Green Hills Literary Lantern

Dunk Man 

 

 

             Most likely you’ve never heard of Waubeek, or probably even Coggon or Stone City or Downey or Lone Tree or even us, Addison.  But growing up in eastern Iowa in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s we boys sure knew about those other places.  They made up the Eastern Iowa Cedar River Athletic Conference.  Coggon used to be the big power.  But for the last two years it was The Big Reds:  Waubeek.  That’s what everyone called them.  The Big Reds.  The year before they’d flattened everyone else in the conference—killing us, Addison—and then went on all the way to the finals in the State Class “C” basketball championships played in Iowa City.  And we were scheduled to play them in the first league game the next season.

            So all us seventh grade boys sure weren’t going to miss that game.  First, like always, we met down at the square at the drug store for cherry Cokes and then walked down Elm Street taking up the whole sidewalk.  By the time we got to the gym it was already beginning to fill up, the ninth graders had their big drums going, and we almost didn’t get our seats on the first row.  Getting those seats was important for us guys because, see, when the cheerleaders came out and did their stuff you sometimes had a straight-shot look right up their skirts.

            By seven-forty the place was jammed, people standing in the aisles, the doorways, and all across the stage at the one end of the gym, and even some of the eighth grade boys were part-way up in the rafters.

            Mostly it was blue everywhere.  That was our color.  Up above the stage we even had this big blue banner trimmed in white spelling out “ADDISON.”  But right across from us on the other side of the floor:  a mass of red.  All those people from Waubeek.  Going crazy.  They wore red sweaters and red pointed hats, and a lot of them were blowing toy trumpets which made a brassy, snarling noise.  That set off the ninth graders with their drums, which made the Waubeek people blow their toy trumpets harder, and the ninth graders hit their drums harder; then our cheerleaders, in blue, naturally, coming out on the floor for the first time and us boys looking out for a straight shot.

            But the place hushed down—at least on our side—when the door of the visitor’s dressing room opened and the Waubeek players came out.  Sure, they were wearing bright-red warm-up jackets.  That’s what the “Big Reds” always wore.  But here’s the thing.  They were also wearing bright-red warm-up pants.  Jackets and pants.  Both.  The complete outfit.  We had never seen that before.  Our team—all the teams in the conference up until now—only wore warm-up jackets.  So, somehow, right away, that gave the Waubeek guys an advantage.  Plus each of the players had a raised circle-emblem, a kind of crest, on the back of his jacket that said:  “State Finalists, 1954.”

            Or maybe we hushed down because of the first player out of the dressing room door, the one with the flaming red hair, Danny Nickerson, their star, All-State Class “C” last year.  He looked as if he could have been an all-state wrestler with his barrel chest and the bulging biceps on his arms.

            We saw those muscles right away because the very first thing Nickerson did after he came out the door of the visitor’s dressing room, well, after he passed off the ball to another player, was to reach up, cross his arms, take hold of the neck of his warm-up jacket and pull the jacket up and off.  He did this in a real slow way, revealing all the muscles in his upper body and his jersey which said number 10.  Then he gave the jacket a little flip to the side where it lay on the floor until the water boy came out later to retrieve it.

            None of the other players took off their warm-up jackets.  I guess Nickerson was allowed that, being their star.

            As soon as he had his warm-up jacket off, someone threw him the ball.  But he didn’t shoot right away.  First he got himself ready.  You know how it is when a batter, say a guy like Barry Bonds, first approaches the plate, moving around, preparing himself before he steps in?  That’s the sort of thing Nickerson did now, first wiping one hand against the side of his warm-up pants, then the other hand, then shaking out both arms, then twisting his neck around.  While he was doing this all those people on the other side, the Waubeek people, blew their toy trumpets, and a fat man with an awfully loud voice shouted out, “You get ’em, Danny!”  That fat man was wearing not one, but two pointed hats.

            Nickerson gave the crowd a little wave, and then got more serious about shooting.  He bounced the ball, each time harder, then caught it and spun it until he had the seams where he wanted them, brought the ball up near his face with both hands, holding it out on the tips of his fingers.  Back then all the players used the two-handed set shot.  A sudden flick of his fingers, almost no movement of his arms and the ball went into a high arch and split the net.

            “One!” shouted all those people in red on the other side, and the fat man wearing the two pointed hats cried out, “That’s my boy, Danny!”

