Posts tagged ‘unwritten rules’

November 3, 2011

Spot 015: Unwritten Rules


by Sandra Davies

Antagonism had escalated throughout the meal. Zoë had been put in mind of a couple of large dogs meeting in the street, suspicious territorial sniffing, noses then anus and bollocks, stiff-legged, tails upheld like … like mediaeval pikes, that was it. The ugly bloke a boxer, the other a longish-haired, what they called ‘yellow’ retriever perhaps? And neither wife up to firmly holding the leash, nor well-enough practised to have yet got them trained, for all they looked so competent, assured.
Bernard had feared that Zoë might have become even more intimidated by the naked antagonism of the two men, which had fast escalated into something only a whisker away from physical violence, before one of them stood up and dragged his wife away causing, throughout the dining room, a whirlpool of well-bred eyes to fast-avert, but her eyes were wide with shocked delight.
‘I didn’t know grown men – and they certainly are grown men aren’t they? – could behave so badly! What was that all about?’
He thought over the conversation. ‘It started with some remark about privilege didn’t it?’
‘Yes – True Blue soup spoons or something …’
‘And then, somehow, they got onto religion.’
‘Oh God, yes, that remark about two-faced fucking Christians!’
‘Which just goes to show they’re right to say you should avoid those topics at the dinner table’
‘Well, at least they didn’t get round to sex.’
‘No – but that was what they were fighting over.’

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.



by Paul de Denus

That’s nine balls in a row. Nine! I respond with my favorite gesture: Jesus splayed on the cross with burning mad dog eyes. The ump -Ray Charles- whips off his mask and glares back, mouthing words I don’t understand. Walter, my catcher has taken off his mask too and is calmly talking while nodding to me. I throw in a scream, “you like d’ balls very much azhole?” That gets the ump – Helen Keller – walking my way, allowing old coach Hardwick to move like a fever out of the dugout to head him off.

I don’t see the problem. In the country I come from, language is part of the game, the passion expressed. It is life! Without expression, there is nothing. The crowd seems to enjoy the performance. I listen to their cheers and jeers. The umpire – Stevie Wonder – is standing in front of the plate looking over coach’s shoulder and asking me what I said. “Your mowder enjoys the donkey,” I respond and flail my hand in a fisted pumping motion. The crowd erupts as the ump – Salvador Pena- returns the favor by giving me the out-of-here thumb jerk. He is from a country like mine and plays our game well. He continues to bark at coach Hardwick who has picked up the passion by arguing the strike zone. Nine balls for God’s sake! I’ll show him balls! The next two he sees will be mine, as I unzip and show him my striking pair.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.



by Bill Lapham

The trail went up for fucking ever. They put one boot down in the mud and tried to put the other one down just ahead of it. That way they made progress up the mountain up the mountain up the mountain.
Pounds of sweat would not evaporate. Under the noontime sun it was too hot for helmets and too dangerous without them. Shirts smotherstuck to their ribs; pants chafed the tender skin around their testicles. Sweat trickled down their legs and filled their boots. Wet socks made blisters.
Tynsdale hoped the guy on point was paying attention because he wasn’t.
A shot nobody heard bored a hole in a tree next to Carter’s head. He pulled a splinter out of his cheek and it bled.
Lucky bastard, Carter, Tynsdale said. Carter nodded.
The lieutenant decided to get off the trail, climb the mountain through the bush, hacking ahead inches at a time with machetes. The soldiers would be exhausted when they reached their objective but exhausted was better than dead.
We can sleep when we die, somebody said, but we ain’t dyin’ today.
He was wrong. He was always wrong.
The last thing Tynsdale heard was a metallic click. The last thing he saw was white. The last thing he felt were his legs going wobbly and the last thing he smelled was cordite.
Half the platoon spent hours retrieving the pieces of Tynsdale while other half provided perimeter security because they understood, the rule was: nobody gets left behind.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.



by Kristine E. Shmenco

You recognize them. You know what they are when somebody trespasses on them. In my 15695 days of living, the occasional fool comes along and says the unspeakable and breaks the unwritten rules.

When a kid does it we slough it off because they’re still learning the rules. “Mommy, you’re THAT old?” Your insides grit a little and you chuckle and pat junior on the head and hope nobody’s looking too hard for liver spots and smile lines, never mind the crow’s feet. Or, “Mommy had a little accident with wine so she’s not feeling very good this morning,” you hear your dear one tell his grandma. Now there’s a gut clencher if ever there was, and you wish everyone was old enough to zip it and stick to the unwritten rule: Thou shalt not discuss thy hangover for it makes thy shame multiply.

Grownups (also known as spouses and partners) definitely know the rules, but once in a while they cross the line. DON’T ask the question if you DON’T want to hear ‘It’s winter and I don’t HAVE to shave my legs if I don’t wanna, or until it’s time to wear SHORTS, whichever comes first!” Hopefully our partners never cross this line: “Put that pizza down, I thought you said you were on a diet?”

