Clumsy maneuver. Jagged windowpane glass. His hand split open like a ripe, juicy watermelon bursting in the heat. The best thing to have done at that point would have been to run, run, the other way, run. Ya know, like some smart motherfucker mighta done. But no, not Jerry. No, Jerry, he ran ‘bout thick as a Bible. Slow and meandering. An uncracked Gideons with a pristine spine. So many lessons ne’er learnt.

Jerry, stumbling and muttering curses, he bled all over the crime scene. A dozen bloody handprints all here and there and a few more elsewhere as if for good measure. Not to mention the three perfect full palm prints he left on the body. One mighta almost surmised he was working on behalf of the detectives.

Sloppy like a rind drunk dustbin racoon, he made the place his own. He ate. He lounged. Gnawed. Considered shit for breaking. Broke a lamp and then cut his hand on a mirror trying to do more damage and bled even worse. Felt none of that. Bust it up. Mine. Hers. Possessions once his, all the better. No matter. All of it.

Sunrise. Police cruisers skid in. Neighbors out on their lawns gawking. Twittering and twitching. Nervous squirrels. Jerry befuddled. Jerry cuffed and tucked into a squad car.

Pulling away, looking into all the wide eyes, Jerry’s eyes were dead. In the light of day, he saw one thing, however. Wrong house, wrong woman. His ex-wife lives one street over.

All those days how he’d loved her and she him. Once upon a time.


When the sun rose in the west on the fourth consecutive day with still nary a passerby, Mannequin knew without question that something was truly amiss. The avenue beyond Mannequin’s window display had remained pedestrian-free both night and day with only the occasional scampering rat or seven becoming more and more commonplace.

There simply was no way to put things right. Where to start? First and foremost, the sun rose in the east, of course, just as it always had, as ages of sailors and squinting astronomers knew all too well. But from Mannequin’s staid perspective, the sun, being a mere reflection of itself on the facades across the vacant avenue—Stayfit and Dunkin’ Donuts—that burning furnace of life-giving light seemingly originated from the opposite direction. Not a concern. Mannequin had never brooked travel plans and so the distinction of east versus west mattered not one iota. What was a great deal of concern to Mannequin, however, was that while its torso was clothed in a delicate sea blue Italian wool knit V-neck coupled with a black cotton tee, there was no escaping the rather embarrassing fact that its nether regions and legs remained as bare as the day the machines lathed them. The madras plaid shorts which should have completed Mannequin’s ensemble, had, for the past four days, stayed half-folded but mostly crumpled on the window display floor mere inches from the toes of Mannequin’s cold, enameled feet.

There was one saving grace. While there could be no denying the reality that the store’s staff and shoppers and window gawkers had all become but a memory, still the Muzak played on. Day in and day out, every hour upon the hour had been marked by the dulcet passage of Moon River. Instrumental. At first disturbing—and especially so from the run beginning around the two hundred and first to the three hundred and thirty-ninth play-through, for reasons best left not reflected upon here—it became something akin to a murdered heart tucked beneath the floorboards. But then, near the diminishing notes of either the six hundred and twenty-first or third time, a switch flipped in Mannequin—figuratively, of course, as Mannequin was a mannequin and possessed no circuitry—and an enlightenment came to pass. An epiphany of sorts. Yes, somewhere around about week four or so, that inescapable repetition of Mancini bestowed upon Mannequin a comforting affirmation of anchorage and certainty in a world otherwise untethered and dully chaotic.

Three hundred and seventeen days passed before a young man appeared one morning, sneezing and coughing, his hands forever in motion to wave off the dusty air as he sighed at the sight of it all. He didn’t stay. He cursed under his breath before taking up Mannequin’s crumpled shorts and then he was gone. Two days following that, a woman and man stood behind Mannequin and shared a lengthy conversation that covered so many things so far above and beyond Mannequin’s ken. Talk of ‘diminishing’ this and that and ‘staff layoffs’ and ‘return to real life’. So much jargon. ‘Death.’ It all made no sense. None of it. With one exception. The man said his loneliness had been ‘like a cold blanket.’

The reflected sun rose in the west as always one clear morning as a small girl rushed to the window and almost smeared it with an ice cream cone in her frenetic approach.  

“Naked!” she screamed, sticky fingers stabbing and smearing the thick glass in her excited discovery of Mannequin’s still nude repose.

If only Mannequin had possessed the ability, it would have thrown its head back and laughed.


The cookies kept coming. The cookies and brownies, fudges and tarts and pies. In sheets and stacks, they kept coming.

