Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Made in Slant" A Contemporary Art Blog That I think is Cool

If you're interested in learning about the sort of youngish, hip or groovy art scene visit this blog:
http://www.madeinslant.com/


I really like that now I have blog that I can rely on to sniff out some new cool stuff for me to look at.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Call For Submissions: Journal of Compressed Creative Arts

This is reposted from http://flashfiction.net/

The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts is currently accepting prose fiction and creative nonfiction submissions at this time. Our reading period ends on August 15, 2011. We publish (very) tiny, compressed prose creations of 600 words or less. We use Submishmash for all submissions. We value form, character, and words that fit to both. Experimentation is interesting. Experimentation for the sake of appearing experimental is less interesting. We like close reading and close writing. We like to feel what we read before we understand. Poetry submissions will be open on September 16, 2011.
We pay writers $50 per accepted piece and signed contract.
The readers for your submission include MFA in Creative Writing degree candidates at Rosemont College. For stories that move on as a result of the voting and comments of “first readers,” a second round of consideration and conversation ensues. The absolute final decision is made by the managing editor.
For fiction & creative nonfiction prose (and we think of the prose poem as such), we have a word-count limit: 600. Word count alone doesn’t create compression, so we ask that you also consider why this piece works for a journal obsessed with what’s compressed.
Current and forthcoming authors include the following:

  • Almond, Steve
  • Chinquee, Kim
  • Colen, Elizabeth
  • Collins, Myfanwy
  • Copeland, Lydia
  • Davis, Nicelle
  • Ebenbach, David
  • Fish, Kathy
  • Flick, Sherrie
  • Freele, Stefanie
  • Gay, Roxane
  • Grandbois, Peter
  • Guess, Carol
  • Holland, Tiff
  • Lee, Juliette
  • Light, Kate
  • Litz, Cynthia
  • Lovelace, Sean
  • Neal, Darlin
  • Pieroni, Jennifer
  • Prevost, Chad
  • Rohan, Ethel
  • Schwartz, Peter
  • Vukcevich, Ray
Submit here.

Write a story about Rosey Palms and Win this Pencil Drawing

Write a story about Rosey Palms and Win the Drawing on the Right
The contest closes Monday May 10th, 2011







Rosey Palms 14"x11"  
oil and mixed media on 
masonite panel







Rosey Palms

Purchase this painting $220
Click on pictures to enlarge

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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 kmencher@ohlone.edu 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 kmencher@ohlone.edu


Entries for this contest may be used in a future show.  


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 impetus for this project is based in a solo show of paintings in I am having at ArtHaus Gallery in San Francisco in April through June 25th 2011. 

The show is called
Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs.
at ArtHaus 411 Brannan Street  San Francisco, CA  94107
415-977-0223
www.arthaus-sf.com

Download the draft of Tabloid Newspaper catalog as a PDF.
Here's a link to the free newspaper style catalog as a pdf:
http://www.kenney-mencher.com/Renovated_Reputations_Mencher.pdf

Here's a link to the book:
http://www.kenney-mencher.com/Renovated_Reputations_Mencher_Book.pdf
(This is about 5MB so if you are using firefox it may stall.  You can right click and save or use explorer.)

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This came in by email:
Rosey Palms by D Bellenghi



Rosey was a serious person. She was serious about everything she engaged in. Her mother often said, “She is wound too tight  just like her father. The child doesn't know how to relax." Rosey was driven. Driven about her college courses and her grades. The need for extra money caused her to apply for several jobs. The one job she was least interested in, was for a palm reader.

    Rosey arrived at the address on East Raven Street early. No matter, Madam Luna seated her with no questions.

    "Your left hand, Child" Madam Luna said as if this was done in all job interviews. She studied Rosey's hand for several minutes, and then looked up. "When can you start?" she asked. A surprised Rosey just managed to say,"Tomorrow,if you like." What she was getting herself into, she wondered.

        As days passed, Rosey and Madam Luna assumed their respective roles as teacher and student. As Rosey overheard bits and pieces of the reading conversations, questions arose. The answers always led to more questions. She eagerly borrowed books on palmistry from Madam Luna to study over and over again. An unimaginable world had opened to her and she was on a mission to learn every detail about it. She could be seen on campus carrying stacks of palmistry books or in the student center explaining hand charts to friends. Her friends jokingly nicknamed her Rosey Palms. At first this irritated her but with further thought, she decided she might use the name professionally one day.

      One Monday Rosey arrived at Madam Luna’s to find the house eerily quiet. The cat did not greet Rosey. There were no candles burning in the reading room and she could smell no incense.

    "Madam Luna I 'm here” Rosey called out. "I'm here Madam Luna." Still she heard nothing. "Madam Luna are you here?" Rosey stood perfectly still. There. Was that a sound from the bedroom. Yes, a faint voice.

    Madam Luna lay in her bed, the cat guarding on the foot of the bed. The cat meowed at Rosey as if telling her to help her mistress. Madam Luna was clenching her bedcovers tightly under her chin. Her face was covered with sweat that wet curls of hair and pulled them into limp lines matted to her face. Her skin color was a grayish-green. "Food poisoning," she answered to the unasked question. “Shouldn’t  have eaten.....up all night throwing up....can't get warm. Get medicines on bathroom sink...." Rosey gave Madam Luna a dose of the medicine, cleaned her face with a wet cold wash cloth and added a blanket to the bed. When Rosey inquired about calling a doctor, the strength of Madam Luna’s, “No, just cancel my appointments" surprised her.  She went off to find the appointment book.

    Just as Rosey opened the appointment book, the buzzer blasted through the quiet causing Rosey to jump in spite of herself. She backed away from the front door into the reading room as a wonderfully terrifying idea flashed in her head. She could do the reading in place of Madam Luna. Madam Luna had been coaching her for months. She was positive she could do it. She called to the person at the door, “Please come in and wait in the hall. My last reading ran long" and with that, she pulled close the heavy drapes separating the rooms and began setting the stage. Candles, incense and Madam Luna's head scarf and shawl. Next she ushered in her client.

    Rosey's heart pounded so loudly she could hardly think. There was a sinking feeling deep in the pit of her stomach. She pushed on, “May I see your left hand?" using the most serious voice she could find, she recounted the elderly woman's past.

    "Oh, my" the woman gasped, "It’s all true."

    "Of course," replied Rosey. "Now, your right hand. Let's look into the future." Rosey did not have to embellish what she saw. One fact was obvious; the woman would come into a huge sum of money. Upon telling this fact, the woman became extremely excited. "Oh, my stars! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" her voice becoming more shrill with each word. She jumped up and hurried out leaving the door ajar not hearing Rosey's protests. The woman had not paid. A rookie mistake, Rosey thought. No wonder. Madam Luna had her collect fees before the readings. After closing the door, Rosey noticed the painting on the far wall had fallen to the floor. How strange, she thought, as she noticed the nail still firm in the wall. Her thoughts returned to whether Madam Luna would approve of what she had done.

    Several days later, Rosey and Madam Luna were preparing for the first reading since her illness. The front door slammed so loudly that they both looked up in wonderment. In rushed the woman Rosey had read for. She was flushed as if she had a fever. She opened her purse and pulled out several hundred dollars bills shoving them into Rosey's hands.

    “Silly me," she giggled," I forgot to pay you and if not for you, I would've never bought the lottery ticket." Rosey could feel Madam Luna's gaze upon her. As quickly as the whirlwind of this woman had blown in, she was gone. Rosey shifted uneasily as she looked at the money in her hands. Just as Madam Luna started to speak there was a loud crash. The painting had fallen again, this time breaking the glass.

    "It's the second time it's fallen." Rosey explained.

    "Was that woman here when it fell the first time?" Madam Luna asked fear in her eyes.

    "Yes"

    "It means death. Hurry, Rosey you must warn her!"

    Rosey rushed out to see a small crowd was gathering down the block. In the street lay the dead woman, her purse still clutched in her hand. Rosey couldn’t believe she missed the signs. Rosey raised her hands to cover her face when she saw they were blood red.

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This came in by e-mail:
DESTINY by Laura Strickland



Palm readers are charlatans.  I’ve found that out the hard way.  They always tell me good things, exciting things: I’m going to meet a tall, dark stranger or sail around the world, or inherit a million bucks.  But they lie.  I’ve concluded my fortune – my destiny – is to be a dog’s body, a gofer, a drudge, the person who stays late to finish the paperwork, fetches coffee for clients, and never has time for a social life of her own.  The truth is, not everybody’s destined for a thrilling future.



I work in an office for two insurance salesmen.  Sounds innocuous, right?  Wrong.  They’re both unhappy men – unhappy in their professional as well as personal lives.  Do you have any idea what it’s like working for unhappy men?  Mr. C. lives on antacids and swears all the time.  He says stress has him tied up in knots.  His wife spends more money than he can make, so in turn he takes on more clients than he can service, and none of the earnings go back into the business.  God knows, none of it goes in my pay packet.   



Mr. W., on the other hand, is a letch.  His wife left him years ago and now he drools over most anything female, as well as (I suspect) young boys.  Distasteful as this is to me, and repelled as I am by his pudgy hands and sweaty neck, I think the most disturbing thing is that he’s never hit on me.  Not once.  I know I’m a mouse, and not the kind of woman to turn a man’s head, but you think I’d warrant some reaction from a lump like Mr. W.



Together they’ve run down what, with some TLC, could be a nice little business.  I’ve been coming in early these last three weeks to try and get caught up on paperwork.  I thought if I got to work before the phone started ringing and I had to run dumb errands, buying foolish gifts for Mr. W.’s latest and trotting out endless cups of coffee, I might be able to leave work at five instead of staying till seven-thirty or eight.  Last evening, just when I began to see daylight, Mr. C. dropped another stack of files on my desk and asked me to sort through them ASAP and send out sales fliers to everyone who hasn’t been contacted in the last six months.  Then he left. 



God, I’m tired.  I haven’t slept right in weeks.  My hair needs to be cut and my rent is overdue. I have a recurring toothache but can’t afford to go to the dentist.  Most of the time, I feel like my brain is going to explode.



On my way to work this morning, I passed that storefront in the middle of the block – the one that used to be the Faith House of God Church.  The place has been empty for months so I was surprised to see the posters.  One of them showed a woman in a turban, musing over a crystal ball.  One showed a man levitating above a bed of nails.  The other depicted varying shapes of human hands and the meanings of the lines in their palms.  Despite myself, I paused.  I shifted my tote bag and thermos in order to scrutinize my own, small hand.  Tiny wasn’t listed on the poster so I dubbed mine the hand of an intellectual.



And a fat lot of good that knowledge did me.  Sure, I might be intelligent, but that only gave me the innate ability to appreciate the varied and excruciating deficiencies of my life.



A small card mounted beneath the third poster read, “Free Sample Reading – Please Walk In”.  I’ll never know what made me go.  Inside, the place was decorated in shabby Gypsy.  A woman with alert, dark eyes sat at a small table in the middle of the room. 



“Welcome,” she said.  “Sit.  You look harried and unhappy.  Lay down your burden a while.”



“I don’t believe in all this nonsense,” I said even as I sank into the chair across from her.  “I’ve never, ever had a good reading.”



She smiled.  “And yet, you are here.”



“Well,” I shrugged diffidently, “the sign said ‘free’.  It is free, isn’t it?  I’ve no money to waste on absurdities.”



“Let me see your palm.”



I deposited the tote and thermos on the floor and laid my hand, palm up, on the table.  She reached out and seized it; my skin tingled.



“I know, I know,” I said, suddenly ridiculously nervous, “you’re going to tell me I have a rosy future. I’m going to meet a dark stranger …”



She shot me another intense look.  “You have a desperate longing to speak your mind, but never feel free to do so.  The words become stuck in your throat.”



Well, now – she might be on to something.



“Frustration fills you,” she went on.  “You sleep, eat and gag on it.  Lack of appreciation poisons you.  Your palm is not rosy; it is blackened – the hand of a murderer.”



I stood up so fast the chair tipped over.  We stared at each other for ten heartbeats, twenty.  I gasped, “Why would you say such a thing to me?”



She shrugged.  “Yours is the palm of a killer,” she said, “a killer who acts either out of frustration, or out of intelligence. That choice alone is yours.”



