landscape painting

 

Books (unpublished):
Two Mountains and Other Stories
Moto Girl (a novel)

Published Stories/Flash Fiction
“Monster” The North Atlantic Review, January 2007
“Dust” SoMa Literary Review, April 2008
“Marriage”Schuylkill Valley Journal, May 2010
“Four Colors Standing on a Corner”decomP magazine, 2011
“Drummer, Blue Glass, Straitjacket”Grey Sparrow, Fall 2011
“The Package” Revolution House, June 2013 (1st Prize winner)

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Moto Girl

A novel by Jeffrey Kingman

Dust Flap:

Lindsey Rosales is a 12-year-old who is sometimes fearless but often anxious. At home she has a lot to fret about. Her mother has a grudge against her, and when a new stepfather comes into the picture she turns to him. He introduces her to off-road motorcycling, which she loves, so she feels indebted to him. But after he teaches her to ride he soon betrays her. Lindsey faces treachery in different ways from each parent and has no adult to turn to. Adding to this is the pressure she puts on herself to protect her younger sister. She finally suffers a breakdown. But she is ultimately able to see beyond herself, and it is her inner strength that saves her.


CHAPTER ONE

[excerpt]

From across the river the view of Mare Island is dominated by many antique cranes that used to lift the battleships and submarines into the dry dock. The Navy is gone now, the shipyard deserted. Save the cranes, they say, the people of Vallejo. (They don’t mean the birds, they mean the machines.) They want to prevent them from being removed because they’re used to seeing the huge old things poking up along the skyline when they walk along the pathway between the marina green and the Mare Island River. They’ve come to love the cranes’ unnatural beauty. But the cranes sit idle, their cables dangling uselessly, the empty operator compartments (built like small A-frame houses) reflecting sunlight off their little windows, 40 feet above the ground. The Navy pulled off the island many years ago and left it all as it was—equipment, historic industrial buildings, bomb shelters, elegant Victorian homes once inhabited by officers—as if they’d forgotten why they ever needed it. [more…]


A book trailer for Moto Girl




GHOST
[excerpt]

…Sometimes I look at old pictures of myself from high school and that’s depressing too because I’ll compare how I looked then with how I look now. I guess I’m asking for it when I do that. When I pass by teenaged girls on the street I notice how radiant their skin is and I remember how mine used to look like that. I had quite a figure too, the kind of voluptuous hourglass figure that makes the boys drool. But when you get up into your 20s and start putting on the weight, it’s amazing how quickly that kind of figure just turns into a bunch of shapeless blubber. I still have some pictures of me and Spencer from senior year—he was the only real boyfriend I had in high school, and I convinced myself I was in love with him. But a lot happened before Spencer showed up. Earlier on I had a string of casual sex with various boys. That whole thing started sophomore year.
[more…]

 

 


DRUMMER, BLUE GLASS, STRAITJACKET
(published in Grey Sparrow, Fall 2001)

1.
           Emily held her violin by the fingerboard, clutched it in her fist.
           “Its not a coincidence. Somethings wrong.”
           Tim stopped tuning his cello, wondered what now? Emily glared, her eyes like tiny cannons, shooting off their alarmist message. Her shoulders were scrunched.
           Shes scared.
           Theyd been invited on this tour at the last minute. They were excited, flattered. But now things were going wrong. Emily was going wrong. Tim wished he could reassure her.
           The cramped dressing room smelled like mildew and ashes. In the corner, the drummer sat on a sagging green couch, fingering a small hole in one of the cushions. “Where the hell is everybody? Were on soon.”
           “Here she comes.”
            Kristin was the leader of the band. She marched over to the drummer, stroked his hair and Frenched him.

2.
           Emilys argument with Tim:
           “That drummer knows Danielle. Im serious, Tim.”
           “No way. Hes from back east, how can he possibly know your sister?”
           “I heard him talking on the phone. He spoke her name—”
           “There are lots of Danielles out there.”
           “—and he asked about Pierre. How many Danielles have a dog named Pierre, huh?”
           He tried to out-stare her but lost.
           “No,” said Emily. “These people have secrets you dont understand.”
           Another episode. But it made him love her more. When Emily looked at him, crazy and scared, hair messed up from nervous twirling, he wanted to swallow her up, keep her safe, protect her from herself.
           Would she make it to the stage? Her chin quivered; he thought she might cry. But she snapped her mouth shut and stuck her violin under her chin. She played an ascending sequence with a tone that was so pungent it made his mouth pucker.

