Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to write a story based on these two pictures, found one day by our own Cathy MacKenzie. In the story, a character must encounter these two “sightings”—integrate into the story as you see fit!











Today’s post comes to you from Val Muller, author of the supernatural chiller Faulkner’s Apprentice, just $2.99 (here: in time for Halloween.


By Val Muller

John sat on the seawall overlooking the ocean. The moon was nearly full and reflected on the rippling water. How could the sea always be so peaceful? It seemed strange, somehow, that the ocean went on and on, the tide came and went, when the country was falling apart.

He tightened his grasp on his bottle of beer. “Did you decide?” he asked.

George shook his head. “Does it matter?” He sighed. “Do you remember elections when we were younger? I’d stay up late watching the news and rooting for my pick. And now, what is there to stay up for? Either way…”

“Either way, the people lose.” John took a long pull. “Used to be a time we didn’t fear what would happen to the country if one candidate won versus the other.”

George scoffed. “Doesn’t matter. Neither one is good news. It’s like—you’re going to Hell. How do you want to get there?”

John clinked his bottle against the stone wall. A toast. “I guess I’ll go third party. For what it’s worth.”

George shook his head. “I guess. For what difference it will make.”

“Which isn’t any.” The public was given no choice. The next president would either be Biff Tannen from Back to the Future 2 or else turn America into a secret dictatorship, one in which enemies of the White House disappeared in mysterious and never-spoken-of ways. Either way…

But what could they do? The system was rigged. Each party seemed to choose someone more despicable than the next, and everyone’s arguments centered on “lesser-of-two-evils” logic. But John’s was just one vote. What could he even do? “Unless…”

George turned to him. “Unless what?”

“Unless I just don’t play.”

“You mean you aren’t gonna vote?”

John shook his head. “Not only that.”

“What do you mean?”

John finished his beer and placed the bottle neatly on the seawall. “I’m just gonna leave.” He brought his foot close to him and unlaced his boot and pulled it off his foot. Then he took off the other. “You got a camera?”

George reached for his phone. “Yeah. Why?”

John set his two boots on the wall next to the bottle. “I’m leaving the system. I’m deregistering.”

“So? What good will that do?”

John bit his lip. “Okay, I’ll work for cash only. Not only that. I’ll work for trades. I’ll move out to the middle of nowhere. I’ll move off the grid. I’ll deny them my tax dollars. I’ll—”

George reached for the beer bottle. “Dude, what’s in this stuff? You on something? What you’re saying is nonsense.” John didn’t respond. George laughed. “Okay, what are you, a new revolutionary?” He thought for a minute. “Okay, a sound bite to Tweet out: this election, the people lose.”

“Every election the people lose,” John said. He looked out at the sea. Then he smiled. “Take a picture of my shoes.”

George turned on his flash and snapped the shot. “Okay, and?”

“Send it out. Put it on Facebook, on Twitter. Send it to your representative. Send it to the national committees and let them know what we think of their candidates. Let them know that John Adler is not playing the game.”

“Dude, you’re just gonna leave your shoes there?”

John stood up on the wall. “Yes. And maybe the first person to find my shoes will be confused. Maybe the second, too. But you post it on social media, and eventually, someone, somewhere, is gonna pick up on it. And pretty soon there will be another pair of shoes somewhere. Shoes from someone who’s tired of playing the game. Shoes from someone who refuses to cast a vote for one of two evils, someone who refuses to play in a system in which third parties are ridiculed and money talks and the people have no voice. And maybe by Election Day, there’ll be five pairs of shoes or ten. And maybe next time there are twenty, and then two hundred, and then two-hundred thousand. And eventually there will be so many shoes that the system has no one to stand on, and it does what it should have done decades and decades ago—and collapses.”

George took another picture. “Better make it a good shot, then.” George turned to his phone. John could see his was busy writing a narrative on Facebook. The post was going to be a long one. George, an adamant blogger, would have fun with it. “Dude, this is inspired, John. Truly inspired.”

The tide disguised John’s departure as George became more and more absorbed in his post. John went to bed, resisting the urge to read his friend’s postings.

* * *

John headed out on Election Day, walking toward the 7-Eleven where the immigrants went to find day work. He hadn’t been kidding. He was moving off the grid, and he’d find cash work until he could figure something more permanent. The elementary school where he used to vote was full of red, white, and blue signs boasting of one candidate or another. People handed out flyers to voters as if their chosen candidate had the power to rid the country of all ills. Did any of them actually believe they held any power?

John shook his head. Sheep, all of them.

