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

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


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

Texas Stranger


“I can’t believe I gave him the address.” I fumbled in my suitcase, looking for a knee-high. Low thunder warned me I ought to be more concerned about a rain jacket.

“I wouldn’t worry.” My cousin Jenna’s British accent smoothed the words, so they almost seemed like reason enough to take comfort.

Almost. “I wrote it on a napkin! So cheesy. God! I’m not drinking another drop this whole week, I swear.”

Jenna snickered. “Let it go, Ada, ” she said. “We’re leaving in half an hour, and then he can ring my doorbell all he likes, he won’t find you here.” I couldn’t find the missing knee-high, so I pulled off its mate and stepped into a pair of pantyhose.… 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