Excerpts, etc.

May 22, 2017

Annie Kahlo’s windows were black. If she had come home, she was keeping a low profile. Some nights, the flowering hedge between her house and mine smelled nice in the dark, but tonight there was just the faint odor of sleeping city.

     I wondered where she was dreaming tonight.

     I wondered if I had any chance of keeping her safe, and why she wouldn’t marry me, and if I was too old to marry anyone in the first place. I wondered who had killed Beatrice Stone, and if the Boston Braves could turn t...

May 17, 2017

     

     A couple of days and a whole lot of miles later, I stood in the parking lot of a motor court hotel called ‘The Sand Castle’. The sign in front promised that the rooms were air-conditioned. It was the kind of place where maids wiped dirty drinking glasses with used bath towels, then slipped them into paper sleeves that said ‘sanitized for your protection’. As long as there was a working ice machine in the hall, I didn’t much care.

     Behind me, the Ford's engine ticked as i...

April 30, 2017

The marina property had been nearly deserted because it was raining, the kind of warm summer downpour that makes even the air seem green. Nick looked up from the boat he was painting, and out the door of the old drying shed. The brush in his right hand stayed poised, forgotten. A single drop of white landed on the packed dirt floor, and then one more on the toe of his sneaker.

The light-haired girl walked toward him. She didn’t hurry, and she didn’t shield herself from the wet. He had the absurd thought that she o...

April 28, 2017

     

     There was a flower, just one. It grew in a small patch of sun on the forest floor, a tiny splash of pink in last year’s dead leaves, quietly soaking up the spring morning and radiating it back.

     “This is how it all begins,” Chloe said. “Once upon a time starts like this.”

      Her face was clean and clear. 

     “Look.”

      She raised a hand and swept it out slowly, tossing light and color into the sky. As it spread, the dirt...

March 6, 2017

They had changed the name, and it wasn’t called the Star-lite Lounge any more. Now it was the South Seas Room. The outside floodlights were green instead of blue, but everything that went on inside was the same. The drinks were still watered, there were the same pretty girls and even prettier boys at the bar, and it all came with premium prices. It promised some fun and a little danger, but if you wanted to buy some truly unusual company, a little reefer, or a cold gun, you were better off sticking with the Hi-lo...

February 2, 2017

      The marina property had been nearly deserted because it was raining, the kind of warm summer downpour that makes even the air seem green. The boy looked up from the boat he was painting, and out the door of the old drying shed. The brush in his right hand stayed poised, forgotten. A single drop of white landed on the packed dirt floor, and then one more on the toe of his sneaker. 

     The light-haired girl walked toward him. She didn’t hurry,

and she didn’t shield herself from...

January 9, 2017

  I looked over the edge at the water beneath me. Half in sun, half in shadow, it was green and black and deep. The surface swayed and washed like gelatin, hiding the power of the currents that moved against the rock face.

  Sea lions rested on rocks, and swam back and forth between the sun and shadow. They were enjoying themselves. None of them looked up at me, standing by myself and watching them. I got caught by a slash of loneliness, so real it hurt my chest.

  There was a noise behind me, and I looked back ove...

December 31, 2016

  It was New Year’s Eve, but State Street was mostly deserted. Occasional people looked out from lighted bar windows like department store mannequins. My car followed its headlights down to Cabrillo and then along the ocean. I left it in the parking lot of a seafood joint that was closed, and crossed the empty street to the beach.

​  ​

  I saw her from a long way off. It could have been anyone, a slender figure standing at the rail and looking out at the night water, but I knew it was Annie. She waited on...

December 27, 2016

     

     She was flat on her belly, naked in a tangle of dirty sheets.


     “Come here,” she said, over her shoulder. “I want to see you.”


     He didn’t move. The room stank of her cigarettes, sweat, and wine. An ashtray was on the bed, close to her elbow. The deep gray smudges on the sheet around it said that it wasn’t close enough.

     “Ronnie Baptiste, you look so much like your father it breaks my heart.”

     She reached over to the bedside table, fumbled at...

December 24, 2016

It was time to go.

One of the camel-deer was startled and stepped backward, causing the whole line of them to stamp, snort, and threaten to break ranks. Chloe stepped forward to take it by the bridle, hushing and soothing it. Magdalena worked the reins until the rest were quiet, and looked at me.

“Miracles,” the old woman said. “Miracles. Everyone gets one every year. Nobody knows what they will get, or when during the year it’s going to be revealed to them, or even if it will be visible at all. Sometimes, the mira...

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