The Cello Has Its Say

Read my new novella anthology:

A space alien on a mission learns about human existence with the assistance of a bitter, yet knowledgeable rat. – A psychiatrist invents a device to extract a patient’s repressed memories which come out of the patient’s head in the form of tiny people. He runs into trouble when the memories want lives of their own.- A young woman plans to launch her career by appearing on a reality dating show and finds out the show may not be what it seems.- A Hollywood publicist must travel back in time to prevent the Manson Family murders by making Charles Manson a rock star.


The Nirvana Loophole



When I was a kid, my parents sent me to Saturday school at a very reformed temple. It was so reformed that Saturday school was actually held on Sunday, because it was more convenient for everyone. Although my parents were basically agnostic, they felt that it was important that I learn about Jewish culture. It also got me out of the house for a few hours.

As I assumed my parents were wrong about everything, I decided that there most decidedly was a God and for a time, I took Sunday school seriously. Every Sunday, the Rabbi would come into the classroom and answer questions from the kids. One, Sunday, Zack Epstein asked the Rabbi if pets went to Heaven. I perked up when the questions was asked as my Guinea pig, Melvin was my best friend and this was very important information.

“Yes, pets go to Heaven,” the Rabbi assured as I breathed a sigh of relief.

“They go to their own separate heaven that is different than the human heaven.”

My heart hit my stomach. What? My best friend would die and I would never see him again, ever?  What the fuck was he talking about? I began to panic. If I didn’t get to spend eternity with my baby who was I going to spend eternity with? My hand shot up in the air.

“Yes, Eliza, “said the teacher.

“Rabbi, who do we go to heaven with?”

“Well, those nearest to you. Your parents, your family …..your loved ones.”

There were a few more questions and class was dismissed.

I stood outside in the cold Chicago air waiting for my father’s Subaru to pull up. It was hard to feign a smile when he asked what I learned in class.

I ran into my room as soon as I got home, taking Melvin with me. The warm, plump creature curled next to me on the bed. He purred as I ran my finger over his soft fur. I attempted to contemplate an afterworld that contained Dan and Helene Gale and all my other relatives and no Melvin, or any other animals for that matter. There had to be a way out of this, I just needed to figure out what it was.  I called my friend Jill. She was smart she would know what to do.

“Jill, I just found out there are no animals allowed in human heaven.”

“Hum, okay ,” she said.”

“That means after Melvin dies I’ll never see him again.”

“Who said that?”

“Rabbi Mitchner.”

“Did he say if this was just for Jew heaven or all heavens?”

“There is more than one heaven,” I asked.

“Well, my grandma says each religion has an Idea of what heaven is. There are some heavens that may allow pets.”

“Which ones?”

“I don’t know, look in the encyclopedia.”

I went into the living room, which contained my robe clad mother. She was watching the news and screaming insults at the Republicans. I walked over to the World Books and looked at them. My father came into the room looking pissed as usual. He sat down without saying a word to either one of us.

“Mom, what are some other religions besides Jews and Christians?”

“What,” she said lowering the volume.

“What other religions are there besides Jews and Christians?”

“There are Muslins.”

“What are Muslims?”

“Those nuts that are always blowing stuff up.”

“there are Indians,” my dad said.”

“Like cowboys and Indians?”

“No like people from the country of India. You’d like them, Eliza. They are vegetarian too. They think cows are people.”

“It’s those people with the dots on their head,” my mom said.

“Not all of em,” my dad said.

“Yeah, all of em have dots on their head,” my mom said.

“No, Helene, I mean not all people with dots on their heads are Indian, some are those Hari Krishnas.”

“What are Hare Krishnas,” I asked.

“The Hare Krishnas are a cult, not a religion. They’re just imitating the Indians,” my mother exclaimed.

“I know Hare Krishnas and they are so a real religion,” my father countered.

“Where do you know Hare Krishinas?”

“From work.”

“You work at the B’nai B’rith..”

