Short Stories

That Little Old Lady and Me

She brought me down with a two by four across the back of the knees. My head hit the doorjamb as I fell. Hard headed or not, I think I was a little dazed.

I was lying then on a black and white tile floor in the half dark of that vestibule and looking up at the mouth of a model 17, 9mm Glock semi-automatic, when I first heard that voice.

“What’da’ya’want?”

This is a single word, in common use, but has problematic spelling. When I write stories now I often just resort to familiar forms, like ‘What do you want?’ Rather than be accused of stereotyping or pandering. I was actually thinking about this while I was lying there only half conscious. I had spent the morning at my one room apartment over in Cambridge, writing and dealing with the grammatics—that’s my word for dramatic speech patterns–when Connie McGuire showed up and asked me to do him a favor. That meant he was going to screw with my regular schedule and put me on a job right away. He’s been doing that less lately so I didn’t complain. Just part of the job description. Besides, he’s short on cash because of the economy and I’m on salary anyway, so it doesn’t cost him extra to dump on me. I ran through a few more ‘grammatics’ in my head on the way over to the South End. I had to decide the way to go with the piece I was working on. It made a difference.

read more…

Ghosts

I don’t believe in ghosts. Any more than I believe in a tree, or a rock. What the heck does a tree care what I believe in. Why does it matter what you call a stone, unless you’re a geologist or something. I just try to live with things–as is. ‘Take them the way they are, and work on your own self,’ like Daddy said. Like you have to take Uncle Bob. It’s not going to change anything about Uncle Bob if I object to it. He’ll just get more ornery and give Mama a harder time. He’ll just ignore me, same as a rock would. You can’t argue with a stone, and Uncle Bob thinks anybody still under the age of sixteen is as dumb as a rock anyway, so what’s the use.

I’ve been watching this one ghost for a week now. He thinks I don’t see him, if he thinks about me at all. He moves up and down the stairs like he’s carrying something but I can’t see his arms. Maybe he doesn’t have any arms. But he looks busy, like he’s getting something done.

read more…

“The places that have known him, they are lost…”

1955

 

A tar blister, black and shiny, bloomed from the wooden crevice of a joint in the short bridge, close to Aran’s right foot. The glister of sun on the tar caught his eye. Aran shifted his sneaker away. His grandmother would not want the tar in the house.

The bridge, lengths of wood as thick as railroad ties and darkened with creosote, joined the rusted bones of an iron trestle that crossed the wider gully of the creek more than the creek itself–spanning the red gouge and the dark run of clear water, and a lush verge of vine and brush between a corn field and a pasture.

He whispered, “Aw, shoot!” his voice muffled by the dense quiet and his breath smothered by the sun. Everything had changed. Nothing ever stayed the same long enough.

Elbows planted on top of the warmed metal of the side rail, Aran stood in partial collapse at the middle of the bridge, his palms clasped to each cheek as he stared down into the gully and studied the ruin of his plan. A single large rock, black at the center like an eye, stared back at him from the sand. read more…

The Forgotten Order of Things

from BENEDICTIONS, an unfinished novel

This is what I remember.

But someone else could say, “I know that place, and you’ve got the names all wrong.”

I’d have to tell them that they’re mistaken. In any case, I don’t remember them being there.

They might answer, “The doorway was on the left. That woman was a blonde.”

I’d have to remind them that they were standing at a different angle, and the lighting was not as good.

This all happened before mobsters replaced cowboys at the movies, and long before government Indians and stock market brokers took over the business of gambling. I was a nobody then, the same as I am now, only then I was a nobody with promise. The unsecured credit of my youth opened doors which have since been securely locked. Reflecting on that time now, I am aware of the forgotten order of things. We all tend to place remembered matters in a sequence of importance determined by the lives we are presently living, and too easily forget the value we once held so dear. We judge our past selves by the logic of the present, as if we might have foreseen the unfolding of things we could not possibly have known.

