Sunday, January 30, 2011

Write a Story about Al A. Monie and Win the pencil drawing on the right

Write a story about Al A. Monie and Win the Drawing on the Right
The contest closes Monday February 21, 2011


Al A. Monie
10"x8" oil on masonite

Buy this portrait for $220
The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.  Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at with your info.  There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it.  E-mail it to me at

Go to my website for more contests:

Winning flash fiction stories will be integrated in with an exhibit in San Francisco at ArtHaus Gallery (April 8th for the reception).

The show is called:
Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs

The exhibit will include a series of 20-40 paintings and mixed media works ranging in size from 8”x10” to 18”x24” framed with thrift store and vintage frames.  In addition to the exhibited works ArtHaus is publishing catalogs signed by me and as many of the authors as possible.

Catalogs/books will consist of image of the painting with the text of the “flash story” surrounding the image.  If I can get the authors to come to a book signing/party, authors would sign their pages for some of the printed stuff.

We're going to have a photobooth for the show for participants to play with and vintage costumes.

Of course I'll send the authors free copies of the catalogs. I will announce the winners the day after the closing deadline for the competition. I'm planning on doing one flash fiction competition a week every Monday from now until April. 

(If the conditions in the side bar are not to your liking, I'm totally flexible.  Send me a contract that you like and I will mail it back to you.  I just don't want to chase people for signatures when I publish the catalog!)
This came in by e-mail:
Al. A. Monie, Divorce Attorney by D. Bellenghi      

 Albert's portrait had arrived and been hung.  It hung under bright lights with the law firm's other partners. Albert stopped to admire it, moving it lovingly just enough so that it hung perfectly straight. The well known California artist commissioned to paint it had done well. It was a good likeness and the artist had given him a sophisticated air that Albert was sure he didn't have.
    Albert continued down the hall to his new office. On the door of his office was the new name plate: ALBERT ALLEN MONIE. His one request had been that his full name goes on the door and the painting. Yes, everyone in the office called him Al. He was teased regularly about how his name fit his profession; Divorce lawyer; His risible name. Well, he had made the most of it. He kept his business cards, Al A. MONIE, Divorce Attorney. The name seemed to connect with potential clients. As for the others, he had stopped their laughing with his success but the name stuck. He had become the youngest partner in the firm by bringing in huge amounts of much needed money representing women in divorce cases. Other lawyers in the firm had gladly turned these cases over to him. They prefer to pursue more interesting cases that could lead to new ground breaking rulings.
    Albert's first morning appointment was at 9:00 a. m. His client was a beautiful brunette in her thirties. Her petite figure was accentuated by a expensive tailored burgundy suit. The color complimented her. Her huge brown eyes were soft and searching. The story was the same one. Now that her husband was successful, he wanted to be free of her and the children. Her lips quivered as she told her story.
    Albert listened sympathetically. Inside his blood boiled! What could these men want that they did not already have? He had heard the story hundreds of times and still, it enraged him. These stories never failed to bring back the unquenched anger of his childhood. Albert's own father had abandoned him and his mother. His father had been a cold, calculating man. Old wounds buried deep were at the surface again. All the daily struggles that he and his mother had faced could still haunt him. His mother was forced to work two jobs for them to survive. Albert spent a lot of time alone. The pain. He would never, could never forget the pain.
    Albert took his client's hand and smiled. He confidently said, “Believe me, I know what you are going through. I will take care of everything."
    I will take care of you and your children, he thought. "Your husband wants to break his promises to his family. It will cost him. I will see to it. You and your children will have what you need and deserve."  When all was finished, she would see him as her savior. He had witnessed it many times before.  These women were like sparrows with broken wings. His only concern was to aide them at this critical time. He cared for them as he wished he had been able to care for his mother.
    As Albert ushered his client out, his secretary told him his mother was on line one. He returned to his office and picked up the phone.
    "No, Mother. It's fine. I was just finishing with a client. Yes, the painting is up and if I do say so myself, I think it is quite good. No, instead of my coming home for dinner why don't you come to the office later to see the painting. We'll have dinner out, I'll make reservations. We'll make a night of it. We'll celebrate. Whataya’ say?....Good, see you then."  As Albert hung up the phone, his secretary let him know his next client was waiting.

