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!)
Fred's Massive Sorrow
There was a note. And it had her name on it—Miss Tanna Kolvea—in large loopy letters. Inside it read, "My hard-bitten Miss Tanna Kolvea. Our parting has germinated and sprouted within me like a seed into a sapling, and here is the sorrow it has become. Remember me, Miss Tanna Kolvea, and my massive sorrow." Tanna rolled her eyes. Fred had such a wordy way with words.
Crossing Chanomi Creek
He continued to walk and look at the countryside around him; the sense of uneasiness gripped him even more. This mission, the interview he had brought himself here to do, seemed rather far-fetched and abstracted from the classic rural settlement he had come upon. Their rudimentary, everyday life lay open to him like an ancient history book. He had come to take change for granted: new buildings, fast cars, the Internet... In Oporoza it did seem as though the clock had been turned back a hundred years, when the entire Niger Delta was a stockaded cluster of huts, planted around tiny track roads leading to the river.
The Boy Wonder
Some people at school may've thought Denny was the toughest sixth-grader. But I'll tell you what, if Denny Wheeler thought he could beat me because he lifted weights and was on the football team, he'd better think again. I didn't like to brag, but I could whip him any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But I wasn't one for starting fights, even though I wound up in them all the time. When kids from other neighborhoods invaded the Red Brick Alley while we were playing Murderball or Kill Quasimodo or Human Missile Command or Spinal Cord Snapper, I was always the one who had to stand up to them.
He couldn't have known last week when he came home all triumphant, could he? He said the statue and the rehearsal looked incredible. And you look incredible, he added drawing closer. He grabbed me off the floor and tossed me on the bed. Very uncharacteristic of him. And very torrid, I must admit. But then in a manner characteristic of me, I closed my eyes as he unzipped my dress and imagined another tall and handsome and a bit fairer-haired man in his place. And that made it better.
Into the Old Testament
I once thought I could muscle the world by myself. I was a real romantic, a dreamer. I thought I was an anarchist, or a traditional hajduk, a Balkan bandit. I'd read about those guys in L. S. Stavrianos's The Balkans Since 1453 my first time in the pen. That was one of the best books in the prison library, and the hajduks, man, those guys were straight-shot heroes to me. My strut was a little stronger and my hair a little blacker when I imagined I might have Balkan-fucking-hajduk blood flowing through my Slavic veins. But when it came down to it, I realized even a bad-ass hajduk needed to eat.
Window and Walk
I'm bored with this place. I've memorized every stick of furniture, every lamp and bowl and candle on every surface. I've done nothing all day but wait for my best friend to appear and invite me to go out. I starve for the bright, busy world, the sounds, the sights, the smells coming from every direction. I get frustrated. I need to DO something, but what I want to do is not acceptable.
Sugarbush is life. Life is the shape and geography of the lake, its soundings—the latter, a nautical term. We take soundings by dropping a line in the water to measure its depth. Sugarbush has the irregular contours and nebulous waters of a fetal sonogram. The sonogram a sounding, too. Ultrasonic waves are above the range audible to human ears. These are waves before birth and after death. Sugarbush is death, too. This same water once opened its mouth and pulled her under. The swallowing lake.
Just as alcohol does not bring out a person's true nature but rather a version of it, said the doctor, so with dementia. A kind person may become nasty. A prude may become an old letch. A generous person, mean... You, my love, were consistently kind hearted. Optimistic in a way you would once have mocked. Soppy, sentimental, no longer discerning. You, who had previously dressed in Marks and Spencer's blues and greys and blacks, the nautical range or the Italian, bought yourself a camouflage onesie. For special occasions, you told me at the time.
The girls groaned, protesting the heat, the blood rushing to their heads. I let the skinny ones go first. I had no use for anything that could break in half. I released Chimdi, the class bully, too, asked her to take her friend Ogugua. They were always whispering and held a knowing look in their eyes that unsettled me. The two of them were too much wahala for one man.
De Minimus: A Cold Case in California
She sat down heavily, like a big old bronze casting, cracking in its segments, and wheezing, opened her bag deliberately between her legs and took from it a manila envelope, studying its address as if it had just been delivered to her. I went over and took it. It was wrinkled and creased, the postmark told me she'd had it in her bag several weeks, and it looked like she had opened and closed it again and again, the clasp snapped off. Inside it was another envelope, letter-size, sealed with scotch tape. I asked her permission to open it. Inside was a letter, which was wrapped around a thick white envelope, also sealed with tape and held by a crumbling rubber band, her name scrawled on the face in block letters with an orange crayon.