Religion

A woman limped out of a liquor store with the submissive stoop of the genuflected and the promise of a liturgy to come in a bottle. A radiant, old face with the slight tremor of the merciful, holding a brown paper bag reverently out in front of her with both hands as a priest holds his chalice. And what would be the difference? She has been living, breathing and drinking the blood of Christ in a lifetime of unparalleled singularity that the clergy can only read about and shamelessly attempt to enact, mouthing their long-winded, incredulous interpretations of the Bible, done up like showgirls in their mawkish vestments.

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This micro-fiction piece has been published in Ascent Aspirations, Foundling Review and Black Words on White Paper.

The Bottom Line

Bernice Mendelsohn looked right through me. Eye contact between us was an unsanctioned landscape. She had to pass me at least a few times each day, but saw nothing where I stood or sat. I banked my working life on this law of matter. I wanted only to silently exist, do my appointed jobs, and get out before anyone noticed.

I was everything Bernice loathed–lanky, rumpled, and a shiksa, not to mention a peon buried beneath the writhing layers of corporate advertising. I was an assistant to a media buyer in a large advertising agency, H. R. Bingaman. I was that coffee mug never dredged out of the back of the cabinet, branded with a permanent, brown stain, that shouted out from the sides of it’s non-descript beige ceramic: KRUT: Fastest growing market in Christian Bog, Kansas? No one knew how long the mug had been there or if the town existed, but nobody was invested enough to throw it out. Continue reading

Sinister Age of the Draft

Each kid found himself victim to one of the many human abuses of dumping a child out of the back of a station wagon into the snot-filled clutches of a pack of anonymous kids. It was an enforced group dynamics that came with all its paranoids, masochists and victims for no other reason then that they have turned the same sinister age of the draft, and as it was a Catholic school in the early sixties, abuse was not only condoned, but expected at any and all levels.

The teacher was a myopic, old woman with a pink barrette and brown teeth who spent a large portion of her day trying to figure out what her pension would be if she quit that afternoon, punching numbers into an adding machine, picking it up and sneering at it as reality spread bitterness over her face, while the children were left to themselves­­–a sort of Lord of the Flies meets Mickey Mouse–in which the forces of evil press in on the good like white bread on peanut butter. The so-called good, a weak but whiny lot who actually clung to that abstract of “justice for all,” would tattle to Mrs. Pufry…Mzz Puffy, she hit me…Mzz Puffy he said the bad word…Mzz Puffy, I gotta go….Mzz Puffy, Thomas is hanging in the cloakroom again…” and Mrs. Pufry’s hand would absently lash out at the sniveling chorus and shoo them back to their seats without looking up, including the one who had to go, who was now shamed into retreat with the rest of them, finding out early in life that time was never to be on his side as he fought a losing battle with the vicious stream that laughed its way down his pant legs.

After lunch and regulated nap, Mrs. Pufry would suddenly lurch up out of her chair and stumble toward the supply cabinets, like some hideous, reanimated corpse, and hurl herself around the room throwing out instructions, crayons, construction paper, and panic, forcing an art deadline on all of them. The class experienced their first creative block, staring at the paper, a pile of broken crayons, the clock that rushed around in a circle none of them could decipher, and Mrs. Pufry, now looming over them, pacing the aisles, staring down at the feeble slashes and stick men with disgust, cuffing a few heads yelling, “hurry up, fill that page, nobody asked for Picasso.”

When the final bell finally rang at three o’clock and the parents lined up outside for their wards, each shaky child clutched a lopsided monkey, tortured landscapes, family portraits with a member or two missing, heads without bodies, bodies without heads, in what could have been a fair rendition of the birth, or at the very least, the first mass movement toward minimalism. School was a daily workshop in human dynamics.

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This story will be published in Foundling Review in June 2010 issue and Monkeybicycle Magazine in summer 2010.

Couple

WF, 5’4, brown hair, brown eyes, fortyish, available parking day or night in front of building.

Elva dropped her personal ad off on the way to work. She hadn’t been in a relationship in over three years. This was an attempt to plague fate with the probability of companionship–that was all. “Somebody,” she thought to herself. “Another overfed body wrestling his magic death queen, his Sears five-speed black and gold stingray, the answer to flat pancakes, bad cop shows, and gas.” The idea of fantasizing was an unnecessary pastime to Elva. Let the men bask in their fallacious pin-up dates. She saw it like it was.

WPM, 5’11, 170 lbs., forty-six, loves to cook, bicycle, spend quiet evenings at home. “Atque annuit ille, qui per eos, clamat, linquas iam, Lazare, lectum.” (God prospers their practise, and he, by them, calls Lazarus out of his tombe, mee out of my bed.) John Donne, 21st meditation.

Anderson was closer to 200 lbs., 5’8, unemployed for over twenty years, (his mother was supporting him), and had never owned a bicycle in his adult years. The remaining statements were accurate. Continue reading

Brenda Stantonopolis

It wasn’t her guts I hated. It was other parts of her anatomy I despised. Sparkling, ivory teeth spread out across her face like piano keys plastered beneath a witless pair of shimmering lips. I would stare at her flat incisors while she blustered on about something inane and fantasize blacking out a few of them with my fists to complete the keyboard. I did take a black marker to her high school yearbook photo, but that satisfaction was merely momentary, for I knew that that was all I was capable of. She was an amazon with incredible clout.  I was long bones with a bit of meat on me in all the wrong places. Most of the time I tried to stay clear of her.

The only body parts that pushed out ahead of her teeth were her boobs. They torched out of her chest like two upended lampshades with little balls on the ends where her nipples saluted. Continue reading

Master of the Massdom

My older brother, Nathan, was named after a nun my Irish grandmother knew. Nathan seemed the perfect name for a nun. There were no Sister Cindy’s, Scarlett’s, or Barbara’s for a very specific reason. Sister Garrett was the first nun I met. She had shoulders like a linebacker and was more than capable of kicking my ass or anyone else’s that dared to cross her path. She was my first grade teacher. They didn’t get less brutal as you moved up the grade school ladder. Sister Bernard was my second grade teacher. She weighed at least 200 pounds, had jowls and sometimes drooled. We called her Saint Bernard behind her back.

Nathan was one of those child geniuses. He had taught himself to read when he was three and now read encyclopedias and dictionaries for pure entertainment. He was crammed with miscellaneous facts and elongated words that nobody understood, including the nuns who supposedly taught him. He became an altar boy when he was seven or eight. He could recite the entire mass in Latin after only a few months on the job. Of course, this didn’t surprise anyone in our family, including Nathan. There were six of us kids, which was barely a spit of a Catholic family. Most Catholics grouped eight to twelve kids in their brood, but there was a family a few blocks down with twenty-two kids. It took two houses to house the entire dynasty. Nathan was the only one who could name all of them, in chronological order, in less than a minute. My mom always said their parents won, hands down, first prize for dumbfounding faith in the rhythm method–the only Catholic birth control in existence. Continue reading

Welcome to my blog!

These stories comprise my collection of short fiction entitled “A Woman of No Importance and other stories”. There are eighteen stories in all.

My writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Calliope, Santa Fe Literary Review, San Francisco Bay Press, SLAB Magazine, Boston Literary Review, Fast Forward Press, Midway Journal, Foundling Review, Ascent Aspirations, Blue Print Review, Crash, Sleet Magazine, Jersey Devil Press, Fractured West, Fiction Collective, Black Words on White Paper, Ink Monkey, Midnight Screaming Magazine and Galleys Online.