David and Goliath

My daughter waves the giant longneck clams she’s found, and her new boyfriend and I applaud, laughing. We then gather our pails and return to the beach house, where my husband’s stoking the barbecue. As usual, Harleys crowd the driveway next-door and marijuana smoke and rock music blast across the fence.

“Talk to them,” I urge my husband.

“But it’s Friday night.”

“This has been going on all summer,” my daughter says.

We turn to her boyfriend. Head down, his voice aquiver, he says, “OK, I’ll go.”

Gripping the clams in a sack like grapeshot, he marches across the yard.



In a large hotel scheduled for demolition antique fixtures of crystal and stained glass twirl beneath tall tin ceilings while below, along scaffolding and ladders, a disposal crew scrambles, wielding pliers like giant pincers. Wires snap like frayed nerve endings and lamps topple, shattering on the distant parquet floor. The job done, the workers leave.

Years pass, the hotel forgotten, the demolition incomplete. Eventually herds of rhino and wildebeest take residence there: they relish the crackly light, the shards that don’t pierce so much as scour their raw scabrous skin, the itch of centuries slowly discharged like spent lightning bolts.


Joseph E. Lerner’s stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as 100 Word Story, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Eunoia Review, Feathered Flounder, Gargoyle, Pif, PoetsWest, and Rage Machine. He currently lives near Washington, D.C., where he’s working on a novel as well as poems and short stories. He blogs at FURIOUS FICTIONS:A MAGAZINE OF SHORT-SHORT STORIES.