Frank Lloyd Wrong


“We hired you because of your vision, James,” said the senior partner.  “We gave you an opportunity here. You knew the importance of this project to the firm.”

“And this is what you bring us,” said the junior partner. “This…I don’t know what to call it.”

The drawing lay unrolled on the conference table between them. James could see the angry red pencil marks, circles and x’s.

James wanted to tell them about Frank Lloyd Wright’s cherished vision, the mile-high Chicago tower.

He wanted to tell them about the dream he’d had. But he said nothing.

They wouldn’t understand.


Friday Fictioneers

More about 900 Michigan Avenue here

More about Frank Lloyd Wright’s unbuilt mile-high skyscraper here



The Devil You Don’t


Marisol carefully washed herself in the basin. She used the perfumed soap Olán had given her for her birthday. The lavender scent was strong, but did little to mask the  odor of the businessman’s cologne that seemed to hang about her room.

She went to the dresser and counted the money for a third time. She did not like to touch it. She wished Olán would come home so she could be shut of it.

Perhaps when he returned he would have good news, maybe even a job. He told her every day that he would find work soon, that their fortunes would turn around. That she could stop with these visits from the businessman.

“It is not a choice we make willingly,” he often said. He was careful to always say “we.”

He liked to say that their necessity would negate the sin of all this, that God would understand.


What Pegman Saw

Cast Adrift


They said it was the law that turned him out of the house.

They lied, saying he could have stayed if it was up to them.

They didn’t exactly blame him for her death.

They just didn’t want him around as a reminder of her decline.

He blamed himself, of course.

For a while he drifted up the coast, working odd jobs, staying a week or a month.

He sent postcards every so often.

A cannery in Monterey, a trawler in Moss Harbor.

A sailor saw him in an opium den in San Francisco.

That was the last anyone heard.


Friday Fictioneers

A Dish Served Cold


It’s a small town, so by and by it got back to her.

She didn’t get mad. That wasn’t her way.

Instead she bided her time, innocent as a yellow chick shaking off eggshells. She had this way of asking without asking, sort of letting whoever she was talking to just say what came to mind, all the while leading them along without them knowing.

In the end she had the whole story, knew who said what to whom.

It was more than clever, how she used the information to get even. In the end, she made them sorry, every last one.

I don’t think the dumber ones ever figured out why their lives  took such a bad turn, but some of them bitches knew. Those girls said she was a sort of dark priestess or voodoo queen.

I don’t know. Maybe she was.


Sunday Photo Fiction

Criminals All


“Triangles is set up, Sire.”

“Very good, Ben,” said the Colonel-General. He’d been wise to bring this boong with him, the most reliable of the lot. “You know, we’re expecting a new crop of convicts. The Sirius should be arriving any day now.”

Ben stared at the floor. “Yes, Sire.”

“And do you know why I had you set up the triangles as you did?”

Ben shook his head, eyes still  down.

The Colonel-General walked around the desk and placed a plump hand on the black man’s gnarled shoulder. “Because, Ben, I need you to use them to help me maintain discipline. I want you to be my good flogging arm. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? To flog the convicts?”

“They’d some of them be white mens, sire?”

“All of them are, Ben. But convicts. Criminals all,  deserving of punishment.”

Ben looked up, smiled. “I reckon then I’d like it well enough, Sire.”


What Pegman Saw

Norfolk Island was a remote adjunct to the British penal colony in New South Wales that was often used as a punishment of last resort for problematic prisoners. It was a literal hell on earth. Floggings of 100 or 200 lashes with with the lead-tipped cat-o-nine-tails were common. If a man fainted on the triangle before he had received his prescribed number of lashes, he was taken down and the remainder doled out when he regained consciousness. If the flogger did not wield the lash with appropriate zeal, he himself would be flogged. Conditions were so vile that in 1814 the British abandoned efforts to colonize it.

Round The Bay’s Bend


Fishermen, they said they were
leaning against the bar
fat, with rum drinks
eyes on every girl who walked in.

Later after we all became friends
and everything but their money
was forgotten
we slapped each other

on the back as we helped them
stagger onto the deck.
Round the bay’s bend
everything turned ugly

the chop slipping against
itself, cutting the sea
into menace. Their angry leader

demanded they immediately
be put ashore. Impossible,
said our skipper, especially
given the conditions

but we all knew how much
easier we’d have it tossing
each one of the bastards
slit-throated over the side.



The Daily Post Photo Challenge



“Like a drink?”

Without waiting for me to answer she handed me a beading glass. I took a sip. “The good stuff. And in the wedding glassware, no less.”

“I thought you deserved something special after the day you had.” She gentled the back of my neck like I was a skittish horse. “My man.”

I took another drink. “It feels strange. It’s nice to be recognized, but still.”

“You deserve it. I always knew your day would come. Now the world knows what I knew the day I met you.”

“And that is?”

She shrugged, smiling down at me.


Friday Fictioneers

Superman, Jr.


“Your coffee is getting cold.”

“Thanks.” He picked it up,  sipped it. “I had the strangest dream. I was Superman’s son. They named me Superman, Jr. and made me dress in the red and blue suit. I had to wear it to school. The cape was always in the way.”

She started laughing. “That is pretty weird. Could you fly?”

“That was the thing. I didn’t have any of the powers. I was just a regular human. But I still had to wear the suit. My mother was the same mom I have now, only she was a real jerk. Your father works very hard. The least you can do is honor him by wearing the suit. It was awful. I wasn’t super at all.”

She leaned to kiss him, smiling. “Well, I think you’re super.”

That evening they grilled out in the apartment’s rooftop garden, the lights of the Chicago skyscrapers gradually coming on as the sky darkened into sunset. It was getting colder, so for once they had the place to themselves.

Again and again, he found himself irresistibly drawn to the ledge. He looked down on the cars and taxis rolling down Michigan Avenue, so near and yet so far.


Sunday Photo Fiction

It Was Never Glorious


Some say it was glorious, that the Goryani were heroes welcome everywhere. This is nonsense. We were hunted like rats.

You do not remember, but Bulgaria after the war was full of informers. This was not done out of love of the communists, nor even out of fear, but to settle old scores. The greatest crime the communists committed was to take the land from the peasants and force them to work in the cities. It was brother killing brother over the ownership of a potato field.

And so we fought. The Goryani arose out of desperation. We knew we could never win against State Security, but we had to do something. We were organized into Chetas for secrecy. You knew only those in your own cell. There was much violence. Guns, bombs. Eventually they arrested or killed us all. In the end, we were forced to live in the sewers.


What Pegman Saw

 Note: Long before the Hungarian revolution and the Prague spring, Bulgarian peasants banded together to resist the pressures of the Stalin-backed Communist government. The movement started after the communist coup d’état against the Nazis in 1944 and reached its peak between 1947 and 1954. By the early Sixties it was gone. The Goryani were loosely organized, broken into individual cells called Chetas. The identities of members outside one’s own cell were largely unknown. Aside from the scattered Polish fighters who went directly from fighting Nazis to engaging the Red Army, the Bulgarian resistance is believed to be the first, and longest lasting, organized anti-Communist movement.The very existence of the Goryani was steadfastly concealed and denied by the Bulgarian Communist authorities, so there is almost no information about them. One thing is certain: they carried on the tradition of Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski.