Short Stories

Eye of the Tornado

It was May, 1985, and I stood in my kitchen repeating my finance professor’s words, “You’re all in this for the money, aren’t you?” Mimicking the class response, I raised my arms, hooted and stomped my feet -- because I had just graduated from business school and been offered a job in stocks and bonds at the Premier City National Bank.  Smirking at my compounding fortune, I kicked my salesgirl pumps high into the air.  Never again would I have to sell those danged Cutco Knives door-to-door.  Or badger deadbeat customers to pay up.  Giddily I whooped, “Get goin’, girl!”

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Sacrament of Reconciliation

Padre Hilberto sat in the confessional, knowing he should feel eager and generous about hearing Señora Ottilia Garza’s disclosures, and regretting he could not.  He smelled her familiar onion breath through the screen and heard her familiar complaints.  She mumbled on and on about her husband’s sin:  his drunkenness and his long-term affair with Gloria, a girlfriend he had known before he married.  Hilberto remembered to Uh-huh every once in a while, but after hearing her repetitions every week for ten years, he had given up trying to get the señora to talk of her own sins.  And he was more than bored with her husband’s—that man never did anything new.

 

The Horseman ~ El Jinete

Juan sat before his small house and watched the black night.  He leaned forward, peered at the dim ranch land and listened intently.  He heard the wind blowing.  He heard the stomp of a hoof from over near the barn.  That stomp was his horse Morena, signalling that she too had heard.  There was something out there.  Something different.

 

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Like a Bird She Could Not Catch

On a fall day that could have been like any other but was not, Gwen parked her Ford truck on the dusty shoulder of a lonely road just past a little clapboard house.  She slid out of the seat and closed the door, then peered in the window.  Yes, the keys were still in the ignition.  Yes, the truck was unlocked.  Anyone who needed the truck or something inside could get in.  Knowing that made her insides feel better.  Her empty hands stretched out wide, next reached up high toward the last full light, then came gently down.  

 

The Moled Woman

The dermatologist removed the moles one by one:  from her stomach, her back, her neck, her arm, her brow.  Once or twice a year, she made an appointment in a voice small and embarrassed and wondered if the doctor remembered that this exorcism was not the first--that she’d had other moles removed.  Not because he recommended the procedure, not because they were horrendous.  They simply stood in her way.

So when the planned moment arrived, she looked one last time at the offending mark and eagerly set off for its elimination.

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Little Frau Kern

Kerchief on her head, little Frau Kern works each day baking bread, hoeing the earth and chopping binkl firewood on a little triangle of land below a big hill covered with spruce forest.  A hill she loves because it protects her land and her head from the chill Bohemian wind that blasts always from the northeast.

It doesn’t protect her from Herman.