To start things off, she gets mugged. Afterwards, she’s lying on the
Doesn’t know what hit her—that’s the cliché, but it’s also the truth.
There’s a lot of violence around. You can’t always help the police make a
sketch. Anyway, even if you do, it’s approximate. They can’t get inside
your head with tiny cameras and see what your mind sees. Not yet, they
She was walking and then she was down, one shoe off, the sack of
groceries burst open and the contents fanned out across the oily sidewalk:
a bag of cat litter, two small containers of vanilla yogurt, a TV Guide,
some oranges, a can of tomato soup and one of cream of celery. From this
perspective the fissures in the broken cement take on geological
proportions. She can see slender, sickly yellow leaves pushing up through
the cracks like Carboniferous ferns. That and cigarette butts and the
black crusts of chewing gum.
The lid of one of the yogurts has popped off and white globs are
leaking onto the street. For a moment before people’s ankles and shoes
start appearing around her head in bunches, she has time to think: How
pathetic. It’s bad enough being a crime victim without everyone seeing
your cat litter and your single-serving can of tomato soup.
Her backpack is gone. The man—she guesses it was a man—yanked it off
her shoulder and ran. The most expensive thing in it was her new Norton
Anthology of Poetry—nearly fifty bucks, including tax. Unfortunately,
she needs the book for the class she’s just been assigned to teach. The
rodent-mouthed department secretary made it clear she had no intention of
trying to wrangle a desk copy out of the publisher at this late date, so
Paula had no choice but to buy one. Now she has to buy two.
When she tells the cop about this later, he repeats his question in a
polite, official voice as if she didn’t understand the first time: Did
she lose any valuables? "That was valuable," she insists. "If it was a
fifty-dollar watch, you’d consider it a valuable."
The cop looks at her, then writes a few lines in a palm-sized notebook
with leather covers—or they look like leather. Just like on television.
She wonders where you would get one of those, whether there were
cop-supply stores somewhere like art-supply stores. You probably stick
with the ones with paper covers for a while when you’re a rookie, then you
The cop asks her a few more questions—he’s efficient but bored. He
wants to know her driver’s license number and she tells him. The mugger
took her license, too, long ago expired. She’d used her Radiograph to
alter the date to make it valid for another two birthdays. She figures
they’re going to figure this out eventually but she doesn’t volunteer. She
only uses it for identification, anyway. She’s never actually owned a car
and she hasn’t driven in years. In the city, you don’t really. Funny how
you could tell a cop that you’d just been robbed and that your wallet was
gone and he’d believe you were who you said you were and that you lived
where you said you did. Any other time they demanded proof. Now they
seemed to understand she couldn’t produce any.
But none of that happens for a while and she’s still belly down on the
sidewalk, just starting to notice that her right knee is stinging where
the skin has been scoured off. She sits up and examines her knee, turning
back the torn flap of fabric to get the full picture. There’s not much
blood after all, just some lymph tinged with red oozing out in neat rows
where sharp pebbles dug into her flesh. Probably there’ll be a bruise.
People help her up, and now all the ankles and pant legs have faces and
voices. They’re asking her if she’s hurt, if she feels dizzy, does she
want someone to call an ambulance. Mostly she feels conspicuous and
embarrassed; so she answers no to all the questions. She’s read about
this: It’s part of the psychology of being a victim. You feel guilty. You
wish you could be invisible. People’s sudden pity and concern flood in
like someone’s turned the hose on you. Poor you: But don’t you look
ridiculous with your pants ripped and one shoe still AWOL and your sad
groceries strewn across the pavement for everyone to see. Glad it isn’t
The worst of it is, she knows there’s no fast way out. Someone assures
her that the police are on their way and another voice is saying that he
saw the whole thing and won’t mind being a witness. She tries to smile at
him. "Thank you," she says, interrupting him in the middle of one of his
sentences. "That’ll be a help."
A runty, gray-haired woman is already starting the post mortem. She’s
wearing a brownish-green old-lady coat made of some thick cloth that looks
sturdy enough to stand up by itself, like an exoskeleton. "It’s getting so
you can’t even go to the store," the woman in the carapace-coat is saying.
"You take your life in your hands."
That’s when the guy in the gray NYU sweatshirt comes running up. He’s
in his twenties, impressively tall, with close-cropped blonde hair and a
single gold stud in his left earlobe. "Paula?" he asks. "Are you Paula
She’s confused for a moment. Is he with the police? His haircut makes
him look like a cadet of some kind, that and his athletic shoulders.
"I think I found your wallet," he says. "The guy threw it behind a
dumpster." He holds up her library card. "This is almost the only thing
left in it—that and some photos. But it’s got your name on it."
"Yeah," she says. She needs a couple of beats to figure out that he’s
expecting more of an answer, so she adds, "I mean, yes—it’s mine. I’m
Paula." She hates saying her name in front of people. It sounds dull; it’s
a fat-girl name. "You ran after him?" she asks, because she can’t think of
what else to say.
NYU-boy smiles and looks proud of himself. "Yeah, but I came along too
late. He was long gone. But purse-snatchers almost always drop what they
take within a few hundred yards of the crime scene. I just looked in the
obvious places on my way back." He’s still smiling, holding up her wallet.
He isn’t even out of breath, Paula thinks.
She extends her hand and he puts the wallet into it gently. "How’d you
know that?" she asks. "About the obvious places?"
"Criminal Science major," the boy answers.
People are looking at her expectantly, waiting to see what she’ll say
next. She’s aware that she has a role to play here. "Well," she says, "I
guess that makes you my hero," and several people laugh. The boy puffs up
like he’s going to bust out of his sweatshirt. He’s got a good face, wide
across the cheekbones, almost Slavic, with big eyes and dark lashes. In
spite of everything, Paula thinks, I still notice that. The
woman in the heavy coat pats him on the arm. "See," she says, "there’s
still some good guys left in the world."
Paula likes that he’s taking attention away from her. She wants him to
have this moment. She wants him to be able to tell his buddies how he came
to the rescue of some woman who’d been mugged and that he chased the bad
guy down the street. It’s a good one, Paula thinks, a story to
dine out on. She can probably dine out on it, too. People love to hear
their worst fears confirmed. Everyone gets an urban tale out of this.
For a while, Paula’s the center of a little storm, better diversion
than television. Then a patrol car is pulling up in front of the corner
store where Paula brought her groceries. And Paula is starting to see an
end to all this.
By the time the police are done, most of the crowd has melted away, a
layer at a
time from the outside first, like a snowman. The police make it less
interesting to be a voyeur; their presence takes the vicarious fun out of
being a junior crimespotter. While Paula is talking to them a man walks up
and hands her what’s left of her groceries. Everything has been
repackaged: someone went home and got a new plastic bag and collected her
things off the street. It’s an overwhelming gesture of kindness that makes
Paula shy all over again. When she can finally leave, one of the cops asks
if she wants a ride home. Must be a slow crime day, she thinks, and
says no thanks.
As the cops drive off, the one who questioned her leans out the window
to say they’ll call if they dig anything up—like earthworms, she imagines.
He tips his leather-covered notebook at her in a parting wave, and Paula
starts down the block. NYU-boy is waiting for her, propped against a No
Parking sign. "Hi," he says.
"Hi," says Paula, and keeps walking. He falls in beside her.
"Do they think they’ll find the guy who did it?" he wants to know.
"I doubt it," she says. "I mean, this must happen a dozen times a day.
And nobody saw anything very helpful. They said I was lucky not to be
hurt. And to be sure to cancel my credit cards." She laughs and the boy
looks puzzled. "I don’t have any credit cards," she explains.
They keep walking and Paula realizes that he means to escort her home.
