Posts tagged ‘numbers’

October 20, 2011

Spot 013: Missing Numbers


by Mike Handley

Unable to run, her swollen feet suddenly nailed to the floor, Shirley clutched purse to bosom and began sobbing. Tears flowed like invisible lava, searing her cheeks, and a wet scream lodged in the sands of her throat.

“Beee, beee, beee …,” she wailed.

Nearby children stopped to stare, boxed Barbies and plush Nemos forgotten. Some tugged at their mommies’ skirts and pointed at the woman unraveling in aisle six.

It was June 6, a Saturday, and Shirley had come to Wal-Mart in search of chlorine for the church’s baptismal font. En route to the pool supplies, she’d strolled through the toy section, which is where the date and place slammed into her consciousness the minute she saw the figurine.

It was a leopard-like creature with bearish paws and seven heads, all with at least one horn. Ten in all. Runes decorated the leonine brows, and white bandanas encircled each.

“Beee, beee, beee …,” she continued to chant, a crowd cautiously gathering.

She fell then, her eyes rolling upward, her body releasing sea water to a final gasped “… ssst.”

See Authors page for Mike’s bio.


© Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons License.


by Gita Smith

We were having a marvelous season in Fontainebleau — this was 1923, after all – as a sort of madness overtook the Château Le Prieuré. The main attraction was the arrival of the world-renowned mystic Georgii Gurdjieff, and nouveau-riche Americans mingled with old-money Europeans in a frenzy to absorb his aura.
Every night, the cognoscenti gathered for lavish dinner parties (a bottle of wine for every guest) at which my Marcel played a private game. Whenever conversation stopped and the table utterly hushed – as inevitably happened – he would look at a clock. He maintained that such lulls always occurred at twenty past the hour of eight.
When I said, “Darling, that’s utter rubbish; it can’t possibly happen every evening at the same moment,” he produced his tally. But his game eventually turned into morbid fascination, then a dread with apocalyptic overtones and, finally, sleepless nights.
“Eight twenty is merely a time of evening, not a number from the Book of Revelations,” I insisted.
“Surely it foretells the hour of my death,” he shuddered.
Instead of joining me to take Fontainebleau’s healing waters or paint en plain air, Marcel succumbed abed to a black despair. Worse, our lovemaking stopped.
In exasperation, I arranged an audience for Marcel with Gurdjieff, himself, for an answer to this 8:20 question.
The Master thought awhile before clasping Marcel’s shoulders. His deep black eyes bored into Marcel’s fearful ones
“Worry no more, my friend. Eight-twenty is the precise moment when the cook is ordered to table with the dessert.”

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Kristine E. Shmenco

“Children of the earth, we are awake and alive as never before and can be proud of the lives we live today because we chose to follow the Rule of Self a decade ago. Today the rules of common sense shall govern us, drafted by the hand of reality. We have rejected the mythology that cowed us for so long. We recognize that after the Great Struggle, the tyrannical hold on our lives has ended. We recognize that a word is a word; a name just a name; a number is simply a number. We have stricken off the shackles of fear and put our faces to the sun, knowing our destinies are ours and ours alone to mold and shape as we will. Cross yourselves no more. Today marks the day we reject the word evil, knowing there is only life in nature, and that no one shall be punished for whatever nature failed to provide in the mind. Remove the symbols from your body that have kept generations in the dark and be faithful to your Self—the reward was promised and you have received.

The real light is here, sitting beside us, taking our hands and guiding our race to the stars. We shall depart this Earth and start new generations of the Free, and we can say it began on this day.”

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. — Charles Baudelaire

See Authors page for Kristine’s bio.



by Sandra Davies

‘Aim for the top – you gotta be number one else you ain’t nowhere!’
‘Well, I’m not that bothered …’
‘Well you gotta be bothered – if you ain’t gonna try and always be best, you’ll go nowhere!’
‘But I’m just joining this writing group for the experience, because it sounds interesting, is something I want to see if I’m any good at. It could be a way of meeting people who think like me – I’m not interested in being first.’
‘Well you bloody oughter be – whadda you think we named you Aaron for if it weren’t to be sure of always coming first, and with a surname like Abacromby … well, there’s not many going to beat that!’
‘Yeah, well, most people spell it A b e r, but that’s a detail, the thing is I hate the idea of being number one, of coming first, of being the one that everybody notices. Trying all the time to make sure of being some sort of winner takes all the pleasure out of whatever I’m doing, and I’ve decided I’m having no more of it.’
‘Well, you’re no son of mine, that’s all I can say!’
That that was a strong possibility shut both of them up – Zephaniah had known for a long time that his wife hadn’t been the innocent she pretended to be, that few seven month babies weighed seven pounds at birth, and it had been the man next door who taught Aaron to read and write.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.


"© Copyright Dong Haojun and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons License."


by Joe Gensle

binary system: “A system in which information can be expressed by combinations of the digits 0 and 1.”–

Binary, in perspective:

1 – “It’s the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” Three Dog Night lyric from smash single, “One,” ABC Dunhill, 1969.

11 – the second, as a replacement-synonym for “junior,” e.g. Pope Paul II. [Could we Catholics ever call a the Vicar of Rome, the successor of Peter, the Holy Roman Pontiff, “Junior“(?!)]

111 – Balls (you’ve almost walked); Strikes (yerrrrrrr OUT!)

1111 – Forty-one minutes past my bedtime; the year Henry V was crowned ‘Holy Roman Emperor’

11111 – Yahtzee!

