DEATH at a Preschool Christmas Party


In the mirror, I attach the fake ears and tug the hat onto my head.

“It’s the wealthiest Preschool in St. Peter,” K had said, “they’ll pay you a boatload to just stand around as an elf for their Christmas party.”

I sigh now, as I did then, resigned.

I wash my hands and step out into the hall. The Babushka rolls up to me. Her rock-face is polished. Her eyes are onyx.

She points. I nod. I follow her directions to a door inundated with Christmas joy. I go through.

The room is vast, a gymnasium almost. It is crowded with all manner of Christmas. Bells float through the air, jingling. Ropes of ornament-covered pine snake along the walls. A fat tree absorbs the center of it all.

Children wander about the place. None are more than five or six years old. They are dressed almost exclusively in argyle. A snowman in the corner is telling a story as a small blonde girl discreetly stuffs bits of his backside into her mouth. On the other side of the room, Santa Claus is red-faced as he picks up a small boy. A red-nosed reindeer stands calmly next to him, chewing on the inside of its own mouth.

Santa places the boy on the red-nosed reindeer. The boy begins to wail. A woman in a black sweater runs over and pulls the child down. The boy runs off across the room. I see him slide on his belly down a thin layer of ice. A young woman in a blue dress stands beside it. She claps.

A fair-haired little girl walks up to me. Not dressed like the rest. A simple black dress.

“You got a cigarette?” she asks.


She sighs, “you got a cigarette?”


“I’m not a child.”

“Oh…are you a midg—uh I mean– a dwarf?”

She giggles.

“I’m DEATH. And, I want a cigarette.”

I’m not sure whether or not to laugh.

“What do you mean you’re DEATH?”

“I’m not sure what else I could mean. That polished rock turd out there hired me to be here so…”

DEATH shrugged, “I’m often in Russia this time of year anyway.”

I continue to stare at the frail-looking girl. She winks. “Just between you and me,” she lowers her voice, “I never go anywhere I’m not needed. Even for the kind of scratch, this place shells out.”

“Right,” I manage.

“So, you got a cigarette or not?”

I nod.

“Let’s go have one then. Take my hand, everyone thinks I’m a child anyways. Pretend you’re taking me to the bathroom.”

She holds out her hand. I take it hesitantly. Suddenly she grabs it tight, very tight.

“Your time has come!” DEATH says, her eyes go black. I panic and jerk my hand away. My heart stops.

She bursts out laughing. She holds her stomach and bends over, a joyful tear falling from her eye. “You should see your face,” she gasps.

I feel like vomiting.

“Oh, that never gets old,” she says, catching her breath, “but, seriously, let’s go.” She holds out her hand again, her eyes back to blue. I don’t take it. She steps forward and grabs my hand anyway.

“Don’t be a pansy,” she says. She leads me out the door.

The fear in my legs has subsided by the time we get to our destination, a closet. Inside I light up two cigarettes. She takes one. She smokes through her nose. I can’t wipe the frown off my face. It’s beginning to hurt.

“So, what are you doing here?” DEATH says through the cloud that’s sprouted up between us.

“Uh, I am an actor.”

She snorts. “Bummer.”


We finish our cigarettes in silence.

“We better go back,” DEATH says, holding out her hand again.

I take it this time, apprehensively. Before we leave, I can’t help asking,

“What did you mean that you never go anywhere you’re not needed?”

DEATH smiles up at me and shrugs, innocently.

Continue the story at

House of the Rising Sun


Part III of V.

The house of The Sun turns out to be a dilapidated apartment building. I drag my passed out companion off the horse and take a breath.

“This is ridiculous,” I tell her limp body. I pull her up over my shoulder and trudge toward the building. I ring the buzzer. It rings, then stops. There is breathing.

“Hi, I, uh, your sister said you could help me.”

There is more breathing, then, a click as the door unlocks.

“Fourth floor, hurry.”

“Son of a bitch,” I mutter, dragging the girl up four flights of stairs. The door to an apartment is already open. A crusty old woman peers out at me.

