A sampling of my stories . . .

In the Best Man, a young father encounters an old drinking buddy who raises the question of whether a man's role in life is simply to work and procreate.

The dog howled. A long, mournful, lament, as if it was sad about being chained up, sad for the drabness of the night sky. A moment later, I heard sirens in the distance. They were going the other way. A different emergency, something more pressing than a fat man, broken-hearted and bleeding on a grubby bar floor.

In Turf War a man loses his wife, but gets a new lawn.

A swipe of the pitted metal blade and her rose bushes were gone, the same with the honeysuckle and the purple hyacinth along the fence. The merest nudge demolished the old whiskey barrels she had turned into planters. The Japanese Maple, whose bright red leaves dappled the sun while she read amidst the perfumes and riotous color of her flowers, was hacked down, branches flailing, and its small stump ripped from the ground with chains. The iron treads of the pirouetting Bobcat obliterated Alice's flowers. The anemone, the petunias, marigolds and yellow carnations were churned into nothingness.

A young man sheds hundreds of pounds, but still finds happiness elusive in the story, Unnatural Appetite:

It is about 4 a.m. Mom is in bed. Star Trek rerun on TV. I contemplate a piece of glazed raspberry cheesecake on the end of my fork. I estimate the calories, calculate what that slab of mostly saturated fat will do to my cholesterol level, reflect on how my unnatural appetite had imprisoned me in my own body, has left me without friends, without love, without hope, how it will inexorably cause an early, humiliating, death and understanding this so clearly and feeling the pain of that knowledge so deep in my heart, I still plunge that fork into my mouth where my unfurled tongue, the only organ in the human body responsive to thought, moistly awaits my sacrifice. Cursing my weakness, tears sliding down distended cheeks, I gorge myself on the rest of the cheesecake.

Poached Eggs and a Penis is the sad story of a simple man who decides he doesn't want to go to church anymore.

He snoozed through the sermons of Whitelaw's predecessor, the much mourned Father Dobson whose weak heart, fondness for cognac, cigars and pepperoni pizzas resulted in him being called to his eternal reward while still five years away from retirement. Gil misses Dobson's soothing monotone. He misses his Sunday morning nap in the comforting warmth of sunlight filtered through stained-glass. Father Whitelaw will not be so easily ignored. He shouts one moment, whispers the next, waves his arms, paces, squats, bounces on his toes and spews obscure facts that demonstrate conclusively the demonization of the civilized world. Jowls jiggling as he shakes his head in Christian despair, he shouts examples from the week's headlines that prove liberal politicians are wriggling in Lucifer's scaly grip.

A man finds little solace in childhood memories when he returns home in Let Us Say Grace.

A distant memory: Jeering schoolchildren snake across a hard packed playground. At the head of the procession, crying and cursing, stumbles a filthy boy with matted hair and runny nose. The children, unrelenting, unforgiving, pursue him wherever he goes - between slides, teeter-totters, swings sets with sturdy wooden seats and all the way out to the barbed wire fence that separates school yard from farmland and then back again as he retraces his steps in a futile attempt to escape his tormenters. It is a stark playground, a barren field really with a scattering of rusting and rotting playground equipment.

In The Gullible Wife, a woman becomes convinced her husband is being attacked by a succubus.

Something was wrong. Mari was moaning. A creature kneeling over him. Old woman's breasts swaying. Greenish brown flesh. Like grandma dying of skin cancer. Stumps of teeth. Grunting horribly. Animal sounds. Smell of sulfur. Shit. Piss. Rotting flesh. Wings. Enormous wings. Color of dirty bath water. Stretching into the darkness of the bedroom and further. Blackness. Forever and forever blackness. No beginning. No end. So cold. Alone. Alone. Alone. The succubus turned to her. Eyes smoldering like hot coals.

A man's ordeal tests his wife's patience in The Toothache.

His jaw will be frozen with a succession of needles the size of his wrist, piercing ever deeper through layers of flesh. Eventually, mouth forced agape with metal restraints, muscles rigid with fear, eyes bulging with barely-restrained panic, he will feel the dentist rooting for corruption with his honed chrome filament. And then smoke and the odor of burning tissue will waft past his unnaturally parted lips as rotten bits of himself are ruthlessly filed. Finally, his toes will curl as the empty shell of his tooth is crammed with foul-tasting plaster.