22 short stories, most first published in Prism International, The Literary Review, The Mississippi Review, Northwest Review, Colorado Quarterly, or elsewhere, including 3 Roll of Honor selections from Best American Short Stories.
Excerpt from THE MAN WHO SHOT ELVIS:
SO HERE HE WAS, in the casino with hundreds of other tourists, waiting in line two hours before showtime, bored, drink in hand, watching his wife shoot craps. Mary was losing and angry but all the more striking for it, her blue eyes intense as she shook the dice in a fist near one ear. She brushed aside a strand of blonde hair that had fallen across her face, still shaking the dice, softly demanding of them five, five — she reminded him of a mad Scandinavian queen who had one roll to win or lose a kingdom. For a moment, he looked away, attracted by the ringing payoff of a slot machine, and when he turned back the blonde queen was coming toward him, dethroned and pouting.
"I hate that game, I just hate it," Mary said.
"You love it," said Lester.
"I don't have the luck I have on the machines." She took a sip of his drink. "If you'd loan me five dollars ..."
He gave her twenty, and she was off to get change. It was true, her luck on the dollar slots was phenomenal, more than once her winnings had paid for their weekend in Las Vegas. The only reason she had gone to the craps table at all was because their place in line had brought them next to it. As a businessman, Lester admired the savvy of the hotel's management: make the customers line up for the show in the casino, where they would have things to do while passing time and would spend money passing it. The line stretched past slot machines, twisted around roulette tables to games of craps and twenty-one, then extended back across the red carpet to the slots, a long traffic jam whose little order was imposed by three young hotel employees, who reminded people that they were in line and therefore should have someone keep their place before drifting away to gamble. Lester was spending money without gambling, on dollar-and-a-quarter drinks before the show began and the price went up to five dollars. More savvy: admission was disguised as a two-drink minimum.
He lost Mary in the crowd. Everywhere he looked — hanging from the ceiling, posted on walls and pillars — were photographs of Elvis and banners with his name. It had been Lester's idea to spend the weekend in Las Vegas, Mary's to see the show at the International Hotel.
THEY ESPECIALLY NEEDED this vacation since the night he had been robbed. This had happened two months ago, in the parking lot of the bank as Lester walked to his car. He was tired after working late and oblivious to the shadows in the still night. Someone was suddenly in his way, a gun-like protrusion pointing from a pocket, and Lester heard, "Your wallet, man.” It was that simple. "Your wallet, man," no more. Lester was about to reply with something automatic, "Good evening," when the sight of the pistol, out of the pocket and real, made him understand what was happening. He quickly handed over his wallet, his gaze never leaving the gun, the authority of which was absolute although the pistol itself seemed fragile in the way it reflected light from a streetlamp. When the man ran off, Lester got in his car and drove home. He had two drinks before telling Mary, who could not understand why he wouldn't call the police. "I had less than twenty dollars on me," Lester explained. "I'll notify the credit card people tomorrow. I won't be liable. Maybe he needed the money. He was black. If he'd been white, I don't think I'd have given him a dime. He would've had to shoot me first. But he was black."