I'm pretty sure my dad thought Betty was a witch. At least by the way he talked about her. He didn't think a normal woman would drive a truck, or like fishing, or have a house and not a husband. I told him he didn’t even know her, only saw her in the yard or driving by, but he said he knew plenty. What struck me funny was if that was the criteria for a normal woman, I wasn’t planning on being one either. I wanted to be just like Betty. She drives a truck because she's a landscaper, so Read more [...]


The first thing I thought of when I heard the news that Leonard Nolan had killed a woman in California was that picture of us with the holsters taken when we were kids. That was the day I realized he was a skinny little volcano and the only question was when he’d erupt. The news report said the murder happened in his apartment in Davis, California, where he'd lived since August. He had told everyone he was going to school there, said he planned to major in Archaeology and travel the Read more [...]


When future archaeologists sift through the rubble of my family's existence, their likely hypothesis upon finding our photo album will be that we maintained an evergreen tree in our home at all times and we were in a constant state of celebration. I don’t know why the camera only came out of the drawer at Christmas time. For some reason, we never thought of taking pictures during the rest of the year – visits from distant aunts and uncle went undocumented, high school accomplishments Read more [...]


I never liked living in the past. It’s like being in a room where you can’t touch anything – everything’s always the same, what bothered you before just keeps bothering you, and you can’t do spit about it. Sometimes the past feels like one of them whirlpools I saw in a sea monster book when I was a kid, sucking the sailors deeper and deeper until all they’re doing is waiting to die. Except this time, I'm the sailor. Of course, I learned the hard way I’m also none too keen on Read more [...]


Alternating bursts of elation and fury surged into the kitchen, but the chorus of five voices in the den made it difficult for Ruth to pick out any of the particulars. Jack and his friends were angry with a man apparently named Goddam Sam Huff, but the object of their most recent eruptions seemed to be a man named Weeb. “Is Weeb a person’s name,” Alice asked, “or is that football talk for something else?” “I can’t imagine it matters,” Ruth said as she stood staring into Read more [...]


George remembered when they had rented a cabin on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain. The drive from Boston seemed to last forever, and that was just fine with George. Gladys had packed a basket with tuna salad sandwiches made on the softest dinner roles they'd ever eaten and dressed with a thin layer of arugula, a sharp brown mustard, and a sprinkle of “rock salt”, an inaccurate reference to sea salt that became a joke between them for years. They would stop at scenic turnouts and have Read more [...]


While Marilyn from Procurement was nervous about how well she would do in the company's holiday party spelling bee, the bookmakers at table 6 had her as a 5-to-3 favorite. Table 6 was was the epicenter of the wagering — not because it was populated with gamblers, but because most of the accounting team was sitting there and few others in the company understood how to calculate odds and payouts. (People who are good at math never get a day off.) Marilyn was the favorite because there Read more [...]


Refreshing my drink at the sideboard, the pleasant sound of ice tinkling against the thin walls of my Collins glass was overshadowed by the steady drone of Aunt Vera. She was telling Uncle Warren about the year she spent in Tulsa when her first husband Howard worked for Standard Oil. I doubt Warren asked her to tell him about it. While a story about a year spent in Tulsa during the dust bowl might have the makings of a compelling narrative if it were well-told and focused on the most Read more [...]


Most people want to believe the story – whatever the story. That's how con men succeed: they know that most people aren't skeptics, they're believers. After the con, the post-mortem reveals how thin the story that duped us really was, how the puzzle pieces were right in front of us the whole time, and they weren't even shuffled – there was simply just enough space between them that we couldn’t connect them – or just didn't think to. It's easy to feel stupid, but really, what was our Read more [...]


Uncle Ralph didn't see life as a chess match, a series of well-planned methodical moves. To him, life was like bowling – huck the ball down the lane and see what you can knock over. Big appetites, big adventure, and as my mother would joke, big pain in the ass. I was 12 years old the first time he and I went bowling together. He lived in Rhode Island, six hours from Bangor, so I didn't see him much. Missing my birthday wasn't uncommon, so I was surprised when he drove his ’55 Belvedere, Read more [...]