100 drunken monkeys
Ariel Crowell celebrates her fourteenth birthday by throwing her geography text at her teacher, Cletis ‘Butch’ Isbitsky, who, when he’s not coaching the offensive line of the Lexington High School football team, masquerades as a middle school teacher of World Studies, notorious for forcing his students to memorize the capitals of the Canadian provinces or color the nations on maps of South America the same colors as their national flags while he doodles blocking schemes on scrap paper. Frayed where the cloth cover is worn, threads hang from the book like the tassels from the winter scarf Ariel received as a birthday present. Maybe things will be better next year, her mom wrote on the card. Heavy and awkward to throw, Ariel aims the book at Mr. Isbitsky’s head, but it bounces off his shoulder and thuds to the floor, opening to the chapter on the People’s Republic of China. A photo of a Beijing hutong introduces the chapter: ‘a typical narrow alleyway,’ reads the caption, ‘still common in old Beijing;’ at least in 1972 when the book was new. Wizened and mummified, the glue holding the pages to the book’s spine cracks. Several separate and flutter to one side. The picture of the hutong floats beneath Mr. Isbitsky’s desk.
“Take your assignment and shove it,” Ariel says.
“What did you say, young lady?”
“Where the sun don’t shine.”
The whispers and note-passing of adolescents bored by the monotony of Mr. Isbitsky’s teaching style and his sophomoric approach to the material ceases and, except for the hissing of steam escaping from the valves of the antique radiators and the wind-blown tapping of a branch against the window, the classroom is silent. Ariel wishes she lived in a world where radiators did not hiss, branches did not tap against windows, and teachers did not ask students to keep a daily diary to be read aloud in front of the class.
Mr. Isbitsky steps toward Ariel, then stops abruptly as if there is an invisible line on the floor he dare not cross. He is not, he regrets, on the football field where he can slap a kid on the shoulder pads or the side of the helmet for missing a block that allows the quarterback to be sacked or the tailback to be tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a loss. “Jeremy,” he says to the student who sits closest to the door, “please go ask Mr. Hartt and Ms. O’Day to join us.”
Oscar Hartt, nicknamed ‘Oh, Oh, Oscar’ by the faculty because the harder he tries to get things right, the more he gets them wrong, is Principal of Lexington’s Keith Middle School. Beryl O’Day is Dean of Students. The boys call her ‘Make My O’Day’ because she squints the way Clint Eastwood did in the Dirty Harry movies when she supervises after-school detention. Single, she has memberships in several computer dating services and is too vain to wear glasses to correct her astigmatism.
Ariel smiles at Jeremy, who smiles back. Since he became shortstop on the baseball team, baseball has been her favorite sport and she attended all the games the previous season hoping he would notice her. This spring, her brother Teddy will try out for the team. She’s already begun working on him to pal up with Jeremy. She wants Jeremy to invite her to the eighth grade prom, but he has his eye on Laurie, one of the pom-pom squad leaders, as do most of the other jocks. Jeremy, she figures, is not star enough for Laurie.
“We have another situation,” Mr. Isbitsky says when Mr. Hartt and Ms. O’Day arrive, “involving Ariel Crowell. Ariel, would you care to repeat what you said to me?”
Ariel forces a lilt into her voice so she’ll sound like waitresses at Armoni’s Pizza when they try to cajole a better tip. Over the summer, she tried to get a job there, lying about her age, but Mr. Armoni, suspicious because she looked so young, asked for a copy of her birth certificate. “Take your assignment and shove it where the sun don’t shine.”
“And what else did you do?”
“I should have said ‘sir’. Take your assignment and shove it where the sun don’t shine, sir.”
“You threw your geography book at me.”
“It is my book, sir; but your back was to the class and you did not see me throw it.”
“Must I poll the class, Ms. Crowell?” Mr. Isbitsky retreats behind his desk.
“Did you do anything to provoke her?” Mr. Hartt asks.
“I gave a homework assignment, the same to everyone: keep a diary for the next thirty days. The class will take turns reading out loud.”
“I don’t see how that relates to World Studies,” Mr. Hartt says, “but hardly something that justifies your outburst, Ariel.”
“That is something about which reasonable people may differ, Mr. Hartt.”
“You will accompany us to the office, young lady,” Ms. O’Day says.
