The Forgery Department

“What’s this?” Big X pointed at the portrait of Jenks. “Tolly painted it,” said Reynolds. “Remarkable. Looks like a photograph. Good enough for identity papers.” “As long as it doesn’t get wet. Watercolors, you know.” “Pity. What is he working on now?” “He was copying the Soldbuchs for a while but was getting rather bored with…

Mania

“Another one.” “You didn’t bring it in for me?” “Why bother? There’s more coming.” She purses her lips, knowing that there is indeed another package on its way. At first, it was eBay, justified as a money-making opportunity. Many things arrived, but nothing was ever shipped. When the basement filled, he’d rented a storage container…

Eminent Domain

“Get Tall Charles up here. He’s a good reader.” The boy was fetched. He puzzled over the parchment. “From what I can make out of this, they gonna take all our land for what they call the greater good of New York.” Owens was indignant. “They can’t do that. We own this land. We own…

Cui Buono?

He knows the old man is waiting for him downstairs, on this, the first shameful day of his retreat. It’s not hard to guess what he will say. The recriminations, the guilt. You dreamed about Harvard since you were in third grade.  And the worst of all, What the hell happened? He thinks about this as…

Three Sinbads

The palm trunk against the boy’s back, the fronds above rattling in the wind as he watches the surf hiss across the sand, retreat, return. He thinks again of the legend. A bench in Bagdad, two men sitting side by side, one old, one as young as himself. The boy is a porter, dressed in…

Ubiquity

There’s one in every Jersey town. More than one, probably. Named the same. Fat Tony’s. Greasy Joe’s. Vince’s.  They all look the same, with the grease-slick linoleum floor that was never new, faded posters of barely-remembered movies, maybe a Pong or Pac-Man machine, maybe out of order. The smell of cheese, of vinegar, of frying…