            Nickerson gave the same little wave.  Then he went through all that stuff again, wiping his hands, shaking out his arms, rotating his neck, bringing the ball up, and lifting the ball up with both hands.  Again when he shot, the ball split the net.

            “Two!” shouted the crowd on the other side.

            Just then our team came out of our dressing room door.

            Well, over on our side we shouted as much as we could, the ninth graders banging their drums, the eighth graders dropping confetti from the rafters, the cheerleaders doing their tricks.  But then our players only had those blue warm-up jackets, no pants, and our guys weren’t as big as their guys, and even though we were now singing our school song, “Addison Forever,” we knew we didn’t have a chance.

 

* * *

 

            But it turned out we did have a chance—and that chance was a new student in our school, a tenth-grader named Lincoln Clavell.

            And this Lincoln Clavell was black.  Of course, we said, “Negro,” then.

            I’ll bet you could have looked out over the entire crowd in the Addison gymnasium that Friday night, both on the Waubeek side and our side, and at the one end with the people standing in the doorways and the other end with people up on the stage, and not seen another person with black skin.  I’m not absolutely sure about that, but I’ll bet.  See, that’s how it was in eastern Iowa where I grew up.  Well, maybe somewhere in one of those towns around us, maybe on the other side of the grain elevators, there may have been a few Negro families.  There must have been.  That only makes sense.  But I don’t remember seeing any.  So, that’s why I say, I’ll bet you could have looked as closely as you wanted that Friday night and you wouldn’t have seen another Negro.

            But when our team came out, wearing the blue warm-up jackets, there he was, this dark-skinned boy, Lincoln Clavell, right in there with the rest of the team, also wearing a blue warm-up jacket.

            We weren’t as surprised as those people over there on the Waubeek side.  Even though our seventh and eighth grade was in another building from the high school, we had heard about this new student, that he was the son of a doctor who had moved here from New Jersey to take over a position as a surgeon at the hospital, that Lincoln Clavell was in tenth grade, and that he was a good enough basketball player to make the first team.

            Still, we didn’t quite believe what we were seeing.  For one thing, he looked, well, different.  It wasn’t so much that he was a Negro.  I don’t think that was it.  It was something else.  Something about his arms being too long.  And his hands also too big—as if they were somebody else’s hands.  The rest of him was more like a matchstick figure, with long, spindly legs coming out of his warm-up jacket.  Somehow he seemed more like a clown you might see in a circus.

            “Five!” the Waubeek crowd shouted.

             All this time I guess Nickerson had been shooting and probably most of his balls going in.  We saw him give the crowd the same wave, bring the ball up with both hands and shoot again.

             “Six!” they shouted over there.

            Of course, our guys were shooting, too.  Lincoln Clavell wasn’t.  Not yet.  Since he was a tenth grader and the youngest member of the team, he stood under the basket shagging balls for the older players.  Finally one of the seniors drove in for a shot, made his own rebound and flipped the ball to Lincoln Clavell.

            Well, like I said, in those days the approved shot was the two-handed set shot.  That’s what all our players used, and that’s what all the players in our conference used.  As far as I knew, that’s what all the players all over the United States used.  But not Lincoln Clavell.  Coming from back East, New Jersey, he must have learned something different.  First it was the dribbling, way down close to the floor, really close to the floor, and rapid-fire, not the slow, loping kind of dribbling we were used to.  Then he seemed to go dart off to the left, and then off to the right, only he didn’t go either direction, he only seemed to, the shoulders falling in the one direction or the other.  Suddenly he jumped up, way up, and when he was at the top of his height, pushed the ball away with one hand, the fingers trailing after the flight of the ball.

            All right.  So that’s called a jump shot.  Sure, everyone does it now.  Michael Jordan and all that.  But this was in the 1950’s.  Iowa.  We had never, ever seen anything like it.

            And I guess nobody else had either.  For one thing, Nickerson stopped shooting up at the other end.  He turned around and held the ball on his hip, red warm-up pants and red jersey and flaming red hair, looking down at the other end of the court.  The other members of the team saw him looking and turned and looked, too.  All the Waubeek fans on the other side started looking, and us, too.  Everything hushed down.

