Nona Amelia liked to tell me how she was born in that very room the night McKinley was shot. “My father said they came after anyone they considered to be an anarchist. His own brother was arrested. My father said it is because our name sounded foreign.” I remember her piano cluttered with framed pictures […]

Jack the Giant Killer

Her writing desk stood in the corner. It was too elegant for the room, polished cherry bound with gold. She told me it had been her grandmother’s, passed down through the generations, implying it would be mine. She always wore the key on a slim golden chain around her neck. The funeral director had given it […]

The Night Manager

The Night Manager exuded quiet confidence, taste. His Gieves & Hawkes suit was impeccably tailored, yet not at all ostentatious. The subtle pattern of his Brioni necktie quietly matched the hotel wallpaper. In five languages he would give guests comfort, guidance, bits of colorful lore about the city or the hotel itself. He solved problems efficiently, […]

Irrelevant and Idle Questions

I passed the stunning Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square without seeing it.  A quote from Anna Karenina rolled through my mind, where Levin avoids “any long look at her as one avoids long looks at the sun, but seeing her as one sees the sun, without looking.” I was like that with Red Square. With all of […]

Well, I Think I’m Ready

When I told him I was ready to take the vow, Brother Xavier’s kind face wore a look of concern. “I’ve been here for a month now, Brother,” I said. It felt strange to talk, “During this time I have spoken twice. When I arrived, and now.” He smiled. “I believe I understand it now. The vow […]

Sunlight of the Spirt

I tried to make sense of his note, but it was just gibberish. He had taken them books with him, so I knew he wasn’t going off to kill himself. When I checked with the bank, they said he’d cleaned out his college fund on Friday. That bothered me, but not for the reasons you’d think. There […]

A Breezer’s Yarn

Me and Red tramped all over. The Apple Butter Route to the big G, the BN down south to the Bitter Biscuit line. Couple of boxcar Willies such as you’d see about anywheres. I met him when I was just sixteen, run away from the Oklahoma dirt farm where Pap would take out his meanness on whatever was […]

Holcomb Sunday

“Not like her to oversleep,” said Sue. “Especially on a Sunday.” “Well, I suppose we’d better go in,” said Nancy. “It looks like they all might be sleeping.” Sue had a strange feeling as she knocked on the kitchen door. Mr. Clutter and Kenyon were always up early on a Sunday, though Mrs. Clutter usually stayed in her […]

At Shahi Qila, 1849

The Punjab sun lay across Lieutenant Maclean’s back like a heavy wool blanket. He ignored it as he climbed the steep stairs of the citadel. Beside him, Sergeant Ross puffed like a dray horse. They passed through the high arches and strode through the shade of the now-deserted fort. “Bloody hell, sir,” said Ross. “It’s a good thing we beat Maharaja Singh on the plains. […]

Rencontre Chanceuse

He bought a basket of new plums, ate them while he watched the girl exchange pleasantries with the miller. He was struck by her  beauty, her freshness. “Who was that maid?” he asked the miller after she had gone. “That’s no maid, sir. She’s the daughter of Florent the silk merchant.” “Is this Florent a member of the guild?” “A […]