Turning the corner toward the 7-Eleven, he stopped. If he still had a cell phone, he would have snapped a picture and texted George. There, on the sidewalk, a pair of expensive-looking brown loafers. Office worker shoes belonging to someone who certainly made more money than John ever would.

John didn’t allow his heart to beat too quickly, though. Probably just coincidence. Maybe someone just pulled over to change out of the uncomfortable shoes after some meeting—and then forgot and left them on the side of the road.

Don’t get your hopes up, John.

He took a few more steps. He could already see the convenience store, a gathering of workers waiting for the day’s work. Some of them brought their own shovels and pick axes, looking for a random day job. John hurried to join them until he was stopped again in his tracks.

Another pair of shoes. This time a bit more casual. Brown loafers kicked off right there in the street. One pair, maybe, but two? This had to be intentional. John squinted across the street, and he knew. Three’s a charm. A pair of athletic flip-flops, the expensive kind.

He headed toward the 7-Eleven with renewed enthusiasm. His revolution had started.

* * *


The Spot Writers—Our Members:


RC Bonitz:


Val Muller:


Catherine A. MacKenzie:


Tom Robson:



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No Phone Restaurant

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week’s prompt is “no phone restaurant,” and the post comes to us from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter, a tale of bullying, secrets, and sticking to the truth no matter the consequences. You can learn more at


No. Phone. Restaurant. 😦

By Val Muller


The texts were flying in almost faster than Sammie could process them.

Rachel: They’re gonna send me to FL for the summer.

Amy: Why FL?

Rachel: To live w my Gma

Amy: The churchy one?

Rachel: YES!

Rachel had finally done it. She’d told her parents about Rob, and they were freaking out beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Sammie barely noticed the glowing sign advertising The Seafood Shack as the sedan slowed—but darn it! Why were they so close to the restaurant already? The electronic drama unfolding in her hand was much more engaging. As Sammie’s mom pulled into the parking lot, Sammie jumped in on the conversation:

Sammie: What good will Florida do?

Rachel: Gma will keep me away from Rob 😦

Rachel: And send me 2 church

Amy: They can’t own you.

Rachel: No

Rachel: But they’ll cut me off if I don’t obey

Sammie: Cut you off?

Rachel: Car insurance, tuition for next year, stuff…

Sammie: Sucks.

Rachel: Said guys in their 20s are off limits.

Rachel: Ive never seen em so pissed.

Amy: What does Rob think?

Rachel: That’s the thing. He wants to break up.

Rachel: Or.

Amy: Or what?

Rachel: Or me move in with him.

Amy: What!

Sammie: What!

Amy: Dude!

Amy: What about college, tho?

Sammie: And if you live with him?

Rachel: Mom n dad would literally disown me.

Rachel: Not sure how long I’ll be here.

Amy: What u mean?

Sammie: What? Where?

Rachel: My parents r looking for me.

Amy: R U running away?

Sammie: Where R U?

Rachel: I’m hiding in the woods can u get me?

Sammie looked up. Her mother was eyeing her from the front seat, her eyebrow cross. “We’re here, Sammie, in case you didn’t notice.” She cut the engine, and the doors clicked to unlock.

Sammie forced a smile.

“Be nice, Sammie. Be polite to your grandmother. We talked about this, remember? No phones in the restaurant.”

“For my birthday,” Grandma said. She turned around from the passenger seat, and the excitement in her face melted when she saw Sammie’s phone. “Oh,” she sighed.

“Sammie.” Mom sighed, too. Like mother, like daughter.

“I know we talked about it,” Sammie said, “but I think I may have to pick up Rach. See, she—”

But Grandma chimed in. “In my day, we respected the people we were with. We didn’t have cell phones constantly distracting us. It’s just plain disrespectful. I don’t know what the world is coming to…”

Sammie risked a glance at her phone. She looked back up quickly. “Sorry, Grandma.”

She turned to put her phone away but couldn’t help looking down. The texts were flying in again, already scrolling off of the screen.

Rachel: And when they find me, they will take my phone.

Rachel: I’ll srsly never see u guys again!

Amy: I don’t have a car

Amy: Sammie, can u get her?

Rachel: I’m scared.

Rachel: They’re gonna take my pHone.

Rachel: They said no contacting anyone over the summer while at Gma’s

Rachel: Seclusion.

Amy: OMG, that’s like…

Amy: They’re gonna get ur Gma to brainwash you!

Amy: You’ll become all churchy like her.

Amy: You’ll marry a preacher’s son or something

Sammie looked up. Two generations of angry eyes glared at her from the front of the car. Mom’s lips moved in slow motion. “Turn. The. Phone. Off.”

