Here’s the sixth story from my collection Middle of Nowhere.   In “What I’ve Learned from What I’ve Learned,” Tex is a misanthrope who falls in love with a wacky girl named Ginny who is his complete opposite.






I’LL TELL YOU FROM THE START THAT I DIDN’T WANT TO GET MARRIED.  Didn’t want none of it.  At least not the way it happened.  Never pictured myself in a cowboy hat and fringes getting married by the oldest lesbian ministers in the West.  Meet a girl, fall in love, and spend the rest of our lives together, except somehow it all happened backwards.  Well, sort of.  I mean, I met her, and she was nice, and pretty, too.  I wouldn’t have done her at my cousin’s wedding in the coat closet if she didn’t have a good face.  But to be honest, I had also sucked down about a half dozen Cape Codders that night.

Her name was Virginia, which bothered me already.  I once dated this girl Alabama, who was a loon, and had sworn off other girls named after states.  Alabama stole utensils.  All the time.  I caught her slipping forks into her pocketbook when I came back from the bathroom at the fancy restaurant I took her to for our two-month anniversary.  She wasn’t even embarrassed.

I convinced myself, though, that I could live with a name like Virginia because it was a state I’d been to and had a very good time.  Alabama was a state that I had never been, nor planned on going.  When I told Virginia that, she said I was funny, and after mentioning that her hair smelled like peaches and summer, I was on top on her with a fur coat on top of me.  

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The fifth story for my collection Middle of Nowhere is up! In “Lazy Insanity,” a young man with lifelong dreams of becoming an Air Force pilot accidentally cuts off his pinky finger and learns that now he can never fly. With no other aspirations, he begins to go crazy as he searches for meaning in his life.




            ZEKE HAD ALWAYS BEEN AN ODD GUY.  He was an odd boy who grew into an odd teenager and was destined to become an even odder adult.  He used to blame it on his pinky finger, or really, his missing one.  When he was ten, his mother Diana asked him to cut up the celery for his father’s salad.  She gave him a knife big enough to see his reflection.  As he studied himself and the abundance of freckles on his nose, his pinky rolled off the counter while the celery stalk remained intact.

Since that unfortunate day, he blamed any problems on that missing member.  “It put me off balance,” he’d say, pointing to his squash-shaped head.  It only proved worthwhile for grossing out younger kids in the recess yard, but that got old soon.  It did, however, destroy his lifelong dream of becoming an Air Force pilot.

“Air Force pilots have all their digits,” his father said, shooting him in the heart one day over a dinner of beef stew.

“They don’t have to,” Zeke said, quiet enough so his parents had to read his lips to understand.

“Nine won’t cut it.  Never will.  The training is rigorous and you have to be able to grasp things with both hands.  Not just left, not just right. Both!”

This immediately turned Zeke’s life upside down.  He stared at the stub that remained from his one glorious pinky and realized that if he never made that salad for his father, a different and more pleasant story would be told.

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“Everything up there had smelled of ice and snow and heartless spine rock. Here there was the smell of sun-heated wood, sunny dust resting in the moonlight, lake mud, flowers, straw, all those good things of the earth.”

“On the Road” may be Jack Kerouac’s better known work, but “The Dharma Bums” is his true classic.  Revisit Ray Smith and Japhy Ryder (standing in for Kerouac and the poet Gary Snyder), as they wander through the 1950s searching for Truth along with other “rucksack” Americans unhappy with their country’s prevailing zeitgeist.


The fourth story for my collection Middle of Nowhere is up!  In “The Silver Bullet,” a high school stoner becomes obsessed with a socially inept girl after blinding her with a beer bottle that he chucked out of his homeroom window.




            THE COORS LIGHT BOTTLE SHOT DOWN FROM THE GRAYING SKY LIKE THE SILVER BULLET FROM ITS ADVERTISEMENTS.  Logan, however, saw it differently.  After he released the cold and wet bottle from his jittery hands, it sprouted wings as it swept the clouds away and spiraled along with a gentle breeze.  A girl was walking on the street below and caught it.  She looked up and gave him a beautiful smile, followed by a blown kiss.

His nose tingled as his buddy Derek finished another Coors and stumbled over.  Derek’s eyes had drifted to the back of his head.  Everyone had left school hours ago, but he and Derek still stunk up their homeroom classroom with Marlboro Reds and were doing some blow.

“Throw another one,” Derek said, attempting to hand Logan a fresh brew.

Logan nodded, fiddling with his tongue ring as he pressed his face against the window.  He looked out of it every day during Ms. Weitzheimer’s boring history lectures and saw nothing but the meth heads who congregated in the skate park across from his school.  His warm breath fogged the glass as screams floated up from below.  He aimed to toss another Coors down four stories when he noticed that the same girl he thought had blown him a kiss was now lying in a pool of her own blood.  She was crying loud enough to give him chills.  A few of the addicts had crowded around, poking and prodding her.

The street became a dumping ground for the girl’s possessions.  A clarinet spilled out of its felt case, rolling from side to side.  The meth heads were leafing through scattered Physics and Calculus textbooks.  Bad clarinet music filled the air as a skeletal junkie brought life to the solemn scene, drowning out the girl’s wails.

Logan fired up his machine gun laugh, pointing at the girl and the broken Coors that rolled around her face as if it was taunting her.  Derek also snorted at the scene and then had an appealing suggestion that sounded better than what was happening below.

“Let’s jet and do another line on the back fire escape,” he smirked, and Logan nodded.

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