I fled as if the devil himself chased me, but before I’d gone a dozen steps, I slowed.  I know where Mr. C. keeps the key to the safe that holds all the business documents. Should both my employers tragically die, well, who wouldn’t believe Mr. W had left me his interest in the company in exchange for favors?  Maybe it’s impossible to fight destiny, be it that of murderer or dog’s body.  All I know is, I have poisons to research – and coffee to make.
________________________________________________


This came in by e-mail:
"The Fortune-Teller of Poplar Street" by Marlin Bressi


"Such a peculiar little girl," her grandmother would say whenever Rosey would go outside to play. While other neighborhood children would jump rope, play hide and seek, or sell lemonade from a stand on the sidewalk, Rosy Palm would wrap herself in her grandmother's paisley shawl, put on her shower cap and tell fortunes by reading the palms of those who strolled down the quaint tree-lined thoroughfare of Poplar Street.


Rosey's fascination with palmistry developed as a result of her own misfortunes at a young age. When she was only three years old, she had yanked the tail of Mr. Stanley's ornery German Shepherd, Samson, who responded by snapping his fangs at the girl's fingers. Rosy was left with a jagged pink scar which ran down the side of her palm.

The scar fascinated the young girl, as well as the lines which zig-zagged across her palm, like highways on a flesh-colored road map. While other children were interested in games and toys, Rosey became fascinated with the human hand. She would spend entire afternoons at the town library reading about fingerprints, fingernails, and any other subject related to the hand. Her favorite, however, was palm-reading.
Rosey's grandmother was dismayed about the girl's interest in fortune-telling. "If your mother and father were still alive, they would surely not find such behavior appropriate for a young girl," Rosey's grandmother would say. Nonetheless, she allowed the girl to read palms and tell fortunes, as long as she stayed within sight of the house.
On this particular mid-summer afternoon, Rosey had taken her grandmother's folding card table and set up a fortune-telling booth on the sidewalk in front of her grandmother's house. Even though her grandmother had gone downtown to buy groceries, Rosey didn't think she would object to her borrowing the table. The passersby were more than happy to give Rosey a quarter for a palm reading, since they had a soft spot in their hearts for the little girl who had, at such a tender age, endured so much hardship.
Before long, a woman came down the street. Her natural beauty was well-concealed behind horn-rimmed glasses, and she was fashionably dressed in a floral dress and white gloves. Rosey immediately liked the woman, and hoped that she could talk her into a palm reading.
"Beautiful afternoon, isn't it?" the woman smiled as she neared Rosey and her makeshift fortune-telling booth.
"Yes, ma'am," the young girl replied. "My name is Rosey Palms, and I can tell you your fortune for a quarter."
The woman with the glasses chuckled. "That's a tempting offer, young lady. Unfortunately, I don't have much time. I'm waiting for my bus, and before it arrives I wanted to see the house where I grew up."
"You grew up on Poplar Street?" asked Rosey.
"Yes. Right there," the woman replied, pointing to a white house with cheerfully-painted red shutters.
"That's my house!" exclaimed Rosey, her mouth agape in astonishment. "I live here with my grandmother. We moved here last year, after. . .  after, my parents passed away."
The woman in glasses gave Rosey a sympathetic stare. "I'm sorry to hear that, my dear," she said. "It must be terribly difficult for you."
"I suppose," replied Rosey. "But I make the best of it. So, you must have been the one who lived in this house before me and Grandma?"
The woman didn't hear the question; she was gazing vacantly at the house, which caused her expression to change into one of sadness. Rosey asked her what was wrong.
"Nothing is wrong, dear," she said. "I'm just remembering things. Things that happened long ago, yet are as fresh in my mind as if they just happened today."
Her statement, along with the hint of sadness in her voice, aroused Rosey's curiosity. "What kind of things? Did something bad happen to you when you lived in my house?"
"Something very bad, unfortunately," the woman replied.  She took a moment to compose herself, and then told the young fortune-teller her story. "I was playing outside, and a man came up to me and said he was from the water company, and that he needed to come into the house and check on the water pipes in the basement. There was no one else home, so I let him inside." She paused. "He did some awful things to me." The woman's voice cracked as she recalled the horrendous experience.
"What kind of things?"
The woman in glasses shook her head, and told Rosey that she was too young to understand, and that she didn't want to frighten the young girl with her story.
"Don't be afraid, though. They caught the man and he went to jail for a very long time. I only wish I could have done things differently, and perhaps it wouldn't have happened the way it did. But I was young and naive, and didn't know any better."
"What did the man look like?" asked Rosey. She was deeply interested in hearing the rest of the woman's story. She had read many books about crime in the library, in the books about fingerprints and how they can be used to catch criminals.
"He was a tall man, in a gray suit and a black fedora. He. . ."
"What's wrong?"
The woman took off her glove in order to glance at her watch. "Nothing, dear. I just realized that my bus will be here soon and I must leave. It was very nice meeting you, Rosey," she said, extending her ungloved hand to the girl for a handshake.
Rosey shook her hand, noticing the pink jagged scar on the woman's palm. Rosey watched the woman disappear around the corner, and was still grasping the strangeness of the event when she turned around and saw a man walking toward her. He was wearing a gray suit and a black fedora. 
_________________________________________________________________

This came in by e-mail:
By Anthony Adrian Pino
She had a sweet face and I always enjoyed her company. It was her hands, though, that told the story. They seemed like dancers---an accompanying suite of ballerinas. They would dance as she spoke. Once, as she was gesticulating, I realized that she’d inscribed her hands with mysterious lines. At first I thought they were palm reading prompts, but later, in an anatomy lesson, she let out the word “physiognomy” in one of our discussions. Later, I learned that she wasn’t paying tuition, that she was a close friend of the instructor, and that she’d been divorced and became homeless after that. She maintained her dignity through all this, but not her children, who were put into adoption. She began to sleep in a car filled with magazines, books, a few cats and an empty bird cage. Eventually her car was impounded and auctioned off, along with her books, to pay parking violations and towing fees. A policeman in Palo Alto was suspended for being “too soft” on her.
No one knows what happened to the cats.
Quite a history, but it was just getting started. She was doing well in a group campsite on the San Francisquito Creek bed with all her other friends until the visit of George W. Bush to the local university. The city determined that the creek had to be cleaned up before the visit, and everyone was evicted.  Another relocation.
 Someone gave Rosey a BART ticket. She went into the City, slept in doorways and set up shop on Market Street as a “therapeutic plam reader.” [That’s right, “plam reader”---that’s what the sign said.]  In spite of the crude sign, she did quite well, and had a women’s executive following. She raised enough cash to put a deposit on a tiny studio in the Sunset District, thanks to an admirer, and became settled for a while. She loved beauty and art and bought a few pieces.  She would visit Ocean Beach along with her ballerinas. She found that they loved the seagulls, and as the gulls swirled around in the evening sky, she would extend her hands, and her dancers would frolic with the big white birds. Rosey was last seen flaying her arms and gesticulating wildly. She was dancing---beautifully, I’m told--- among the big rocks on the beach. It was sunset, a deep, rosy time of day.  
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This came in by e-mail:

