got there. ‘Other guys’ wives run off with cops but they don’t get sick with ‘Mood Indigo,’ Melvin pondered.

His friend, Gabe, pleaded, “You need help, Mel!” on seeing the apartment trashed, the coin collection strewn about, learning Melvin abandoned his bowling team, lost the vice presidency of the model train club. But the goldfish and hamster, dead of starvation and stinking forced an intervention.

Dr. Engvaldsson asked, “You say ‘Mood Indigo…‘ because it was a cop?!”
Melvin brightened, “Classic case! I read it on WebPsychHelpLine. Mood Indigo’s a condition of jilted spouses experiencing devastating consequences from extramaritals with cops!”

The psychiatrist retorted, “Jilted? Your wife’s sexual appetites changed, you didn’t buy-in…don’t like rough stuff, dress-up, or bondage. Might that drive her into the arms and handcuffs of that so-called ‘kinky’ cop?”

Melvin blanched, teeth clenched, freed his stare to glance at photographs behind the doctor’s desk.

“You’re selfish, own your consequences. It’s pity-potted depression, not ‘Mood Indigo.’ Build a bridge. Get over it!” chuckled the blonde doctor.

Adrenaline launched Melvin over the desk, grabbing the letter opener in a clumsy lunge, but he missed. The blade angled into Melvin’s own over-aged baby fat.

Melvin’s blues were actualized in a navy blue prison uniform (for attempted murder). Prison foreplay inflicted purplish-blue bruises, his rape occurring in a checkered-blue tiled shower, ignored by blue-shirted guards. The infirmary was blue. Blue like the eyes of Engvaldsson’s children.

See Authors page for Joe’s bio.


by Elliott Cox

“Aww hell, son, it ain’t gonna hurtcha none. You been doin’ bidness with me for, what now? Damn near ten years? Hmph. You got it figgered boy, shee-it, ain’t hurtcha before now, right? Ain’t gonna hurtcha now, un hunh. Not now, not never. All ya gotta do is…ahh, yeah, that’s it. Feels good, huh?


“Yeah, I know it hurts at first; it should hurt sometime, keepya modest, ya know? But it don’t take long to…hah! Got it already, didja? Mmm hmm, thaaaas why you keep comin’ back, right? Cause I makeya feel good, right? Makeya feel like you ain’t jus a tree in summer, coverin’ itself up, feelin’ like nothin’ but part of the forest. Naw, that ain’tchoo, friend, that ain’tchoo. You live the fall, right? You live the life, you drop your leaf’s an’ say check it out! This is me! Look rycheer! This is ME goddamnit! I ain’t jus another tree in the forest! Well, thas whatchoo should be doin’, anyway. Your own thing…hmph…be nice, right?

“Hey. HEY! You listnin’ to me? Nah, you out…guess you ain’t heard a word I said, didja? Hmph. Look atcha…feelin’ it, ain’tcha? Getchaself up, son. Longer ya let me enya head, longer Ima be enya head. Wake up, boy, ‘fore I putcha to sleep for good.”

See Authors page for Elliott’s bio.


by Nicole E. Hirschi

To A Jeffrey McKibbon:

I’ve forgotten you, just like I should – no more newspaper articles about your victims, no more angry letters, or my house being egged – yes, I’ve forgotten you, just like I should, of course I have.

Your letter came, and I had to ask my husband if he recognized your name. In a hurry he snatched the letter from me and threw it in the flames of our pre-winter fire. Flames licked and caressed the envelope until it consumed all of its contents. I stared at my husband’s face, questioning, until he finally answered, “It was from your son.”

A thousand memories flooded. Who was I to kid the moon, thinking I could forget you with years of no more tears. My hands trembled. I picked up the phone to call, as I had done so many years ago, to talk to you, my child, my son.

The number to the prison would not come to mind. I could hear the dial tone turn to those annoying beeps and placed the phone back on its receiver.

Why I’m writing this to a crazed murderer, who claims to be my son, I’ll never know except perhaps that I’m a fool.

Your letter, if read, would probably have broken my heart in two, so for now, I write to ask do not send anymore – for I’ve forgotten you like I should, of course I have.

I get along without you very well.

-Your Mother
From times long past

See Authors page for Nicole’s bio.


(alternate lyrics)
by Mike Handley

Whiskey-voiced crooners
Under hats with short brims
Serenade while your lips leave prints on the rim.
We clink to good times, to spooning, to woo,
While I’m deep in a dream of you.

The fresh smell of washed hair,
Your scent on my hands;
The mingling of toothpaste, cigarettes and glands;
Eyes closed, yet registering the smoky hue;
When I’m deep in a dream of two.

We later swap leads on the floor and indeed,
No bounds for our passion remain.
We dance on the ceiling,
Our love is reeling,
Heat shared by the gliding insane.

I awake with a gasp, a shudder to sparks,
Mourn images fading,
It’s no longer dark.
Now a rudderless ship, afloat with no crew,
Plowing deep in a dream of you.

See Authors page for Mike’s bio.


by Amy Hale Auker

I see your face before me. And I see it all over my past. For years I ran my fingers gently over the lines beside your eyes, smoothed your mustache, felt the lines in your forehead deepen, touched you behind your ears where we usually never feel the fingers of another.
I am not allowed to touch your face anymore. I am not allowed to hear your voice. You told me that we can’t be friends because you know how I smell.
I pull the Coors Light box down out of the closet and riffle through the flat images that represent our past. There you are looking young, so lost… why didn’t I see how lost you were back then when you stole that boot jack from the boot shop, shoving it into the 18-inch tops when the boot maker wasn’t looking?
There you are looking strong and proud and found, holding our infants, striding toward adulthood. There you are looking responsible and … tired. There you are looking like a peacock in always new clothes, while I look smaller and smaller by your side. I don’t remember how you smell.
Now I go to facebook to see you, and you look a little desperate, aiming toward the biggest fun, the loudest laugh, constant and always movement, that promised new love who has yet to appear, yet to stay, and you so desperately need someone to stay.
I see your face before me, but your heart is hidden from sight.

