A Few Short Stories
featured in literary magazines
We were ready. To become everything, because we knew how it was to be nothing. We were making ourselves into new people in a place where almost all temptation was banned. Military police strolled the city streets in olive fatigues, and we were constantly afraid of being arrested. We knew that we hadn’t yet shed that wild-eyed, hungry look of people on the brink. We also knew that if you’re in the habit, you can always find more. Miles and miles of poppy fields stretched across the interior.
What happens when you put made-up people into a real incident from your life.
I’ve been wanting to leave. Get out of town, flee the country, abandon the planet. I’m not the only one; I hear people talking about it everywhere. They don’t like the president or the climate or the new interest rates. It is an epidemic, this unhappiness. But I am also in love, and love has kept me from doing anything for a very long time.
“Don’t be an ass,” says Babe. She’s my girlfriend, a tall, bony, crewcut blonde who works in a honey lab and collects vintage Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces. Her skin tastes sweet from the honey. She makes overalls look good on a grownup. She makes me look good, too, though my head is now almost bald. It’s the antibiotics; I ate meat as a child.
Ass is an odd word for one woman to use on another, but that’s Babe. She’s tired of hearing me talk about leaving the same way I used to be tired of a girl who said she wanted to rob a bank.
Click the photo above to reach more Hugo at Ken's Vintage Toys on Tumblr.
Click the photo below to see a compilation of 1970s toy commercials, including a totally freaky one about Hugo.
Much-loved adoptee Ileanna Pratt invites a lonely friend to visit her birth family on the Tesuque reservation ... driving the narrator's father's car, which contains a loaded gun that might or might not be of interest to someone in Ileanna's family. First published in Prairie Schooner in 2005.
A story about J. Marion Sims, inventor of the speculum, and the women in his life: wife, daughters, and the enslaved women on whom he experimented.
The Cincinnati Review published one of my (to me) most gut-wrenching stories, "Fourteen Shakes the Baby," in summer 2016 --and nominated it for a Pushcart Prize--and sent it to Electric Literature as recommended reading.
It's a story about an adolescent girl and the dangers of saying yes.
Her boyfriend moved in too fast and drank too much. And when she didn't want to lead a volunteer program for sexually violent predators, he broke her jaw.
"Perfect, for You" is a romp about a man just out of prison and wooing his telegenic dream girl--via a botched bank robbery for which he's made no plan. It appeared in Gargoyle.
From The Los Angeles Review ... Who wouldn't be hurt if her sister left her behind and drove to L.A. to win prizes on The Price Is Right? Rhonda Burns addresses the local Media Club and Mothers' Optimists Club ostensibly to celebrate her sister's achievements and explain how the two of them got where they are today.
"Their Foreign Body" was published by Blue Mesa Review. Click the button to read about a desperately weird family and their attempt to connect with the neighbors by taking in a worldly (and sultry) French exchange student.
It is, um, semi-autobiographical.
"The Loneliness of Carson Drew" is the fruit of decades of wondering about Nancy Drew's parents--exactly how her mother died (in one book only, we find out Mrs. Drew died of "an illness"--and perhaps even more crucial, why her father never seems to go on dates. I may have had a hunch about a few things ... Miracle Monocle published this story about teen sleuthing in spring 2018 and nominated it for a Pushcart that year.
Painted Bride Quarterly took "Last Meeting of the China Moon Pain Club."
"Sleeps Well with Others: The Evaluations" was in Hayden's Ferry Review--which also ran one of my very first published stories when I was 24.
"The Bed of Imaginary Loves" won The Journal's fiction contest in 2010.