The Swayze

Two guys in a bar.

Guy #1: So, I had this dream last night.

Guy #2: Yeah?

Guy #1: Yeah, it was a bad dream. I was hit by a car and I died.

Guy #2: Sorry, man. That’s pretty bad.

Guy #1: No, that’s not the bad part. So I got hit by a car and I died, and my wife was really sad for a while, but she was dealing with it and getting on with things; then she went to this pottery making place—

Guy #2: This is starting to sound like a movie I saw once.

Guy #1: Yeah? What movie?

Guy #2: Don’t remember the name. But Demi Moore was pretty hot in it….

(more… )

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For Father’s Day

An excerpt from *Genesis,* Part I of Idolatry…. (SPOILERS FOLLOW) The setting: In the early 5th century, in a small town in the Eastern Roman Empire, a sculptor who is grieving the loss of the woman he loved tries to work on….

*  *  *

With the distraction of work, life was tolerable enough during the days, but the blackness of the nights was unrelenting. Even worse than the nightmares was the simmering torment of anger, bitterness, and despair that had taken root in his soul and was spreading like a tumor, creeping inexorably out of the night and into the day, into his work, infecting his scenes with worrisome frequency. Faces on his friezes contorted in rage, figures twisted in pain, pushing out from the stone, and he couldn’t find his way free of them. During the times when the anger had exhausted itself into remission, he would find himself carving figures of such abject loneliness that looking at them in the evenings was enough to make him weep.

It was just so, late one evening. He had worked through the night and day prior on another mausoleum frieze, trying to reach a state of exhaustion and numbness that would overwhelm him enough that he could sleep. In the scene, the mourners surrounding the dead body were distraught; all were focused on the deceased except one figure – a man who had turned to look out at the viewer, searching for an unfindable answer. His face was sorrow incarnate.

Apollonius sat on the floor, his head fallen, his body bowed over and so tired that he could no longer lift his arms, and still his soul hurt too much to rest. The tears began to fall, making silent splashes in the marble dust on the floor, as the night’s last candle burned low.

He sniffed – and heard an echoing sniff, disembodied, not his own. He sniffed again. Another small sniffle answered. He opened his eyes to find a toddler sitting on the floor next to him, gazing up at the funereal scene, tears rolling down the urchin’s dust-caked cheeks. He was begrimed but beautiful, with auburn-bronze curls and hazel eyes flecked with umber and gold. The bedraggled cloth draping his little body was a dirty rectangle of coarse, undyed wool, a hole cut out for the head. Of the pins meant to hold the sides of the cloth together, one had torn loose, the other had ripped nearly away and was hanging by only a few threads.

Seeing Apollonius’s distraught face, the boy began crying all the harder. The two looked at each other and cried on, emptying the depths of their grief until Apollonius could no longer bear the pathos, such a pitiable outpouring from such a flawless creature who surely could know so little yet of pain, a mere child with the prospect of a lifetime of joys before him. The scene had become an absurd injustice, and from somewhere in Apollonius’s soul, from a place he had thought had long died, something rose through the thick sadness, bubbling upwards to escape –

He laughed.

It was an agonized laugh, a pained laugh, but a laugh nonetheless, and the boy, in turn, laughed at the sound of it. Apollonius put his arm around the boy and pulled him close. The two cried and laughed together until the candle flickered its last, until the forlorn faces on the frieze had vanished into the blanketing darkness, until sleep overcame the night.

Read more…

Genesis cover art 051115c

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“The Match” – free today

“The Match,” with 100 5-star reviews, is available for free today until midnight Pacific. #1A, #freedomofspeech

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Review of “Mujahid” on Order from Chaos

“The story is told in the form of a screenplay, which can seem a bit odd if you have never read one before, which I had not, but it did not take long before the economy with which the form allowed the story to be told took over and pulled me along for the ride….”

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How’s your Tuesday going?

How’s your Tuesday going, in this beautiful land of the free? For one American, who happens to draw cartoons for a living, dawn came today with the knowledge that he’s targeted by men willing to die in the effort to murder him. How’s your Tuesday going, in this beautiful home of the brave? Listen keenly for a few moments to those likely innocent sounds outside. Was that a rake someone dropped? A package being delivered? The sudden firing up of a leaf blower. A car engine getting louder as it approaches but then doesn’t fade. A car door shutting, perhaps a little too quietly… The unidentified bump from somewhere beyond the side wall, the light scraping near the front door. The doorbell ringing. The shadow of what was probably just a bird across the closed curtains. How’s your Tuesday going?

