It's National Short Story Month and I'm happy to announce that two of my short pieces of fiction have recently found their way to print.
"Arm" is in the inaugural issue of The Provo Canyon Review (alongside stories by Joe David Bellamy and Philip F. Deaver). Here's the first paragraph of that story--the first of my published pieces set here in Butte, Montana:
As I was going into Wal-Mart, a man with a useless arm came out. I’d never seen anything like that arm—a dangle-flesh, rubbery thing with no purpose. It was like this three-foot flaccid glove coming off his shoulder. Made me stop where I was, halfway in the door, and turn to look. Even made me go blank for why I was there in the first place. Julie needed mozzarella and oregano and I’d planned on picking up more beer and Oreos, but after seeing that arm, everything on the list went out of my head. Jules and her half-made lasagna were waiting for me back at the house and she was probably getting more and more pissed by the minute, but can you blame me, man? That arm, that arm.
Press 53, Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand, the second anthology in this series, edited by Jeff Hess. My story is about a wounded warrior who sits in his barracks room thinking about the photos he took during his deployment. Through this memory-mosaic, he patches together a troubled picture of the Iraq War. Here's how the story begins:
They said he was lucky. The eye had not lost all its internal fluid, which would have led to its permanent collapse. Another millimeter to the right—one piece of shrapnel colliding with another to alter the course of his history—and the puncture would be bigger. Probably would have gone all the way to the brain. It was all in how you looked at it. Could have gone either way. Let’s keep things in perspective, they said. He was one lucky soldier.CLICK HERE to order Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand directly from Press 53.
Lucky. Yeah, right, motherfucker.
Fire and Forget, the anthology of short stories by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and one military spouse, Siobhan Fallon). My story, "Roll Call," is especially pertinent to this "holiday" weekend since it's all about a memorial service in Baghdad, soldiers honoring one of their fallen comrades just before they head out again on another mission. Here's a snippet from that story:
We were standing around after the memorial service. Seven of us, the ones who’d made it this far.Please take a moment this weekend to pause and honor the lives of all the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country--the "some gave all" of that Billy Ray Cyrus song.
The afternoon wind kicked up and we bent our heads, tucking up under our Kevlars. Two of us realized the dust covers on our 16s were open and clicked them shut. To someone passing by, it might have looked like we were praying, huddled in a tight circle of faith and brotherhood.
Bullshit. It was just the motherfucking wind.
But yeah, God and the hereafter and all that come-unto-me crap was fresh in our minds, since we’d just wrapped up Carter’s memorial service. We could hear the dog tags clicking against the receiver on Carter’s downturned M-16.