This came in by e-mail 

A Nice Suit by D. Charles Florey
“A nice suit is all a man needs.  Yes sir, a nice suit can turn a pauper into a prince, a rock into a gem.  Why with a fancy, tailored Italian suit, a man can get just about anything he wants in life,” said Sue M. Awl, Attorney at Law.
“Take Al A. Monie, man about town, strutting his stuff here in this photo as he walks down Fifth Avenue.  Look at him waving at the ladies.  ‘Hi Ladies,’ you can hear him say.  The cuff of his tan suit hangs just below the gold cufflinks his wife, now ex-wife, as you know, got him last Christmas, saying ‘I’m the genuine article, well made and important.’”
“You see,” Ms. Awl continued, “It’s the suit that makes the man, that gives him confidence.  It’s the suit that turns that confidence into bravado, and that bravado into...infidelity.”
Ms. Awl paused for effect, letting her words sink in.  “What I will show here today is that through gross negligence, inappropriate marketing tactics and use of illegal materials, the Gigo And Low Suit Company caused this man, dear Al A. Monie to cheat on his wife with not one, but several young, attractive women.  In each instance, in each and every instance, mind you - he was wearing a Gigo and Low Suit.”
“This is preposterous,” shouted Don Gigo. He stood, his rotund poundage finding its    way onto the defense table, scattering pens and papers onto the floor, yet somehow still looking good under his charcoal gray suit coat.  “Our suits no more make a man unfaithful than our ties make him flatulent.”
Sue M. Awl  spun around and approached the defense.  “We’ll get to that next,” she said, the iciness of her words only slightly warmer than her stare.
“Enough!”  shouted Judge Jones.  “Mr. Monie, Ms. Awl, may I see you two for a moment at my bench?”
Al and Sue approached the bench.  “Yes sir,” Sue said.  “Ms. Awl, since 2003, I have seen you in here suing everything from Leprechauns who refuse to where green to quick dry paint companies for ruining an American past time.  But nothing has been as bad as the two of you ganging up on everything and everyone Mr. Monie has come in contact with.  You can’t go around suing other people for your problems.  I can’t believe the cases you two have put on my desk,” he said.  
He rifled through some papers and continued talking, “Your barber for making your hair look so good that women wanted to talk to you, your dentist for giving you that winning smile that women love, your local bank for hiring too many attractive women (that just sounds like a pick up line to me), your dog’s breeder for making a dog that can sniff out other dogs attached to attractive women, and the list goes on.”  
He slid the papers to the side and said, “Mr. Monie - you are a deadbeat.  Stop suing everyone you see and pay up or you’re going to jail, case closed.  And I don’t want to ever see either of you in this courtroom again.”  He slammed his gavel with finality and stepped down from the bench.
Al slunk away in defeat and then something caught his eye: the stenographer, about 28, blonde, blue eyes.  Al couldn’t look away.  She smiled at him.  
Sue followed his gaze and formed a smile of her own.  It was an evil one with a hint of avarice.  “Oh Judge,” she called.

The Phoenix by Gigi DeVault

“I sometimes can’t believe it myself, “Al boomed.  “My escape from that burning plane was just short of a miracle.”  He held the pause, hands gripping either side of the dais.  “I believe I was spared for a reason!  Part of that reason is why I’m here today!”

The audience clapped and whistled.  Two years from the time Al opened his wallet, there would be a second performance stage in the brand new wing of Monie Hall.  No expense spared. 

Listening to the crowd, he remembered that night in the emergency room.  Just a few hours after the crash, the idea had come to him.  He’d sketched it right on the plaster cast encasing his arm—a stylized red Phoenix that symbolized his survival.  Like his hometown after the great fire of 1871, he’d risen again—the Phoenix gracing the tail and fuselage of each of his planes stood as testament.  His new business cards read: Allen Alexander Monie—Survivor first, CEO second.  He wanted people to ask about the crash.  Talking about it gave him a bigger rush than winning an aggressive negotiation. 

That afternoon, from the window of the Drake’s top-floor suite, Al could see the sidewalk below.  A few pedestrians ranged along the street, attempting to tame their flapping coats and lifting hats.  Here and there, a bundled figure ducked into one of the shops along Rubloff’s glittering Magnificent Mile.  With his retail businesses thriving, Al thought of it as Monie’s Miracle Mile.

Of all his enterprises, his airplane manufacturing plant brought him the most joy.  He was an accomplished pilot.  He thrived on the risk, which was abundant in the small planes he flew.

Since he left college, Al insisted on a daily exercise.  His gymnast’s shoulders were no longer blocky.  His tailor had begun to suggest suits with shoulder pads.  Brisk or not, he and Snowpea would take their customary constitutional.  Al clipped a leash onto the bulldog’s collar.  They took the private express elevator down.  He secured his creamy scarf—always right over left— and angled his fedora just so.  When it wasn’t greatcoat and galoshes weather, Al would stand on first one leg and then the other, polishing the tips of his shoes on his pant legs where they covered his calves.  Always one, then twobefore he started out.

Al was prepared for the shock of cold wind, but not for the human intrusion.
Holding his notebook in front of his face like an aging boxer’s gloves, the reporter from the Tribune started punching Al with questions.  “Do you have a comment on the reports of sick workers in your chemical plant?  What about the men threatening to unionize to make you clean up your plant.”

“No one is getting sick at Monie Chemicals!” Al snapped.  “But if that were true, the union men would be first.”

To Al’s right, a flashbulb popped, catching his thin, private smile.  As though clubbing a stunned fish, the reporter smacked him again.  “Are you threatening your workers, Monie?”

Al waved down a taxi.  He’d have to walk the dog in some neighborhood where he was less known.  Just before he climbed inside the cab, he turned his ice eyes on the reporter.  No words were spoken but everything was said.

The tall brownstones served as a windbreak.  Snowpea was rhapsodic over trees and fire hydrants he’d never before explored, and was snuffling loudly around the black wrought iron fence protecting a young tree from all manner of hazards.  Al’s thoughts were on an aviation problem.  His engineers had thrown their concerns on the table like a gauntlet.  They didn’t think what he proposed for the Kestrel K-4 Airbird could be done.  They did think, however, that he’d find a way around the problem.  It might not be legal or safe, but he’d get his way.  So the engineers gave the problem back to Al and washed their hands of it.

Al once read an article titled, How to Survive an Airplane Crash.  The author, Detective Mo Coffey, insisted that the people who survived an airplane crash were the ones who immediately took action.  In no uncertain terms, Coffey stressed that, if you want to survive, you should step over bodies, climb over the back of the seats, and avoid panic-stricken fellow passengers who will delay your exit.

The next morning, Al was about to snap his briefcase shut when his secretary rushed in with a new itinerary.  To accommodate politicians in Washington, his meetings with the band of bankers in Boston and New York had been changed, setting in motion a churning of hotel reservations and flights.  Al found this shuffling of an orderly, reasoned schedule vexing.  

He dozed in the fine leather limousine cocoon, until his driver asked, “Which gate, sir?”  Al stirred to find the revised schedule, noting with satisfaction that he would be flying on his own planes for the entire trip.

Because he knew what to listen for, Al sensed the plane would go down before the pilot did.  He guessed where the fuselage would break.  He pinpointed where the flames would start.

The old couple was seated in the next row over.  The old man looked like he was in shock.  The old woman was hysterical—frail hands struggling with their seatbelts.  But Al kept his focus on getting rapidly out of the plane after impact.

As his speech concluded, a crowd of theatre patrons pressed around him on the stage.  The microbes and germs on their bodies—and the smell of them— assaulted his nostrils.   He knew to keep his distance from people.  Yet an old woman and an old man kept trying to touch him.  Al tried to keep them at arm’s length and shouted desperately over his shoulder for his body guards.

He backed up and backed up, but he couldn’t get away.  Al heard Coffey’s warnings.  He shoved passed everyone and bolted for the exit door—the dark space that looked like an orchestra pit.

This came in by e-mail:

Al don’t look right in a suit and the points of his collar sharp as could cut and his tie straight as a ruler. I swear he just don’t look like the Al I knows. Even his hair, all slicked back and flat, that ain’t Al, not the man as has lived one door up from us on our street for as long as there’s been a street. It's lawyers what has done this to Al. Thinking the judge won’t see through him, won’t see the truth of the man. Maybe lawyers is right. We’ll happen see.

Then again maybe I’ll say something, as I’ve a mind to. Or Al will say something. Soon as he opens his mouth the judge’ll know. He don’t belong in a suit or a pressed shirt or a yellow tie knotted round his scrawny neck, judge’ll work that out. He’s more a cap and jeans kinda guy, and oil on his vest and sitting on the porch with his legs spread wide and holding a beer by the neck. That’s who Al is. That’s who he’s been for more years than I can remember. That’s the guy they all fall in love with, the girls in our street. ‘Course they ain’t girls no more, not with the years they have on them, but Al calls them girls, knows how to be charming in a rough kinda way. Knows how to pay a girl some attention and knows which girls’ll bend to the sound of him saying something nice.

Worked on me a whiles back and I don’t mind saying he was sugar sweet at first, and his kisses when he gifted me them, well they was soft as feathers, and his hands weren’t grabbing or quick. We did it behind Shirley’s Bar one night, just the once. Up against the slat-wood fence and the stars were out and it was something to write home about, it really was.

I felt good afterwards, gasping for breath and my head all dizzy, and laughing knowing we done wrong. Then later I felt bad. I felt bad for Cecily. She’s the gentlest lady I ever knowed. Pretty, too, and her hair all curl and kick. Like she might be a model or an actress. What she was doing with Al, I don’t know. She coulda done better, lots better. There’s plenty of nice guys would have put a ring on her finger if she’d have given them encouragement, and they woulda treated her nice. It don’t make sense she settled for Al. We was friends back then, Cecily and me, and I reckon doing it with Al spoiled that. ‘Course it takes two to do any dancing and I don’t put it all at Al’s door, but I weren’t his first bit of spare up against that fence and there were plenty after me, too. 

And now she done and seen sense, that Cecily. And I'm glad on that. And all the girls that ever lost their hearts to Al Monie, well, they’s gathered in the court, mixing their hate with hope… hating what he did to them, and hoping he might just put it right with Cecily out of the picture, hoping he might choose one of them above the rest when all the lawyers is done, not any of them knowing he’s been with damn near every girl in the street at some time or other.

