Visual Arts Junction’s Writer’s Contest: Bedtime Story

Visual Arts Junction’s Writer’s Contest: Bedtime Story

By Aggie Villanueva

A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and that is your assignment. Well, more accurately, 500 words. Write about the photo art, Bedtime Story by Aggie Villanueva.

Study the image, and then write a story that this photo art inspires. You don’t have to write only fiction. Enter an essay if that’s what this image inspires in you. (No poetry please.)

Details are here.


Guest Blogger: Salvatore Buttaci


by Salvatore Buttaci

Nell’s face lit up again. In his daydream, she held Baby Brian in her arms, sang lullabies, rocked him quiet till peacefully he fell asleep. Dixon imagined he could read her mind clear across the world. She missed him. She wanted him back home. Her pretty face there in the haze of reverie made him ache with longing.

The muezzin’s prayerful cries to Allah from the height of the minaret snapped Dixon back to the real world. He wondered if Allah was listening. Say, he thought, two enemies ask for Allah’s help. Which one does he favor? Which enemy? And when both enemies are heavy into espionage, murder their stock in trade, which one does Allah root for? Dixon laughed out loud.

Outside his hotel window, Jerusalem sparkled gold. A fiercely oppressive midday sun kept David ben Gurion Street a ghost walk. Marketers were content to remain at home inside their cool stucco walls. The only movement he saw was the same black tom cat race its paws several times over the hot pavement. Black cat. Prayers to heaven. Dixon was not one to place trust in signs. He had a job to do.

Anything out of place,” TK had ordered, “and you get on the horn. Somebody ducks down an alley you think suspicious, you ring up, understand? Don’t mess up again.”

Dixon instinctively reached his hand into the side pocket of his dark double-breasted jacket and touched the Ruger SP-101. He called the gun his “difference,” because that’s what it made when somebody tried to prematurely retire him from the spy game he had grown cold enough over the years to love. Days ago he told TK, “Me and Difference. That’s the way we travel. Like true lovers,” and the chief, out of his catalog of faces, gave Dixon back the one where he stretches thin bloodless lips over bared yellowed teeth, and said, “Watch out for love, Dixon. Sometimes what you think is love turns out an ass-biting snake.”

Two days ago in Calcutta he had donated to the River Ganges three floaters. Heavy hitters all the way from Spain, the two of them spoke their Castillian, complete with lisp, right up to the flash of Dixon’s Ruger. Como thta uthted now, amigoth? You think you can play potsy with Putin and then with the same chalk draw little hearts with us in them? Adioth amigoth!

But TK called him down on it. “Three? Didn’t we make it clear there were four? Maybe you weren’t listening. Didn’t Madrid say that? So three of those caballeros are face down bloating-blue on the stenching Ganges slime while number four, Cuatro, is out there looking for some revenge. Good show, Dixon. Good show. That kind of unfinished business is enough to turn ‘covert’ into the last of VQ-12!”

Four, not three? One was still out there? Last seen in the Holy City, harboring very unholy plans. It was up to Dixon to do his own brand of quick transformation magic. He would find Theñor and this time sever the tie that linked the Spaniards with the Russians. Then he’d earn some R & R. Fly the big El Al home.

When the hotel phone rang, he let it ring three times till the ringing stopped, then waited for it to ring again. When it did, he lifted it from its cradle, said nothing. He waited, but nothing sounded on the other end. After awhile he hung up the phone. TK had told him to wait for the three rings. It was a safe phone, but this time, maybe a coincidence? Maybe someone else, not TK, not Henderson, someone else. Maybe Theñor wanting to know why the hell I deposited so many slugs into his three amigoth, why I singlehandedly and with so much passion dumped each Spaniol into the stinking Ganges.

Again he let his right hand caress the butt and barrel of his Difference. Oh, Theñor, you need to get up real early in the morning to outsmart me. You may be the early bird, but I’m Judd Dixon, the earlier worm. I ain’t died yet, and here’s my word, I ain’t dying now.

Still, it made him uneasy when the phone rang again. Three rings and it stopped. Then it started a new first ring. Dixon picked it up and waited. This time he heard TK say, “You hanging tight?”

Dixon sighed, but not the way he did when a mission was over and he could exhale deep cathartic breaths, happy to be alive, eager to bark up another tree that needed felling. This time the sigh spelled relief. It was TK.

Yeah. Status quo. You sure Cuatro’s in Jerusalem?”

He’s in Jerusalem. Somewhere on your street,” TK said. “Don’t underestimate this one. Remember, he got past you, didn’t he?”

