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Wendell Ricketts

The Way It Happens

To start things off, she gets mugged. Afterwards, she’s lying on the sidewalk.
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 can’t.

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 get serious.

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 me.

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 Brandt?"

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 sidewalk.

"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 boy.


"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 supper
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 nothing else.

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 street door.

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, embarrassed.

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 you attractive."

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 saying no.

"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 usually do."

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 apartment he
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 says.

"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 shower.

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 shower.

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 sheets.

"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 says.

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 faintly.

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 Pushcart Prize.

He lives in San Francisco, California.

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