Cecily’s got herself a lawyer, too, and they been seen together, holding hands and standing real close, you know. They look like they belong in the same place, and he’s gonna fight her case and take Al for a penny or two, and I think that’s only fair. ‘Cept Al’s in court wearing a suit that is new and he’s scrubbed up nice and his hair’s not spiky or mussed up and I wonder then, what the judge’ll make of him, cos seeing him like that I begin to feel something, like before, a weakness in my legs and and itch in my pants, god forgive me I do, and looking round the court, even looking at Cecily, I ain’t alone in that. And I see Al winking at someone, and I think that just maybe Al's gonna charm his way out of all of this, too, cos the Judge is smiling and her name is Mrs Amy Collingwood.

This came in by e-mail:

By Elisa Bandy
          “Al?”  There was only one person in the world who still called him that.  Alfred set the sidecar he'd been sipping casually from back down on the bar and turned on his stool to get a good look at her.  She was wearing clothes that fit her better, with her strawberry hair done in some style that flipped out at the ends.  Like two whale fins growing out of her head, she would have said with disdain, but that was years ago.
          “Hello, Christine.”
          She shifted her weight uncomfortably.  Clearly the pumps were a new addition to her aesthetic repertoire, as was the diamond ring on her finger.  “Can I sit down?”  she asked, motioning to the empty barstool next to her.
          He looked at her straight in the eyes, then shrugged.
          “I don't know.  Can you?”
          The stool scraped noisily two inches to the left as she scooted it away from Alfred's.  Typical, like the scotch and soda she ordered as soon as she was situated.  The air between them was leaden, static even while they drank their respective poisons, trying to think of something to say.  On the small stage at one end of the club, some smooth piano piece accompanied the soft singing of a pretty-boy crooner.  Alfred wondered if the man realized that all he was good for was background noise for people trying to lose themselves in booze and meaningless pity from strangers.
          His mind wandered over to the woman to his left.  There were more lines on her face than he remembered—not that he remembered much of her face other than tight-knit brows and nostrils flaring in rage—and her eyes that used to burn with a passion for just about anything that struck her fancy were now quiet.
          It wasn't like her to be so demure.
          “How have you been, Al?”
          “Better.”  He paused for a moment before remembering his social graces.  “You?”
          Christine nodded, looked down at her glass, then back up at him.  “I've been good.  I'm—”
          “Getting married?”
          She smiled sheepishly.  “Yeah.”  He's great, and really good with the kids.  He's a doctor, buys me everything that I ask for, and even stuff that I don't.  And he's home every night, that's the important thing.  He's everything that I ever wanted from you.
          She didn't have to say it aloud; he could read it in her eyes.  Always could, always will.  She'd been his first, after all.  Three hours later, and it was last call, but she was still talking about how the kids had been doing, lying to him about how much they missed him.  It was from the bottom of her heart.  He knew a part of the each of them was still very much in love.
          Suddenly he smirked, then put on his fedora and set some cash down on the counter for both his and her drinks.  “It was nice seeing you, Christine,” he said, one last time.
          Alfred walked out of the club and into the cold Chicago midnight with a smile on his face, hoping that she'd gotten what she came here for.

This came in by e-mail:
Where, Oh Where?
By Royce Ratterman

“Al A. Monie – Private Investigator” the black lettered sign, painted on the outside of the stained glass window of the old chipped and paint-faded wooden office entrance door, read. He had not heard from his partner, Dee Vorse, since early that morning. Dee rang Al around eight concerning what he indicated was, “a matter of utmost urgency. Meet me at noon. CafĂ© Preclusion.”

No Dee, no phone call, no message … and to top it off, the restaurant’s coffee was no good. Too many “No’s” for this private dick to be comfortable with.

As Al entered their cold, empty feeling drab olive green office, he noticed one file drawer emptied out on the floor and his desktop files scattered around like chicken feed. “Ransacked?”

“Today – 11 AM. Eastern Waterfront, Potrero Point, Pier 70, 2nd floor office,” the note on the desk read. Dee’s handwriting was unmistakable. A little like ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics, but with a Latin alphabetic twist. Undiscernible at times, except to the trained eye, and that is an eye Al was accustomed to using. “This note is one piece of a puzzle to be examined. A piece I must fit into its proper context on some game-board of mystery,” he whispered to himself softly.

~ ~ ~

“Why am I here?” shouted Dee Vorse. “Where am I?”

In a silent second floor room he sat … fastened securely to his chair, blindfolded, waiting in the darkness for an answer, a reckoning, anything. “Hello?”

~ ~ ~

“Still tailing me,” Al thought to himself, “ Sharp ’57 Ford Fairlane hardtop coupe. Female driver … redhead … large round sunglasses … black hat.”

The vehicle had tailed the P. I. for fifteen minutes as he made his way across the city toward the historic Pier 70 area. He lost the tail with more ease than a pro baseball player catches a World Series fly ball in center field. Smooth, calm and systematic, or so he thought. Its three-letter-three-number yellow license plate proved imperceptible, but that was neither here nor there in his mind for now.