3.
           The musicians all knocked their beers together with a nice hard clink, but Emily had a plastic water bottle so hers didnt clink.
           She whispered in Tims ear, “This is how its gonna go down. That drummer and Kristin are planning to hack into my bank account.”
           “For gods sake, Emily!”
           She pushed Tim away and began furiously rosining her bow, turning her back on everyone.
           On stage, though, everything brightened. The stage was flimsy and springy, and when Kristin got carried away, stomping her feet, they could feel the floorboards bounce. Emily took a long solo, and afterward she grinned at Tim like a kid who just discovered she can whistle.

4.
           He found a scrap of paper in the bathroom:
           A cartoon drawing of the dog, Pierre. But with Xs for the eyes.
           Emily, whats the matter with you?


5.
            The drummer had a masculine build. Strong biceps bulging out of T-shirt sleeves. Broad shoulders. All this, yet with feminine gestures, girlish. He was on his way to the bar, taking drink orders.
           “And for you, Miss Emily?” he said, his pinky on his cheek. “A Shirley Temple perhaps?”
           Emily shrank away, shook her head with tiny quick motions.


6.
           The pieces of glass were smooth and frosted from being tossed in the ocean. The blue ones were coveted and rare, and it was these Emily searched for. When they finally left the foggy beach, she had four blue pieces. Her hair was twisted in a fine French braid. Tim had to kiss her just then.
           They drove south to the next gig, a renovated music hall, ancient. Only one dressing room, pieces of lavender paint falling on the carpet. They sat around and waited.
           The tip of something white stuck out of the drummers pants pocket. Tampax tampon in its paper wrapper.
            A voice in Tims head said, Coincidence.
           “Nothing is a coincidence,” said Emily.” Like this: When I was five years old there was a bright yellow, smiling face—on the wall of my bedroom. My mother put it there. So now I should be thinking of my five-year-old self. See? There's a reason.”
            Tim opened his mouth. Couldnt think. He raised his arms and shrugged.
           “What about the drummer?” he said.
           Emilys face turned grim. She dropped her disc of rosin on the floor.
           Tim envisioned her in a white room wearing a straitjacket, pathetic, looking at him with teary, questioning eyes.


7.
           The audience yelled and whistled when the rhythm section appeared onstage. (The drummers goatee was now red. He must have dyed it.)
           Kristin, the star of the show, made her entrance, long strides, her pleated orange skirt swaying, the crowd cheering. She grabbed her guitar and counted out the first song. Flurry of notes from Tims cello. Next to him, his Emily stood up, her welcoming face to the audience. She held her violin and bow in her left hand, a dramatic flourish with her right. Unlike offstage where she was withdrawn, wrapped up in her paranoia.


8.
           Tim scraped the bow back and forth on his cello, not listening. He had his eye on her: Emily with chin up. Emily wearing the gardenia in her hair. Emily telling the audience a little story about Kristin. (But the words sounded garbled, Tim couldnt understand.) Kristin said something back to Emily and the crowd laughed. Clever repartee?
           Directly above them, hanging in the center of the music hall, a large, sparkling Victorian chandelier. Swaying, earthquake. He looked to see if the walls were cracking. They werent.
           All evening the drummers face was flushed. He told them hed eaten something rotten. Now they were performing and he seemed too sick to play. Tim noticed an abrupt change in the musics energy. He turned to look at the drummer at the rear of the stage—but he was gone! In his place was a woman. Very young. Couldnt have been more than eighteen. Red hair, gelled back flat against her skull. Wore a sparkling green T-shirt that said, DRUMMER. Her style was more frenetic than the other. The cymbals flopped wildly.
           Tim dropped his bow. Emily looked at him,” Are you OK?” She bent over and picked it up and handed it to him.
           “What happened to the drummer?” he said into her ear.
            “Sandra?”
           “Not the girl. The other drummer.”
           “What other drummer?”
           Tim couldt remember the guys name. But the drummer never did have a name, never would have a name.

9.
            A crowd of fans pressed in around Emily, holding up their CDs for her to sign. Her mouth was working away. She was talking to them all, talking nonstop. Did she want to talk to each individually? Or to all of them at once? No. She was talking to herself.


10.
           Emily in a straitjacket? Grotesque and absurd. Tim erased the thought from his mind.
Now her face was glistening with sweat, the tips of her bangs damp. She was lovelier than ever. Beaming at the people. Luminous.