Category Archives: Short Short Stories

Dropping Like Birds

It was a Tuesday before all the regular Wednesday shit started to happen, so she was OK with not knowing where the fuck he was — or was she?  She would be tomorrow because she wouldn’t be able to think of anything but chickens and conveyor belts and front-end loaders and shit.

“But this is not the time to be fucking around,” she said out loud over the blasting music to no one.

He had grown up running away from a momma with a fist full of pills and a fist full of fury, so he knew what it meant to piss off a woman.  But what the fuck he thought as he drove to her sister’s house last night — “didn’t matter,” he will remember remembering when he can remember.   “Didn’t matter,” he will say when he sees here, “didn’t matter; I was drunk; didn’t know what I was doing; couldn’t have known what I was doing.”

So, she went to sleep, having had this life before – having had this same thing last goddamn month.  And he came home eventually – early in the morning Wednesday — but, too late to talk.

He smelled like whiskey, perfume, fast sex and fast food; she was walking out the door in thigh-high chicken killin’ boots.

She’d said, “this all has to stop.”

He said,  “it will.”



Full Quote – Patrick Henry

“Actually, glad you asked, bro, funny story… I have two favorite flavors of frozen yogurt. One is Liberty Swirl; the other is Death by Chocolate. So sometimes when I go to my favorite fro-yo shop, I just throw my hands up, and I’m all like, ‘I don’t care, give me Liberty or give me Death.'”

– Patrick Henry, 1775, Richmond Virginia

The Decorations Committee

At the Church, it was that time of the year, once again, to elect the members to decorations committee. And so, the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee met in the basement of the church. It was a pleasant, collegial group.

John Paul had been on the decorations committee as long as anyone could remember; and, by the way, he was on the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee since it’s inception two years ago. No one saw this as a conflict of interest. For one, everyone loved John Paul. For two, everyone trusted him. “I have been named after a pope, after all! But, not John Paul Two. I was named after John Paul One.” John Paul liked to joke, “That makes me the real number two.” All that was true, but not very funny.

The nominations for the decorations committee had already been submitted by the congregation at large; and the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee was, once again this year, pleased with all the qualified nominees.

John Paul wasn’t nominated this year. This, at first, was no big deal — and no big surprise — because John Paul, a month earlier, had stated he was willing to step off the decorations committee. “After all,” said John Paul, in an email to the congregation, “the point of all church committees to encourage inclusion, and discourage exclusion.”

But now, John Paul was silent, and sad, and even a little bit dejected or wounded. He seemed to have difficulty making eye contact with the group members as if he had let them down; or they, him. He wanted to be nominated; felt slighted becuase he wasn’t. He knew it; and everyone around the table knew it, too.

“Oh, I got an idea.” said Mary Theresa Francis — who is also on the decorations committee and the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee. She wrote a name on a paper and said, “There. I nominate John Paul.”

“Uhm, hold on,” muffled Thomas Matthew. Then he cleared his throat, and continued, “You can’t nominate John Paul after knowing that he was not nominated by the congregation at large, can you?”

“Sure I can,” claimed Mary Therese Francis, “I’m a member of the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee; I’m a member of the decorations committee, and, I’m also a member of the congregation at large. I have the right to nominate anyone who I want.”

Thomas Matthew felt slightly chided, and responded with a mild bit of vigor, “Mary Teresa Francis, the creation of the steering committee for the elections to the decorations committee was created, two years ago, exactly to avoid this conflict of interest situation from happening. Because there were suspicions.”

“What suspicions? There are no suspicions! And, there is no conflict of interest,” Mary Teresa Francis rebutted, “the only reason John Paul was not already nominated was that,” she turned reassuringly to John Paul, “I’m sure, I’m very, very sure, that everyone else thought that somebody else would nominate you – would nominate him.”

This debate rambled on. No one swore; no one raised their voice too much; and no one, heaven forbid, took the lord’s name in vain. But, each person, in their own time, spoke. Everyone, that is, except John Paul who sat there, almost red-faced, and silent.

