Recent Stories: Fiction

April 8, 2014

    It seemed like a good idea at the time, if not a little bizarre; things were getting worse with Mother.

    When we wheeled her to the park, the only thing that made Mom smile was the sight of children, especially babies. Her caregiver and I always gravitated to the same bench facing the sailboat pond. I liked it because of the plaque: “In loving memory of my mother, Betty Krause, who loved this park.”

April 1, 2014

    “They told me I’d be dead in a year and here I am drinking your ice cold beer.” He laughed, drained the glass, and ordered a second. “What do you make of that, Jack? That is your name, isn’t it?”

    I nodded as I served up the refill.

    “So, what do you make of it?”

    “Doctors aren’t always right.”

March 25, 2014

Some days I plod a measured mile
Of graying asphalt road
To keep old arteries from closing
Or force new ones open.

I’d rather not look ahead
To still distant markers
But at the dirty white sideline,
Worn down to randomly regular rounded rectagons

Like jolly elephants on a frieze
Of nursery wallpaper;
Like fat letters of congratulations strung
Across an insurance office;

Like Mayan, which, if I could read
Or believe those who say they can,

March 18, 2014

    “I started another novel in the country, by the aging pool with its shimmering poplars. The pool chair was so old that the fabric had ripped from the frame. Anyone who sat back in it literally caved in. The sky had clouded over by the time I’d awakened and though I was badly burned, I was also shivering, my teeth literally chattering as if I had a fever.

March 11, 2014

    Farmer Tod and his wife, Nora, lived in a cottage in the hills of Kerry. One day Tod peeked out the cottage window. He saw Nora sweeping outside with her broom made of straw. Sure, she would be busy as a hen picking up bugs, he thought. So, he stuck his gnarled hand into a blue pottery jar,  took out a handful of coins and money notes, hid them in his worn leather sack, went out the door, waved to Nora, got on his old horse, and rode down the hill to their village near the sea.

March 4, 2014

    There is no choice, never was any choice. My stomach is churning. My heart is pounding, leaping out of my chest. My head is swimming with wild, nameless terror. “Save it” — the words are screaming in my ears.

    No thought is necessary when a living thing is in danger. This is the consequence of birthing seven children — the automatic embedding in one’s brain and gut of these instincts to protect tiny helpless creatures.

February 25, 2014

    When my friend Matthew came to visit and went to use the bathroom, he came out and said, “Wow, I never peed in front of Marilyn Monroe before.” He was referring to the poster made up of 36 photos of her that hangs over my toilet.

February 18, 2014

    Nostalgia-driven groups on Facebook are common. The one I joined has 5,000 members. We’re mostly boomers and our posts start with the phrase:

    “You know you’re from Massapequa if. . . .”  And then we take off.

    Today I gave a “Like” to a grandmother who once babysat for a kid who would eventually have a long-running sitcom on the television.

February 11, 2014

    She was only interested in getting there. Getting there fast and first. No stopping, no pausing at every pole and post for Boo, as she was affectionately and lovingly known by her family.

    She wanted no distractions and no diversions. She was formidable, chuffing like a small and perfect steam engine down the road from the beginning of Paul’s Lane to Sagg Pond. She knew exactly where she was headed as soon as she sensed and saw the leash.

January 21, 2014

    I sat in Miss Larsen’s English class and with my classmates listened to a tuba player across an open yard practicing scales. Or one scale,  middle C to the next C in the octave. He was having a hard time of it.

January 14, 2014

    I hadn’t done something that scared the crap out of me in a long while. I missed it. I wanted to feel my heart pounding, all the while telling myself that I didn’t care, trying to be nonchalant.

January 7, 2014

    Dolores struggled to pull out the wad of mail stuffed into her tiny mailbox. She was stretching on her tiptoes to reach it. The lobby of the six-floor walk-up tenement where she lived was littered with pizza boxes and take-away menus. An incessant growl from the West Side Highway, one block away, sent a familiar vibration beneath her feet as she trudged toward the stairs, clutching the three-day pile of letters. Pulling her emergency Marlboro Light from behind her ear, she scowled at the sticky steps ahead.

December 31, 2013

    I’ll call him John. Names don’t really matter. People change, reinvent themselves, become characters in various of life’s little dramas. It won’t make any difference to you what I call him as long as I give him some name, any name, just to identify him. So it’s going to be John, a common all-American name like Paul or Peter or Jack or George or Tom. He could have had any of those names, but I chose to call him John and John wanted money.

     “Lend me $50,” he said.

Star staff
December 23, 2013

    The Star welcomes submissions of essays for its “Guestwords” column, of between 700 and 1,200 words, and of short fiction, between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
    Authors can either e-mail their pieces (in text or Word format) to submissions@ehstar.com, with “Fiction” or “Guestwords” in the subject line, or mail them, preferably on disk and saved in a text format, to The Star, Box 5002, East Hampton 11937. A very short biographical note should also be included.

December 23, 2013

    I sit down and drift back to my Italy — the Italy where I grew up; specifically, the aroma from the kitchen. The voices begin to call me back.

December 17, 2013

Let’s get red wine, forget about the rest,
except be kind to strangers lest they be
angels in disguise. Oh holy bookstore
I slept in a rug on your floor
in December 1996, beer and poems
for inspiration. Paris scared me shitless.
I had a notebook, baptized by fire,
to write in alleys behind museums.
A woman sold sandwiches from her door
and talked about the thrill of being far
from home. A city’s smell excites
more memories at once than anything —

December 17, 2013

    Animals talk at midnight, midnight on Christmas Eve. Or so I was told by Reverend Flanders of the First Presbyterian Church. It was one of the things he said that I truly believed.

    But I refused to believe him when he said, “Animals don’t have souls.”

    “You can’t bring your dog to church because animals don’t have souls,” is what he said.

    “But my mother says that we are all animals.”

December 10, 2013

    “I see a traffic light and I break out in hives. They’re always changing. You never know what’s going to come next. One second they’re green. Then who knows what.” Roy nodded. A nod that said he had lived through that exact same horror countless times.

    “I’m afraid of wind. Once it blew so hard I actually got something in my eye. It was terrifying. I couldn’t see for a whole 30 seconds.”

December 5, 2013

      Brian McKenna slowly counted a dozen roses in the crystal vase atop the now empty office desk. Their crimson color gave him a sense of comfort, like a red beacon marking a return to a sheltered harbor.

       His thoughts wandered to late summer nights fishing with his father for striped bass off Montauk Point. He could almost feel the drift of the boat cradled in the waves as it was edged along by the north wind with just a hint of autumn on its back.

November 25, 2013

We were startled by raccoons
making a racket
in the middle of the night
in the kitchen
eating Marmite
and cat kibble
Luden’s cough drops too
(did they have the sniffles?)

We scared the raccoons
with tennis rackets
in the middle of the night
and they fled the kitchen
despite the light
between the screen
and the window frame
(which they had pushed apart)

We bought Havahart traps
as our protection racket

November 25, 2013

1989
    Wild turkeys, dull brown and nondescript except for their bizarre prehistoric configuration, strange bulk, unexpected arrival, walk presumptuously up the long driveway toward the house. The sun is trying its best to warm the day, but failing. There is a definite scent of winter in the air. Indian summer has worn out its welcome. Yesterday, and this morning, were still summer.  

November 19, 2013

    The words came out of my mouth exactly the way my older and only brother, Jim, had enthusiastically demonstrated.

    “Shut it, fat boy!” I firmly said.

November 12, 2013

    “If we miss the boat, goddammit, it’s your fault,” warned Dad as he floored the pedal of his prized ’55 Buick convertible to 70 in the sl