             The only person who didn’t see all this was Lincoln Clavell.  He must have been concentrating pretty hard because he just kept up that rapid-fire dribbling, pretending to dart this way and that, but not moving, and then that sudden jump into the air and the release of the ball with the one hand.

             It was only when the guy who was standing under the basket and who was supposed to throw the ball back, didn’t, that Lincoln Clavell sensed that something might be wrong.  He turned around and saw the Waubeek team looking at him and everyone else looking at him, and I guess maybe for the first time he heard the hush in the gym.

             I can’t explain this moment.  Lincoln Clavell standing there, the only black guy for miles around in the Addison High gymnasium on a Friday night.

            That’s when we heard:  “How ya’ doing there, boy?”

            The person who said this was Nickerson, standing on his side of the court with the basketball on his hip.  He didn’t say it loudly.  He didn’t have to.

            Then Nickerson gave Lincoln Clavell a little wave—the same kind of wave he had given his crowd over on the other side after each shot.

            A few people tittered.  Not laughed, tittered.

             “Say, now,” said Nickerson to Lincoln Clavell, but this time louder, “I can’t rightly remember seeing you before.  I guess you must be new to our state.  That right?”

            Lincoln Clavell moved his lips, but you couldn’t hear anything.

            “Say that again,” said Nickerson.

             At this, more people on the Waubeek side began to titter.

             “Well, now,” said Nickerson, “all of us here on this team of ours want to give you a great big welcome to the state of Iowa.”

            “You tell ’em, Danny,” called out the fat man wearing two pointed hats.

            “Well,” said Nickerson not to the fat man, but to everyone in general, “I’m only offering to be neighborly.”

            I was looking for the refs.  I was wondering why they weren’t stopping this.  But I didn’t see any refs around.

              But what I did see was Nickerson, still holding the ball on his hip, walk right down the center of the court to where Lincoln Clavell was standing.

            “Put her there!” said Nickerson taking Lincoln Clavell’s hand and shaking it.  “My name’s Danny Nickerson and I’m from the Waubeek team over there, and I’m pleased to meet you.”

            Lincoln Clavell said something.  You could see his mouth moving, but you couldn’t hear anything.

            “Say, there, I didn’t quite hear that,” said Nickerson.

            This time you could just make out Lincoln Clavell saying his name.

             “Well, there you are!” said Nickerson.  “I thought you had a name.  Clavell.”

            The people who were tittering over on the other side broke into laughter.  Nickerson turned and smiled at them.

             “Just a neighborly thing,” he said.

             “You tell ’em, Danny,” called out the fat man who had stood up.

              More people began to laugh.  Probably it was the difference between the two players standing out there, the one with red hair and very white skin, and the other with black hair and very dark skin, Nickerson with his barrel chest, and Lincoln Clavell like a stick figure and those long, spindly legs.

            Part of me was hoping the refs would come and stop this, and part of me wanted it to go on.

             “Say,” said Nickerson, much too loud to be just talking to Lincoln Clavell, “you don’t mind if I test something out, do you?  See, that net down there at our end is a pretty good net.  Most all my balls are going in.  But fair’s fair.  I just think I ought to test your net to see if balls go in it, too.”

            Now people over on the other side were really laughing, and some of the people on our side were beginning to laugh, too.

            “You don’t mind if I have a go, do you?”

            You couldn’t hear what Lincoln Clavell said.

             Then Nickerson went through all that warm-up business, the wiping his hands, the shaking out of his arms, the twisting his neck, all that, and got a shot off.  It split the net.

             “Eight!” shouted the people over on the other side.  Only not just from the other side.  Some of the people from our side had shouted, too.

            Then Nickerson reached over and took the ball Lincoln Clavell had been holding and spun it around and looked at it.  The crowd quieted down again.

            “Well, this here ball looks about the same kind of ball we have.  Fair’s fair.  I think you should take a go at it.”

            He handed the ball back to Lincoln Clavell, but Lincoln Clavell just looked at Nickerson.

            Nickerson pointed.

            “There.  Basket.  You.  Shoot.”

            And that’s when Lincoln Clavell did his thing.  He started with that down close-to-the-floor dribbling, darting this way and that without going anywhere, the dribbling sounding almost like rifle shots now that everyone had quieted down again.  Suddenly he took off, driving toward the basket, then, lifting the ball with the underside of his palm, went up in the air, seemed to hang there for a moment, and slam-dunked the ball, his hands touching on the tops of the rim.

