Now and then I'll post a new bit of my short fiction.




Fun On A Real Farm!

For decades this billboard has steered people wrong. The company that owned it went out of business and nobody bothered to paint over the outdated advertisement. The billboard continued to direct tourists to an attraction that had gone under during the Kennedy administration. On average, three hundred people per annum made the weary pilgrimage, guided by the fading image of pastoral fields and cartoonish cows. They drove along rutted dirt roads. They stirred up dust that hung in the still air like ash and bounced over potholes that knocked their suspension out of whack. They reached the end of the long road. The people gaped in disbelief at a dead-end revelation. Splintered rail fence. Meadow choked with knee-high brush. Curtain of fog thicker than woodsmoke.

Good God. Was that the sound of wolves on the breeze?

Welcome to the country, folks.

(This story was excerpted from the collection Little Fictions)


The Woods Where No Kids Play

A story haunted these trees. Remember that man who was killed. A knife was involved. It happened ten years ago. It happened in winter. There was a lot of snow between December and March. The man was killed on the eve of a terrible storm and his body remained undiscovered for almost a month.

The papers described the man, when he was dug out of a drift, as ‘a frozen statue with hands outstretched and face turned toward the sky.’ The journalist who wrote these words felt they were poetic while still performing the task of informing the public.

The man wasn’t from the neighborhood. He wasn’t from the city. He’d been visiting a relative who declined to be interviewed by the press. One of the local television stations tried to get her to say a few words and she closed the door of her house.

For a long while after the incident people talked about how it was to live close by a place where someone had lost his life in a terrible fashion. Some people moved away from the neighborhood. Others stayed, but no longer enjoyed life as they had before.

People told the story and their passion in telling imbued the story with power. This is how they spoke the words of the story. Back in ’75, clench the fists, Stranger in town, pause and hold breath, Went for a walk and never seen alive again, exhale with a long drawn-out sigh.

In a strange sort of way it was a good story. Some stories, they come to an end and you wonder what the point was in hearing them. These are cheating stories. These are stories that rob you of precious time, the one commodity that none of us can buy any more of, not for all the money in the world.

The story about the woods held onto a listener like a gila monster. It was one of the best stories in the neighborhood. The story about the woods and the terrible events of ’75. After hearing this story something deep down changed inside. Hard to say what. Something important. Something vital.



There are matters of importance and matters that are inconsequential. The former may pretend to be the latter and the latter may be mistaken for the former. The phone bill has gone unpaid again this month. There is a strange lump under your right armpit. Which of these statements is significant and which is trivial? You may think the answer is obvious, but can you trust your judgment? Humans do not consistently function with complete logic; their minds are the product of electro-chemical activity in brains that are lumps of organic material. The brains have evolved the ability to detect patterns and create patterns where none exist. They see a portion of a puzzle and struggle to fill in the missing pieces. What goes in that blank space the brain asks? Should I insert a purring kitten? Should I insert a thermo-nuclear device?

Many of the world’s greatest philosophers consider the brain to be the grand palace of the soul.

Cogito ergo sum.

What does this mean, really?


"Now, Then"

I’m here with you right now, but I’m also fifty years ago. In 1961 I’m at a party, holding a drink and smoking a cigarette. The people around me are talking about work and movies and love affairs. How do you like our new president and his promise to have a man on the moon by decade’s end. What about this place suddenly appearing in the newspapers, this Vietnam wherever it is. Did you like West Side Story. I thought the music was quite good, but thought they should have gotten a Hispanic actress to play Maria. I finish my drink and stub out the cigarette. Someone puts a new record on the phonograph. The act strikes me as wrong, but I can’t say why.

I’m in 1961, but also here with you half a century later at the edge of a vast and darkened field. Rain has come and gone and we can smell wet grass and a hint of autumn. If the clouds clear we’ll be able to see the first of the evening stars. The wind blows cooler and dies away. A few minutes ago something unpleasant happened between us and we came out to the field because a little fresh air might be what we needed to wash the anger from our souls. I can’t tell if anything has gotten better. Maybe I’ve calmed down, but a more truthful statement to make is that I am more confused than calm. You’re here with me and the field stretches out ahead and those clouds aren’t getting any thinner and a drop of rain just hit my cheek and everything about us is dreamlike. The field is a continuation of the argument started back at the house. You hated how my mind was always somewhere else. You wanted to know why I couldn’t change that about myself.

At the edge of the field we hold our breath. We could talk. We could say a lot of words. It’s easier to be silent. I wish the peaceful moment could last a little bit longer.


