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Short Stories

Toy Soldier Blues by Richard Evans coming of age [930 words]
Hero Forever by Sf Rick Ferro's heart bleeds every day at his past. It haunts him even to this day.... [1,488 words]
Jewish Mother by Randall Barfield Trying to make Him and those near Him more alive, more real, and hopefully, with more exposure. [396 words]
A Purple Jacket by Randall Barfield - [494 words]
The Perfect Execution by Dexter Smith An overly depicted telling of a recent possible outcome in the life of a 22 year old. [395 words]
The Lamplighter by Chris Michael Taylor A literary, social commentary of man�s infinite solitude seen through the eyes of a troubled ol... [2,249 words]
The Day The Evil Of The Band Died by Kayla L Jordan Just something I wrote out of pure rage when certain sections of the band wer... [267 words]
Tenakahan-Story by Chloe L Batey an extension on my character Tenakahan [1,671 words]
Once A Star Always A Star by Matt Lenox Fame will find you no matter what [1,076 words]
My Best Day by William L Sokolowski A comedic tragedy about a man finding love again. [1,982 words]
Money In The Back by Abel Articulate A young man finds himself taking place in a robbery that seems unsuited for his own view of h... [2,573 words]
I'm From Mars by Randall Barfield Historical fiction. [513 words]
Funny Like by Randall Barfield - [610 words]
Delivered! by Chris Michael Taylor Before the clock sewn over his chest reads 00:00 and the automatic rifles surrounding him unleash we... [5,457 words]
Caught by Jack Hunter Caught is driven from the start with suspence and graphic gore. Amongst a group of friends , One secret ... [8,799 words]
Blood Of Tears by Christcross Can you stop darkness or can it stop you. [78 words]
Blood Of Tears (Part 2) by Christcross A sequal from the first part. [71 words]
Awake And Bake Finn Again by Michael Potter A comic story of a day in the life of an older man. [4,425 words]
The Puzzle by Zombie Eyes I am not changing as much as different versions of the same story. [2,080 words]
The Janke Show by Jack Masters Jack Masters Janke struggles with fantastic, sometimes brilliant thoughts overshadowed by problems and failur... [3,908 words]
Sa'ad by Randall Barfield Trying to look at history from another perspective. [295 words]
Mrs:Gooddoer by Nicolette Walters it is about a 12-year-old girl. you'll read the rest [126 words]
Legendary Love by Joshua Meihaus The story of a man who loved so much, he was willing to die behind steel bars. [856 words]
It Ws Only A Name by Sooz Murder Mystery [2,440 words]
Hope Springs by Df Mart A disappointed senior manages to look ahead. [276 words]
God Is Dead by Jamar Graham A short story musing on the last day of God. [1,227 words]
Enterprise by Sooz Flash challenge piece working on the inspiration word of 'Innovation' [343 words]
Couples Therapy by Bryn Lee Lovitt A husband and wife meet a peculiar therapist. [2,123 words]
Chef Henri And The Lemon-Meringue Pie by M Schied A retelling of the fairy tale, Rumplestiltskin, set in the modern culinar... [1,717 words]
Ace Of Spades by Joshua Meihaus Imagine if a single playing card could change your life, and tear apart your family. [1,566 words]
A Time To Live by Sooz Challenge piece. It had to be drama and it had to contain an affair at work. This isn't drama an... [1,504 words]
Paloma Pena by Sunny Sigh! so many girls, so little time. [385 words]
What Kind Of An Idiot Commits A Robbery In Broad Day Light? by Matt Lenox Find out what kind of an idiot commits a robbery in... [92 words]
Virginia Planter by Shelley J Alongi Thomas Jefferson is asked to write in the service of his country. I found this on a disc with ... [3,016 words]
The Most Common Obsession by Jeffrey Lee Williams An obsession that has even haunted me. [1,709 words]
The Good Samaritan by Jeffrey Lee Williams A good deed.... [1,547 words]
State Of Mind by Joshua Purdom A boy tells the story of how he ended up in hell. [865 words]
Sinners by David Doc Byron A collection of sinful stories [4,540 words]
Project Code5-Rogers Park Quadrant by Paul B Kramer THEY'RE HERE! [213 words]
Not Enough Hours In A Day by Peter Halpin For those people who say there's never time to do something - there is! Don't sit aro... [715 words]
Moonlight by David Doc Byron A collection of vampire tales [7,859 words]
Late For Dance... by Sarah Robertson - [340 words]
Invincible Rum by Anna Adamin - Raasveldt About an inspiring friendship between the 2 women living in Australia. One was holocaust surviv... [1,102 words]
Intelligence Gained, Innocence Lost by Graham Reynolds Intelligence Gained, Innocence Lost [609 words]
Figures by Sooz Observational [549 words]
Deserted by Sarah M Wylie This story is about a girl who lives her life on a deserted island and continually has to deal with a ... [673 words]
Dead Still by Jamie Reynolds A take on Stephen King's 'On Writing' exercise. [3,531 words]
Camelot�S Troubadours by Michael Potter Utopia meets Euphoria, Political healing in an alternate universe. The Beatles play at JF... [1,513 words]
Broken Various Authors by David Doc Byron a collection of short fiction and poetry [2,749 words]
Always And Forever by Kaitlyn Goodwine I wrote a vinette about personal expiernences, and things I love in life. [500 words]
Alessandro's Unexpected Traverse by Michael Potter A mountain climbing accident results in a modern Gulliver's Travels. [11,857 words]
A Wiseman Once Told Me by Kevin J Merfeld A creative and philosophical story of the development of self-consciousness, and the hum... [6,089 words]