            We didn’t know that term then:  slam-dunk.  But that’s sure what it was.

            Nobody around had ever seen anything like that before.

            “What the fuck . . . ?” I heard the fat man saying over there on the other side.

             That’s when the coaches came out—both of them.  The Waubeek coach took Nickerson back down the court to where the rest of his team was standing, and our coach got our players started on their lay-up drills.  The cheerleaders came out to do some of their tricks and we boys tried for our best look.

 

* * *

 

            Lincoln Clavell didn’t start the game, of course.  He was only in tenth grade.  So that was to be expected.

            And right from the first toss-up Waubeek began to build up a lead.  That was expected, too.  Our team threw up its usual zone defense, but the Waubeek team passed the ball around so fast that our team couldn’t shift quickly enough and somehow a Waubeek man always came open.  Or after a lot of that kind of fast passing, the ball was whipped back to Nickerson standing out on the perimeter and he had time to take one of his set shots—and it seemed like his ball almost always went in.  By halftime Waubeek was leading by something like 25 points and the Waubeek fans were getting louder and louder.  I think they were drinking.  You weren’t supposed to drink on high school premises, but a lot of them had these paper cups which they kept refilled from their thermoses.

            At the beginning of the second half Waubeek ran up another quick eight points—so they were leading by 33.  That’s when their coach called down the bench for five of the subs to go in the game, and when the Waubeek fans saw that, they started chanting, “Nick-er-son, Nick-er-son, Nick-er-son,” and as Nickerson came off the court he first gave a wave and then a little bow to the fans.

            They kept chanting even when the game started again, and I don’t know how it happened, but somehow—maybe it was the fat man with the two pointed hats who did it—the chanting changed from “Nick-er-son, Nick-er-son” to “Clav-ell, Clav-ell.”  I say maybe it was the fat man who started this, because he stumbled down out of the bleachers and waved his hands around in front of the crowd.

            Well, over on our side we had long ago given up any thought of winning and our own cheerleaders had almost stopped coming out to do their cheers and the ninth graders had put their drums aside.  Maybe that was the reason a few people on our side began to take up the chant, also calling out, “Clav-ell!  Clav-ell!  Clav-ell!”  Then more and more of us picked up the chant, then all of us, until everyone in the gym, Addison fans and Waubeek fans alike, were calling out “Clav-ell!  Clav-ell!  Clav-ell!” and stamping our feet against the bleacher bottoms in rhythm.  The fat man who had been leading the chant over on the other side turned towards the center of the gym and swept his hands around as if he were an orchestra conductor.

            People around me were laughing, and I was laughing, too.  I’m not sure what was really funny.  Well, partly it was the fat man, the way he was carrying on swinging his arms around.  But mostly it was something else.  But I’m not sure what that something else was.

But during all this chanting and stamping of our feet we saw our coach look down his line of players and point at Lincoln Clavell.  Lincoln Clavell pointed at himself to make sure that he was the player the coach actually wanted; the coach nodded yes, and stooping over, Lincoln Clavell half-ran up the line of players until he was next to the coach and kneeled down.  The coach started saying some things to him.

            Well, the whole gym quieted down.  We all watched Lincoln Clavell nod as the coach talked to him, then we watched him take off his warm-up jacket and lope up to the timers table and kneel down again.  As soon as one of the refs blew his whistle for an out-of-bounds, the timer sounded his horn and the ref motioned Lincoln Clavell in.

            “That’s my boy!” screamed the fat man who had been leading the chant on the Waubeek side.  “You get ’em, boy!”

            People reached up and tried to pull the fat man back down into the bleachers.

            “Hey, hey, he’s my boy!” the fat man shouted again.

            Well, the Waubeek team had taken the ball out-of-bounds and they were passing it around really fast-like, our zone defense pulling this way and that way, when suddenly a long black arm reached out and before you knew it, here was Lincoln Clavell on a fast break driving towards the Waubeek basket, then that hanging in the air, and the slam dunk.

            Complete silence in the gym.

            Then someone from our side shouted, “Hey, hey, he’s my boy!” That started three or four people near us to chant again, “Clav-ell!  Clav-ell!  Clav-ell!” and we all took it up, stamping our feet.  Only this time the other side didn’t chant with us.  Well, except the fat man started waving his arms around, but other people reached up and pulled him down.

