Fort Canby Days

Fort Canby was constructed during the Civil War. God knows why. By 1863, all the hostile Indians had been deported to Shitsville, Oklahoma and the looming threat of the Confederate Navy was confined to Mobile Bay and its environs. I was stationed there in 1941, a regular Army sergeant on my third and (I thought)…

The Knowledge

It was Royger’s fourth attempt at The Knowledge. He knew he might come a cropper when he saw that his examiner was Stoneface Cavendish, the dean of London cabbies. “Streatham A-2 to Stour Road, if you please,” said Cavendish. Royger took a deep breath and fixed his eyes to a spot on the table. “I…

Prodigal

There is a stone on Air Manis Beach in Sumatra, not far from where I was born. My mother made a practice of showing me this stone (which has more than a passing resemblance to a prostrate man) because it is attached to a legend of an ungrateful son who forgets his mother. “Malin Kundang…

Where is the Doctor?

“Where can he be?” said Lakshmi. “He’s often late these days,” said Bhavana. “He told me people stop him on the street.” “I know, but never this long. Almost three hours. Look at the crowd.” She gestured to the throng of patients outside the door of the clinic. “We’ll never see them all today.” “I’ll…

Aye-Aye Fady

Ilnah lay back on the cot, the blood-spattered handkerchief in her limp hands. Every few minutes her bony body was wracked by shattering coughs that sounded like her lungs were coming apart. Sister Ignatia stood in the doorway of the hospital hut, running the Rosary through her fingers. After Henintsoa’s death the previous afternoon, Ilnah…

After The Surgery

Dr. Soames rinsed his bloody hands in the basin provided for the purpose, then wiped them dry on his smock. The patient lay back, pale and gasping, his clay-like face mottled and streaked with broken blood vessels. Despite the leather gag, he had done a good deal of screaming as his leg was amputated. Soames’s…

Two Sides to Every Story

Ari ordered a Turkish coffee at the counter. The cafe was crowded with men sitting in groups of ones or twos, talking or doing business. These days it was impossible to tell at a glance the Jews from the Arabs. Young men with dark hair and golden skin, all of them with cellphones in their…

La Sangre De Los Reyes

“Where are you going, Tupac?” Marisól asked. “Out,” he said. “With whom?”  She stepped in to block him from the door. The combination of her bulk and moral authority were impenetrable. He sighed. “With Carlitos and Nando.” “Always those boys with their spray paint and skateboards and slang.” “They’re good guys, Mamá. Carlitos is at…

The Old Gods

My grandfather started this cattle station back in the goldfield days. I was born here and lived my whole life here, excepting the war years when I was in Malaya. We have the devil’s own time keepin’ white ringers on the station. They start out all right, but none of them lasts a half-year. Most…