My short story “Leveling” appears in Issue 40 of Per Contra.
It was gray and cloudy but hot as shit. We were sweating through our t-shirts as we rode our bikes alongside the gridlocked highway, a stretch overrun by stoplights and big-box stores and Korean barbecue joints. Past the windshield repair place, past the massage parlor, past the tire store we rode through the heat and exhaust, half-inflated inner-tubes hung around our necks. I had a nice chrome bike because I’d stolen it, whereas Allen and James had nice bikes because their parents had money. Continue here.
My essay “Impermanent Ink” appears in Hobart’s 2016 baseball issue.
In the summer of 1987, my father took me to my first minor league baseball game. At the time I only vaguely understood the hierarchy of professional baseball. It didn’t matter to me that most of the players I was going to see that night would never step on a Major League field – these guys were pros, and I was excited to watch them play.
I was seven years old. I had disproportionately large teeth and, potentially, a mullet (I know unequivocally that I had a truly horrific mullet during this era of my childhood, but the exact chronology is a little hazy). I was just learning to play baseball, blissfully unaware that I was already nearing the peak of my trajectory as a player. I topped out somewhere between the daily whiffle ball games in my backyard and little league, but I very quickly acquired the hallmarks of lifelong fandom. I collected baseball cards. I memorized stats. I watched my hometown team, the Seattle Mariners, consistently lose in the gloomy confines of the Kingdome. Continue here.
“Guardians” is now live over at Pithead Chapel.
“I’m so sick of this place.” We are standing sixty feet apart and our line of vision is blocked intermittently by passing shoppers, but I can see Prateek’s lips moving as he says this. The sound of his voice lags an imperceptible moment behind. “These people, these products,” he says. “The whole thing makes me want to off myself.”
This is our job: wear royal blue, store-issued polo shirts and pleated khaki pants while standing imposingly at opposite ends of the store entrance’s massive bank of sliding doors. Continue here.
“Some thoughts I noted while standing above a slow-moving river” is now live at Gulf Stream.
I was with my sister the first time I jumped from the trestle. We were too young to drive, but she was pretty enough to have a boyfriend with a dented orange truck that smelled of vinyl and wintergreen chewing tobacco. It had a Confederate flag sticker in the corner of the back window. My dad had lectured the boy about the sticker on multiple occasions, because it was racist, first of all, not to mention utterly incongruous with 1990s Seattle. The boy pretended to take my father seriously, but he never removed the sticker. I was sitting across from Ty in the truck’s backseat, counting the stars on the flag and registering the boom of the speakers beneath me as we rattled down the gravel road toward the river. When we parked, my sister’s boyfriend told us to go on ahead. He and my sister were going to hang out in the truck for a bit. Ty smiled at me because we both knew what that meant. Then he caught himself and shrugged apologetically, because he was my best friend and the girl in question was my sister. Continue here.
“The Fire of 41” is now live over at Literary Orphans.
Asian kid, Euro flavor. Loafers, no socks. The same jeggings my five-year-old daughter wears. Except he’s a teenage boy with high hair, black, sleek. The bottle that holds his musky cologne is highly stylized. Angular. Focus groups ate the design right up. Every morning he lifts it from his Ikea dresser and spritzes expectantly, with verve, like the stuff will land him on the Forbes 500, score him a Maserati like dad, the gastroenterologist. Continue here.
“A Taste of Fame” is now live over at Jersey Devil Press.
You know her from the Cooking Network. She’s the thick girl, pale, generously freckled, sweating over the purple flame. Beads gather on her brow and in the crease above her lips and on the follicles of her frizzy red hair. They drip onto sleeves of ink that pop against her white chef’s coat, an article of clothing that tells you what she does but not what she is: a lunatic, a child of fleeting forgotten love, simmering ambition brought to a boil. Continue here.
“Last Light” is now live at Bartleby Snopes.
Having decided to ignore the Pterodactyl, I put the shell to my ear and promised my daughter I could hear the ocean. This was basically true—I could hear the ocean. Or, more precisely, I could not hear the ocean, but I could hear a rushing sound within the shell that resembles the ocean, and anyway she is only five and does not know that Puget Sound is not an ocean, and, more to the point, to see her blond hair blowing in the wind that way, to see her standing there smiling, holding a white shell, with sand and seaweed stuck to her rubber boots, which are pink, her favorite color, induced the kind of feeling that is vast and overpowering, even terrifying in the way it pulls you down and holds you under, and maybe it spits you back out or maybe it doesn’t but either way you know unequivocally who’s boss. Which is, as Sophie said in the first place, very much like the ocean. So, yes, I said again, this time with more conviction: I totally hear it, sweetheart. Continue here.
“This song is not about a burger” is now live over at Queen Mob’s Teahouse.
Some short fiction of mine is available now in Hobart’s 2015 baseball issue. The story, entitled “Still, it was baseball,” was inspired by dozens of childhood excursions to the Kingdome. It’s my love letter to the Seattle Mariners, even the players I’m maybe not so kind to in the story (sorry, Bobby Ayala). Fittingly, the Mariners lost last night in extra innings.
“Still, it was baseball” is available now over at Hobart (image by James Yates)
Most baseball fans approach Opening Day with a sort of ceremonial reverence. It’s an occasion to indulge in nostalgia, allow yourself some unchecked optimism. Part of me is right there with them. I enjoy tradition and pageantry. Plus I really like red-white-and-blue bunting.
Still, as much as I love baseball, I usually don’t get too wrapped up in Opening Day festivities. I look forward to the day after Opening Day because it marks the start of the grind that, to me, makes baseball so appealing. I like the dependability of the baseball season, its persistence. Day in day out, the games are there, even when you don’t need them (of course most days I need them).
This season is especially exciting because my Seattle Mariners appear to be legitimate contenders, which is rarely the case going into the year. The promise of April frequently turns to misery by May around these parts – plenty of Mariners teams have managed to suck spectacularly despite looking good on paper – but I’m allowing myself to daydream, if only a little, about October baseball.
Another cool thing about this season is that one of my stories will appear in the 2015 Hobart baseball issue. The story is set in the Kingdome during an era when the M’s weren’t so good. Look for it later this month. In the meantime, check out the other excellent baseball-related work that Hobart has published so far in April.
I plan to celebrate the second day of baseball tonight at Safeco Field. I’ll sign off with a memento/memory of mine from Oct. 6, 2000, when the M’s swept aside the Chicago White Sox in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. I sat behind the third-base dugout that day. Who knew that 15 years later I’d still be waiting to attend another playoff game?