Sitting on the wooden bench outside Mr. Hartt’s office while he telephones her mother, Ariel squeezes her legs together. Her muscles clamp down on her bladder, a test of will between her need to pee and her determination not to ask for a hall pass. The balls of Ms. O’Day to ask if she were menstruating, to ask if this was her first period, to explain away her conduct by the agony of puberty. Ariel resents the way the adults in her life don’t see a person, but a category, a stereotype, a cliché. What does a shriveled up hag like Ms. Make My O’Day know about puberty or periods? She probably never had one in her entire life. Ariel grinds the inside bones of her knees against each other. How much force, she wonders, would it take to crush Oh, Oh, Oscar’s head. Or, Make My O’Day’s. Or her father’s, the way he’s been acting the past month. She read in her science book that when people get real angry they gain abnormal physical strength. She wishes she could test that theory on the dumb adults who think they understand her and know what’s best, especially her father.
Ariel first senses problems between her parents one Saturday weeks earlier when her mother, Maya, leaves the local paper open on the kitchen table to the Help Wanted classifieds, a circle around an ad for a secretary’s job with a local law firm. That morning, before lunch, she hears her father’s voice through her closed bedroom door. “Lexington wives don’t work,” he shouts. She cannot hear what her mother says, but she figures it is something like, “Working in town would be perfect.” She does not understand why her mother is not more assertive.
Her parents are in the living room, directly below her bedroom. She wishes she could drill a hole in the floor to spy on them, but she doesn’t have to because she knows what she would see. Her father would be sitting in his recliner, an after-breakfast vodka tonic in the cup holder, the leather covers of his woods arrayed at his feet like subjects before their sovereign. He would be cleaning dried grass from the grooves of his irons with a pair of tweezers, something he does between every round of golf. Bits of dried grass would float to the floor when he blows on the face of the club. Mom would be thinking, Why don’t you use the wool covers I knitted for your last birthday; but she would hold her tongue. The Wizard of Oz was Ariel’s favorite movie until she realizes that Mom is worse than the Cowardly Lion when it comes to standing up to Dad.
If Ariel could script the scene, her mom would say something like, ‘Your inheritance would have put the kids through college,’ and her dad would be apologetic and defensive and beg forgiveness and promise to give up golf and find a job and make it up to her and the kids.
When her father’s parents died in an automobile accident about a year before, he resigned his position with a computer company to join a software start-up that paid salary in lettered stock. He bought a new Mercedes because, as he said at the time, I can’t call on customers in a shitty Chevy. Ariel loved it when he drove her to school in the Benz. For once, she felt the equal of Lexington’s rich kids who celebrated Christmas in the Caribbean, skied in Utah or Colorado during February break, toured Europe or Alaska during the summer. She did not have exotic vacations to talk about. South Dakota where her grandmother, her mother’s mother, lived did not impress anyone. Mt. Rushmore was for dorks. What’s so bad about the Badlands? The rich kids still did not invite her to their parties or make room for her at their table in the school cafeteria. The start-up failed, but not before her father exhausted the inheritance. As they fell behind on the mortgage, real estate taxes, utilities, and credit cards, her parents argued about the bills.
If Ariel peeks through the hole in her bedroom floor into the living room that Saturday morning, she would have heard her father shout, ‘You spent it, too,’ and she would have seen her mother shrink into her chair as naked as a department store dummy in a display window. ‘I told you,’ her father also said that morning, ‘I’ll look for a job when the weather turns cold.’ She would have watched her dad slip his woods into the leather covers and return them to his golf bag. ‘We’re having dinner after golf so I’ll be home late.’
‘I’ll take the kids out.’
‘It’s not in the budget.’
‘Neither are green fees.’
Not bad for a cowardly lion, Ariel would have thought, uncertain whether she is scripting the scene or observing it. Lately, reality has been too confusing to sort out.
That afternoon while Teddy plays ball with some friends, Ariel asks her mother, “Are you going back to work?”
“I don’t know where I’ll find the time with you in the eighth grade and Teddy in sixth.” Maya lists the way their schedules control her time, music lessons, tennis lessons, practices, doctor’s appointments, the dentist, after school visits to friends’ homes, Saturdays to the mall. “Your dad refuses to share the driving. Whenever I ask, he complains he can’t maintain his business contacts chauffeuring you kids around.” Maya bites her lip. “Unfortunately, you and your brother will pay the price if I return to work.”
