Excited to announce that my short story “Clarity” is up at the excellent literary site, New Pop Lit.
Here’s the opening:
I’m falling towards train tracks. Subway tracks. The F to be exact. It’s about 9:20 pm. I’m falling towards the tracks because I’ve been massively sideswiped by a homeless man and his Samsonite luggage. Just one piece of luggage, actually. Is luggage singular and plural? You wouldn’t say luggages, right? It’s a nice, sturdy suitcase – at least half the size of the homeless man himself. And sure, it’s dingy, a bit blemished – especially near the bottom. But you really feel it when someone smacks it right into you.
Farel, the eight-year-old wolfboy, squat upon the banquet table unceremoniously devouring what was left of a large pheasant, much to the Queen’s distress. The Grand Hall was an utter mess: chairs and tables were overturned, the buffet had been routed, and all decorations lay mangled. The Queen’s horrified guests had left hours ago, and now she stood, fists clenched, staring violently at Farel.
“He should be with the dogs!” she snapped.“I’ve half a mind to put him there myself!”
“Darling,” started the King, trying to keep a calm demeanor.“We need to be patient.We must give him time.”
Zanon – the boy’s elderly instructor – hid behind the King, trembling fearfully.
“We’ve given him time!” she wailed.“He’s ruined three parties!I’ve hardlyany friends left!”
“We need to give more,” said the King.
“You know very well why,” he said.“Because he is family.”
“Your family.Not mine,” she said.“He’s barely human!”
I wonder what I can get at the prize booth for my 37 ski-ball points. There’s not much you can get these days for 37 points – but another seven and the rubber spider ring is mine. And I see her standing in front of a funky-looking, ancient machine, definitely from the 50’s – checking it out. She puts a buck in and tugs on this incredibly-difficult-to-pull stamper. The thing stamps out whatever you type onto a tiny metal Lucky Key Chain, embossed with horse shoes and four leaf clovers. She stamps something out, knowing she can’t go back and make changes. If she makes a mistake, it’s set in there. It plops into the dispenser and she hands it to me:
Murmurs of awe erupted from 96 passengers, encompassing eight different planetary species, and 18 languages, as yet another “Moment of Wonder” appeared outside the southern window of Gerrison’s Interstellar Adventure Macrobuus. This time, it was tiny pin-pop flashes of phosphate crackling in the early morning light against the dark red background of Mt. Dosav’a on the lushly popular planet Jove8.
Of the 96 passengers, only three did not Oooooh, Ahhh, or Glaav. They were: Colcalm, the bus-driver, who’s sacred trust was to simply keep his eyes on the road; Merrieux, the young, golden, half-Jovian/half-French tour guide who, while still taken by the light show, remained a consummate professional; and Dick Magrish, 82-year-old human from Budweiser, Michigan, NAmerica, Sol3 (Earth), who continuously wore a sleep mask and earplugs during every highlight of the tour.
As mentioned yesterday, my piece “Dick and Liza” – about a secret tryst between Richard Nixon and Liza Minelli circa 1972 – appears in the first print edition of New Pop Lit. (And editor Karl Wenclas and the good folks at NPL nominated it for a Pushcart Prize!)
Hard copies of New Pop Lit are now officially on sale. It features other Pushcart nominated writers, and an extremely cool cover by Alyssa Klash.
was the scratched record endlessly repeating in my head.
This is stupid. I’m stupid.
I should just turn around.
But when I got to Dell Farms, and it was farther back than forward, my dogged, irrational Want kept me moving straight on, ahead.
The lukewarm water was taking way too long to heat up the thermometer. And then I noticed Dad’s cigarettes and lighter on the back of the toilet. So, I flicked his Bic and held the flame under the thermometer bulb, and with a quick, tiny POPit exploded, shattering glass and mercury everywhere. My heart beating furiously, I quickly unrolled sheets and sheets of toilet paper and sopped up (or at least contained) the glass and liquid metal, and flushed the whole thing down the toilet, praying it wouldn’t clog. It didn’t. And I found and opened a new thermometer and ran it under the now warmer water.
“I don’t like Dr. Russell,” said Mrs. Epstein. “There’s something off about him!”
Dr. Paula Downey, 63, the Co-Head of the Physical Therapy Unit at Hillside Medical smiled, nodded, and continued gently manipulating Candy Epstein’s tender, arthritic right leg. Candace, a sweet, nosy octogenarian, had had a relatively mild dust-up with three other cars on the parkway six months ago. After her initial recovery period, she had come to Dr. Downey for weekly therapy sessions. Except for the brittleness of age, her injury was relatively mild – but her weekly therapy sessions – which included stretching, pulling, complaining about pains, getting weekly meds and generally dishing the dirt – had become the highlight of her week.
Yes, it’s that time of year to Give the Gift of Misery! Sure, you’ve already got your copy of Miserable Holiday Stories. Now’s your chance to ruin someone else’s festive season, with the gift that stops giving after about twelve-and-a-half minutes.
Here’s what Reviewers on Amazon are saying:
“These are some of the funniest holiday stories I have ever read.”
“Miserable Holiday Stories is, at turns, funny (Gypsy, Bicycle Boys) and heartbreaking (Balance, The Smoking Lounge, etc) and always edgy and engrossing.”
“The K-Rope is a genre in and of itself.”
“‘The #$@!# Bicycle Boys Save Christmas, Again’ is worth the price of admission (not to mention “Gypsy,” which is worth at least $1.63).”
“My personal favs are Blue Christmas and the quirky and surprising Smoking Lounge.”
My piece “Mrs. Harris” is now up at New Pop Lit – and the image they used is really cool! Check it out.
Here’s the opening –
Mrs. Harris? It’s Albert Levy again. Are you there? Okay. Okay. I’m trying to be polite and civil and responsible, here, but I’ve sort-of had it with this. As you know – and as I’ve mentioned several times – we appear to have very similar phone numbers; like just a digit off or something. And you’ve given out my phone number instead of yours to all of your clients or case files or whatever you call them.