Published Stories

5/26/2014 “The Beast They Do Not See” (flash) appears in Apocrypha and Abstractions.

They run in circles, faster and faster, each chasing the other, chasing themselves. “Slow down!” the Centermaster screams. “You’re straining the rods, you’re twisting the chain.” They move too rapidly for warnings to catch them, too energetically for childish brains to understand.

5/9/2014 “Shadow Play” (flash) appears in Every Day Fiction.

One day after pizza-for-dinner, Dad decided to teach me how to make shadow puppets. We stood by the desk in his office, a big beast of a thing with sharp-corner shoulders hunched down to hold a computer and its screen.

5/9/2014 “The Other Cummings” (flash) is published in The Strip.

Those of you who have come looking for fiction will be sorely disappointed. This is entirely true, without spin, lacking the silly typography, the rambling, unpunctuated metaphor of E.E. Cummings’ later works (if one might call them “works”; I prefer “plays”).

4/15/2014 “Something Else” (flash) appears in Hark Magazine.

Arthur had handcuffed himself to a bridge again, bushy orange beard providing a bright contrast to its sky blue metal. This time it was the Mill Street, that old truss on the edge of town that greeted visitors coming from the west. I remember finding a travel brochure along the river touting the Mill Street as a fitting welcome to our historic village. Someone had scribbled “Rust, Holes, Ugliness, Me,” in the margin. It had the appearance of a shorthand shopping list, and I would have chuckled at the image of some poor soul shopping WalMart for those ingredients had the red ink not reminded me of blood.

4/4/2014 “Fox” (flash) appears at Cease, Cows.

She said she was afraid of commitment. I said I was, too. We played at sex, experimented with living together, even went so far as to window-shop for rings, but we knew it would never work out. The fear of transformation was too great. I worried I would turn vicious and petty, even abusive. “My father was an alcoholic,” I told her one day. She paused, set her glass down, and told me her mother had overdosed on oxycodone. We had that in common. “Did you withdraw from reality?” she said, and I admitted that I had. Childhood, to me, was a cocoon furnished with plastic soldiers and comic books, a place to hide until my wings grew in.

3/1/2014 “Choose Your Own End, James Xavier Reed” (short story) is published in Revenge of the Scammed.

The day after I published my first short story in an online magazine called Melville’s Barn, I received a cryptic email from a man calling himself James Xavier Reed: “From a Manger Built of Wood” was as fine a story as I’ve read in a long time. Would you be interested in writing a book for me? Reply with rates, if so.

2/23/2014 “A Perfect Pear” (flash) appears at Eunoia Review.

Gil pushed his American Express card into the parking meter and keyed payment for two hours. 120 appeared on the digital display. He liked that about parking meters, how he controlled the input and decided the outcome. It was predictable, unlike his work in the ER where everything was triaged.

2/17/2014 “Men Are Not Dragons” (short story) appears at Fiction Vortex.

In a cave high above the kingdoms of man, the last dragon awaits a boy’s awakening. Smells surround her: sulfur, humid tears, gas from a horse flank decomposing in her belly. Breath rumbles down her throat to return as smoke and a rain of fine ash.

EDITOR’S AWARD FOR FEBRUARY

READERS POLL AWARD FOR FEBRUARY

2/4/2014 “Like a Virgin” (short story) is published in Zest Literary Journal.

My mother flicks a smoldering butt onto the grass, searches through her purse, spritzes something into her mouth, then steps up onto the porch. It’s a long, low porch that stretches across the front of the house and bends around the side. The floor is gray, the ceiling white and plants dangle at regular intervals above the rail. There’s a swing down near the far end. I wish I could hang out there while Mom does her thing inside, but that’s never how these things work.

1/2/2014 “Twist and Turn” (flash) appears at Every Day Fiction.

Jorge was a contortionist. He could step through himself with the best of them. What he wanted, however, was love, that perfect tension between two people that elevated neither, subjugated neither, and bound them together into a knot that might never be undone.

12/31/2013 “The Leaning Man” (flash) appears at Every Day Fiction.

The leaning man — I will not use his real name in this report — suffers an unusual deformation of the ankle-foot joint. Rather than rising straight from the heel, his ankles bend sideways, causing him to list significantly to his right.

12/10/2013 “The Walkabout” (flash) appears at Cease, Cows.

“Down you come, mate,” I said. Bruce spilled from the side hatch, and I helped him sit on the floorboard. His ankles were bruised. I wondered if he even felt the wounds. A couple years back he was as normal as normal can be, then the Gehrig’s came and everything went to shit.

12/10/2013 “Clockwork Clef” (flash) appears in Chrome Baby’s Xmas Bairn.

One thing we Andies could never tolerate was a group of meat men bludgeoning the skins and rims, massaging their mouthpieces ’round the sweet reed nipples of our fellows in the pit. And so we set upon their orchestral orgy with metalloid fists and knives re-fit. Red flowed until the floor slimed with the organic stuff.

10/16/2013 “Doing Laundry With Aphrodite” (flash) appears at Literary Orphans.

Aphrodite was a goddess, famous for her magic girdle. She wore it on dates, but barely used its power. To make things interesting, she pressed a six-sided die into her cleavage before she left the house. If it popped onto her plate during dinner, which happened more often than you might think, she would let the pips guide her. A six, and she willed her girdle active. Anything else, and that boy was history.

10/16/2013 “Attraction” (flash) appears at Literary Orphans.

