Short Stories for Adults


Ad Space

Ad Space Seems like where we’re headed (5/2021)   The corporate wars weren’t wars, really. No, the government pretty much rolled over to the mega corps, slowly at first, then more rapidly, then completely. Citizens pretty much rolled over after that. Only a few wealthy folks can remain clothed, don’t have to sell themselves, literally. For the rest of us, well, things changed quickly once the new power structure was fully in place, before we became ad space. Mom’s old enough now where she’s only a level four. They say she’s too wrinkly, that her ad space isn’t worth much […]


Iowa City

Iowa City Paris ain’t got nothin’ on her… (2/2018)   The men sitting at the end of the bar saw her first. The neon Budweiser sign behind the bar was flashy and bright; she was flashier and brighter. Gaudier and bawdier. She sauntered into the dimly lit room. Her black sequin dress came to the middle of her overstuffed thighs, short enough to reveal her Popeye calves and the start of her thunderous thighs. The dress was skin tight and her belly rolls succeeded in their attempt to escape from captivity. Her bosom overflowed the low V cut of her […]


When I Was a Kid

When I Was a Kid They grow up so fast, sadly (2/18)   When Peter was just a kid, he never noticed how dark it got at night. Now, he was aware of the seemingly infinite blackness that enveloped him and his little sister, Sally, every night now that they slept in the park. His night vision had improved dramatically. Now, he could see through the gauze of dusk until about 9:00PM. After that, he sensed rather than saw, but he’d quickly acquired the ability to know when someone was coming with enough advance warning to wake Sally and hide. […]


New Leadership

New Leadership Two men attempt to replace their village’s Chief (2/2018)   As the sun disappeared over the distant mountains, Togé sat on the rocky canyon ridge and pondered his fate. Would the Gods smile on him? He’d led a pious life, lived kindly, sacrificed to the Gods as required. Would it be enough? In an hour’s time, he would compete for the title of clan leader. His rival was formidable: a huge bear of a man named Thèr. Thèr was strong and powerful. The villagers all knew the stories: Thèr killing a bear with his bare hands. Thèr wrestling […]


Spring Dance

Spring Dance Oh, Meagan and that lavender dress (2/2018)   The gymnasium had been transformed into a wonderland. The rickety wooden stands were pushed into the wall, and tables with white tablecloths and tall vases of daisies surrounded a dance area in the center of the gym. Black and silver balloons and streamers were everywhere. Everything seemed covered in silver glitter. It was the Spring Dance at my school. Our teachers made us come. All of us. You could only get out of it if you had a doctor’s note. And they told us that the boys couldn’t invite the […]


Three Powers

Three Powers The village chief gives his son a jewel, a sword, and a mirror upon his death (1/2009)   Ito’s father lay dying of fever. No one in the village knew how to help, not even the village shaman. Through four sunrises and four sunsets, Ito, just 17, sat by his father’s side while the women of the village cared for their chief. On the evening of the fifth sunset, Ito’s father whispered hoarsely to one of the women who quickly left the room and soon returned with a crimson velvet pouch. “Ito, my son, come closer.” Ito’s father […]


No Exit (Yet)

No Exit (Yet) Sartre was right, at least temporarily, for this woman (11/2002; ultra short)   “Don’t make me go. I don’t want to go,” Linda pleaded. “But you have to.” “Why? Why do I have to? I don’t understand.” “Because you can’t be here.” “What do you mean? I’m here aren’t I? And it’s so lovely here. So peaceful.” Linda looked longingly upon the quiet calm. “I know you want to be with us. We’ve seen that for years. But you’re not supposed to be here yet.” It broke his heart to see someone like Linda in this situation. […]


Would You Turn The Key?

