Tuesday, December 29, 2015


First published in Boston Literary Magazine, Winter 2015.

When Angela learned she couldn’t have children—something she’d looked forward to since getting a doll house for her third birthday—she turned to drugs and alcohol.
When she awoke in the hospital after the overdose, her sister, Eileen, sat in a chair reading a Bible.
When Angela exited the rehab center for the second time, Eileen waited in the car to take her to the halfway house.
When, three months later, Eileen opened the door to her home with a smile, Angela hugged her sister and wept.
When her nephew, Joseph Anthony Ridgeway, was born, Angela was in the delivery room.
When she held Joseph for the first time, she felt joy.
When the bridge collapsed and the swollen river swallowed the car containing Joseph’s parents, Angela’s mind went numb.
When Joseph first called her Mommy, Angela felt complete again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Child is Born

I came out of the Quick Stop and found her in the back seat of my ten-year-old Camry. I don’t know who she is, or why she chose my car. I do know she’s having a baby any minute now based on the size of her belly and the sounds emanating from her. Note to self: in the future, remember to lock car doors, or give up cigarettes, or both.

I ask her name. She says it, I think. It’s buried in one long scream and a lot of huffing.

She’s pretty and has a slim body—or will have once the baby comes out—and nice legs. Blonds interest me. For that matter, so do redheads and brunettes. I’m not so excited by the lavender lipstick or neon, multicolored fingernails. Still, in other circumstances, if I wasn’t so afraid of talking to girls and making a fool of myself, I might ask her out.

I agree to drive her to the hospital. She thought she had time to walk there. Obviously, that didn’t work out so well. 

Traffic comes to a halt when we’re three blocks away. The honking of stopped cars due to an accident at the intersection tells me it might as well be three miles ahead. 

“This isn’t good,” I say.

“At least my water broke before I got in the car.”

“Your what what?” I feel light-headed.

I consider driving down the sidewalk, but there are too many Christmas shoppers. And it’s dark. I might hit someone paying more attention to their phone screen than where they’re walking. Maybe that’s what happened up ahead. Texting is just as dangerous when walking as when driving.

A scream from the back seat engulfs all the other sounds. I peek over my shoulder. She’s lying on the seat, knees up, legs spread, skirt bunched near her waist. “It’s coming,” she says.

“NO,” I respond. I want to run, but my legs won’t let me. They seem to have other ideas as to how I should spend my next few minutes. Another note to self: when finally at home, chop off legs for insubordination. 

I jump out of the car and look around. “Somebody help. She’s having a baby!” Everyone stares straight ahead. “She’s your wife,” a nearby cabbie yells through the window. “Man up.”

“She isn’t. I don’t —“

A second scream interrupts me. 

“It’s coming now. Get in here.”

I look around for help once more. A young woman walks by. I open my mouth, hands waving over my head. She gives me the finger.

“Aaaagh.” I open the back door. Look inside. Notice she’s not a natural blond. Avert my eyes.

“Oh, come on. You’ve seen a pussy before,” she says.

Actually, this is my first. 

“Okay, just breathe. . .or relax. . .or whatever it is you’re supposed to do,” I say.

“I am, you idiot. Now get your hands in there and get ready.”

I put my hands between her legs and close my eyes. Two more grunts and I feel something wet in my hands. I think it’s a head. I still can’t look. Then there’s more. A body. I sense the mother slumping into the seat. I look down and see a healthy baby boy in my hands. His chest rising and falling with each breath. The umbilical cord keeps him tethered to his mother. I try my best to not throw up.

“What’s your name?” she asks.

“Joseph. What’s yours?”

“Mary,” she replies. Laughing and holding her stomach with both hands, she says, “What do you think we should name the baby?”

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Revenge of the Nerd

This week's 5 to 50/55 challenge. Prompt words below.