Jeremy watched moths batter the porch light. The steady plink of their bodies provided a counterpoint to his pulse.

9/17/2013 “Grave Matter” and “A Creature of Light and Air” (flash) appear in Bones.

Each day he’s a little closer. First, it was his fingers. I rounded the corner and there sat Charlie at that glass table on the veranda, pulling shreds of flesh from bone. There was blood, too, enough to smell iron, but not enough to pool. Mama had to wipe down the glass with blue Windex, but she used that old washcloth she was meaning to burn anyway, so it was no big deal.

9/15/2013 “She Thinks of the Moon” (short story) appears in Bluestem Magazine.

Her beauty is in her face, the marmoreal smoothness of her skin, the radiant gleam of translucent blue eyes, a symmetric smile. Flesh. Why is my instinct to focus on flesh? Surely hers is not the sort of beauty age will steal. There’s something deeper to it, something I am too dense to interpret. I think of the soft yielding of our kiss last night, her mouth parting, her sharp tongue teasing then reproaching mine. Not so fast. She ducked inside, putting the screen door between us. “See you tomorrow?” I said. She nodded once, eyes flitting from mine. The door clicked closed, leaving me to savor an afterimage of hair silvered by the moon’s light, and the vanilla sweetness of her body spray.

9/12/2013 “The Sea as a Sickness” (flash) appears at Apocrypha and Abstractions.

The beach was the texture of beef tongue. Harper rested on his feet, eyes seeking the unblinking sky. That is the realm of angels was his single thought. His heart thudded once, twice, a pause, a thud. He stared at the empty bottle cradled in his palms and wanted more.

9/1/2013 “Another Saturday Night” (flash) appears in barcode.

Theft bends over, toned legs pumping below ragged cutoff jeans. “Tease,” Larceny giggles. She tugs her tube top until her breasts are on the verge of their own jailbreak. She doesn’t have Theft’s legs but she does have nice tits.

8/13/2013 “Beggar” (flash) appears at A Pound of Flash.

When I listen to him, all things are possible. His voice, so throaty-rich, so pure. I think of Jesus on the cross. Life becomes smeared light, death a dark-blink interlude. Dear God, I think. Dear, sweet God, make us better, make us free of the blame that holds us back, take from us the violence that squeezed us from the womb. Dear God, I think, dear sweet God.

SELECTED FOR BEST OF ANTHOLOGY 2014

8/9/2013 “Fishing” (flash) appears in Of Sun and Sand.

An old man leans from the porch, fishing pole in hand. He casts. The spinner spills fine line over tufts of grass and weed. The ocean breathes today, but will it spit? He reels. The lure hops, skips, tangles through the green. Beyond the yard, a beach of sand borders the sea, but it is not his way to come down off the porch.

7/27/2013 “The Planting” (flash) appears at Cease, Cows.

You uprooted him, nailed him to a trellis, and stood back to watch his faith in me whither. I saw his penis become the first thorn, his face condensed to a kernel. You told him I did not love him. He came to believe you.

7/25/2013 “Catherine’s First” (short story) appears in Catherine Refracted.

He nodded, then smiled. “Springtime,” he said dreamily, and took his leave. I watched his well-proportioned frame recede, straight back, broad shoulders, thick black hair. For a heartbeat, I let myself see him as he himself had described, sprawled upon the stones beneath my window, blood leaking from his broken skull. That was indeed a possibility, though I must dismiss it. Elizabeth had taught me many things in our time together, but one lesson remained paramount. Murder should not be the solution to every minor annoyance.

7/8/2013 “The World Through Vaseline” (flash) appears in Glass Eye Chandelier.

I stand at the edge of a rock garden, stones raked into rows of slanted white faces staring up to God. I do not look up with them, but at a larger rock hunched upon an oblong island of greenery. Like a toad it sits, like a frog, waiting. I am its fly. I am what it wants, but I dare not step onto that ironed expanse of stone. I am not a fly, I cannot lift up onto the balls of my feet and then further still. My steps leave dents. I dare not walk, and thereby prove my presence where I do not (want to) exist.

7/8/2013 “The Veil Between” (flash) appears in Glass Eye Chandelier.

From a park bench, Cy watches Easter eggs tumble across grass. Usually on Sundays the park is home to Frisbee dogs and women in shorts. Today it’s little boys in suits, little girls in frilly dresses, bending, squatting, prodding their rainbow eggs with long-handled spoons. He’s no judge of who might be winning. Distance is something he cannot decipher with one eye.

6/1/2013 “Pink Percy” (flash) appears in Gone Lawn.

It always began with Mom coming inside with Percy, our pet pig, tucked beneath one arm. He would wriggle and snort. Crusted dirt would fall from his legs and I would think how she had so carefully wrapped the cord around the vacuum cleaner and tucked it into its niche in the kitchen cupboards. I would think of her going out into the muddy back yard in her clean apron, bending to take Percy up with her manicured nails.

6/1/2013 “And This, Our Life” (flash) appears in Gone Lawn.

I trembled then, for my mother’s crucified form blocked the great yellow sun that had guided me through carefree childhood. And my father? He was gone, pursued by whatever devil he had drawn.

6/1/2013 “We Dissolve” (flash) appears in Gone Lawn.

