Neal couldn’t help but be annoyed when people reacted strangely to his early retirement. Their initial shock routinely gave way to a shallow congratulation, and after a certain interval, the bombshell would uneasily sink in. Where did he get all that loot with the economy on life support? Was his good fortune actually the result of some clandestine criminal enterprise, some off-the-books wheelings and dealings with a safe deposit box in Monaco? He could almost read these inner queries like a teleprompter radiating across the faint lines of their faces. He knew that this questioning was not malice so much as mere curiosity, of the kind any detective novel worth reading would produce. And Neal looked younger than he was, which may have added to the sense that something was awry. Everywhere he went, he seemed to overhear a remark reinforcing the fact that he’d become an outcast, which in ancient societies was tantamount to a death sentence. The mood of the country was sour, even belligerent. The national debt was in such bad shape that scapegoats and pariahs were necessary. In Barrymore’s, a nearby watering hole where he and Rita often went for Factoid Night, Neal eavesdropped on a woman he recognized as one of the regulars. She had a small tattoo depicting a sunrise at the base of her shoulder and was intermittently shrill in her certainty that the questions were rigged.
December 20, 2017
The editing and proofreading and thousand other things that go into putting a book together are thankfully finished and my story collection Home and Castle is at last coming out in early January. (see www.snakenationpress.org for the Editor’s statement and further details). Most of the stories in it were originally published in literary journals such (…read more)
THOMAS BENZ graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame. He recently won the 2017 Serena McDonald Kennedy Award for a short story collection called “Home and Castle.” The book is to be published by Snake Nation Press in the fall. In the last several years, he has had fifteen stories (…read more)