Category: Realistic Fiction

My contemporary and historical fiction that tries (and I mean really tries) to sound like it really happened.

Published — “And We Who Never Died” & “Scarabaeidae”

My pieces “And We Who Never Died” and “Scarabaeidae” were published in the Spring Issue of The Tishman Review, a well-respected quarterly magazine devoted to prose, poetry, and people. Behind the paper’s philosophy is the idea that literature’s “value to humanity is beyond measure.” Editors must “remain open to the possibility that an individual work may take us beyond the boundaries known today.”

“And We Who Never Died” began as a metaphysical conflict. What if when we die, our souls don’t abide the afterlife, or face annihilation, but transfer to the objects around us? What horrors would arise? What fears? The story—about a mother sending her children to search the house for their dead father—is one of many scenarios that might result.

“Scarabaeidae” is an ode to my wife, to us. I try to write without goo, mush, doggerel, singsong, cockamamie, and all those wonderful descriptors of poor poetry. But then, “Scarabaeidae” does have a line that begins with “shall I compare thee to.” Maybe it works since it ends in “a dung beetle.” Glimpsed here is the failure and mundanity of the struggle to love another.

You can pick up a copy of The Tishman Review from their website or order it from the source on Amazon.

Fiction — “Duck Marston”

[A literary quickie for Valentine’s Day.]

Duck Marston ran home and kissed his wife and patted his daughter’s head and asked them both: “Be Mine?” It was Valentine’s, that nasty holiday of love making, and despite all the chocolates and flowers Duck had brought, his women gave him little attention. The wife turned away so he kissed her by the ear, inhaling an orange grain of wax. His daughter took his pats like a surly dog and bit three of his fingers. The chocolates they threw away—“We’re dieting, remember?” The flowers went in compost. The girls were too disgusted by this desperate mewling man to explain that flowers were just twenty dollars to watch something die, and they already had front row seats—free of charge—to his life.

[Click here for “A Few Valentine’s Day Literary Cards.”]

[Click here for “everything you need to know about my love life in haiku.”]

Nonfiction — “The Elemental Darkness”

My philosophy is a lone night, with the wife far-flung on the couch watching videos about tape worms. I’ve gone to bed early, and the rain is caught by the tree canopy, except for a black fall from the roof that taps the cement. In the dark it could be the crackle of fire. My philosophy is my beating heart compared to her’s. I can only imagine she still lives, eyes fixed on the doctor’s spool, trapped by elemental darkness.

Published — “Saamiya”

I’m proud to announce that “Saamiya” was published in Issue 4 of HeartWood Magazine. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that “Saamiya” is about a depressed Muslim girl who encounters the brave but fatal heroism of Piggy from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and finds common ground, perhaps inspiration. There are elements in this story I find important, including the guidance we receive from stories and the healing we receive from storytelling.

HeartWood is a digital magazine which publishes biannually in April and October. The editors prefer writing that “pushes into… its own truth” and “that takes emotional risks, that gets to the heart of the matter.” Because the magazine is run by the MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College, its voice has a very strong Appalachian presence. Luckily, they found enough merit in my short story to include it as well.

Nonfiction — “Honest Seafood”

My sister will not eat seafood. She is a brown-haired, brown-eyed girl, all inherited from my mother, and she is picky, an inheritance from no one. Or perhaps a suspicious ancestor—maybe the caveman who ate the poisoned mushroom?

We (the boys) are wide, sandy, blue-eyed beasts. We’ll eat anything, be it a bagel or small dog. It’s that cavalier attitude Mom rewarded with meals that stretched the definition of food. She was not the best cook, and sometimes pizza would be recast as “lumps,” or toast as “carcinogens with a side of yeast.” Nor was she the most honest about ingredients. She wanted us to eat, after all.

So, Sis found herself in a constant state of seafood consumption. She’d eat tacos and realize afterward: “These were fish tacos!” She’d eat red beans and rice to discover soggy shrimp.

My poor sister. She’s had more sushi than a sushi chef.

Nonfiction — “Snakes and Spiders”

When I wake, the cats are at the door—they want to slip into bed and lie in my warm vacancy. One is black with a teacup on her chest, the other gray as elephant’s breath with muted stripes. In the darkness, I fumble against their fur, locating rump, scruff, finally head, and I pet what I can find until they roll over and expose their tummies—a trap.

Under the bluing shade of early morning they are furry dead spiders.

Cats aren’t the only parasite squirming in the bedwaters. My wife, snorting like the Union Pacific, snakes her cold fingers and toes toward me, seeking flickers of heat like sausages over a campfire.

Shower. Toothpaste. Size 40 pants instead of last year’s 38. An XLT button-down that’s starting to hug. The cats follow me to the living room as I pick up a satchel and keys. Jenny lets me pet her back. She has a funny habit of bursting forward when my hand reaches her tail, to circle around for another run.

Remy sits on the couch, feet tucked under his chest like a chicken in a coop. I think of saying goodbye to the snoring pile of hair in the other room, but my wife doesn’t work until 9.

Still, what if I never see her again?

I open the door and step into a world devoid of Julie and Jenny and Remy and the little routines of morning before the light.