Spinners

“I have good news and bad news, dear,” grandma says with a sly smile. “Bad news first: we’ve run out of jam for your muffin.”

I must look comically bereft. I’ve been visiting for a week and every morning I’ve had a pile of blueberry jam on an English muffin for breakfast. Grandma has offered pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon; but I have stuck with the muffins and the jam.

“The good news is there’s more in the cellar. Just go down the stairs and on the left there’s some shelves. There’s pickled tomatoes and pickled cucumbers and peaches and blueberry jam. You can’t miss the jam because it’s dark blue.” The pours herself some coffee and sits down with a soft “oy” at the kitchen table. “Go on now.” Continue reading Spinners

The Briefcase

Every day Jerry started writing a new novel in the hope that the next day he would find his efforts worthy enough to continue. This never happened. Yesterday’s writing was always Yesterday’s Writing, old and dull and foreign from the new day’s line of thinking. He had been a salesman for thirty-five years, and he knew from experience that when one prospect appeared the least bit flat it was better to look in a new direction than try to import a mountain. So every day Jerry turned and indeed didn’t have to look far before he found something new to get his typing fingers moving. Writing was easy.

After a few months, however, it struck him that he had so many beginnings of novels collected in a stack by the side of his typewriter that he may as well explore the market for beginnings. Why not? Perhaps someone had assembled a similar collection of endings, or a whole lot of middles, and were actually in need of beginnings. Granted, his beginnings were not first-rate, but they were in sufficient quantity to give a prospective client an appetizing variety to choose from. So attractive was this marketing idea, and so tired was he of writing beginnings, and so in the mood was he for frivolous travel, that he straight-away packed up his beginnings in a black leather briefcase and went out to put them before the public eye. Continue reading The Briefcase

Night Walks

I used to walk with the dog, but her broken foot won’t permit that any more. It feels selfish to be glad about that — no more stopping to sniff every ten feet, to circle and ruminate on the rotation of bowels until I finally lose patience and give the leash a tug. I just want to walk, hands in pockets, podcast in ears, legs in steady rhythm. Continue reading Night Walks

Confessions of a Squeamish Vampire

Chapter 1: In which the Vampire introduces himself and attempts to give an idea of the nature of his obsessions.

I moved to the city so that I could be around people. There is nothing I like better than being in the midst of a great throng of strangers, being able to inspect their manners of walking and talking and the ways in which they survey their surroundings. I’m not an outgoing man, so I rarely engage any of these strangers in conversation, unless they are a clerk behind a counter and I am in the process of purchasing something or, as often happens, somebody stops me to ask for directions. Although I am new to the city, I think that I exude a certain level of comfort which persuades people to ask me for help. My level of comfort comes not from any particular knowledge of the city, but only from the fact that there is nowhere I’d rather be than within that throng of strangers. Continue reading Confessions of a Squeamish Vampire

Good Kid

I was a good kid. Never made any trouble. Mostly I sat with my forehead against the school bus window feeling the rumble of the engine transfer to my brain box.

My friend Mike was more of a troublemaker. He got into an argument one morning and punched another kid on the arm. It was not much of a punch, but the kid wailed and the harried bus driver stopped the bus. Her hair was like a cloud of angry bees. At least that’s how I remember it. When we got to school, Mike was sent to the principal, his face in a resigned grimace that showed his experience in this kind of situation. Continue reading Good Kid

Revelations

Hi, guys. It’s me, God. I created your universe. That is, Julie and I created it. I’m wondering: with all of the religions you guys have created, have you ever come up with a version with exactly two creators, tandem deities working side by side, painstakingly crafting the parameters of the universe to allow for your existence? When you get down on your knees tonight, I demand that you offer up a prayer to Jon and Julie, your almighty creators! Continue reading Revelations

The Interpreter

They were back in the generously air-conditioned boardroom. It was a warm, sunny day outside, but all of the curtains were shut tight. She thought about the layer of air between the curtains and the windows. When there was a break she would go to the crack in the curtains, open it up and bask in the accumulated warmth. Continue reading The Interpreter

Dream Sequence

I had to close the door today to keep a rat from coming in.  It looked very ragged and tired and cold.  I threw a pair of shoes out the window too, because they were covered with slime.  My neighbor next door collects body parts, mostly internal organs.  He sometimes tosses them on the floor of my room when he gets the chance.  They are often covered with slime.  He threw a brain on my shoes in a slimy paper bag.  I did my best to stop him, but he threw it anyway, laughing, obviously in disbelief that it bothered me so much. Continue reading Dream Sequence