A week later, Ariel overhears her dad chastise her mom that Teddy was late for his ball game. “If he doesn’t get there on time, he won’t start and I want my son to start.” He reminds her of Mr. Isbitsky.
“I had to take Ariel to Dr. Blake.”
“A little discipline’s a lot cheaper than a therapist.”
“It’s Isbitsky again. Everybody has to keep a diary and the kids take turns reading in front of the class. Ariel refused because she considers it an invasion of her privacy and he gave her a detention. She fell to pieces.”
“Next time leave her at Blake’s, take Teddy to his game, then pick her up.”
“You could drive him once in a while.”
Theodore freshens his drink, vodka on the rocks with a twist of lime. “I want to refinance the house so Eddie Harland and I can start a company. He’s got this idea for a bipolar monocular interface that sounds like a million bucks.” Theodore stirs his drink with his finger.
“What’s that? A fancy magnifying glass?”
“We can pull a couple hundred out of the house easy.” He sucks the pulp off the lime. “How does Crowell Technology sound?”
“Not as good as a real company where you could get a real job with a real salary and real benefits.”
“Like my last job where my boss stole credit for everything I did right and fingered me for everything he did wrong?”
“Was that the same boss who didn’t take three hour lunches served in martini glasses?”
“Customers expect to be entertained.” He gulps down his drink and pours another.
“The bank won’t let us refinance.”
“We’ll go to a mortgage company. All they care about is equity, the loan-to-value ratio.”
“How will we make the payments?”
“That’s the vodka talking.”
Theodore fists two ice cubes into his glass and refills it again. “I went to a real college. And have an MBA.”
“So why aren’t we rich?”
“Why don’t you have faith in me?” Theodore grabs the vodka and ice bucket and stomps from the kitchen. “I’m calling the mortgage company tomorrow.”
Ariel hears the bass sounds of the television vibrate through the wall as if the speaker is beside her. Silently, she applauds her mom for not being a cowardly lion. In the kitchen, Maya plunges her hands in the sink and begins scrubbing last night’s dinner dishes. The noise from the family room never sounds so bad as when she is doing dishes.
The first foreclosure notice arrives the following week. Ariel sees it on the drop-leaf desk where bills stack up like newspapers waiting to be recycled. Her dad refuses to call the bank.
“The Yans,” Maya explains, “negotiated a one year moratorium on principal payments and just paid interest.”
“We’ll refinance, get Crowell Technology going, and be on easy street by next golf season.”
“I won’t sign the papers.”
By the start of the next golf season, Crowell Technology is a corporate shell that has yet to book its first dollar of sales. Theodore and Harland exhaust the seed money entertaining prospective investors and potential customers before they complete the prototype and none of Theodore’s golf buddies are willing to invest or introduce them to venture capitalists. Theodore moves out and blames Maya for his latest failure. Maya calls the attorney who advertised for a legal secretary in the local paper, but the job is filled. She sees no sense in wasting her few dollars of savings on a court order for support since Theodore Sr. has no income. She knows her husband. He would toss it in the circular file.
Now, Mr. Hartt reappears from his inner office. “Your mother is on her way, young lady. You are suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing scheduled for Friday morning. Superintendent Altman will decide whether this incident should be reported to the police for possible criminal prosecution.”
“Assault and battery on Mr. Isbitsky.” Hartt’s smirk reminds Ariel of the way the boys in her class smirk when they talk about which girls put out and which don’t. She considers releasing her bladder on Hartt’s shoes, but no one will believe she pees intentionally rather than out of fear and she does not want to be known in school as Ms. Pee Pee, or worse. The kids still tease her because her dad’s Benz was repossessed.
In the car, Ariel asks her mother, “Are you going to get me an attorney? What about the one with the want ad?”
“If I’m going to succeed as a single mother, I’ve got to handle these crises myself.”
“Mom, Hartt said he was going to turn me over to the police.” She wishes now she had pissed all over him.
“What am I supposed to do, Ariel? Your father’s not working so there’s no child support. I earn pennies temping. If you promise to behave, I’m sure we can talk them into giving you another chance without involving the police.”
“You’re supposed to be on my side.” Ariel crunches against the car door. Her eyes fixate on the handle. The door is unlocked. A pull, a simple pull, and it would be over before her mother knows what happens. Her fingertips tap against the seat belt release. It would serve her father right. And her mother. And all the fuck-ups at school. Let them dance on her grave. She’ll come back and haunt them, a female Jason, a female Freddy. Why should guys have all the fun? With her mind, she tries to will the door open, but the handle does not budge and her head begins to ache. Who’s the cowardly lion now, she asks herself.
