Saturday, December 26, 2020

Thrice Fiction, volume 2, no. 1 released on December 14, 2020

 Twenty of my short stories appear in this issue of Thrice Fiction, vol. 2, no. 1, released on December 14, 2020 and announced on the Winter Solstice. R.W. Spryszak is the editor. Illustrated by David Simmer II.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Over Fifty

Althea felt subject to routine inquiries into her character. Was she someone who would hurt children? Was she someone who would hurt the old? Or steal into their coffers? Was she harmless or did she have ill-intent in wanting to help others for so long? It was one thing to offer inconsequential aid once. That was the most valiant form of helping in that it obligated no one to help the helper in exchange. Yet it was another thing to grow to become indispensable to someone without whose infirmities the helper could not exist. People in general had started to call that helpless requiring “codependency,” but to Althea that word did no good, and good had been her sole goal in helping anyone in the first place. She became frustrated to be the only one to last on, the only one willing to go the extra mile. The extra mile turned into the extra ten and twenty miles since no one besides her showed willingness to try. She thought for certain that she helped others out of love, if not for a particular person, as between a man and a woman devoted to each other, then for humankind itself. That sort of spiritual love had started to become defined as “dysfunctional.” Althea was losing her ability to relate to people in any proper way, since her way had become outmoded, and the new way struck her as anti-Christian, and she rejected it. She thought the new way signaled apathy. She had not been very religious in the past but had become more so in her incredulous state of not having allies in loving and offering help and succor. To Althea, the reason to be a human was being dismantled, and lower reasons, such as greed and convenience and selfishness were taking its place. She felt alone.

Then Althea met a sister helper, someone like herself, someone who wanted the good for others and who had endured examination of her motives as codependent and dysfunctional. Emma arranged for Althea to join her in the evening to watch television. They sought nearly in vain to find a program that could appeal to their authentic natures. Then they listened together to audio books. For Althea there was just a ten-minute car ride to Emma's house. They had found each other in arranging to buy and sell a lawn sprinkler in their local weekly newspaper. Once they met and felt the warmth in each other's eyes — different colored eyes — brown and blue that blended instead of hurting or offending — they found a solid place from which to go ahead and to be. For Althea the goal was not so much to talk about issues but to find a steady and reassuring presence in the other. Both women were dependent on forms of government assistance despite being ten years too young not to work and both were governed by the legal demands of maintaining eligibility. Each time one of them had offered to help a family with a loved one, she was met with rebuff and the insistence that she secretly wanted to invade the family's privacy for wealth. So each woman had begun to subside in needing to earn a living and needed only to accept her lack of scope.

“At least they have each other,” prospective families who needed their assistance would say when Althea or Emma, who had decided to move in together to one apartment with four rooms, turned  down their offers of employment. Chiefly, the ladies wanted to protect their government assistance in not agreeing to take caregiver assignments; besides, each realized, especially in each other's company, that she need not care for an unknown family's unwanted family member ever again with all its attendant hardships and that with her new hope and new way of settling things life had started to grow in satisfaction.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


On the topic of Medicare, and in particular for those of you who straightened out the difference between Medicare and Medicaid less than a week ago, I have several things to say. I entered upon Medicare near the age of 35 . I was determined retroactively, due to the paucity of my earnings, to have been eligible starting in 1994. Those considered disabled by Social Security wait three years to achieve Medicare. I bet you didn't know that, did you? There is no short-term disability, dating back to the 1990s. ADA came in with George Herbert Walker Bush. Bill Clinton came in soon after Herbert Walker's first term. To my count GHWB had launched four wars in four years. Bonus points to anyone who remembers all four. One was Panama (Manuel Noriega). Sadly, Navy Seals were not deployed during Gulf War I. Let's imagine for a moment a non-deployed Navy Seal in a one-bedroom apartment in CA with his wife. Now it is bringing Mitt Romney's night of defeat to mind. How is men's lust and preparation for war related to government health insurance? There are, thinking of our certain, hard won (dead people, pincushions in HMOs, tattered scholars) changes in Medicare that will surely take place. No one spying on my page commented on my disabled five-day a week Medicare schedule. It is excessive to the point that an old boyfriend claimed greater health than mine. The only thing said to be wrong with me is the untested illness of bipolar. One can sink without dying. Bipolar cannot kill one, as hard for me to remember as that is, what I later called coronary to the forehead. Neurologists are turning feminist and becoming Buddhist. I guess Jesus suffered enduring consequences. He was not an atheist. He invented not being an atheist. Pray to spark reform of medical insurance for all Americans, not one, not two, not twenty-seven, but all 330 million of us. We demand good (basic) general health. We reject administrative costs that run higher than health costs do. Up by your bootstraps, Americans, basics. Now.

Sunday, April 30, 2017



Dressed as an English professor on Halloween
I escape the red devil and run downtown.
I go to the Art Car hangar
I dance, I swing my golden brown briefcase
I see the sculptor Mike Scranton
We ride to his compound
I dance nudely before a fan big enough
to agitate the sea of air
in the room with its boxing ring.
The bathroom has cold tap water
Red paint runs the walls
I stay.
In the morning, I drive home.
The phone rings at 9 a.m. on the digit.
Michael says, "We need to talk
about what happened last night."
"What?" I say.
He says, "The host of the party
said you bit his nose, and it drew blood."
I said, "He grabbed my pussy."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sorry to have missed you

I made the board this time, as I call the two-week recommended list. I feel like writing something better than it then. Yet thanks to those who fav'd and commented. All men so far, but F'naut today is often that way as have been several other kinds of online locations, and that is ... life. And/or it is part of planning and unlike paid venues or the next President or moving-picture windows and other formats. "That woman" someone with a fake-seeming last name called Hillary Clinton on Facebook today, but I am quoting it a little inaccurately, using quotation marks by way of paraphrasing disparately placed rather than adjacent words he used to refer to her. I began to type a reply and deleted it without sending it. It said something like, "Would you write, 'how could she trust him? That man is lying if his lips are moving.' No, too ...  Southern town." And for me, too much member-of-my-sex risk that might be taken as partisan squabbling, so I erased it and let his thingy float downstream. Later I saw that a Republican Party departmental up-and-comer, a woman, had reported to a press group, "The Republican Party will not lie to you." Then I came to Fictionaut from Facebook where to care is a human option and where option for me is not a Stock Market term though I have heard of it!