“Hurry,” she is looking outside the window. I hand her the jar of white stuff. She smiles. Then looks fearfully out of the window.

“Quick, the closet. I must hide you from my son. If he catches you here he will surely eat you.”

“The hell?”

The woman bustles towards a closet and opens it.

“In,” she demands.

So, I head for it, heaving the unconscious girl up over one shoulder.

Just as we are sealed in, the door bursts open. The Sun walks in. I peak through a small hole.

“Good afternoon dear, what are you doing home so early?” His mother asks.

The Sun flops down in a chair. “These people are so depressing. I needed a break. Soon they will be expecting me to stay out all day and night. I need to conserve my energy.”

“Of course dear,” his mother consoles him.

The Sun closes his eyes, then, they snap open.

“I smell a human,” he growls.

“Tut-tut, you are just tired. Why would there be a human here?” his mother cooed.

The Sun narrowed his eyes around the room, sniffing harder.

“No, I’m sure of it, a human, and…American?”

His mother sighs. “Oh there you go, an American? you must be tired. Why would an American come to Russia?”

The Sun sits back, thinking.

“Perhaps you are right,” he decides.

“Of course,” his mother says, ” now take a nap and then go back out.”

“Mhm,” the sun responds, already nodding off. When he begins to snore, his mother sneaks over to the closet. She whispers into the hole.

“As he sleeps you must steal from him one golden strand of his hair. Then, when he wakes, you must present him with this hair and he will grant you one wish.”

Then, she leaves the apartment.

So, taking a breath, I open the closet and creep toward the sleeping sun. I stand over him.

“What the fuck,” I whisper to myself, reaching down.

Inches from his head, his eyes snap open. He frowns.

“What the fuck indeed,” he says.


Mermaid in an Irish Pub


N and I decide to head to Moscow for a few days.

We see the red square. It is square. It is red. It is cold. We go to a bar.

V is there, sitting, smoking, trash bag full of water around her tail. It is an Irish pub.

“There are no Irish mermaids,” she explains, when asked why she likes it so much.

“How’s your husband?” I ask.

She shrugs, “dying somewhere.”

“Right, of course.”

N orders a beer.

V looks at the menu.

“What is an Irish car bomb?” she asks.

“Socially accepted racism,” N tells her.

We get three.

I excuse myself to the bathroom. There are stalls and a trough. I, developing pee-shyness at twenty-seven, take a stall. I stand in front of the toilet, about to pee when a voice calls something from beside me. I turn, losing concentration.

“Hey big man!”

It is a picture of a busty Thai woman, topless in a G-string. I frown, startled, unable to pee. She smiles.

“Oh, look at that!” she says, looking down at my crotch. I zip up and back into the other side of the stall. She giggles. Inside the frame, she can’t be more than a few inches long.

“Why don’t you call this number big man, I’ll show you a good time.”

She waves her hand beneath her at a large yellow series of numbers. She winks.

“Uh, no, thank you.”

She makes a pouty face. “I won’t tell the mermaid.”

I frown.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

The Thai woman shrugs, “nothing,” she mutters, admiring the back of her own lacquered nails.

“I really have to pee,” I tell the picture.

She sighs, “fine,” she groans, covering her eyes with one hand. I eye her a moment before going back to my attempt at peeing.

“You know,” she starts again, I grit my teeth. “You know, you can’t love a mermaid, they don’t love humans. It’s not in their nature. But me, I’ll love you. I’ll love you all night.”

“Oh shut up,” I growl at the picture. I take my sweatshirt off and place it over the frame. Her muffled laugh mocks me as I finally manage to pee.

I take my sweatshirt back.

While I put it on, the Thai woman admires one of her own nipples.

“Do you think I’m beautiful?” she says, once my hand is on the door.

I scratch the bridge of my nose. She nods.

“At least I’m easy to love,” she tells herself.

I open the door.

“Wait!” she cries.

I turn.

“Will you tear me into little bits and send me down that toilet you forgot to flush?”

I turn. I reach for the picture.

“No wait!” she cries. I pause.


“Misery is better than boredom. Death seems boring.”