Finally, Thomas Matthew turned to John Paul and said, “you could end this right now, you know, by telling us that you don’t want to be nominated. Isn’t that, by the way, what you already agreed to?”

John Paul was silently holding his hands inside his sweater sleeves like a schoolboy who ventured outside without his jacket.

“He’s already nominated,” jumped in Mary Teresa Francis, “I just nominated him.”

“But you can’t do that.”

“Oh, yes I can!”

“Oh, no you can’t!”

“Oh, yes yes yes yes yes!”

“Oh, no no no no!”

“Oh, yes, GOD DAMMIT!”

Everyone was silent. What to do? How to salve this? And god, someone had said, “damnit!” And dammit, some had said, “god!”

Finally, John Paul cleared his throat and make out the words, “well, I mean, I think, I mean, we should just go with the nominations as they are now, right?… and… and… I have been nominated.”

The meeting broke up, the elections for the decoration committee were held, and the congregation voted. And, as is church tradition, every nominee was elected.

That Christmas, some said the decorations were the best ever; some said that they were horrendous.

But what was revealed, what was confirmed by Easter, was that Mary Teresa Francis and John Paul had been stealing communal wine and holding all night poker games for the decorations committee. And that weekly, for the past two years, often in the missionary, Thomas Matthew and John Paul’s wife have been meeting to fuck.

this is how it went down

this is how it went down our last moment i waved to her she was mowing the lawn to get her attention i waved she saw me she smiled she turned the mower toward me lifting the front wheels off the grass i reacted as if she was going to try to mow me down she laughed a little bit because it was kind of funny and because she knew i was trying to be funny and she waved without taking her hand off the controls and continued to turn the mower around i walked to her for a hug for a handshake for something she didn’t see and continued to mow the lawn i walked away and got in my pick-up truck and drove

this is how it went down the moment before our last moment we were standing on opposite sides of the kitchen island and i was telling her about my day at work and how the woman who got the job that I should have gotten a year and half ago still cannot make a public speech she’s horrible she’s embarrassing to our whole department why didn’t I get that job she smiled i leaned back to do an imitation and saw the ceiling fans and thought oh my god those things are filthy and then i said oh my god those things are filthy i never noticed how filthy they were she thought she took it in she took it as an insult she said i got to go mow the lawn and left the room and left the house and left me standing at the island

this is how it went down nine years before our last moment our first moment i had a fun day i had a long day i was hungry i ordered a drink i leaned back in my chair i saw her dancing in the next room among all the other stuff that was going on i saw her dancing and i thought to myself wow i said to myself i need to get me some of that i was thinking about the fun i was thinking about the abandoned i was thinking about the campiness i was thinking about a bumper sticker that i saw on someone’s refrigerator that said dance like no one is watching after i had something to drink after i might have had too much to drink i went over to her she smiled i said hi


Love You Like a Hurricane

If I knew one thing, in 2004, it was that I was leaving Charlottesville.

In 2003, when my wife came back from Baghdad, she didn’t want to be married anymore. The next day, she took my dog, Sapphire, for a run on O-hill, let her off the leash and into traffic. When I found Sapphire’s body on the 29 Bypass, she wasn’t bleeding, but she wasn’t breathing either.

So when I was living in my basement apartment on University Circle, I was not what you might call “happy” with my two years in Charlottesville. I was waiting to sell the house, sign the papers, divvy up the wedding gifts, and leave town.

As a transplanted actor from New York and Los Angeles, I avoided community theater. But I had done two shows at Live Arts, where I met great and talented people—artists making theater for the sake of making theater.

And, I used the Rivanna Trail a lot—to get outside, to get out of my mind, to remember Sapphire. One Saturday, I showed up to help maintain the trail. I started doing that monthly. The group was a community that was literally building the type of community it wanted to be.

I even met a beautiful woman. I instantly felt I would fall in love with her. And we tried to get together—start and stop. Then, she told me, with kindness, that I was not ready, emotionally. And when I was ready, she couldn’t promise she would be. But she said to let her know, and maybe we could be together then.