It was a question that hardly needed an answer. TK was good for the rhetorical. Dixon kept silent, then TK said, “One of the boys will come by within the hour.” Dixon thought to himself, probably Henderson. TK and he were somewhere inside the Gates of the Old City. They were here to insure his mop-up left things squeaky clean. Dixon balked at first. He tried to make it clear, yeah, he messed up, but he was good on his own to repair the damage. He didn’t need help.

An hour dragged, then “Open up, Guy. Henderson.”

Dixon opened the door to Henderson. Behind him stood TK and… Cuatro?

Surprised?” asked TK. “Didn’t I say you messed up?”

Dixon saw the revolver in TK’s hand.

What the hell…”

Hell,” said Cuatro. “for you, Theñor.”

Again a flash of Nell. TK a secret agent! A flash of Madrid. There were only three! There was no fourth man. A flash of days ago, his Difference smoking in his hand, now rested too far away in his pocket.

Who’s the enemy?” he managed to say to three smiling faces. Then a final flash of TK’s gun and the sun went out in Jerusalem.

The end

FLASHING MY SHORTS (by Salvatore Buttaci)

Flashback: My Neighbor Jacob by Jeanette Cheezum

My Neighbor Jacob by Jeanette Cheezum

Thank God, Jacob a lonely widower in his sixties lived across the street and came to my rescue. Things always broke down and I was alone with the kids. I’d fix him a meal when I had a few extra dollars and the kids loved to hear his stories about the old country ( Ireland ). I wondered why Jacob’s children never came to visit him.

After days of not seeing him in his yard and a visibly full mailbox, I decided to check on him. No one answered. What should I do? I called his number again and again and still no answer. Then I took it upon myself to go try the back door, with no available means of entry, I checked the windows. None were open. I placed a ladder against a wooden window frame of his bungalow. The blinds were closed and I felt like a failure. When I started down the rungs of the ladder something caught my attention…inside the corner of the window. A curtain not entirely in place and the blind was raised a couple of inches. My heart sunk, Jacob was on the floor spread eagle. I slipped trying to get down and ran home as fast as possible to call 911.

The ambulance arrived and another neighbor came to help break into his home.
Jacob hung onto life, barely. They administered CPR and gave him oxygen. I picked up his keys. The ride to the hospital was wicked, all I could think was . . . why didn’t he call me? Why didn’t I check on him earlier? Guilt ridden, I followed closely.

No one would allow me to be by his side. I drove back to his house and searched for his personal phonebook. He hadn’t written any last names. I dialed every number in his book. Finally, I reached his sister and she gave me the names of his children. Each one was less than cordial. I couldn’t believe they weren’t interested. This was their father. Until one of them blurted, “Apparently, you don’t know my father as well as you think. He killed my mother and served thirty years in jail. Is there anything else?”

Bio: Jeanette is a charter member of the Hampton Roads Writers.

A veteran member and published on numerous online writing sites and E-Zine’s.

Published in two of Smith Magazine’s memoir books and in Six Sentence’s

6S Volume 2.

All three made the New York Times best sellers list.

Forthcoming book: Harbinger*33.

March 13th 2010 – Radgepacket 4 Launch Event

March 13th 2010 – Radgepacket 4 Launch Event

The eagerly awaited latest volume in the ‘Radgepacket – Tales from the Inner Cities’ collection is being launched by Byker Books at ‘The Back Page’ in Newcastle upon Tyne on Saturday March 13th at 15:00.

If you can get there to say hello, maybe have a glass of cheap plonk, get your copy signed by some of the contributors and have a bit of a natter about books in general then you’re most welcome.

Radgepacket 4 – Ray Banks, Danny King, Andy Rivers, Paul D. Brazill and many more.

Come on…GET RADGE!

Another fantastic hit with a whole bunch of stories not to be missed. Within these pages you will find gem after gem.


Sheila Quigley

Salvatore Buttaci Flashes His Shorts – Interview

PDB) Can you pitch me your new book in 25 words or less?

Sal) Flashing My Shorts is a collection of 164 flash-fiction stories running the gamut from humor to horror. The perfect smorgasbord of tasty treats for everyone!

PDB) When did you start writing?

Sal) When I was nine. I had written a poem to my mother on the occasion of Mother’s Day. She read it and cried. Then my father asked me to honor him too with a poem for an early Father’s Day. From there I started writing short stories too. In fact, in grade six, the teacher would allow us to read our poems and stories during rainy lunch hours, so I would pray for rain.