Just the full moon prior, the wish imp had cautioned with a waggle of its crooked index finger, “Wishes are made of words which makes them as hard as wood.”

The baker didn’t pause to heed the warning. Forgive him. Too long had his ledgers been filled with red. Months of hollowness. A hollow shop with nary a soul to cast a shadow there, save for his slender frame like a bar of soap under a trickle of warm water, growing smaller with each passing day.

“But, even so,” the wish imp added, “wishes like wood uncared for will in time dry and rot.” It giggled then and with one of its long amber talons made an arc upon the shop’s still air. “Such are words,” it said. “Such are wishes.”

His undoing success had begun in the dull dark hours, where and when the baker found himself vexed and far from sleep. Words, the baker considered. What wrong words had summoned this hoary thing? The baker couldn’t coax the answer from his troubled recollections. What pounding of fists and curses railed against Heaven produced this quasit, stepped out from my oven? The baker had no recipe to produce an answer. Not even one ingredient. Only his aching head suffering to settle the now empty belly previously swollen with last night’s brandy.

“Oh, and perhaps an appetizer strawberry from the window treats,” something with a voice of coal whispered from the dark to startle the poor hungry baker all the more. “But even then, tart or sweet,” it added with a giggle, “only a bite or four.”

It had been a few weeks before when the hour was late and rightly dark that the baker twisted and fought his sweaty sheets. His wife, Beatrice, buried three winters gone by, was not there to soothe his troubled dreams. The dreams of her.

Tucking damp sheets about him, the baker battled his fevered dream. And then the imp. A warning. A wish. Bring her back to me.

In his waking there was no piecing it together. Fuzzy minded and fumbling, the baker made his way downstairs where the dream, unfortunately, in part, proved true. Cookies and treats and sweets, key lime and raspberry drizzle, cakes and eclairs, an endless deluge of caramels and chocolate, oh so much chocolate, all were piled and falling about as more just kept coming. From the thin air the counters were spilling over. Cupboards bulged tight and soon couldn’t be closed. The floor a maze, a labyrinth of muffins, pastries, and always cookies. So many cookies.

But best of all, at least at first, far greater than anything he could have wanted or, dare say, wished for, his beloved wife, Beatrice. There she stood behind the counter.

And that was how the crowd grew. So many hungry and here were treats spilling over from every counter. All smiling and pleased to greet Beatrice as she tied their pastry parcels with red and white twine. Some days it was hard to close the till, so stuffed it’d become.

All the while, the baker did not bake. Beatrice was not his wife. She was only there. And still she smiled. Still the shelves flowed over with treats. The line of customers never-ending.

In the end, the baker could not eat. Not an appetizer, not a treat, neither a folded bit of spinach nor a slice of veal. He wasted away among the pastries.


Father had objected, but mother stood her ground. The boy could hunt alone. She was tired of objections based upon speculations borne of fear. The bone of hunger was greater. Winter had set in well and good, not just on the calendar of but for both she and Father. The old man was wise in woodcraft but unsteady in hand. Truth be told, for three seasons gone by now, he couldn’t have hit the sky with two barrels of scattershot without complaining about the sun getting in his eye.

The boy would hunt alone. All went well enough in those first weeks. Rabbits and squirrels were brought home for the pot and skillet. Stews warmed the father’s stomach as much as his heart, so much so until finally the old man’s arguments withered away.

This was why the boy was afraid to tell them. He kept secret what he had seen when alone in the wood.

The country was not what folk farther away and higher up would call mountainous. Just the same, the land ran hilly and thick with gullies and many steep slopes. In winter, as it was now, the birch trees were words on the page, a study in black and white. Or so the boy thought as he did his best not to trudge but slip through the snow. Wet in his boots and seat, he often failed. Steadfast, he kept his head up in search of game. ‘Keep your eyes afore you and your feet will find their way.’ The old man had taught him that.

Blood speckled the snow on the evening he’d first encountered the white stag. Not the stag’s blood, but from a rabbit he’d shot. Or ‘failed to shoot,’ as Father would have no doubt admonished had the old man been witness to the rushed and bungled endeavor. Now the boy struggled almost as much as the hobbled buck hare as he scrambled up and down following the smattered trail of crimson. Twice the boy was vexed when he stumbled and surged forward only to find he was pursuing a red cardinal flitting on the snow and not the blood of his wounded supper.