111111 – Friday, November 11th, 2011–If you haven’t done it before, take the day off to wear a stars ‘n stripes pin and pack a cooler with sandwiches and drinks. Drag some cheap lawn chairs down to your local veterans parade because it’s Veterans Day. Sit and wave and smile and sip and munch and reflect and enjoy. If your town doesn’t have a veterans parade, conduct your own with your children or grandchildren. If you‘re alone and your town doesn’t have a parade, buy a big flag and march around your block until someone asks what the hell you’re doing. Please refrain from showing him your binary middle finger for his ignorance, choosing peace for the moment it takes to educate him.

See Authors page for Joe’s bio.



by Bill Lapham

At the Big House everybody saw two football teams standing on the sidelines and twenty-two men on the field facing each other.
What Axel saw were numbers. Numbers in constant motion. Whole numbers, digits, numerals, integers, flowing, mixing. He saw sums and differences, products and quotients, and he saw primes. When substitutions went into the game, he saw one number replacing another which altered the pattern he saw on the field.
Theorems and axioms.
He saw the ball’s parabolic flight. Trajectories. Ballistic parameters.
There was force, the product of mass multiplied by acceleration.
The numbers smashed into each other, glanced, ricocheted at odd angles, some acute. Numbers rolled and fought and opposed.
Some got tired and some got hurt. Some rejoiced while others mourned. But always they moved, mixed, changed shapes, morphed.
Axe was getting overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, SOUNDS. The Big House started turning as if on a pottery wheel, an art project gone wrong. It turned slowly, then gradually picked up speed.
Inertia, he thought. Then centrifugal force.
The numbers slid into the vortex and were flung into space at a speed greater than sound. There was a sonic boom each time one flew out of the bowl. The crowd noise had a Doppler effect as sections passed by Axel’s stationary position, increasing in frequency as they approached and decreasing as they moved away.
When the Big House reached a certain velocity, Maize blended with Blue.
And the band played on.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Amy Hale Auker

The preacher stated firmly, “Marriage is not an agreement between two people, but a contract between a husband and a wife and God. A holy covenant, one in which you should allow Him to be the center.”
Mother and father and baby make three.
The counselor crossed her legs, letting her skirt slide up a tiny bit, smiled sympathetically at the man in the chair across the way as his wife explained how tired she was each night and how it would be better if he could at least help the kids with their homework or take the trash out from time to time. The wife saw their glances, and wanted to scream, “Or at least pick up fucking take-out, you moron, and quit looking down her blouse! She is our goddamned marriage counselor!”
Three weeks later she talked to him about how her best friend had gotten a divorce and could they perhaps ask her to join them for their planned cruise in the Bahamas since she was so lonely and all?
The best friend went to the gym every day, determined to be in shape for the first vacation she’d had in three years. She hoped she’d meet a nice man, nicer than her first two husbands.
And God, as the active third party in the marriage, thought the newly-divorced best friend was hot, too, and carefully poured the third cocktail.
On the third day out at sea a triangular sin was created, but a marriage was saved.

See Authors page for Amy’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

It could all well be a dream. A lazy path in his memory – the first life – a mansion in a place called Vermont where a woman caresses his thick fur. Outside the frosted glass, a world lays white and cold, the woman’s tears falling warm on his paws. The second path is a dusty farm on dustier land where mice are king and he freewheels outdoors until dusk, the luckiest feline alive. The third is dark, a filthy dwelling with others matted and cut like him, surviving only by luck until the day a man’s brutal hand brings darkness again. The fourth life is darker. He is a she this time, blind and mewling, only days old under planked wood, clawing alone in the dirt and the dark comes mercifully, quick. The fifth life is a nursing home with a Mr. Doggett. Years later, they cross together, peacefully. Six and seven are linked. He embraces death in an animal shelter with failed kidneys but miraculously returns to health through the tenacity of one lucky vet. The eighth path is shared with one named ‘Sergeant Garcia’ and it is his best memory. There is mutual respect, companionship and the closest experience of love for another of his kind. Now on the ninth path – once more female – something different is coming. There is a door with the number nine floating above and her happily tired and curious mind wonders what luck it might bring this time.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

I haven’t been inactive. What I’ve been up to is not immediately apparent. You have to follow the links. I found a book, written in Spanish, perfect in presentation. Small, a mere 4.5 by 6.25, but how does compactness signify when the words enrich?
Attending for several hours listening and trying to translate los chistes y las anécdotas while my feeble brain burned with plans for publishing, something was missing, a number, a word, a syllable, a vowel. I couldn’t put my finger on it. What was I doing here? Tuesday seemed wrong for a party. Eira mentioned plans to visit Washington DC on the fourth of July, and I tried to convince her to change it to Bastille Day in New Orleans, but she would not have it. Of course, she has family in DC, is not impressed by cherry blossoms in April, nor a parade of drag queens in July, so her mind is set, but nobody at that table would concede to me. For them, every line was laughable. Angelica did her shtick, totalmente en español, and I missed all the punchlines. Maru gave me Gumasat’s number, and even though she is not with him anymore, she claimed he has a good heart, and would help me get our words published.
Still, I wish I could relate some of the stuff that everyone found so hilarious, but tense, numerically uncertain, I lost something, and in my compensatory articulation I could not locate it, para ni amor ni dinero.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



London: twenty past eight at Big Ben
“© Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.”
Other illustrations for Spot 013 supplied by Michael D. Brown, except where noted.