A highlight of 2017 for me was publishing a story in Bull. I’m a huge fan of it for many reasons. While it’s true that, for too long, all publications were “men’s” fiction, and I completely support and appreciate efforts to end the patriarchy, I do feel this magazine’s focus on Men’s fiction is bold, and done with the right spirit. I also am a huge fan of Jared Sexton who was an Editor for Bull and still serves as a Consulting Editor.
This story about a crazy ambulance ride also had a crazy publishing ride. It sat in American Short Fiction’s queue for 227 days before being rejected. It was accepted by Indianola Review on a paid expedited submission, and then was never published by them as they disappeared. Then it found the home it should have had the whole time in Bull, and got editing love by Ben Drevlow including a new title. It is one of my personal favorites. Here is the opener:
Stealing the ambulance makes me question if listening to Buster Knees had been the smartest move. But when I turn on the siren and stomp on it—hot damn, it’s so much fun to drive. The parting sea of cars makes me feel like Moses. Even though Buster seems mad I’m off plan, the thrill of it all has captured him too. From the back of the ambulance, he screams, “Hell yeah, Virgin! Put that pedal to the floor!”
Here is the link: They Called Me the Virgin
This story was Commended in the Bath Flash Fiction Award. It’s another one I wrote at Kenyon Review Summer Workshop. It sat for a while, and then I took another look at it, and found the additional convention of some internal dialogue that I think helped “finish” it.
Here is the opener:
I finally went to see the doctor because it was easier than telling My Girl that I hadn’t gone. It was easier than watching the disappointment grow. It was easier than admitting weakness.
And here is the link: What If Nothing Hurts Us More Than Imagination?
This next one is one of my favorites too. It’s when I began a phase of moving away from the 300 to 500 word flashes and back to the just under 1000 where I can move with a more traditional story arc. It’s loosely based on an experience my best friend had with his parents. He was generous to give me the story to use. Here is the opener:
I don’t remember whose idea it was to call the exorcist. How anyone knew who to call. My dad had been telling us about the strange things happening at night. A bright light dancing around the room. The ceiling fan moving every which way but the right ones.
Here is the link: Against the Dying of the Light
I’m very happy to have this story up at Ellipsis Zine. Steve Campbell and his group are doing great work for the flash community.
Here is another Kenyon Review Summer Workshop story. We created a lot of content that week. We’d get different prompts and lengths. Some we shared with the group, some stayed private. I always liked these characters. The title comes from a favorite White Stripes song. Here is the opener:
Years later, Christopher and Meryl divorce. Years later later, Christopher and Meryl are to re-marry.
“I’m not getting them another wedding present,” I say to Barbara, my wife, the love of my life, the woman who never does anything wrong.
It ran up at the 2017 Flash Flood, a great day celebrating quick little stories like this. Here is the link: Union Forever
This one appeared in Train. It’s one that taught me a little lesson. I won’t submit to journals that don’t keep the stories out there online. I love Train, but there is a Past Contributor link there, and all of them are dead links. It goes to a blank screen. Here was the story. I feel it might have also been before I learned too slow down my submissions in general. I think this would have been one better served staying in the personal journal. Here it is:
An Atheist Stays at an Airbnb with a Prayer Room
He wants to drink whiskey in the prayer room. Kick the throw pillows around until they show more to life than where they are placed. Make damn sure they know about pain before he agrees to trust them.
He wants to have sex in the prayer room. Pull his clothes off like he is wringing a sponge for his last few drops of water. Dive straight to the bottom to find out what the top is all about.
But, he doesn’t know about the place. A prayer room is confusing. Let’s at least say it isn’t what he expected it to be. Let’s say these differences require a subjunctive mood for resolution.
And so, maybe in there, he remembers his parents, or he feels, in a strange, but peaceful way, that their Jesus doesn’t care about him. Maybe that’s okay. There are too many people in the world. Not everyone would even fit in the prayer room. Maybe he doesn’t mind being alone. Maybe he listens to water rolling over the meditation rock, and he’s not thirsty at all. Maybe he finds confirmation for the things he can believe in. Maybe everything is how they are meant to be, calm in the prayer room.