Sammie glanced down just long enough to type three words.

Sammie: No. Phone. Restaurant.

Then she powered down her phone even as a barrage of texts came flying in. She exited the car and joined her mother and grandmother. Then she trudged on to Grandma’s birthday dinner sequestered from the teenage drama unfolding in the electronic ether of her now-dormant 4G network.

It would be a long evening.

* * *

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

RC Bonitz:

Val Muller:

Catherine A. MacKenzie:

Tom Robson:


Have you read The Spot Writers’ first book? Check out the just-released Remy’s Choice, a novella based on a story we wrote a while back. It’s available at Amazon  for only $1.99 e-book and $5.99 print.  Remy, just out of a relationship gone wrong, meets handsome Jeremy, the boy next door. Jeremy exudes an air of mystery, and he seems to be everything she’s looking for. While Remy allows herself to indulge in the idea of love at first site, she realizes she’s the girl next door according to her boss, Dr. Samuel Kendrick.

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Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt was to look out the window and write about what was out there. Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the horror novel Faulkner’s Apprentice (Kindle edition just $2.99).

Author’s Note: This is a tale I wrote one dark and stormy day. Not too far from my town, a tornado touched down—and this in a part of the country that doesn’t usually see such storms. I was lucky to be on the “outskirts,” but as I sat revising this post, my husband called to let me know he’d be late: a major tree had gone down on the narrow road leading to our house, and he had to drive all the way back into town to pick up a different route home.


By Val Muller


It was a dark and stormy day,

The kind with rainclouds that won’t go away,

When the sky can’t decide when it wants to weep,

So the humidity lingers and inches and creeps

Until the mist reaches critical mass

And the thunder booms and strikes at last.


On such a day, I started to write,

A nearing deadline was my plight.

The corgis trembled there on the floor

And glanced warily at the kitchen door.

They scooted and inched onto my feet

And trembled more as it started to sleet.


The baby, too, could sense something wrong;

She clung and clung to her frazzled mom.

I peeked outside to see what was pounding

On roof and patio—‘twas hail resounding!

I called my spouse, I called my mom

And in my voice was some alarm.

My mom said, “Hail? Inside—go!

You can be safe—sounds like a tornado!”

So to the basement I went with the dogs

And the baby still clinging fast to my arms.


I managed then to bring the laptop

(since it had its battery backup).

I set it up upon a tray

To do some work despite the stormy day.

I started typing my story out

When the dogs jumped after a thunder clout.

Onto the couch they came with me

(Two dogs and a baby—what could the trouble be?)

The three of them sat, vying for attention,

The storm-neutralizing touch of mother’s affection.

The dogs crawled closer on my lap

And baby clung higher on shoulders so that

My arms no longer could reach the keys,

So we listened instead to the blustery breeze.


It stayed quite still, given the stormy conditions,

But my mom was right—I’m glad I listened.

Not far from us a tornado touched down,

Causing a path of destruction along the ground.

But inside my basement lair I was secure

With the storm raging, locked outside of my door.


The dogs still trembled, jumping like fleas

While baby took solace in pounding the keys

And watching the characters jump on the screen.

It was my nightmare; it was her dream.

She managed to choose a particular keystroke

And giggled and cooed like she’d made a joke.

I turned to the screen to see all windows closing,

And I hadn’t saved my story, I thought with foreboding.

And sure enough, Word had shut down.

The baby was smiling, but I wore a frown.

With deadline approaching, it was getting too late.

What in the world, now, could I write?


So after the storm, when the dogs calmed a bit

And the baby had ceased her giggly laptop fit,

And the dogs were cuddled down for a nap,

As was the baby (we’re all thankful for that!),

I powered on the laptop and reopened the screen

And thought of the storm and dark tales like Halloween.

But nothing was more troubling to my writerly mind

Than the horrifying tale one could only find

In a household run by two dogs and a baby

Whose antics make mom laugh but also drive her crazy.

So I penned then a tale of horror and woe,

Of a creative story the world will never know,

For it was deleted by chubby baby fingers,

Though its miasma in my house still sort of lingers.

Instead, I give you this tale of strife

And a tiny little slice of my life.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

RC Bonitz:

Val Muller:

Catherine A. MacKenzie:

Tom Robson:


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Welcome to the Spot Writers. Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of DANGEROUS DECISIONS and the recently released ONLY EMMA. The prompt for this month is to write about the first thing you see when looking out your window.