            The Waubeek sub team brought the ball down, passed it around a bit, whipped it out to a guard, and this guard shot his two-handed set shot.  The ball hit the rim and bounced way up.  Again a long black arm reached out above the others, clamped the ball, and before you knew it, here was Lincoln Clavell fast-breaking down the court.  This time he didn’t go in for the slam dunk but pulled up short and got off his one-handed jump shot, his fingers trailing after the ball.  The ball split the net.

            “Pow!” I yelled.

            Everyone was shouting “Clav-ell!  Clav-ell!  Clav-ell!” and stamping his feet.  The fat man at the other side tried to get up, but others held him back.

            You never saw anything like what happened next.  The Waubeek team seemed to fall apart.  They just couldn’t hit anything.  And each time they missed a shot, Lincoln Clavell got the rebound, or some other member of the team grabbed the ball and passed it to Lincoln Clavell driving down the court.  Usually he faked right through the other team up to the basket.  Other times he stayed back and took that one-handed jump shot.

            Well, like I say, we had been down 33 points, but suddenly we were only 17 down.  And the Waubeek subs still couldn’t hit a thing.  And our Lincoln Clavell couldn’t miss.  It began to occur to us that maybe there was some kind of a chance that we could win.  Just maybe.

            A Waubeek player missed another shot, Lincoln Clavell drove the length of the court, went up for a shot, and made it.  Now we were down only 15 points.

            That’s when the Waubeek coach called a time out.

            Our cheerleaders ran out onto the floor, the ninth graders whaled away at their drums and all of us sang “Addison Forever.”

            When the horn sounded and the teams came back out on the floor and we stopped singing:  Out there in front of us was the entire Waubeek first team—including, of course, Danny Nickerson.  So their coach wasn’t taking any chances.

            Since Addison had made the last point—by Lincoln Clavell—Waubeek was due to take the ball out of bounds.  The ref bounced the ball to Nickerson and blew his whistle.

            “You get that brown-assed mother-fucker!” screamed out the fat man.

            Both this man’s pointed hats had fallen off his head and were only held on by the strings around his neck.  As he kept shouting he was trying to get down off the bleachers and out onto the floor, but other hands were holding him back.  “Well, what the mother-fuck. . . ?” he said when he found he couldn’t go any further.

            Nickerson tossed the ball in to another of his players.  That player brought it down the court and then passed it back to Nickerson.  Since we were in our zone defense, no one came out to challenge Nickerson.  He had all his time to go through his preparation.  Well, he didn’t go through the whole bit, but he did wipe one hand against his shirt and rotate his neck around.  That got all those people across the way cheering again, and the fat man screamed out, “Bombs away, baby!”

            But this time Nickerson’s shot didn’t split the net.  The ball went way up in the air, came down and hit the rim, and bounced way up again.  As it was coming down, a long black arm reached out and before you knew it, here was Lincoln Clavell fast-breaking down the court, only Nickerson between him and the basket.

             Lincoln Clavell faked one way, Nickerson almost went for it, Clavell took his half-step, drove for the basket with Nickerson right behind him and went up in the air for a slam dunk.  Nickerson just kept on going, putting his shoulder into Lincoln Clavell and smashing him right into the wall.  You could hear the thud.  Then the second thud as Lincoln Clavell hit the floor and lay there without moving.

            Both benches emptied, people from the stands ran out onto the floor, and I did, too, following everyone else.  I wanted to get this Nickerson and kill him for what he had done.  But a kid in red grabbed my arm and clunked me one across the face.  The floor came up and I turned over and looked up at the rafters in the gym ceiling.  I rolled over, got my feet under me, saw the kid that had clunked me, and ran at him.  We squirmed around, fell on the floor, my hands at his face and his hands at my face, until he had me under him.  I couldn’t move and slowly he let the spit from his mouth drip down onto my face.

            “Nigger-lover!” he said through the spit.

            I don’t remember how the rest happened.  Just things here and there.  Some adult pulling the kid off me, Lincoln Clavell being carried off on a stretcher, the other guys in seventh grade, Carter Fish, Steve Anderson, Scott Clinton and the rest of them saying, “Come on, we’re going to get their bus,” and then we were outside at the parking lot at the back of the school in the night air with the stars out above.  Most of the kids were the older boys, eleventh grade, twelfth grade, and they were moving around collecting stones.  Already there was a pile.  Those who had cars had moved them up and around the yellow Waubeek School bus blocking it in.