She wonders if a more cautious person might not want him to know where she
lives. Maybe a more cautious person wouldn’t have gotten mugged. "You
don’t have to walk me," she says.
The boy smiles shyly. "I want to."
"I’m not likely to get robbed again, you know," she says, self-mocking.
"Statistically speaking, I’m probably safe for at least the next eighteen
months." But she doesn’t actually mind his presence; she wasn’t scared
while she was getting mugged but now it’s nice to have company. Someone
who was there, someone she doesn’t have to explain it to. She thinks about
telling her friends what happened and then decides she doesn’t actually
have to. Nothing shows—it isn’t like she’s going to have bruises too
visible to hide—and she can keep it a secret if she wants.
"Well, I’ve never been mugged," he says, "so my number might come up at
any time. Maybe you’d better walk me to make sure I’m safe."
He’s charming, Paula has to hand him that. He isn’t smarmy; he doesn’t
seem to know how cute he’s being. "How old are you?" Paula asks.
"Twenty-three. Just turned twenty-three. How ‘bout you?"
"Older than twenty-three."
"You don’t look it."
Paula laughs out loud. It feels good, a genuine laugh. She takes in a
big breath of clean air and feels lighter. "Who taught you that you were
supposed to tell women they didn’t look their age?" she asks, turning to
look at the boy’s face for the first time. He blushes and stares at the
"Well, you don’t," he mumbles.
"It’s okay," she says, not wanting to hurt his feelings. "It’s sweet.
Thank you. It’s just ... I don’t know. Chivalrous."
"I like that," he says, brightening. "Good crossword-puzzle word."
"You like crossword puzzles?" she asks.
He smiles again, showing two rows of white, uneven teeth. "You don’t
think I’m the type, huh?" he says, picking up Paula’s teasing tone. "I’d
challenge you sometime, but I’m pretty good."
This is okay, Paula thinks. This is not odd. All I’m doing is
having a conversation with a guy I ran into on the street. In some places
in the world, it’s still considered normal to talk to strangers. It’s like
striking up a conversation with someone you sit next to on the plane. Some
people actually expect it and are pissed off if you stick your head into
your book and refuse to trade details with them about where you live and
why you’re traveling. "So do you have a library card?" she asks the
"You know, a library card."
"Let’s see it."
He’s shaking his head as he pulls out his wallet. "It’s my student ID,"
he says, "they use it as a library card." He hands her a blue laminated
rectangle with the predictable mug shot, his square, handsome face bearing
a look of surprise as if he was expecting something other than the camera.
"Okay, Brian Michael Mitchell," she says, handing the card back, "now
we’re even. Although I have to tell you that my mother told me never to
trust a man with three first names."
Even before they get to Paula’s building, Brian has asked her to have
with him. Does she wanna go get something to eat? is how he puts
it. Paula isn’t hungry, but she says yes. She makes him wait downstairs on
the stoop while she drops off the remains of her groceries. At first she
thinks of dumping the whole thing down the garbage chute, just to avoid
dealing with it again later, when she imagines she’ll be feeling less
stoic than she does at the moment. But the canned stuff is still okay,
and, by some miracle, the cat litter didn’t break open. That’s always the
heaviest item walking back from the store. Why do that again if she
doesn’t have to? Besides, tossing everything seems ungrateful to the man
who went to the trouble of salvaging her groceries. Only one of the
oranges made it, she observes as she empties the bag, and she puts it into
the refrigerator where it shares a shelf with a crusted jar of chutney and
She changes out of her ripped jeans and combs her hair. She debates
whether to put on lipstick. It’s almost dark outside, and she is dressing
for the evening after all, though that seems a strange way of putting it.
She decides against it, but does put on a different sweater, a heavy one
of thick maroon wool, one that makes her feel like a grownup. Then she
goes back into the bathroom and washes her face. Before she goes down to
Brian again she reaches for the lipstick anyway.
