A Brother’s Love – J. J. Steinfeld
3650 words Literary Fiction
A man is haunted by the 35-year institutionalization of his older brother.
In the hodgepodge that passes for my life, there has been one constant: my love for my older brother, Barton. Through my marriage and divorce, through the death of my father and my mother’s hasty remarriage, through my numerous “career” changes, through the dissatisfaction and restlessness and loneliness that paint my life, there has been Barton. There’s no doubt in my boozed-up mind that I would have let go a long time ago, and not minded my drowning one bit, if it wasn’t for Barton. I stay in this city, live alone in a small apartment, because I couldn’t bear to be far from my brother.
Lost Love – J. J. Steinfeld
2400 words Literary / Romance
A man recalls falling deeply in love twenty-five years ago with a mysterious woman who did not speak a word to him and he has not seen since that one captivating encounter.
I wonder when the old hotel was torn down and replaced with this high-rise apartment building. I haven’t been anywhere near this location in over twenty-five years. Years of thinking of the woman I had encountered on a night that changed my life. Sometimes I think for the better, other times for the worse. At least I haven’t had a cigarette since then. I have to shake my head at the utter absurdity of that thought and connecting the memory of her with cigarettes and a cigarette machine. I can see that cigarette machine clearly in my mind’s eye as if it’s an ancient shrine to lost love. I’ve never really been all that lucky at love, but for a brief time I thought I had met the love of my life.
The Furtive Men Perform Nightly at the Wretched Street Bar – J. J. Steinfeld
4300 words Literary
A waiter in a less than savoury bar recalls the hauntingly strange relationship he had with an older woman writer.
I still can’t get that writer woman out of my mind. It’s been almost a year since we were last together, since she disappeared, but I’m not worried about her. I know that wherever in the world she is, that woman knows exactly what she’s doing. It took me a long time to understand why she came to the stinking little bar I work at, but I sure found out. She called it the Wretched Street Bar and I liked that name a hell of a lot more than the Lilac Avenue Lounge, which it’s been called for longer than anyone I know can remember. She also gave the house band a great name: The Furtive Men. I’d like to see that writer woman again, but that’s impossible, as impossible as me ever quitting this place I work at and getting a regular daytime job.
The Great Writer’s Final Wish – J. J. Steinfeld
3700 words Literary Fiction
The struggling writer protégé of a dying successful writer is asked to carry out his final request: bring him a prostitute with intelligent eyes and wearing black silky stockings.
The Great Writer, who was completely bedridden now, had already lived several months longer than the most optimistic prognosis of the doctors. He lay in the upstairs study where a bed had been placed, so he could be close to his huge book collection and the desk upon which he wrote. I had also known him in earlier days, when it seemed he was endlessly holding convivial court and I used to wonder when he had the time to write his long novels, for he always wrote long books. For him 300 pages was short. Yet for all his outward reckless living, he was a disciplined and dedicated writer, a person who would allow nothing to interfere with his strong literary vision.
The True Vocation of Sandy Brylirn – J. J. Steinfeld
5000 words Literary Fiction
A young man recounts from prison the chaotic events in his life that led to his imprisonment.
My father in his quest for respectability named me Alexander Sebastian Brylirn. By the time I was seven I had changed my name to Sandy and woe to anyone who persisted in calling me Alexander or Sebastian. The wobbly course of my life has been an effort to undo what my father has done or preordained for me. It seems that the one unbroken thread in my life, from the lavish surroundings of growing up in the Rosedale section of Toronto to my currently less than lavish quarters in Kingston, Ontario, as 1988 winds down, has been the battle against my father. Not that I’m objective, but I do think I’ve finally won.