That was when the police arrived, state cops, in two brown police cruisers, red lights flashing.  They pulled up right beside the cars that were blocking the yellow Waubeek bus.  As they got out of their cruisers they put on their broad, felt hats.  I saw each of them had a revolver at his side.

            “Now, boys,” said the first to get out of his car, “just what in ’tarnation’s going on here?”

            Mostly the two policemen talked to the boys in twelfth and eleventh grade.  I couldn’t get too close, but once I heard one of the policeman say, “Well, now, what do you think we fought that war over there for, anyway?”

             This talking went on for while until both policemen pulled out cigarettes and started to smoke and some of the twelfth grade boys got in their cars and backed them away from Waubeek the bus.  Other boys started drifting away.  And anyway, nothing more seemed to be happening.

            So I went over to say goodbye to Carter and Steve and the rest of them.  They were picking up stones from the pile and tossing them at trees.  I tossed a few stones at the trees myself and then Scott walked with me as far as Oak Street where he turned off.  I kept going down Hickory Street until I came to my uncle’s house.  Both dogs, Daisy and Princess, came out to meet me, sniffing around my shoes.

             “Hello, Daisy, hello, Princess,” I said.

            I could see that the lights in the double garage back by the alley were on.  That meant my uncle was in there working on his trains.

            The dogs followed me right along past the side of the house, the vegetable garden and the apple and cherry trees all the way back to the alley.  But the dogs stopped when I opened the door to the double garage.  Uncle Harry never allowed them to come into the garage where his trains were.

             “Hello?” I said.

             I saw him.  He wasn’t working on his trains at all but was sitting in that big arm chair in the corner with a glass in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other.  So it was one of his times.

            “Casey, boy,” he said.

I said, hello, again.

            “Casey, boy, sit down.  Take a load off your feet, boy.”

            I didn’t sit down next to Uncle Harry but across the train tracks from him in one of the smaller chairs.

             “How about a drink, boy?  A stiff one?”

            “No thank you.”

            “Just joking, boy.  Just joking.”

            Uncle Harry took a sip from his glass.

            “Good game?”

             “It was okay.”

            “Addison forever.”

            “Uncle Harry?”

            “Yes, Casey?”

            “Could I ask you a question?”

             “A question?  Yes, Casey, boy, you certainly have my permission to ask a question.  Or two questions.  Or three questions.”

             “Well, I was just wondering.  About Negroes.  Are they any different than us?  I mean, are they the same?”

             “Negroes?” said Uncle Harry.

            “Yes, Negroes.”

            “Are they just the same?”

            “Like you and me.”

             “Negroes?”

            Uncle Harry took another sip from his glass.

            “Negroes?” he said.

            “Are they any different?”

            “Negroes.  Well, Casey, Negroes.  I’ll tell you what.  I’ll just tell you what.  Since you asked me.  Everybody knows all men are equal in the eyes of God.”

            “So they’re the same?”

            “Those black-assed bastards are just the same as us, Casey.”

            Uncle Harry took another sip from his glass.

            “You want a stiff one?”

            “No, thank you, Uncle Harry.”

            “Sure?”

             “I’m sure, Uncle Harry.”

             The dogs were waiting for me right outside the double garage door.  Together the three of us walked up the path past the cherry trees and the apple trees and the vegetable garden.  Even though the summer was mostly over the garden still had that special smell.  Vegetable gardens smell different from flower gardens.

             I stopped at the steps of the house, turned around and looked back at the garden and the trees and then up at the sky.  All the stars were out, bright and everywhere.

            The dogs were watching me.

            My arm reached up, got the rebound and I was racing down the court.  I gave Nickerson the fake and went into the air, carrying the ball by the palm of my hand, then lifting it to the edges of my fingers and slammed it in.

            “Pow!” I said to the dogs.

 

 

 

Karl Harshbarger has published over 50 stories which have appeared or are forthcoming in many magazines including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, The Antioch Review and Prairie Schooner.  Two of his stories have been selected for the list of  “Distinguished Stories” in Best American Short Stories and eight of his stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  He has finished his first novel and is currently working on his second.  He lives in Germany with his wife.