Ridin’ DirtyJohn Schafer
He tightened the half-inch screw into the wooden floor of the truck. It held the false front in place. The last two screws would wait on the Chinamen. He reached up and grabbed one of the wooden slates that ran the length of the Penske’s interior wall and pulled himself up; it bowed, but with a boost from his legs he was vertical before it gave. He walked back to the end of the truck and stepped onto the lift gate. He peered back in. No way you could tell. They would have to get in and they never did. Read more.
When I sold the first piece of land, I didn’t even tell my old man. I forged his signature on the papers.
My older sister Maria had left the village ages ago, she had a husband and a two-bedroom apartment in town, with hot running water, she wanted for nothing, so I was sure my mother would cover for me. In fact, I was sure I’d have her blessing by default, after all, that lot had been part of her dowry and she was nowhere as obsessed with land as my old man. Read more.
Sir Galahad’s Pasta and Cocktail LoungeRoger Logan
Jason had thought about putting New York City as his location in the online dating profile. It would almost be justifiable, since he was always thinking about moving to the city now that he was divorced. There was, Jason felt, something pathetic about a single guy in his thirties living in the suburbs, especially in a town with a ridiculous name like Valhalla and he imagined any interesting woman would probably feel the same way. At least there was a big cemetery in Valhalla, so the name wasn’t completely inappropriate. Read more.
An Invisible DeathLisa Voorhees
At ten o’clock on a Sunday morning in late January, the clock on the mantel chimes. I glance up from my record-keeping to stare out the paned window at the falling rain. The skies are a leaden gray, the tops of the trees swaying in the wind.
Nasty weather to be out in.
Grateful for a crackling fire in the hearth and my wool vest, I dip a pen in the inkwell and continue crafting a detailed summary of my last patient’s condition. Read more.
It was just before 9:00 a.m. Ryan had been sitting in his car at the curb for ten minutes after pulling up in front of the house he’d been looking for. His shoulders were still slumped. The place was about what he’d expected, a ramshackle little bungalow surrounded by a dried-out lawn and a low fence badly in need of paint that was missing pickets on each side. An empty bird bath perched in a bed of dying roses in one corner, a few late blooms wilting through their tarnished foliage. Where the front walk met the sidewalk, a crooked mailbox dangled partway open like a stifled yawn. Read more.
The Key to Catastrophe ManagementMary Lannon
I’ve finally figured it out, I mean, about the weather and all: how important it is to me, to you, to everyone, to our well-being. For a long time, I thought it was Charlie who figured it out first. But before that—Charlie and I—we were in the same boat. Neither of us knew of our complete and utter ignorance. No, neither of us had any respect at all for the weather that last semester of senior year when we first met searching—in what can only be understood as a mockery of our ultimate fate—for a meteorology class. Read more.
A Colony of Mutant FlamingosThomas Small
Jeremy Wilkins died the summer I was fourteen. Accident was noted as the official cause of death. That was more a testament of his father’s ability to control the situation, by keeping the word suicide off the death certificate. I spent a lot of time with Jeremy that last summer and was overwhelmed with the enormity of what he’d done. Mostly, I was surprised by people’s reactions to it. Read more.
The Woman of the HouseCamila Santos
They had arrived early on a Thursday afternoon, just in time for lunch. Mr. Oswaldo carried two suitcases. A curvy, short brunette in a miniskirt and high-heeled sandals walked into the house right behind him. She wore too much lipstick. As Silmara went into the kitchen to get them a glass of water, she wondered, how old is she? Silmara was not as shocked about the girl’s youth, but rather, at the audacity of bringing her to the house when Ms. Cecília had only moved out a month ago. Read more.
By the bank of a winding river near the mouth of a mountain canyon lived a woman named Riverine. Which river she lived near, you must imagine for yourself. Any river that comes to mind will do, as long as it flows from a wild place with untamed edges ravining its course. Just picture the river you know best, even if it’s only the river you see when you close your eyes, and there you will find Riverine.
Riverine’s cabin seemed just another element of the rocks, soil, and sand that channeled the water in its banks. Built of logs long ago and surrounded by trees, her home was more of the river than on it. Yet whoever had built the cabin had sited it far enough on the upward slope from the river to protect the house from floods. Read more.
The DummyJames Hohenbary
Allen White, mayor of Centralia, stared at the ventriloquist dummy that reclined in the box. He had asked his political party for funding, and along with a check, the package had arrived. It sported an orange face with pink circles around the eyes. Yellow hair swooned at the front of a mostly bald head. The packing peanuts were painted gold. Like a sloppy job with a spray can.
These puppets were nothing new. Other candidates were still using them in other states, even after the last election. Allen shook his head. He personally disliked the idea. He worried that the Vaudeville antics made it harder to lead. “Should a king compete with his fool?” he asked. On the other hand, the polls had their own truth to tell. Read more.
