Short Stories

Like many fiction writers, I began with short stories, getting feedback, honing my craft, and eventually having a fair number of them published in literary magazines. When I moved up to novels, I stopped writing short stories, preferring the larger canvas of a full-length book.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my stories here. In the process of reviewing them for the website, a few fell by the wayside; they just weren’t good enough. Most, I’m happy to say, required only a slight editing to make the cut.

They fall into two groups, a collection of general fiction called Stamps from Foreign Places and a collection called Suicide Notes. In both cases, some of the tales are funny and some are dark.

Enjoy!

Stamps from Foreign Places

The Fire (Amelia, Summer 1986)

There was no one at home when the fire broke out, in the attic, in the leather-bound trunk that held the grandfather’s clothes. In fact, the fire was a long time beginning. Years…Read More

A Pit of Clay

There were three who worked in the Surrey dump: William, Barney, Mugs. They wore gray overalls and black rubber Wellies, and Barney and Mugs wore caps. But William had a full head of silver hair that made him look like an actor or a lawyer, and he liked to go bareheaded…Read More

Sexy Babes (The Amherst Review, Volume XXVII, Spring 1999)

Sitting on the polished wood bench before the Sears store in the brightly lit mall, Professor Oliver Pearl heaved a sigh. What he really wanted was an excuse to get to The Gap at the far end of the mall…Read More

The Big Max (Ellipsis, Volume Three, 1989)

Big Max wears a baseball cap. Occasionally she smokes a cigar. She has big yellow teeth and big yellow toenails and she laughs like a horse, “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.” Big Max is the manager of the apartment complex and she rules absolutely…Read More.

The Cute Guy

We saw him at the same instant, but Betsy said it first. “Ooh, Kate, look at the cute guy!”…Read More

The Trading Post

“Damn it…damn, damn, damn!” Paula Manning braked her car in the middle of the dirt road, pounded on the steering wheel, and let out a frustrated shriek. The parked car, and the scream, disturbed no one. Outside, empty desert stretched to every horizon…Read More

Stamps from Foreign Places (Stories & Letters Digest, Fall 1989)

Every day now my father goes down to the sea. I can see him from here: a small figure alone on the beach, standing near the water’s edge. His hands are in his jacket pockets, and the clear wind that blows to the island across three thousand miles of ocean is rushing over him. My father is dying…Read More

Puta

I’m not a prostitute, honest. I’ve never even done anything like this before…Read More

The Grecian Urn

“Ah, Nancy. Trevor. Welcome to my little soiree. Nancy, let me take your wrap.” “Thank you, Reggie.” Nancy Ward-Heath slipped off her coat and handed it to her host. Before her stretched a parlor full of people she increasingly did not long to meet…Read More

Old Witch (The TearSheet, Fall 1993)

Ha! Here they come into my yard, sneaking through the hedge to retrieve their ball. Look at them tiptoeing and shushing each other, fear blanching their choirboy faces, their movements about as subtle as a herd of elephants…Read More

Cookies (Emrys Journal, Volume 16, Spring 1999)

“Hey, Claudia! Fat Claudia Clodhopper!” “Please, don’t call her that.” “Why not? It fits.” “But it isn’t nice. Think how you’d feel.”…Read More

One Night in a Newport Taxi

I could always tell when it was Ma calling. The phone let out a nagging brrring, brrring, brrring. The receiver fairly quivered off the base. Once, I let it keep ringing, counting, just out of curiosity. Would she quit at ten? Fifteen? Twenty?…Read More

Peter, Paul, Mary, and Carla in Concert

When I pick up Carla for our blind date to see Peter, Paul and Mary in concert, I’m pleasantly surprised. Okay, she’s a little on the husky side and the blond hair is several watts brighter than normal. But she’s neatly groomed and has a pleasant face and the gold lamé jumpsuit and white jacket seem right for the occasion…Read More

Team Sports (Bellowing Ark, May/June 1992)

“Paul, put down those contract bids and meet our new software genius.” I swiveled my chair to face the doorway where my boss, Brian Mallard, stood with his arm around a skinny guy in glasses. Another computer nerd, I thought with a chuckle…Read More

Duet for Two Women (Winner of the Providence Sunday Journal annual short-story competition, August 1991)

“Now here you play dolce, sweetly,” says my mother-in-law Ruth, pointing to the open music book on the piano. She taps the word with a long, vigorous finger, the nail short and neatly manicured, the hands of a professional pianist. I sit beside her in my jeans and worn sweater thinking resentfully, I did not ask for this lesson…Read More

The Stop Sign in the Middle of Nowhere (Fiction Debut, September 1991)

Liz the bartender stood polishing a glass, drifting in the echo of a crowded Friday night. At empty tables, the candles guttered low. Only a few customers remained, winding up their jokes. One alone seemed out of place, a young woman at the end of the counter staring morosely into her ice cubes…Read More