The brain is the first organ to go. Reason. Rationality. Altruism. Jesus becomes a brown-skinned boy holding a trout half as large as him, and his foot is on the water, and the water has become bedrock. And we, the common ones, the ones who matter, argue over which to worship, the boy or the fish, the miracle of water turned solid, or the reality of brown skin on our savior. We become Sumo wrestlers throwing salt, throwing pride, and the fat that forms us droops about our hips, our knees, touches the ground. As we drip away, we rail against those who outlast us. “Jesus boy,” we pray, “Please destroy our enemies, take them deep into the Earth’s fire and make them suffer.” It’s inevitable, this breaking apart, this falling apart, this sagging away of what was mighty.

5/22/2013 “Swung” (micro) and “Life of Gum” (micro) appear in Crack the Spine.

“We begin as bricks of chicle dumped into a hopper, and end molded into a likeness wrapped in foil sent into the world to bring flavor to some greater being’s mouth…”

5/21/2013 “Innocence” (flash) appears in Cactus Heart.

He spoke one word, and the world changed. Gone, the forest with its shimmering green leaves; in its place a burning tunnel. Heat breathed over me, around me, into me. Your eyes glared from his craggy face. Magic. Flame hurled up from my core.

4/28/2013 “A Snifter of Absinthe” (flash) appears at Zodiac Review.

A spark shoots between us. Twisting, impatient energy migrates up my arm, splashes into my thoughts. Explosion casts shadows and shapes. For an instant I see a city inside the snifter. Not a city, the city. New York. Skyscrapers, Statue of Liberty, green waves. My breath catches. A sour taste swells along the back of my tongue, raw vegetation, chlorophyll. I want to spit, but swallow instead.

4/20/2013 “The Valley of Doom” (flash) appears at Story Shack.

I gazed through the windshield. Sasha was right about the road, but she was also wrong. It did superficially resemble a ribbon, but it looked more like a stream of molten slag to me, white-hot liquid clotted with shadow, coiling down into darkness. I imagined a waterfall of sparks at its terminus, twisted men with goat horns pounding anvils, turning that light into the darker foundation of our world.

4/15/2013 “Any Way the Wind Blows” (flash) appears at Orion Headless.

A lady in smoke, diffuse, impermanent, more powerful than the air I breathe. This is how I remember her. She used to laugh at me struggling for words, at odds with meaning, trying so hard to make it real. “Put it down,” she would say. “Just type it down, and let your deep self take over.” And, so, that is what I did. A thousand times in our life together, a thousand tales of befuddled romance, clueless authority, a thousand tastes upon my senseless tongue. “Where does it go?” I would ask in the lulls between keystrokes. “Where does it end?” She would smile, lean her paperback into her lap, and shake her head. “Any way the wind blows. Take it there, my love.”

4/11/2013 “Jump” (flash) wins the Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize.

Eric was the boldest of us, the brother who grew a beard, and taunted teachers to suspend him in the minute before the period bell. I was with him when he got his tattoo, a rose pushing from a grave, petals changing into fingers as they tore from the bloom. “It’s symbolic,” he said. “You wouldn’t understand.” Scabs marked his inner arm.

4/1/2013 “Love Seat” (flash) appears in Zest.

The Steak ‘n Shake booth’s plastic seat crinkled under Alexander like a mouth chewing. It made him nervous. It made him think of Jade sitting at home night after night, waiting. And that made him cold inside. This was not who he was supposed to become. He was supposed to want to go home to his wife. When Jade ran away to New York City at sixteen, he had quit school and followed. No questions. No expectations. Just love, blind, blind love. Twelve years later, only the blindness remained.

3/31/2013 “Switch” (flash) appears in Isotropic Fiction.

He reached for the light switch, and a feeling came over him, an electrical buzz along his skin. His stomach fluttered. Could solving the world’s problems be as simple as flipping a light switch? He pulled his hand back, unwilling to submit to such a concept.

3/20/2013 “Spring Fashion” (flash) appears at Pure Slush.

“It’s not like I can’t smell it already,” Carol says. For days a faint odor has followed her sister, like almonds rolled in shit. She masks it with perfume, but it’s there if you know where to look.

2/14/2013 “Virgin Christmas” (flash) appears at Apocrypha and Abstractions.

My eyes lock onto the Nativity, the goat kneeling in prayer, baby Jesus, Mother Mary. I pray for her to save me. Show me your secret, I beg in my head. Show me the way to Christ without Harold . . . well not without Harold, whom I love so dearly, but without Harold’s hand creeping up my thigh.

2/11/2013 “American Spirit Lights” (flash) appears in The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review

Sylvie was six when she started smoking American Spirit Lights. It cut the bitterness of long afternoons cleaning other people’s toilets and making their beds. The drawback, of course, was that she often had the jitters the next morning at kindergarten. It was No Smoking there, or learn the error of your ways at the back of Mrs. Shepherd’s hand. She never left marks, but she left plenty of scars.

2/7/2013 “Cheshire Cheese” (audio) appears at Cold Reads.

The carriage pulled through a circular drive cobbled in horseshoes that made the wheels rattle and the horse team quite uncomfortable. They skittered sideways and back, seeking footing atop those upended feet.

2/6/2013 “Office Rapport” (flash) appears at Pure Slush.

“You’re blowing this out of proportion,” Janice said. She laid her iPhone on the desk. The screen showed a graph with primary-colored lines that resembled a mountain range. Billings on the y-axis, month on the x. I leaned forward, careful not to kick the bundle wedged beneath the desk. A shudder scuttled through. I didn’t want to think about that, who it was, why it was there. I’d been holed up all morning waiting for Management’s shoe to drop.

