We found ourselves standing next to each other. I was studying the prices of canned tuna. She was scanning the selection of instant-pudding mixes opposite. It was mid-afternoon, the aisle was otherwise empty. Try as she might, she could bend only so low to examine the items on the lower shelves, fearing, she admitted quietly, that her knees might fail to raise her. These things come with age, she conceded. We smiled it away. I turned to assist.

She was looking for butterscotch—that was the flavor she liked. If they didn’t have butterscotch here, Target would have it. They always stocked butterscotch at Target. The prices were better at Target too, she said. Had I seen the price of cream cheese here? Over two dollars! I commiserated. Her daughter had found a recipe with her weight-watchers group in which canned pumpkin was added to the butterscotch mix—it was really quite good that way, and less fattening. That sounded good to me too. It would be surprising if they didn’t carry butterscotch here, we agreed, as surely butterscotch was still one of the more popular flavors. Perhaps they had sold out. There were many newer flavors. We thought we found a few boxes of butterscotch towards the back of the bottom shelf, next to the coconut crème, but they were only surplus of the vanilla. She would get butterscotch at Target. She thanked me, her eyes gleaming briefly, and we wished each other a good day. I continued along my way. She continued along hers.

Perhaps a half dozen times during our search for the butterscotch, she had reached out to touch my arm, letting her cold, delicate fingers, thinly gloved in fine wrinkles, linger on the warmth of my skin for an extended moment, for as long as politely possible. I hadn’t pulled away.

She would find what she wanted later at Target. Here, she had found something of what she needed. I hadn’t minded.


Copyright 2014, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.



The increasingly desperate fervency, the unshakable commitment and loyalty, the blind doubling down of souls answering the call of their chosen savior – there it is again, the pre-rational, primordial stew out of which so many religions were born. Where there is faith, there are those ready to follow; out of the churning, simmering pools of hopeful followers, leaders will rise. Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Joseph Smith — how much was forgiven of them, how many sins and improprieties excused, overlooked, explained and polished away by those who told and sold their stories, all for the promise of salvation? The price of a savior — the ready offering of the mind, the sacrifice of the independent individual to the safety of the collective. All now to the temple in obedient lines, none minding the shackles tightening around their ankles, none suspecting that it is their own warm blood to be spilled, the steam rising and curling from the altar in the gray morning chill.

A proper bourbon & blues bar

A proper bourbon & blues bar

Napa needs a proper bourbon & blues bar. I need a Star Wars cantina kind of place, flush with locals and tourists, natives and aliens, with that hum of restless energy, the cast of characters coming and going, stories from here to there and everywhere, stories told and untold, histories embellished, half-told, masked, bared. With a relaxed atmosphere, generally, but always with the undercurrent, the potential for things to get serious, much more serious. And sometimes, just sometimes, maybe only once every year or two, the rising, palpable tension, the quieting and congealing to that blood-thick silence before the split-second move that will forever have the locals arguing over who shot first. Or who leaned in first, for the kiss.

Someone get on that, will you? The bourbon & blues bar in Napa, like a Stars Wars cantina? There’s a corner table there, with a corner chair. My name isn’t among those carved into the tabletop, but the chair is known to be mine.

This writer thanks you.

First Bite

First Bite


“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not worship the creations of man,” said the creation of man—as told by the man who had created him.

And many who sat listening to the storyteller believed him. And the storyteller was pleasantly surprised.

His audience wanted to hear more. They demanded more. This worried the storyteller, as he had already told the three stories he had thought up the night before. To buy time, as was his custom, he feigned fatigue. When they persisted, he asked that they bring him food so that he would have the energy to continue. As the tent emptied, he pondered whether to craft a different story altogether, or to make up a sequel or a prequel to the story about the man who heard the thunderous voice on the mountain, and the lightning that wrote commands on a rock. But the storyteller was fresh out of ideas.

The first to return to the tent was the young boy, one of the most gullible of his audience. The boy came humbly, bearing a basket of overripe fruit. As the storyteller picked through the offering, he leapt to his feet in fright—his hand had brushed a moving thing in the bottom of the basket. Perhaps the snake had been intending to enjoy the fruit for its own dinner—though the storyteller had only seen snakes eat other animals. He walloped the boy on the head for not being more careful, sending the boy crying from the tent.

Watching the snake’s tail slither away beneath the tent’s edge, the storyteller had found his inspiration. To spice up the tale, he would introduce some nudity. His prettiest young listener, always in the front row, would always blush and protest whenever he mentioned nudity or sex, but he noticed that she kept coming back. He would set his story in a garden of beautiful flowers and harmless animals. The girls always liked beautiful flowers and harmless animals. If he told his story well enough, she might be convinced to stay afterwards for a private story or two.

He smiled as the audience returned. The girl had brought him a leg of roasted pheasant. Finishing it in several bites, he sucked what was left off the bone and, nodding his approval, wiped the grease off his mouth with his finger. She looked pleased.

“This story is also true,” he began while they settled back into their places, having laid a small feast before him. “This is the Truth as the Truth has always been, the Truth as it has been passed down through a hundred generations of the wisest men, the Truth as it was passed down to me by the oldest and wisest priest of the tribe that held me captive before I escaped and crossed the desert.”

The girl had leaned forward, eyes wide and trusting, ready to believe.

“In the beginning,” he said, “God created the heavens and the earth.” His hands moved through the air, shaping the story. “And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. . . .”

