One Honest Man


© J.S. Brand

“A totem pole? I’ve known you for forty years, and you never told me you were native.” Leon Bell stood, looking incredulously at the creation of his friend and neighbor Marshall Griffin.

“I’m not, but why can’t I have my own monument to the symbols that I consider important?”

“But this is a public park. You can’t just deface a tree…”

Marshall scowled up at his friend from his blue lawn chair. “What do you mean deface? This is art.”

“I guess I don’t know what art is,” Leon growled back.

Marshall smiled. “You’re the only honest person I know.”

I wrote this for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I wasn’t sure what to make of the image. It vaguely resembles a totem pole, but the symbols weren’t what I’d consider traditionally first nations, so I pondered “cultural appropriation” and how to play that out. That’s when I came up with Leon and Marshall, two old friends who no longer have time for false politeness or illusions of propriety.

To read more stories based on the prompt, visit