Short Stories:
Human Cheese, Incorporated
The Land of Give and Take
Saint Simeon
Carlos and the Visitor
The Blues Singer
The Transformation

Selected Poetry: 1974-

The Certification of America, Vol. 1
Corridor O
In The Shadow Of The Cathedral
The Man Who Could Read Minds
Rachel and Annie
The Family Heirloom
The Atheist in the Foxhole:
  Chapter 1
  Chapter 2
  Chapter 3

Chapter One

Moonlight fell upon the frozen crust of midwinter snow blanketing the backyard of the Kramers’ suburban home. Typical of a sub-zero February night in the North, the frigid atmosphere hung with icy solidity beneath a crystal sky pregnant with stars—a night with no wind, when the silent cold is almost palpable.

Steve Kramer, M.D., and his wife, Danny, were sitting tensely upright on their bed. Their heads were pressed against the wall just beneath a window Steve had partially opened. The two were listening intently for more of the sounds that had awakened them.

The Kramers were huddled inside a pair of down-filled sleeping bags that had been zipped together to provide maximum relief from the cold interior of one of the "heated" rooms in the house. Steve Kramer was holding a 16-guage Winchester pump shotgun in his gloved hands. The luminescent points on the hands and dial of the mechanically wound alarm clock on the bedside table read 3:17 A.M.

The Kramers’ two children—Milly and Charly—were asleep in an adjoining bedroom.

The sounds were audible again, this time more distinctly.

"There are people outside, Steven," Danny Kramer said. Her voice was laden with anxiety. "Should we light a candle?"

Dr. Kramer could appreciate the concern on his wife’s face. He placed an index finger to his lips.

The crunching sound of footsteps outside was followed by several sharp cracks, the sound of wooden boards being broken.

"Listen, Steven!" Danny Kramer whispered, her voice now evincing anger. "Those people outside are taking down our fence! I don’t believe this."

Danny Kramer began to lift her body toward the open window, but her husband forcefully checked her.

"Stay down," he said, "they’re probably armed."

"Don’t tell me you are just going to sit here and let them take our fence, Steven!" Danny remonstrated. "For God’s sake, do something!"

"What do you want me to do, Danny, kill someone for stealing wood?"

Danny Kramer slipped down into the sleeping bag. She began to sob.

"What is happening to us?" she cried.

Steve Kramer placed his arm around his wife’s shoulder. He looked at the shotgun in his lap. The metallic highlights of the weapon flashed momentarily in the moonlight. The Winchester was a family heirloom. Steve Kramer had owned the weapon since the gun had been presented to him ceremoniously and with considerable emotion by his grandfather on Steve’s 14th birthday. Dr. Kramer had fired the piece only once, finding within himself even as a youth a great aversion to the taking of life.

Kramer sat listening with angry frustration to the dismantling of his backyard fence and to the sounds of his wife’s distress. Despite his anger, he realized he could not kill or even risk an exchange of gunfire with someone who was stealing wood to keep his family warm.