Then on my mother’s birthday in 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. A few weeks later, I was south of Baton Rouge volunteering at a Lamar Dixon Expo Center, which had been temporarily converted by the Humane Society and LA/SPCA into an animal field hospital.

The Expo had six open-sided stables, each with about 48 horse stalls. Those stalls were made into holding pens for two to four rescued dogs each (cats in another building). And the barn on the end was a Veterinarian M.A.S.H.

I spent two days walking dogs and cleaning up dog shit. Plenty of pit bulls, plenty of unspayed/unneutered pit bulls. We watched one give birth at night. We slept in tents or on donated cots. Food, coffee, and Powerade was donated. It was September and it was hot.

The Humane Society leaders asked for new volunteers to go into New Orleans and search for pets left behind. I formed a team with Mark, a home renovator from Portland, Oregon, and Megan, a makeup artist from Santa Monica. Together we drove early each morning into a predetermined sections of city, ones that had been submerged in 8′ of water. There were no people in these parts of the city.

We rescued about five pets a day, some barely alive, and all of them hungry, thirsty, and in shock. Sadly, we found even more animals dead, having been trapped in a flooded house that now smelled of rot, mold, decay, or death—or any combination thereof.

My last day in New Orleans, we were alerted to two dogs that may be alive in a house around the corner. We kicked in the rotten door, as we were used to by now (having been underwater, the doors were so warped that they needed to be forced, sometimes broken).

Inside, there was no sound and no horrible smell. The floors were still wet and packed with canal mud. There were no paw prints either—nothing had been walking in here. Then, we heard the wimpiest whimper.

In the next room, two spaniel mix dogs were on their sides, stuck to the mud on the buckled wood floor. They were young, maybe 2 years old, and weak, barely able to hold up their heads. It was hard to tell that they were breathing.

We had the address of a nearby horse farm where a Seattle-based group called Pasado’s Safe Haven had set up animal rescue. Megan drove fast, of course, while Mark and I each held an emaciated dog wrapped in towels and T-shirts.

Using dog crates as an operating table and my camping headlight as an operating lamp, the doctor got a needle into one dog’s collapsed vein. With the slow injection of liquids, she was able to lift her head, move her legs, open and close her mouth, and take deep breaths.

A young woman from Pasado in camo pants and tie-dyed T-shirt named the dog Daisy-Ray. She took my number so that if there was no owner found, and when Daisy-Ray was well enough to travel, I could adopt her. Relieved and happy, I spent the night with Mark and Megan walking “bite hazard” dogs. And then it was time to leave.

I had driven there without a break, but driving back, I stopped at a cheap motel in Tennessee. I was thirsty and hungry, but too tired to eat, when my phone rang. It was the woman from Pasado. She told me Daisy-Ray had died. All I remember saying was “thank you.”

I stood in the motel parking lot watching the sun set behind a strip mall that contained a Dollar Store, a gun/pawn shop, a liquor store, and a check cashing place. I tried to concentrate on all the dogs we saved, but I kept thinking about Daisy-Ray. I kept thinking about Sapphire.

I thought about the artists, about people I would see tomorrow, about my great and talented friends. I thought about the beautiful woman who, if I was ready, might be ready, too. I took a deep breath and said to myself, “Tomorrow I’m getting in my car and driving to Charlottesville. Tomorrow, I’m going home.”

May Contain Nuts

Laurel always wanted to be treated special.  She needed some attention; and she wanted a reason for people to talk about her.

On the radio one morning, while she was driving to work, Laurel heard a report about nut allergies, “people need to be careful around other people with nut allergies.”  Some people had it so severe, the reporter said, that they died.

So, that day, Laurel started telling everyone – little by little, bit by bit, story by story – that she had nut allergies.  And, people listened.  This was great, she thought, people cared.

Co-workers put up signs in the break room to remind others about Laurel’s special needs.  To prep for afterwork gatherings, emails were sent out to highlighting the special care that needed to be taken while preparing food and drink for Laurel, “well, for everyone; but especially for Laurel.”   As a way of showing protection, friends would bring her copies of magazine articles, “look, all these airlines were switching from peanuts to pretzels.”