1/25/2013 “The Maine Thing” (short story) appears in Gorge.

“Never mind.” Jason hated when Laura did not get his sarcasm. She wasn’t stupid, but often failed to make connections. That had been another thing about Amanda, the playful sparkle in her eyes as she stood and trotted toward the ocean knowing full well the sand clinging to her ass would drive Jason crazy.

1/2/2013 “Red Windmill” (flash) appears at Pure Slush.

“Well, it’s certainly different,” Cindy said. “I’m glad we decided to come.” Her nipples stood out beneath a sheer blouse. That was so unlike her quiet personality, and I thought how none of us matched ourselves. We were all copying what we thought we should be in this context. Take Mark. He’s prim and proper, hair never out of place, yet here he was, leering, pawing, papering a stripper with dollar bills. She wasn’t even that good, no smile, windblown hair, awkward transitions.

1/1/2013 – “Trickle Down” (flash) appears in Polluto.

They’ve taken to sharing a body, these survivors of themselves, these human frames stitched into a mutilated mass of flesh and hair, sinew and bone. Single-minded, guts tapped into the labyrinth sewer at their core, they chew toward the horizon. Mouths of various sizes consume trees, grass, a beehive laced with honey, birds’ nests, wolves too proud to stand aside, horses with broken legs, groundhog families in their dens, an eggshell colored purple.

12/20/2012 – “The Glow” (chapter 1 of The Golden Heart of the World) appears at JukePop Serials.

Clockwork ticking drew Jakob Adams’ eyes to a cherry wood desk, the central feature of Captain Wallace’s spacious study. On its polished top, an overturned dragonfly lifted and fell, lifted and fell. The size of a hand, with gemstone eyes and gossamer wings, its features were exquisitely rendered, but the inflexible metal body could not right itself. Jakob debated whether to help or crush the device. Life is struggle, he thought. Succeed or die.

12/12/2012 – “Steps to Building a Bigger Butt” (flash) appears at Pure Slush.

The best foods for butt enhancement are high in protein and low in carbohydrate. Protein converts into muscle, carbohydrate into sugar. Fish, especially those species rich in Omega 3, is an excellent source for big butt building. Vegans may want to try soy-based products, such as our BigButt Soy Bacon (p 14). Remember you are eating for two: Left Cheek and Right. Do not skimp on portion size.

12/1/2012 – “Mad Money” (short story) appears in Isotropic Fiction issue 5.

Howard was leading his mule away from the WalMart co-op, having bartered baskets of produce for hand tools and sundries, when he passed the motor truck rumbling in from Indianapolis. Its diesel breath shocked his sensibilities, but its sheer size slowed him long enough to watch it pull through the security fences and dock at the loading platform, attracting a swarm of licensed laborers hopeful of being selected for the unloading.

11/28/2012 – “Bones of the Founders” (short story) appears at Liteary Orphans.

It was a dead city, street after street of brick buildings, windows boarded over, the tear tracks from their block letter names eroded to near invisibility. Stritmeyers, J.C. Ward & Co., Good Humor. A hot dog shop boasted a few cars parked outside. These were late model vehicles, well maintained. There was money somewhere in this burgh.

10/28/2012 – “Monkey on my Mirror” (short story) appears in Bartleby Snopes’ Post-Experimentalism issue.

“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is,” the monkey told me through the window. I smelled meat on its breath along with something sweet.

10/18/2012 – “The Ultimate American Beauty” (short story) appears at Used Furniture Review. I wrote a section of the story.

“That won’t be necessary,” Quinlin said. They emerged into a high-ceilinged room featuring a leather sofa and polished wood end tables. A woman lay on the sofa, forearm pressed to her face. Her breasts under a nylon workout top were huge, like pillows taped to her ribs beneath a tank top stretched to its limit. Bandages wrapped her waist, which was thin to the point of emaciation. Her thighs packed like sausage into a spandex casing. Her hair and eyebrows were Platinum Blond.

10/17/2012 – “The Years of Feast and Famine” (flash) appears at Linguistic Erosion.

February 17, 2007 began the Year of the Pig according to the Lunar New Year calendar. It was on that date that I started my quest to become Earth’s fattest man. A side of bacon for breakfast, three Big Macs and triple fries for early lunch, then a plate of ribs at Zibo’s an hour after that. Dinner was the immobile meal. I would routinely stuff myself so full of potatoes and pasta, with occasional salad (heavily dressed, of course) that I could not move from the sofa for hours. I began relieving myself into buckets. My wife complained, but kept cooking. I loved her more than life itself, but not more than a good steak rubbed with pepper and cooked over a low, blue flame.

10/9/2012 – “You Say Tu Dou, I Say Ma Ling Shu” (flash) appears at Pure Slush.

“Loveawake.com,” May Chin says. She is a beautiful flower on Hmong’s laptop screen. High cheeks, lovely oval eyes, thick, straight hair. She is, of course, married. And living across the Taiwan Strait in Taipei. And pregnant with her second child. Hmong sighs. When he contacts May Chin, his computer becomes a window, and she is in the next room. He must remember that he speaks to her virtual self.

10/5/2012 – “Collision Course” (flash) appears at Nib Magazine’s Flash Friday series.

Ralph drives a bus for the city. He used to own a taxi cab. He made better money there, but the robberies were stressful, particularly that last one. He’ll show you the bullet hole if you ask, a dent in his upper arm like a pothole covered over with skin.

