American Fiction Short Story 2016 Finalist
Most days Fox hung around outside Paul’s Superette after school like all the other kids. The treeless corner of broken pavement and street lights was the natural place for guys to hang out, Paul’s being the only business around for several blocks, and there was nothing else to do. Fox seemed popular among the horde of teen boys and, rarely, teen girls, their faces reflecting our written-off, forgotten inner-city neighborhood—poor white kids, lots of Mexicans, a few black kids from a nearby high rise, and a selection of new immigrants of all shades from places I had never heard of. I went to school with Fox. Not that we were pals or anything, but I knew him from homeroom. He was an Indian kid, high cheekbones, crew cut, tough—even at sixteen his shoulders filled out his t-shirt like Adrian Peterson; he would laugh at my jokes, and we even talked a couple times about the Vikings and other guy stuff. Being friendly sometimes might explain why he saved me one day...
A Compact Man
Adam brought a homemade pie. His younger sister brought a green bean side dish, her oafish husband, and Adam’s beautiful, curly-haired four-year-old niece. His mother cooked the Thanksgiving turkey. His father didn’t do anything.
His mother, a small woman with very-black hair and good posture, took the pie from Adam carefully in two hands. “Thank you, Adam. You are a wonderful cook.”
“You’re looking good, Adam,” His sister said as he shed his long grey wool coat in the vestibule of the seventies split level....
Tree House Trilogy
1: Tree House
The day the lumber arrived in Jack’s driveway Phil didn’t think anything of it. Two-by-fours, two-by-sixes, plywood—nothing unusual. He assumed Jack was working on a deck or something.
“Jack, are you working on a deck or something?” Phil yelled over the white plastic picket fence between their properties.
“Or something, yes,” he said, cutting the straps off the load in his driveway. Jack grunted and groaned, breathing hard. Jack was maybe mid-thirties but he looked older, pear-shaped and out of shape....
Now appearing in The Neighbors, a Zimbell House Anthology
Manipura, a Love Story
I farted in yoga class today.
I didn’t mean to. Really. While I’m certainly not above letting one go if needed, I wouldn’t purposely pass gas in a room full of people. We are talking a quiet room, too: just a little Tibetan monk music and the male waif instructor calling out the poses. In a way it was his fault; I was just trying to do what he always talked about, to relax and focus on my breath. But as I went from hala-asana (plow pose) into ananda balasana (happy baby pose) I relaxed the wrong muscle, and bam! Rumble in the Bronx. Did anyone notice? Hell, yeah. They couldn’t have missed it. We’re not talking about a little freep. No, this was a sonic boom...
Read the entire story at the humor website Decasp
American Fiction Short Story 2014 Finalist
My first fire was the 1982 Columbus Street fire. RC and I and three other boys were hanging out with Axel on the roof of the Chicken Shack, talking about poontang and how we were getting so much we weren’t getting enough sleep (lies, of course), when Axel heard a siren. Axel was our unspoken leader, a lanky dude with long hair and a bad complexion who was older than he should have been. What ears! Axel could tell right away if a siren was from an ambulance, a police car, or a fire truck. Without a word, we five followed him down the fire escape, falling all over each other, and piled into Axel’s ’78 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. Gravel flying, we bounced out the alley and into the street, “Kashmir” blasting from the eight-track….
Appearing in American Fiction 14
Men With Nets
2014 Machigonne Fiction Contest semi-finalist
We stood in the spring-swollen river, sun falling behind the birch and poplar trees lining the tops of steep, rocky hills on each side. The north shore of Lake Superior, the final destination of the rapid, freezing-cold water, was a hundred yards away or so, and between us and it were six other men, all standing knee deep just like us, dressed just like us, all looking for the same prey. Hip-waders. Wool and gore tex. Hats with earflaps. Beer bottles and flasks. Men standing at the ready, nets, aluminum with nylon filament, poised in front of bodies and resting on shoulders, buckets near on shore, handy for when the onslaught came. Some in pairs and some alone, we all looked downstream, waiting, while the din from the stream battering rocks drowned out any conversations, unless the man stood right next to you…
Appearing in The New Guard 14
Frogtown Multicultural Fair
Late afternoon I walked back to my apartment in Frogtown from a small coffeehouse on University Avenue. I like to study out. It’s so boring to be cooped up all the time, and all I did was study. Taking on a full load of credits and a lifetime of debt tends to mean you study a lot.