Good Luck Finding AugustErynn Wakefield
The air was crisp. I felt it on my lips as I took deep breaths, trying to prove my mom wrong. I didn’t need a coat; plus, it would’ve covered up my brand-new Avril Lavigne shirt. I wasn’t waiting for Halloween like the other kids, I never liked it much. I think I was too self-aware at a mere twelve years old. Read more.
Circling the InfernoJoan Drescher Cooper
Sometimes on the train in the morning, Melanie thought about failing to get off at her stop for work. She’d lean her head back on the tweedy headrest and close her eyes. If this was a real train instead of commuter light rail, she’d muse, perhaps she would stay on the train all the way to the next town. Read more.
Watch What You Wish ForGerald Lynch
The snow, real staying snow, just won’t come this winter, and it’s already January. It has accumulated some at times, of course, if more like helpless Styrofoam pellets swept against tree trunks, where they grab at the base as if that’s the height of ambition, then climb even in a weak breeze, then give up and disappear to only God knows where. Read more.
Thinning of the HerdG. D. McFetridge
It was after midday when the sound of an airplane interrupted the tranquility of my forested home. I was standing on my second-story deck drinking a cup of coffee, and what caught my attention was the proximity of the aircraft, which seemed closer than usual. Moments later the engine began sputtering in short bursts—blat, blat. . .blat-blat-blat. . .blat. Then it went dead silent. Read more.
Dial ToneGriffin Hamstead
“Hey, it’s me. Again. I was just calling to see if you had a minute to chat. I guess you’re away from the phone or busy or whatever. Which is cool, I get it. But, um, I’ve been alone for a while now. Couple weeks or months or something and it, uh, kind of gets to my head you know. I saw a bird at the bird feeder today. Very dull, small. Probably a sparrow. But still a bird, can you believe it? Read more.
Path of ServiceClaudia Putnam
For years after her divorce, Fay had trouble referring to her husband by name. My husband, she would say, and then eventually, my ex-husband. Doesn’t he have a name, newer friends or colleagues would ask, laughing, and she would relent. Desmond. Des, she would make herself think. Des, Des, Des.
The archangel hadn’t asked for his name. No name had come up between them that day in the mineral pool under the high Colorado sky Read more.
Carnival DayStacey C. Johnson
When Littleman opened his eyes, he discovered that he was no longer on the couch in the living room as planned. He had meant to stay there all night with Uncle Marty, eating neon sour worms and watching samurai movies. He wanted to be in the front room when Mom got home and to hear when Uncle Marty got up. There was no point in trying to sleep. Read more.
Crystal SpiritKaren Toralba
I can’t recall if I’ve ever been down such a long, narrow road—if you can call it a road—before or since. The word rural just doesn’t seem to accurately describe the area. Think the middle of nowhere but then go behind the shed of middle of nowhere, down by a creek, into the woods, and get lost, and that’s where I ended up. Read more.
Peter and the FishermanEd Connor
“Mom! Mom!” Danielle yelled from the bedroom all three children would share during the annual beach vacation. “Mom! Kyle and I were playing with my dolls and Peter threw them all over the floor! Make him stop. Now!”
Hearing her daughter yell for the fourth time in the last fifteen minutes, Maggie O’Brien left the unpacking and stomped into the bedroom. Read more.
The three little pigs enjoying an elegant repast on the waterfront, quiet water reflecting neon from high-rise resorts. Sequestered at a table with a Lazy Susan, each partaking of the abundance by turns, washed down with a discriminating Pouilly-Fuissé with white flower accents. Read more.
The Grace That Comes By ViolenceJoanna Acevedo
Lorrie called it “The Lost Weekend.” Roger called it “The Last Weekend.” Annabel was pregnant, so she wasn’t drinking. Designated driver, everyone said. Lou didn’t say anything at all. They met on a Friday at a bar none of them had been to before. It was a dive. Roger was getting married a week from Tuesday. He had a reckless, harried look about him, Read more.
House Hunting with CastroS. Blair Jockers
1962. Eddie and Percy crouched on the wood floor of their private fort, a three-foot deep pit in Eddie’s backyard, destined to be a small pond after the next serious storm. The plywood roof Eddie’s father Raymond built from an old drafting table in his architect’s office was braced six inches above the edge, providing views in all directions like the rotating gunner’s station on top of a tank. Read more.
Roman DaysPaul Perilli
Willie’s new to Rome. In town with his companion Anne, an artist with a one-year residency at the Crest Foundation, they have an apartmentino on the second floor of a giant villa that fifty others live in with them. It’s a neighborhood southwest of the Vatican with good markets and restaurants, a big park he jogs in and an old-world Italian bar down the hill in Trastevere… Read more.
Plan BDiana McQuady
Joanna Gentry hadn’t been inside the building in over a decade, though throughout the first year following Patrick’s murder, she went to the parking lot daily. Coleman’s employees came by her Camry during those early months and stopped to speak, awkward conversations avoiding the mention of what had happened or even her presence there at all. Soon enough, they only waved. Read more.