See Authors page for Amy’s bio.


by Kristine E. Shmenco

I got my head in my hands and arms on my knees, just sitting here. Nobody knows why I’m just sitting here (but they do because you know how it goes in the city though your eyes are on pavement you still see everything that goes on. I hear the scuff and click of heels going by; men in black suits and gold bracelets with women on their arms that radiate vanilla and they know I’m here and haven’t a care why, so long as I stay and behave on the stairs.
There are three ways to get around things, and that’s all I’ve been doing: Getting around and getting by and I tell myself that’s why nobody’s coming around. I don’t need anybody coming by, after all.
What I need is you. I want you back here, sitting next to me instead of before or after me. I need to hear you complain and carry on, and I want to wake beside you wondering how you could get so inside of me. You took the best and left the worst of me…of us. Friends is not what we’re made of, and we would never know how to behave. I don’t want to be friends, darling, I want us to cling like enemies and fight our way down from this mountain.
But tonight this place where we stood is empty.

See Authors page for Kristine’s bio.


by Robert Crisman

The endrocine system of dreams allowed my lost love one last turn, wreathed as she was in blue smoke in the old gutted building on Third as I stood transfixed in a doorway and waited. She wore her black hair as a crown that haloed her pale aristocrat’s face, skin tight over bone, from which she’d conjured a mask of indifference.

She smoked cigarettes, and I knew that she waited as I did.

I saw her nerves chewing, and maybe she waited on me. To save her? I felt lust in that doorway and lust is not rescue, yet also I felt an ache stirring, an ache that I’d felt through 10 lifetimes, an ache that had made me jump, dance, and sing to the music she played from Day One, when I saw that our sins would rule us, hers etched with scalpels, mine written on water…

My tears are silent, unshed, dried to dust now—as if I could match her indifference and then bleed her that way and then walk away, free at last from the fear that took hold of my throat the red night that we ripped at each other and she bled me first, then gave me to know that First Blood will last ‘til the end of my time here on earth.

I wait—hoping she’ll break? Yes, and bleed. I can go to her then and wrap her like smoke, pull her free…

See Authors page for Robert’s bio.


by Bill Floyd

Damn right, it’s pure. That’s about all anyone knows for sure. A sweep of the leg, springcoils of smoke past her eyes, the careless flick of the ash. It is not what we make of it, but we are most certainly what it makes of us. That smolder, the clarinet’s seduction. Frank asked the Lord up in heaven above, and the Lord said it’s a crazy little thing: a mood, a time of morning, a face, a dance. The hardest heart will not break it, the craftiest mind will not outwit it, and the most lofty morality will not survive it without compromise. This bared shoulder at daybreak, this everlasting night. Love is that thing that beckons your gaze, corners your thoughts, and demeans your aspirations. Your plans mean nothing to her, but she might have time for a song. Love strings spiderwebs between the stars, binding silverfire throughout the coldest emptiest dark. Love charts infinity: You are here.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.


(a tribute to Frank Sinatra)
by Brian Michael Barbeito

Everything was there. Absolutely everything! But it was not known that we were in the sea that could do no wrong, or a world unto itself that had only electric magic and intensities untold. You know, we were waiting and waiting- on a soul level- for such a thing to come true, to come alive- it is no secret that that is what everyone longs for. And the night- eons and eons had preceded us- but the night at a time like that is new- it is the first night of the world in fact. Hair and cheekbones, gait and smile, eyes full of Gnostic secrets shining and they are dark diamonds. The city is not so bad after all, and two spirits traveling through time recognize one another and something meshes, melds. How is it that you run your fingers through your hair? How is it that that you are like the good serpent? How is it that you could have walked through the world and the inhabitants of the world not knelt in reverence and awe? But there is something else- after a circle is drawn there is only a moment- and then the circle must break apart. The other one- the wiser one- said, ‘You two will now be apart- practically forever- the allure was too intense- and now the universe will even it all out.’ You don’t get to be young forever- far from it.

See Authors page for Brian’s bio.


I’LL BE AROUND (Alone Together)
by Ed Dean

A casualty of the mind often goes unseen.
The yellow buff brick apartment building that Suzie occupied was reasonable for her needs. Her unit was decorated with an eclectic flair, somewhat like Suzie’s personality.
Late in the peace of the evenings was the only time Suzanne and I ever communicated.
“Suzanne?” The gentle stillness of her mind made me comfortable. Pushing herself back into the plush couch, she closed her eyes and spoke.
“Hi, are we on speaking terms again?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Oh I guess I thought you were mad about the drunk I pulled on you the other evening.”
“You know I was there but with all that alcohol, I couldn’t speak. You do that to me all the time. I thought we were best friends. Why do you shut me out like that?”
“You’re just going to learn to take care of yourself like I do. Sit back and enjoy the ride!”
“Come on Suzanne, you know we’re better than that! We could do great things together. Why aren’t you trying?”
“Knock it off! It’s me not we. I’m into fun and that’s all. I’m going upstairs to see Bobby; he knows how to have fun. Honestly, you bore me sometimes. You want to come along?”
“Suit yourself; you always do”
The full dark straight hair that framed Bob Boyce’s long slender face made his large sleepy eyes more pronounced. It seemed to speak to his sexuality. His ruddy pock marked face added strength to the perception.

To read the rest of this story, click here. See Authors page for Ed’s bio.


by Bill Lapham

Sam Merit picked up a rock, felt its heft, rubbed its smooth surface with his callused thumb, and considered his situation. The sky had turned black in the southwest.
“Fucking supercell,” he said in a phlegmatic voice.
He leaned his thin frame to the left to ease the weight off an old wound on his right and pulled a dirty hanky from his pants pocket. He slid his ragged hat back on his head and wiped his weather-beaten face. He felt the hanky scrape against the stubble of his beard, wiped the grit from the deep furrows around his eyes, and spat.
He stuffed the hanky back in his pocket, dropped the rock and pulled out a flask. He removed the cork and drank a mouthful of whiskey. His eyes watered as his belly warmed.
A quick look around revealed nothing but open range.
Sam was a dowser hired to look for water by a wealthy developer with plans to build a resort spa in the middle of nowhere. He had found the middle of nowhere, but not the groundwater, yet.
He had confidence in his methods which relied more on his pappy’s old hickory divining rod than science. If it was there, he would find it. He had felt water in the rock.
Just then, an ill wind blew and Sam couldn’t get low enough to protect himself. He was never seen again, but his diving rod was found stuck in the earth over a bountiful freshwater aquifer.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.


by Sandra Davies

We’d moved in a couple of days previously, and even at seven I knew that my mother hated this raw-edged bungalow in its builder’s wrack of a rock-strewn earthen plot, knew that my father’s tangible tense anxiety as we arrived, crammed into the cab of Patterson’s green pantechnicon, had been justified, although even now I don’t know to what extent she had foredoomed it.