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A man finds a way out of his midlife crisis.
[1,495 words]
Robert Levin
[March 2019]
[email protected]
3 Poems (Poetry) - [129 words] [Humor]
A Passel Of Plumeria (Short Stories) Can an act of violence be a gift? [5,935 words]
Donald Trump And The Fear Of Death (Essays) Propelled by a pronounced extinction anxiety, white America�s dread has led directly to a heightening of racism, and with it, the presidency of Donald Trump [581 words] [Psychology]
Everything's All Right In The Middle East (Essays) A mutual solution to the problem of being mortal. [686 words] [Psychology]
Free Jazz: The Jazz Revolution Of The '60s (Essays) "Man, In another ten years we won't even need traffic lights we're gonna be so spiritually tuned to one another." [2,615 words] [History]
No Stars For The Eclipse (Essays) I thought more interesting work was being done at the Electric Circus back in the '60s. [529 words] [Comedy]
On Mental Health (Short Stories) If I ever see a shrink again it'll have to be under a court order. [2,573 words] [Drama]
On Turning Sixty (Essays) The rewards of turning sixty [544 words] [Humor]
Peggie (Short Stories) My chance to cross gross obesity from the list of body types I hadn't yet scored. [1,519 words] [Comedy]
Proving God By Consensus (Essays) My Problem with the Religious Right [977 words] [Psychology]
Recycle This (Essays) "I don't even sort and rinse the stuff I keep?" [885 words] [Humor]
Schindler's List: A Fecal Matter (Essays) - [1,047 words] [Psychology]
Stupidity: Its Uses & Abuses (Essays) Stupidity is rivaled in its genius only be schizophrenia. [1,337 words] [Humor]
The Killer (Short Stories) This story contains a graphic depiction of a deed that some readers may find upsetting or alarming. The story is an attempt to explain the motivation of the mass murderer and what the meaning of �suic... [3,058 words] [Literary Fiction]
The Monstrous Season (Short Stories) When you call your Dog Debbie you're asking fror trouble. [8,188 words] [Literary Fiction]
Why Peace Will Forever Elude Us (Essays) Although the guises may differ, people who study history are no less doomed to repeat it than those who don�t. [769 words] [Psychology]
You Don't Know What You're Doing (Or Why You're Still Fat) (Essays) People with perpetual obesity issues are playing a game with themselves. [804 words] [Psychology]
Robert Levin

There were three of them - three guys whose wiring you probably could have smelled in Brooklyn - but, my purpose eluding me, I found myself headed straight in their direction.

If I didn't know what I was doing in that respect, however, I wasn't in the least unclear about my impending decomposition.

Although none of my vital parts had actually shut down yet, I was convinced, and had been for weeks, that one or more of them was about to, that I was already in the end stages of a fatal wasting disease. In all manner of physical distress - perpetually light-headed and nauseous, my breath short, my vision dim and my gait unsteady - I'd never felt so weak and frail. Or small. Not that, at 5'6", 140 lbs, I wasn't small. But I was getting even smaller. In fact, I was shriveling - I swear, I could see myself withering and contracting in my mirror. No, it would not be long before I was reduced to something ghastly, to a thing you might find in a drawer, deep in the bowels of a Port au Prince curio shop cellar.

I'd been living with the expectation of my imminent demise since my fifty-second birthday - which had coincided with my son's acceptance into college and was when it first hit me that I'd turned fifty. And the anxiety I was experiencing had begun to color my perception of the world at large. I mean here I was, returning home from an errand through the Village on a Saturday afternoon. It was one of those fine days you get just a precious few times in midsummer New York when the humidity's low and the temperature's reasonable. The narrow streets were teeming with people celebrating the weekend and the weather, and all I could think was that, at one point or another, every last one of them was going to get very sick and then disappear.

Okay. I know. I didn't need to be a Starfleet engineer to appreciate that I was in the throes of a monster midlife depression. But my awareness of this made no difference. If I was exaggerating my situation, if my expiration was perhaps not so close at hand as I believed, it was still true that my youth was gone, and my hyperconsciousness of my body's impermanence, which recognizing that fact had generated, didn't go away.