10/1/2012 – “The Trick or Treat Initiation of Tommy Black” (short story) appears at The Speculative Edge.

In the midst of square miles of cross-hatched city lights, a snow-covered field absorbs the night. Bounded on one side by shadow, on the opposite by an ancient cemetery, the field seems out of place. But, as cities come, in time, to resemble their makers, nothing could be more appropriate for the heart of this city than an empty field bounded by darkness and death and pretensions of order.

9/14/2012 – “Not Dead” (flash) appears at Nib Magazine’s Flash Friday series.

Wanna look for sand crabs? I think. I already know the answer. She’s doing an experiment, we’re doing an experiment, would I be serious for a change? We’re trying to find out what people experience when they die.

9/6/2012 – “No Umbrella” (flash) appears at Apocrypha and Abstractions

A moment of sunshine erupts on a rainy day, leaving no time to defragment my drive, my life, my frantic impulse. I dash for the cafe, laptop clutched beneath one arm. I have no umbrella.

8/23/2012 – “The World Beneath Us” (flash) appears at Nib Magazine’s Flash Friday series.

“Please, Greg. Focus.”Grudgingly, I release her arm, my fingerprints fresh on her skin. Grudgingly, I guide my flashlight to the door. Shreds of a Led Zeppelin poster cling to its crackled veneer.This was my room when we were young, when we were brother and sister. I brought Susan here to remember, as I do every day of my living life. I wake to this ceiling, I shut my eyes to this imagined mattress. See? Mom made up the bed with the Spiderman sheets.

8/22/2012 – “The Butcher’s Son” (flash) appears at Every Day Fiction.

Jataka’s first impulse was to shake her head like a dog after a storm, to run screaming from the house and drown herself in the irrigation ditch with its slow, muddy swirls. She was not ready for her childhood to end, to belong to a man. Who was it? The bearded net-mender whose breath smelled of fish? The middle-aged bricklayer whose skin resembled mortar? None of the men her father had entertained suited her. These are not the old times, she thought. A modern daughter has a say in the choice of her husband. She opened her mouth to say these things.

7/29/2012 – “Nora’s RV” (short story) appears at Literary Orphans.

Nora had always been the responsible one in their household—hers and Joe’s—but her sense of duty took on a new dimension this Tuesday morning, an inflated desire to nurture and protect and upkeep. She rubbed her face and got out of bed. She made breakfast for Joe and bundled him off to work. She fed tuna to the cats, Sine and Cosine (Joe’s idea, not hers) and unwound the vacuum cord for a quick go at the area rug in the living room. In the kitchen she heard the parakeets chuttering, and imagined Sine sitting below the cage, tail twitching. He knew better than to jump, didn’t he?

SELECTED FOR BEST OF ANTHOLOGY 2014

7/5/2012 – “Work Ethic” (flash) appears at First Stop Fiction.

Manuel rolled the mop bucket to the next office, careful not to slosh soapy water. With two entire floors to clean by midnight, he had no time for sloppiness.

7/3/2012 – “A Consequence of Copulation” (flash fiction) appears at Smashed Cat Magazine

“This is problematic,” Basco said. He pulled levers. Lightning raged between the poles of his Tesla coil. “Problematic. I do not wish to corrupt the meat of Love and Hate, merely their mechanism of sight. Their subsequent blind thrashings will destroy polite society, and I shall be blameless.”

7/1/2012 – “The Last Liverbeast” (short story) appears at Kazka Press.

He panned to the river and a rusted metal bridge. The roadway had long ago crumbled, but it was still discernibly a bridge, still capable of its designer’s intended function. Midway across, he spied the liverbeast, a great slab of muscle and meat supported by four telescoping legs that ended in broad fleshy feet with webbed toes. Its head was small, with tiny flipping ears and marble-hard eyes above an angular snout featuring full, sagging lips.

6/26/2012 – “Canis ex Machina” (short story) appears at Absinthe Revival.

Clarise in her cowboy boots, lying on the porch with that mangy dog. That’s what I remember about that day. That, and her mother screaming. This is the last straw,you hear that, you freeloading sumbitch? How could I not hear? The entire county must have heard. And so I left, but as I pulled away in the beat up pickup I’d bought down at the Good Year Shoppe — no, they weren’t selling trucks, just tires, but I talked them into throwing in the truck for an extra grand — as I pulled away, the look on Clarise’s face in the rearview about tore my heart out. We were close, that girl and me. Close as feathers in a fat man’s pillow.

6/23/2012 – “Last Call” (flash) appears at scissors and spackle.

Gary was half-drunk before we set out for the promised land of fully nude strippers and no cover charge. He knew a place on the verge of the dry county south of the city.

6/23/2012 – “Leaving the Garden” (flash) appears at scissors and spackle.

At Brest, we dropped oranges, crate after crate of citrus. I watched them fall in clumps through clouds gone gray, saw the spray of their impacts, one after another, a gleaming trail through the darkening streets. I heard laughter, the surprised laughter of children shooting squirt guns, women discovering love letters, men playing a sport.

6/11/2012 – “Fuschia” (flash fiction) is podcast at Every Day Fiction.

I came to a section less opaque than the rest and a most amazing feeling came over me. Beneath the ice, I saw colours, vivid reds and purples, as if a painter had strewn beads of oil paint across the lake bed. It must be a reflection of the sun, which was beginning to set, or perhaps my tired imagination had dredged up a fantasy. In any case, I chose not to stop.

