Jul/Aug 2020

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 piece!)

On Tour
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

Who knows what would have happened to us had Lani not lost the man she loved most in the world at such a young age? She likes to say the reason her father died is so she could have the family she has now: husband, daughter, son, dog. I don't understand why one had to happen for the other to result. Or how by chance Sting happened to have experienced a loss just prior to that time and used his artistic talents to process his grief and help us understand the frailty of human existence.

Kevin Finnerty


Many asked me, then and later, why a daughter from a "comfortable" family was living in your boarding house. The sincere assumed I was stupid. The cynical thought I was trying to prove a point. Look at me, they imagined me thinking, I am humble and unassuming and capable of living as minimally as a monk. Neither of them was right. I accepted living at your boarding house because, at 18, I was open to pretty much anything.

Shreyonti Chakraborty


She was reading a long beach novel. This one was 1,152 pages, all about an English sea captain who washes ashore in feudal Japan. The captain had just saved the Shogun, scooping him out of a freshly opened fault line. Adele placed the book upside down over her navel. She sealed her eyes, and when she woke, novel boy was next to her, indulging in his own less hefty saga of 692 pages about an Irish priest in Australia who fails to keep it in his pants.

Eric Maroney

Faye, the Son, and the Holy Ghost

Faye often played there with Rhonda, a lame girl who could not speak. Often, the two played together, Faye pretending to be a knight on a grand stallion, Rhonda being her acquiescent stallion, and Jesus, their only witness. Faye made a poor attempt of entertaining herself by prancing down yellow roads leading to distant lands while both Jesus and Rhonda watched, enervated by the patheticness of the whole affair.

Brianca Hadnot

The Yellow House

My mother. Lounging at the picnic table with her shorts and glass of lemonade, that pack of cigarettes in her top pocket; pulling that low-cut shirt down even lower. A silver peace symbol lighter always at her fingertips. Laughing and laughing, while the boys talk total shit. My mother bending over to pick up this and that; stuff my baby sister Bibi leaves around for us to trip over. With every bend, my mother exposing her fake stocking-boobs to the world. Gripping my stomach into knots.

Susan Tepper

And What is Left To See

A young doctor arrived. Gave us the plan.
Doctor: Plan. Plan. Plan. Blah.
Funny looking in a primate way. We laughed, and he slanted from the room.

Gary Moshimer


Years ago, at the University of Miami, a party school in Coral Gables, we walked outside during a hurricane. Palm fronds the size of surfboards flew from one side of campus to the other. Our jeans were so drenched the bell bottoms flapped like racing flags in the wind. Our hands reached from one friend to the other, paper doll cutouts braced against the onslaught.

Mar Bradley

The Double Falsehood

I told Mr. Howard there was a connection between this loose attribution and another Cardenio enthusiast. Lost Cardenia is a YouTuber who posts videos, always within a minute of @PetraVrba's daily tweets, in which she reads, or rather performs, the line that @PetraVrba posted. Lost Cardenia performs all characters: Cardenio, Luscinda, Quixote, Sancho, and even Cervantes, and she does it all with the air of a professional actor—which she may well be: she, too, does not provide her real name or any other biographical information on her YouTube channel, although we at least do get to see her appearance.

Steven Brooks

The Mirrored Palace

Sufi iman, he was. Preached love and equality, oneness with the universe, that sort of thing. Scared the authorities, though he had no outside ties and whatever ambitions he had seemed to be limited to adoration. Had an aunt like that when I was a boy. Bring her a gift and listen to a few complaints, and I could have the run of the place for weeks. Horses. Shooting. Shot those birds but hated eating them. Should you like to eat the things you hate? Hate to eat the things you like?

David Rich


I joined the Jewish student organization on campus and started attending Friday-evening services. No one questioned my bona fides, not with a name like Alan Lifkovitz. They even found my ignorance of most things Jewish unsurprising, given what they believed to be my gentile upbringing, and vied with each other to get me up to speed in Yiddishkeit. I knew that to be a real Jew, my mother, not my father, was supposed to be Jewish, so I pretended she was. I said my parents were secular, fallen-away Jews. My new friends quickly corrected me: Christians might be "fallen away," Jews "assimilated."

Thomas J. Hubschman

Taierzhuang: A Secret History

The reason he asked me if I frightened easily was Master Xukong was the local exorcist for our county. The reason he needed a new assistant was the previous one had hit puberty, or more to the point had gotten himself a girlfriend. And the reason he needed his assistant young and as yet unfamiliar with feminine charms was—sorry, kids—the urine of a virgin boy was a critical component in many important rituals—rituals which just might save an exorcist from falling prey to the very demons he meant to hunt.

William Han

A Murderous Vacation in Corsica

She walked away, heels clicking on the fine pine floor, with my eyes fixed on her. You are not to think I am lascivious. In any case, this was a lovely lady and no waitress. When she came back with my drink, I ventured to ask her to sit down and tell me a little about herself.

Peter Bridges