ONLY EMMA by RC Bonitz

ONLY EMMA is out now. I hope you enjoy it. RC Bonitz




The tennis courts across the street from my home offer an endless stream of stories. Incomplete stories I grant you. I’m only seeing people in a brief interval of their lives, but you’d be amazed at how revealing those hours can be. Today for example there’s a pretty young woman playing with a guy I can only assume is her boyfriend. I hope he’s not her husband.

Obnoxious individual he is, yelling at her, hitting hard smashes she can’t handle and swearing when she doesn’t return them. He drives the tennis ball right at her body too. Is this a friendly tennis match or a war? I’d like to go over there and smack them both upside the head and say “What do you think you’re doing?”

Yes, the woman too. Why does she put up with his obscene behavior? If there is any kind of a relationship between them this is no way to nurture it.

Maybe I’ll trot over there and do it. They’re too young to waste their lives living this way. I can warn them of the depth of love they’re crushing, of the heartache these moments will develop if they continue to behave this way.

On the other hand, maybe she’s just met the bum and has already decided this is their first and last date. Perhaps they’re just having a lover’s quarrel and are acting it out on the tennis court. It’s none of my business anyway. Would they thank me for my meddling advice? Very likely not.

This is my story, sitting on my front porch and musing about people I don’t know, wondering about their lives. The musing keeps me occupied you see. I can’t get around much anymore.



The Spot Writers- our members


RC Bonitz


Val Muller


Catherine A. MacKenzie


Tom Robson






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Welcome to the Spot Writers. Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of DANGEROUS DECISIONS and the soon to be released ONLY EMMA. The topic for this month is “death in the family”.


Dangerous Decisions by RC Bonitz





ONLY EMMA  is coming soon. I hope you enjoy it. RC Bonitz







You really could call it that, a death in the family, though in the household might be the more accurate term. I mean, who would call a cockroach a member of their family? Even if she were highly literate and a prolific writer. You think I’m wacko? Well, think what you like, Eloise not only could write rings around most humans; she was a direct descendant of Archie of “Archie and Mehitabel” fame.  Probably twenty-five generations removed but who’s counting.

I found her this morning, sprawled out on the G key of my computer. It was probably one too many concussions that did her in. I don’t know how Archie died all those years ago, but he used to jump headfirst onto the keys of Don Marquis’ (sp?) old fashioned typewriter which I’m sure delivered a heavy duty bump compared to the softer touch of a modern keyboard.

Eloise didn’t have a cat to hang out with the way her ancestor did, though I’m not sure anymore just what role Mehitabel played in Archie’s life. Eloise had a partner of her own kind, Sam his name was, until he missed his footing boarding an Amtrak train one day with Eloise. She wrote an eloquent obituary for him that night instead of her usual scathing review of the reality TV show they had attended the recording of that day in New York.

She didn’t think much of our reality TV. Broadway shows, yes, she loved most of the ones she saw. Once or twice though she was spotted by a human as she perched on the back of a seat in the balcony and that just ruined the mood for her. Luckily the women who noticed her just screamed and she was able to slip down into crevices and hide.

Unfortunately, she never figured out how to print her essays and stories and I never thought to do so either, so from now on I’ll have only memories of her writing. Who knows though, perhaps one of her children will follow in her footsteps as she followed Archie’s example and I’ll get a second chance to preserve some unique writing. For now though it’s farewell Eloise.



The Spot Writers- our members


RC Bonitz


Val Muller


Catherine A. MacKenzie


Tom Robson






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Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “People Watching,” and today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of The Scarred Letter. In this young adult reboot of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s original, Heather Primm is adept at people watching—so adept that her entire existence is threatened.

One Hundred and Two

By Val Muller

“The fever’s back,” she said, nudging her husband in bed.

His mouth hung open, a snore escaping. How could he sleep at a time like this? Why didn’t he have a sensor, too, one that set alarms off each time the baby tossed or turned? The kid’s fever had woken her out of a deep sleep, even though the child was breathing peacefully.

“Did you hear me?” she asked.

His eyes popped open. “Wha—?”

“Her fever. It’s 101.8.”

“Okay.” He started to turn back over, but something in her face must have stopped him. He sat more upright instead. “So the fever is 101.8…”

“So what are we supposed to do?”

He shrugged. “I’ve never had a baby before.”

She rolled her eyes and hoped he could see it in the darkness. “I haven’t, either.”

“So why would I know what to do when you wouldn’t?”

She sighed, allowing her huff to disturb the night. The baby stirred in her arms.

“Give her Tylenol,” he said.

“I did.”