"Nice sweater," he says as soon as she appears from behind the ornate
Paula smiles. "I put on lipstick," she says, "so I want to go somewhere
where they don’t have napkin dispensers."
Brian takes her arm and leads her in a direction. "You look good," he
says, so sincerely that Paula has to stifle another laugh. She doesn’t
know where they’re going and it’s nice not to care. She thinks of another
word: squired. She’s being squired to supper. As they’re stopped at
a corner, waiting for the light to change, Paula maneuvers ahead of him a
half-step so she can see more of his face. She wants a better look, now
that they seem to have entered a new phase. First, he was just someone
helping her home after a mugging. Now, they’re sort of on a date.
He catches her watching him and smiles backs. She’s amazed all over
again by the whiteness of his teeth. The two in front are serrated on the
bottom edge, she notices, like a teenager’s. Healthy teeth are a sign of
money—but maybe not that much money because his are also slightly out of
line. He’s never had braces. Good thing, too, or his face would be too
perfect, almost blinding to look at. If his eyes were only brown, that
would soften the effect, but of course they’re blue—cornflower blue—and
lovely. As it is, he reminds her of a Marine recruiting poster.
"I’ve never met anyone this way before," she says. "I mean, I’ve never
needed to be rescued."
The light changes and he starts them across the intersection. He’s
focused diligently on getting them safely to the far corner, but she sees
the angle of his mouth turn up.
"I didn’t rescue you, remember?" he says. "I came along too late, after
it was all over, and helped pick up the pieces."
"Oh," Paula says, "so I guess that makes me just one of the pieces you
picked up." After it’s out, she cringes. She didn’t mean to say something
with that much innuendo in it.
But of course he recognizes the double meaning. "No!" he says, a little
too loudly. Then he adds, "I just mean that I didn’t do anything heroic."
Shucks, ma’am. Twarn’t nothin’.
Paula decides she’d better steer them to neutral ground. "Well, let’s
just tell people you rescued me," she says playfully. "It’s a
better story. Anyway, I feel rescued. And it could have been a lot
worse. The only thing I lost was a book—a very expensive book that I will
have to replace, unfortunately, but still just a book."
"It wouldn’t have been worse," he says. "I mean, it probably wouldn’t.
A lot of people dwell on that—what might have happened—but you shouldn’t.
These guys are pretty much strictly hit-and-run. Anything that takes more
than a few seconds and they’re outta there. Too easy to draw a crowd if
you make a big production out of it. Someone’s gonna be a hero and try and
stop you or at least winds up with a better shot at recognizing you later.
The percentages are bad."
"Criminal Science major?" Paula teases.
For a moment Brian looks uncomfortable, even annoyed; a flicker of
something that Paula’s gut identifies as anger plays over those
reassuringly preppy features, then he’s back to normal. As if I know
what normal looks like on him, she thinks.
"Actually," he says, "the reason I’m in school is I want to become a
profiler some day."
"One of those guys who gets inside the minds of criminals and figures
out what makes them tick?" she asks.
"Something like that," Brian says. Then he pauses. "Italian?"
"No," Paula says. "Jewish." They’ve stopped in front of a restaurant
and she doesn’t realize her mistake at first. "Oh, God," she says,
Brian is holding the door open and grinning at her so kindly that she
decides not to kick herself too much for not taking his meaning. "Thank
you, Sir Brian," she says, and steps down into a large square room noisy
with diners and smelling aggressively of garlic and bread. The walls, a
stark, cream-cheese white, are decorated with bright, pastel watercolors,
reproductions of great works that strike Paula as more or less familiar.
Brian sees the question on her face and points to the ceiling. She looks
up and finally makes the connection: two beautifully muscled male arms
stretch toward one another, the fingers nearly touching. God gives life to
Adam. The entire ceiling is an enormous copy of the famous fresco, and now
she can put the walls into context as well.
"It’s the Sistine Chapel!" she beams, surprised at how delighted, even
giddy she feels to know that.
"Yeah," says Brian, "that’s what this place is called—La Cappella."
A waiter motions them to an empty table where wine glasses in two
versions—what she always thinks of as the Laurel kind and the Hardy
kind—stand alongside water goblets in a dignified grouping. Brian touches
her elbow to guide her. She realizes that he never waited for her to say
whether or not Italian was okay, then she decides she kind of likes
Brian’s assumptions, his good-natured, masculine pushiness. He’s still
playing at being gallant. Men her age don’t bother anymore, either
assuming she’ll be offended or just because it isn’t done between
professional people, which is who she dates, if she dates. Brian doesn’t
see her as a peer, for better or worse. Turns out it’s a nice change.
The first few minutes after they’re seated are awkward. They’re face to
face and completely still for the first time with nothing to do except
talk to each other. The waiter brings a bottle of Asti, which Brian has
apparently ordered when she wasn’t paying attention, and she gratefully
takes a first sip, holding the tart flavors against the roof of her mouth.
A number of possible topics of conversation have occurred to her, and she
weighs the options. She could remark that the actual Creation of Adam
seems much smaller in real life, almost lost among the overwhelming colors
and the hundreds of figures that surround it. She could mention a friend’s
observation that the Creation of Eve, just one panel over and
literally at the center of the Sistine ceiling, is virtually unknown,
while the Adam fresco winds up in car commercials and on the labels of
bottled spaghetti sauce.
In the end she says neither thing because she doesn’t want to sound
pretentious. Perhaps Brian hasn’t traveled, and, of course, she has only
been to Italy once herself. She settles on a safer subject. "So, Brian,"
she says, "where do you come from? Originally, I mean?"
He ducks his chin and puts his hands over his face, a palm against each
eye. Paula isn’t sure if he’s laughing because he finds the question banal
or if she’s unintentionally upset him. If so, she wouldn’t be surprised.
She generally finds people to be something of a minefield. Brian raises
his heavy, blonde head to look at her, and she has the sensation that
she’s watching the lid go up on a rolltop desk. "You don’t want to know
where I come from, Paula," he says finally. "You want to know if I find
Paula barely gets out her word of protest before he’s reached his two
wide hands across the table and taken one of hers between them—all without
jostling the flatware or spilling anything, she’s self-possessed enough to
observe. "And I do," he says, half-whispering. He’s holding her gaze, like
a cobra. "Paula, I think you’re beautiful."
After supper, he insists on walking her home. He holds her arm the
entire way in
the crook of his, and she lets him. They make small talk on her stoop
until she invites him up for coffee, and, a half-hour after the coffee is
gone, they end up in bed. Paula doesn’t pretend to be shocked, not even to
herself, because these things happen, but she also knows they don’t
generally happen to her. In fact, that’s the remark that got him upstairs
in the first place: Just as the chit chat was reaching the stage of
semi-long pauses and self-conscious grins, he had simply said, "Invite me
up for coffee?" It was a question, but there was a demand in it.
"I don’t usually ask people I’ve just met to visit my apartment," she
tried, not wanting to seem coy, but aware, too, that she wasn’t exactly
"You don’t usually get robbed," Brian had answered, "and I don’t
usually chase muggers. Maybe this is a day for doing things you don’t
After he spoke, he ducked his head again and kicked her railing.
He’s embarrassed himself, Paula thought, and that was his ticket in:
All of a sudden she wondered what it would be like to kiss him. When he
looked up she was holding her hand out, reaching for him just like in the
painting at the restaurant, and that was that. Maybe the charm was a
little self-conscious at this point, but what the hell. She was flattered
that he cared to make the effort.
Charm wasn’t the only thing he was good at, as it turned out, and,
after Brian went home, she surveyed the happy wreckage of the bed, the
sheets tangled into damp, fragrant bunkers, the pillows long since lost
over the edge of the mattress, the cat beneath the sofa who would refuse
to emerge until morning. It’s true what they say about younger men,
she thought, thrilled because she felt wicked—it’s all about stamina.
Stamina and tight skin.
While she tidied up, Paula let herself try on the role of Older Woman,
a possibility she hadn’t entertained before. It was a niche, certainly; it
implied a fair exchange. There was even some grace and dignity involved.
Better than simply being an aging woman. And he had pursued her;
that was novel. She sat up in bed for a while after that, feeling worldly
and wondering whom she could tell.
Paula is falling asleep about the time Brian reaches the downtown
shares with his lover, Anthony. He unlocks the deadbolt and rolls back the
security bar as quietly as possible, but, once inside, he can see from the
entryway that a light is still on in the rear of the apartment. He hooks
his coat over a doorknob and goes to stand in the doorway of the bedroom
where Anthony is propped up in bed, a book spread open on his lap.
"I told you she wasn’t going to have anything worth taking," Anthony
"Whatever," Brian shrugs, and turns away. He heads for the shower,
shedding clothes as he goes. He doesn’t bother to close the bathroom door
because he knows Anthony likes watching him dry off. If he’s in the mood
he gives Anthony a show, putting one foot up on the edge of the tub and
bending over while he dries between his toes so Anthony gets a good look
at his ass. Tonight, though, Brian doesn’t feel in the mood, and, anyway,
Anthony comes in to sit on the toilet while he’s still in the shower.
"You were gone a long time," Anthony says.
"We ate supper."
Anthony makes a snorting sound that Brian detests. If he were to push
aside the blue vinyl curtain and look out, Brian knows, he would find
Anthony with his head cocked at a disagreeable angle, his lips set into a
thin, prissy line. He’d be sitting with his legs crossed at the knees, one
hand anchoring the edge of his robe so that it fell right over his
ankles—a brittle figurine. When Anthony gets like this, all Brian wants to
do is smash his face in with a brick. So he doesn’t look outside the
Instead, he turns the water up as high as the flow-control nozzle will
let him and says, over the noise, "You didn’t have to hit her so hard, you
know. She practically went skidding. I think you always hit ‘em too hard."
"I thought you liked them a little banged up," Anthony replies coldly.
"Makes for a more dramatic rescue. Anyway, I’m not taking any chances that
one of these bitches has mace in her pocket. Or a gun."
Brian doesn’t disguise the sneer in his voice when he says the next
thing: "She strike you as someone who makes a habit of walking to the
grocery store strapped?"
"Believe me," Anthony sniffs, "she didn’t strike me as anything. But
what people look like is deceiving—isn’t that right? That’s how come you
can pull off these little capers."
"Fuck you," Brian says.
"No," Anthony spits back, "fuck you!" He stalks out of the
bathroom, slamming the door behind him. Brian takes his time finishing his
When Brian gets to bed, the lamp on the night stand is on and Anthony
is still awake, his arms folded across his chest. He stares reproachfully
at the ceiling, barely blinking. "So was she a tight little fuck?" he asks
in his nasty voice. "Does she suck dick as good as me?"
Brian sits on the edge of the mattress and begins toweling his hair.
"This was your idea, remember?" he says.
Anthony ignores that comment, but the silence between them gets as
murky as wet plaster. After a while Brian adds, "Maybe I’ll take her book
back to her tomorrow."
"And how the fuck do you propose to do that?"
"I dunno. Maybe I’ll drop it off at her building, leave her a note
saying I went back to look around one more time behind the store and I
found it. Or I’ll say I just decided to buy her a new one."
"She’ll know," Anthony says.
"She won’t know."
"Oh, she won’t know," Anthony mocks. "No one’s ever smart enough
to figure your shit out, are they? She probably even fell for that crap
about being a Criminal Science major."
"I was a Criminal Science major."