My friend George Neuman who could draw very well stood up in the front of the room with me because he was the illustrator of my lunch-hour stories. While I read, he held up his art work.

Then when I got home, I read my story after dinner. My sister Joanie would kick me under the table because she wanted to go play, but no one could leave till I was done. Sometimes, just to be spiteful, I would make the story longer by making it up as I went along, pretending to read from my writer’s notebook.

PDB) When and how did you get involved with Six Sentences?

Sal) In 2007, my good friend Tovli and I were members of the West Virginia Poetry Society until it went defunct. She suggested I should join Six Sentences because I enjoyed brief writings and would meet lots of great writers there. And I have done that.

PDB) If you could choose three stories as examples of your work, what would they be?

Sal) I‘ve written quite a few stories in my day. I try to keep the genres varied, so I don‘t get typecast in any particular one. Having said that, I completely contradict myself by listing four (did you ask for three?) of my stories, all recent ones, and all quite serious. This is not to say I do not write humorous stories; I do, and laugh out loud while writing them.

My major concern in writing any of my stories is to characterization. Of course, plot makes the story, but it’s the antagonist and the protagonist who create that problem and resolve it by story’s end. Readers need to have a clear picture of who these main characters are or the plot becomes trivial

(February 25, 2010)

“Someone’s After Me.” buttaci.html (February 26, 2010).

“Connie’s Dead.” February 2010.

“La Dolce Vita Eterna.” Flashing My Shorts. (Maine: All Things That Matter Press, 1010), 102-105.

PDB) Do you consider yourself to be an international writer?

Sal) Some of my poetry has been published overseas. My favorite overseas credit is a poem called “Sicily” in a bilingual Italian American anthology of Italian American poets. I’ve had several stories published in British publications as well as Portuguese and Icelandic, but what I truly want is to see my new book Flashing My Shorts translated into a few foreign languages and sell, if not like hotcakes, then at least like pizzas, gyros, French fries, scones, and burritos!

While a near unknown in the international marketplace, I will say that my themes and plots and characters are internationally appealing. I enjoy constructing characters whose roots are European or extraterrestrial; in other words, not always American.

PDB) What have you got in store for 2010?

Sal) I am always writing and submitting my work for publication. It’s an ongoing process in which all writers involve themselves. The year is still young, but I’ve managed to enjoy already twenty-two publications of my poems, stories, articles, and letters.

This will be the year I spend editing the first draft of my novel Carmelu the Sicilian. I wrote this book during a nanowrimo November in 2008 as my statement against the rampant media bias against Italian Americans. I am sick and tired of shows like The Sopranos and Jersey Shore, which disparage my ethnicity by portraying us as murdering Mafiosi who are about as dumb as unsharpened pencils. My book addresses that injustice in the form of a novel about a man who stands up to the media and makes a difference.

I also intend this year to revise my November 2009 nanowrimo novel Denver-under-Dome, based on an earlier short story of mine called “Under the Dome of Noonan,” which was written and published years before Stephen King’s new book, sometime in 1997 and published at

If the year does not run out, maybe I will assemble a collection of my poetry and also do a follow-up to my new book Flashing My Shorts. I could call it Flashing My Shorts Again,
or perhaps Flashes of Memory or Flash Gordon I’m Not. I’ll think of something.

FLASHING MY SHORTS (by Salvatore Buttaci)

March Pulp Metal Magazine is LIVE

PULP METAL MAGAZINE ‘s March issue is live.

Fiction by Frank Duffy, Erin Cole, Melanie Browne, Jelena Vencl Ohlrogge, Charlie Coleman

Non-Fiction by Robert Crisman, Paul D Brazill interviews Scottish Award Winning Journalist & Crime writer Tony Black

Art: Jason Michel talks to Ed Mironiuk & showcases his delectable Pin Ups!

Celluloid: Paul interviews The Guardian’s very own Anne Billson

Music: Paul takes a trip down memory lane to Liverpool’s punk/post punk scene with Jayne Casey of BIG IN JAPAN fame.

And in I DIDN’T SAY THAT DID I? column, I talk to two notable Femme Fatales:

Carole Parker & Anne Frasier!

Radgepacket Online

Byker Books are well known for their Radgepacket anthologies and they also produce an online version which has fiction from the likes of Nick Quantrill and Danny Hill.

If you pop over there now you’ll find a fantastic story from Julie Morgan called MOOSE GETS HIS MONEYS WORTH.

Also, have a look in the INTERVIEWS section. There are chinwags with Christopher Brookmyre, Charlie Williams and more – including Hull’s finest writer Nick Quantrill.

Get it down yer neck!