I laid a hundred-dollar bill on the counter.

“Don’t you got anything smaller?”

The cashier was a skinny guy with a chipped front tooth.

“Just take it.”

“Put it back if you don’t have anything smaller.”

“It’s yours. A present. From me to you.”

It was a Tuesday or a Wednesday around six o’clock. With the twenty-eight-ounce beer in one hand, no bag, I walked the bridge over the waterway. I crossed the narrow island and moved past the surf shop and the pizza place with the white plastic tables and chairs out front. I sat down at the back…


Everyone who met Stuart Jackson — even when he was a child — said he was an amazing person.

“He never gave me any trouble, even when he was a baby,” Stuart’s mother said in an interview for this story. “I called him my little angel.”

In a separate interview, Stuart’s father said, “Special guy. I knew he’d be a great man one day.”

His third-grade teacher said: “You don’t encounter children like Stuart Jackson very often. One time, we were getting ready to do the class play. I asked my pupils to vote for which children should play the…


The annual awards for the people in my Twitter feed.

Matthew Schneier (@MatthewSchneier)

The journalist who once tweeted under the name @Grievance had a strong second half of 2019, a resurgence fueled, no doubt, by his departure from a job at The New York Times and the social media strictures that went with it, a policy that has been known to turn some of the funniest people into wallflowers at the comedy orgy. …


Félix Hilaire Buhot/New York Public Library

About a month ago, because of an obscure but still binding decree made under Napoleon III, all the children were taken from Paris. Bureaucrats drove them away in thousands of buses.

In their absence, we laughed our way through three-hour dinners. We hailed cabs, we danced in clubs, we argued in the streets.

Back in our apartments, we were careful to avoid the silent bedrooms with the stuffed animals on the beds. When we made our way to work in the mornings, we quickened our pace as we stepped past empty schoolyards.

Government lawyers marveled at the sturdiness of the…


This ad ran soon before Peter Frampton briefly ruled the world.

Peter Frampton was a talented guitarist, a solid songwriter, and a decent singer. He had a handsome face and long blonde curly hair. For a moment he was the biggest rock star on earth.

He grew up in the London borough of Bromley. His grandmother gave him his first musical instrument, a banjolele, when he was seven. He went to the same school as David Bowie and left at age sixteen to join The Herd, a band that ended up having three hits on the U.K. charts.

I was an eleven-year-old music fan in New Jersey when Frampton put out…


photo: jenny marvin

George was the deputy manager of a small bank branch. He sat at a desk eight or nine hours a day. He was getting flabby. Sometimes he said to himself, “George, you should do some push-ups and sit-ups,” but he never got around to it. He stayed at work late most nights because he dreaded going home to an empty house.

Jane was a customer service representative at an insurance agency. She usually punched out at five o’clock because she did volunteer work. She also took care of her aging parents. Her home was a small apartment in an old…


Illustration by Ross MacDonald

Once I was a skinny reporter-in-training. I smoked cigarettes. I wore smudged glasses. I got my breakfast from a street cart. When I wasn’t in the newsroom, I was either drunk at the Film Center Café on Ninth Avenue or asleep in a $90-per-month apartment in Union City, New Jersey. Now, 20 years later, I’m a veteran magazine writer. I’m 15 pounds overweight — O.K., 40 — and I own a studio apartment on upper Broadway. Sometimes I think back on the hundreds of articles I’ve written, and it’s a blur, even to me. A nice piece here and there…


A writer is never not working

In the 1920s, six writers came together as part of what would become known as the Frango School — named for the cafe where they drank and laughed in the days before it all went wrong.

The writers in this circle worked in fish markets or canneries to get by. From 1922 to 1924, five of the six Frango writers — all but Smade Basmalle — produced novels of merit. There were translations and a bit of glory for the seaside principality that had spawned them. Critics across Europe took notice, and the Commisar of Culture was in heaven. The…


Three of four days before I started writing this, I was driving down a highway, listening to “Silly Love Songs.” More than listening, I felt like I was merging with it. A scan of my brain would have revealed something that looked like a city lit up at night. I was back in the McCartney mania, a condition that has afflicted me, on and off, since I was six years old.

The main melody line of “Silly Love Songs,” a №1 hit from 1976, leaps out of a spacious arrangement — minimalist piano, crisp horns, a rubbery bass line informed…

Jim Windolf

I’ve published short fiction in Ontario Review and Five Dials, and humor pieces in The New Yorker. Songs at https://soundcloud.com/jimwindolf.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store