5/31/2012 – “The Lecturer” (flash) appears at Spilling Ink Review.

I do admire a man that’s sensitive to ecology. My last lover, James, planted a container garden on the flat’s roof. I used to lie awake after we made love, thinking of roots growing down through the shingles and tarpaper, winding through the ceiling. Would I wake up cocooned? Maybe our bedroom would be made into a museum. See the root mummies? See how they cling to each other even these hundreds of years later? Oh, how they must’ve loved. Oh, the passion they must’ve felt.

5/24/2012 – “Pathways”  (flash) appears at Pure Slush (as part of their counterpoint feature, with the wonderful Susan Tepper)

Damascus. Squat cookie-cutter buildings, limestone hotels lined block upon block. Laundry hung on balconies, a skirt-suited woman stumbled through a maze of careening cars, goats, horses, briefcase in hand. (And gold) So much gold. Shops littered with gold watches and chains and necklaces, gilded smiles. Broken English. “Fifty American. Fifty, you understand?” His daughter was not in Damascus. He walked alone.

5/7/2012 – “The Thing About Domination” (flash) appears at Every Day Fiction.

It was a tall tree, taller than our three story house. I looked up and up, bare branches, angular divides, twigs stretching like fingers into the space beyond the tree’s grasp. It wanted more. It wanted everything, all the air, the sky itself.

4/17/2012 – “Infested” (flash fiction) appears at Daily Science Fiction.

Our paranoia is infinite today. And not without reason. We have just endured a journey to and from Mars orbit in full view of the world. Areas of the ship that were supposed to be off-limits were not. Every bowel movement, every wet dream and dry heave, a veritable sampler of trysts–it has all been broadcast, sprinkled across the globe like so much Hollywood glitter. The ultimate Reality Show, with our crew of six as unaware actors.

3/25/2012 – “Johnny Asparagus” (flash) appears in A Capella Zoo.

“I’m tired of this,” he said, throwing the dice past Billy’s ear. The clatter-echo seemed to hang in the air. He looked at me, eyes vibrating like pit bulls trapped inside his skull. “You think he loves you? It’s not you he loves.”

3/25/2012 – “The Mail Woman” (flash) appears at Microliterature.

When the mailwoman collapsed on the doorstep, neighbors claimed they saw Frank Rowe take his mail from her fist and storm inside, angry it was mostly bills again. What he really did was check the woman’s pulse, then hurry without quite running to the phone.

3/21/2012 – “Meringue” (flash) appears at Pure Slush.

And so, here he found himself standing at his workstation, surrounded by pimple-faced girls and girls with big butts and girls with long hair bound up into buns and tucked under plastic caps, and him alone, longing for release from… well, everything.

3/15/2012 – “His Father’s Nose” (flash) appears at Connotation Press.

She tried to hug Tyler. He curled down inside his blankets and pretended to sleep. Now, he knew his dad. He could see those eyes whenever he wanted. He’d just look in a mirror and remember the crash.

3/15/2012 – “Sacred in This Light” (flash) appears at Connotation Press.

Even the ground is alive now, a battlefield of shadow and golden light. Do night crawlers worship flame? Will ants build monuments to this night? You look around. Glittering eyes, downturned mouths, everywhere masks of dread and sorrow. Is there no one who will understand, no one who feels the glory of this blaze as you do?

3/15/2012 – “Saint Peter’s Penis” (flash) appears at Connotation Press.

“How am I to take this seriously, Paul? That someone, perhaps a disciple himself, would amputate Saint Peter’s penis and preserve it in glass… is such a thing even possible?”

2/28/2012 – “Christmas in Nicaragua” (flash) appears at Pure Slush.

Kervin runs before me, legs and arms pumping, mouth wide with joy. A half-filled sackcloth jounces from one fist. I cannot run so fast in my knee-length dress, but I try to keep up. We race to the brick house on the corner. Behind us, a stream of children, flopping and flapping in their Sunday garb, a procession of innocence in search of the best treats.

2/23/2012 – “Murder at Your Door” (flash) appears at Apocrypha and Abstraction.

Emotion boils through you, a volcano of the stuff. Your hand clenches. Knuckles and tendons and blood. It is made of these materials. You are made of these materials.

2/12/2012 – “Glazed” (flash) appears at Stanley the Whale.

The kid didn’t answer. His eyes were starting to unfocus a little. A glaze was setting in. Good. A sugar high was the key to the kid’s ability. They’d used him three times, once to spy on a drug sting, once to scope out copper pipes, and once to watch Bombshell Becky showering at the Y. Each time, the kid’s vision had worked fine, but Vinnie couldn’t take chances. He pushed another donut to the kid’s mouth.

SELECTED AS AN EDITOR’S FAVORITE

2/3/2012 – “Jehovah Joint” (flash) appears at Children, Churches and Daddies.

Wilson spoke carefully, lips doing gymnastics around the stub: “That’s how it is with weed, neighbor. The fuzziness clarifies the longer you hold it in you. Soon enough it’s the sharpest logic.” He flicked a lighter. He lit up and inhaled, taking the smoke deep inside.

SELECTED FOR ANNUAL ANTHOLOGY 2013

1/12/2012 – “Boy With Grenades” (flash) appears at Linguistic Erosion.

The explosion threw me back, light and sound and emotion all at once. Hair pulled from my scalp, skin from bone. I felt the structure of my skeleton cave in.

