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

On my Honor

The telephone rang. Four jangles, then it stopped. For a minute, the room was quiet, then the phone buzzed again. Lucia heard it plainly. But she did not disturb her black shirt or lift her black jeans from the seat. Black, she sat still.  When the machine again went silent, another caller kicked to voicemail, Lucia turned her head to watch the front door.

She held her sisters in her hands, Jeanine in the left, Tina in the right.

Jeanine, nine, saluted. Above her green Girl Scout uniform, her arm lay bare in the glare of too bright sun. Tina wore a bikini and held a beer.… Read the rest

Death at the Cosplay Ball

If you’re planning to watch Sam tonight, the ballet starts at 7PM central over at


Death stalked the convention, scythe at its side. There were other grim reapers, but they were laughing men and women who roamed among the other costumed characters posing for pictures and drinking at the bar. Death didn’t pose, didn’t laugh.  It walked in a straight line from the glassed in foyer to the auditorium.

Everyplace Death passed, people shrank away. Though none of them saw it, they all felt the cold pall that settled in its wake. In the auditorium, it strode down the center aisle, leaving waves of nausea.… Read the rest

On the cutting room floor

Kallum breezed into the kitchen and grabbed an apple. “Hey, babe.” He kissed the top of his wife’s head. She had on her bathrobe, and a folded towel sat beside her coffee. “Newspaper attack you on the way to the tub?”

“Hey.” Jeanette looked up from her crossword puzzle and pushed her reading glasses up her nose. She didn’t answer the question.

“You look distracted.”

“I need a seven letter word that means samurai suicide. I’m trying to fit harakiri, but it’s too long and doesn’t start with ‘s’.”

“Try ‘Seppuku’.” Kallum crunched into the apple.

“Ugh. Of course.” She looked back down and started writing.… Read the rest

Loki’s son

Thor, Sif, and Loki walked into the bar.

“Oh fuck.” It was twenty minutes to closing and the place was deserted, except for the bartender. She snapped her fingers and the sign flipped from open to closed. “I told you to stay out of here.”

“Relax, Sigyn,” said Sif. “He’s with us.” Sif  shook her hair loose from her cloak, and four beer steins sprang onto the bar. “What ‘s on tap?”

Sigyn stared at the mugs for a few seconds. “The Sam Adams isn’t bad.” She regarded Loki with lowered eyebrows, while he looked at everything in the room except his wife.… Read the rest


Three days after the fire, the survivors gathered near the restaurant’s still smoldering ruins. “We rebuild,” Anton argued. He smacked his fist into his palm. In his broken English, he tried to explain. “We do not put it back up, then who wins? Huh?”

The men and women who had worked in and owned this building shifted under his gaze. Joshua gave voice to what the others were thinking. “But Chaz died.”

Anton spit. “That’s more reason, not less.”

Joshua said, “Merrin ought to lead the decision. He was her husband.” Murmurs of agreement met his statement.

Merrin looked at the ground.… Read the rest

The Girl Under The Road



Rain peppered Crystal Rhodes. It splatted on her helmet’s visor and stung through her cotton shirt. She should have listened to her mother. But her jacket was hanging on its hook fifty miles behind her. She shook her head and more water flooded off her helmet and down her back. The rain increased to a downpour, so it was all she could hear. Even her bike’s engine was a distant roar. Water soaked through her shirt so each drop to strike her skin felt like a miniature explosion.  She dodged a puddle, then eased off on the throttle. No good hydroplaning.… Read the rest

In the middle of the storm, in the middle of the night

Darron wasn’t a doctor, and he didn’t have a medical background. He had a pair of hemostats and his wife’s giant canning tongs to act as forceps if things came to that. He wanted a nurse. No, he wanted the midwife. Or the doula. Or that really scrawny kid who mowed the lawn in summer.  He wanted the fucking ambulance.

“Put down that phone.” Casey stood between the bedroom and hall. She was naked. “I am not having this baby in a …”  she groaned. “Count me!” she ordered.

Darron scrambled for his watch and its handy stopwatch feature. Casey leaned into the doorframe, and he drew careful circles on her back while he counted the seconds to the contraction’s peak.… Read the rest

Sitting on the chimbley

Elizabeth slammed a pot on the stovetop.

“Be careful,” said Lurvey. “You’ll break it.”

“I’ll break you.” She smashed down a skillet next to the pot and added oil, then turned on the burner.

“Maybe we could just eat out.”

“I will not waste money on a meal I can’t enjoy.” She hefted the pot again and filled it at the sink.

Lurvey smiled. “How beautiful you are! You are more beautiful in anger than in repose. I don’t ask you for your love; give me yourself and your hatred; give me yourself and that pretty rage; give me yourself and that enchanting scorn; it will be enough for me.”

“Gah!… Read the rest

Sam’s Old School

The director pounced as soon as I walked in the door. “I’m not sure what you expect us to do.” He held up some other child’s shirt, cut to ribbons.

“I’m sure you’re doing everything you can.” And I also need to get him to therapy. “I’ll be happy to pay for the shirt.” And if you didn’t have eighteen kids in that class, he’d never have been able to get that many holes sliced before somebody noticed.

“Oh, we’d never ask a parent to pay for…” Bullshit. I still have the demanding note with the receipt for the cost of replacing someone’s sleeping bag.Read the rest