A minimum of last respects

I suppose most of us have been to at least one funeral service that was more perfunctory than pious, a farewell for someone few would miss. My Seeing Charlie Off  was inspired, a half-dozen years ago, by such a service. I wasn’t sure anyone would want to publish it — until I ran across Cleaning Up Glitter.  “We are here to explore the Human Condition,” says founder Amy Tortorella Walsh, “. . . anything that explores your life views, existence, mortality, spirituality, conflict. . . .”

So I sent her Charlie; she liked it, and published it last spring — online, in rather small type. You can read it there ==>>.

But now that I’ve gotten the copyright back (after an unusually long six months), you may find it easier t0 read here==>>

 

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Remembering a friendly spy

“An American university fellow in 1970s Cambodia begins to welcome the special treatment he receives as government agents scrutinize his every move.” That’s how Lowestoft ChronicleLowestoft Chronicle #43 introduces its Volume 43, which includes my memory piece, “Being Watched”. I was visiting the legendary ruins of Angkor War in Cambodia when the man assigned to keep me under surveillance apologized for being late, and asked me to tell him how I’d spent my day.

Lowestoft published another bit of Cambodian memories a few years ago, too. You can read the latest ==>>here at my blog, or at their website, ==>>here

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Trying my hand at a dark story

I’m not entirely sure where the idea for “Bonding” came from; it’s a dark story, not my usual. I began it during the early stages of Brad’s illness, set it aside, and went back to it after her death, which I suppose explains at least part of the origin. Anyway, the Elizabeth River Press in Virginia liked it, and it’s in their 2020 annual anthology, available as a paperback at booksellers including Amazon. But unlike most literary magazines and collections these days, there is no online edition, so you’ll have to read it ==>>here

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A dog and mariticide

Mariticide is the murder of a husband, and is the context of my short story “Rescue.” The title refers to the wife’s efforts to save her dog that was unavoidably at the scene. A friend who read an early draft thought my ending cruel. But undeterred, I polished it up and sent it off to the Bethlehem (PA) Writers  Group. They liked it, and you can read it at their website ==>here  (or of course right here on my blog).

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Learning Union Rules

I spent one summer of my college years making radiator hose at the B.F. Goodrich factory in Akron, Ohio. I came close to spending that summer unemployed, but I was blessed with a mother who stiffened my spine when I was nearly crushed by my own stupidity.

It’s a story of learning to speak up for myself, and — not just incidentally — learning union rules. For the second year in a row, the American Writers Review annual book includes my writing. I call this one Work Rules. You can read it ===>here

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More from the mountaintop

I’m having a bit of a run, having stories published that draw on my adolescent years on Deep Springs’ Swinging T cattle ranch. Street People, set near the ancient bristlecone pines on our summer range, was out June 1.  Now  Spiders, based on my real-life experience watching a duel between a scorpion and a black widow, is out in True Chili, which bills itself as a a home for cowboy literature. And a third, based on my cowpunching model and guru, has been accepted for October publication. I should mine that memory bank some more!

You can read my Spiders and other cowboy stories at the True Chili website, here===>

. . . or right here on my blog ===>

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A pious widow’s worst fear

Letting adoptees discover their birth parents was an issue back when I was covering the General Assembly. Few if any who testified against the change, as I recall, identified themselves as parents who had given up newborns. The lack of public confessions was easily understood.

When the issue surfaced at the Capitol again not long ago, memories popped up. It didn’t take much, in my new retirement community, to imagine an elderly woman — make her the widow of a clergyman — haunted by fear that her teen-age unwed pregnancy would be revealed, and she humiliated, if the infant she gave up at birth showed up shouting “Mama!”

Getting the story together took a bit of work, but when I had it right I began sending it out. A literary magazine called (how do they find these names?) Caustic Frolic liked it, and it’s now published. To read it online,  click===>here

 

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Ancient trees and people

I began “Street People” eight years ago, not too long after a family vacation that included revisiting the Ancient Bristlecone Forest in the Inyo-White Mountains, just east of the High Sierra, where I’d herded cattle one summer in ancient history.  I can’t remember now what prompted me to build the story around a homeless couple out to see America, but it flowed fairly well. Unsure of it, though, I set it aside.t

Last May, I ran across it and decided was worth tweaking a very little bit and sending out. Camas, the literary magazine of the University of Montana, liked it.  You can read it here==>

 

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Remembering elephants

A small Montana literary magazine, which had published two of my short stories, put out a call for submissions to its next issue on the theme “the great outdoors.”

I was reminded of a outdoor adventure I shared with Brad more than 60 years ago — an elephant ride through a forest on India’s Deccan plateau, and a l00k at working elephants. They liked “When Elephants Harvested Teak,” and you can read in now on page 45 of the magazine, by going ==>>here

(or read it here at my blog, listed under n0n-fiction)

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Crime stories: Tell the outcome first?

Zimbell Press, which periodically publishes themed anthologies (and has published several of my stories) put out an unusual challenge last fall: Invited stories about a game that ended in death, preferably horrible death. Moreover, they insisted on stories that began with the death scene, and then backed up to posit the setting and the game, leading up to an already-known climax — while somehow maintaining some suspense.

An intriguing challenge. I mulled it for several weeks, and woke up one morning  imagining a competition to swim the English Channel. (Don’t ask where that came from; I’ve only crossed The Channel once, on a solid ferry boat.) Zimbell’s editors liked my Crossing well enough to make it the second story in the collection, which is out now: Dead Game. You can get the book (paper or e-book) at booksellers like Amazon and others — or read my story here==>>

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