MORE THAN DIAMONDS by Dee Turbon

I was her assistant. Rosie’s assistant. Only her name wasn’t Rosie. That was just a stage name. Behind the curtain she was just Alice. She had a different voice, too, when she wasn’t being Rosie. A flat voice and everything said as if she was reading from a book with hard words, said slow and halting. But when she was Rosie there was a fluency to her talking and a music and a poetry, rising and falling like a song can be.

When I say I was her assistant, I just made her cups of tea and got the newspaper and opened up at the start of the day and closed at the end. I put out the signs, too, the ones that said what Rosie did and how much she charged. And I stood at the door encouraging them in, the punters. It got so as I could spot the interest in a face even when someone was trying to hide it, and Rosie did pretty well from the ones I brought in.

She was the real star though. She did me for free one day and I damn near believed what she said. It was the lighting being dim and the trick of the crystal ball going all smokey and the strange music played just on the edge of hearing and Rosie’s voice all soft and singing when she said what was and what would be. She said I’d be rich one day and there’d be a man in my life and his name was Edward and he was the one. Twenty years I have been pricking my ears at the sound of the name Edward, even after marrying Tom. It’s all hokum.

I asked her one day. I said to her, ‘How come you do this?’ She said it was what her mother did before her and her grandmother before that and they was all called Rosie: Rosie Outlook, and Rosie Days, and now Rosie Palms. I thought Rosie Palms as a name didn’t have what the others had but I didn’t say anything. She said how at first she thought she could do what her mother and grandmother couldn’t. She said she thought she could really see, in the crystal, or the palms of punters, or in the turned over cards. She told of futures she had divined and how they’d come true or close to truth. But she didn’t know how she’d got so near. She thought there were maybe spirits who whispered in her ear and maybe that was how it all was. Then she laughed and said it was all hokum.

One day she was turning cards, doing herself, casting her own fortune. I said I thought that wasn’t allowed. She shrugged and said it was just for fun, all of it was just for fun, and there was more show to it than anything. She dressed in gypsy shawls and hundreds of bangles around her wrists so the waving of her hands in the air was like the small jangle of bells. And she wore a wig of rat-tailed black, and each tail caught in a rag of ribbon. Looking like that and her voice all altered, that was what the punters paid for. That was what she said.

I watched the cards she was laying down and they were mostly diamonds and I said that she was worth a lot of money, and that’s what I saw in the cards. She laughed and called me a proper little apprentice. Then I told her not to turn over the next card. I had a feeling. I said it was important and I couldn’t explain why, but I said not to the turn the card. And it did, it felt important, to me. ‘Walk away from it,’ I told her. But she laughed again and ignored my plea. It was the darkest card of all. It was the death card, the Ace of spades.

Rosie Palms was knocked down by a car when she crossed the road at the end of the pier, only her name was Alice. Just that very night it happened, after I’d shut up shop and she’d given me the key to look after and my share of the day’s takings. She never gave me the key usually, so looking back it was like she knew. She didn’t make it to the hospital. Dead on arrival they call it. And I had the key and it just seemed sort of right you know, what with Rosie not having any kin. So, there’s a Rosie still on the pier, today there is. Been there for so long I can’t count the years. Rosie Futures she is. It’s a better name, I think. And that Rosie is in the same place on the pier. Same bangles and same rat-tailed wig and my voice all up and down like I am singing. And though not rich, I do alright, and I think there’s small diamonds in all my cards now, I know there is, though I don’t ever dare check in case there’s more than just diamonds. 
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This came in by email:

