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running away with the circus (looking for dolphins)

There are three of them, a brazen woman with bright eyes and a big voice, a man going grey with a hop in his step and a younger woman who might be their daughter or their niece that twists her short hair into little tufts. They roam the hotel, sometimes in elaborate costumes, letting us know that there will be a secret dance party near the ballroom in an hour.

The older woman strolls in during dinner in a costume of blinking Christmas lights and exotic face paint. V stares up at her, convinced she is a princess or a fairy or maybe both. The next night, she is all in black, great horns wobbling on her head. She always has a pair of black Converse high tops on, as if they go with every costume or maybe they are the only shoes she owns.

The man is typically dressed as a pirate, in a striped shirt, maybe an eye patch. He is perfectly relaxed, like his limbs are made of silly straws. The younger woman is always smiling, her mouth a wall of metal braces and lip gloss. I imagine they sleep …

Albino (part one)


I began writing Albino two million years ago. I had an editor then, who lived a few blocks away. We would meet for breakfast on Avenue A, quietly forking into home fries as we discussed the structure of the story - the economy of objects. A dollar bill was not just a dollar bill in this story, it was connected to thought and action, to music and transformation. This was the story that told me there was a whole book to dig into, mining for diamonds in the backwaters of America, turning over the ugliest rocks to better understand relationships between fathers and sons.

Last week, I stumbled across a call for submissions - not for a journal, but for a podcast where the work of new writers was read aloud. I thought back to a reading I had done of just the first few pages of Albino - a messy hero's journey,  a young man and a guitar, a man with loss and regret, a man that still had something to lose. That reading went well, enough that I felt a strange elation stepping off the stage in my engineer boots, drinking whiskey later that night at the Cedar Tavern, still feeling those goosebumps from behind the microphone. So, without much thought I went back to that place, in our Moscow living room. I sent the mp3 file to the editors, and moved on to the next task at hand. A handful of days later the email came, that I was going to be their next episode and then as the conversation unfolded, the next three episodes. I got their answer on the playground, with V making imaginary strawberry cakes in the sandbox and N just inches away. There is nothing like sharing good news with the people you are close to. It is their victory somehow, as much as yours. I still remember those empty days, when the victories were so hollow  - and how I celebrated them alone.

Here is part one of Albino, from a collection of short stories I will somehow put out into the world this year, called Papa on the Moon. My thanks to the good people at Sunday Night Stories, for their interest and support in this awkward, personal tale.




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