A model P. I. with a clean suit, but rarely a hat. He disliked hats, but used them to ‘blend in’ whenever circumstances necessitated it. He’s certainly paid his dues … Two years Military Police; two post-war years with the Chicago police where he learned what corruption is all about; another two with the New York PD where he learned how to spell “Corruption” with a capital ‘C’; then, finally off to San Francisco, the most beautiful city in the world. A place of history, atmosphere and a future for any honest and law abiding citizen to achieve their dreams. A place for former police officer, Al A. Monie, to finally be his own boss and rid his life of those mindless drones that he was once obliged to call his supervisors year after miserable year. A place to make a difference and uphold the law for the good of the masses.

~ ~ ~

Dee Vorse sat alone waiting to see how long his ordeal would last. He continued to shout, repeating his cries over and over. He heard voices in the distant background. How many? Will he be found? Is Al looking for him?

~ ~ ~

As P. I. Monie parked his car near the north side of the pier, he spotted the infamous Ford Fairlane in his rear-view mirror as it sped past. “Interesting,” he reflected in thought as much as he was in his mirror. “Time to scram!”

He carefully made his way around the buildings stirring up more than a few detestable rats the size of a small Pug dog in the process. A faint cry in the distance. A simple, metal-framed building sat alone near the end of the pier. A few vehicles graced the adjacent parking area, including the slick ’57 Ford. “Where, oh where can Dee Vorse be?”

A side door was ajar, so Al forced it open. Years of rust and neglect had taken their tolls. The voices stopped abruptly, but he knew where the sounds resonated from … the second floor. He feared the creaky stairs had given his presence away if the rusty door had already failed to do so. He continued onward, onward and upward to a wood plank walkway.

He heard the cry, “Help, help,” and recognized the voice of his partner. Crushing fear, logic, and reason, with one single blow with his thoughts, his duty and his bravery, he rushed to the only door there was. His heart pounded, adrenaline pumped, sweat dripped. He peered through a small crack in the door’s frail wood into the darkness inside and saw his friend, confidant, and partner, bound to a chair. Barely visible, but clearly definable, Dee sat imprisoned. Standing beside him … the redhead - without her ’57 Ford Fairlane.

Slowly, he turned the dented metal doorknob and pushed the door open. The lights flashed on abruptly.

“Surprise! Happy Birthday!” the crowd of friends, former clients and notable city officials shouted to the bewildered P. I., “Surprise!”

As everyone quieted down and began mingling Al freed his partner from his entrapping bonds. Dee asked Al, “Have you met my sister?” as he introduced the beautiful redhead. “Just bought a cherry lookin’ Ford Fairlane too. I told her to follow you here and, above all, to be invisible.”

“Sister?” he questioned, while he looked at her just as any single P. I. would.

With a smile in his eyes he asked her, “Where, oh where have you been?

This came in by e-mail:

May it Please the Court
by Helen Chapman

‘Thank you, your honor.’ Alexander Aloysius Monie, Esquire, stepped to the podium.
‘If it please the Court, my client is the wronged party in this marriage. He did not ask for this divorce. He did not send his wife off to Utah with that...that...Morman.’ He accentuated the last word, drawing out each syllable as if it was a curse instead of a denomination. ‘He surely did not ask her to enter into an adulterous, dare I say polygamous relationship with Elder Josiah. No, your honor. Isador Matthias Slique did none of those things. Mr. Slique remained home, cared for the children, earned a living, while his wife was off playing at Big Love.’
Al swept his arm towards his client seated at counsel table. ‘No, your honor. Mr. Slique is a pillar of the community and a model father. I cannot speak for the wife’s character. I will allow her actions and testimony to do that.’
With that, Al returned to his seat. He patted his client’s arm in a fatherly gesture. Slique shook his head sadly and looked down at the table, as if the weight of the world was upon his shoulders.
Opposing counsel rose with trepidation. It had been obvious that this was one of Michael Easter’s first trials. Even his clothes gave him away: a gray suit with a pale blue shirt and a brilliant blue tie. It looked like something a young wife would purchase upon graduation from law school. ‘May it please the court, my worthy opponent has laid out a good case today. Unfortunately, it is prevarications, piled upon falsehoods and founded in lies.’
‘Your honor!’ Monie was on his feet. ‘Really, your honor. Must we listen to this...this...prancing and pontificating from this...peacock?’ There. He got his alliterative phrase out. He liked to have one for every trial. Easter’s attire left him open to ridicule, and maybe it was worth the censure Al knew would be coming from the judge.
‘Gentlemen, please.’ The judge was clearly amused at this exchange. ‘Must I remind you of proper courtroom decorum? Mr. Monie,’ the judge tried to sound stern, ‘you know better than to interrupt closing statements.’ He turned his attention to the peacock. ‘Mr. Easter, please go on. But I warn you, do not cast aspersions upon learned counsel again.’ His ominous tone showed whom the judge favored.
Easter finished his rebuttal quickly. It wasn’t worth getting another dressing down in open court. Now all that was left was to await the judge’s ruling. They didn’t have to wait long.
‘Gentlemen...and lady,’ the judge nodded to the Petitioner. He said the last word grudgingly, as if she was anything but. ‘We have a rather convoluted case before the court today. The wife is asking for custody of the two minor children, alimony in futuro, alimony in gross, and child support, as well as the right to remove with the children to Utah. The husband is also seeking custody. The husband has waived his right to support, and only asks that the wife’s parenting time be enjoyed within the jurisdiction of the court.’
The judge paused. Al knew it was for effect. Judge MacNamara did enjoy the theatricality of the brotherhood of the black robe. ‘After hearing testimony of the parties and their witnesses, statements of counsel, and the record as a whole, I find the wife to be a less than credible witness.’ He looked hard at Mrs. Slique. ‘Madam, surely you do not expect this court to believe that this fine, upstanding man is a bookmaker. By his own testimony he is an successful accountant. His firm, Slique, Cheatham & Howe has the finest CPAs in the state. You, however, have the audacity to come before this court and ask permission to take your children, those innocent little boys into that den of iniquity where you have been living. No madam. That will not do.
‘Therefore, the Court finds that the husband, Isador Slique, is the fit and proper parent for the two minor children. The Court further finds that the former marital home to be the sole property of the husband. No child support is ordered at this time. Until such time as the wife relocates to this jurisdiction, her parenting time is deemed to be the first Saturday of every month, from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., said parenting time to be exercised in the presence of the father, or in a public place.’
The judge smiled benevolently at the Defendant and his attorney. The bailiff called ‘All Rise’ and the judge beat a hasty retreat.
Al and his client made their way into the hallway. They could hear the former Mrs. Slique berating her attorney as the door closed behind them.
Issy Slique slapped Al on the back. ‘Thanks, counsel. You earned your money good. I’ll be sending all my boys to you from now on.’
Al A. Monie grinned. ‘Thanks. You’ll get my bill tomorrow.’
Slique nodded and stepped onto the elevator. Al gestured that he wanted to take the stairs. The bailiff passed, carrying the files back to the clerk’s office. Mr. Easter and his client were still arguing inside the courtroom. Al could hear the former Mrs. Slique’s voice was rising shrilly. Poor Mike. He wasn’t used to this sort of treatment.
Two shots rang out from inside the courtroom. Al knew only Mike and his client were inside. He rushed back in and saw the unthinkable.
Michael Easter lay on the floor, a red blossom decorating the front of his brilliant blue tie. Mrs. Slique was leaning heavily on the counsel table, a smoking .38 in her hand.
Two deputies rushed in and grabbed the woman by her arms. They quicky subdued her and began to hustle her from the room. As they passed Al, he stepped in front of her.
‘Here’s my card. You’ll be needing a good attorney for this.’
This came in by e-mail:

I Love You Again by Patrick Nelson

I knew she would come back to me, I just didn’t see me not wanting her back. That’s hilarious. I would forever want her back even when I had her here. When she was here, she really wasn’t. How did she do that? I always loved her and I often hated her, but I always let her back in. She lay next to me with a sheet covering herself. Her head lay on my only pillow and she pulled her long brown hair off of her face and up above her head. With her free hand, she was smoking my last cigarette. What a bitch.

 I propped myself up on one elbow next to her, catching my breath and looking at her in the light from the streetlamp filtering through the window. It was the only light we were gonna get that night. My one single light source was an uncovered fixture in the ceiling in which a bulb had blown out earlier in the week. I was an art student in a decidedly bachelor home. Art homework, CDs, food cartons and books formed a sort of moat around my bed. The bed itself was just a box spring on a wood frame I built myself out of some wooden skids I found in the parking lot behind the house which me and two fellow students rented. The only thing that was tidy where the clothes in my closet. I felt embarrassed about my living conditions whenever she came over, but she never seemed to care and she was always gone by the time I would think about cleaning it up for her. By gone I don’t mean gone for the day to return to my humble shambles. I mean gone for a week, a month without even a whisper of when she would be back. 

 Goddamnit. She looked amazing in the daylight, but she was absolutely gorgeous in the low light of my apartment on Oregon. In the daylight, she wore very little make-up, but she didn’t need any. She had that glow of youth and that natural dark tone thanks to her Italian lineage. Sexy as hell in whatever she wore: work clothes, dress, jeans, sweatpants, she could even wear farmer’s overalls and all I could do was imagine me getting her out of them. But at night, she totally radiated sexiness. She even had these fine body hairs that caught the mercury lamplight from outside and made her look like she was covered in peach fuzz. On most women, this would be as disgusting or freakish as it sounded but on her it was just another little thing that always drove me crazy. She had a mist of sweat clinging to her and a small amount beaded up on her chest and ran in a little rivulet down into her cleavage and disappeared under the sheet. At least I had changed them earlier in the day. I didn’t know I would be having company, but I did hold the hope out that I would be with her every night.