And when, a couple of afternoons later, this younger-than-my-mother woman came tripping across, glossy black curls vivid against scarlet blouse, bare feet in scuffed and worn-flat shoes and a crinkle-eyed, chipped tooth smile, introducing herself as Maureen, in an accent I later learnt was Black Country but then saw as exotic(!), and clutching an album of her wedding photos to show us, I was charmed by her friendliness, thinking her kind and welcoming, and increasingly embarrassed at my mother’s off-hand disinterest, at the minor hostility she exuded. With what seemed ill-mannered haste my mother ushered her out, and turned to me with some derogatory remark, speedily enough for my encouraging comment to be clamped.

Only now do I recall that exactly twenty years later it was my turn to repel the advances of a would-be friendly neighbour. This one had tripped from further, her smile was far less innocent and disappeared completely when she saw that our furniture was impoverished and mismatched and that we had not yet put carpets down. Only now do I wonder how my children judged the tolerance of my behaviour then.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.


by Travis Smith

What is that? Water I guess, but why is it forming circles on the ceiling? I want to stand and look, but I can’t move…Is that someone calling my name?

I know I hear someone calling, but I can’t remember if that is my name. I try to call back, but no sounds come out.

I remember other things. A woman. I can see her smile. My hands recall the feel of her hand resting in mine. I can see the soft curves of her body as those same hands, now limp at my side, trace them gently from head to toe. I can remember every detail about her, except her name which I can’t recall any more than my own.

I hear the voice calling again. It’s a woman’s voice. Is it her, or is it just my mind playing tricks to give me hope?

I am tired and I should rest. Maybe if I did I would be able to move when I wake up, or maybe I will still be stuck here, wherever here is, and the hope will be gone. I think I will stay awake, watching as my hope floats to the ceiling and dances in the watery circles while I think about the woman I remember dancing with under the soft glow of the moon in some other place and some other time. The details are not as clear as the image of her, moving so gracefully, entwined with my soul.

See Authors page for Travis’s bio.


by Michael D. Brown

“Married two years, of which we’ve spent eighteen months separated. You hardly see the baby, and won’t acknowledge the one on the way. Couldn’t expect you to, not being certain it’s yours.”
[click] Love has lost its meaning and so have the stars.
“Remember how you never wanted to play this new Scrabble game,? I wasn’t trying to embarrass you, Red. I’d forgotten you never learned to read.”
Nothing’s what it once used to be.
“Went to the movies with a girlfriend and couldn’t believe when the kids jumped up to dance to Rock Around the Clock. Never saw anything like that before, and wanted to join them. Would have been difficult with this big belly, but still, I had the yen.”
Song birds say it’s spring. I don’t believe them. “I’m not the teenager I was.
“Churchill resigned, but I have a feeling he’ll be back.
“They’re taking down the Third Avenue El. That we’ll never ride again.”
Once love was king, but kings can be wrong.
“A program’s coming on the television called The $64,000 Question. What I wouldn’t give to have a go at that, even though I’m not smart enough to win anything big as you’ve told me often enough.
“It’s a new age. The War’s been over for ten years, and it’s about time for a change. We’re all due for a hearty laugh.”
A smile will help hide the ache in my heart. [click]
“It’s late, and I was wondering if you’d stay tonight.”

To read the rest of this story, click here. See Authors page for Michael’s bio.


by Grey Johnson

The dew has fallen and the air has grown gentle in the dark. She is wearing no shoes, and only her lover’s cast-off shirt, which she slipped on in the bathroom. As she creeps out the creaky storm door onto the porch, without any light or eyeglasses, she very nearly misses the top step. Pausing to catch herself, she tries to think of a reason she could give for being outside so late, barefoot and wearing a strange man’s shirt, to her husband who remains inside sleeping, should he wake to find her missing from their bed. No good lie comes to mind as she steps out onto the grass, and looks up to see not a single star. Above her is just a soft ceiling of cloud tinted by streetlamps, as familiar now as it was before sunset. The risk she has taken by sneaking out into the yard, half-clothed, in the middle of the night, to seek a simple shining pinpoint seems foolish. There is only one way to wish, she realizes, on a night such as this, with no stars flickering hope. She reaches out, her arms reflecting the branches of the tree standing sentinel in her yard. Reeling inside, she opens her heart to the wide hiding sky, and aches to trust, above the clouds, all the glowing bits of light she cannot see.

See Authors page for Grey’s bio.



All tracks for Spot 011 suggested by and / or adapted from Frank Sinatra’s 1955 landmark album
In the Wee Small Hours.


September 8, 2011

Spot 007: Spies and Secrets


by Nicole E. Hirschi

Exaggerated sighs could be heard all around when rumor of his death was heard, after all, how could it be so, considering his age?

In all likelihood of things unseen, there couldn’t be and wasn’t another way. The alibi, cheap as it might be, held strong, and despite old world views, women can’t be tried for witchcraft and burned at the stake any longer.

Strengths previously un-possessed lingered for months after the affair leaving visitors and well-wishers with an unhealthy feeling of need to make a sign to ward off the evil eye once outside of her home.

Light replaced the once dark world to Jancie, but her countenance, continued to beat an unholy black darker than night, feeding off of the lighter auras of those around her.

“Tell us something about the blasphemous affair!” Gossiping women would often demand.

“Majik,” she’d say, pouring herself and the uneasy women around her a cup of tea, “is just another proof that God and the Devil, indeed do, exist.”

See Authors page for Nicole’s bio.



by Bill Lapham

Just after Harry died he was thinking of all the things that had happened in his life, all his desires and revulsions, his pleasures and pains, his friends and enemies.

He remembered a secret he had kept for many years, locked away so deep he never thought about it, almost didn’t recognize it now that everything seemed so clear, so simple, so easy to remember.