1/2/2012 – “The Confession” (flash) appears at Speech Bubble.

I’m sorry I can’t come to the party. Mom found my jar, you know, the one I mentioned, the one with my spit? Once she figured out what it was she kind of schizzed out. She made me go to this therapist who asked me about school and how it is at home and whether I have a girlfriend (yeah, your name kind of came up ).

1/1/2012 – “Plymouth” (flash fiction) appears at Six Tales

He would have to burn the carcass and every bit of vegetation within reach. At least it had chosen a poor place to die, thank the Great Spirit, for the soil was too thin to support tree roots. He would not need to destroy the forest.

1/1/2012 – “A Formidable Joy” (flash) appears in Prick of the Spindle.

And then he is running with the bulls again. He never remembers until he is running and then he recalls with perfect clarity. The musky smell, the press of muscle and bone from all sides, the panicked surge of adrenalin goading him to run faster, ever faster. It is a formidable joy, a sense of stampede and drifting all at once.

1/1/2012 – “Coffee” (flash) appears at r.kv.r.y (Nominated for Pushcart)

Death, he thinks. Death of flesh, death of love, death of dignity. He’s stared into the black eye of a gun a couple times, but hasn’t been able to make that coward finger squeeze.

NOMINATED FOR PUSHCART PRIZE

12/16/2011 – “Blemished” appears in Apocrypha and Abstractions

There is no blemish on Carla’s cheek, no purple hand print, no red smear, not even a mottled bruise to mar her otherwise perfect skin. Still, she cannot stop herself. She looks twice into every reflection she passes, as if the first look has suppressed its reflective nature in order to shield her from herself. Out of empathy, she supposes.

11/23/2011 – “Red Light” is published in Pure Slush Volume 1: Slut

“Slut,” she hears. Did he say that? Did he? Her hands tremble as she sets the plate down. A surreptitious glance at the camera. Do they know it too? Does it show through her skin in the camera’s light, a ghostly skeleton? The real Jessica Bender, the kernel beneath the chaff?

11/15/2011 – “Commitment” appears at Pure Slush.

My notes crumpled within my curling fists. Dear God, what have I done to deserve this? I glared at the kid. His upward gaze held a fascination that went beyond bird watching. I wanted to wrap my hands around his throat and wring his neck.

10/29/2011 – “Paint the Black” appears in Fiction365.

A ground ball makes me that guy people remember in the morning, that guy who did his job and tied up the game. A single makes me the guy people can’t forget. Who am I kidding? I need the single; hell I need a home run. I’m 26 and still playing double-A ball. There aren’t a whole lot of chances left for me to impress.

10/2/2011 – “God Drives” is published at State of Imagination.

“Well, that stinks,” Abercrombie states. He’s trying to set a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, Hot Wheels not the real thing, onto a roadway jammed with idling cars, trucks, fire engines, dragsters and Weeble hybrids.

10/1/2011 – “Earth Vector” is published by Garbled Transmissions.

Groupmother paused. A repurposed ore sorter, she was not graced with particularly deep data storage, but her pattern recognition software was state of the art. Alexis had been obsessing over planetary ecology and gravitational theory for some time now. That must be related. How to nudge the child back to an appropriate course?

9/22/2011 – “Bloom Science” appears at Coffin Mouth.

– row after row of green-veined palms — row of green-veined palms — drawing your attention
to a singular glow deep within. Ferns do not produce flowers, the experts will see those tiny
hands

9/6/2011 – “Sky Blue Pink” appears at Every Day Fiction

Russell looked up, as much to avoid what he’d already seen as to see something new. The ceiling retained some of its original majesty, sweeping panels tapered to a domed center and borders of high-relief cornice. A proud place, resolute, clinging to the essence of what it once was. That must be what drew May.

9/1/2011 – “Miraculous” appears at Liquid Imagination (audio version too!)

Jesus woke to the feel of skin sliding across his leg. His first thought was of a snake crawling onto his cot, but it was Ulla’s calf, followed by her thigh and the hard bone of her hip. Fingers traced the pocked skin on his back.

7/31/2011 – “Leaving the Garden” appears at The Journal of Compressed Creative Fiction.

At Brest, we dropped oranges, crate after crate of citrus. I watched them fall in clumps through clouds gone gray, saw the spray of their impacts, one after another, a gleaming trail through the darkening streets. I heard laughter, the surprised laughter of children shooting squirt guns, women discovering love letters, men playing a sport.

SELECTED AS A NOTABLE AUTHOR BY FLASHFICTION.NET

7/31/2011 – “Deeds Done Done” is published at Pure Francis.

So now I look around this city, this buildup of bricks, and I wonder where it’s gone to, where the time of deeds, not dander went. We got people, rich people mostly, staring out of TV screens, mouthing words like “greatest” and “mightiest” and “freedom” and we’re throwing votes at them like there ain’t no tomorrow. Maybe there ain’t.

7/1/2011 – “Cycles” is reprinted in Best of Every Day Fiction Three. Or, read it here.

The butterflies filling the greeting bay were intended to instill a sense of lightness and peace. Purser Hardy Dickens heard only the incessant tapping of metalloid bodies against metalloid walls, a reminder of the endless droning of days of his last hundred or so years of life aboard the Interplanetary Love Ship.

6/27/2011 – “Godless” is published at Daily Science Fiction.

