Write a story about Hamilton and Shelly Beach and Win a Watercolor Contest Ends Monday November 28th

Write a story about Hamilton and Shelly Beach and Win a Watercolor 
Contest Ends Monday November 28th

Round #2 of Renovated Reputations will culminate in three shows.

Art Museum of Los Gatos, California
December 1 - January 6
Reception: Saturday December 3, 2011 5PM-8PM 
Show up in costume and get into the photobooth!  You may end up being my next painting!
Santa Clara University, California
January 9 - February 5th
Reception: Thursday February 2, 2012
Ohlone College, Fremont California 
February 7th -  March 9th
Reception, Saturday, February 25, 2012
6PM - 8PM
Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento California 
February 4th - March 1st, 2012.
The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.

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

E-mail it to me at

This is the second version of this show!

Stories will be published in a vintage style newspaper catalog and the gallery will be converted into a 1930 or 40's cabaret set and students will be acting the stories out as monologues at some of the events at the college in the art gallery.

More competitions posted on my website at:
These came in by e-mail:

“What names have they given us this time,” asked the woman who wore a boa made of poor little animals she killed with her bare hands in Siberia.
“We will be Shelly and Hamilton Beach,” replied the man with the evil red bowtie.
“The names sound fake. ‘Hamilton Beach’ is a company that makes kitchen appliances for lazy capitalist Americans. So what is our mission, ‘Mr. Hamilton Beach?’”
“We will live in a Washington DC suburb. Our KGB handlers have photos of J.Edgar Hoover looking at a red dress in a store window, so he must have been imagining it on a beautiful woman. They want you to wear the dress, to seduce Hoover and lure him to a motel room where I will be hiding in the closet, with a camera.”
“This plan sounds absolutely foolproof. Do I kill him with a hammer and sickle before or after I make love to him?”
“Nyet. No killing. Just heartless lovemaking. The footage will be for Premier Khrushchev’s viewing pleasure alone.”

Weeks had passed since the Beaches settled in a DC suburb and they still waited for the command to seduce J.Edgar Hoover. Li’l Jimmy, a boy scout and all-around snoop from across the street, gazed in the window of the Beach’s house, then ran home to his father.
“Golly, Dad, I just saw something awful at the Beaches!”
“Goddammit, son, are you still peepin’ in people’s windows? What did you see?”
“The Beaches were wrasslin’ each other, in the buff! There was lots of grunting and slapping.”
“A lotta couples do that, it’s how babies are made.”
“Jeepers, Dad, they were wearing Soviet army hats and pouring vodka on each other!”
“Jimmy, I think you’ve just uncovered some commie sons-a-bitches. I had a suspicion, like when Mrs. Beach cut the hedge in front of their house with a sickle, and the hedge looked a little too much like Stalin’s moustache after she was done. Or how Hamilton knew what ‘KGB’ stands for. Or how they like chess more than checkers. All of these are ‘red flags’. This could be the beginning of a commie invasion. We have to stop it. Before your Mom gets home.”
“Wowsers, Dad, we’ll crush these commies good! What’s the plan?”
“I want you to get the cattle prod and the bullwhip from your mother’s dresser, it should be under her Wonder Woman costume.”
“Oh boy!”
“I’ll get the hammock, which I’ll use as a net. I’ll drag them back here where I’ll finish them. You’ll stay in your treehouse and hoot like an owl if you see anyone coming.”
“Jeepers Dad, wait till I tell the fellas about this! I‘ll be the most popular little squirt in the whole forth grade!”
“Son, you can’t tell anyone. These are some cold blooded commie bastards. They aren’t like us, they were built in a factory and they can’t feel pain. They can only be killed with electricity, because electricity will fry their circuits. We’ll strike at night.”