Harry wasn’t sure how he could remember all these things only that he could. The last four years of his life had been bewildering; he had lost his memory, didn’t even know his wife and kids.

What seemed so recent and so vivid were scenes from his youth, like they had happened yesterday: playing baseball with his friends behind school, running on trails through the woods by the creek, celebrating mass as an altar boy, inventing places to hide.

Now dead, his world was kaleidoscopic, filled with colors and shapes and motion, and from behind a dazzling blue crystal stepped a little old man in robes, walking with a cane but not taking any steps.

He asked Harry if he had any secrets to tell.

Harry was afraid and said, none that I can remember.

Are you sure, the old man asked, most people’s memories are pretty clear at this point.

Yes, I’m sure, Harry said.

That’s too bad, the old man said, I can’t let you proceed with secrets, Harry.

Harry turned and walked away, taking the memories of the priest with him.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Sandra Davies

“But it says “proceeds from the sale of house and contents plus twenty thousand pounds to each of my two sons,” that’s only …” and here David had the grace to acknowledge with a self-conscious grimace the inappropriateness of that ‘only’, if not the greed.
Impatient at the interruption his younger sibling asked “Only what?”
“Only what Dad left her, three years ago. The exact wording of his will. There should be more.”
“What more?”
“Well, there were those books she was supposed to have written – actually wrote apparently – don’t know what, I never read any of them …”
“Oh yeah, I remember her always scribbling … and then she got herself a computer, didn’t she?” “Thing is, I remember Dad saying, five years or so before he died, that she’d earned more than him the previous year. He’d meant to sound pleased but I got the impression he was less than happy about it.”
“Royalties I suppose, and suchlike. Advances?”
“And maybe film rights, or TV – she did go to America a couple of times didn’t she?”
“Christ yes, so she did! Smartened herself up quite a bit after he died. So where’s the money from all that then?”
“Precisely. We’ll have to ask the solicitor – she probably didn’t instruct him properly.”

But the solicitor had no knowledge of any other will. Nor of any nom de plume, of any other bequest, of any lover, of any daughter. Or of any other life led by the recently deceased

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

At first, he thought women were avoiding him, that kind of thing going with the territory. He knew they were very much in love. It was obvious by the ostentatious displays they put on for the benefit of observers, those less fortunate, who had not yet found life’s true happiness.
In his obscurity, however, he noted life’s other truth. All the lovers were spying on each other comparing their levels of appeasement. Who had the biggest ring? Whose mate would go broke first? Whose phone held the fewest contacts? Who was dying to ask, but could not bring themselves to utter the words?
On weekend nights, he walked alone, only waving, while never stopping to intrude.
The men pitied him for all the wrong reasons. The women kept their own counsel. Each of them had known him intimately before their current situations and knew also that it would be indiscrete to discuss that knowledge among themselves. Thus, they maintained a cautious distance from the subject of love, preferring to act it out, and “interpret that how you will.”
One Saturday, he met Laurita, sitting alone until he joined her for cocktails. They made small talk, and sat, and observed. She shocked him when she confided, “I’ve dated three of those guys, and now they won’t even say hello.” He feigned disillusionment as he came to the conclusion the spy business was the more overcrowded field, but smiled upon noting the glint of a wedding band inside her see-through paneled handbag.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

“The name’s Bahn. James Bahn.” Yeah, it always gets a big laugh around the office. “Good morning Mr. Bahn!” Haha! I get it, the staff having a little fun at the new guy’s expense. No problem. It’s about the only interesting thing about me anyway. But I do pay attention and I am catching on… like to the dirty little secrets the mucky-mucks hide around this place.

Ty Rollins and Bill Bender for instance, over by the water cooler talking stock trades. They banter information openly, staring through me as if I didn’t have a clue about what they were talking about. Okay, it’s not my department but I’m not as slow as they think. They’re talking insider trading for their clients and it’s illegal. And the other day while in old Pitchford’s office, I heard something else. He was on the phone with the mayor – the mayor! – mentioning a few names and dollar numbers, lowering his voice as he waved me from the room.

That’s alright. I’ll keep all their secrets for a while. I know where they keep computer passwords and where Pitchford keeps his secrets: a list of problematic phone numbers and a private journal. I have the combination to Pitchford’s safe too and when the cash is right, I’ll do some trading of my own.

Yup, the name’s Bahn… James Bahn, janitorial service agent, but I have sweet information that’s hot enough to shake and stir.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Grey Johnson

If you click the c drive icon,

and then double click on Users,

and then double click on the file with his name

(because he would never look in his own file for something like that),

and then double click on Downloads

(because he never downloads anything),

you will find a document with a generic sounding name, like Resumé or Newsletter.

If you double click that document,

it will open to reveal

a list

of every item she plans to take with her when she leaves.

See Authors page for Grey’s bio.




All illustrations for Spot 007 supplied by Michael D. Brown.


August 25, 2011

Spot 005: Needful Things


by Sandra Davies

Penny, second uni year in Venice, with access to the archives of the Academia, Ambushed by gargantuan lust for fellow student, Guido. Devastated to discover his disinterest, determined not to let him know how much he damaged concentration, disturbed sleep and distracted her from education. Sought diversion, self-deceiving, deliberately denying it a sideways approach to him.
An innocent, and unsuspecting of ulterior motive, she was unaware that man could be immoral, avaricious, blinkered mercenary when it came to Art. What she had of willful blindness hid more even than she meant it to; she stumbled into evil, found the man she loved had feet at least clay-dipped, albeit by another since she saw he could not help but know the implications of the machinations of his so-called friend.
But when it threatened to implode, and was about to implicate herself, he stepped in and at some risk he shielded, lied, denied and eventually evaded retribution for them all.

At a cost.

Guido presented his account some five years later, forcing her confession, charging her to murder (mercy-killing from compassion) and in compensation giving her the evidence, the implicating information to finally put things right, compelling her to seek the other out, to force a reckoning, befriend an enemy, to seemingly betray a now-dead friend to win for him posthumous justice, and a guilt-free future for herself.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by Gita M. Smith

Today is Friday, which is necklace day. I do so enjoy the feeling of gold chains and smooth pearls draped over my body. You know, sometimes I recline in the bath, trailing necklaces over all my hills and dales. And cock.
Sometimes I arrange them according to the dates I “acquired” them, the oldest at my ankles and the newest over my head, dripping down my face. I like the sharp, hard surfaces of diamonds against my teeth. Don’t you?

