Michael Stang faces arm aggedon in our current contest

In this painting by Phil Curtis two women who are not interns at A Word with You Press compete for his attention. Sam and Lora, not doubt.


Our First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage contest continues with an entry from the infinity of cyberspace lodged within the skull of Michael Stang.

If he says he dreams of you, you might want to take precautions! But writing off into the sunset might be a worthwhile endeavor.  You decide before it’s too late.

I knew Phil Curtis, by the way, when I lived in what was once the arid wasteland of Scottsdale, Arizona… I was twelve. He was seventy.  Put this picture in the post as a curtisy to him.



by Michael Stang

The world according to Curtis was spinning madly out of control. Unfortunately, limited experience in these matters had left him without much defense. Sam was just around the corner, just over the next bend, on the other side of that door. Curtis could reach for her but never quite touch her skin of a thousand graces. He was falling now through the comfortable digs, on to the cold black nothingness of space. Through the abyss, he could make out the bridge of light and hear Sam’s laughter tinkle on the wind. If he could just…get there. A door appeared in the middle of a field—dream like. Curtis ran with all his might and watched as his jelly hand reached for the knob. The door dissolved into a table, on it was Sam tied up naked. Lora was standing over her with a sword held high above her head, ready to cut Sam in two. Both women looked at him with different expectations.

Always the same dream.

Curtis lugged what he thought of himself, out of bed. The ball and chain good time Charley, last night, left him before dawn with the same old calling card.


Three alley cats, with their tails out of sync, sat on top of the picket fence at the base of Curtis’s skull, screeching at the top of their broken lungs at the show of nerves that fizzled and sparked, raw and jerked until silent and dead. Without the burden of thought, yeah right, as if the man was able to think in the first place, Curtis spent an unusual time in the bathroom, discovering just how big of a loser he was.

Last night was a Doozie; he chanced cogitation before taking a last swipe with his comb through an abundant imaginary head of hair. A mirror spotted the breath of a frown as Curtis fell back to the edge of his bed. He suddenly needed to straighten this mess out, though how he came to that conclusion he was hard pressed to solve. A Doosie all right. He smoothed over sheets that where sleep-wrinkled made from the toss and turn of a six-foot-six, sleeping body. The ribs of the sheet were raised helter skelter—corduroys gone wild. The man was amazed at what he thought of as sleep involved such brutal art.

A pair of blood-red oxfords sticking out from the ball of yarn made from dark slacks twisted around a white linen shirt, stared back at him from the corner of the room. He discovered the tie thrown to the floor still tied in a knot and thought of Sam. Oh dear god…Sam.

The flashback came on hard and strong, pounding his head out of shape. He was with Sam somewhere. Her laughter played light over the abyss, a bridge to her soul, her perfect positive soul, radiating “and they rode off into the sunset together,” their future—a promise. Well, not quite, or not quite yet, there still was this issue slithering, the weakness, the yolk of Curtis Good Knight.

Slow, as if testing the frozen pond for thickness of the ice in late May, Curtis stood and pulsated out of the bedroom towards the kitchen. The idea of food threatened and he thought he was going to lose it over the bare wood floors. But the very thought of smelling breakfast meant that someone was in the house, other than himself.

“Sam? Sam is that you?” Curtis entered from the hall and stopped in his tracks.

“Hi, sunshine,” Lora said. “Hungry?”

“Lora.” Everything gone bad in the world, including surprise, displeasure, and guilt spun in the woman’s name. “What are you doing here?”

“Why, honey, don’t tell me you don’t remember. I slept here last night, with you, you naughty boy.”

If opposites can be described, Sam on one end, auburn lush hair, chiseled beauty—not an ounce to waste. On the other, Lora, spiked dura-blonde sticking straight out from her oval shaped head, smart tagged shorts just south of her butt, black patterned hose, railroad boots. Lora’s perfume reminded Curtis of smoking grass in college; Sam never wore perfume and always smelled the best of any day.

Curtis tore through his memory banks. A god-awful feeling in his gut grew to measures unfit for survival, but until the last day on earth, he would never give in to Lora, never mind sleeping with her. Still, a light sheen of sweat trapped his face as if he was staring too close to a naked light bulb; moment’s indecision.

“Oh, come now, doll,” Lora said as she purposely over-fried the bacon, “your secret is safe with me, besides, once Sam is out of the picture…there’s no need to worry.”

She’s making this up. She’s insane.

The grease sent his stomach through the rinse cycle. “Look, whatever is going on here is over, your little trick-de-tit, an amusing display of nothing, can pack it and leave…now!”

“No, my little darling, I can see I have upset you. Come, we will talk about the fate of your little lamb on a full stomach. Her demise will be swift you have my word—tonight.

In a whoosh, Curtis faded back to the dream. If there was a thing he knew for certain, Sam was his salvation, he would die for her freedom.

“Lora, put it down. You can save yourself; I swear it’s not too late.”

“Have you come to show me your manhood, loser? Lora’s hazel eyes turned black and drippy. “Let’s see how brave you are after I bisect your lover.”