While Dad laid out his plan, the Beaches drove away. They visited a local college to find young communist sympathizers. The Beaches returned a few hours later. Hamilton scoffed, “Gullible Americans! We will keep planting the seeds of communism and soon all will worship dark lord Stalin and quote the prophet Karl Marx. Nothing can stop us…nothing!”
A loud crash was heard.
“The noise came from the basement,” hissed Shelly. “An American must have broken into our garage, fell through our trap door and into our basement of horror! Let’s rush down the stairs to the basement since the intruder must certainly be incapacitated from the fall!”
When the Beaches entered the basement, Dad was waiting, suspended upside down from a pipe above the door. He used the cattle prod on the commie couple, who then tumbled down the stairs. He used the whip to tie them and bagged them in the hammock. He was disgusted to see a shrine to Stalin, complete with a large Stalin poster, candles, an offering of wheat, and a Ouija board with Cyrillic letters.

Jimmy could not see what had happened and he panicked. He jumped from the treehouse and ran to the phone to call his brother who lived at a nearby dorm.
“Fred, you need to trot, ski, do whatever you can to rush’n over here! No stallin.’ Dad might be in trouble!”
“I’ll be right over, pipsqueak.”
Jimmy felt relieved when he saw his father drag the limp commie neighbors toward the house. In the backyard was a ten foot deep pit that his father dug last week in preparation for a bomb shelter installation. He helped his dad push the couple into the pit. Jimmy retrieved a radio and several cans of soup from the garage. The Beaches awoke when Dad sprayed them with a garden hose.
Hamilton yelled, “You cannot drown us! You cannot drown an ideology!”
Shelly added, “You cannot kill us so easily, we have Rasputin blood! Why is your son throwing soup cans at us?”
“Can it, Commie, my son is doing it to distract you from this!” Dad threw the radio and the Beaches were too distracted to catch it before it landed in the shallow water. “Soup’s on, you sons-a-bitches!” Shelly and Hamilton fried in the electric water as soup cans exploded around them.
“Will anyone miss them, Dad?”
“No, son. All that will remain of them is an expertly painted portrait of the couple, made by the artist down the street, I think his name is Manney Kencher or something.”
Dad felt a cold hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see his expressionless son, Fred, home from college. “Dad, you murdered my friends, Shelly and Hamilton Beach. Today at school they planted communist thoughts inside my head and now I am a godless commie and I want to destroy America.”
Dad raised his fist to the sky and yelled “Nooooooooooooooooooo!”
The End?

And look at them now---By Matt O'Malley

Shelly was into drawing lines; horizontal, vertical, angled, thick, thin. He would draw lines that would carry over from the pages of his coloring book to the tabletops of his preschool classroom. Indeed, his own personal table space had an ever present halo of waxy crayon color radiating out from where he would place his coloring book; a book that was filled with pages of images that were crossed out via a myriad of straight lines.

Hamilton on the other hand, was into circles. She would draw endless circles that could be taken to be anything from bubbles to planets, suns to coins. She was very good at her circles and although they may not have been centrally located on a piece of paper, they were always nearly perfect in shape and within the boundaries of the paper; that was until the day Hamilton felt the presence of someone standing behind her as she was drawing.

It was Shelly. He had broken the tip of his Burnt Sienna crayon and was looking to steal a new one from another kid. He had tried to steal one first from Otis Whitehall, but all of Otis’s crayons had been chewed upon and their paper labels were soaking wet and Shelly didn’t like the feel of them in his hand. Shelly then tried to steal from Melissa Beckman, but she had taken the labels off of her crayons leaving them perfectly smooth and unblemished and Shelly couldn’t find a color resembling his Burnt Sienna.

Shelly then saw Hamilton kneeling on the hard chip linoleum floor near the center of the classroom, engrossed in her current project; drawing single circles on butcher paper. Shelly walked up behind Hamilton, looked at her box of crayons and espied her Burnt Sienna crayon, still sharp and unused.