(more…)

Latest Blog Posts

The Keeper Jones

[A new tidbit that might amuse from an older story to be readied for publication someday soon.]   April flowers: 2317     He usually wore an Irish tweed cap. This singular fact had become something of a trademark among his friends when sitting in on vid conferences....

A guest at the feast of memory

What we all must learn, I suppose, or else loose ourselves completely, is that very little in the world is really about us. My experience fifty years ago at Mark Hopkins College in Brattleboro Vermont was peripheral to that time and place—not secondary or marginal or...

Masha and the Bear

I have been a fairly consistent purveyor of doom for most of my adult life. It has been a regular theme in my daily discourse as well as in much of my work (As my children can attest), coupled with a theme that this catastrophe has been impeding for generations,...

That’s great! Against banality in it’s prime

I should be ashamed of myself, but I will probably use the word carelessly again this very day. But still, I am ashamed of myself for it. There is not an easier word to use for both what is in fact the best and what is simply terrific, or momentarily special, or even...

Looking for the sur-prize

Sunday morning: dawn. An article in the UK Guardian concerning the tawdry descent of the Nobel Prize ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jul/17/the-ugly-scandal-that-cancelled-the-nobel-prize-in-literature ) only makes me think of the corresponding degeneration of...

Stories

A friend was recently reading the revised version of John Finn that appears to be making its way into print sooner than later and suggested that a particular chapter might stand on its own. It happens to be one of those I posted first about eight years ago when John...

Rejoice! (if not, read Joyce)

I am told by my betters that I am too negative. Not for the first time, of course. So I have looked again at this ongoing collapse of Western Civilization that surrounds me in the rubble of all that I hold dear—other than family and friends—in the hope of finding some...

In our lost time

  [A portion of the novel A Young Man From Mars, currently being re-written and somewhat available elsewhere in this ethereal site] Recalling any given lecture I am impressed by the fact that Professor Tripp himself was not nearly as kind as his classroom manner...

The bright side is pretty dim

Trying to see the bright side of the current cultural malaise is difficult in the glare of modernity. Over one hundred years on, that is since the infamous Armory Show, the squandering of Western culture has reached its nadir with a wallowing in wantonness and a...

In Grand Delusia

In the land of Grand Delusia, I roam again. It is true enough that an author of fiction must persuade a reader to come along for the ride, but first the author must cajole himself. It is not a simple thing. The Lesser Existentials crowd at every side. There are shores...

A Young Man From Mars: the future retold

  “Those who cannot remember the future are condemned to repeat it. The past can never be repaired or reclaimed. The future may be reimagined at any moment, possessed at any time, and thus easily known.”   Joe Trees   This is the journal of Griffon Macdonald, his...

A Republic of Books, et tu?

The original story idea for A Republic of Books was conceived shortly after I was forced to close my own bookshop, Avenue Victor Hugo Books, on Newbury Street in Boston after 29 years. The tale was imagined as a means of relieving some of the pain while grasping the...

Novels & Novellas Available for Purchase

I Am William McGuire

I Am William McGuire

It’s a bloody Cro-Magnon world.
What’s a Neanderthal to do?

 

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

Leaving well enough alone is not good enough at all—not if the reason for a death is to be found in the life that was lost.
Hound

Hound

Henry Sullivan has made a simpler life for himself, finding and selling books. There is little room in it for either love or murder.

 

About

I have been informed by trusted authority that the short quip which I have placed here for the last year or so, by way of biography, lacks gravitas. “Over-paid by others for hyphenated jobs such as lawn-work, snow-shoveling, house-painting, office-boy, dish-washer, warehouse-grunt, table-waiter and hotel night-clerk–I’ve since chosen to be a writer, editor, publisher, and for most of my life, a bookseller, and even managed to occasionally pay myself. Houndis my first published novel.” And so it does. It is hard to be serious about so unserious a subject as oneself. But herewith, and keeping the ‘nasty bits’ (Brit expressions are so brilliant) to myself, I offer then, this ongoing post begun as posts at Small Beer Press. If anyone is interested, from time to time I will add something at the end to bring the epic closer to the present moment.

read more…