Would You Turn The Key? Which way would you go? (12/2002; ultra short)   The red light flashed on the gray wall. The klaxons rang, painfully loudly. The two men instinctively turned and looked at one another in disbelief. Or perhaps in terror. The light and the siren meant only one thing – fire the missiles. The men reluctantly removed their operations manuals and strained to perform the steps listed. It was finally time for the two final steps. Steps that would lead to the destruction of the world as they knew it. But one of the men began having […]


Mr. Kim’s

Mr. Kim’s A soothing, relaxing day at the spa. Or is it? (12/2002; ultra short)   Mary Thomas had just completed a grueling six-month assignment with a demanding client and decided to treat herself to a day of pampering. After sleeping in until ten o’clock – something that she hadn’t done in years – Mary rolled out of bed and put on a pair of sweat pants and a ratty AIDS Walk t-shirt. She didn’t even bother to shower. She pulled a torn, fading Yankees baseball cap down over her unruly hair instead of combing it. After a quick bowl […]


Parental Pressure

Parental Pressure Charley’s parents always hoped he’d be successful… (12/2002; ultra short)   Charley was nervous. Really nervous. More nervous than he was when he took the advanced placement tests in Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Calculus. Even more nervous than when he had to give his graduation speech as his class’ valedictorian. Charley paced back and forth outside the bar’s front door, occasionally shaking out his arms and legs but his attempts to loosen up didn’t seem to work. He re-entered the bar and headed to the back of the smoky performance area. There he waited. Scott, a guy he’d […]


Discretion

Discretion Would your lips be sealed? (12/2002; ultra short)   “You did?” “Uh huh.” “Really?” “Really.” “With Marshall? Last night?” “Yep.” “With Marshall?” “Mm hmmmmm,” Jane practically purred. “I thought he was gay.” “He is definitely not gay. I’ve got three used condoms in my trash can at home that can definitely attest to that.” “Wow!” “You can say that again,” Jane said conspiratorially with a wicked smile on her face. “Marshall? Marshall from accounting? With the HP 41C calculator in his shirt pocket?” “What’s so hard to believe? If you take off his glasses, he’s got the most amazing […]


The Mourning After

The Mourning After Tina Turner sang it best… (1/2003; ultra short)   The house was overflowing with people. Old people. All friends of Abe’s. They were everywhere – at the kitchen table, in the living room, on the two dozen folding chairs she’d set up in the piano room. They were all so old, she thought to herself. Their clothes were worn and rumpled and saggy. And they all smelled, well, old. Tina, 28, was considerably younger than Abe had been. Most of her friends wondered why a beautiful, shapely girl like Tina married a geriatric like Abe. Tina told […]


Unhappy Girl

Unhappy Girl A sad tale. A happy ending? (1/2003; ultra short)   She seems to be whining all the time. She seems to be screeching all the time. She seems to be crying or pouting or all the time. She’s never happy. She’s never in a good mood, enjoying the day. She’s never happy playing with the other kids. It’s a shame. I can’t help wonder whether, in the moment she was conceived, there was a seed of unhappiness, of discontent, of evil even that passed through her mother’s placenta. So, see, perhaps it’s not her fault. Perhaps when her […]


Butterfly

Butterfly Inspired by a recent trip to India, and an amazing person. (6/2004; ultra short)   With cream-colored wings with golden highlights, she floats across the field gracefully, effortlessly. The lights turn toward her, drawn to her life force. Her wings flap and the air currents ripple across the grassy field. Time stands still as she tangos by. No other living creature exists. Or rather, they exist but simply don’t matter. With deep blood red wings now, she is bewitching and captivating. Watchers stop still. She is the one they watch. She is the one they admire. The field is […]


It Makes Me So Sad

It Makes Me So Sad Hugs make the world go around. So let it be written. (3/2005; ultra short)   She said, “The world doesn’t run on love.” Why did she have to go and say something like that? It makes me so sad. I don’t even really know what she meant, and it still makes me so sad. She’s drawn to the proverbial stray dog in need of help. Hers is a crooked, cockeyed, scrawny fellow. Hers is the pudgy eight-year-old boy with acne. The old man practically blind in both eyes. The shy, skinny girl lacking self-confidence. She […]


Lottery Blues

Lottery Blues Lucky is in the eye of the beholder. (1/2006; ultra short)   Four snores and seven dreams ago, I was poor. Not any more. You see, I won the Mega Interstate Lottery. $425 million. Actually, I took the one-time payout, which was “only” $250 million. I bought myself an all-you-can-eat lobster dinner and then placed the rest on green double zero against everyone’s angry objections. Unfortunately, I won. Now I’m worth something north of $6 billion. And I own the casino that couldn’t pay up. Being poor was so much better. No, that’s not quite right. It was […]


Rainbow Cat

Rainbow Cat A boy and his parents are pleasantly surprised. (1/2006; children’s story)   At dinner one night, Peter and Katherine asked their parents if they could get a pet. Mom looked at Dad. Dad looked at Mom. They said yes! “We could get a horse,” Peter exclaimed. “Horses are too big and they eat too much,” Dad explained. “We could get a dinosaur,” Katherine suggested. “Dinosaurs are even bigger than horses,” Mom said. “And they eat more, too,” said Dad. “We could get an alligator or a lion or a tiger,” Peter tried. “Alligators and lions and tigers have […]


Famine

Famine Which is better, feast or famine, or scraps every day? (3/2006)   She promised me that we’d feast, that there’d be lavish, opulent platters of every kind of delicacy known to man. Sure, she also told me there’d be days of hunger too, difficult stretches of famine. But for quite some time now, there’s been too much too little and not enough too much. We lived on the streets of Rotterdam. Most days, we had clothes on our backs that fit. Sometimes the clothes were even clean. Sometimes, though, our clothes were tattered and torn until we could find […]


The Round of His Life

The Round of His Life This man will remember this round of golf – and this day – forever. (10/2001)   Greg punched the alarm clock just seconds after it went off. The neon green display read 4:30 a.m. Somehow, even in his sleep, Greg must have sensed that the round of golf he was scheduled to play in just over 90 minutes was going to be the round of his life. Greg quietly slipped out of bed, not wanting to disturb his wife, Nancy, lying next to him. Nancy was eight months pregnant with their first child. Greg figured […]


Building a Bridge

Building a Bridge A king gets help with an important project from a young boy. (10/2001)   There once was a King who ruled in a far away land. His name was King Two Sides. King Two Sides ruled a land called Yarzach. This land encompassed many hundreds of acres of land, with two large lakes and a river that snaked its way between the lakes, dividing the land into two regions. Both regions of the land were beautiful in their own way. The regions were also very different from one another. The King wanted to commission a bridge so […]


Ten Questions

Ten Questions A man meets a woman and finds out if she’s compatible… (11/2002)   As soon as he opened the door, Robert Sherman suddenly felt heavy, like he always felt when going out to a bar. He’d all but given up hope that he’d find Ms. Right at a place where people attempted to turn slurred speech into glamour. He felt heavy from the apparent futility of it all. Robert stood just inside the doorway for a minute and allowed his eyes to adjust to the bar’s relative darkness compared to the glaring outer lights that served as a […]


Dream House

Dream House A tale of a very special house. (12/2002)   Her hair still a mess, but her teeth brushed, Claire closed the door to the guest bedroom in which she had slept and skipped down the stairs and entered the kitchen. “Good morning, Anne,” she said as she saw her host sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee and reading the morning paper. “Good morning, Claire. How did you sleep?” Claire didn’t really know how to answer; she hadn’t actually slept much and yet felt incredibly well rested. She had had the most amazing dream of her […]


Certain Standards

Certain Standards A private school has high standards. But does everyone meet them?(12/2002)   “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Robbins. Please have a seat.” Mr. Edward Tully motioned to the high backed sitting chairs facing his desk. He walked around and sat in his thousand dollar black leather chair. “I’ll get right to the point, Mr. and Mrs. Robbins…” “Please. Dan and Claire,” Dan Robbins interrupted, not liking the tone of Mr. Tully’s voice one bit and hoping desperately that personalizing things would help the situation. “Dan, Claire,” Tully continued, “I’m afraid little Danny isn’t ready for St. Joseph’s Academy.” This […]


Grudge Match

Grudge Match The golf match to end all golf matches (6/2003)   Bobby McDougal was the number one ranked golfer in the world. He won his fiftieth tournament a month before his fortieth birthday and had wildly surpassed the play, the records and the legend of a guy named Eldridge. McDougal had won the last four events on the pro tour and seven of the last ten. All of the major records in golf were his. As well as being a supremely talented athlete and golfer, McDougal was also an egomaniacal, self-centered bastard. His fellow golfers detested him. The press […]


The Bubble Catcher

The Bubble Catcher A tale of the rarest of gifts (6/2003)   Through the years, the legend grew. Through the years, the children of the town listened with eyes gazing upwards and ears alert as their parents and grandparents spread the legend, amazed them with the tale of the Bubble Catcher. Through the years, most kids didn’t think it was possible. No way, they’d say. But for every child that doubted, there were two who believed. The legend of the Bubble Catcher stretched back almost a hundred years. The legend spoke of a boy so free of pain, fear and […]


The Monopoly Gang

The Monopoly Gang What if? Inspired by a question asked by Zachary Fine, age 5 (7/2003)   Smitty’s father had been a cop. Smitty’s grandfather and great grandfather had been cops. So Smitty was a cop. Being a police officer was as hereditary in Brian “Smitty” Smith’s family as, say, cancer was in others. Not quite the same thing, but just as potentially deadly. Brian Smith had been on the Boston police force for over twenty years, and he’d been a part of busting most of the city’s notorious thieves in that time. He collared the McDougal Brothers in just […]


The Toothless Village

The Toothless Village What if? Inspired by a true story told by a dear friend (7/2003)   “Mr. and Mrs. Rappaport… Mr. and Mrs. Rappaport… We’ll be landing in about twenty minutes. You’ll need to raise your seatbacks and tray tables.” Robert and Ida Rappaport stirred from their sleep. Robert wearily thanked the flight attendant as he and his wife of over fifty years obeyed the airline’s rules. Thirty minutes later, their plane parked on the tarmac, Robert and Ida turned to one another. They looked into each other’s eyes with the same twinkle of adventure and excitement as they […]


Tito Valenti Nation

Tito Valenti Nation B-dubs, Rainbows, Selectors and Time Shifters (12/2003)   My name is Tito Valenti. I’m a pharmacologist. Was, anyway. No, not the kind that dispenses Ritalin to cruelly squash hyperactivity, or Prozac to artificially lift the millions of depressed, or Viagra to, er, temporarily lift the impotent. No, I dispensed a kinder, gentler class of designer pharmaceuticals. You see, I’m a nice guy. Really. I want people to enjoy themselves, to relax, to take it easy. To be happy. I didn’t just dispense drugs – pills, to be specific – I designed them. In the 1950s, I invented […]


Devil’s Slide

Devil’s Slide A dark tale of a mistake and devastating consequences (1/2004)   It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, just twelve months later, Edgar knew better. Now, as he sat alone in his dark apartment eating tuna fish from the can for the fourth night in a row, he knew why they called that horrible place, “Devil’s Slide.” Six years earlier, Edgar’s only daughter, Alyssa, gave birth to his first and only grandchild, Thomas. Edgar waited patiently for his tiny grandson to grow, for his bones to lengthen, for his muscles to develop, for his courage […]


Deafening Silence

Deafening Silence What happens when a gridiron hero’s days are over? (1/2004)   It’s so quiet. I knew it would be quiet, but I didn’t think it would be this quiet. I’m not used to quiet. I’m not sure I like it. Just yesterday, the energy was electric. The noise was deafening. The raucous, adoring fans were cheering wildly. It was disappointing, sure. We lost the game in the final seconds, falling to 10 – 6. We missed the playoffs by a game. It was the first time in league history that a team with ten wins didn’t make the […]


Diversity Train

Diversity Train The people you meet while commuting, from A to Z (1/2004)   Anne is petite. Blonde hair, blue eyes. She sways down the aisle with an air of such superiority that men ignore her despite her beauty. She sits in a seat by herself and busies herself by powdering her nose and applying more lipstick. Ben is 17, maybe 18. He’s got a minefield of raw, red pock marks on his cheeks. He’s wearing a t-shirt that looks like it’s from some heavy metal rock band concert, and ratty jeans. Amazingly, he’s sitting and confidently chatting with a […]


Food Fight

Food Fight The things we’ll do for love… (1/2004)   Entered in the Writers’ Journal Write to Win contest (Story beginning with “The spitball whizzed…”)   The spitball whizzed past my ear, but the pie hit me smack in the face. Lemon meringue. Yuck! Now I was really mad, so I retaliated by squirting ketchup at Ronnie and heaving a tray full of Jell-O at Katherine. I managed to bloody Ronnie’s t-shirt, but missed Katherine altogether. Man she’s sneaky. I hadn’t even finished chastising myself for missing Katherine when Becky came at me with a tray of mashed potatoes. Luckily, […]


Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block This man just seems to have so many story ideas… (1/2004)   Another Friday. Another visit. A visit eerily similar to all of the visits before it. “You know, Doc, I always hear writers complaining about writer’s block. Not me. Uh-uh. I would kill for it. I’m dying without it,” I say. “What do you mean?” “What do mean, what do I mean? I mean that I’m dying here. I need a break, Doc. I’m a mess. I can’t sleep, for one thing.” “How long has it been since you’ve slept?” “It’s been four days now. And even […]


Look Deeper

Look Deeper Apparently a mismatch, these two find love by looking deeper (1/2004)   Katherine turned out the light in her office, shut the door and walked toward the elevator. It was just after 8:00 in the evening and she was tired from another long day at work. Especially when this one was a Saturday, like so many Saturdays before. She was already imagining a long, luxurious soak in a steaming bubble bath and the soothing sounds of one of her favorite CDs when she walked passed Steve’s office. She noticed he was staring at his computer screen, still hard […]


Like Father Like Son

Like Father Like Son Inspired by a recent trip to India. May I never have to say these words… (6/2004)   Amit’s family lived in a town five kilometers from Udaipur, India between a cement wall and a brick wall, under a large Gulmohar tree. At four, Amit’s mother and father sent him out onto the streets to beg. Each day, he would walk with them into the city. Each day, he would do as his father had taught him and look for the tell-tale signs of affluence: light skin, strange canvas “tennis” shoes, short pants or short sleeves in […]


Shy Guy

Shy Guy She has a keen eye! (7/2004)   Chris resisted his friends’ invitation, like he always did. They meant well, but they just didn’t seem to want to listen when he tried to explain that he was just wired differently. Theo was a chick magnet. He was tall, thin, still had a head full of dark black hair, and two hours a day in the gym kept him in awesome shape. From these things came self-confidence. From self-confidence came success with women. Mark wasn’t as handsome as Theo, but he was a good enough looking guy, Chris figured. Mark […]


French Class

French Class When cultures/religion collide? Mon dieu! (3/2005)   French class. That’s where we met. Both of us in a new city, a new country, and perhaps a bit lonely, looking for something to do. I noticed her the first day, right away. No surprise there – so did every other man in class. Maybe even half the women, too, that’s how bewitching her beauty, how dazzling her smile. That first day we didn’t even talk, except to say to each other (and to the rest of the class), “Je m’appelle so-and-so.” The second day of class, she called me […]


Force Rank

Force Rank A new chief decides that it’s time to make a supreme change. (1/2006)   The two men sat in oversized tan leather chairs, smoked cigars, and sipped brandy. The wood-paneled room was hazy with smoke, and dimly lit from the banker’s lamp on the large mahogany desk that overwhelmed the room. “Go ahead. Explain what you have in mind,” John said to his younger brother. Roger wasted no time, and dove right in. “Every year, we rank all of our employees. Not just ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘needs improvement’ or that kind of thing, but an actual ranking of all […]


Reunion

Reunion Confidence makes all the difference. (1/2006)   I almost threw it away, hardly glancing at the return address and logo on the envelope. In fact, it wasn’t until an hour later that I finally ripped through the envelope and read the invitation. It was a week later that I finally decided to attend. It was my high school ten year reunion. I didn’t go to the one five years earlier; I just couldn’t bring myself to go. I was petrified by the idea that she might be there. ‘She’ is Anne Glass, my high school class’ dream girl. Back […]


The Coin

The Coin A boy suddenly finds himself in a strange land of curves. (1/2006)   I began feeling disoriented and nauseas immediately. It took me a while to realize what was different: nothing as far as the eye could see was straight. Everything was curved or round or spherical. The walkway was a series of slate circles laid along a gentle arc. The roadway, like a snake, undulated its way ahead of me. At least the cars looked familiar: they all resembled VW Bugs, but somehow even rounder. How did I get here? And where was “here” anyway? I wracked […]


Women’s World

Women’s World Women are finally in charge thanks to Barbie Jo. (1/2006)   Fifty years after the fourth World War, everything was different. The most important difference was this: women were in charge. Men were at the helms of the various nations of the world during the third and fourth World Wars, as they had been for the first two. Egomaniacal, power-hungry men suffering from disorders making Napoleon Disorder look like a skin rash were the instigators of every major conflagration until now. The Network for the Empowerment of Women was just a fledgling organization after WW III. It was […]


The Painter

The Painter Determination pays off for this polite young girl. (1/2006)   A chill ran down Jane’s spine when the shopkeeper handed her the paintbrush. She had saved up for almost six months, stashing pennies and nickels and dimes under her mattress. When she first saw the paintbrush in the window of the store, she gasped and slowed to see it. Her mother, who was holding her hand as they walked, practically yanked her arm out of its socket. Hundreds of times since, Jane had snuck visits to the store and stared longingly through the window. The shopkeeper noticed her […]


Wrong Girl, Right Girl

Wrong Girl, Right Girl What’s a nice Jewish girl like you doing in a place like India? (3/2006) Inspired by a recent trip to India, and two lovely women   On her 41st birthday, after a nice quiet dinner with some close friends, Katherine was again alone in her home. How did I get here? she asked her cat. The cat just licked its paw twice and curled back into a comfortable snoozing position on the foot of Katherine’s bed. The wise cat sensed that by “here” Katherine didn’t mean America or Texas or Dallas or even this home. She […]


Lippy’s Gone

Lippy’s Gone A daughter with lip, and a great imagination (9/2006) Inspired by my daughter, and her great imagination   Elizabeth’s mother tried to pull the covers over her daughter, but Elizabeth kicked them off. “I don’t want to go to bed. I’m not tired,” Elizabeth said. Elizabeth’s mom put on her serious voice and said, “It’s bed time. Tomorrow’s a school day. You know that.” “I don’t care,” Elizabeth said. Then she pouted, hoping it would work, like it usually did. Elizabeth’s mom looked at the clock then back at her daughter. “I’m sorry, honey,” she said, “It’s bed […]


Fred Wu, Magic Fingers

Fred Wu, Magic Fingers Will a misunderstanding stand in the way of true love? (10/2009)   She studied the deep crevices in the face of the man sitting next to her. He was clearly much older, although he had a youthful sparkle in his eyes. Just as she was about to turn her head away, he smiled at her. “Hello,” he said in heavily accented English. “My name is Fred. Fred Wu.” He bobbed his head earnestly. “Annie. Annie McDonald. Nice to meet you.” “It’s nice to meet you, too. I remember seeing you here last week. Have you belonged […]