Hamilton tried to ignore the presence of someone behind her as she began a new circle on a fresh piece of paper but it was unnerving and she made a mistake. She then tried to restart her circle, this time arching from the center point in the other direction, red crayon flakes marking a trail as she drew. Again there were problems and Hamilton’s circle was misshapen; the top of the circle collapsed into itself while the bottom seemed to melt away to a point.

Hamilton pulled back and looked at her drawing. For the first time in her life, she hadn’t drawn a perfect circle and that made her mad. She turned her head to face Shelly and gave him the meanest frown she could muster. Shelly absorbed her look, was moved, and then knelt onto the floor next to her.  He wanted to make things right so he picked out a black crayon from her box of crayons, reached across Hamilton and added one of his signature marks; a line that bisected her misshapen circle. He then fell to his elbows, engulfed in inspiration and was about to go hog-wild with a flurry of lines to cross out the misshapen circle, when Hamilton snatched the drawing away. She then looked at her tainted and misshapen drawing and was just about to burst into tears, when their preschool teacher, Miss Bridget Bustier, came upon them.

“My, my, my!” Miss Bustier said, “Just look at that! How marvelous. You made a heart with an arrow going through it. Did you know that is the sign of love? How sweet. You two are going to grow up to be the perfect couple!”

Shelly and Hamilton looked blankly at Miss Bustier who continued, “I think I’m going to hang this one on the wall!” Miss Bustier danced to the front of the class, found some scotch tape in her desk, and then taped Hamilton and Shelly’s drawing just above the chalkboard and preceding an alphabet scroll.

Hamilton watched as Miss Bustier clapped and smiled and again mentioned how wonderful it was to have such a nice picture. Hamilton smiled and understood that yes, she had indeed created a masterpiece. From then on, Hamilton thought, she would add this new shape, this misshapen circle, to her repertoire. She grabbed another piece of blank butcher paper and tried to recreate the shape, but couldn’t. She grabbed another piece of paper and tried again, but again ended up with just a wobbly circle. She began to get frantic. She grabbed another piece of paper, then another, then another, but she just could just not recreate her masterpiece.

And then Hamilton noticed that Shelly had moved away from her and she came to a new realization. It wasn’t just her who created this masterpiece; it was the two of them, the two of them together. Hamilton needed Shelly’s help. She needed Shelly’s drawing of a line and whatever else he had done that helped her to create her masterpiece. Together they had something, something special. Together they could create something new, something wonderful, and it would be appreciated by others. Hamilton cried out and Shelly immediately came to her side.

Hamilton smiled at Shelly, and Shelly in turn, pushed Hamilton to the floor, grabbed her Burnt Sienna, and went to his desk to make more lines in his coloring book.


"Ode of all odes to the beaches"

Considerate, Compassionate, these words can only be true, 

Before time warped your names into a funny play on words there was improv, 

Mrs. Beach in 3d standing there deciding if she should choose her little black dress or blue, 

Her Husband Beach laughing at her boldness and love for life, 

"Brav dear, That is the new hip saying for Bravo,"

"So," Mr. Beach would say, "Just because someone else says it is so, why should I believe the hype?"

"We are similar yet not the same, Me repeating someone is quite untamed,"

"Of Course," She mellows, "He would have to chime in his Dr, Suess impression, I swear sometimes we should change our name" 