As he told the tale, he selected a piece of fruit from the basket and offered it to her, his fingers casually brushing hers as she took it. He watched her take the first bite, white teeth piercing velvet skin, rupturing the flesh. The juice trickled from the corner of her mouth and down to collect in a drop beneath the curve of her chin. The drop glimmered and grew, flickering with the firelight’s flames. When it was heavy and ripe, it fell, landing on the slope of her half-exposed breast, where it clung like a tear, rising and falling with her breathing. The flames were in her eyes, too, consuming his words, hungering for more.

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“First Bite” is one of many acclaimed short stories, poems, and short plays for stage and screen gathered in the My Kingdom collection, now available in paperback and Kindle editions ~

My novels, short stories, collections and screenplays …


Copyright 2016, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.

The Gravity Field

The Gravity Field

She lay naked, face up, head to the north, feet to the south, arms outstretched, hands east and west, eyes full of stars. Beneath her back, the lumped clods of dirt and broken carcasses of last season’s grain, moist from the night’s dew, served well enough for pillow and mattress, meshed with her hair, pressed against her bare skin. The cloudless sky offered no protection. She needed none. She took in the universe until she found her place again in the solar system, in the galaxy, feeling the earth and all its round wholeness—the mountains, the oceans, the molten core—not beneath her but behind, between her body and the sun. She had worked to shift her perception until she experienced the earth’s sphere as it was, tilted, turning on its axis, her body held against its side by gravity alone, its surface curving down and away below her, leaving nothing beneath her feet but the great void. But she wouldn’t fall. She was as attracted to the earth as it was to her, and she was dazzled by the distances the stars had come that night, each and every one, to kiss her body with light.

She lay there until the earth began to chill. When she rose, she brushed the straw and dirt out of her hair, off of her body. She dressed and walked back to the limousine, shoes in hand. Her driver would follow the car’s tracks back out to the road. She might not return for another year, or for three, but she would return, as she always did. Why else, but for this, would she have bought the field?

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Copyright 2016, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.



Another Dance

Another Dance

She had gone from expecting too much and forgiving too long, to trusting too little and finding all wrong. She sat with her coffee, waiting for her next chance to walk through the door, determined to see him for what he was, appreciate him for what he might be, and should they dance, she would dance, lightly, with her feet on the ground.


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© 2016, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.

Off Starboard

Off Starboard


“Captain, I think you should come to the bridge, sir.”

“What is it, Mably?”

“Here, look through the glass, sir. At three o’clock. A ship, sir.”


“Closer in, sir.”

“I still don’t see it.”

“Closer, sir.”

“Oh—that. That’s not a ship, Mably. That’s a boat. A dugout canoe.”

“What could they be doing all the way out here, sir? They’re making straight for us. Do you think they need to be rescued?”

“If so, it won’t be by us.”

“But, why not, sir? Their little boat hardly looks seaworthy.”

“They’re attacking us.”

“Are you serious, sir?”

“Am I laughing, Mably?”

“Well, yes, sir. A little bit, sir. But—how can they attack us, sir?”

“See those little blowguns? When they get closer, they’ll try to hit us with poison darts.”

“Poison darts, sir?”

“Don’t fear, Mably. Unless they’ve found a new way to fire them, out of their arses or something, those darts won’t make it halfway up to the gunwales.”

“That’s—a relief, sir.”

“You’re laughing, Mably. Am I funny, Mably?”

“Yes, sir. I mean, no, sir. Sorry, sir. May I ask how you know their, ahem, strategy, sir?”

“It’s the same tribe that came out to us the last time we were by these islands. You can tell by their hair. You weren’t with us then. They’re the Moral Midgets of Microndria. Miserable little excuse of an island. But the inhabitants can be rather annoying if they get close enough that you have to hear them. Rather the opposite of Sirens.”

“Can we use them for target practice, sir? The boys could use some fun.”

“They’re not worth wasting ball and powder on. We have real enemies out there we’ll be meeting soon enough.”

“So, what should we do, sir?”



“Ignore them. They hate that.”

“But—if they get too annoying, sir?”

“You see that storm front out there to the east?”

“Ah, yes, sir. I apologize for not spotting it earlier.”

“Distracted by the wee ones, weren’t you? Don’t let it happen again.”

“Aye aye, sir. Should we warn them about the storm, sir? Their craft doesn’t look terribly seaworthy.”

“Perhaps you should ask Mr. Darwin, Mably. Anyway, invite him up to the bridge. He’ll want to see these.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

“I’m going below to play the cello. Have the first mate get us underway after Mr. Darwin gets his sketch or two and has a quick gander at them. And tell him, no specimens. The one we took aboard last time was complaining about the food within an hour. We had to throw him over.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

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2015-12-04 14.27.24Readers love Genesis, Part I of Idolatry  In the twilight of the Roman Empire, a sculptor struggles to keep an 800-year dream alive while honoring the love of his life and raising his adoptive son. Part I of the epic five-part Idolatry series, in which a wealthy young heir and a devout Christian girl find themselves at the heart of a 2400-year struggle for the soul of Western Civilization.

“Beautifully written, on the order of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, with the historical insight of James Michener, it brings to life a time of great thought, great art, and its clash with religious fanaticism. Cordair writes with a poet’s sense of scene and nuance and gives us a great deal of insight into the mind of a sculptor; I found this an exciting and easy read.” ~ Alan Nitikman 

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Chapter 1 of A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry, is available to read for free online, here….

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Copyright 2016, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.