Aww. You’re not talking to me? Is that because I’m not sharing my jewels? Oh wait, I know. You’re not talking because I’ve taped your mouth shut.
You shouldn’t have made such a fucking ruckus when you found me in your house. You could have let me take your tiara, waited till I was down the street, then dialed your insurance agent. But let’s not quarrel. Let’s have a jewelry quiz!

What is this gemstone right here? What’s that you say? MMmmff? Nope. Wrong, wrong and wrong. It’s a black opal, set in platinum. The nice lady who used to own it didn’t make a fuss. Of course, she happened to be vacationing in the Pyrenees at the time I came across it.

My love for jewelry is pure. I never fence anything. You see, it’s not about the money: It’s about the beauty. I just can’t resist beauty.
Mercy, I hope you’ll stick around for a while. Tomorrow is bracelet day and the day after is all about earrings.

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Bill Lapham

Harold had learned he couldn’t control everything; couldn’t control most things, for that matter.

Usually, he behaved consistent with the ancient philosophies of Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius—like a stoic. He tried to stay aware of his reactions to occurrences, tried not to laugh too hard nor cry too long, tried to treat news of a death like the loss of his favorite coffee mug, and tried to treat pain as an affliction to an injured body part, not a reason for complaining to anybody who would listen about the severity of the pain.

He did not derive his happiness from things beyond his control, nor was he particularly annoyed by them either. He did not demand that things happen in conformity to his will. Rather, he had learned to accept things happening as they did happen.

Adopting stoicism as a way of life changed his life.

To his new way of thinking, there was nothing either good or evil. He strove to live each moment without regret, remorse or resentment. He stepped out of the yoke of desire and gave away everything except what he could carry in a pack, and walked toward the western desert.

When he got there, the sun glared in his eyes and he wished for sunglasses, it was hot and wished for air-conditioning, it was dry and he wished for a cup of ice water. He had forgotten all that he had learned, got lost, and was never heard from again.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Grey Johnson

When you listened, and watched him do
that awful thing
the thing that scratched your heart
leaving you flat and empty

did you foresee
what you would do
to feel your cup swell and spill?

Did you even know you had a cup?

See Authors page for Grey’s bio.



by Robert Crisman

“Four fucking thirty am,” Roanne said, “and, girl, there I was, skulking around in that alley, rooting and scrounging around in that dumpster and telling the rats to get out of my way—and praying some asshole had shitcanned his rig.”

“Oh God!” Michelle said.
They both fell out laughing. Horror viewed from a distance plays like a star turn at Giggles sometimes.

“If only you’d gotten it on video, dear,” Michelle said. “Talk about moments to share with your friends.” She laughed. “Did you find one?”

“What? A rig? Fuck no.”
“Worse luck.”
“Shit, with my luck I’d’ve come up with a nice case of AIDS.”
“Well, uh, yes, there is that.”
“Wouldn’t have stopped me though, if I’d found one. They could have had AIDS stamped on that fucker in big, bold red letters—‘Use this and die, motherfucker,’ and, yeah, well, that’s for later and this is right now, and I’m on a mission, so eat me, you know?”

“Whooee, party, party.”
“Yeah, girl, party for sure.”

Their laughter died. The longer the stroll down this particular memory lane, the more that past punched up from the stomach, taking on odor and taste…

See Authors page for Robert’s bio.



by Joe Gensle

“PJ, pick up your court card!,” boomed Phil’s rasp over those chattering after the meeting.
“I’m PJ.“
“You got a ‘nudge from the judge’ for A.A.,“ Phil chuckled, his eyes sparkling, riveted on PJ.
“Just ten meetings.“
PJ took the card Phil had initialled.
“But you don’t have an alcohol ‘problem,’” Phil declared.
“Everybody gets DWIs.”
“What did you blow?” the tanned, construction superintendent asked.
Phil grinned, “That’s how I got here!”
PJ was silent.
“I notice you walked–didn’t arrive in a car. Wanna ride?”
“I’m good.”
“Judge yanked my license, too,” Phil offered.
“Which judge?”
“He’s dead!! It was 19 years ago,” laughed Phil, “Been sober ever since!”
PJ muttered, shrugged and shuffled away.
“PJ!!,” Phil hollered.
The disheveled man looked back.
“My hands shook, too! Meetings made ‘em stop.” and Phil winked.
PJ hit the alley and bee-lined to a nearby beer dive. He proffered a five and quickly downed a $4.50 small pitcher of draft. He stepped out into the night and froze.
Phil leaned against his truck’s chromed grille.
“I watched you take the money when we passed the meeting’s basket,” Phil said, quietly, “and I repaid it. Alkies steal for a drink but you don’t have a problem,” grinned Phil as he got in the truck.
“Here’s my number. Keep comin’ back…just for the shaky hands, o‘ course,“ and Phil roared off.
PJ wiped away a frustration tear, his fingers trembling.
He’d see that laughing bastard tomorrow night.
He hated…but wanted to like Phil.

See Authors page for Joe’s bio.



by Amy Hale Auker

It was like shoplifting, this stealing of moments and smiles and secrets that she tucked into the folds of her memory, cheap trinkets of special to be lifted out and savored when the mundane wore her down.
Her best friend gave her one of those mommy looks she was so good at.
“Sounds like an emotional affair to me. Don’t give me this bullshit about only friends when you guard your cell phone like it was gold and check your e-mail before your first sip of coffee. An emotional affair is supposed to be much more damaging than the real deal, you know. Doesn’t sound like just friends to me.”
Blah, blah, blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
She preferred listening to her imaginary friends who understood the words “marital rape” without her having to “confide” the sordid details, understood her need for something new, for something hopeful, for conversation that lifted her up out of “omg, this is what I have for the rest of my friggin’ life?” syndrome.
She set her ringtone for him to “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” , accidentally brushed his hand when he came into her place of work for a beer, and without any thought of right or wrong, she reached for all of the passion, all of the zing, all of the delicious details, all of the incentives to keep on breathing in and out that she could find.
And every day she whispered to him what color panties she wore.