After a block, I passed this guy chaining up his bicycle. A sort-of metallic green Cannondale mountain bike. It looked new. As I passed by not thinking about anything, I saw him struggle to put his Kryptonite lock around a signpost and lock it. Strange how it caught my eye: he set the bar into the U part and turned the key, but, as he got up, he left his keys hanging off the side…
Appearing in Lost Lake Folk Opera v2n2
Hot, Safe Fun
We shook. I liked to shake hands—builds trust, especially with middle-aged men. I took my seat behind the desk. He looked around my small office, examining one poster at a time with the wide-eyed reverence of a child’s first visit to an amusement park. He stopped at one poster for an extended visit; it featured two shirtless young men standing close together, one guy looking at his friend’s chest, the other holding out a small red condom package and looking at the camera. The caption said, “Hot, Safe, Fun.”
I opened his chart. “You’re here for an HIV test?” I wondered if he would answer, his attention so focused on the poster.
Now appearing in the 2014 anthology: Recognize: Voices of Bisexual Men. Available now in paperback
Twelfth, the Hard Way
I washed highball glasses in the bar sink. I did it without looking—dip, dip, shake, and stack, a thousand times a day. Porn played on TVs hanging from the ceiling while the sound system provided some techno for a soundtrack. Around the room a couple-dozen customers leaned on the bar or on wobbly high-tops while balancing their drunken asses more and more precariously on wood stools, fighting battles that cannot be won, looking for solutions in the shadows, hoping for love, settling for lust, replacing the pain…
Appearing in the March 25, 2013 issue of the late Prague Review
Escape of the Six Breasted Nymphs
His palms were covered in sweat. He took a deep breath and reached out to knock. The hotel room door swung open just before his knuckles could do their work, leaving his fist to swing in the air and him off balance. A small round woman with small round glasses stood in the doorway.
“You must be Mr. Opie,” the long gray-haired cherubic mother figure said.
“Is Mr. Blackwell in?”
“Why, yes, dear. Please come in.”
Once in the hotel room, he dropped any pretense of being cool, instead reverting to a slobbering fan. “I can’t believe I’m here, in this room, about to meet the best author in the world!”
“Well, thank you, dear.”
Samuel Blackwell never appeared at Sci-Fi cons, so when he heard Blackwell was the keynote of the Mincon convention, Allen couldn’t send in his registration fast enough….
Appearing only in the 2013 humor sci-fi anthology, Cosmic Vegetable
Playing With Trains
I met Bruce’s father before I met Bruce. My mom and I were moving our boxes into our new home, an ugly old brownstone on the edge of downtown in a neighborhood with no trees.
“Is he your boy?” he asked my mom on the front stoop. “Handsome young man. You must be very proud.” No one ever referred to me a handsome before. Seemed improbable, if welcome to a skinny, gangly thirteen year-old…
Appearing in the February 1, 2013 issue of the late great Parable Press
I stand in a small wicker basket hanging below an enormous white balloon floating above the green French countryside, the chaos of battle three-thousand feet below, spread before me as gaping wound running north and south. Flashes of red, clouds of dust and smoke, I am expected to observe where the shells are falling. I am the eyes of the artillery set up miles from the battle…
Appearing in issue #3 of Niche Magazine
Penelope and Abe
Penelope and Abe walked their two dogs down the overgrown dirt path on a particularly beautiful spring evening, scent of lilacs and cottonwood fluff in the air. The lake at the regional park with its dense canopy and rugged trails was Penelope’s favorite place to exercise. She believed communing with nature a requisite fundamental to being human.
Abe would rather have been home watching Mad Money…
Appearing in the 2013 inaugural issue of the late great The Milo Review
An Unfortunate Incident
My penis came out at work.
I was at a meeting, just a regular old meeting, and there it was in all its five-and-a-half inch turgid glory. One minute we are all sitting around a conference table listening to Anne prattle on about the SWOT analysis, the next minute my engorged penis was poking straight up out of my chinos.
Part of that was my fault….More
Appearing in issue #6 of Neutrons Protons
At 6:00 AM I went to the park across from the courthouse to wait and see what work would come in. Already the usual people had gathered, and by 7:30 there was quite a crowd. It was a dusty morning. Not good, since, being after Memorial Day, we all wore white tuxedos…
Appearing in the December 2011 issue of the late great FortyOunceBachelors
The man stands on the corner, against the red brick wall of the once-department store. As I leave my job at Foot Locker, it’s hard not to notice him, his body reminiscent of a Charles Addams cartoon, hunched, and porcine, cloaked in a black wool, ankle-length coat with a fur collar; his round face, high cheekbones, bug eyes, he is a spitting image of Peter Lorre—uncanny, really…
Appearing in the Fall 2011 issue of 34th Parallel
He put a quarter in the machine just as he’s put quarters in machines much like this one for over three decades. The coin hits the bottom of the empty cash box and responds appropriately, to spec, lights turning on, translite fireworks on the backbox arching and flashing and making recorded explosion sounds for exactly six seconds. Looking good. He checks his clipboard, running down the list. Lights in the four thumper-bumpers: check…
Appearing in the Fall 2011Clare Literary Journal