Lost in Translation


They spoke in their own languages, Matt’s English, Consuela’s Spanish, as they wound down the Pacific coast.

“I’m not going on some crazy-ass …”

“No estoy loco.”

“I didn’t say you were crazy. I said this… whatever we’re doing… it’s got to be nuts.”

“No loco.”

“Then why won’t you tell me what it is?”  He wished he spoke better Spanish or she better English. Throughout her son’s trial, they had communicated with a translator, a woman who whispered, “It’s not your fault. You did your best,” over Consuela’s sobs at the end.

But when, a week later, Consuela appeared at his office begging, “Vienes.… Read the rest

High Noon In the Park

Three old men sat on a park bench, setting aside their canes for a little while. In the distance, children shrieked ignorance of their own mortality. But the men rested together, each hoping the others would return on the next sunny day, all well aware that one day soon they would not.



This post is for my grandfather, my Poppa, who will have been gone five years this September. For that long, my mother has held onto his house. But it’s time for her to let go, and she is getting ready to put it on the market. This week, I’ll be with her, helping to uproot memories we’ve both held for lifetimes (it’s the house she grew up in, after all, the one I visited as a child), dislodge furniture that hasn’t moved in decades, and dismember a bit of history, because we must.… Read the rest


“It would appear that you are correct.” Shana’s lawyer studied the sheaf of papers again. “But why give it to you?”

“I’m sure he thought it was something else. He’s been handing over my home office piecemeal.”

“And you videotaped the exchange?” The lawyer scratched his head.

“I film everything I have to do with him.”

The lawyer leafed through the pages and pulled out the deeds again. Five of them, rental properties, and Shana’s ex-husband had purchased all of them during their marriage. “You think this is what happened to the savings you inherited from your mother?”

“I know it.”

“And you recorded…”

“Look.” Shana pulled out her phone and played a short clip.… Read the rest

The House of Many Clocks


“What time did the ghost appear?” The spectrologist adjusted his laptop.

“Midnight.”  Dana, the large woman sitting beside him on the couch, edged closer, looking over her shoulder.

“But…” The smaller woman, Beth, fidgeted in her chair. “That means it wasn’t… wasn’t midnight. If it’s twelve o’clock in here, it’s already twelve oh five in the bedroom and nearly …”

“But midnight exactly in this room.” Again, Dana edged closer.

The sisters contradicted each other this way throughout the interview. What time did they eat dinner?  (Five, five oh five, quarter past five.) Go to bed? (Nine, nine oh five, nine fifteen).… Read the rest

Drink from the burning well

coffeemug“There are two types of adultery.” Jillian poured the coffee and added a generous amount of cream to her own. She brought the cups to the table.

Sarah looked up for the first time to take hers. “You’re justifying.” She reached for the artificial sweetener.

“No. It’s got to do with intentions. Are you dabbling? Or is this the final act of an already broken union?”

“There’s no difference.” Sarah sipped, but flinched against the heat and spit back into the mug.

Jillian added two spoons of sugar. “Consider me. Blaine was trapped in a toxic marriage when we met. Our relationship motivated him to end it.”

“Until he did, you only knew you were screwing around with a married man.”  Sarah, allowed the steam to rise to her face.… Read the rest

Satan in the Basement

fireyno“He was standing right there.” The little boy stayed on the stairs and refused to step into the basement proper.

“Where I am now?” His father pointed down.


“What did he look like, Dennis?” John Trinkle followed his son’s quick feet back up to the kitchen.

Dennis sat in front of his cereal and tucked his knees under his chin. He wrapped his arms around his legs. “He was made out of fire, with a face like a bull. He had horns.” The father poured himself a mug of coffee and sat beside his son, rather than across from the child where his plate of toast lay untouched.… Read the rest

Fiction: finally left

It was because we had the fall open for the first time since we were five years old. Think about it. Fall was school. And when we could have stopped, we didn’t, and we didn’t again, and twenty five years is a long time between free Septembers.

We went down to the beach, and everybody else had gone home, so it was just her and me. And we’d known each other our whole lives. We’d been a couple since high school. But that vacation after your Mom finished her doctorate was the first time we’d travelled alone together.

It wasn’t the same as going in a group, like we used to do over spring break.… Read the rest

Human Anatomy

Ellie hunched over her closed anatomy textbook. She recited the six essential digestive processes. Her roommate, Darla returned from the shower, wrapped in a bathrobe.  “Why are you working in the dark?”

Ellie looked at the ceiling. “Light’s on,” she said. “Ingestion, Propulsion, Secretion.”

“Your lamp’s off.” Darla pointed to the darkened shade above a hollow ceramic base.

“Yeah. It’s my grandfather’s birthday. Mechanical and chemical digestion.” Ellie drummed her fingers.

“I thought your grandfather was dead.” Darla fished in her own desk and produced a text identical to the one Ellie was studying. “Here’s to a new way of life.” Darla thumped down her own book and  reached for Ellie’s switch.… Read the rest

Great White

The Great White Shark flossed her incisors. “The better to eat you with, my dear,” she murmured to the mirror. It was the wrong line, from the wrong fairy tale, but the Brothers Grimm didn’t have any stories about a big toothy fish she could draw from. And it fit the case. It was what the defendant had repeated to his victim when he killed her. His bite marks on her body were some of the strongest evidence in the trial. That and the eyewitness testimony from her daughter.

In the kitchen, the Shark’s husband handed her a travel mug with hot coffee, Raven’s Brew.… Read the rest

Smells like…

“That’s not where I put you.” I plucked my Marilyn Manson CD off my desk and returned it to its place in my collection.  Actually, it was one of my Marilyn Manson CDs, Smells Like Children. I had two, and I kept them stored together at the back of a shelf. It was 1998, YouTube was still seven years in the future, and that shelf was stacked three deep.

Two hours later, Manson was back on the desk, where, once again, I had not put him. “Stop it,” I told the CD. The other Marilyn Manson saw no need to jump out and get in my way all the time.… Read the rest