 She knew she had hooked me again. I could tell that because she wouldn’t look at me. She never did after she won me back again. I had long ago given up on the “what are you thinking about” tactic to get her to open up, relax, want to stay for a while, get her to realize how much she really loved me and that she needed me in her life every day and that we should move in together and be bonded to each other for life because she was all I needed to survive. All of that in crammed into one stupid question. Yeah, when I tried that angle she would just get irritated and leave right away. I found I could keep her just a little longer if I didn’t say a word. I imagined it gave me this aura of mystery and depth that she would find irresistible and she would finally realize how much she needed me. In reality she probably just liked it better if I shut the fuck up and let her rest until it was time to go. Either way, we both got what we wanted when I didn’t speak.

 She never spoke anymore either now. I am sure her reasons where known to her only because she wouldn’t really speak to me so...

 We met in high school in Indianapolis. She was in my algebra class. Mrs. Morrison called her name the first day of class and I repeated it with this sort of Radio DJ voice I thought was cool. The class laughed, she turned red and Mrs Morrison looked out at me from under her blue old lady wig and above her horn-rimmed glasses. The teacher gave an expression of reproach and pity. She seemed to be saying with that gaze: “You poor little boy. You don’t stand a chance with a girl like that and don’t interrupt me again. EVER.”

 We struck up a conversation and became friends and soon where together for most of our free time. We would often talk on the phone till the early hours of the morning even on school nights. At one point, I decided to throw my self bodily over the abyss of “I don’t want to ruin our friendship” and asked her out on a real date. I could tell she was surprised by the invitation, but she should have had a clue due to the fact that I had arranged for flowers to be left at her doorstep every day for a week. I even remembered to leave a card after forgetting the first time. I knew it was a miracle that she would even talk to me. I mean. I’m not fooling myself. I am not that great looking. I have this you’re gonna be a lawyer/nerdy look which is enhanced by my need for glasses and penchant for dressing nice.

 She moved to Cincinnati to study at her parent’s alma mater, Xavier and I followed her because I loved her so much. Her family dog couldn’t follow her here, so I did. No really, I came here a little bit for the Art Academy and a lot so we could keep seeing each other.

 We kept dating through our freshman year, but we could only see each other on weekends because of our school schedules and the fact that neither of us had our own cars. Slowly she would even start to back out of those dates even if I offered to come out to see her more often. She stopped coming to my place all together. This was before I learned the art of being a slob. But pining for your true love and going to school can do that to you. I heard from some friends that she was spending a lot more time at the student lounge drinking with her new friends. Many where guys that she would introduce me to when I would come out to visit her on campus. One guy in particular really gave me this bad vibe. He was way too friendly for just having met me.  This jackass dripped with condescension. He seemed to hold her gaze a little too long for my liking, but I trusted her to not “stray”. What a dumb fucker. 

 The day she gave me the speech about wanting to see other people, I made her leave so she wouldn’t see me ball like a child. I later begged her to not do this to us, to me. She, however, had changed. She didn’t try to ease my fears like she used to. She didn’t look into my eyes kindly and search for a way to help me. She just looked at her watch and told me that if I wanted to date her, I would have to just deal with the fact that she was going to be with other people. I told her I couldn’t do that. I was only able to try to keep one relationship in emotional traction at a time. She left me sitting at “our” restaurant and didn’t even look back at me once. 

 We would run into each other now and then at the clubs. I had taken up playing the bass in a band with some friends and her interest in me spiked somewhat for two weeks, but it was a pale shadow of our initial passion. I didn’t date or sleep with any one even though my roommates and I began to take on many groupies. They got them all. Even two at a time. She was the only one I wanted.

 I may make it sound like it was all sex. Sex was much of it, true. I mean, we were young and stupid horny. There was something we had at one point that was so intimate it made my heart ache to think it could be gone or poisoned. I never thought anyone would ever know me as well as she did. I knew things that she didn’t even know about herself. Like the sexy fuzz upon her cheeks that I could only see in this light. 

 I had become a the kindly dishrag that she could wipe her low self esteem on when it became apparent to her that she wasn't as wonderful as she thought she might be. She could track me down and drag me down just to lift herself up. She wasn’t a bitch through and through, but she was no longer the woman I had to be with forever. Now the thought of actually managing to keep her in my life suddenly seemed like a prison sentence, a spiraling, burning path downward into her personal emotional petting zoo. Trapped with her as my keeper. Waiting for her touch and attention all the while knowing she would just roll me up like a dirty rug and push me back out on the curb for Monday pick-up. Fuck that shit. I had to make my move now. 

  There was a long sexy curl of white smoke escaping from her parted lips when I said: “Get out.” The smoke line was cut off and she let out a few rapid fire coughs. I said it a little too smugly. I didn’t want this to come off like I was being rock star, but it was over and I knew she was really lost to me and I was frankly proud of myself. I had just enough strength to do this right now. I had to cut this infection out before it spread to my soul. If it hadn’t already. 