"Yeah, baby, was. Right up until they caught you fucking one of
your professors on his office divan. I keep telling you, they don’t
like fags in law enforcement."
"I’m not a fag," Brian says quietly. "We’ve had this discussion."
"Why don’t you just admit you want to see her again? As if I’m so
stupid I can’t tell that’s what’s going on."
Brian goes into a fit of hair-drying, whipping the towel around his
head and shaking the bed like a wet dog. When he’s done he flips the damp
towel across the room where it hits the closet door. He slides beneath the
"Come on, Brian," Anthony whines. "You fucking promised." He sits up,
twisting the blanket between his fists. "You told me it would be just one
time with these bitches and I didn’t have to worry about repeats."
"Yeah, okay, so I promised," Brian says.
"You prick. Okay. Fine. I’m not going to do it anymore. How’s
that, you sick motherfucker!"
"Jesus," Brian says, "calm down. I said I promised, all right?
Here—just wait a sec." He throws back the covers and goes to bathroom,
where his jeans lie in a heap on the floor. From one pocket he takes the
card from La Cappella on which Paula has written her phone number. "See?"
he says, holding it up so Anthony can take note of the unfamiliar
handwriting, full of loops. He folds the card into a crisp V so that it
stands by itself in the glass ashtray on the night table. In the drawer is
the disposable Bic he keeps around for lighting blunts, and he uses that
to set the card on fire. When all that’s left is a fragile fragment of
ash, he climbs back into bed and flicks out the light. "Happy now?" he
Anthony waits in silence for few dignified minutes before he rolls
toward Brian and throws one arm across his chest, nuzzling his neck. He
lowers his head to kiss the hollow below Brian’s Adam’s apple, and then,
when Brian doesn’t push him away, he moves down to encircle Brian’s left
nipple with his lips. As Anthony slides his mouth farther down Brian’s
stomach, darkening the line of blonde hair with saliva, Brian wonders
whether he’ll still be able to smell smoke in the morning, however
Brian finds it appeasing, even comforting to watch the back of
Anthony’s head as it makes its way down his torso, and he tangles his
fingers gently among the glossy curls. Anthony’s good, most of the time,
he decides. Still, Brian’s not sorry he took a moment, while he was riding
home on the subway, to copy Paula’s number onto the second card from La
Cappella, the one that’s still hidden in his jeans pocket. He’ll have to
be sure to retrieve that before they go to sleep, in case Anthony plans to
get up early and do laundry.
Always just a few jumps ahead, Brian thinks to himself, and then what
Anthony’s doing, down between his legs, becomes so distracting that he
decides to stop thinking about anything at all for a while.
Wendell Ricketts was born on Wake Island, an atoll in the middle of the
Pacific Ocean, and raised on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. He holds a Master’s degree in
Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico, where he was the
1997-1998 Creative Writing Fellow.
His fiction and poetry have appeared (or are forthcoming) in New
Millennium Writings, Blithe House Quarterly, Salt Hill,
James White Review, POZ, The Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction
Quarterly, Blue Mesa Review, and the anthologies Doing It
For Daddy, The Dark Shade of Our Desire: A Queer People of Color /
Mixed Blood Anthology, and Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam
Formerly a dance and theater critic for the Bay Area Reporter in
San Francisco, his writing about politics, the arts, literature, lesbian
and gay family and legal issues, and responses to AIDS in the arts and the
media also appears in publications as Contact Quarterly, The
Advocate, Out, Dance Ink, Marriage and Family Review,
QW, Spin, and Out in all Directions: The Almanac of
Lesbian and Gay America.
For his work translating the plays of Natalia Ginzburg from Italian, he
was awarded the PEN American Center Renato Poggioli Prize for 2000, and
was also named a prize-winner in the Salt Hill short-short fiction
contest. His poem, "Elegy for Matthew Shepard," was nominated for a
He lives in San Francisco, California.