Her red hair and pale skin reminded him of a peppermint stick, her voice as sweet. He scrutinized her in the mirror, her body no longer a girl’s. Her finger traced a pattern across his naked chest. He closed his eyes, moaned. When the blade crossed his throat, his eyes opened and his bladder emptied. (55 words)

Prompt words: peppermint, girl, empty, mirror, voice

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chasing After Love

This week's 5 to 50/55 challenge. Prompt words below.

He unfolded the paper as the Greyhound bus crossed into Missouri. One word appeared. Goodbye. They met at a hair salon. He had a coupon. She smelled fruity. Her dream was to be a hairdresser to the stars. He didn’t know if he’d be able to find her in Hollywood, but he had to try. (55 words)

Prompt words: paper, goodbye, hairdresser, fruit, Missouri

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mistaken Identity

I nursed a beer waiting for The Rapture to arrive when she sauntered in. She removed her sunglasses, surveyed the nothingness known as Mickey’s. I took a sip and made a wish. It worked. She approached.

“Hi, I’m Hillary. I hope I can count on your vote.”

Obviously, she couldn’t tell I was a Republican.

**Prompt words: rapture, beer, sunglasses, wish, nothingness

Thursday, October 29, 2015

No One Was Going to Mess with Her Kid.

Kate hated Halloween. Bad things often happened, like when her mother found a razor blade in an apple, or when Jimmy Howard set her witch’s wig on fire with his stupid sparkler, or when Frankie Gleason stole her bag of candy and shared it with his friends, or when David unexpectedly dumped her to go on a mission trip to Africa. It was also the night she planned to tell him she was pregnant with his child.

But that was the past, and Kate wasn’t going to let the bad things that happened to her spoil Halloween for her daughter. This year, like the past nine, she and Melissa would dress up and go to the Town Common where everyone gathered for games, and rides, and food, and music. Melissa chose to be Albert Einstein, a fitting costume given her recent report card. She looked so cute with her auburn hair teased out and powdered white. Kate purchased a set of doctor’s scrubs, a white coat, and a black bag at a second-hand store. It wasn’t because she had any affinity for doctors. It was because of all the rapes and robberies and shootings during the past year. The bag provided the perfect place to hide the .38 Special revolver and extra ammunition.

Ready for the evening, Kate adjusted a black strand of the wig that made her look like George Stephanopoulos, then pointed her finger at the mirror as if holding a gun, pulled the imaginary trigger, her finger recoiling just as the gun had at the range, and imagined the tiny missile racing to its target. She blew on the end of her finger and put it in a nonexistent holster.

“Let’s go, Sweetie,” Kate yelled. “We don’t want to miss the Mayor’s opening speech about being safe and having fun.”

Sunday, October 25, 2015


First published in Issue 16 of Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

We waited. Two brothers. Unrelated. He the elder.

The crash brought us together. His older brother and mine drag racing on a residential street. My mother and his parents had to be separated, faces red, fingers wagging, shouts filling the small waiting room, surging into the hallways.

He and I—I didn’t know his name, we hadn’t talked—stayed out of the way, quiet, almost like we were meditating. He laid his hand on the floor palm up. I put mine on top of his. Sweaty, nervous fingers entwined.

When the doctors came, we listened. Our parents began another verbal assault amidst their sobs. We squeezed our fingers tighter and cried. I didn’t know if my tears were because my brother lived or his didn’t.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Yet Again

 Another one sentence story from a prompt.

The hellish voice, muffled as if strained through cotton or crushed glass, spread across the barren playground at twilight, blunting the failing sunlight, chasing the moon behind clouds overburdened with tears, filling the void with the sound of a parent who lost a child to another act of senseless violence. (50 words)

Prompt words: cotton, voice, hellish, glass, playground


My attempt at a one sentence story.

Karen hesitated, the fiddle in the middle of the street, its neck broken, strings askew, a reminder of the baby stroller that once carried her daughter Chloe, the two of them laughing, gurgling, unafraid to cross the street.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Free At Last

Ella hated shoes. They hurt. It was also the way she felt about work, and boyfriends, and sex.