 I found her once long ago, I had to find another like her. It must be possible because it happened once before. I would always love her on some level, but I needed to love someone on all levels. I got up and took the sheet with me, wrapping it around my waist. The irony was not lost on me that I was leaving her as naked physically as she had left me emotionally. I smirked in the dark. I felt a little shitty making her get up as I picked up her clothes and shoved them into her arms. Oh well, I thought, at least I wasn’t going to make her get dressed with the light on. I gently led her to the door as I took what was left of my cigarette from her and put it in my mouth. Even through the tar and nicotine on the filter, I could taste her lips. I gave her one last push through the door in the small of her bare back and closed and locked the door. I went back to the bed and claimed back my pillow. I leaned against the wall with it behind my head and turned to look out the window. I needed to get some blinds. I heard faint shuffling around in the foyer directly below me. As I heard and felt the front door slam shut, that bulb I thought was burned out flickered back on from the vibration downstairs.

I'm looking for a publisher or agent who works with picture books for adults.

I'm looking for an agent or publisher (or just some advice) to help me with this project. A whiff of Edward Hopper, a blast of Mickey Spillane, a rrowf of David Lynch, Renovated Reputations and Manufactured Memoirs is an illustrated anthology of short stories in which Griffin and Sabine collide with neo-noir fiction.  This book has humor, sex, and a "whack  a mole" story.

Renovated Reputations is the result of an internet blogging project in which paintings and assemblages based on vintage and antique vernacular photography are the inspiration for short fiction. 

The blog, which gets between one hundred to two hundred and fifty visitors a day, is the nexus point.  Each week between seven to ten authors from the U.S. and U.K. submitted short fiction of one thousand words or less compete to win an original work of art that is the basis for the story.

The stories and assemblages are then coupled with great graphic design and photo illustration to create an environment that compliment the two. The book is a collaborative joint between myself, an artist with a national reputation and proven track record.  (I’m also a professor of Art and Art History at Ohlone College in Fremont where I also am the director of the Louie Meager Art Museum and the author of the text book Liaisons, Reading in Art, Philosophy and History.  The authors are a dirty dozen or so such as author professor Mark Brosamer,  pulp author Steven D. Rogers of PulpFest fame, Dreamworks animator/cartoonist Brian Newlin, columnist Gigi De Vault and others. 

The impetus for this project is based in a solo show of paintings in I am having at ArtHaus Gallery in San Francisco in April 2011.

The show is called Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs.  If we work fast we can market the  book in conjunction with the exhibit. 

Each story is a unique standalone entity – combined in
one volume, they’ll kill ya!
it as a PDF.

Sincerely (I mean it!)

Prof. Kenney Mencher
Department of Art and Art History 
Director Louie Meager Art Gallery Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Blvd. 
Fremont, California 94539 
Phone: (510) 979-7916

Click on images to enlarge them
Here are sample pages from the book:

are some of the paintings the stories are based on.

Isabelle Ringing 20"x16" oil and mixed media  on masonite panel

Betty Million
11"x14" oil and mixed media on masonite

(wishbones, bookpages, ephemera)

Chastity Beldt
10"x8" oil and mixed 
media on masonite

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Demonstration: How to Draw a Cube in Charcoal

This is a tutorial for my drawing and painting students at Ohlone College. (But feel free to use it if you like.)
The sphere is the basis for a lot of shapes that you will have to draw and paint.  I have a PDF that you can download of the basic shapes to print out and draw here. 

 I start by using a charcoal pencil and I'm holding the pencil the way Humphrey Bogart in those old movies holds his cigarette.
 I start by very lightly sketching a diamond shape.  Then I take a compressed charcoal stick and use the side of it to draw the verticals.  I'm holding it "Bogart" style and I use the longest edge almost like an ice skate to make the vertical lines that drop down from each corner.

 Same use of the compressed charcoal stick to create the diagonal lines.  Keep everything as light as possible!  You want the lines to disappear as you shade in the planes.
 Indicate in the background of the table.
 The cast shadow is laid out as a horizontal line that starts from the where the corners meet the table top.  One of the corners is hidden behind the body of the cube.  The shape of the cast shadow looks a bit like a house that's been put sideways.

 Now for the moment of truth!  I drew everything freehand so if I put a T square against the paper are my vertical lines really vertical?
 Nope!  They are not straight up and down so I need to fix that.

 All better now.  Next I take the piece of compressed charcoal and use it kind of like a big paint brush to mass in the largest shadows and planes.
 This is a compressed charcoal stick.  This is a quick way to fill in the values so that it will make the drawing happen faster.  My teacher Irwin Greenberg use to say that "Big painters use a big brush."  I think that the same applies to drawing materials.

It's really important to work background to foreground.

 Next comes the cast shadow.

Using the eraser to clean edges and also to smudge and blend.

Applying a tone for the tabletop.  I guess I really should have done this earlier.
Using a stump to blend and even the tones.

Using a charcoal pencil to make small hatches and define and modulate the values.

I think that mark making is an important part of drawing.  I'm using light lines that are parallel to the sides of the cubes to even the tones and create some texture.

At this point this drawing is a finished version that uses mark making.  It's important to think about the direction and frequency of marks.  Some artists do not like mark making at all and so they completely blend the tones.  

Next, I'll show you how to do this towards the end.  Here I use the eraser to start doing this and to straighten things out.  At this point I'm kind of just playing around to make it different.

More info at: