Living on the edge

Living on the edge

Danny Boyle and Gordon Williamson sit under a bridge in Sacramento waiting for the drizzle to let up, wondering why life is treating them so unfairly. Danny had spent his early years  in Virginia and North Carolina. His favorite activity there was hunting and avoiding rangers. Gordon grew up across the country, in a Stockton … Continue reading

Your many possible pasts

Your many possible pasts

They lived in Killarney, where Fiona grew up with an urge to torment her schoolmate Arnie. For reasons she could barely understand herself, these feelings strengthened in her adolescent years.  On a chill morning in October, the body of 17-year-old Arnie Murphy was found decomposing in an abandoned peat bog, a thin knife protruding from … Continue reading

Have pun, will travel

Have pun, will travel

There once was a land called Punt. It was the birthplace of puns.  The most sophisticated, creative, nuanced and subtle form of humor is, of course, the pun.  A remaining few on the fringes of serious literature still try to deny this, but are not taken seriously. Articles in leading literary journals unequivocally insist that … Continue reading

Autumn’s warning

Autumn’s warning

Yesterday’s letter from Valerie was troubling. She had enthused to her older sister about a new gown of billowy satin and organza – and of the young man she met at a ball.  She’s so flighty, so impressionable, thought Norah. How could they be sisters? Norah plans ahead, is more cerebral. That afternoon, deep in … Continue reading

Alien goat herder

Alien goat herder

Confounding all expectations, Earth’s first visitor from another planet was not a skinny gray creature with no hair, or a furry-faced six-legged genius beast. It was a very human-looking goat herder and her charges.  At first she was friendly, but space biologists plotted to take her to a lab and probe her and the animals … Continue reading

River lovers

River lovers

We were splashing in the swimming hole and watching the other families enjoying themselves.  Along came a grizzled man in his 60s wearing farmer overalls. With him were a handsome large dog on a leash and a man in his 20s wearing a life vest.  The younger fellow was apparently learning disabled, as he spent … Continue reading

Headlines kidnap our young

Headlines kidnap our young

She’s grown up on compelling click-bait headings on internet sites (“5 best ways to trim that tummy flab”), text messages (“It’s weird-crazy here at car wash”), news show promos (“Australia on fire – more at noon”), and hyped-up headlines in real newspapers (“Ballplayer’s arrest stuns city”). It’s no wonder Sienna Bistro defines her life this … Continue reading

House of happiness

House of happiness

Your home wears a jacket. It’s called insulation. In winter it keeps the hot air from escaping outside. And in the summer, it keeps the hot air from getting inside. Your home wears a hat that keeps the rain from falling on your head. It’s called a roof. Your home has a river flowing through … Continue reading

Work harder, Mabel

Work harder, Mabel

“Mabel, I don’t care if you’re working your head off, get that silverware on the mantle polished before the Blantons arrive. You know what a fussbudget Mrs. Blanton is.” Mabel also knows that her longtime owner, Hazel Benedict, gets nervous when company is coming. So Mabel doesn’t take offense, just quietly goes on doing what … Continue reading

A tale of tails

A tale of tails

Cats look at us with scorn. Dogs won’t admit it, but are ashamed to be seem with us in public. “I love my humans,” said Roscoe to the dog next door, “but really, no tails?” People suffer from our lack of a rearward appendage. It’s why so many experience low self-esteem. “Humans have a deep … Continue reading

Communication issues

Communication issues

Maybe the grandkids should have anticipated this. Grandpa, after all, is still driving a 1984 Chevy. But they live far away and miss him and wanted to communicate. Exchange texts, email him photos of their sports awards, do video chats on holidays. So time and again over the phone they talked him through the process. “Get … Continue reading

Rufusʼs rant

Rufusʼs rant

Stopped by to see old Rufus the other day and asked him how he was doing, and that launched a half-hour diatribe that covered everything from the price of potatoes to big government. Anyway, hereʼs some of what he said: If thereʼs a complaint about modern life it sure ainʼt about the antibiotics that fix … Continue reading

Life at the trailer park

Life at the trailer park

Alice lives in space number 14 at the Tranquility Trailer Park. A very organized person, she plans her days carefully. Today is embroidery day, and she’s adding floral designs to linen napkins that would form a set of four. She’s making separate sets with birds and vegetables. As her hands keep busy with her needlework, … Continue reading

Tammy’s Terrible Tale

Tammy’s Terrible Tale

Tammy wore her tam-o’-shanter at a tilt as she tramped along the Thames toward the Tower, humming tidbits from Tannhauser. She’d thrown a tantrum at ten when Tom taunted her tardiness, called her a tart, poured sauce tartare over her taut tights, and tore off to a tavern. “It was terrible tomfoolery,” she growled to … Continue reading

Condition orange

Condition orange

The color orange brings to mind a cozy fire in a wood stove, beautiful sunsets, carrots, and that fruit they make orange juice out of. And, of course, Halloween. Not to mention those beautiful California poppies that are are the state flower. And don’t forget pumpkin pie. Cantaloupe. Orange ball caps. Orange cats. Wonder if … Continue reading

Champ beats ’em all

Champ beats ’em all

Champ, in general, is an abstemious dog. While the evening before his humans had indulged themselves with barbecued ribs and several bottles of Trader Joe’s Providential Belgian-Style Golden Ale, Champ, wanting to maintain his training weight and believing healthy food makes healthy bodies, limited himself, despite several tempting offers of treats, to water and his … Continue reading

Best intentions

Best intentions

Cats abhor rain, and it was pouring. But the gray and white boy was desperate. With beseeching eyes he stood next to the car in the rain and looked up at the couple inside, two humans sitting snug and dry while he shivered. He had a bushy tail and a mane like a lion’s. They … Continue reading

Madeleine

Madeleine

Madeleine is 3, and very creative. Since her name starts with an M, she decided that she must be a mole. She imagines what life must be like for herself as a mole. Itʼs warm again outdoors, and last weekʼs heavy snow has mostly melted, so she sticks her head out of the ground and … Continue reading

Rocky relationship

Rocky relationship

Rocky Stoneleigh and his wife, Granita, have compatible interests. His career: stone mason; hers: geologist. For their honeymoon, they went to Stonehenge. One of the first things they did after marrying and moving into Rockyʼs house was to remodel the kitchen with granite countertops. Every Saturday night they got stoned. Their favorite hymn is Rock … Continue reading

Dog who reads Thoreau

Dog who reads Thoreau

Triscuit started with the Sunday comics, and developed a love of reading. As he matured he moved on to children’s stories, teen fiction, and then adult history and literature. He learned of the deep bond that developed between humans and canines all the way back to the stone age. Triscuit is proud of the dogs … Continue reading

Selwood’s seventh child

Selwood’s seventh child

Selwood Inch couldn’t have been happier. His wife, who had borne him six sons, finally produced a daughter – a goat. Mrs. Inch was a generously affectionate woman. Fortunately, no awkward questions were asked about her daughter’s paternal lineage. Truth be told, the goat was her husband’s favorite child. He named her Betty, and loved … Continue reading

Overworked and underfed

Overworked and underfed

The dedicated employees at the Troll Knoll Gold Mine give their all for Boss Stamper. He’s demanding and unsympathetic. “You’re under your quota,” he yells at Astan, who hauls buckets of ore from deep in the mine. “Your food rations will be cut to the bone.” Astan is used to the killer pace. He knows … Continue reading