On the Other Hand by Patrick Nelson


        Though she studied the art of divination from the best mediums, mystics and prophets that our great country had to offer, Rosie never believed any of it. She wanted to, but ultimately she found that it was all in who could pull off the best and most convincing act. The person who could really connect on the deepest levels of hope, justice, luck-whatever brought the poor losers in. If you could make the eye contact sincere and then follow through with the commanding presence of the unknown, you had them in the palm of your hand while you read theirs.  
        All of these things, that is, until she started seeing the words in other people's hands.
        For years she studied the arts of ethereal and arcane communication with the other side in hopes of it truly being a real thing. But early on she was told how the illusion was a fake. The magician had revealed the trick, the wizard had stepped out from the curtain and Santa Clause was just a creepy guy who liked to give children toys. There was no magic in it and she was considering leaving the life and getting a real job.
        She felt bad taking people's money and lying to them with what they wanted to hear. Good or bad, God or the devil. You paid the money and you got what you wanted to hear provided you gave enough subtle information as to your desired supernatural destination.
        The ones that always amazed her were the ones that didn't seem satisfied unless she gave them the worst, blackest and bleakest news: death was coming to someone closest to you or your life line says you will not live past your sixties, crazy stuff like that. They paid her to lie to them. I guess it made their mundane safe lives feel a little more interesting to have some dreadful thing lying in their future. Or they were junkies of the clairvoyant: like someone addicted to booze, pills or spanking, they wanted more and more until that's all they wanted. They believed everything. Everything, that is until she started seeing their real future and told it to them.
        That's when they stopped believing her.  It happened very suddenly yet quietly: she was doing the regular tall dark stranger bit for Diedre, a repeat seeker who had to be at least 75, when she saw blood-red lettering scroll across the old lady's palm. It made her jump.
        "What is it Dear? You see something horrible, don't you? Is it my sister in Florida? Is she finally going to die? The wrinkled prune of a woman began to swell with excitement.
        "Um, well" she stalled. It pulsed as it scrolled past her view; tiny letters strung together in a ticker from the great beyond. This one read: she will die in six weeks in front of the television watching Mario Batali.
        Um. Ok.
She lifted the old woman's palm and looked at the top of the hand. Nothing. She flipped it back over and there it was pulsing through the woman’s circulatory system just under skin. Rosie made up some silly story about the woman taking a long trip to visit all of her loved ones.
        "Ooh, that sounds nice!" Diedre said knowingly like she knew that Rosie really was telling her to visit her sister before the old battle axe dies.
        That was the last she had seen or heard from Diedre and she seemed to forget all about the incident. About six weeks later, a huge dark-skinned black man named Cecil came to see her about his decision to buy a house. He was burly, bald and well dressed. He was also demonstratively gay. He had come to her on two separate occasions to find out what she could see about some major decisions he was about to make. She started in with the old "I am seeing a great change in your money line" line when the red blood writing appeared again. This time she was not as shocked. Despite the lighter milk chocolate color of his palms, she could clearly make out: he will lose a leg saving a baby from a truck.
        She decided to experiment with this one a bit. She asked Cecil if he could see anything in his own palm. He joked that he was paying her to do that but obliged by looking. He claimed to see nothing even though it was still visible to her. She asked him to return free of charge for the next few days and he agreed. Each day she saw the same words. She finally told him that she had seen a warning and wanted him to be extremely vigilant near traffic. He was a little irritated that she wasn't helping with his house hunting decisions, but finally acquiesced. For the next three weeks he continued to see her until one day he did not come.
        This sent her into a state of high alert. She scanned the papers and local news to find that he had been in an accident and was in the hospital. The details were not forthcoming. She managed to call around and find which hospital. She arranged to meet with him during visiting hours. She meekly entered his room with a small bouquet of flowers which he took from her. She looked him up and down as he lay in the bed seeing the sheets flatten to the mattress below his left knee. As she came back up to his gaze he was scowling at her indignantly.
        "You told me to be careful around traffic, not to beware of shit falling from the sky!" He said in a fit. "I was walking down the street ON THE SIDEWALK when some people started screaming and pointing up. I looked up to see something hurtling down at me. Everyone was scattering but I saw this poor little girl frozen to the spot in shock. I leapt across to push her to safety and the falling object slammed into my leg. A young boy on the fourteenth floor had dropped a large toy dump truck from his window which came down and crushed my leg below the knee. They operated for five hours, but couldn't save it." He was starting to breath heavily and several alarms went off on his monitors. "You said traffic! I thought you could see the future! Why couldn't you see THIS?" He raised his stump slightly and pointed to it. "Why not? Get out! Girl, I'm gonna sue your ass for malpractice! You are the worst palm reader ever! Go on! Get out!"
        Without protest, Rosie meekly left the room and hospital. She was not too worried about Cecil though she did feel sorry for his loss. She was more concerned about the vision words or whatever they were: apparently they were one to a reader and only until the thing came true. She was sure if she looked into it, Diedre would be reported to be dead.
Interesting.

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Patrick Nelson the winner of the B. B. Gunne Contest (with an additional story)

The Shooter by Patrick Nelson



"All right now son, just line the rear sight up with the front one until they are together and the tops are flush" the sheriff said in my ear. "Now just take a deep breath and  squeeze the trigger when you exhale."

        He always called me son; when he watched me mow his lawn, or work in his garden or when we finally got around to the one thing I waited all week for: shooting his bb guns. I was not his son. I was his neighbor ever since he moved into his mother's house after she died. It made me miss my father bad when he called me son. I did not like that, but at least he did not call me Bobby Boy. That was what my dad called me.

        I exhaled and when I breathed in I pulled the trigger.

        The Daisy Ninety-nine Champion was the most powerful of the four rifles my neighbor had. Its accuracy was good, but that was traded off for comfort and easy reloading. The last coke bottle I had put on the fence separating our yards tilted to the side and spun around finally falling like a drunk clown. Like my neighbor the sherf. That is what we called him, Momma and I. His real name was Kendrik Lawson. He was the sheriff in our town for going on twelve years here in the middle of Missouri. He would always say: "I been sheriff here for longer than you were a dirty little thought in your daddy's mind."

        I hated when he talked about my daddy, too. I hated him and his sweaty fat body, his sour liquor breath, his stabby whiskers and what he made me do with him just so I could shoot his daisys.  He would keep them all in a cherry cabinet in the parlor of the old house he inherited. He had real guns, since he was the sheriff, but they were all kept in the basement. Momma didn't know what sherf made me do aside from the stuff she could see, but I wanted to shoot the guns too much to tell her.

        After all the work and other things were finished he would set the cabinet key on the table, pour us lemonades and we would sit in front of the rifles behind the glass door and he would tell me about how when he was a boy he had a neighbor much like himself who would teach him about "the things a man needed to know" because his own daddy, like mine, had passed away. He would say things about the other neighbor boys that he had taught to shoot over the years as well. I listened to about half of what he said. I just wanted to shoot.

        I was a good shot. I did not need some dirty old man to tell me that. I had once shot a rabbit in one eye and out the other. It dropped to the ground like a sock full of fishing weights. Sherf said he was impressed but I waited till we finished shooting, cleaning and storing the guns to run home and cry. That poor bunny did not deserve to die for sport. I cried all night till I fell asleep. I did not want him or anyone to see that. I swore I would never aim those daisys at another living thing again.

        As well as the real reward of shooting all the guns I thought I would never be able to own, sherf would pay me a little for the chores and other stuff. It was never enough, but the guns made up for a lot of it. One day it struck me that if I kept some back from what the man gave me, I may finally be able to tell sherf to take a hike if I bought my own gun. Momma said that would be ok so I started saving up.

        Sherf said if I ever told anyone what he did to me alone, they would send me away and I would never see any of my family and friends again. I already would never see my daddy again. I did not think I could stand that. The things I had to do with sherf I will not mention here. If I were to do so, you would be sad for me. You would not be able to forget and I wouldn't want that. It is bad enough that I did them and cannot forget. But do not feel bad for me because I know one day I can get away from sherf and have my own gun.

