Short Stories

Bait and Switch

My friends Bentley and Roberta are meeting me here in Curacao. I say friends. I don’t have friends actually, don’t need them. But there are a few people whose company I find less distastful than others.

Bernadette is here also. Bernadette will be the bait.

This story won the AR’s 2003 annual literary contest.

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Devotional: Journey’s end in a city studio

The first time I managed to coax Gina away from the crowd at Herbert Berghoff Studios was the night after she did a scene as Tetzel.  We were both in Madeline O’Connor’s acting class down at Berghoff’s on 12th Street and Gina — who weighed about 90 pounds — had chosen to portray the huge Dominican Friar, a sleazeball who winkled coppers from the poor back in the 16th century.

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Roberta’s River

This short story was nominated for a 2003 Pushcart Prize.

…..It was dawn. Roberta stood on the riverbank and stared at a quiet pool upstream. Gentle rapids tumbled into the head of the pool and eddies swirled quetly near the bank. There was a mist on the water but no trout were
rising. …..

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Spooking Ralph’s Trout

Ralph Bell was my roommate at Cornell.  Since then, most of the time anyway, he’s been my best friend.  Right after graduating, Ralph went to work for IBM in Poughkeepsie, New York, and he’d been there for seven years.  He liked IBM but he wasn’t crazy about Poughkeepsie.  One day he called me and suggested that we go fishing in Montana.  He wanted to get out of Poughkeepsie and he’d heard some kind of “hatch” would be taking place on some Montana river at some date…

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Nicolaus and Anna

“It appears to me, Mr. Nicolaus, that the sun goes around the Earth,” Anna said.  She paused for a second.  ”Or over it.  The sun goes over the Earth.  It doesn’t have to go around anything, does it?”

Nicolaus gave a long sigh.  Anna seemed to enjoy being housekeeper to a man with revolutionary ideas…

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Farewell Party

Ambrose puffed his breath into the air and watched the faint cloud quickly disappear in the dry arctic climate.  The thermometer nailed to the tree at the edge of the campground read minus 24 Celsius. Every day the mercury dipped closer to the minus 40 spot where Fahrenheit and Celsius come together, a possibility that Ambrose found mesmerizing.

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Mort

At the age of seventy-seven, Mort decided that he could stop being defensive about finding women attractive.  He didn’t lust after them as much as he once had, but he was drawn to some women, to their vivacity, their shapes, and the way they moved and dressed.  To notice them, he decided, even to notice them in ways that revealed his noticing, should be all right.  Why not?

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Family Welfare

The woman’s brown, carefully shaved pubis was party visible through the opening in the surgical drape.  Omi glanced away.  He didn’t want any of the staff to think he was staring. The doctor, her hair carefully tucked under an elasticized paper cap, grabbed a fold of the woman’s abdominal skin with a pair of forceps, tugged, and said as she always did when a visitor was observing her procedures…

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Beena’s Story

I had arranged to meet Richard Verlock in the bar of Claridge’s Hotel in New Delhi on a Saturday in late July.  I brought along my friend B.K. Ahuja, who is called Bunny, to show him the sign in the bar.  The sign said “Bar Open for Foreigners and their Foreign Guests Only,” but Bunny refused to believe to believe that such a thing could exist in an Indian hotel.

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