The next morning while her mom is temping at Tarlow Ice and Coal in Lowell, $7.00 an hour to send dunning letters to homeowners behind on their heating oil bills, the kind of letters the Crowell household now receives several times a week, Ariel goes to the law office of James Stephen Malone, the attorney who placed the Help Wanted ad, and asks to see him. “He’s on trial,” one of the secretaries says, “and will be in court all day.”
“I’ll come back.”
Ariel spends the day at the public library looking at art books, page-turning her way through twentieth century art. Her favorites are the paintings that look like they were made by a hundred drunken monkeys throwing paint at each other. When her dad drinks, he becomes belligerent, then sullen, the boob in front of the tube is what she calls him behind his back, watching whatever sports are on, cursing the umpires or referees for every missed call, the players for every missed play. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, he freshens his drink with every beer commercial. Ariel wonders what her dad was like when he courted her mom. She can’t believe her mom would marry the man he is now. She hopes her brother is not a chip off the old block. Maybe with her dad out of the house he won’t be. The drunken monkey art of the twentieth century fits her mood. She has more real life than fourteen-year-old girls deserve. Maybe that’s why she likes drunken monkey art. She can hide inside it and know she’ll never be found.
Several hours later, she sits across the desk from Attorney James Stephen Malone admiring the prints on his wall. “That’s a Picasso,” she says. “A Matisse. An O’Keefe. A Chagall. Are they real?”
“Cheap reproductions well-framed.” Malone flexes his fingers the way Ariel does when she warms up to play the piano. His knuckles crack. “Let me guess. You can’t be selling Girl Scout cookies because you’re not in uniform. So, is it peanut brittle for the band or chocolates for the drama club or gourmet popcorn for girl’s soccer?”
“I need an attorney.” Her lips quiver and Malone stops flexing his fingers. “The principal said the police are going to arrest me. I have a hearing with the superintendent Friday. I threw a book at my teacher.” Ariel blurts out the entire story.
“It seems a bit of an over-reaction.”
“My therapist says I have a pathological need for privacy. I forget what he calls it.”
“Does it upset you to talk to me?”
“I don’t want to go to jail.”
“You’re not going to jail. Where are your folks?”
“My mom’s temping and my dad, it’s not golf season so he’s probably drinking in front of the TV. I don’t have much money, but I can do filing and seal envelopes and run errands and my mom can type and take shorthand. Before I was born, she worked for lawyers.”
“How many words a minute?”
“Speed of light.”
“Why don’t you and your mom come by this evening. How does 8:00 sound? Tell your mom to bring her résumé.”
While Ariel eats supper, Maya retypes her résumé, listing enough qualifications to demonstrate she’s experienced but not so many as to make Malone question why she’s interviewing at a small suburban firm rather than a large Boston firm. There’s no proper answer. If she says she wants to be available for her children, he’ll doubt her reliability. If she says she doesn’t want to commute, he’ll wonder if she’s lazy. If she says she doesn’t want to work downtown hours, he’ll question her sincerity when she says she’d be available for occasional night or weekend work in case of emergencies. Her first boss in Chicago would know what she should say, but she doesn’t want to re-ignite old feelings.
“We’re a general practice firm.” Malone looks up from her résumé. “Impressive. I handle the litigation and my partner does the rest.”
“I can’t afford an attorney,” Maya explains, “unless I can work it off.”
“That would be taking unfair advantage.”
“I’m not looking for charity.”
“I’m not offering any.”
“So, what are you offering?”
“My new secretary is moving to Alaska first of the month. Her husband is career Air Force and they’re rotating him from Hanscom Field to the Aleutian Islands. Come by tomorrow for a typing and shorthand test. If you’re as good as your résumé says, I’ll offer you the job and you can pay me . . . oh, $15.00 a week out of your salary.”
“That will take years.”
Ariel says, “We read about indentured servants in school.”
“They’re illegal in Massachusetts, Ariel. If the job doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. You can still pay me weekly.”
“Why?” Maya asks. “Why are you doing this?
“Not many fourteen-year-old girls can tell a Matisse from a Picasso or recognize an O’Keefe or Chagall. I dabble myself. Oils, mostly; sometimes pastels or watercolors.”
