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Say it in the Story

Fiction By September 19, 2016


…all that I could say of the Story, to any purpose, I have endeavored to say in it.

-Charles Dickens, From the Preface to David Copperfield


It is hard enough to write books and stories without being asked to explain them as well. Also it deprives the explainers of work. If five or six or more good explainers can keep going why should I interfere with them? Read anything I write for the pleasure of reading it. Whatever else you find will be the measure of what you brought to the reading…it is very bad for a writer to talk about how he writes. He writes to be read by the eye and no explanations or dissertations should be necessary. You can be sure that there is much more there than will be read at any first reading and having made this it is not the writer’s province to explain it or to run guided tours through the more difficult country of his work.

-Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Review




Suite: Frank’s Diner Supreme

Fiction By May 26, 2016 Tags: ,

The Waitress

I’m not much to look at now, but when I was 19, I could make anything look good, even that green polyester uniform. I liked the attention, and I learned to like the cops, the strippers, the drunks, and the grab bag of other weirdos that flocked to the neon light of Frank’s Diner Supreme that summer.

The one guy I couldn’t stand was Frank himself. He owned the place and acted like it. He’d come in, order black coffee, and smoke like a goddamn house on fire.

I was relieved when he croaked. Sounds mean, but there it is.

The Cook

Frank was good by me. He liked his coffee and his smokes and keeping himself to himself.

I’m lucky to know Frank cause I wouldn’t have no job otherwise. You do 15 years for manslaughter and tell me how easy it is to find work after. I learned how to cook when I was inside, though, and that helped.

I was a good enough cook alright, but I think Frank liked having me around on the hoot owl shift because then nobody would fuck with the place.

I’m Bill and they call me Don’t Fuck With Bill. And they’re right.

The Cop

Marky boy would come swerving into the parking lot at 2 after the Slovak Club closed. I would just look away when he’d stumble into the place. Same for the kids who would come in there stinking of pot. If I had run into them in town it would be different, okay, but at Frank’s? Frank’s was a neutral zone.

I looked at that place like a kind of sanctuary. People could come there and be safe and not be bothered. So could I. It probably helped to have them at Frank’s. Better there than running around town anyway, right?

The Insomniac

The food at that place wasn’t great, but the jukebox was perfect. I mean that the volume was just right–soft enough that you could have a conversation if you wanted, but loud enough to cover the silence if you didn’t feel like talking. Ain’t it funny how that works? If there’s no music in a place, it feels odd sitting there not talking to anyone. But if there’s music playing, it feels just fine.

I needed a place like that then. A place to get my thoughts together and talk, or not talk if I didn’t feel like it.

The Stoner

Me and my buddies used to go there when we were stoned. We’d get waffles and cheesesticks and all that shitty food you feel like eating when you’re high. We tried smoking out back once, but Bill saw us and told us that if we ever did it again he’d fuck us up. I think he would have, too.

Oh yeah, there was this cop who would be there sometimes, too. Man, he must have been dumb as fuck. We were completely out of our heads half the time and this dumb bastard had no idea. Not a fucking clue.


They Were Inside Praying When They Heard a Thump

Fiction By May 26, 2016 Tags:

He was a good sheriff for three seasons of the year, but in the winter he would lock his guns in a cedar chest and sit in his office and drink whiskey. Nothing much happened in the winter, and maybe it was the boredom that made him drink so much.

One February, though, someone stole a horse from Fat Ned Chamberlain. I saw the sheriff ride off that afternoon slumped in the saddle like a sack of feed. At sundown, he came back with Ned’s horse and a body, which he dumped on the steps of the First Methodist Church.