Never I scream, no one could replace you not in a million dreams


Hamilton and Shelly Beach
Author: Shannon Stroud

            I remember the night Hamilton proposed to me. His family had been pushing him to pop the questions for weeks, but he never knew when to do it. I always thought it was cute that he was so nervous because after being together for 5 years, being nervous wasn’t an emotion either of us encountered much anymore. There were moments before he proposed, I was tempted to grab him and scream,
            “Yes! Yes, I will marry you. I will have your kids; I will love you forever and never leave you. Just ask me already!”
            I would have proposed first, but I knew it would emasculate him, so I waited patiently, for him to find the perfect moment. Oh! Was I patient, I had literally set up perfect moments for him to ask; afternoon picnics where we would follow clouds, evenings watching the hot Georgia sun fall over the horizon, or even in the morning where I would wake up early to do my hair and makeup only to crawl back in bed and pretend that I was sleeping, with hopes that he would wake up and see how beautiful I was and just propose right then and there.  But after weeks of wasted perfect moments, I quickly grew tired and stopped forcing it.
            I knew Hamilton loved me and I love him, so I waited because that’s what you do when you’re in love with someone. So life went on, patience became my best friend, I pushed wedding thoughts to the back of my mind and reminded myself that I didn’t need a ring on my finger to know that I would spend the rest of my life with this man.
            Then, just like boiling water, things started to happen when I wasn’t looking. Each year, since he was young, Hamilton’s family always threw a huge themed Memorial Day party to kick off the weekend. That year was a speakeasy theme, so people came dressed in 1920’s attire, I had worn my brightest boa and Hamilton proudly wore his nicest fedora hat. People were dressed to the nines, and the party decorations made us feel like we had walked on to a Clue game-board.
            The festivities ad began, food was being served, and Hamilton father had tapped his glass, rising to his feet,  he spoke;
            “Friends, family, Thank you for coming. Each of you hold a special place in my heart, and there is nothing more that I love than sharing a good glass of scotch with the people I love. So here’s to you.”
            Hamilton’s’ father was the perfect southern gentleman; he lifted his glass to his lips and slowly slipped on his scotch, then set it down on the table.
            ‘Now, my wife and I would like to direct the attention to our son Hamilton Beach, and his wonderful girlfriend Shelly.”
            Hamilton rose to his feet to say his traditional few words to the guest,
            “Thank you dad, once again; you always throw a great party. I’d like to take this moment in front of my friends and family to ask an important question.”
            Fumbling; he slipped his hand into his pocket, got down on one knee and said,
            “Shelly, will you marry me?”
            I squealed,
            “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
            Wrapping my arms around him, I remembering thinking that this is where I belonged, right here, with him, forever.
            Our friends applauded us, and the night went on. As we said thank you to the guest, I could feel Hamilton sweaty hands, his stiff shoulder, and his anxiety. I wrote off his nerves, as excitement, and pretended not to notice something was wrong.
            The night dwindled down, we said goodbye to the last party-goers and Hamilton father approached us, draping his arms over our shoulders,
            “Shelly welcome to the family. You two should take a picture in the photo booth for memories. When y’all are done come see us in the house. You’re mother will surely love to kiss her new daughter-in-law goodbye.”


By Michael West

Noah says, “Codswallop”.

   The people in the booths around him slow their conversations. Except for the couple in the booth he is facing and in whom he has developed an interest. He has been looking at them and they have said nothing to each other. Nothing. They gave their order to the waitress using only words from the menu. They drank their coffee and water. They ate their food. Now they are immobile. When they do look towards each other, they look over the others shoulders. He wears glasses and her boa is shedding.

   Noah thinks “Perhaps they keep an eye out for assassins. Perhaps they are important people who have slipped away from their entourage to enjoy a meal among the common folk. They have chosen good disguises because they look like an ordinary couple that has nothing left to say.”


   Noah renders this harsh opinion of the couple as a sort of compensation for the epiphany he had, 15 minutes ago, that he is nothing. Nothing specific, anyway. He’s done a lot of things, things that defined him for a short time: cook, truck driver, bouncer, hitchhiker, alcoholic, and writer and, currently, comedian. But he has never done anything long enough, or well enough, to declare that he is any of the things he has done. The want-ads in the paper he is reading, with their “Wanted: Career minded individual who is goal-oriented, positive, and willing to work long hours to achieve success” only remind him that his goals are always short-term, and he has never felt compelled to work long hours doing anything.

   He owns a fear of being one of those people who commit to doing one thing all their lives, then, at the end, their final words are “Wait! I’m not a Systems Analyst! I’m a Rodeo Clown. Yes, I am! And there is still ti--”, and then they die and those around them think the clown thing was just a failing brain losing control of its bowels.