Ariel says, “You should hang a Malone next to the Picasso.”
Malone laughs. “Ever see that painting of the dogs playing poker?”
“Whoever painted that,” Ariel says, “wasn’t a real painter like you.”
“What makes you the expert?”
“You have paint under your fingernails the way real painters do.”
“As do housepainters, Ariel. Don’t be fooled by the superficial.”
The next morning, Theodore meets Maya, Ariel, and Malone in a conference room adjacent to the office of Irving Altman, the Superintendent of Schools. The offices of the Lexington School Department are in a clapboard house across the driveway from the police station known as the Little White House because of its color, although many parents call it that because they believe politics rather than educational excellence sets policy. School committee elections are as divisive as any in the nation.
“Who’s pettifogger?” Theodore asks.
Malone catalogues the signs of drunkenness the way a police officer would at a roadside stop, glassy eyes, slurred speech, a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. “An extensive vocabulary,” Malone says, “is the sign of an educated man. Misusing words, the sign of an ignoramus.”
“Do I have to talk?” Ariel asks.
“Your right to silent,” Theodore says.
“I’ll do the talking,” Malone says.
“If you do,” Maya says, “just tell them what happened in your own words.”
“No Dr. Blake,” Theodore says. “Permanent record ruin life.”
Superintendent Altman enters the room followed by Mr. Isbitsky and Principal Hartt. Ariel bites her tongue so she won’t laugh at the way Altman tilts forward at the waist. He looks like a school girl with a spine curved from carrying too many books. Isbitsky dresses like a football coach rather than a teacher, grass stains on the knees of his sweats, a corona of moisture under each arm. Hartt wears the same suit he wore the day Ariel contemplated peeing on his shoes. It would have been worth it, she decides.
“This is a simple case of discipline.” Hartt, pacing as he talks, summarizes the incident. “No one disputes what this child did. If her conduct goes unpunished, teachers will lose authority over their students.”
Malone stands, motionless, clasping his hands behind his back. When Hartt fidgets, he begins. “Is it a simple case of discipline? No one denies what Ariel did, but that does not make it a simple case of discipline.” Malone holds up a copy of a letter. “Have you seen this, Mr. Altman? It is a copy of a letter from Dr. Harlan Blake, Ariel’s therapist, to Mr. Hartt and Mr. Isbitsky in which Dr. Blake explains Ariel’s strong need for privacy and why her need must be respected. As Dr. Blake notes in the second paragraph, ‘Failure to respect Ms. Crowell’s privacy will have serious repercussions and be detrimental to her mental health and psychological well-being.’” Malone hands a copy of the letter to Mr. Altman, then retrieves a law book from his briefcase. “Coach Isbitsky disregarded this letter and gave my client an assignment which was the equivalent of using gasoline to put out a fire. In the 1984 case of A Juvenile v. Maricopa County School District, the Arizona Supreme Court decided that similar conduct was a form of child abuse and a violation of the child’s civil rights. It is reasonable to infer that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court . . . ”
“She threw a book at Mr. Isbitsky,” Hartt says, “and cursed him out worse than the football players he coaches.”
“My daughter is not a cheerleader,” Maya replies. “Unfortunately, this is too difficult for Mr. Isbitsky to understand.”
“I won’t countenance you justifying your daughter’s conduct by making a personal attack on Mr. Isbitsky,” Hartt says.
Theodore jumps to his feet.
“Who are you?” Superintendent Altman asks.
“Father. Sue in a court of law. How much money did Arizona kid?”
“That’s exactly how Ariel behaved,” Isbitsky says. “She flew off the handle at the slightest provocation.”
Theodore jabs his finger in Isbitsky’s direction. “Confess. He confess. You, him, clap chalk dust out of the erasers for the rest of your lives.”
“Mr. Crowell,” Malone says. “Restrain yourself.”
“They touch you?” Theodore asks Ariel.
Malone steps in front of Theodore and whispers, “If you don’t sit your drunken ass in that chair and shut your mouth, I’ll be the one who calls the police.”
Superintendent Altman says, “Perhaps a conference in my office is in order.”
“Stay with Ariel,” Malone tells Theodore.
“You,” Theodore says to Maya.
“You’ve already done enough damage.” Maya follows Malone, Isbitsky, and Hartt into Superintendent Altman’s office.