See Authors page for Amy’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

I believed the young man was telling the truth. How could I not considering the circumstances?
“Please, continue,” I said, my voice low, even.
The man told me more about the women. He told me of the things he had done, of the secrets he’d forced them to keep, the lies covering his actions.
“Did you hurt them?” I asked.
The man was near tears and did not answer.
“You are safe here… it’s better to say. Did you hurt them?”
“Yes,” the man replied.
“Tell me then. Tell me everything.”

There was relief in the man’s voice as he let go his burden. I leaned back and listened, lightly tapping my fingers on the pages in front of me, mentally noting the details. The stories were salacious. The room felt close and I loosened my collar a notch.
“Can you forgive me?” the man asked when finished.
It was not for me to say. I knew I should kick this one upstairs to a superior but this territory was very familiar; I needed to let the man know I understood his pain. I told him I had been there myself, that his confession had been the first step to understanding. The next steps would be more important.

Through the crossed slats, I watched the young priest return to the rectory. There would be more talk later. I’d see what I could do… personally… contact some of the women… ask about specifics. After all, I’m into the details.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

He lived in confusion. His mother, pensioned and frail, let him move into her little apartment, and when he felt guilty, he would try to take care of her needs. He did not often suffer guilt, and there were several times when Clara Spotter sat alone while Henry walked the streets disoriented, sleeping in an alley if the signposts looked unfamiliar. Once, Clara sat for three days in her frayed wing chair, and survived on a slowly consumed can of beans. When Henry finally did find his way home, he was in the apartment for three hours complaining about the terrible odor before he realized from whence it came. Then, he dutifully washed his mother, changed her clothes, and fed her some soup before helping her into bed. She was grateful when she awoke to find him sitting there looking at an old Times, which she knew he could not read, but after walking her back to her chair, and placing several tomatoes and a glass of orange juice beside her on the little cloth-covered mahogany table, he went out for a walk and was gone for fourteen hours.
Life continued like that for two years. Then, Clara died at 77, and Henry was homeless again.
Now, as he stood before the judge who was sentencing him for having stolen a small boat that had been moored in the canal, Henry wanted to ask the assistant district attorney if it was his handsome face he had seen in a newspaper.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



by Travis Smith

The gunshot was still echoing in my mind. I had been taught to use guns safely. To use them as a weapon, a tool of war, but I had also been taught that it was not right to kill. Not right to injure another person. The body on the ground told me that I had used some of those lessons and forgotten others.

What the hell had happened?

She had been beautiful, every inch of her, but I had never once left the path of faithful husband…until last night, but once it happens it is done and we live with the consequences.

Those consequences found me this morning.

She was waiting as I left the subway. I would say it was blackmail, but it went deeper than that. She was still beautiful and my heart led me along in her wake. It was until the end that her true heart shone through, pulling all light into its black depths.

She had struck first, killing the man in cold blood. Turning to look at me her eyes were a swirl of darkness, beacons telling me that I was next. It was a struggle against my desire to have her again, but I raised the gun she had given me and fired. I am not sure she is dead. I am not sure she was ever living. So I am not sure that I have killed anyone, but I am sure she needed to be killed.

See Authors page for Travis’s bio.



by Nicole E. Hirschi

He sat at his keyboard, finger pecking his solemn lonely life away. Today, he struggled not with the influx of words. Time turned to years, flew by, and opportunity allowed him to create a relationship that never existed.

She squirmed in her seat. Sighing, she held down her backspace key until all that remained was the emptiness of her screen. The void matched her heart, having been worn on her sleeve too long. Anger burned behind her eyes.

His eyes widened when he read the email. She hadn’t sent him the next installment, but instead sent what read almost like a “Dear John” letter.

Her fingers had thrummed to life, fed by stubborn frustration. Realization had finally sunk in. He was a man with two faces, and she had been played.

Part of him knew he had gone too far, creating something she had believed in. The other part smiled gleefully. He had put his conscience aside and manipulated a naive heart right into the palm of his hand. Wondering what next, he sat alone, drinking his coffee, trying to decide if silence or begging would be her undoing.

A response, she knew, wouldn’t come. She sat tall in her chair, and arched her back, stretching. She knew there was but one thing left to do. Reaching up, she brushed her sleeve, and with imaginative sight, chuckled to no one, as she watched a card featuring a joker flutter to her feet. Dreams are, after all, only dreams.

See Authors page for Nicole’s bio.



Illustrations for Spot 005: All photos contributed by Sandra Davies.



August 18, 2011

Spot 004: Heavy, Man, Heavy


by Paul de Denus


In the cafeteria, the shooter takes out Mr. Hollis. BAM!…BAMBAM!… a ruler smacking a table and Hollis hits the wall and disappears down, like the floor just opened under him. The guy – it’s Billy Krazik – turns and aims at Jamie Stockwell, sitting there calmly as if he’s in the play or something and he takes two to the head. He rocks a little, then sits still. The fuck moves forward, looking right at me, our eyes lock and he points the gun… I peer down the black hole, see Krazik’s chewed red fingernail twitch slightly to the left as he fires off a barrage of shots. BAM!…BAMBAMBAM!… tables splinter and scatter behind me; there are heavy thumps and screams and I blink uncontrollably, a deranged twist creasing my face.
And then there’s Colby, backpack in hand, crossing the floor. He strides in quick purposeful steps. He looks insane. Parallel to Krazik, light as a ghost, I don’t think he sees it coming.
I’m woven in a cocoon. On the soundless floor, I watch bodies twitch. Heads cover. Krazik’s moved into the hallways. My chest weighs heavy, bubbling pink. Colby has nothing to say, his eyes vacant, surprised. Earlier this morning he boasted he’d brought his old man’s Glock to school… just to show it off you understand. Colby was cool… just playing … but well… Krazik’s crazy and he decided to swipe it and play the heavy… for real. He plays it well.


