Pretty Short

Crack (2)

Et voila! says Jonnie, with a flourish.

The place is pretty sweet. You step out of the elevator. One of those key lock elevators that open into the apartment, like in the movies.

The ceilings are high and molded. There are tall sash windows with leaded panes. Yes, you feel like you can maybe taste air again.

Then he leaves you.

There’s a gallon of milk and three microwave dinners in the fridge.

Far below, mangled swings in a playground, a liquor store and a sign. ICE OLD EER.

Voices through the wall – Fuck you. No, fuck you.

You fumble for your phone, then you realize he took it. Your laptop’s on the table.

Unauthorized webpage.

Jonnie’s there, smiling.

Everything okay?

He lays a cool palm on the back of your neck. He switches off his smile and the overhead light, picks the keycard back up from the counter, and he’s gone again.

The setting sun makes drops of blood out of the glass roses, across the polished oak floor.

No, you say to the closing doors, in the darkening room. Everything’s not okay.

That night, the sound of chains and ropes cranking unknown bodies up and down. The bed facing the elevator and you can’t decide which way to lie in it. Head down, head up – you’re always vulnerable.

There’s a crack in the dark paneled elevator doors. Something not adjusted quite right. As the elevator passes, light flickers and dances across the sheets in odd random beats.

So you lie on the floor.

The ceiling starts to crawl. Gargoyles erupt from the molding.

Open your eyes. See burned fingers pry the elevator doors apart. A woman. Blisters on her lips, a narrow thread of blood across her cheek. Her eyes fall into her head like sinkholes.

Looking into them, you see chains, going down forever.

Jonnie finds you, in the morning, curled around yourself as if to protect a child, and he takes you in his arms. He rocks you back and forth, touches your cheek.

And he leaves you, just one more time.


A Shallow Place

‘Dry drowning,’ was what they called it, but the newspaper articles were wrong. It was a ‘secondary drowning’ – and this I had learned in my first (and last) year of medical school, along with the fact that I was incurably squeamish in every respect.

“Why would they keep calling it that then?” says Mother, shucking oysters by the sink. She won’t hold them in a dishtowel, and every time she slips in the knife, to crack the hinge, I look away.

“Maybe because it’s alliterative?” I suggest. “It sounds more poetic?”

She’s silent; I feel her eyes on me. I try to suck up the space between us, gulping air.

“It’s like, secondary drowning, so what? Sounds prosaic, uninteresting, right? Whereas, dry drowning, well, how can that happen? If you can drown without water, who’s safe?”

She’s running the tip of the knife around the shell, then twisting to pry it apart – the soft crunch of the blade tells me what she’s doing, though I can’t look.

Slicing the muscle with one deft stroke, she says, “Why must you always be so facetious?”

She releases the shell and bares the flesh. She jabs it towards me. It lies on her palm, glistening.


She knows I can’t stand oysters. (Just another thing he can’t stomach, I heard her tell my father.)

“You think it’s funny? A dead boy?”

Some things take a while. And maybe you think they’re buried deep, but they’re not.

And I think I know what Corey was diving for, what he thought he saw, what made him go down too far, for too long. I see him clambering up onto the pier, slick as a seal. Walking back smiling towards his family, oblivious, the sun hot on the back of his neck and the salt drying slowly between his toes.

Already drowned, but not knowing it. Not knowing yet where the end would come from. That it would not come from deep down, but from a very shallow place.



Letter of Intent

Dear John,
I do know things have been strained between us for quite some time now. The babies (three at once! we really didn’t expect that – not at my age and with your blood pressure), and of course your job at the law firm which I know is terribly high powered. Despite all, I want to keep working at this marriage. But meanwhile, I’m going to stay with my mother for a month. Please do reply to this note and tell me how you feel. If necessary we can talk about living separately for a while.
Love you still, Janice.

1.1 Dear Janice

1.1.3 We need to clarify Believe we dealt with this in the change to 2.1

2.4 Clarify

3.6 OK; add language that documentation will be returned/destroyed unless otherwise required by applicable law

3.6.1 Clarify there is no overtime responsibility

4.0 We need to discuss

4.1 I prefer a shorter cure period than 30 days

4.1.1 Am OK with deleting auto-renewal language

5.0 Agreed by the parties

6.1 We need to discuss – this is a broad and potentially hazardous change. Need to at least limit material changes which substantially impact the services

7.4 OK

7.5 OK? – John


Friday Fictioneers, Uncategorized


Oh yeah, Prom. It’s not so much fun, you know, being the popular girl. I wanna stay in and grill cheese and watch Happy Days reruns but Jason says, no, everyone’s expecting you, you have to, you’re the life and soul. I tell him, I’ll hang my dress on the fire escape if I’m going, and he seems pleased with that. He always was the romantic prick. So the dress is out there, and I’m in here, throwing a lifetime supply of underwear and cigarettes into a duffel bag. Yeah, I said I was going, but I didn’t say where.


Friday Fictioneers



It was well known in town that Danton could throw an evil fit, and right now beer was disappearing down him like floodwater down a storm drain. The last goon to cross him ended up dangling from the ten-pointer mounted above the jukebox at Lenny’s, and story went that the old man had wrestled that self-same buck to the ground and stabbed it through the eye, after it had the temerity to try and tree him and his jammed shotgun down in Black Bogs. But that was a while back, when he was younger, and he still had his scruples.




The trees came down and the land was freshly scarred and bare with flat promise. Telegraph poles stitched the wind then, and the settlers’ dreams and the crows which perched before scattering against the ribs of starved sky. Came the silos from the stubble and the billboards and the bulbous watertowers promising plenty. The pylons and antennae bristling legion voices of those who passed through and passed on. The giant windmills with fins of long dead plesiosaurs, reclaiming where they once swam and left their bones in underwater groves that would fall to surge again, in a newly dry plain.




They fitted together like the dovetail joints in the drawer that he repaired and slid smoothly back into her nightstand. She kept a mental list of their complementary features – a source of pleasure during the lonely nights of his long business trips. He was a chef, her forte was housework. He was a coffee addict, she was fond of tea. Cats/dogs; showers/baths; country/western – stuff like that. In previous lives he was always the jilter, she the jiltee. So when he texted her their breakup from the driveway, she sighed. Knowing the perfect circle of their love was complete.