e c l e c t i c a f i c t i o n
(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole story!)
Alice, How Can I Tell You?
When I was young and smart-struck with myself, I used to watch her trancified and quivering with the Holy Ghost and think she was embarrassing and stupid, like something from Mars. After I got older, I came to see the church and the people buried there beside the church were the stones and mortar of her life's foundation. Moses and the Burning Bush and Lot looking back on Sodom and Gomorrah were just like sweet, familiar emblems of her only and best truths.
Monsters Aren't Polite
I know this is not me. I'm not a monster. She knows this is not me. But how and why this is happening we both no longer know. The cause has almost become irrelevant, and all we have now is this desperate act of forced reconnection.
Ali Al Saeed
At the End of the World
When Mom was still around, Dad used to take us out on the boat, and once we got out past the bay, we could go so far out into the gulf that you couldn't see back to shore. I loved fishing in the gulf channels, and the motion of the boat and the way the air was all thick and sticky, and how it fingered through your hair and the water misted into the boat when the bow crashed into the wave crests. Dad would crank the engine, and I would yell to floor it and he would, and Mom would hold onto her floppy sun hat or else take it off and shake her head in the wind, her cheeks flushed in the heat.
Poppy's Got Priors
"Look at this place," he'd say once in a while, his good arm sweeping the whole vista out of the back of the wine bar, the blue bay, the green islands, pelicans skimming the water as the sun went down. "It's fucking paradise." He knew the names of the birds and the all the types of wine we served from all over the world. And he was smart, could add a bill up in his head and even get the tax right. But that's about all I knew about him.
He knew he'd either lost the knack, or the knack itself—reduced to a gimmick—wasn't enough. There was no life in any of the pieces, and the idea of cranking out undistinguished fish for undiscerning people made him physically sick. His unspawned schools of ceramic dullards weighed down on him so that he could hardly get up in the morning. He felt weak and shrunken, desiccated—and now this bullshit with the county.
Philosophy of Simplicity
After the investigation, I had the opportunity to review that early outline (and still have it now, I should mention); and in light of the circumstances, found myself moved by several of the key metaphysical insights he felt the existence of his new material would make implicit. The similarities between his expectations for the substance he was looking for and the realities of the utterly unexpected material he found are uncanny.
The Nature of Things
Last week a long-ago friend from out of town showed up at my door unexpectedly, noticeably heavier than I remembered her, though I didn't mention that, being nothing if not discreet. I invited her for an overnight stay. The next morning she ate a hearty breakfast and then, with what seemed like a forlorn backward glance, hastened away. Her strange, brief visit seemed no more than conversation punctuated by hesitancy and a sideways look at me, my covered windows, my triple-locked doors—almost with what seemed like envy.
A Very Complicated and Massive Suburban Drug Operation
Danny recently kicked heroin and went into business in the copper trade. Meaning he still occasionally did heroin, and he started breaking into buildings and railroad yards and stealing copper to scrap. He couldn't unload the lifted metal in one haul, as the owners of the Newark yards were suspicious of questionably former drug addicts selling pounds of copper every day. Greg agreed to store some of the lifted goods, in exchange for 20 percent of the profits.
The Island Lovers
When her lover received this letter, he wrote straight back, begging her to wait for him, and saying that he would soon be there to kiss her hand and kneel at her feet. He wrote: Only be my true love, and I will give you a bag of gold that no one else can find; For it lies under a fir tree deep in the woods, guarded by a great white owl.
Jack Strongbow in Love
Poise, perseverance, and a willingness to acknowledge his own absurdity had endeared Jack Strongbow to the sumo audience, and he brought these same skills to TV. He knew what he was; he could laugh at himself, too. What was self-honesty if not sharing the pleasure others found in mocking your excesses?
Holiday Love Scarf
Matt always went for strong, independent women, a commendable trait, but after landing one, he'd glom onto her in a cloying, wheedling way until she inevitably decided she was better off alone. Then he'd call me to rehash what happened, cataloguing the timeline of the relationship in the listless tone of existential writers before starting to whine self-pityingly. Whenever he did this, I'd want to slap him and tell him to grow a pair, then would feel guilty and suggest going out for ice cream.