   So Noah says again, trying to aim the word more efficiently, “Codswallop” hoping it will spark something in the bored-with-each-other couple.

   Maybe hate.

   Hate for him, perhaps.

   Yes. He wants the couple to hate.

   He hopes it will propel them into an action, causing them to speak.


   “What the hell do you mean by “Codswallop”? the Man-With-The-Glasses will say. And they will talk to one another about “ rude some people are”, and “...don’t you hate it when...”, and they will stop not talking.


   Or, and this is a stretch for Noah, they will not hate, but be curious. Perhaps the Woman-With-The-Shedding-Boa will say, “How do you come to use the word ‘Codswallop’? It’s a delightful word but not often used anymore. It was the first word of a play my husband and I attended on our first date so many years ago” and they will turn away from him, and like one another again.

   But whatever happens, they will be together when it happens.


   But neither action comes to pass.

   The woman simply signals the waitress and asks for the bill. She continues to stare with, but not at, the man, until the check arrives. The man pays for it with a precise amount of cash, using bills and coins, even pennies. He puts the money on the plastic tray that says “Thank you. Please come again”. Noah doesn’t see them as excessive tippers, 8% at best. Noah also sees them as the type who will sit until the server takes the tray. Noah hears the monologue in the head of the Man-With-The-Glasses. “By God, if we was to just leave it Goddamn out there for the whole Goddamn world to see, thieves will just swoop down and take the Goddamn money!”


   Noah sees the silent couple fearing they will then be held accountable. They probably imagine themselves just getting into their rusted car as the Assistant Manager races through the inner and outer glass doors yelling, “Hey folks, just you hold on there! The waitress says you folks was going to leave without paying your bill, and well, that’s not good, no sir!”

   The couple will protest, but not passionately enough to make the Assistant Manager care. His day/life is so unremarkable that the thought of calling the police makes him a little horny. The police will arrive and the couple will be taken to jail. Their defense lawyer will be frustrated because the couple cannot truthfully vouch for each other’s whereabouts at the time of the thievery, so little was their interest in the existence of the other.


    But, again, there is to be no drama for them or for Noah. The couple gets into their car and leaves. Noah vows he will never have a relationship like that. He will find someone with whom he has common interests and they will work at being happy together even if it means talking and learning to like the same stuff she does.

    But he thinks again and thinks not, because it isn’t wise to be intertwined with someone who can easily give you what you want. A splendid affair with a bartender ended when they became aware of blood in their urine. She found Jesus and stopped making Bloody Mary’s for breakfast. He slowed down for a while. They discovered interests that did not include each other, and quit the relationship.

Noah decides he will find someone who exists in a world that he has yet to visit. Maybe a systems analyst. Or a rodeo clown.

1 comment:

  1. You should each e-mail me your addresses. I liked all the stories so much this week that I thought I would send you all a little sumthin!

    Several of the stories shared wonderful sentiments. Shannon Stroud, V. English and Matt O’Malley had some really great ideas. I like the whole idea that this couple were so linked together. These stories were part narrative and part poetic vignettes. Each had that kind of sweet kinda zany but all good quality.

    In some ways Michael West’s “Codswallop” was sort of mélange of all the flavors for the stories in this round. The story had a sense of humor and irony that really appealed but also played with ideas concerning life and relationships. One line that leapt out at me was,

    “His day/life is so unremarkable that the thought of calling the police makes him a little horny.”
    A kind of David Sedaris realism that was at once true and funny.

    Speaking of lines that really satisfied I think that CJ Jones’ line, “Fred, you need to trot, ski, do whatever you can to rush’n over here! No stallin.’ Dad might be in trouble!”

    So I think CJ is the favorite this week and get’s to take the Beaches home with him. The sense of humour expressed by CJ Jones was right up my alley, well you know what I mean you commies!