Story Frags

New fiction in The Kenyon Review and Boulevard. Excerpts Appear below.

200 Kinds of Poison in Boulevard

You notice things the first time you enter a strange house: the photographs of beady-eyed kids magnet-fastened to the fridge, the grainy scrape of stray kitty litter under your feet as you move around in the laundry room. You can’t help yourself, even when you’re trying to be professional. You are a professional so you do your work, but how can you help but see the bras lined up along a shower curtain rod like birds on a wire? Once you saw a vibrator hiding in the sheets of an unmade bed. The dog was in there too, a little ball of a thing, looking at you like, so what? These are people you’ve known your whole life, who played with you on rickety jungle gyms, who got drunk with you in parked cars lined up at quarry’s edge.

They are always so full of worry and concern and annoyance and a kind of mild, bored surprise at seeing your face smiling from the doorway. Come in, they tell you.

The Arm of the Lord in The Kenyon Review

I was seven years old, maybe eight, and my father and I were staying at a strange house again. How long had we been driving? The days spun loose behind us, and I didn’t bother counting. I remember his right hand on the wheel, his voice speaking in fragments. I’d wake up in a new city, a new state. He would smile and say, “Not much longer.”

This new house—I don’t remember exactly where—smelled of motor oil. The carpet on the porch ran black with it, a mark as big as a body. I remember that much. And the movie on the rabbit-eared TV.  A man talked about how they were coming, they would be there soon. Back then something would appear on the TV, and then it would vanish and you’d never see it again. You were left with a few afterimages, like the milky residue of a dream, a longing to find the thing and make sense of it. So you paid attention harder when it happened, because you had to hold it in your mind. I remember the voice from the box nudging everything close to normal. It was almost like we were home on the farm, in the smallest bedroom where my mother and I sometimes watched game shows on the little black-and-white.