Note: This week’s heavy theme was suggested by Paul. See Authors page for his bio.



by Joe Gensle


You are in prime physical condition at the tops of your respective games, too-young multi-millionaires with sports acumen born from magical mixes of natural ability, rigorous training, coaching, practice, assuming the risks and suffering the consequences of occupational injuries.
Your work is seasonal, requires separation from stability’s anchors of home and family.
You are one of a team, and you are a team of one.
You’re trapped in the eyes and voices of scrutiny, before millions, with your triumphs analyzed and replayed over and over on cable and the airwaves. Images and descriptors of your failures splash through every hue in the spectrum of public media and social networking ten-fold more times than your triumphs.
Exposure of your bad choices and secreted actions force hasty retreats, elicit false denials, propel you into freefall, crashing you into realities that eviscerate more than fortunes few can ever know.
Your personal wreckage is licked and consumed by hungered flames hard-blown by bellows of ridicule, incinerating you on the pyre of public disdain.
Tiger Woods. Golf legend. Infidel. Liar.
Michael Vick. Football quarterback. Phenom. Animal torturer. Liar. Convict.
You emerge, your receipts stamped “Paid in Full,” but by separate and oppositional currencies.
From ashes, two Phoenixes are embodied. Each rises if unsteadily at first.
One wings away.
In plain view, the other contrives an aura of normalcy but flops and flails, grounded by wings shorn and weighted by demons that neither show or have yet to be exorcised. Ever the good sport.


See Authors page for Joe’s bio.



by Sandra Davies


In the aftermath the bulk of her concern had been for him, not his physical state so much as his mental, regardless that his apologetic truce had been made with the sole intention of negating his self-condemnation.
The apology had been made to her of course, but he knew her well enough to have correctly judged her lack of need for it. Knew too, and had the maturity not to condemn, that a portion of her concern had been for the other man, despite the fact that as perpetrator – did that stem from ‘traitor?’ – he was less deserving, owed only what remained from their shared history.
And so thus occupied she gave no thought to the inner workings of herself.
He did.
Eventually, deliberately delaying so to shorten any agony for her, since he was at least as capable of concern as she, he asked and devastated she discovered ‘yes’.
Six months to wait instead of … eight? Six months and now her concern matched, possibly exceeded, his and, once again because of what they’d had, reached out a little to the other man who, it had to be acknowledged, might yet need to know.
Almost too much concern to be contained despite the compensating increase of her body, prepared to bear anxiety as well as an unborn child of indeterminate paternity.


See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by Mike Handley


Facing a date with a masked man who wanted to saw open my sternum and pluck my heart’s strings, my thoughts drifted to who would miss me and why. What would the people on this very short list say about my life, would that I allow a funeral?
Sadly, most would toss out only a few adjectives and nouns: quiet, funny, creative, kind, writer, artist, hunter, loner, picky eater, provider and workaholic. Not a bad list, if anyone’s keeping a ledger, but isn’t just as much known about serial killers?
I might be remembered for some of the stories I’ve told, some I’ve lived, or by the old R&B I adore.
But despite having acquaintances across this and faraway lands, almost none have seen what’s inside my bum heart or in my head. Divulging isn’t my strong suit, but here’s fodder for my eulogy:
I believe love and lovemaking should not be limited by plumbing.
I believe supremacy over a woman’s body should rest solely between her ears.
I believe anyone who abuses a child should face the severest of consequences, and that those who abuse dogs are assholes.
I believe that people who spread their cards and try to persuade me to pick a religion (any religion) need directions back to the carnival.
I believe those who judge a whole race of people by the actions of a few should, when the time comes, be eased into the dank hereafter by the caring brown hands they’ve long feared.


See Authors page for Mike’s bio.



by Gita M. Smith


In 2312, when the biodome over central Mars was finished and sealed, they sent for everyone incarcerated in Parchman, San Quentin, Leavenworth and the supermax daddy of them all, Attica. Putting us to work here, in the Haliburton Martian mines, saved Americans a bazillion taxpayer dollars a year. No one minded that 200 death row prisoners were let out of their cells and put on rocket ships. It was explained to the public that inmates would die out here much faster than on Earth.
The gravity on Mars is something fierce, man. It ups our body weights by 182 percent. No way can our hearts cope with such density for more than a few years. Each step you take on Mars is slow and leaden, as if your leg was dragging a whole other person. I’m young, man, but I can’t even walk a block. Meanwhile, the guards trip around in antigravity suits, light as orioles.
Down inside the titanium mines, Haliburton had to install anti-gravity machines or we’d never get any work done. Titanium is the new miracle mineral, strong as steel when forged but lighter than aluminum.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Next Big Thing, brought to you by the murderers and grand theft auto committers and rapists and eye gougers and welfare cheaters of America.
Above ground, we’re just your average army of foot-dragging, bent-over, weighed-down losers. But below ground? Baby, we’re the cheapest, non-union dead men walking in the universe!


See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Bill Lapham


Socrates said ‘the unexamined life is not worth living.’ So do most of the old-timers in Alcoholics Anonymous, only they add a few more words. They got these damn Steps (it’s a twelve-step program you know) and one of them demands reflection on all the crap you stirred up during a lifetime of intoxication.
Depending on the sponsor you choose, and the length of your inebriation, the weight of that written examination could be hefty. Good people have written tomes regarding their despicable nature when they’re drunk.
Dale Desjardins had written them too, and tossed them out, and written them again, and tossed them out again. It’s not important to save them, he thought, it’s only important to write them. It’s the examination that matters, not the score.
Anyone willing to embark on such a journey of self-discovery ought to be warned in advance, though. Working on the Steps AA lays out for its members can lead to sobriety, and all the shit that encompasses. Conversely, not working them can leave you dissolute and lonely. Knowing the damn things exist, studying them, working on them, and then ignoring them to return to a life dominated by the chemical fire, will likely consume the consumer in a blaze of self-assured, nihilistic fury.
Or not.
“Fuck it, mate, pour me another; I’m thirsty and I gotta go home soon. Shit, pour one for everybody,” he said, waving his arm unsteadily about the room.