You Need to Know

One subject that requires addressing is sex. Human existence can bring about many opportunities for romantic interaction, but that doesn’t mean you jump into bed with everyone who makes him/herself available. Human nature tasks us to remove a cookie from the jar, so to speak, but resist the urge to overindulge at every opportunity. Not that copulation is wrong, or wasteful, or sinful, or any other adjective that has little or no meaning to a properly maintained lifestyle. It’s just that the act has an unavoidably draining effect. Research has determined that sexual congress lowers the efficiency of mind and body by as much as three percent. This seems trifling, yes. Still, you must remember: today, right now, may be the very moment when your next breath depends on absolutely razor-sharp mind and reflexes.

It’s definitely something to keep in mind.



After the war every acre of farmland for miles around was bought up by a development corporation with an eye toward the future. This was the time to act. This was how you seized an iron from the fire and used it in whatever fashion irons were used. Who needed farms in this age of mechanization? What was farming if not archaic? Though a generous person might consider using the word quaint.

The development company drew up plans. It secured the necessary permits. The time of change arrived. Hundreds of fields were plowed flat. Down went the barns and the silos. Fences were plucked from the soil like weeds. Rambling houses where generations of families had lived, tilling the earth. . .these were mowed down by monstrous tractors and bellowing backhoes. The farms had existed for more than two centuries. And how long did it take to erase them from the world? Days. You’d think maybe longer. But no.

A new crop appeared. It seemed magical. A crop of houses. Wow.

Though not actually magic, of course. Only the feeble-minded believe in such puffery. It was simple economics. The war had come to an end and the returning soldiers wanted somewhere to live. Wanted? They needed. They had gone to war as young men. They’d left the homes of their parents. It wouldn’t do to return to those same homes, those rooms with small beds and postered walls. Even if the soldiers returning from the war wanted to reclaim their childhood rooms. And none of them did.

Economics is largely based on mathematics. Everyone knows that, right?

Consider the war as A. Consider the soldiers as B. C was the life they’d been dreaming about for years while wading through mud and killing the enemy. Consider the enemy as E. So B killed all of E and came home looking for C. They pursued C to the neighborhoods that were once farms. They knew nothing about the ghosts of cows and soy beans. They had their own ghosts with which to contend. These would be the ghosts of E, slain in multitudes on the battlefields of countries far away.

E, truth be told, was also only looking for C. Sadly, E was destined never to find C. This was because they were the bad guys.

B found C. B got married and built families around themselves. Families = F. They had children. These would be G. C watched G grow up and produce grandchildren, H. After a long row of years B used up all of the C that had been allotted them. B waved goodbye to G and H. B exited C and entered the realm of I.

Death = I.

When B entered I, G and H typically moved away, looking for their own version of C. G and H held fond memories of their homes with B. They generally had respect for what B had gone through during A. They were different from B, though. Most of them were never to experience the trials of A. All J knew of A was what they read in books or saw on television. For them A was something that existed on the printed page or in small black-and-white rectangles in living rooms. G and H could never fully comprehend how much B had given during A in order to achieve C and make life possible for them. G and H weren’t being rude or thoughtless. They had their own concerns. There was important business that needed tending.

The era of J had begun.

Adjustments had to be made.


Fifteen First Sentences


The sound of distant gunfire reached us at the same time the most beautiful woman in the world began to dance.


He told a very small lie to make one day slightly easier, then spent the rest of his life watching that lie swell to the size of the sun.


This morning she first laced on her favorite tennis shoes and second laced herself to the back of the bedroom door.


She said yes when it should have been no and he laughed when the situation demanded a moment of silence.


Please she said and he said All right and she held out a dagger and he said Wow I thought you were kidding.


In the morning, as cool light painted both of their nude bodies pale pink, he could not for the life of him recall why it had seemed a good idea to bring home a woman with eyeballs tattooed on both of her sunken cheeks.


There was a gentleman who walked mildly among his fellow humans, worked mildly at a mild sort of job, married a woman as mild as himself, raised several mild children, and when he died the people around him immediately forgot he had existed, something the gentleman might have found mildly amusing.


In the dead still of night he opened a crystal box shaped like a crescent moon and removed an object everyone in the world believed to be pure myth.


So here’s where I live the mysterious woman said and the guy she’d picked up earlier in the evening hoped she wasn’t talking about the blood-spattered packing crate by the burned-out car.


When the pickup truck fishtailed she closed her eyes and held tight to the little plastic bag that had gotten them into this terrible mess.


Their love would endure forever, so long as forever was defined as seven days, three hours and eleven minutes.


Hot dogs contain a sinister and undetectable ingredient known only to the equally sinister and undetectable entities who place it there for purposes none of us will ever know.


I thought vampires only came out at night the lonely woman said and the man with the odd teeth and sunglasses said Don’t believe everything you read.


Things began getting truly out of hand when the people who last week turned into plush ducks began this week to turn into real ones.


Floating past the maple tree, heading up into the open sky he couldn’t help but think: This is going to be some kind of day. . .