People were going out of there way to respect her wishes; to keep her in their minds; t o protect her.

But, after awhile, that wasn’t really enough.  Laurel felt like she was cheating and deceiving.  She felt bad.  And she, of course, felt like she couldn’t tell anyone – they’d all call here a liar.

So, Laurel thought, to validate everyone’s concern, the only thing to do was to truly make herself allergic to nuts.  She would eat a handful of cashews then make herself vomit.  Again and again.  She would sit beside someone eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and hold her breath until she passed out.  To simulate allergic convolutions, she took to eating peanuts and snorting cayenne pepper at the same time.  And overtime, she began to convince herself that she was allergic to nuts, she really was.

People would hear of these sneezing fits, “Oh, my god did you hear…”  And they would  talk about these episodes where of Laurel losing conciseness just by her proximity to nuts, “She wasn’t even eating them, she was just near them…”.   And as they would re-tell the stories, they would be even more protective and conscious of their actions, “This is serious, ya’ll, she could die.”

Then, one day, Judy brought banana-walnut bread to work without asking.  Laurel found out and sprayed herself in the face with mace.

Everyone was pissed at Judy. 

But at home, alone, her face still red, Laurel was singing in the shower.  She was so proud of herself for becoming the center of attention.  Then, she slipped, hit her head and died.

It was the nuts that killed her.


Name This Child

A small boy who had never had a name was wondering, “why don’t i have a name?”

He was right, you know, it seems everyone has a name.  But it didn’t bother him too much, he was just curious. He went on with his life as the young do, innocently.

When people would ask, what is your name? He’d reply, “I don’t have a name, what would you like to call me?” And that’s how he ended up with all the people he knew, for all the names he remembered, an additional name for himself.

When he was with Bob, his name was Arnold.  When he talked to Carol, his name was “Also Carol.”  And when he walked past Elvis, Elvis would call him “Hound Dog… thank you very much.”

One day he met a girl who also hand no name. He was shocked, he had never met anyone without a name before. And for that matter, neither had she.

“You don’t have a name either?”


They didn’t feel the need to give each other a name. It just felt right to be in each others presence.

They were right, you know, i mean, when would you ever meet another person who knew exactly what it was like to live without a name.

They had so many shared experiences — well, they shared so many experiences… with each other… both before they met, and while they fell in love and knew they would spend their lives together.

They decided to have a child. And decided it was really important. And when that child was born, they named her…

Deer in a Gun Shop

It started off in what appeared to be an accident.  One night, a white tail deer was trapped in a gun shop.  And it was all caught on security cameras.

A 10 point buck could be seen parading down the aisles of guns.  He slipped a bit, here and there (the floor was linoleum?).  But, he agile enough to move throughout the store, breaking display cases with his antlers and knocking down racks of guns with the weight of his body.

By the time the gun store owner and the two police officers arrived the deer had done some significant damage to the store.  He had smashed the front window (was he charging his reflection?).  He had urinated and shat all over the store. (was he scared?).  He had knocked over the ammunition safe; and, as the video confirmed, he broke open the black powder jugs with his head and mouth (what did it taste like? was it like a salt-lick?).

All three men, stood in the beams from the headlights — an SUV and police car — with guns in their hands.

In a moment, a local news crew was also beaming light into the shop.  The buck was pacing inside.  He was tired, and cut and bleeding from his body and his face.

The owner decided to go into the shop, against police advice, but, “sumpins’ gotta be done.”  He unlocked the door, propped it open.  Then, leading with his pistol, he slipped into the wreckage of the store.

A gun was fired, that much is clear.   The sound of a gunshot was caught by three cameras. The police officers heard it, both reported, preparing to react.  

The shot created a spark, which caused an explosion, then another, and then a much bigger fireball style explosion.  The buck sprang through the doorway and leap over the cop car, then over the local news camerawoman, and bounded off toward the fields, the woods, the mountains.

The gun shop was destroyed in an evening of explosions.

Police reports confirm, the owner’s gun was never fired.