“Good, then. That’s what the doctor said to do if she ever has a fever…” He slid down into the bed and pulled the cover over himself. Before long, he was snoring again. Had he even awoken fully? Would he remember the conversation in the morning? What was it about guys—hard-wired to sleep through emergencies?

She propped herself up against the pillow, cradling the baby in her lap. She pressed the button on the forehead thermometer. 101.5. Maybe it was coming down. The doctor had said 102 was the temperature of concern. But was 101.5 close enough? Should she go to the hospital? What if she went, and they sent her home? And then her new baby would be exposed to a whole host of germs from the ER. And then what?

Then again, what if she didn’t go? And the fever got worse and worse. And got to 105, even. Could a baby even live at 105? What if she fell asleep and woke up, and the baby’s fever had risen, even with the Tylenol? What kind of a mother would allow that to happen?

She broke out in a sweat. It was 2 a.m. Emergency walk-in hours at the pediatrician started at 7:30. It would be an eternity.

* * *

She stood in line in the hallway, waiting for the pediatrician’s door to open. In front of her sat a mother with twin boys, each dancing around in the hallway. They didn’t look too sick. The mother was scrolling through her phone.

Behind the first woman stood another, a mother of a toddler boy. He was seated at her feet, playing Plants versus Zombies on her ipad. Really? Video games? The boy coughed, and the crinkling and crackling in his lungs sent the blood racing through her veins. How could his mother let him play a video game when his lungs sounded like an earthquake?

Behind her, a tired looking girl and her mother shuffled up. The mother sat down, cross-legged. The girl rested her head in mom’s lap.

“First timer?” the mother asked.

She nodded.

The mother glanced at the baby in the carrier. “Your baby looks fine.”

“How do you know?”

“I’ve been through it once.”

She allowed herself a deep breath, and she turned to the other mothers, whose blood pressures all seemed half of hers.

“But her fever is—”

“It’s not about the number. You’ll know. Trust your gut, and you’ll know if something’s wrong. If something were truly wrong, you wouldn’t be here. You’d have gone to the ER hours ago.”

She turned a moment longer to people watch. These mothers were not concerned. They were patiently waiting for the office door to open.

And now, so was she.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

RC Bonitz:

Val Muller:

Catherine A. MacKenzie:

Tom Robson:


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Welcome to the Spot Writers. Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of DANGEROUS DECISIONS and A BLANKET FOR HER HEART. The topic for this month is people watching.

Dangerous Decisions by RC Bonitz

DANGEROUS DECISIONS is available now. I hope you enjoy it. RC Bonitz



People Watching?

The park bustled with activity, children loud and boisterous, old folks walking slowly on the paved paths, soccer games in the fields. Mark loved to spend his lunch times in the midst of all that pleasant, happy energy. The sky was almost clear of clouds, blue as blue could be, and he turned his face to the sun, relishing the warmth that soaked into his skin.


An elderly man with a walker shuffled toward him and he greeted the fellow with his usual friendly “hello.” The man ignored him and continued on his way. The rebuff bothered Mark not on bit. Some people were simply made that way, grouchy, shy, or uncomfortable speaking to a stranger. Untroubled by such encounters, Mark never ceased to greet strangers, always hoping for a more positive response.


A woman sat on a bench, listlessly tossing bites of bread to very active pigeons scrabbling for the treats. She looked to be his age or thereabouts, no more than thirty-five or forty, but there seemed to be no energy in her movements.

“Hi. Those pigeons look hungry,” Mark said.

She looked up at him, a defeated expression on her face. “They like to eat.”

He nodded and smiled. “Do you come here a lot? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.”

She shook her head. “Who are you?”

“Mark Thomson. And you?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she muttered.

He frowned. He liked to chat up people that he met, but this woman didn’t look promising. He tried another track. “Do you come here to people watch?”

She quirked an eyebrow at him. “Do you?”

He grinned. “I’m a people greeter. A simple “hi” can brighten up a person’s day.”

She gave him a half smile. “You like doing that then.”

“You’d be surprised at how many friends I’ve made that way.”

She let the smile blossom and crossed her hands in her lap, nervously twisting and untwisting the fingers. “That’s nice.”

“How about you? Can I buy you a cup of coffee?”

Color rose in her cheeks. “You’re hitting on me?”

“Not at all. You just seem like you could use a friend right now.”

She stared at him, her expression softening as she did. “Just coffee?”

“Just coffee.”

“Meg, that’s my name. And thank you.”

He offered her his arm as she rose from the bench. “My pleasure.”


The Spot Writers- our members


RC Bonitz


Val Muller


Catherine A. MacKenzie


Tom Robson






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