Waiting for Word

As we slid into our chairs for our first confirmation class that spring day of 1959, I counted around the table in the church library. Ten, eleven, twelve, half boys and half girls. I crossed my fingers that the teacher, Mr. Irwin, wouldn’t notice or call on me…Read More

Juggling on a Sunny Day

One. Two. One-two. Ha! See what Mommy’s learning for you, Jemma girl? See how it’s going to be when you’re all better again?…Read More

Lucy Gets Her Ring

“Lucy, baby, I really don’t think we should be here.”…Read More

Forgiving Lydia (New Orleans Review, Volume 24, Number 1, Spring 1998)

Lydia’s new house was like her: small, exact, four rooms and a bath set around a short hallway. The furniture was modest and precisely arranged, a layout in which each inch mattered. Self-sufficient, Phil thought…Read More

After the Ball

Let me make one thing clear right from the start: there never was a fairy godmother. I’m sorry, it’s true. No kindly old woman with a magic wand. No pumpkin transformed into an elegant coach…Read More

Suicide Notes

A Roadside Vision (Santa Clara Review,Volume 82, Number 1, Fall/Winter 1994-95)

“Samantha Jane, get in the car. We are going to find God.”…Read More

Oatsy (Edge City Review, January 1994; Crone’s Nest, Summer 1995)

Gert is watching soap operas, two at a time. Her eyes dart between the pictures on the main and preview screens, her trigger finger twitches on the remote. I set my pocketbook on the coffee table and reluctantly take in today’s throes…Read More

The Open Door (Richard Cory) (Eureka Literary Magazine, Volume 7, No. 1, Fall 1998)

In my dream I am alone in a great house with many closed doors…Read More

Old Woman with Cat (Sidewalks, Fall/Winter 1994-95)

I can’t find the damn cat. I’ve called out the front door, called out the back. Don’t remember exactly when I let him out. Tonight of all nights to keep me waiting…Read More

Jumper (Nexus, Volume 30, Winter 1995)

“There’s more than one way to do it, you know,” said Elizabeth. She gestured with her drink toward the bridge, and I shrugged at the obviousness of her comment. Of course there were any number of ways to end a life, and on a cold, rainy Saturday like this, you might think the man clinging to the railing would have preferred a dryer method of exit…Read More

Whatever Happened to A.J. Lord?

Helloooo, folks. This is Jerry B. Jones, your down-home DJ at WBBZ, the number one country-western station in eastern Pennsylvania. My guest tonight is Paul Murphy, editor of Country Music Magazine, and we got a special two-hour show for you called “Where Are They Now?”…Read More

Barbie Self-destructs

I feel so silly coming here, Dr. Freud. I’ve never been to a psychiatrist before. But I can’t hold it in any longer. Are you sure you have time for me on such short notice?…Read More

Cygnet (Santa Clara Review, Winter 1994)

As I walked up the street to Deena Jones’s house, I thought how already two bad things had happened that year…Read More

Dear Mr. Shakespeare (Journal 500, Fall 1993)

Dear Mr. Shakespeare, Thank you for sending Juliet and me the script of your new play. As you know, we have acted our roles as doomed young lovers for over thirty years…Read more

The Tiger Leaps (Pulphouse, Issue Six, 1990)

Dawn. Surya the Sun spreads the sky with new gold. The stone face of the temple reveals its intricate carvings. On the grassy sward that stretches to the ditch, thousands of dewdrops come alight. The velvet bodies of the tigers, save one, lie sleeping…Read More

Proving Out

Dear Myra, Don’t expect me for dinner tonight. Instead of taking the freeway home, I’ll be jumping off the Lincoln Bridge…Read More

The Jawbone of an Ass

“Ho! Strong man! You’re wanted at the feast!” The voice is drunk, and I throw off the rough hand that grasps my arm. The guard only laughs, then with a blow I cannot see coming he knocks me to my knees against the wheel of the prison mill. “The crowd has a notion to see the mighty Samson.”…Read More

The Other Wrist (Dorothy Parker) (Onion River Review, Fall 1996)

Ouch! Damn! Ugh. Ugh? Of course there’d be blood, what did you expect? But don’t drip it on the floor…Read More

The Shape of His Nose

Traitor! Blasphemer! Satan! The perverse, the twisted theses that have flowed from his pen! Species that bow and change to Nature’s whim. A hapless planet wherein solid mountains testify to confusion and upheaval. How can any learned man believe it? Yet they do. Darwin, Darwin, his name is everywhere…Read More

Lonely, Confused, Depressed, Suicidal? Call Ralph

“Hello? I…I’d like to speak to Ralph, please.” “This is Ralph. Wait…don’t tell me. You saw my sign on the bridge!”…Read More

One of These Days (Wind, Number 74, 1994)

My friend Serinda, she says I take too many chances. You go anywhere with strangers, she says. You don’t use protection. You want to end up with AIDS or strangled like those girls in the park?…Read More

Friday Night at the Purgatory Pool Hall

The first thing I saw when I reached the Other Side was a woman in a black leather jacket and miniskirt shooting pool…Read More