Published Short Stories
This story was just published in (hand bound & letterpressed) no. 5 of The Coming Envelope. Other contributors include M. Kitchell, Diane Williams, Mikhail Iossel and Michael Nardone. I was only able to publish an excerpt here, though you can find a copy on Book Thug’s website.
I. WHERE THE GHOST CAME FROM
1) The Boy.
When he was a boy scout, Beuys marched in black boots amongst his peers: youths on the cusp of maturity, all lean as grass with nubile, girlish faces. Their boots thumped in unison against the cobblestone streets — up-down-up-down-up-down — Hiaho, haha, hahiaha!
They woke early and gathered in the square for attendance, afterwhich they left in legions for the woods. Dogs bayed at their heels. The sound of a hunting horn. The morning mist exhumed herself like a veil from the ground.
This was originally published first in a small run publication, Lightness & Darkness and later in a limited edition zine, “False Love.” False Love included writing by Dan Gleason, AA Bronson and Michael Workman was published in this same volume. My story is based on an artist who injected herself with horse plasma.
They entered through a side door on the outskirts of the city. Few words were exchanged. They entered the abandoned warehouse. They came to see a performance and paid a small fee at the door to do so. Electric light glimmered in the entrance, dim from an auxiliary generator. An usher directed them up a dusty stairwell — everything smelled like factory dirt and dry cement. At the top of the stair the light was warmer and more secure. They moved toward it like hungry moths and there, in this main room, another usher wearing white gloves and thin, gold glasses, gave them programs.
Bling Bling was originally published in Artiface Magazine, though it was first written and read for the Literary Death Match in Chicago. This story was also published in my collection of short stories, Psycho Dream Factory.
A story about a young man who tries to drop out of the world but can’t — it was published in Monsters & Dust in Spring 2010. Nick Wylie did the illustrations for the piece, which you can read in its entirety by following the link below.
Brice opened the garden shed door. A one-room shack, he generally felt like a giant inside. He intended to live there for fifty dollars a month on money gained from a student loan that he no longer intended to put towards his education. With no other commitments, no classes or job, he figured he could live five years in this shed. He called himself a homesteader.
Accustomed to his relative proportion, he leaned into the ensuing dark. It was cool and dank; it felt like a cave. The shed seemed different suddenly; while he’d slept well in the cot in the corner, he was suddenly uncomfortable. It did not feel like a home. The compass of his personal effects was unapparent. He couldn’t make out his property. Instead he blinked, his pupils still small from the light of midday. There was a dark smell that engulfed and then dissolved everything within it.
Brice felt someone watching him, an external scrutiny; felt also that the darkness was holding its breath, waiting to see what he might do in order to pounce. To shoot him. He cleared his throat. Considering aliens and anal probes, Brice wondered why the two were linked: abduction implied penetration, but why?
He raised his voice in an attempt to conquer what he couldn’t see. “I’m angry with you,” he said, pointing a finger first at the door and eventually at the darkness just beyond it. “You bit me.” Brice was breathing and noticed. He felt his heart hammering in his chest. He wished his voice had been deeper.
“Funniest thing,” Loretta said to the coffee pot, “my girlfriend told me she had a yeast infection.”
Brice cocked his head. He was sitting at the counter.
“Haven’t seen her in ten years and she tells me she’s got a yeast infection. Like it’s the first thing she tells me, ‘I’m coming to visit, but I gotta yeast infection.’”
“Did you tell her about the oil of tea tree?” Ollie offered from his stool across the room. He spent most days at the diner, from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon when he went to play bingo. He liked to talk to Loretta. He liked to talk with all the girls.
“What am I, a medicine woman?”
Assuming a stoop, Brice took a step inside the shed. and He strained his eyes to see in the dark. He could make out the edge of his stereo system, but just the edge. His television screen reflected a small wink of the day behind him as it shone through the doorway. His silhouette blocked much of that light. He clenched his fist. Brice was stern.
“What is this, the void? This is bullshit,” his whine was shrill. His hand felt a different, unnatural wind pass nearby. Something moved in front of him. Something soft, something inconsistent with the edges of his furniture. The hair on his arms bristled. The darkness shuffled on its haunches. Something crashed behind the open door. “Get the hell out of my fucking house!” Brice’s voice cracked like a teenager: screeching, vulnerable, impotent. He grabbed the nearest book and slammed it into the farthest corner of the little shed: a diversion against this unknown enemy. Brice ran into the dark, to the other corner of the shed and switched the light on. He was shaking. He attributed it to the shed.
Afraid to turn around, he stared at the lamp, one arm on the wall to steady himself. He didn’t want to pass out. There was another crash behind him and then a growl. The growl grew into a high-pitched whine, more childish than his own. (Read more)
An excerpt from Woof — a novel not yet published about hipsters and childhood and loss.
Originally published by Ampersand Review. You can read it in its original context here (though I confess, I’ve made some edits since in the version below). This story was partially inspired by the song below — what came out of an improvisatory Iran Contras gathering. The video is courtesy of Colonial Recordings.
The Duchess drank Carlo Rossi all the time. She wasn’t an alcoholic but admired the history of famous alcoholics. To write herself into that history, she was obliged to drink as much as possible.
Her best friend was a chihuahua, ChiChi. It had never been house trained, but she had only lived in her apartment for a year, and it was covered in wall-to-wall brand new carpet. The dog urinated in such small portions, it hardly mattered. Because chihuahuas are small they can’t process adrenalin very well. Because they are so small they are easily excited. Her chihuahua was always excited and the excitement sent him into regular epileptic fits. At such times his eyes rolled back. She couldn’t help but laugh and point; her little baby zombie dog. It shook for 2-5 minutes a day. Her daily exercise occupied the same amount of time.
The dog had a tattoo. She had the same tattoo. They each had dangerous body tattoos: an anklet of barbed wire that glistened in parts with blood. While the dog’s fur grew over the tattoo, it was enough for her to know the tattoo was there as a seal of kinship.
She fainted whenever she saw blood and whenever she got her period she fainted. She only ever had sex when drunk. She used udder lotion on her hands as moisturizer and owned 10 different bottles of perfume; these were carried in a variety of different purses with ChiChi. By the end of the day, both of them smelled like an acidic vat of boiling, carcinogenic flowers, because she preferred to apply perfume than wash her hands in public.
She’d never been to the gynecologist—not since she was 13 and her mother took her the first time. But since then, not at all. Not in 17 years. It was too horrible. She preferred to think of herself as a Barbie doll without privates and medical concerns. She avoided the whole thing entirely—drank an assortment of herbal teas instead.
But she found a pamphlet about syphilis on the only empty seat on her commuter train.
And then she heard a story about boys who raced their STD crabs on This American Life.
She overheard a conversation at work; Nancy’s 14 year old daughter had been diagnosed with HPV. Nancy said it was common.
Later at the corner bad, the Duchess heard people discussing the percentage of urban men and women with herpes. The statistics were shockingly high.
And because she attributed great power to the Universe: its divine methodology, its tendency to communicate through coincidences, she understood the generally ambivalent World Spirit was sending her a message.