The sword came down but never reached its mark. Instead, Curtis lost his right arm while delivering a deathblow with his left. Sam rose from the altar and sought Curtis’s face in her hands.

“I will heal you, my knight. Never fear, our sunset awaits.”

Her lilting laugh echoed through the mountains, as she bore her man away.

31 thoughts on “Michael Stang faces arm aggedon in our current contest

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    As much as I enjoyed the clever usage of words, I was left with many confusions about the content of what I read. Why is there a grudge between the two women? Is this a dream, parallel universes, sci-fy, multiple personality, matrix control or such? I would be very interested in learning more about what was intended with the story.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      I wanted to add that I found the characters differentiated in personality, but I never got the two women’s motivations or the man’s lack of fidelity to the woman he loved.

      • Michael Stang says:

        Parisianne…heres the deal. This can only be discribed as a memoir. This is the closest I come to describing me. I am all three characters, no matter how you slice it, the good and the bad and the uncommitted. To answer you would take too long on the couch.
        Thanks, gotta go.

        • Parisianne Modert says:

          Thank you Michael for your very personal and intriguing answer which I was surprised by, but find insightful. This world is a gestalt begging to occur. Your story is evidently a dream sequence, a knight with conflicts of competing selves. Curtis is the lover who is a slave to his sexuality, Lora is the sexual side and Sam is the lover/friend side of his being. Curtis himself finds resolution in heroic sacrific. Sam at the end suggests that love can heal the worst of wounds. With this division of personal conflict you present a very dynamic story of inner conflict within Curtis Good Knight aka Michael Stang. If there was a continuation to your story I offer that Curtis awakes from his dream/nightmare, reflects on this dream on the couch you speak of and comes to realize that all the elements of that dream which are Curtis Good Knight, Lora, Sam, the sword, the severed arm, the alter, the cup of coffee, the over cooked bacon, the wrinkiled sheets and the sun are all parts of him which must come together in order for Curtis the man not imagined Knight to truly heal. Now that I understand the story better, because of your explanation above, I like it far better.

          • Parisianne Modert says:

            One last thought because I did minor in psychology in college. The sword is a phallic symbol of the sexual guilt and believed destructive nature of male sexuality. The answer to me is to find an acceptance that sexuality and affection need not conflict in a relaitonship, but are best when they are both cooperating with each other. When both are brought together, both a richer intimacy and lovemaking become available. That gestalt and acceptance that both sexuality and friendship (affection) are part of a healthy relationship within and without the individual. This is my hope for Curtis, because it is in the bringing together of these elements which makes him a Good Knight as opposed to the seperation, confliction of them which merely makes him appear a troubled victim.

          • Parisianne Modert says:

            I change my opinions according to evidence offered is all. You presented insight which helped me understand both the story and you better is all.

  2. Miryam says:

    Mr Stang…. You have become completly unhinged. Your writing talent has been transported to a multiple realm para-normal stage. I could never come close to do what you do. The three alley cat paragraph was beyond! I will re-read your story again (probably several times) and I am guessing, my brain may finally reach a place of settling down. Bravado writing, as always Mr Stang, your work stands alone!

    • Michael Stang says:

      Yes, Dear Miryam, it is true. My mad manic state has left me completely bananas. I thought my time away from the flash could cure, alas, no.
      Love to Brian. I can only assume the road trip ended well.

  3. Sheri Strobaugh says:

    Mr. Stang…Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant!!!!! Enjoyed reading it three times! Your talent is beyond brilliant. Nice work…

  4. Mike Casper says:

    So I get an email from Thorn saying Hey Mike, come enter our new contest…
    I say, man oh man, I’m busy trying to get my book published before Christmas, I don’t have the time. Thorn says, awww c’mon. I say, okay.

    I have a thought. That crazy writer Michael Stang…maybe if he doesn’t hear of the new contest I’ll have a chance.
    Forget the arms, I don’t have a leg to stand on now… 🙂

  5. Ken Weene says:

    I have always loved the grandiosity of dreams. Sadly, my own repetitive night-stories are more of the quality of night soil then knight errant. I shall, nonetheless, drag on.

  6. Diane Cresswell says:

    What a tripy walk you have taken us on my dear. I really have to get together with you so that our minds can take us both on weird walkabouts. I got lost after the first paragraph into the words you kept spilling out and I think I need to re-read this again and then I had to breathe after I read it. I’m with Casper…only not a leg or even two legs to stand on and the mind has gone on vacation – again!!!!

  7. Tiffany Monique says:

    I am thinking of my old pal, Eddie Poe. Perhaps there is something to the saving and the struggle within this dreamscape. My personal favorite description, “corduroys gone wild”, has brought a smile to my face, despite the rest of the story’s actions and descriptions. Sturm und drang for sure!

  8. Chuck Chuckerson says:

    Hi Michael. What a joy to come back and find an entry from you. While I too never really knew what was real and what wasn’t, I don’t feel like it really mattered. It all seemed real enough to him.

  9. Monica Brinkman says:

    Well my friend, I am pleased you decided to submit a tale. Your imagination, use of wording always amazes me. Well done.

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