Even now in her late twenties, Ella liked going to playgrounds. She was too big for the slide but could soar on the swings, and hand-walk the monkey bars, and not worry about other things. Today, though, she did worry about other things. Things like her mother’s cancer, and her sister’s divorce, and her new boss, who would touch her and look at her the same way he did when she was the receptionist in the marketing department.

At the apex of one swing, staring into the cloudless sky, Ella decided what she should do. After dismounting, she removed her running shoes and socks, left them near the slide, and skipped to her car, arms raised, her body twirling in the breeze.

Ella scampered past her VW Bug into the woods, laughing. She began to sing a melody she’d never heard before, removed her blouse and slacks, then bra and panties as she roamed deeper into the darkness. Ella was free—free to do whatever she wanted.

The roar of the waterfall tickled Ella’s ears, made her laugh again. She ran to the edge of the falls, took several deep breaths, and looked down. A mist covered the pool at the bottom. With giggles circling her head, she leapt toward the foaming water, her arms spread wide, back arched, legs together, toes pointed, just like her diving instructor had taught her. Ella’s mind and body relaxed, she entered the cleansing water.

Three days later a family hiking the valley found Ella’s body draped on a rock.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lady and Wolfman

This story first appeared in Elbow Pads Literary Magazine, Volume IV, Issue II.

Wolfman bayed to the sky whenever someone passed by wearing a suit and tie—like he did a lifetime ago, before the downsizing—and watched Lady amble toward him pushing her possessions in a rusted grocery cart, one wheel drunkenly spinning. No one knew her real name. He wasn’t certain she did after years on the street. But she’d always wanted to be called a lady, so that was the name the street people knew her by.

Most folks wouldn’t find her beautiful, with oily, salt and pepper hair stuck to her cheeks, a faded blue coat, and a face permanently etched with a scowl. Wolfman saw beyond all that. She was the one who came to his aid after another binge with a bottle of Jack could have put him in the hospital. The one who sat with him in his box, helped him sober up, convinced him alcohol was the enemy. The one who hosted their personal AA meetings.

He stood as she approached, reached out to her, kissed her on the cheek. She hrumphed him away with a sweep of her hand. Her face remained the same, but Wolfman noticed a sparkle in her eyes. She was almost alive again. And so was he.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


First published at Postcard Poems and Prose.

Daddy wore latex under his robe while delivering his rhapsodic sermons to unsuspecting congregants. He preferred Spandex when he and Momma participated in the local circus’ coed mud wrestling league. They were both daft, tromping to their own piper, but we loved them anyway. Wasn’t that how God wanted it?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Woven Tale Press Publishes Five Stories

I’m thrilled that five of my 55 word stories appear in the current issue of The Woven Tale Press. Here’s a blurb from the zine. "The Woven Tale Press is a monthly culling of the creative Web, exhibiting the artful and innovative." What makes this special is that the editors approached me asking permission to include my pieces. Thanks to Editor-in-Chief Sandra Tyler.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Two Stories Inspired by One Prompt

This week's prompt words inspired two pieces. One is 55 words, the other isn't. :)

Miscellaneous cuss words escaped Mary’s mouth as we drove by Chick’s Roadhouse, with its neon girly sign. She took a bite of cucumber, said they were all going to Hell. Sweaty hands on the steering wheel, I watched her take another bite, got excited, briefly, wondered when she’d find out I was a sinner, too. (55 words)


Mary’s face lit up like the neon sign over at Chick’s Roadhouse, the one with the pasties flashing in red, white and blue.

“You remembered!”

I waited, hands sweaty.

“It’s shaped like a cucumber but . . .” Mary stared at me, eyes wide. “My sister put you up to this, didn’t she?”

“If you turn the end, it vibrates.”

A mixture of miscellaneous cuss words and giggles spewed from Mary’s mouth. “You know, Frank, I may not need you anymore,” she said, smiling and waving the pink toy in a circle.

Prompt words: roadhouse, cucumber, sweaty, miscellaneous, neon.