I roll my eyes and let the door fall shut behind me. I take a breath.

I go back out to the table. N is ordering another beer. V is looking across the room at a young couple the way an oceanographer might look at plankton.

N stands up.

“My turn,” he announces, headed towards the bathroom.

“Use the trough,” I call after him.

When he is gone, I watch the young couple with V. They kiss, the girl giggles.

“His ears are uneven,” V says.


M’s Time Machine


I sit at the kitchen table staring at my pack of cigarettes and a banana; the most important decision I’ll make all day.

I look out the window instead. It is spring, finally. After seven months of being beaten half to death with a cold wet pillow made of darkness, it is spring.

The front door clicks open. M walks into the kitchen.

“You gonna eat that?” he asks. I shake my head, hand him the banana, and light a cigarette.

“Where were you?” I ask.

“The market,” he says, dropping a bag of salt onto the kitchen counter.

“Find anything good?”

He grins. I frown, I know that grin.

He takes a small box out of his pocket and places it on the table. I give it a suspicious look-over. It’s all in Russian. I can only gather a few words.

“Time?” I ask.

“Yeah dude, it’s a frickin’ time machine.”

“Uh-huh,” I get up and start making myself coffee. I’ve given up on tea.

“What’s that other word?”

M shrugs. “I forget. it says zima, hm, ring any bells?”

I briefly try sticking my fingers into the sludge of my hungover mind before giving up, nauseated.


M frowns at it.

“Wanna try it?”

He pulls open the box and removes what looks like a cigarette lighter. It is blue. He rolls it over in his hands.

“The guy said you just push this button,” M says, pointing at it. I sit back down at the table with my coffee. I hold out my hand.

M places it onto my palm. It is lighter than I expected.

“Feeling dangerous?” M asks. I shrug.

“Do you want to ask N what zima means?”

M shrugs and pulls out his phone. “Yeah, I suppose. I’ll text him.”

I place the time machine next to the phone and we both have a cigarette. They become ash before the phone tells us anything.

“Fuck it?” I ask M.

“Yeah, what is the worst that could happen?”

He picks up the time machine, and presses the button. The world flips over twice, I keep my eyes closed. It all stops. I open them. I look at M. He is staring over my shoulder, the look of someone watching the oven get turned on in a cannibal’s house.

I turn. The sky is ink, the ground is powder. It is so cold you can feel the air struggling to survive.

“Oh god,” M groans. I turn. He is looking at his phone. He turns it to me, fearful tears in his eyes. N’s message came through:


When the Cock Crows


Taking a break from city life I meander through a small village north of St. Petersburg. Passing a graveyard on my right I notice a man crouched over a small flame. I approach him.

“Young man, share my warmth?”

I shrug. I go and sit down.

“What are you doing here?” He asks, in Russian.

“Sorry, my Russian is poor, do you speak English,” I try.

He nods, smiling.

“American?” he asks.

I nod.


I shake my head. “I live here.”

He frowns. “Why would you move to Russia?”

I sigh. “I just like it here.”

He stares at me a moment. His eyes are so dark, they stink.

“Uh-huh,” he manages.

I light a cigarette and look into the flames.

“Want to go to a wedding?”

I look up. “Huh?”

“A wedding. In the center there is a wedding, would you like to join me?”

“Why not,” I say standing up.

We make our way into town. The central square is filled with merriment. People dancing, singling, drinking. We join in the festivities and get very drunk. The man from the graveyard grows angry. He begins harassing the townsfolk, driving many guests away. When the party has fallen to only a few, he turns to me.

“Wait here,” he tells me. He walks to where the newlyweds lay. He pulls a needed and pricks each just below the ankle and drains them of blood. He drinks until his face is flush. I look on in drunken apathy, almost curious.

He comes back to me.

“Wha–what’d you just do?” I ask.

“I have consumed them. I am a vampire. In the morning they shall not wake lest someone were to take my blood and place three drops on each of their lips.”


“But that shall not happen, come, I must get back to my home before the cock and crow. I start walking then stop. Something is scratching at the inside of my ribs.

