Found on a scrap of paper.

This was what did it for her: after seeing the wolf around her property for a couple months, one afternoon as she was getting out of her car the wolf came out of the forest and started towards her – its eyes fixed on hers. Like the last time she froze for a second, wondering if it was coming to say hello, or maybe to beg for something, but this time when she looked into its eyes she saw how intent it was to simply close the distance between them. It just wanted to get to her and it was staring at her simply to make sure she didn’t escape.

Panic whispering at her, she climbed back into the car and without thinking, started it up. The wolf kept coming, it seemed to take her vanishing into the car as merely something else to be figured out. When it was maybe a yard away from her door it took a sniff and looked up at her. Then turned and started to walk around the back of the car, clearly with the intent of checking for some other way to get at her. When it was directly behind her she put the car in gear and floored it, feeling a combined nausea and relief when she heard the wolf get knocked down, and then felt the car bump over its body. The wolf made no sound. She put the car back into forward and drove over it again, then backed over it one more time, now really feeling sick, and then a little further down the drive so she could see its corpse. It was certainly dead. She called the local wildlife control office and within the hour an officer came out and took the dead animal away.

She waited for his arrival inside the car and even after he’d gone, she didn’t feel safe. Throughout the night she kept waking up and going to the living room to look out at the stain on the driveway, as though it could come to life and turn into yet another.

Catching up

He brought me a coffee. I had the flu for, like, ten days and am kind of only now getting back on my feet. And he called me up and was like,

What can I get for ya?


For real? Don’t you have a machine?

Yeah, but I want one from Tolluci Brother’s

(the girl they have there makes the best cappuccino – she’s not a ‘barista’ or anything, she’s just some nice girl from Grosseto who want to hang out in NYC and maybe get married – and work for the brother’s. I don’t know what the place is really called, it’s not Tolluci’s but that’s who owns it right now and how everyone knows it.)

You don’t ask for much, do you? Gimme about half an hour.

(So he brings me the coffee which was nice, though it’s on the way. And he looked like shit, I gotta say.)

You look worse than I feel. You OK?

Nah, things are kind of fucked up lately. I got a call from Bern the other day; he’s back in jail.

Sorry to hear that.

Well, jail, you expect that, a guy like Bern. But he’s sick as shit and they’re not gonna take care of him right.

You gonna go down there? Help him out?

No, maybe in January. And then, look, don’t laugh but I was kind of worried that you had the Ebola.


Yeah, your neighbor just got back from there and all.

He’s a doctor.

Don’t matter. They have no idea how it gets around.

Sure they do.

I don’t think so. Not really.

Well, I’m on the mend. How’s your book coming?

Valeriya Malinovskiya? I dunno. It’s coming. they gave me some money, so I gotta finish it but damn.


It’s not as easy as just bullshitting.

Yeah, that’s why Clive Cussler and them get the big bucks.


So how’s it going Tommy?

Oh man. That guy, that Henry James is one weird fucking guy.

Well, he lived in a different time, right?

Weird is weird. Don’t matter when he lived. He was weird then, he’s weird now.

So how far you get? You done?

I’m on page twelve.


It’s hard. Plus I’ve been busy.

Oh yeah?

Yeah, but I can’t talk about that. Maybe later.

Mixed Blessing

(He starts talking as I’m picking up the phone,)

…and I think I got a contract.

A what? That’s great! A contract, but, wait, what. For what?

A book.

What. No shit?

Yeah, remember? My idea? To write people into books? Well Daisy Miller is now going to be Valeriya Malinovskiya.

Oh fuck you Tommy. That’s funny, it really is. I actually know someone named Malinovskiya.

Might be a cousin! Anyway, I need a computer lesson, or two, from you when you got the time, so I can bang this out.


My own damn fault. I shouldn’t have said his name out loud. I was at the bodega and he turns up in line behind me. He didn’t look so hot, at least, not like it was summer and people go to the beach and have a generally relaxed time. He looked like he’d spent the last month or so in a basement getting beaten with a chair. OK maybe that was a little much.

Fantastic! Saved me a phone call.

Tommy, how are ya?

Man, I’m doing great.

Oh yeah? (He really didn’t look great) Where you been? What’ve you been up to?

I been in the boiler room and let me tell you, I got a corker for you. This time, I feel sure of it, this time I got a hell of a winner.

Wait, you were where?

The boiler room, you know, down in the basement.

What the hell were you doing down there?

What kid of a stupid fucking question is that? I told you, I was writing.

In the boiler room?

We were going down the block at this point. He threw his hands up and looked away.

The fuck am I supposed to go, the library? I needed peace and quiet. You ever seen the kind of freaks hang out at the library?

Just – it struck me as an unconventional choice.

It’s perfect: Quiet, warm but not too warm. Smells nice to.

Really? Smells nice?

Yeah, the laundry room is next door and you got that fresh laundry smell all the time.

OK. So, what did you write?

I don’t know yet, I still got some work to do on it.

You’ll let me see it?

Yeah, of course. Couple weeks, max. Alright, this is where I go. Hey, kid, don’t be a stranger.

Alright Tommy, be good.

‘Don’t be a stranger.’ fuckin’ guy.

In the meantime…

(I had this big job last month and then I went on ‘vacation’ for a bit and I haven’t heard a thing from Tommy, so, like no news is good news. I guess. I am kind of wondering if he isn’t lurking behind some corner, waiting to jump out at me. Literally. Because that’s the kind of thing he likes to do.)


(He never got back to me about the literary-feud thing, by the way.)

So, we’ll take famous works of literature and personalize them for people.

Oh, yeah?

Yeah, very simple. They’re all public domain now anyway, so, why not? Right? So we take, say Oliver Twist and at every mention of ‘Oliver’ we substitute the client’s name! Genius, right? Think about it, Pride and Prejudice we could put like a whole family in there. So. What do you think?

It is definitely something we could do.


Literary Feud

Tommy: I’m glad I caught you because I think we need some help.

me: No, man, things are going ok.

Tommy: Are you driving a Porsche? Because if you’re not driving a Porsche yet, then things are not going OK. OK?

me: Sure Tommy. But things are going OK.

Tommy: OK, but not Porsche OK. And that’s what we’re after here, isn’t it? Porsche OK?

me: Yeah. Absolutely.

Tommy: Good. So long as we’re on the same page. So I was thinking about it and I think we should start a literary feud.

me: Sure. Very good idea.

Tommy: Don’t be a jerk. We cause a big ruckus, people come running to look and then some of ’em stick around to buy a book.

me: Well you got a point there, Tommy that’s for sure. But what who are you gonna start a feud with?

Tommy: Well, it’s gotta be someone who’s still alive, so my number one pick is out.

(I didn’t ask. I didn’t really want to know, to be honest)

me: And number 2?

Tommy: I’m kind of embarrassed to say.

me: So do I have to say anything?

Tommy: You’re right. Let me think about this so more, see if I know anybody who knows this person, we could do a reach out before we start things off.

me: A reach out? You’re talking about a feud.

Tommy: These things don’t just happen. You gotta plan them. I’ll be in touch. Take care.

me: Alright Tommy, see you around.