Small Shot

A writer’s journey from point to point

Benjamin Obler
31 min readApr 28, 2021


A result in a search for the two words that comprise the article’s title, identified as a “yellow and black fly.” I’m more of a purple and black man myself. Photo by Mona Eendra on Unsplash.

Part 1, Bullshit Self-Esteem

October of 2019

Day Zero

Where else could I have been when I spotted Ken? At the bookstore, of course.

The memorial was underway. Bookstores are where recently passed poets are remembered these days. Across the room, on the other side of the History shelf, a tastefully dressed woman was speaking into a microphone.

Tiptoeing like a thief across the room, Ken passed between two shelves, History and Fiction. He seemed to be slipping out at the very moment when the reverence of the crowd was just building to a somber crescendo.

“Ken!” I whispered.

“Oh, hey!” He changed directions and dodged over to me. I had been sharing a bench with a black woman who was in the bathroom at the moment.

Ken wore biking pants and carried a helmet under his arm. He’s 72 years old but gets around by bike, even in winter. He’s one of these admirable people who manage their health proactively. He’s also Chinese-American, and a touch…fringe, shall we say.

To treat cancer in his prostate, he’d paid the city to replace the lead pipes leading from the water main to his house, and applied relentless positivity, and installed an 8-way…



Benjamin Obler

Instructor at @GothamWriters, NYC. Ed.-in-Chief of, where fiction is the focus and inspiration is the goal. #Javascotia @PenguinBooks