SHORT FICTION

Already She Was Root is a telling of the Orpheus/Eurydice story, set in a parallel American where several civil wars have occurred between Blue and Red states.

ALREADY SHE WAS ROOT

Many thanks to Tom Dooley for publishing this in Eclectica’s October, 2016 issue.

I was in Warsaw in 2007 and took several trains from the central station. Warsaw is an amazing place, re-inventing itself but so old and so haunted by memory. Here's what Kirsten McIlvenna had to say about it in New Pages:

 

"My favorite piece of fiction comes from Al Bray: The Replica City. An old man visits Warsaw, where he was born. At the train station, he imagines he sees his parents, though he doesn’t remember what they look like—he was separated from them as a child and raised in England. He suspects that they were both killed by the Nazis. 'Since childhood, he’d had a particular image: the two of them, carrying battered suitcases which they wouldn’t need, his father weak and hollow-cheeked from hunger, his mother a slim, defiant wraith. He’d struggled without success to replace it with the image on the old postcard from the train station.' The whole story takes place in Warsaw as he struggles to connect with his past: 'When something precious is taken from you, you want it back, one way or the other."

THE REPLICA CITY

An earlier draft published in Per Contra Fall, 2012

Thanks to Owen Kaelin on this one. Ariadne is loosely based on some experiences I had as a musician. I suppose here, I was really trying to show particular places—the restaurant, the street, the labyrinthine apartment. Yes, it's supposed to be mysterious.

ARIADNE AFTER HOURS

An earlier version published in Gone Lawn Journal #5, 2011.

A personal favorite. Based loosely on our local post office which really does date back to the 1700s. Like many of my stories, this one is about fathers and sons, or sons searching for fathers. Here's what was kindly said. Thank you.

Notes from Alexander Slagg, Senior Associate Editor

Reading “The Temporary Assistant Postmaster” is like watching a fireworks display while wearing earplugs. The dramatic energy is subdued, but it is well-synchronized and bursting, at times, with rich emotional color. The subtlety of the author’s hand in providing small details, such as the specific and very apt contents of the protagonist’s lunch, and then ushering the plot forward and offering a nuanced ending, shows the care that went into calibrating the mechanics of this piece.

What I enjoyed about this story is that throughout the arc of that plot, the reader is not spoon-fed how to read the action. The author leaves some narrative space around each scene, allowing the reader the opportunity to infer some of the emotional subtleties—to participate in the telling of this story. For me, that is the most successful facet of this piece. The writing is mature and interested me enough to want to continue reading it to the end, and it gave me space to interact with this piece and bring my own narrative vision to the process. That quality makes this a successful piece of art.

THE TEMPORARY ASSISTANT POSTMASTER

Originally published 10,000 Tons of Black Ink October 2013

Embrace has been around a while. Some years ago, I saw an exhibition of photographer Josef Sudek's work with my son at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I was entranced. Embrace is based on several of his photographs and on Sudek himself—in a completely fictional way. It was interesting to build a story around visual images. I hope anyone who reads it enjoys it.

EMBRACE

An earlier draft appeared in Cigale Literary Winter, 2014

Merrows is about being between fatherhood and one's own father.

 

MERROWS

An earlier draft appeared in Black Denim Literary May, 2014. My thanks to Christopher Garry.

A story about a jazz musician struggling with romance. Autobiographical? Nah.

BE MINE

Originally published in Ink and Coda January, 2014 with the title The Bar in Three Sections.

This was the first story I had published (thanks to Steve Hansen). It's about an older man, a widower, who finds and loses a new housekeeper, a mysterious person who catches his imagination and his loneliness. 

A VARIATION IN TEMPERATURE

An earlier version published in TQR stories, 2009.

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