Hands and feet were numb with cold. The barrel of his gun had dipped into the banks and was clotted with snow and so he sat back on his haunches to catch a breath and clear his mind and clean his weapon. ‘That damn coney can wait,’ he told himself, breaking the breach to ensure the barrel was clear. As he reloaded a round of birdshot, he looked up to consider his surroundings.

It was just there. Perhaps a difficult shot away if only the barrel was slug loaded. Perfect and still. The boy thought the creature a figment at first. But then the slightest hint of steam escaped the stag’s nostril. A wisp. The boy gasped and the white stag recognized him with a stamp of fore hooves that brought snow from the bows to adorn its broad antlers. Eyes and nostrils flaring wide, the boy and the stag considered one another.

And then it was gone.

He told no one of it. Who would believe him? And if he’d seen it, then why wasn’t its meat on the table, its great rack above the mantle, its fine pelt upon the bed?

With every outing he prayed for another chance. He kept his barrel loaded with a slug instead of birdshot. In that way so many rabbits and quail ran and flew free. The house went hungry.

And this was why they argued that night on the road, his father’s knuckles white on the wheel. His father accusing him of slipping off to nap and malinger instead of being diligent in the effort to trap and hunt.

The boy was shaking his head, stirring and stoking the courage to explain. And then, as if answering for him, there it stood in the dark road before them.

The boy huddled in the hollow of his father’s still frame. Everything told the boy he should be cold, but he wasn’t. Before him was the hunt. The thing his father had said must be made.

The white stag still stood. Ablaze in headlamps askew. The boy made a gun of his fingers and sent “pew-pews” off into the night.

The air was thick with the commingling of steam and gasoline. It burned and gouged every sense. The boy scrunched his eyes as he struggled to pass the rough wool of his jacket under his nose. He coughed. A mistake. With a jerk and shake of its great crowned head, the white stag made a pirouette. Before the boy could clear his eyes, the stag had disappeared, weaving itself someplace between birch and snow.

The boy would have been sad but wasn’t. A year or two before, all he would have wanted to have done was to kill it. Kill it to prove to Father what a man he’d become. How Mother had been right. That was not true anymore. He was glad the stag had gotten away. The boy settled into the cold of his father’s shoulder to find a good place for himself; cold but growing warmer.

Comfort found him there in the twisted metal of their machine.

For just a moment, the great white stag considered the boy and the man where they huddled curiously still inside their broken steaming beast, and then it moved on, climbing the ridge to pass over the hill beyond.


Released! Set free! It has been loosed upon the unsuspecting public!

Blood Songs

Cryptids and creeps. Deranged charlatans. Troubled souls seeking redemption or revenge. Strange things and weak, piddling people.  Stories thick with lies. These are weird tales indeed, caught up someplace between myth and fact, without existing in either or maybe, once upon a time and place, true in both….


When he was just six years old, Conner Connley killed a man—or so his father told him. His mother, suddenly and mysteriously absent, could offer no help as young Conner tried desperately to make sense of the confusing accusation.

Abandoned alone with a war-blinded father, and tortured by the heartbreak of his mother’s inexplicable departure, the boy is soon compelled to flee his home in exchange for a runaway’s lifetime of aimless drifting and hardship.

As the ribbons of roads, rails, and decades weave together a seemingly endless stream of odd and fateful events, fashioned and populated by an equally remarkable number of friends, benefactors, and ne’er-do-wells—from the simple but fatherly Roger to the murderous Ringworm—eventually the tides of fate conspire and pull Conner home once more to ultimately discover how so much had gone so wrong, so long ago.

At turns heartbreaking and humorous, bleak and then blooming with love and hope, this is one man’s epic journey to learn the truth behind the tragedy that defined his youth and set in motion the course of his life, greatly determining the incredible man he was to become.


Tweed is the ultimate slacker.  He has zilch in the way of plans. But he’s about to learn how fast zero can go negative.

High school’s out, summer’s afoot, and Tweed’s content to do the usual…hang-out with friends, drink beer, get stoned, and steady bomb the neighborhood with graffiti.  Yeah, he’s got nothing much else in the works and that’s just the way he likes it.

That lasts about half a day.  Soon enough Tweed is upside down and in over his head. He’s falling for Chloe, his best friend’s girl.  Hot though she may be, that one has a few issues of her own.  And then there’s some gang-bangers out to thump his head.  Not enough? Tweed’s grandfather, the man who raised him, is getting harder and harder to keep nailed down.  Until ol’ Pops goes all broken arrow and off the reservation entirely, that is.

Yup.  Whether Tweed is ready for it or not, the time has come for a boy coming of age.