        Yesterday cousin Georgie and I went to the sporting goods store. I gave him my money and he bought me an air rifle. He is eighteen so he could sign for it. Momma doesn't know and neither does sherf. I took it to the ball field behind the school and practiced. It was much more powerful than sherf's it had a velocity of six-hundred and twenty-four feet-per-second. It was a Crosman. I bought it because of those things and because it could shoot bbs soft lead pellets too. The pellets were more expensive, but I did not intend on wasting ammunition.

        I had gone through a lot and waited long enough. I had my own gun now.

        I went to sherf's house. He was mad at me for being late. I had my rifle behind my back as he opened the screen door then turned and went into his bedroom. The screen door slammed behind me as I heard him yell "since you were late today, you're gonna have to mow the lawn tomorrow as well as the gutters. Now get in here. You kept me waiting too long already."

I had already loaded the pellet and pumped my rifle before I set foot on the property. Ten pumps meant I had one shot. I walked in and took aim.

        Sherf had a look of surprise as he yelled "where'd you get that gun, son?" I took careful aim as he said "that ain't one of mine."

        "Yeah, I know. It's mine" I said as I inhaled and pulled the trigger.

        I have told you that I was a good shot, today was no different. As far as what I swore to after the rabbit, well this was not a daisy, it was a Crosman.

        Sherf ended up moving after he got out of the hospital. The talk of the town is after some kind of blood poisoning, he had to have some kind of amputation, whatever that means.
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Here's an additional longer story Patrick sent after the deadline.  I thought it would be a great addition to this post:


With Interest by Patrick Nelson


"Look, sheriff! I told you that the robber was a midget with a mask on!" Dudley, the bank manager said in his clipped Texas plains accent.

          He had the cliche clerk's visor covering his pomade drenched comb-over. His white shirt was buttoned up to the collar with no tie and the sweat stains testified to the blistering heat that had permeated the sun baked llano. There was nothing and no one out and about in this midday sun except the sheriff and the bank manager who commiserated in front of an old beat up breezy boy fan that slowly moved back and forth over both men. It just pushed the hot air here and there offering no real relief like a demon in hell moving a pile of hot coals from here to there.

          The sheriff, for his part, appeared to not be bothered by the heat. His uniform, though worn and faded, was always crisp and clean. He did not have a single sweat spot on his clothes and nary a bead of perspiration wet his brow. He even went so far as to shut off the oscillating button on the fan so it just blew on poor Dudley. Everyone sought midday refuge except Dudley, the bank manager who was also the only employee of Sugarbush Savings and Loan and then the unflappable Sheriff Worthington. The sheriff, whom most hereabouts called Worth, was a man with a heart of gold, but a sharp mind and an acid tongue. He was elected unanimously year after year to fill his inauspicious post of sheriff in this nowhere town. Every four years someone would always run against him just for show even though they could be sure they would never be elected. Heck, they didn't even vote for themselves. "Zero votes for the opponent" was what the weekly paper always printed after the election.  


          Despite the mexicans being a second class throughout this part of Texas, the whole town of three thousand and fifty five citizens did believe that the southern neighbors had a stroke of genius when they came up with the siesta. The residents of Sugarbush, Texas would hate it to be known in any of the other towns, but during this type of heat-storm the whole town closed up and slept until the unendurable became slightly tolerable. Even the nights around these parts where filled with tossing and turning on sweat-drenched bedding Siesta was when the daring thief chose to mount his incredible heist.  

          "What makes you so sure it was a midget there, Dudley? You ever even seen one before in person?" The Sheriff asked.

          "Why, not in person Worth, but I seen 'em on the screen big as day at the movie house. I reckon I can tell one when I see one. Are you tryin' to tell me I aint seen what I seen?" He asked irritably. "Now Dudley, don't go getting you nickers twisted! I just have to ask you some questions so's I can find out who took the money" he replied soothingly. "Now, a midget, huh?"

          "Yessir! He had short kept blond hair with these scary, piercin' blue eyes and a hankerchief acrost his mouth and nose just like the olden days."



          "Well, was there anything else that set him apart from all the normal midgets we got runnin' around Sugarbush? Cause I reckon I'm gonna have my hands full if I gotta go on an all-out midget round up" the sheriff delivered with that crooked grin he was known for. "You reckon it'd be ok if I deputize you if I need your help?"

          "Well, I'm trying to help you now, but if you think your just above helpin' us taxpayin' citizens..." it was Dudley's turn for sarcasm.

          "Come on now, Dudley. I was just joshin' you. As far as tax payin' goes though, Luanne tells me you're still owing on your city taxes to her three years runnin' now" he paused to let that sink in. "You really wanna be bringin' that horse to the show? Besides, if I was gettin' paid so well by you 'taxpayers', pray tell why I still have to work a full day at my chickens before I come here to round up your vertically challenged criminals?" He infused the diatribe with false anger just for kicks. This was probably the most fun he was gonna have all day.

          Dudley held his hands up to Placate the sheriff for he knew it wasn't in the best interest of his health to provoke the man before him. He had witnessed the sheriff single-handedly restrain and apprehend five young men who had come to their town from one nearby just to "raise a little hell". That time Worth had only used a copper kettle and a bowling pin, but Dudley was sure the Sheriff could be much more handy with the spinning blades of the breezy boy.

          "Alright! Alright! Whatcha need to now?" He finally gave in.

          "Tell me what else you can remember about this robbery."

          "Well first off he crept in all unnoticed seeing how he was shorter than the counter" he started. Worth raised an arched eyebrow over his own piercing blue eyes but let the man tell his story. " First thing I noticed was this banging on the counter of a  rifle barrel from below. It was an eerie just this disembodied hand holdin' that weapon of destruction aimed right at me. Well when I collected my senses, I heard a voice telling me to put the money in the bag" he paused to wipe his shiny brow with a yellowed handkerchief. "Well now I tell you that sure was the strangest voice I ever done heard. It was like he was trying to make it lower, y'know?" He looked to Worth for some kind of help. Worth just rolled his eyes and asked:"dis-guised?"

          "Yeah! Yeah! That's it! Like he didn't want me to pick his voice out of a line up or somethin'" he grinned at his own intelligence for putting that one together. "So anyways, I figured he couldn't see me and so I made noises like I was doin' what he asked, but I was reasoning that he couldn't see, see? So I made my way around the counter and tried to make a dash for the door" Dudley rose from his chair and re-enacted his escape attempt in a theatrical fashion that would have made any vaudevillian proud: with tense and furtive movements and grand hand movements. Knowing he had his audience interested, whether from amusement or intrigue he did not care, he continued. "This sharpsman is better than I gave him credit for, however. He sensed my movements and PTOW! He shot the key in the door forcing it to lock. PTOW! He shot the big hand on the clock forward ten minutes so it read 12 noon on the dot. Why, I stopped dead in my tracks lest this here villain decided to shoot my liver right out from under me. That's when he said 'Dudley, yer closed fer lunch' in that strange voice he was usin" he finished with hands in a surrender pantomime an a look of horror on his face. "I was then forced to surrender the contents of the drawer into a pillow case" he added with defeat as he bowed his head.

          Worth let the emotion settle a moment and rose to inspect the lock and key. The key was dented just a bit on one side, but other than that there appeared to be no damage. Then he strolled over to the clock on the right wall. The same scene: just a small round dent in the tin hand of the clock and no other visible damage. Due to the indentation, the hands were rubbing together which left the clock still reading 12 even though the mechanism ticked on.

Worth turned toward Dudley who was still waiting for the round of applause that would never come.

          "So Dudley, you tried to squirt on out the front door leaving the bandit with the entire contents of the bank drawers?" the sheriff asked.

          "Come on now Worth! Was I supposed to risk my life and limb for the paltry sum of forty dollars in small bills?" He blustered.

          "Forty dollars? Is that all this bank holds?" Worth asked incredulously.

          "Not the bank, the drawers! All the money is kept safe in the vault and during bank hours" his tone conveyed the hurt the Sheriff had inflicted on his capability. "The most I have ever needed on hand was enough to give change to the feed store. They got them A-T-Ms for anything else anybody's gonna need."

          Worth asked: "so you're sure it a PTOW and not a KABOOM?"

          Dudley's forehead wrinkled up as he said "why, yes, sheriff!" as if he were talking to a small child.

          "Ok then. And was there anything else about the robber or the pillowcase you can remember? Something you didn't think about during those life threatening and dire moments?"

          "Well, now that you mention it, he had some strange shoes on for a grown man, well full grown midget: converse Chuck Taylors. Like we used to wear when we were kids. Oh, and the pillow case had a monogram on it."

          "It seems you might have wanted to tell me that before, Dudley! A monogram?"

          "Yeah. G G or D G something like that."

          "And you no doubt noticed that he called you by your name which suggests that he may know you."

          "Well I... Yeah, I did say that, didn't I? Maybe he say the nameplate I have in my teller's window."

          Worth looked over to the counter and noticed the plaque which bore Dudley's name was so far back on the counter it was almost falling behind it on the teller's side.

Worth felt like he had enough information. He sure had enough of Dudley for the week.

          "Allright Dudley, I'm gonna go shake some trees and see what falls out" he laughed at his own joke because in this town, there weren't too many trees for shade or otherwise and there certainly were no sugarbushes that the town was named for.

          "You reckon you know who did it?" Dudley asked.

          "Well, I got a hunch, but I want to sneak up on him. I know them midgets hear real good  seeing as how there ears are so close to the ground." He gave Dudley a mischievous wink and left him standing in the closed bank with his mouth open.

          Worth drove his old red ford truck to the edge of town where the Gunne house stood. When you looked at it, it seemed as if it was about to fall over but he knew the guts of these houses were built strong so as to withstand the harsh winds that would blow through these plains. Nailed here and there to the outside were pieces of raw plywood and particle board. Dust and hard packed earth were in place of the usual grassy lawn. By the small concrete porch lay a red wagon on its side.

          Worth walked up onto the porch and knocked on the rickety screen door which had a few patches sewn into it. The door inside was open but he could not see inside for the sun out was too bright. A moment or two later, a small blonde boy in a white short sleeve shirt with suspenders answered. He was holding a broom and dustpan.

          "Howdy Billy Bob. How are you today?" asked the sheriff.

          "Fine, sir and you?"

          "Fair to middlin'" was his answer.

          "My ma ain't home right now, sir" Billy Bob said in a timid manner. "She's workin' overtime in the plant in Drafton. She won't be back till after midnight. It's just me and Gran Genny."

          "I ain't here to see either of the ladies of the house, son" he paused. "You think you could invite an old man in out of the sun?"

          A flicker of shame flashed across BB's face: "I'm sorry sheriff, I should have invited you in. Bad manners, sir." He opened the door and stepped aside to let the man in and set down the broom and dustpan.

          "Oh, that's all right, boy. Ireckon you must be a little shaken up with me just poppin' up like this Worth said.

          It was like an oven inside the house. Worth took off his stetson and let his eyes adjust and looked around the sparsely furnished but well-kept living room. Along one wall were some family photos, all of which only contained the three of them: BB, his mother June and his grandmother Genny. One or two had a very old man which Worth assumed was BB's Grandfather Vic. Worth had never had the pleasure of meeting this man. Next to these were a couple rows of plaques and ribbons from various sharpshooting competitions. All had the name William Robert Gunne on them. The child was already a legend in this land forged by the gun. Worth hoped he wasn't too late to help the direction the boy was headed.


          "Bobby? Who's voice is that I hear out there?" came the beckoning from a room to the back of the house. "Bring them on back here, boy!"

          "Yessum" the boy said meekly.

          "This way, sheriff" He turned and led the man to a door at the end of a short hallway with worn, green carpet. He opened the door slowly and Worth caught sight of a frail woman adjustin a wig onto her head.

          "Is that you Othello? Come on in son! Come on in and let me get a good look at you." She said with much effort. He knew the years in this oven of a town was taking its toll on her. He noticed the deep thrumming of an air conditioner in the corner and then how cool it was. Not cold, but just cool enough to make an old, frail woman comfortable.

          "Howdy, Miss Genevieve. How are doing thes days?" He bowed his head slightly as if nodding to a queen.

