Short Stories2018-12-02T10:37:25-07:00

The Kiss of a Pansy

by Charles McNamara This year Grayson gave up searching for a birthday present for his wife. She had no more desires and asked for nothing. Man-made objects did not interest her. Alice had dementia. When Grayson could no longer care for her, he moved her to a nursing home. That was two years ago. She spent her days pushing herself down the halls in a wheelchair. When she watched TV, she fell asleep. She rarely responded to people who spoke to her. When she did, her only response was “Honey.” “Oh yeah honey.” “Hi honey.” “Alice, do you know who I am?” he asked. “Oh yeah honey.” “Want me to push you around in the garden?” “Oh, yeah honey.” She came alive at mealtimes feeding herself then fell asleep again. She giggled and said “hi honey” when Grayson visited.  He always gave her a kiss. Anticipating his kiss, she sat up straight in the wheelchair and leaned her face toward his. That was how he knew she still recognized him. When he wheeled her through the garden, Alice giggled with delight and pointed right and left as if giving directions without speaking. They’d been married for 45 years. He [...]

By |December 27th, 2021|2 Comments

Tea for Two

By Charles McNamara The concierge, Earl Wattenberg, greeted Randolph Carter and showed him to a table in the elegant Tea Room of the Brown Palace Hotel. The ornate Tea Room was illuminated by a kaleidoscope of light from the stained-glass atrium eight stories above them. Wattenberg thought Carter’s cowboyish gait was at odds with his Brooks Brothers suit. There was a casualness to him that didn’t quite fit with cloth so crisp. When he’d first met Carter, he expected to see a holstered pistol and a gray felt Stetson. Carter smiled at Wattenberg. Like a long-lost brother, he shook Wattenberg’s hand warmly with a perfect squeeze and eye contact that invited friendship. He was a regular guest. Carter’s usual tea selection was Fleur de Geisha a refined Japanese green tea delicately flavored with cherry blossom. The waitress set a three-level tray of scones and finger sandwiches on his table. Devonshire cream sat in a cup in the middle of the tray. Carter knew the clotted cream was shipped directly from England. He loved it on his scones. The soft sounds of a pianist floated through the afternoon atrium light. The Tea Room was a place for lovers. Every possible [...]

By |January 7th, 2019|4 Comments


By Chas McNamara Riding the train back to my hometown, I’m holding a photo of my friends and me with my uncle Mando standing behind us. How carefree we were back then, close-knit and full of love for one another. Mando is happy and bursting with life in the photo. This is how I want to remember him. I’ll place this photo on the altar at his grave for our Day of the Dead picnic. In August he succumbed to old age and the unmerciful heat of the Chihuahuan Desert. He was seventy. November third will be the first Dia De Los Muertos when my family will remember and honor his spirit. The celebration of his life has drawn me back to the place I grew up wanting to leave. I hold the photo to my chest, watching the desert streak by, recalling how I dreaded becoming a copper miner like everyone else and how I wanted to escape the desert heat. It was intolerable. After high school I left Arizona hopping freight trains heading east toward Las Cruces, working in fields and sleeping outdoors. I ended up in Santa Fe working as a waiter. It’s been eight years. [...]

By |October 6th, 2018|0 Comments

The Scent of Balsam

By Charles McNamara The aging woodsman hunted every inch of his cramped log cabin searching for his journal. Am I losing my mind? He moved boxes of cornmeal, rice, tea, coffee, flour, and salt sitting on a shelf above a handmade table. It wasn’t there. Winchester shells sat under the window. Next to them were playing cards, toothpicks, and a yellowed box of Alpar Toothache Drops. The slogan on the box read “To Quiet the Pain.” The journal had fallen under the window. Clutching the journal to his chest, he sighed with relief. It was a record of his thoughts and observations for the past twenty years since he’d moved into the North Woods to be alone. Laurent Bouyea sat on a rough-hewn bench outside his cabin. He opened the thick leather-bound journal across his lap and began to record his thoughts. Bound in tanned deer hide, it was cracked with age. The book smelled faintly of pipe tobacco. The pages were brittle. What remained of the original stitching barely held it together. He put on his wire-rimmed spectacles so he could see the words that appeared and disappeared as his eyes flitted across the pages. I’m getting older [...]

By |December 28th, 2017|0 Comments

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