You need to go shopping. You stop and listen carefully before opening the door. It has to be done. You can’t stay inside. You won’t. You scan the bushes, the street, each parked car, each pedestrian—as nonchalantly as you can. You’re brave. You won’t show fear. Outside the grocery store, a young man who might be Muslim stands, waiting for someone perhaps, watching as you approach, his hand in his pocket. You nod at him as you pass, to see if he nods back. How’s your Tuesday going? Back home, you turn on the TV. Most of the wagging heads are implying that it will be your own fault if you’re murdered—you’ll have had it coming to you, for having drawn a cartoon, for having put lines on paper, for having expressed your honest opinion about an ideology, for having stood up against that which you know to be wrong. And you realize that the wagging heads on TV want to be proven right. They’re waiting for it.

How’s your Tuesday going, in the land of the free, the home of the brave, in the United States of America, where you never imagined you would be left unprotected by those who swore to uphold the Constitution, where you never imagined you could be left exposed and abandoned to die on an altar to someone else’s vengeful god, awaiting only the priest with the knife to arrive. But there’s no schedule for the sacrifice. Only “soon,” they say. How’s your Tuesday going?

Separation of religion and state is no more, when the state looks away as one of its citizens is sacrificed to appease a god’s anger. Religion rules once more. How’s your Tuesday going? They came for the cartoonists, but I was not a cartoonist. We’ll go about the day as we did the day before. We’ll show solidarity, if and when it happens, by changing our profile pic for a few days to a black background with “I am XYZ” in solemn text. We’ll share a clever, poignant graphic or two. Life will go on. For some of us.

How’s your Tuesday going?


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A special story for Mother’s Day…

On this Mother’s Day, I offer my short story, “For the Woman Who Has Everything,” from the Lunch Break collection.

“Sarah woke to silence. Thin lines of moonlight lay in diagonals across the floor. She listened for awhile. The only sound was the soft rustle of her hair against the pillow.

“She slid her legs from beneath the layers of blankets and let her feet touch the chill of the hardwood floor. As she walked, a line of moonlight slipped around one ankle, then the other, ascending, scanning and measuring her body in strict undulations. At the west window the moon caught her fully, a slender white animal beneath the new winter’s sky….”

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“Mujahid” free today and tomorrow

In support of the cartoonists who exhibited in Texas, my anti-jihadist story “Mujahid” is available for free download on Amazon today and tomorrow, through midnight Pacific, Tuesday May 5th. Freedom of speech must prevail.

mujahid cover 011815a

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New flash fiction, “The Enemy of the Good”…

Half the town, it seemed, was gathered at the door, peering in, peeking over shoulders, querying, feral rumors slinking around the edges while, closer to the front, more respectable theories were being advanced in hopes of winning a laurel of knowledge for the price of a guess. But no one knew. Mr. Henkle was one of the most dependable, successful men in town, having led the seemingly perfect, enviable life, with the business, the home, the wife, the kids. Never a whisper of trouble. The news was unsettling, inexplicable. The world was no longer right. Everyone liked Mr. Henkle. He had always made sure of even that….

Read more….

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FREE Valentine’s Day ~ “A Prelude to Pleasure”

For Valentine’s Day, and particularly for those still looking for their one and only, my story “A Prelude to Pleasure” will be available for free on Amazon all day tomorrow, February 14. Feel free to share the story as a little Valentine’s gift, which you can do directly from the Amazon page @

“Before the five-year search there had been fifteen long years of watching and waiting to fall passionately in love the way he had always believed he would, the way he once thought he had. But on his fortieth birthday, he stood alone on a rock above a restless ocean and cried. There was no one with whom to share his world, and there seemed to be nothing he could do about it. In business he could do anything, achieve anything, he refused to accept failure–but he couldn’t create a woman, and he couldn’t fall in love with one who simply wasn’t there. Lifting his head, he had angrily wiped away the tears: he had been more than patient with the world, and the world hadn’t delivered on its promise. And if he couldn’t have what he wanted–he swore he would get the best that could be had. . . .”

“A Prelude to Pleasure” is the tale of a man of accomplishment and wealth trying to find true love–and what he discovers along the way, with the help of a boy who reminds him of who he once was. First published by The Atlantean Press in 1991.

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Fighting the Islamic State…

In response to the Corinthia Hotel attack in Libya today, I’m making the anti-ISIS story “Mujahid” available for free all day tomorrow, Wednesday, January 28th, starting at midnight Pacific. You are welcome and encouraged to share the “screenplay jihadists will hate and civilized people will love” with all civilized inhabitants of the planet. ISIS must be and will be defeated. The sooner, the better.

mujahid cover 012515a w blurb

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