Mad artists, haunted dreamers, scofflaws on the prowl and other personages populate these stories of mine. Bad things generally happen, sometimes to good people.
“Ayn Rand’s Chainsaw” – A young husband wrestles with his wife’s transformation following life-changing medical procedures. But first he must grapple with… a chainsaw-wielding Ayn Rand and her nightmarish premises. This story was published by The Molotov Cocktail in September 2016. Some laughed, others cried.
“Secret Ministry” – A story within a story, a fairy tale within a horror dream. Published by The Molotov Cocktail in July 2016. An homage to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and a solemn nod to about half a dozen true-crime stories I saw in New Jersey in my time.
“No Man’s Land” – A strange figure follows a group of soldiers, from the horrors of a trench during the WWI Somme offensive, through to the “shock-and-awe” 21st century wars on TV. Along the way, it just might explain a vicious cycle of violence. A debt for this Cracked Eye piece is owed to Rod Serling.
“Aria” – Figures invade a house, and the occupant is not pleased to see that they don’t believe in ghosts. A story that placed in a “Flash Phenom” contest by The (inimitable) Molotov Cocktail literary magazine.
“The Black and Red” – Four friends take a chance on Atlantic City in the 1980s. Horror ensues. A story published by The Cracked Eye, January 2016.
“Robbing Papa” – a flash-fiction piece that got honorable mention in a big Squalorly Lit contest. It was described as “exceptionally short and incredibly moving” – which are words I would use to describe the subject of the piece, who is (still) buried in Idaho.
“American Landscape, with figures” – a story published by The Cracked Eye during the end of the winter of 2015. It’s about Newark, where my family roots are, and where I have seen anguish that would be startling in a second-world country – let-alone the United States of America, that bastion of hope for mankind.
“Oxygen and Elbow Room” – a story published by the Kudzu House Quarterly, a fine publication out of Alabama. The story is set in and around the Georgia Guidestones, known as the Stonehenge of the Deep South. It’s about making babies, and what the world needs now (not in the Bacharach/David sense, either).
—- “Laid Off” – a story published by Cracked Eye, an imprint of the Other Publishing Company. A Joycean romp through Great-Recession-era Boston, with a pair of two gallant vagabonds crashing a CEO’s secret party in a stately old hotel. Hilarity ensues. I meditated on how poor suckers ain’t got a shot in this world here.
—- “Long distance” – a story published in Ginosko Literary Journal issue number fourteen, 2013. An homage written to a dear friend who is missed everyday. Also informed by Richard Matheson’s sneaky beauty.
—- “A bit off the top” – a noir story published in Tropus Quarterly, in 2013. An homage to Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity and the time when men were men, the dames were knockouts, the whiskey ran in streams, and chain smoking was good form. Josh Ponzio – one of my best people – did the rich artwork accompanying it.
—- “Something else is slipping away” – published by Writer’s Digest in 2007. A story written from the mind of an Alzheimer’s patient who doesn’t recognize the strangers all around him – and is fighting to survive. At one point the man just watches an insect: “A fly buzzes against the window screen. It bumps against it, trying to get outside, and buzzes louder. But it keeps knocking against the screen like that. Finally it gives up and sits on the sill below, quiet.” The title is stolen from Billy Collins; I had the audacity to sign a copy of the collection and give the line back to him at the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival.