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Oracles of Chestnut St.

A long time ago, I knew this guy named Agriellos Angriopoulis. Angry, for short. He lived on the top floor of a crummy old house at the east end of Chestnut Street. The only way to get to his apartment was to climb up the fire escape, into the bathroom window over the tub, but […]


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Late one night, Alfonso crept to the manager’s cabin and stole a box of twelve prime cigars. He returned to the bunkhouse and sat on the edge of his stinking pallet, smoking these pungent cigars one after the other. Alfonso was an ancient cannery worker, disdained alike by his fellow canning union men and the […]


Auntie Cheeks

My Auntie Cheeks moved in with us when I was around the age memories start to stick. She brought with her no belongings and made no requests except one: “Put me there,” she said, pointing the yellow nail of her forefinger to underneath the kitchen sink. Fortunately for her, the sink was relatively large for […]


Señor Garcia’s Cold Heart

Señor Garcia, the viejo on the third floor, was fussing about how he had never done laundry before and didn’t know what to do. He didn’t even greet me with, “Qué buen día, mijo” as I tugged my laundry sack into the empty laundry room. I told him I just needed one second to put […]


The Well Man

Three weeks after the well ran dry, I fed a man to the hogs. The kitchen faucet drip had stopped. It had been a metronome companion, marking solitary kitchen chores, mending, morning coffee. I held the empty kettle, twisting both knobs. The tap spat, then nothing. I listened to a faint hiss where there should […]


Glass Slippers Aren’t for Everyone

The two most beautiful words in the English language are “crew cut”, but the bleached-blonde beautician doing my hair apparently doesn’t agree. I told her what I want, but there must be no ears under the poodle-like perm sitting on the top of her head. Although the hairdresser seems not to hear, she can see. […]


The Finger

The ad-soaked magazine behind the bookstore register claims the way I sleep—on my right side, curled into a ball, fists shoved between my legs—means I’m eager to please. Bullshit. The door flies open and this retired guy speed walks to me. He’s gripping his right index finger with a red napkin. “Miss, you guys have […]


Til Death

David suggests having drinks on the verandah to escape the heat building inside the house. The bulk of the afternoon sun is kept at bay by a tattered awning. Our chairs are close enough that we can touch if we want to. If we want to. Maybe he does want to. These days our attraction […]


To the Sirens

The wind picked up just as my father wrenched the weathervane from its perch atop the barn, and for a split second I thought the mottled, metal rooster might work itself up into enough of a spin to tip him off balance and send him tumbling to the ground below. But he was too cautious […]


How to Win a Pulitzer

Ms. Ann Foster, journalist and Africa’s imminent saviour, stands outside the hotel, sweltering in the hot sun. If history books are to say anything about her–and they definitely will when she succeeds–it will be that she, a brave soul, left the comfort of sweet Australia and its ravishing air for Africa’s toiling heat, moved by […]


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