A different kind of debt collector

I knew when I started writing Penances that it would be a hard sell: Suggesting that Saint Peter might create a role for a former Mafia enforcer was impious if not sacrilegious. But the idea tickled my imagination; having tiptoed into irreverent territory, I decided to have fun embellishing my blasphemy.

Zimbell House, which had published several of my stories, invited stories on a “debt collector” theme, but wanted 4,500-word pieces. When I told my story in half that, and didn’t see any point to padding it, Zimbell’s editors put my Penances on their maybe-yes list, but ultimately decided against it. A bunch of others turned it down; nobody said so, but I suspect they didn’t like mocking anyone’s faith.

Then Caustic Frolic, the literary journal of the NYU graduate school of arts and humanities, invited stories on the theme of “limbo.” They’d already published two other pieces of mine, and I was confident they’d take this. They did, and it’s out now: Read it ==>>here


If her past caught up with an old lady

With all the talk about Roe vs. Wade, my fictive mind has been going back to remember – and imagine – what pregnant girls did when abortion was not only illegal but not available nearby, either. Was it a matter or shame or loss, or both? Was the secrecy of their decisions inviolable?

The protagonist of my Relinquishing decides to give her baby up for adoption. In retirement, she thinks that is all behind her — until a visiting speaker prods memory.

borrowed solace magazine liked it, and it’s out now — but they won’t let you read it without buying a copy, so read it ==>>here



Old stories never die

Jean Shepherd had an overnight storytelling gig on New York radio in the late 1950s that was one of my favorites. When one of his stories popped into my head not long ago, it occurred to me that modern technology might allow elaborations Shep couldn’t have imagined.

I made no secret of my debt in rewriting his story into “The Aeronautical Lawn Chair”. The editors of Lowestoft Chronicle liked it, and it’s out today, at http://lowestoftchronicle.com/issues/issue50/donnoel/


A street like the one we lived on

    Our family lived four decades in a house facing the huge Keney Park that divided middle-class Blue Hills from Hartford’s lower-income North End.
    In our first year, my wife Brad was walking up the long block from the old Weaver High when a kid ran up from behind, snatched her purse and ran into the park.  Undaunted and unafraid, she ran after him hollering “Stop, thief!’ until he outran her.

    Happy ending: A woman across the park saw him (after he’d taken the little cash) throw the purse into a dumpster; she retrieved it and phoned us to come get it.

    It didn’t take much to imagine a not-so-brave woman who didn’t know her neighbors and had a less happy ending.  OpenDoor Magazine’s theme for March was “Footsteps,” a perfect fit. You can find my “By the Park” by downloading the March issue and searching (a bit cumbersome), but it’s easier read right here:


An old car for a young man


In my back yard, but still fiction

    I suppose most writers describe best the places they know well. I increasingly find myself placing stories in a retirement community much like the one I’ve lived in now almost six years.
   But, I tell any neighbors who happen to read one of these stories, this isn’t about anyone here. Some of us may find common ground in some situations I invent, but they’re fiction.
    “New Beginnings” is a made-up story that I hope many of my friends will find as authentic as the locus. It fits the “l’appel du vide” (call of the void — don’t jump!) in Vol 12 of Nightingale & Sparrow, a literary magazine available both in print at Amazon and online ==>>here

  Frankly, it’s hard to read there; easier ==>>right here


A gritty night in Death Valley

     Inlandia, A Literary Journey, invited narratives celebrating what they call the “Inland Empire” of Southern California.

   I had such a narrative almost ready to go: Remembering when my college buddy Bill and I visited Death Valley on New Year’s Eve of 1951. As we clambered around an unusual formation of sand dunes, studying the patterns, the wind began to rise.

   We were in for a gritty evening. I called it “A Lesson in Dunes.” It’s out now; read it here ==>>



Is truth-telling a fantasy?

An astonishing number of literary magazines nowadays say they’re looking for fantasy (or, as some phrase it, apocalyptic, fabulist, magic realist, paranormal, science fiction, supernatural, or weird stories.)

Although I’ve never been much into fantasizing, from time to time I toy with an idea just to see if I can pull it off. When Sisyphus Literary Journal invited stories with a theme of “truth”, I dug up one of those ideas, polished it, and tried a few titles (“Mona Lisa” and “The Miraculous Camera”.)

It’s a takeoff on a very old fable, and I finally chose a title that’s a broad hint to that origin — albeit most readers may not pick up on the hint until the final paragraph.

I sent “The Geppetto Camera” off in mid-June, expecting to hear nothing before their mid-September deadline. But they accepted it before I could even think about offering it elsewhere, and it’s out now. You can read it by clicking ==>>here


Broke in St. Augustine

I spent the summer of 1951 zigzagging across the United States in my Model A Ford, aiming to have visited every one of the (then) 48 states before fetching up to begin my junior year at Cornell.
I worked my way, finding a few days’ work here and there — until I hit a strikebound South.
It’s a story I’ve told friends for years. I finally decided to write it out and get it published. Sheepshead Review in Wisconsin liked it, and you can read it on page 65 of their Summer 2021 issue ==>>here

or maybe to avoid skimming through five dozen online pages read on this blog, ==>>here