But we, in our infinite wisdom and grace, would never break the unwritten rules. We’re perfect, after all.

See Authors page for Kristine’s bio.



by Travis Smith

The old woman sat on a box in front of a rusted metal door. She watched as one of the roving gangs crashed through the gates and listened to the screams as they moved through the compound.

The law had forsaken the deepest parts of the city. That’s not to say they didn’t have rules. They were just enforced in different ways. The more law-abiding residents tended to police themselves. Most of their laws dealt with loyalty to their communities. Steal from your neighbor and you would be thrown out. It was that simple, and here in the depths getting thrown out was not good.

Outside the isolated communities the gangs ruled, roving in groups terrorizing anyone they found, occasionally attacking one of the communities. There were no laws for them, might made right, but even they knew to follow certain rules.

The gang moved quickly, intent on getting out with what they could before a defense was mounted. One stopped as he ran towards the gate, looking at the box the woman was sitting on.

“No, leave the old woman alone,” another yelled, but he was already moving, crude sword slashing at her. His arm jarred to a stop as her thin hand, moving faster than he could see, caught the blade. Her head cocked to the side as she stared at him, unblinking eyes reflecting like mirrors. He didn’t try to pull his sword free, just turned and ran, his screams added to the chaos.

See Authors page for Travis’s bio.



by Gita Smith

Her husband said to meet him at a diner. He was a middle-aged tugboat on swollen ankles. He’d come with an attitude. Cuckolds always do. They never consider why their wives go looking elsewhere for pleasure.
“Jesus, how old are you?” he asked.
“That’s a boring question,” I said.
His eyes were kidney beans wrapped in dough.
“I mean, if we’re talking numbers, how much do you weigh? That could figure into this.”
“Listen, you,” he snarled. “Who the fuck do you think you are?
“Sorry pal,” I said, “you only get one question here at the exit interview corral. The answer’s 26.”
I remembered my first exit interview: he was some shitbird lawyer who’d found my number behind the visor in his old lady’s Lexus and demanded a meet-up: Saturday morning, Country Club.
Husbands come to these meets all bowed up for a bush-pissing contest. That’s the only playbook they know.
But I don’t play by those rules. I showed up in full androgyny theater: high-heels, eyeliner, leather.
Shitbird’s eyes went neon. “What the hell was your number doing in my wife’s car?”
“She must have put it there.”
And then I split.

If the guy wants to fix things, he should be asking wifey. Not me.
And if he’s asking wifey questions, there’s only one to ask.
Not, “who’s this guy?” Or “how long have you known him?”
The only one that matters, the one she wants to hear is, “How can I make you happy?”

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.



by Joe Gensle

“Does this dress make me look fat?”
“Do these pants make my ass look big?”
“You wouldn’t want me to not be on birth control, wouldja Dad?”
“Isn’t my mother’s meatloaf delicious, honey?”
“These shoes were $299 but I got them for only $179! Aren‘t they cute!?”
“My parents have invited us to go to the cabin with them for 10 days. Isn’t that exciting?”
“See, Dad? Brendan’s piercings were’nt as bad as you thought thought, were they!”
“What do you think about going out and looking for some new furniture for the living, dining and family rooms?”
“I like me with a perm! What do you think?”
“If I took golf lessons, do you realize how much more quality time we could spend together, honey?”
“So how many women have you slept with?”

“Chapter III – In Decades 3-4“, from Rudiments of Man-Law: “There cometh a time to practice for the inevitable, to quelleth change of facial expression, to knoweth when a prevarication sinneth not, and to recognizeth when one must standeth on thy lips with the boot-strength of a thousand armies, all ye appendaged with penises.”

See Authors page for Joe’s bio.



by Michael D. Brown

When we first lived together, Amy would wear my unused tops and I the bottoms; I had six pairs. On good nights, we went to bed without arguing and would watch a comedy before dropping off early. We had killing jobs then, she as an insurance broker, and I as amanuensis to an alcoholic writer (I’m not going to mention his name, but you’d recognize it if I did). On other good nights, if she came out of the bathroom in a negligee, I’d discard my bottoms, slide naked under the covers next to her, and there would be no television.
One night, after having traded barbarous words then experiencing silence for an hour, she exited the john with a scowl that begged not to be questioned, and was wearing her own cotton pajamas, top and bottoms. The TV stayed off, with no Friends in evidence. Although next morning we were speaking civilly again, lunched together that afternoon, and an incident appeared to blow over, nevertheless, a rule had been established.
Amy worked at four different firms in the following years before opening a small advisory business of her own. Apparently, too beautiful for some codgers to resist making a play, when she became agitated, I would randomly be subject to the rule. After the drunk died, and I began writing my own as yet unpublished books, randomness was removed. Television has not been watched in months, and I haven’t felt silk or lace in I don’t know how long.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.



All illustrations for Spot 015 supplied by Michael D. Brown.