The vampire turns.

“What is wrong?”

I cough a little and shake my head. “Nothing, nothing. I am drunk.”

The Vampire frowns. “Well, let’s go, if I do not beat the cock, I will become nothing but ash.”

I stumble a little. Something tickles the back of my throat. I close my eyes.

“If you make me meet the cock,” The Vampire growls, “you shall regret it!”

I keel over. From my mouth a hand protrudes.

“WHAT THE FUCK!” The vampire cries, backing away. I vomit up the rest of the twelve year old boy who proceeds to burst into laughter. It echoes around the village.

The vampire looks on in horror.

“I’m so sorry,” I mumble, aching in the dirt.

The cock crows.

** I wanted to try a bit of a mash up. Anyone who has read The Big Beautiful Cock will see the base material. I’ve been reading a lot of Russian fairy tales involving Vampires and they are styled a lot like this. I wanted to do some fairy tale/magical realism/comedy mash up. Hope you enjoyed it.


The Man From Peace

M and I stop at a convenience store on our way to the bar. We buy a bag full of beers. The Babushka behind the counter rings us up, at her pace. We pay, gently, so as to not startle her.

The wind, being the strongest supporter of anti-smoking laws, forces us to hide in a doorway to light our cigarettes.

“Why did we buy beer, aren’t we going to a bar?” I ask M.

He nods. “You pay with beer.”

“Pay for what?”

“Beer,” M says.


We finish our cigarettes and walk to the bar. Our friend Z is waiting for us at a table, his own bag of beer resting against a leg. M shakes his hand. I fumble with my glove and get it off in the nick of time. I shake his hand.

M and I take our bag of beers to the bar. The menu is in English. The large, hairless, bartender is Russian, but greets us, with a friendly smile, in English.

“We’ll have two beers,” M says.

A bartender turns around and fishes in a cooler. On the back of his head a second, much angrier face, glares at us. M flips it off. The friendly face turns back to us, snaps open the beers and places them on the bar next to a pair of glasses.

“That will three beers each,” the bartender says. M fishes into the bag and places six beers down. The bartender takes them up in his arms and turns to place them in the cooler. The face on the back of his head is giggling. M and I go back to the table.

M and Z strike up a conversation instantly. I sip my beer and listen.

“Where is it you’re from again?” M asks.

Z says he is from some town I’ve never heard of. M sifts through the sands of his thoughts for a moment before making an ‘aha’ face. “That means peace in Russian doesn’t it?”

“Yes, it also means world,” Z replies, nodding, “it is a military town.”

I chuckle into my beer, Z gives me a mildly confused look. I shake my head.

“Are you in the military?” M asks. Z shakes his head.

“No, I am a student.”

M turns to me. “This is a thing actually, many Russians have Masters and PhDs because if you are a student you do not have to join the military.”

Z confirms this with a nod. “I am a PhD student. But I do not go and so I will be finished soon and there will still be one year that I will have to be in the military. I do not want to go.”

“You need to find a friendly doctor,” M says.

“Yes, but they are expensive. I cannot afford it.”

“Friendly doctor?” I ask.

M smiles. “Yes, you can pay a doctor to say you are unfit for military service.”

“But they are very expensive,” Z says.

“So, what will you do?” I ask.

Z bobs his head from side to side trying to make a life-changing decision for my benefit. M excuses himself to the bathroom.

“Maybe, maybe, I will hide.” Z tells me.

“Hide from the government?” I ask.

He nods.

“Will you have to pay a fine or something?”

“No, when I turn twenty-seven I can go to the offices and say I am twenty-seven and you can no longer take me.”

“Oh, that’s it?”

He nods.


I sit and imagine him walking into the offices on his twenty-seventh birthday and saying “Aha! I’ve made it!” while all the military men slap their knees and go, “Aw shucks, you got us kid, you got us.”

I relay this mental image to Z, chuckling.

“Yes, yes, that’s right,” he says, without humor. 

“Would you like a beer?” Z asks. 

I nod. 

He picks up his bag of beers and heads for the bar.