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…

Just Another Monday

The newspapers lay where they’d landed, just inside the gate. The sheriff’s car was parked along the road. She rolled down her window and gave the deputy the code. He entered it and the gate swung open. “Wait here,” the other officer said, disappearing behind the house. He returned, shrugging. “Locked tight. Curtains are drawn.…

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…

She’ll Go Anyway

A porcelain vase, once shattered, will never be whole again.  Mother must have said that a hundred times. Of course  mother had other sayings, too. If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt. Happy people never wonder if they are happy. All true, she thinks. She closes the laptop. Now she can’t see the emails. She…

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…

Maiden Voyage

Rene gripped the strap of his new sea-bag as he gazed up at the ship. It was bigger than any building he’d seen, a towering wall of riveted steel. Uncle Juní came up behind and put his hand on his shoulder. “You excited?” “Sure.” “Scared?” Rene shook his head. His uncle laughed. “You’re a better…

Last Respects

Gino walks through the dining room, smoothing tablecloths, straightening chairs, lining up silverware. He picks up a wineglass and holds it to the light. Spotless. In fact, the entire place is spotless, the staff having stayed late to make sure their restaurant will be at its best for this, its last day. Gino walks to…