Theodore slides along bench to Ariel’side. “Separation? Why not say me?”
“You stink like a hundred drunken monkeys.”
His eyes wander around her face as if they’re lost and too ashamed to ask directions. Softly, he hums 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, beginning the lyrics at 97, then skipping down to 53, up to 78, down to 65, up to 110, finally stopping when he runs out of numbers.
“Mom tried to tell you.” Ariel lowers her head. “You were never sober enough.”
“Is what she says?”
“I’m not deaf, dumb, and blind.”
Theodore squeezes her hand. “Next a problem call.” He loosens his grip and Ariel snatches her hand back.
“Why are you and Mom getting divorced?”
“Older to understand.”
“You’re divorcing me too, you know.”
“Grandpa Alex ran. Me not.”
“You never were.”
The door to Superintendent Altman’s office opens and everyone parades back into the room. “We are prepared to lift Ariel’s suspension,” Superintendent Altman announces, “and transfer her to Ms. Wagner’s class. If there are no further incidents, the suspension will be stricken from her record.”
“What in goes his record?” Theodore points at the picture of Paul Revere on the wall above Isbitsky’s head.
“Mr. Isbitsky has agreed to apologize publicly to Ariel.” Altman gestures at Isbitsky who looks down at his feet, then out the window and quickly mutters, “I’m sorry.” His ears redden.
“Not good public,” Theodore says.
“It’s public enough for me, Daddy,” Ariel says.
“Court. Damages. Civil rights,” Theodore says.
“No lawsuits,” Maya says. “We all agree that’s best.”
Malone grabs Theodore’s arm and hustles him outside. “I’ll call a cab.”
“If you don’t give me your keys, I’ll call the police. I’ve defended a lot of Lexington DUIs and I know how serious the judge in Concord takes driving under.”
Theodore surrenders his keys and asks Malone and Ariel to go on ahead. “Why say I run?” he asks Maya.
He taps the middle of his forehead with his fingertips. “Too young on her own.”
“You’d be surprised what daughters can figure out for themselves.”
Theodore resumes singing 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. “What’s after 47?”
Maya rushes to catch Ariel. “Do I have to go back to school?”
“You’ve been out almost a week.”
“Is Mr. Malone a good boss?”
“Does he think you’re a good secretary?”
That night, Ariel lies awake in bed, unable to figure out why she cannot sleep. She flips on her reading lamp and stares at her ceiling, white and blank. She thinks of snow before the street is plowed and the driveway shoveled and wonders what it is like to be drunk. The kids in school talk about it all the time, especially on Mondays. The boys brag about how many six-packs they drank, some about how much they puked. The girls argue about what is the best way to eat Jell-O shots, whatever they are. Suck it out? Scoop it out with your tongue? Swallow it whole? Let it dissolve in your mouth? And the flavors. Cherry is the favorite, grape a close second. Lime, only Blossom Kelly likes lime and that’s because she’s Irish. Ariel wonders what kind of drunk she would be. Like her father? Like the man who created the hundred drunken monkey paintings? Serene like the snow? Some other way she can’t imagine? The ceiling stares down at her, inviting, no, daring, her to buy a rainbow of finger-paints, to raid the liquor cabinet, to discover her demons for herself.
s. frederic liss, a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, a nominee for the storySouth Million Writers Award, and a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize sponsored by University of Georgia Press, has published or has forthcoming 48 short stories and has received numerous awards and other forms of recognition for his short fiction including The Florida Review Editor’s Award for Fiction; James Still Prize for Short Fiction sponsored by Wind; Midnight Sun Award for Fiction sponsored by Permafrost; Third prize in the Arthur Edelstein Prize for Short Fiction; Finalist for the Raymond Carver Award for Short Fiction sponsored by Carve Magazine; and Honorable Mention in the New Letters Literary Award for Fiction and the Glimmer Train June, 2014 Fiction Open. Liss has also been published or is forthcoming in The Saturday Evening Post, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, The South Dakota Review, The South Carolina Review, Dogwood, The Worcester Review, and Fifth Wednesday Journal. In addition, Liss was a finalist in the Bakeless Prize Competition sponsored by Middlebury College and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Liss earned a MFA from Emerson College, Boston, MA and was the recipient of a Grant-in-Aid in Literature from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, Boston, MA where he leads a workshop in writing fiction.