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Excerpt from "Appraisals"

(posted 04.01.13)


Ruth runs her hand along the edge of a demitasse china cup, the pads of fingers drinking up information. The gilded rim is satin-smooth and clearly made by a machine; the network of lines indicates crazing in the paintwork. She cradles the cup in her hand, bouncing it slightly, letting the weight imprint itself on her palm.

“Find something good?”  Her niece, Annie, is peering over her shoulder.

“Depends on what you mean by ‘good,’” she says placing the cup back on the table with the rest of the set. “If you like overpaying for dog crap that’s probably not even as old as I am, then yeah, it’s a helluva find.”

“I know it’s hard,” Annie says repressing a smile, “but try and be civilized.”

“It comes from a good place, poodle. I don’t like people getting ripped off just because some idiot cleaned out his attic and called it an ‘estate sale.’”

Annie takes her elbow and steers her into the next room. When anyone else does this –– tries to steady her –– she wants to crack them over the head with her cane. But Annie always manages turn it into something warm and generous. A bit conspiratorial. In a way, having Annie’s hand on her arm makes her feel young. Girls used to go around like this in her youth –– hooked at the elbows, whispering secrets.

They’re in the dining room now. Rose-and-cream wallpaper in a vertical stripe. Built-in sideboard. Basket-style chandelier with carved ancanthus-leaf details. Run-of-the-mill Victorian fare. On a large oval table, jewelry has been laid out like an all-you-can-eat smorgasboard, and there are women stacked three deep to get a look. Annie muscles her way in, but Ruth hangs back. The only thing she hates more than being steadied is being knocked on her ass.

Excerpt from "Open Houses"
(posted 9.11.12)

As her black Murano glides up to the curb, Marion is already frowning. Peterman's keeping his Christmas lights on during the day now, and if he means to spite her, well –– Goddamn him –– it’s working.

She takes a deep breath. Yoga deep. In through the nose to a slow count of four, out through the mouth the same way. She fixes her gaze on the well-groomed ranch across the street. In spite of a full, finished basement and a recent kitchen spite of central air, blue-ribbon schools and built-in bookcases, she couldn’t move this listing if it were strapped to a rocket launcher. In the middle of its lawn, flawless as any golf course, stands a sign:

Greener Pastures Realty, Agent/Broker Marion Greene

“For Sale” it says confidently in hunter-green script. Beneath that –– her face in black and white. Dark hair pulled back. White collared shirt, extra starch. The up-do maybe wasn’t the best choice; it makes her face look pudgy. But the photo is about seven years old, and at the time –– just getting back to work after the divorce, trying to convince her 8-year-old son it would all be OK –– well, back then her concern was looking capable.

Now, she has new things to worry about. A property market that's digging its way to China. Buyers who couldn’t get a mortgage to pay for a pack of gum.

And P. Peterman...the asshole in the white house.

Excerpt from novel-in-progress
(posted 12.01.2021)

Susan Pevensie.

That’s who I most identified with as a kid. Not a popular stance among Narnia fans, I know, since she’s such a buzzkill in the end. It’s Lucy, of course, who you’re supposed to root for, but I always found her a little bit irritating. All that pouting over Mr. Tumnus. And, let’s be honest, isn’t she a bit easily led for a future queen of the realm?  Susan, on other hand––now there was a girl who got down to business. Practical. Sensible. Not to mention those kick-ass arrows. It was Susan’s scenes I always looked forward to; Susan’s episodes that I reread again and again. Imagine my disappointment when, in the final book, she remains stuck on earth, excommunicated and left to her own devices.

As I peel today’s jumpsuit out of the autoclave wrapper and shake out the creases, it’s Susan who’s on my mind. In particular, how infuriating it must have been when Prince Caspian blew that magic horn––her horn––and sucked her right out of reality.

Trust me when I tell you it really fucks with your to-do list.

And this––I’m starting to suspect––is the rub with alternate universes. Sure, they’re a change of scenery, but they tend to crop up at exactly the wrong time. And never operate to spec.

What a chump I’ve been all this time, longing to tumble Pevensie-style into another world; all you get is someone else’s problems.

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