          "I am surviving well, thank you Othello. I am feeling much better now that my grandson has been taking very good care of me. I can remember the days when I was feeding and clothing him. Now that old age has gotten a firm and unflinching grip on me, our rolls are reversed. Why he takes such good care of me that he even found and installed this wonderful air conditioning unit" she was beaming as she mentioned this. Her pride was almost tangible. "And what can I do for you this grand afternoon?" She said in slightly improved spirits: company can do that to a person left alone especially one with but a small child for companionship.

          "Well, I am actually here to speak with this young fellow here" he said pointing a finger at BB. "Some man to man things I would like to discuss. I would like his opinion on a matter. May I take a quick look at your window unit, ma'am? It sure seems a thing of beauty."

          "Surely, Othello. I am so proud of it I feel like royalty when I sit here feeling its benefits" again with such pride.

          Othello walked around the bed and noticed a price tag on a piece of string swirling in the cold air forced from the vents. He held it still and read it:

Turtle Neck Flea Market.

That was clear across town he thought to himself. It continued:

Priced like old works like new.

$200

Worth stepped away and turned back to the matriarch in her bed. "Ma'am. That sure is one good deal he got on that."

          "It sure is. I am truly relieved that he has inherited my good sense of monetary acummen."

          With that, worth ducked back out into the living room and waited for the boy to follow.

"Well, son" he said as he looked reproachfully at the young man. "What do you have to say for yourself? What do you think you where doing at that bank today? Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in?" He threw all three questions at him rapid fire. He expected the boy to break down or give him some kind of remorseful "woe is me" tale.
        Instead the boy looked him directly in the eye and said "I did it for my Granny. She aint gonna last long in this heat. I don't believe she's gonna last that long, period." His stare did not waver. "I did what I did to make her last days as comfter- comfortbul..."

          The sheriff interrupted: "comfortable?" "Yessir. That's it sir. I gave the man at the flea market three fifty dollar savings bonds and that left me fifty dollars short, so..." He let it hang.

          Worth picked up the thread and said "well that little escapade of yours only netted you another forty. Where'd you come up with the rest?"

The boy looked down at the ground and said "I sold Clara."

          "You sold your bb gun? The one you used to win all these awards?" Worth said as he pointed to the wall of fame.

          "Yessir. He gave me fifteen dollars for it" BB said and reached in his pocket and handed the sheriff a wad of crumpled singles. He was speechless.  He counted the money and put it in his own pocket.

          "So. What am I supposed to do with you? You haven't even said you're sorry" Worth pointed out.

          "I'm sorry I had to do it that way, but I ain't sorry I did it. She's real com-for-ta-ble now."

          "Well, to be honest, Dudley did say the person wore a mask... Maybe there's some little person out there who shoots a bb gun better than you and, awww! Who are we kiddin' here son? There ain't nobody within a thousand miles can shoot like you, but you have to be punished for what you did, boy"

          "I will tell my granny that you gotta take me in" the boy said respectfully and made to go back to her room.

          “Now hold on a minute there” Worth said as he put an arm on the young boy’s shoulder to stop him. “I don’t think that’ll be necessary. I think we’ll work out a work release from your home here. You already got your hands full with your Grandma and I think she’s gonna need your help for a while yet.” He strolled slowly to the door and continued “you are going to come to the station house after school for two hours a day and work off the money you stole from the bank. I will pay you fifty cents a day. You will clean the cells, the steps and anything I tell you to do, Got it? I am going to return the money myself and you will pay me back. You and I will not discuss this with anyone. Ever. You will also watch the line closely. If you ever cross it, I will know and so will the rest of the town. You got it?”

          A small smile threatened to break out on the boy. Worth realized he had seen the boy quite often and this is the first time he saw him almost smile. BB almost let himself be a little boy in that second.

          As the sheriff stood in the doorway taking in the outside, he spotted the wagon and had one more question: “how’d you get that AC here from the flea market, boy? You use that there wagon?”

          “Yessir.”

          “And you pulled it all the way across town back here?”

          “Yessir.”

          Worth shook his head in astonishment. This boy was just full of surprises. “And how did you manage to get it in the window?”

          “Block and tackle, sir” he said with his head high and chin stuck out just a little “went to the library and looked it up a couple days ago.”

          “You did all that? You scouted out the air conditioning unit, made the bargain, robbed the bank, went and made the exchange, transported the unit back here and got it in and running in...” Worth looked at his watch. It was just past three p.m. “a little over three hours?”

          “Yessir, but the bank job took longer than I guessed, so it put me behind by about twenty minutes.”

He knew then that he must help give this boy a guiding hand or his ingenuity and his imaginative spark could all be wasted. Besides, he and the young man’s mother went back a ways and he owed her more than one good turn. Worth put on his hat as he pushed out the door giving the boy a side ways grin and said: “OK chief, you be at the station maƱana and we’ll go over the groundrules and get you started paying me back, agreed?”

          “Yessir. I’ll be there. I promise. And... thank you for not tellin’ Granny. It could’ve done her in.” was all the boy said.



          “Here you go, Dudley.” Worth said as he laid down the forty dollars in front of the perpetually moist teller.

          Dudley’s mouth dropped open in astonishment. “Where did you get this? Did you catch that little feller?”

          “Oh yeah, on the way out of town. I told him how much you would appreciate the money back as it was making you look pretty foolish.”

          “Very funny, Worth” Dudley said with a sneer. “What’d you do with the little bastard?”

          “Oh. Don’t you worry about none of that. I got him paying his debt to society” Worth said as he turned and walked out the bank door into the slowly cooling evening light.
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There were two authors entries this week.  Dee Turbon and Patrick Nelson and both of them were very good.


Both Patrick and Dee's stories had a strong sense of place and strong dialog that expanded on the image of the main character.  I liked how Dee's stories both worked with the image and also expanded beyond it to even current events.  (There was an incident in which hundreds of black birds died inexplicably here in the US a while back and Dee makes reference to that.)


Nelson's story won mainly because it had the strongest punch and a real sense of humor about something which is very dark subject.  I like the whole "come up-pence" aspect of it.

Read all the stories here:
http://kenney-mencher.blogspot.com/2011/04/write-story-about-bb-gunne-and-win.html


Enter more competitions on my website:
http://www.kenney-mencher.com/