So literally staggering under the weight of the menace my body was posing to me, I was turning into West 4th Street (hoping I wouldn't pass out in the crush of a very dense crowd - and holding a freshly lit cigarette, which would prove to be significant) when I saw them a little way up the block. In their mid-to-late twenties, and emphatically not from the neighborhood, they were swilling beer from bottles and loudly passing judgment on the females who happened near them, even those escorted by men. One of them, his T-shirt advertising a Jersey City tavern, was leaning against a parked car. He had a face that was almost identical to Jack Black's and he'd apparently nourished his resemblance to a celebrity by shaping his body to match Black's as well. The other two, similarly proportioned, were sprawled just opposite him on the bottom step of a stoop. Their legs were stretched onto the sidewalk and left with no more than a foot or so to pass, most people were taking to the street to get around them.

As I came up to them and, as I've indicated, without a clue as to what, a sizable trepidation notwithstanding, was compelling me to enter their space, my only conscious intention was to slide my way by. But when I turned slightly sideways to accomplish this objective, the Jack Black ringer reached out, grabbed me by the stomach, and pulled me toward him. "Are you a fag?" he said, his eyes not quite looking into mine.

Now his breath - and an overlay of alcohol did little to mute it - smelled like nothing so much as a chicken coop. His skin, moreover, glistening with sweat despite the moderate temperature, was riddled with brutal acne scars (the remnants of a likely bleak adolescence). And yes, his grip hurt a lot. But what I couldn't help concentrating on was a huge white globule of snot that was hanging precariously from one of his nostrils.

"I think you're a fag," he continued, squeezing my stomach harder and grinning at his friends. "And you know what? I hate fags."

With that my focus shifted to his brain. I think of stupidity as more often than not willful, as a way of shutting out the complexities and ambiguities of life. But this guy's stupidity wasn't a choice he was making. No, it was clearly congenital. He was the grim product of his family history, of generations of inbreeding with other people from New Jersey.

And registering then the full sweep of his stupidity, his evident derangement, his heft and his inebriation (not to mention the booger and the prospect of it landing on me), I felt a genuine panic. And what I started to say was: "Hey, you've got the wrong guy. I'm straight, man. I'm married. I even have a kid. Not everybody in the Village is queer, you know? Believe me, I share your disgust. Of course it's a perversion. The AMA and the American Psychological Association really caved in on this one, didn't they?"

But, no, Jesus, I didn�t say that. My pathetic reflex was quickly interrupted by an intuitive recognition of a large reward to be gained here - a recognition that was accompanied by a feeling of elation and a sense of abandon. (Had I connected to my purpose?) And what I said instead was, "Let go of me, asshole."

When, grinning more, he didn't let go, and after taking quick stock of the resources that were available to me - the cigarette I held and the single file approach of two enormous guys with gym bags who by all appearances were oblivious to what was going on and about to push past us - I said to him: "Do your parents know you boys are in the big city by yourselves?"

And then, the cigarette between my fingers and my fingers clenched into a fist, I hit him in the face.

It was hardly what you'd call a devastating punch, but the lit end of the cigarette more than compensated for the limitations of my swing. Crying out, he freed my stomach immediately and before he could retaliate - or his buddies, who rose in unison, could react with more than a "Mother------!" - I darted (with an agility it amazed me to learn I still possessed), between the gym guys. Remaining ignorant of my circumstance, or indifferent to it, they were, in any case, visibly irritated by my abrupt intrusion. So hanging with them for only a few yards, I reluctantly abandoned the shield they provided to less than graciously barge ahead of a group of tourists who were just then emerging from a restaurant and starting up the block. From there on, muttering "excuse me's" and "sorry's," I seized upon every space that presented itself and, twisting and lunging, stumbling once, but not falling, I finally arrived at the relatively open expanse of Sheridan Square, where I turned right on Seventh Avenue.

As I headed north, alternately running and marching double-time, I was certain that the Jersey boys were right behind me and I didn't want to look back. But when I happened to notice the faces of people coming toward me from the opposite direction, I saw no alarm in them, no sign, in their expressions, that danger lurked at my rear. And when, three blocks later at Charles Street, I dared to stop and turn around, my adversaries were nowhere to be seen.

At that point, with the adrenaline evacuating my blood and my heartbeat returning to its normal cadence, I realized that all of my symptoms were gone and I began to feel good in every imaginable way. In fact, for the next few days (for about as long as the welt on my stomach and a blister on my knuckle lasted) I was buoyant. I felt precisely like what I'd needed to feel like. I felt like a survivor.

And the thing was that when I came down, when my high evaporated and I settled back, as it were, into my body, my symptoms stayed gone and I was something like comfortable with my body. I understood, of course, that in the risk and challenge department the feat I'd devised for myself hadn�t been all that heroic. Still, I had won a measurable victory and I�d learned, in the process, that my body was not without a lingering capability or two.

With this information to fortify me I had my balance back. Indeed, my mirror reflected, such as it was, my full height again.


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© 2008 Robert Levin
January 2008

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