My short story "Petunia at the Tip Top" is included in the anthology Noir at the Salad Bar, available from Level Best Books.
Billy, the invisible regular, feels the electric sparks of danger in the diner where he is eating his Sunday special. An abstract menace, a wild-eyed man, enters holding a bulging beige tote bag. He grimaces and struggles to keep it over his shoulder.
The small diner, lined with six booths along the walls, has a counter that sits ten. Billy is in his regular spot, in the first booth to the right of the entrance, facing it, always attuned to how quickly the restaurant's atmosphere could change with each swing of the door.
Billy's spoon hovers between a sunken slice of lemon meringue pie and his mouth, still smudged with lipstick. He forgets the tart delight is on its way. He forgets the opened, drooling creamer containers scattered around his half-empty coffee cup, and the scratch of polyester against the back of his thigh and that his hairdo has started to collapse. He is proud of his hair, and stands up for it when he's in the club, happy to convince others that it is not a wig.
Billy used to be an innie. Now, sitting in the Tip Top diner, his shy navel protrudes below a belly shelf. While its permanent emergence was depressing, he was not dissuaded enough to avoid the late, luxurious lunches or the powdered sugar on his fingers.
But for this uncertain moment, when the frail, angry man stands so close to him, breathing heavily under the weight of his bag, none of these things are real.
Piece included in the upcoming show "Beyond the Black Light" at Olly Olly gallery in Fairfax.
July 22--August 19, 2017
Reception - Saturday July 22, 2017, 8pm-10pm
Because sometimes the darkest hour calls for the brightest lights, Olly Olly presents Beyond the Blacklight, an all-blacklight group show curated by Tariq Omar. Because we can’t allow every moment to be an existential crisis. Because we need to heed the call of playfulness and light. Because night. Because summer. Because love. Because we know you’re truly dazzling and deserve to be bathed in glowing purple and surrounded by vibrant fluorescent sensations. Join us for our opening reception on Saturday, July 22, 2017 from 8:00pm to 10:00pm as the artists share their most vivid works:
The gallery is located at 10417 Main St., 2nd Floor, Fairfax, VA 22030