Before the Storm

After the emergency broadcast, he got busy, talking the whole time. “My great-grandfather was a whaler,” he said as he slid a heavy-duty cable over the bollard, cranking the capstan to draw the hull tight against the fenders. “He wrote about rounding the horn down by the roaring forties.” He tightened down the hatch battens.  […]

Hi-Ho Hoosegow

“You sure he’s in there?” said Jeffus. He squinted at the cabin.  “Don’t see no smoke from the chimbly.” The marshal slid another cartridge into his Henry, then ran his wipe along the brass side.  “Warm night,” he said. “And appearances to the contrary, Happy Jack is nobody’s fool.” “So what you got in mind?” […]

The Grim Journal

Saturday, September 26 The first of the leaves falling. It’s a month now since they took Molly to the hospital.  I often catch myself unconsciously weeping.   Wednesday, November 4 Frost came early this year. When the electricity is on I try to warm myself. There’s the gas range, but the ration box is late […]

As Golpistas

Cuandon had a good Saturday. He told me he’d run the airport scam twice, each time picking up the tourists by yelling the name of a hotel from the van window, then taking them up to the mountain shack until they paid the ransom which he calls a “travel fee.” I was down in the […]

Dear Kid,

I couldn’t help but look at the calendar as the day approached. Three more days. Two more days.  Though only  ten, she felt it too. Only once did she ask me why she had to go, why she couldn’t live with me. The question floated over my sea of bitter resentment me like a scrap […]

Father Arnaud

Father Arnaud hung his surplice on the teak peg and turned to face the bright-eyed visitor.  “You were at Mass?” “Yes. I’ve been coming every Sunday for the past four weeks.” “Yet you did not take Communion.” “No. I’m not Catholic.” “Then why do you come to Mass?”  The ancient priest gave his most winning […]


I says to him, heck Bill, why not stay right here?  I mean it ain’t like you can open regular, not with these national guards and all. And we can’t go home. He says, where do we all sleep? That ain’t a problem, I says. I got about nine thousand square feet of foam panels […]

The Better Alternative

She started skipping her meetings, staying home with her face glued to Fox News. Normally she don’t watch the news except Hannity. Mostly it’s reality TV, game shows, and the occasional 90s comedy. I started paying attention, using  my laptop to double-check the sources. As the days ticked by and things started closing down, I […]

Ruse Astray

“Only a couple days, Chinhua. It’s just play-acting.” She bit her lip, sorry she’d answered the ad in the South China Morning Post. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just tell them?” He paled. “My parents are very traditional. Gay is not a thing they would ever understand.” She sighed, then took the notepad he held out. It […]

Al Kafir

They hang together, these al Kafir, cling to one another as flies do when they discover a carcass,  setting about tasks with tremendous attention and then scattering at the slightest disturbance. Their skin bakes an unwholesome red in the sun, and despite their mastery of machines and firearms they are helpless as children, especially when […]