See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Nicole E. Hirschi


“Ignorance is bliss, right?” He hissed between clenched teeth. The hand at his throat squeezed tighter, threatening to rob him of his breath entirely. “We made a deal!” He croaked, clawing at the unseen hand holding him high in the air.
“You can’t make a deal with the devil and still expect to go to heaven.” The soul clutching voice mocked. “God won’t have you,” and in a triumphant voice, “you’re mine!”
“You didn’t…uphold…all of your end!” He gasped, struggling to stay conscious even with the spots of black dancing across his vision.
“I never said you would live to see all of your requests granted, not here anyway.” The eerie voice drawled. “You should feel lucky I’ve allowed you to live this long.”
The black now crawling across his mind promised to take away the feelings of hurt and physical pain. Finally giving in, he realized he had played with fire and gotten burned.
With a sickening crunch, the King of Lost Souls smiled with viscous delight. Payment had been received.


Nicole E. Hirschi also known as Coraline J. Thompson writes when time and muse agree. Her short flashes and poetry can be found splashed across the ‘Net and in a few books as well. Read more at



by Amy Hale Auker


There once was a woman who carried many stones. She started carrying them early in life for her father was verbose and talked his way through his adult problems so that she knew of his attraction for his teenage students and how Zoloft made him impotent. Some of the stones she carried were the color of the circles under her mother’s eyes. She carried her husband’s stones since he wasn’t strong enough to heft more than the cherry cigars he was fond of lighting. She carried a baby on each hip, a boy child who struggled to be released, a girl child who both clung and stung. She had a mentor whose wife was a good cook; he offered her fatherly advice and hidden secret smiles that weighed a ton, and she wondered what the good cook would think of those. The next mentor took her skinny dipping under a goddess moon, but even a glass of wine with him was serious business. She carried stones for her sister, her girlfriends, for the lady at the grocery store who sighed as she scanned the produce. Later on she met another man who claimed to be able to carry his own stones, but he called her late at night with the weight of desire in his voice.
One day, the woman dropped all of her stones to the ground, and people said she had gone insane. She stood and danced upon their weight and they turned to jewels beneath her toes.


Amy Hale Auker writes and rides on a working cattle outfit in Arizona. She has published one book of creative non-fiction and currently seeks an agent and fiction editor for her novels. Visit her website at



by Bill Floyd


My heart is gonna stop. One day, yes, it’s gonna stop. And I never swam the English Channel or hosted SNL or dug real deep. But I’ve seen some things. I’ve done some things you just wouldn’t believe. I never felt warm flesh go still, but maybe I want to. Maybe something in me wants to. But not tonight, this feels too right. I know where you are because I’ve got what you want. Don’t stop.


Bill Floyd has made some regrettable decisions in the past. He doesn’t regret writing about them.



by Grey Johnson


A crowded presence marks our clock
As if, when the children grew away, the ceiling lowered
And the unneeded cups and bowls formed a silent phalanx
Empty chairs now rush our table
Pressing me aside, to devour what is gone
There is a conspiracy here of memory, and anger
That we fail to face
Performing our solitary maneuvers in the kitchen, the den
So I stand
Alone against a house of factions, facing you
My partner in this box of lonely crime


See Authors page for Grey’s bio.



by Travis Smith


He moved with an uneven stride across the bluff towards the edge that looked out over the sea. To an observer it might seem that each step was a herculean effort, his feet weighed down by years of travel along paths that most will never know. Inside his mind it wasn’t his feet, but rather his heart that pulled him down with a force beyond what gravity should allow. His heart had taken the same unseen paths, sometimes choosing the way, sometimes dreading it, but carried the years in different ways, and there had been a lot of years. A lot of joy, love, pain and loss.
He shuffled to the edge, stopping there to breathe the air. It had the familiar smell and feel that could only be found here at the border between land and sea and air. He knew the power of this air and he could feel it now, seeping into his soul. He looked down at the rocks below, where the water crashed. He could hear the voices echoing up to him, but hidden in a different realm. He breathed in deeply again, Someday, he thought, someday this old body will float out into this magical air….but not today.
He turned and walked back across the bluff, his step lighter and heart no longer heavy, knowing that he had many paths left to travel in his appointed life.


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.



by Michael D. Brown


Rampaging around the room, destroying objects, like a bull elephant in musth, Jorge played his scene until deflated, after which he would weep like a child surveying destruction. Then he would come to Elena and take her in blasphemous thumping, frontwards and back, bringing her to rapture she would not feel throughout the nights of a year. It was the drink, she knew, that brought him to his threshold, but it was also the season. They wanted, for everything, oh, how they wanted.
Four of their children were conceived in this way.
Later, when their situation had not improved and neither saw any route to that possibility, Elena looked forward to her mate’s annual charge, but Jorge had grown weary throughout the years of trying, trying to achieve something lasting, a permanence to prosperity, and their one big encounter occurred with less and less vigor.
Last Christmas, he did not get angry, did not find cause to argue even with her prompting, although they coupled as expected, and in this, Elena, no longer of an age of conception, having abandoned any sense of responsibility and briefly wearing the smugness of satisfaction, as the days passed into the New Year, grew concerned.
Though she will not speak of it to cousin nor sister nor even close friend, she is absolutely certain the next yuletide will be silent. She can feel in her bones, wearied by too much childbearing, she will finally be a widow like most of the women she knows.


See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



by Kristine E. Shmenco


Heavy doesn’t visit me often. It’s usually when I come across your work. The mouse stops scrolling. The keys stop ticking. Open mouthed and soundless is usually how you leave me when it’s heavy. You challenge my brain and it’s wonderful.
Heavy is an appropriate word for something deep. I can’t grasp it all at once so I have to go back and nibble on it later. I find heavy tastes salty but sometimes sweet, never fails to satisfy, and it’s unending on the plate.
Heavy is too heavy for me to write about because I’m afraid to feel it. There. I said it. I’m in the shadow of something bigger than all of us, and none of us will approach it the same way.
She came to work this morning and left an hour later because her brother who has been dying for 100 years will let his light go now. How strange it is to be talking on the phone, typing, thinking about writing, eating a sandwich, laughing with my cube-mates; driving under a slate-gray sky that threatens rain, thinking about how to prepare dinner and how to be patient with the world around me, when I know across town a man is leaving us. Leaving his family. It is time, and I’m not sad for him. But how strange that I *know* his light is leaving us while I’m doing all this… stuff.
Very strange. Very heavy. But not unbearable.


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 mirrorknobdream at wordpress



Illustrations for Spot 004: The petroglyphs are photographs lent to the site by Amy Hale Auker. The rest of the graphics are just mdjb fooling around with rocks.