Toothless women wave handcrafted rugs and bowls and dolls. “Only twenty dollars,” one screams. “Ten,” another offers. Soon they’ve talked themselves below the cost of their materials for the chance to say they sold something to a visitor. Men offer to porter bags, children beg for crumbs. Everyone hangs on the visitor’s every word, longing for stories of heaven.

6/18/2011 – “Glass Animals” is published by Cafe Irreal.

As best Malcolm could read, the sign had said “No Glass Animals in Pool.” The sign lied. Standing on the diving board he saw them: glass crocodiles, translucent hippos, sharks. They skimmed just beneath the surface, yawned cavernous mouths through passing wave troughs. The skin of his shoulders bunched.

6/8/2011 – “Time, and Tide” appears at Eschatology.

In an age of eternal midnight, children play with dead things. On stage, girls scream in the throes of spastic explosion while Horrors Incarnate yowl from a mosh pit of pooled shadow.

5/31/2011 – “The Reservoir” is published in Flashquake.

The dam, they said, would pump power to thousands of homes. Barbara only knew the sucking of that power, the hulking concrete wall perched a few miles downstream like some giant mosquito. The family had sold and moved long before the waters reached them–everyone had–but there was still a part of Barbara down there in that smoothness. How many pets had they buried? How many kisses had been stolen on that creaky porch swing? How many babies weaned to solid food?

5/31/2011 – “Assuaging the Clown” appears at Pure Slush.

When the clown cries, you have to wonder if you’ve pushed the joke too far. I mean, there he was, rubbing the white off his face, exposing salmon colored skin, and there I was laughing my ass off. My friends were too, actually. How many clowns does it take to screw his wife? You wouldn’t think that would be a sore point for someone in his profession.

5/11/2011 – “Sons and Fathers” goes live at Caper Literary Journal.

This is the book of the killing of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

4/15/2011 – “How Birds Mate” is published in Eclectic Fiction.

The problem is… well, here’s the thing: Ricky is transgendered. He likes girls and all, but he’d rather not have a penis. And Sophia is a little bit Baptist. She’s been to revivals and seen people healed by a prophet’s touch. She’s attracted to Ricky, especially that dimple when he smiles and the way his green eyes seem to fluoresce, but she can’t get past his eye shadow and thickened lashes.

4/12/2011 – “Simply Salazar” appears in the (Short) Fiction Collective.

He came to the hardware store. There was a bike rack outside and two bikes were already parked. He looked through the door and saw Sandy-hair at the register talking to a customer. As he spoke, his hands made expressive gestures, palms cupped and sweeping in small circles as if he were feeling Claudia’s breasts. She hadn’t let Salazar do that, but she would let him. He had that going for him.

3/1/2011 – “Lactose Intolerant” appears in Foliate Oak.

Jimmy saw her in Wal-Mart. It was a busy Saturday and there she was, wheeling a plastic shopping cart topped with shrink-wrapped steaks and sausage links through the masses of grazing shoppers. She wore a camouflage tee shirt–desert, not jungle–and crisp brown slacks. A handgun was holstered on the efficient half-curve of one hip. Wrap-around shades hid her eyes.

2/12/2011 – “A Clockwork Clef” appears at Eschatology.

One thing we Andies could never tolerate was a group of meat men bludgeoning the skins and rims, massaging their mouthpieces ’round the sweet reed nipples of our fellows in the pit. And so we set upon their orchestral orgy with metalloid fists and knives re-fit. Red flowed until the floor slimed with the organic stuff.

1/14/2011 – “Lovers” is published by Berg Gasse 19.

Frida was on her porch clinging to Felicity’s leash. Paul’s dog was free. They lunged back and forth, feinting and snapping. Paul came outside, holding a chair, legs forward as if he were a lion tamer. Felicity pulled out of her collar and the dogs engaged.

1/12/2011 – “Fucshia” appears at Every Day Fiction.

I came to a section less opaque than the rest and a most amazing feeling came over me. Beneath the ice, I saw colours, vivid reds and purples, as if a painter had strewn beads of oil paint across the lake bed. It must be a reflection of the sun, which was beginning to set, or perhaps my tired imagination had dredged up a fantasy. In any case, I chose not to stop.

1/1/2011- “Dog Days” appears at State of Imagination.

Next day when the three meet, they’re wearing hats. Spot O’Tea suggested it, recalling how their owners often wore hats when they went outside. “If we want to restore civilization, shouldn’t we become more civilized?” Secretly, she hopes the tantalizing secret of The Can Opener will be revealed to them via this process.

1/1/2011 – “What’s in a Name” is published in Daily Flash 2011: 365 Days of Flash Fiction (or Kindle version).

She knows it will only escalate. Her situation with Robert, that is. Only yesterday, when she asked if he thought she’d look fat in a red-and-white blouse from the silver Walmart spin rack, he’d looked at her with that… that condescending sneer — you don’t have to finish high school to know big words — and told her, “Horizontal stripes are not your style, Honey.

1/1/2011 – “Into the Woods” appears in Bartleby Snopes.

The cold seeped into him, beginning at his toes and fingers. He stomped and flexed, but it did little good. Soon, the chill had seeped into his mind too, and even his heart shivered with every beat. In a way, it was good, though, because when something rustled beside the path, he was able to ignore it and keep walking. The only warmth inside him now came from the flame of his purpose. He would find Daddy, no matter what.

REPRINTED IN BEST OF ISSUE 6 (for sale here)

NOMINATED FOR BEST OF NET AWARD

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