Excerpt from JEANETTE
Published in DC Noir, 2006, edited by George Pelecanos, from the Akashic Noir Series
They looked like killers, dressed in black from head to toe. Jeanette licked her lips.
“Which one’s Mickey?”
“The tall one.”
“He’s handsome,” she purred. She didn’t take her eyes off him and leaned forward in her seat. She glanced at me like a stranger and jumped from the van, slammed the door, and propped herself against the front fender before I could open my door. When I got out, I stood by her side.
Mickey walked right up to us without saying a word. The two with him split apart and flanked us. Mickey shot me a look and nodded his head to the guy nearest my shoulder.
“That’s Roy,” he said. The guy’s face pinched together like a smile hurt him. Mickey called the other guy Dee. A thick rope of scar cut through Dee’s right eye.
“You the smart girl?” Mickey said to Jeanette. He moved closer like he might sniff at her.
“Maybe,” she said. “Smart enough anyway.”
Mickey’s eyes traveled from her ankles to her eyes.
Excerpt from LIBERTY
Published in the literary magazine, O-Dark-Thirty Volume 2, Number 1, Fall 2013 and nominated for the Pushcart Prize
0830 11 December 1964
The steward Marco froze at the end of the corridor when he saw Dutch. He leaned to one side and shifted his feet. The ship pitched in heavy seas. Both the Filipino’s hands clung to the linen covered tray meant for the officer’s mess. Boatswain’s Mate First Class Dutch Olson leaned on the ship’s store counter in the middle of the corridor. His rear end stuck out and blocked Marco’s passage.
“Gimme a pack of Lucky’s,” Olson said to Hugo, the store clerk and Dutch’s pal. Dutch tossed a nickel and a quarter on the counter, then whirled to glare at Marco. He and Marco were lots of things, but never pals.
Seaman Second Class Samuel Carter leaned against the steel bulkhead next to Olson waiting his turn at the store. He had no feelings one way or the other toward Marco or any of the other Filipinos on board. He flattened himself to the bulkhead to make way, but Dutch didn’t budge. Marco closed the distance between himself and Olson by half.
“By your leave,” he said, his voice boyish and thin.
“You hear something?” Dutch said. He gazed overhead like the voice had come from above.
Marco stepped forward. Beads of sweat slicked his forehead.
“By your leave,” he said. He stood rigid, at attention, squeezed against the starboard side of the corridor.
Dutch plucked the Luckys from Hugo’s hand and leaned back against the bulkhead opposite the store’s hatch. He stretched his legs into the passage and crossed one ankle over the other to make it near impossible for Marco to pass.
Hugo rested his elbows on the drop-down counter. He cradled his chin in his hands and watched Marco sweat. He winked at Carter. Carter winced at the boil rising up his throat.
Dutch folded his arms across his chest and his biceps swelled like cured hams.
Excerpt from OCEAN VIEW
Published in the anthology Workers Write: Tales from the Construction Site; winner of the 2017 Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing about the working class
I climbed the ladder rungs on the scaffold and scrambled onto the platform beside Frank. He blocked me from squeezing past.
“Working half days now?”
“Lay off, Frank. I’m here, ain’t I?”
“You’re late. Youngbloods ain’t ‘sposed to be late. Youngbloods are ‘sposed to light the job up.”
“Like you never been late.”
“I been late. But no more.” Frank glanced at Pea trudging through the frozen mud. “Can’t count on you and I ain’t seeing that old man firing up the job alone.”
I shoved past him, and by the time I’d set up on my end of the walkboard, a white van with FLORES’ PAINTING splashed across the side panel pulled into the drive.
“Goddamn,” Frank said. “Pea must’a really canned ol’ Viggo.”
Adele told me Viggo came home last night drunk as he’s ever been, and that Billy stormed around the house in a rage cursing Pea to the deep reaches of hell. She said Billy chugged a six-pack and disappeared for hours. She locked herself in her room until I got there so she wouldn’t have to deal with the old drunk, then talked my ear off all night about what a shitbird Pea was for firing her poor old dad.
“Hiring Flores is trouble, as many ways as you can count,” Frank said.
Flores’ door popped open and Flores’ son, Luis, slid to the ground landing flatfooted on a twenty-foot two-by-twelve plank sunk in the mud, so we could walk through the slop without losing our boots. Luis stretched his arms out from his sides like he’d just caught a giant roller and grinned. Local surfers called Luis Big Wave.