I'll go with Ackley's mention of 7. as a specific location to resume improving this writing. 7. in a real list of the first seven jobs I held would have been 2. except that I got started in thinking of first having coins of my own instead.

Within a week, I self-mined to make a statement, "Make the penny great again!" Stamps are not a job for me yet in my family there is a documented lifelong postal service stamp collection from Wisconsin. I watched off and on as my mother evaluated it using certified catalogs. Mixed in the box that had been transferred from small metal, perhaps silver, built-in wall drawers were rationing coupons, as I noticed. So, not unaccountably yet still surprisingly, as I happened to spot her doing once, my mother was stashing locally-manufactured coffee beans in the front hall closet. That was in '99, the year she retired as director of a two-person social service agency originally supported by churches then by churches and synagogues that she visited annually in offering a fund raising plea to those congregations that resulted in mountains of canned food and by most standards micro financing. She retired in a carefully planned and organized and thorough way, thorough except in one way, psychologically, and so I learned that no one ceases to earn income easily. I mostly lost access to earned income at 34 following a rigorous cross-country training as long as a medical doctor's. Her temporary fritz passed, thanks to my steady presence as the family's first junior member on medical assistance and the only one to have mastered a study of narrative chronology. Mastered is correct. Mastery in self-help sociopsychopathology refers to a woman's ill-ridden attempts to socialize with men after childhood. The short story also touches on my mother’s and my twelve-year adult-child tax law relationship, though without going into that tax law. I felt ashamed, as my parents' daughter and once-helpful citizen, that any department of revenue could let Adult Child enter tax code rather than a term meaning two generations. Adult Child is from chem-dep!

Today, life twinkles onward, inch by inch. In 2014 when I turned 52, advantage plan insurance included me as a senior citizen. That means that since 1994, 1996, or 1999, I have enjoyed one year almost certain of being an adult American voter who enjoys the benefit of Medicare. Almost, except that my home city nearly ensured there would be too little time to vote absentee despite my planning, thus marring it. That was 2008, the year I spent in New York, a low one for finance, the worst since 1929, yet a strong one for me, to be roving on sturdy feet again, several times a week, back among urbane pedestrians.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird or: Flannery O'Connor

This subject—Flannery O'Connor's world and work—has changed over time, not only for me. I read her along the way, early during college (not in college, since she is an American, and in college, An American is Hard to Find). Then I read more recently among 100 titles recommended as required reading for all men in _Esquire_ only one written by a woman: Flannery O'Connor's short stories. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" needs a good classroom teacher to alert the student reader who may without her believe that O'Connor believes that the Misfit is a good man. I suppose some may believe that the happenstance that brings the characters together near the end indicates something deserved about lapsed religion, since O'Connor herself is seen as religious. I have always believed the story is not titled cautiously enough for her likely audience, since it is too subtle and therefore too mature. The title refers to the absence of good men by heritage or in society, and for a genetic reason one must flip back in time to before the era given in the story. There are signs that the man taking his family on vacation is trying to be in a family leadership role for his wife, mother, and children. I read O'Connor's _Mystery and Manners_ with a sense of awe (outside class, and yet in some way led from inside fiction workshop by a Northern Catholic Graduate Woman Writer awaiting her turn to teach Southern Literary Tradition that didn't arrive until she was ten years into Theory). I revisited the book after immersing myself for years in lay religion, and I decided it is okay yet not awe-inspiring as it was. Awe-inspiring is Harper Lee's children's classic _To Kill a Mockingbird_ that I am in the midst of rereading this month after seeing an adaptation of it on The Guthrie stage. The Guthrie play features what at first I believed was the greatest performance by a child actor I had ever seen. Later I decided it is the best stage performance I have seen by any actor. The girl who plays Scout—Jean Louise Finch—is Isadora Swann. Near the end of the play Scout finishes our thoughts when she tells the audience, "Now we know almost everything, and we aren't even grown up yet." I profoundly hope (and would like to expect) that the world as we call it will never let down or leave behind or strand or delay or cause to lag this brilliant young actor. The boy who played Dill was also sharply inspired. The book is even greater, however, and there are all the details, delivered in the split point of view (not schizoid) of the woman-within-a-child and child-within-a-woman narrator who grows out of the writer. It is that book that has finally caused me to believe that literature is always for children. Literature is our ally and hears our snores. "Parker's Back" is not included in _A Good Man is Hard to Find_, so, sadly _Esquire_ readers may never find it or place blame for it on the publishing industry. It is findable in Norton. My favorite O'Connor story is called "Temple of the Holy Ghost," and I liked another one best about a grandfather who travels with his grandson on a journey to Atlanta. I can't remember without looking how that one is called. The others are old-school familiar, grim, startling, and somehow necessary. Is it true that O'Connor's body was frail? I wonder ... she might have been narrowly brawny or sinewy or muscled like a free range turkey who spent its life running the yard, unlike the cooped plump ones that go to Butterballs.