I grabbed the H volume of World Book and headed back to my room as the fight escalated. I looked up heaven and could find nothing about which religion would allow Melvin entrance. That Wednesday I invited myself to church with a friend so that I could grill the priest after the service. She was a Catholic and her church was right across the street from my house.  After a series of prays, bible readings and a sermon about honesty, I approached the Priest and asked him about animals getting into heaven.

“Well, animals go to a separate heaven,” He said. The weather is always nice the grass is always green and there are always plenty of trees for dogs to pee on.”

“I have a Guinea pig,” I said fighting back tears.

“Well there are also lots of dandelions to eat, “ he said.

I ran home and cried. I really was going to have to spend the rest of eternity with my human relatives. Who would ever want to go to such a heaven? I wondered if we could go to purgatory, purgatory was beginning to sound not so bad.

I got the I volume of the World Book and read about India. It turned out their religion was called Hindu and they believed that one’s soul kept getting reincarnated until it achieved Nirvana; a state of full consciousness. Better yet, they believed that a human may well be reincarnated as an animal. If you came back as a cow, you had actually moved up.


I was filled with a renewed sense of hope. I would simply join the Hindus and keep getting reincarnated, so would Melvin. We could live together in many forms until we achieved Nirvana. More importantly, I would not have to spend eternity with my parents. I made a mental note to get a book about Hinduism and to begin memorizing gods.

A week later, I woke up to discover two smaller Guinea pigs in Melvin’s cage. Melvin was actually a girl who had given birth to two babies.  We named them Salt and Pepper.

I ended up dropping Hinduism for agnosticism by the time I was twelve. The truth was, I had no idea if there was a God. I was later to find out that Jews actually believe that heaven entails archiving oneness with God and made no mention of spending eternity with anyone. Rabbi Mitchner had just wanted to make it more palatable for his reformed clientele.

Some part of me still fears an afterlife that contains Dan and Helene and no pets, television or distractions. Unfortunately, there is only one way to find out.



Christopher rang Abigail’s doorbell. After a week of giving her the disaffected bad boy routine, he was certain that tonight was the night. She invited him over to dinner and told him to bring the booze. She answered the door wearing a silky green top and linen slacks.

They kissed and he made himself comfortable on her sofa while she finished preparing dinner. He sipped his bloody Mary and thumbed through magazines while he waited. Abigail came out of the kitchen and ran downstairs to the basement.  She ran back upstairs and announced that dinner was served.

“Do you like the dressing,” she asked as they munched their salads.

“It’s very light and creamy,” he said, biting into the lettuce.

“I hope you like your steak rare, “she said.”

“I’m glad you know how to treat red meat.”

Suddenly, she got up and ran down to the basement again.  Christopher continued to work on his salad. After a moment, he heard noises coming from the basement. He got up and walked to the stairs. He stood in silence for a moment and caught bits and pieces of the conversation that was coming from the basement.

“I told you to…” You can eat in ….. Uh huh…uh huh. Well, I have a date.”

Christopher heard the door slam and he rushed back to his seat. Abigail retuned and she served the main course.

“Is everything okay,” he asked as they nibbled at the meal she had prepared.

“Yeah, it’s fine. Do you remember how I was telling you about Rachel…that supervisor at work that I didn’t like?”

“Oh, yeah …I think so.”

“Well, I’ve got her tied up in the basement.”

He laughed covering his mouth with his napkin.

She just looked at him.

“She gave me my quarterly review and told me that I wasn’t getting a raise. She basically told me I suck at my job. So, I waited for her in the parking lot and hit her over the head with a tire iron, put her in my trunk and dragged her down to the basement. I’ve got her tied to the radiator down there. I’m pretty sure that it will hold her. Do you want more water?”

“No, I’m good. So um. What is your goal in all of this? I mean are you looking to get the raise…or just an apology…” he said looking down at his food.

“Well, at this point I figure I’ll just torture her for about a week and then whack her. I mean, I can’t let her go she’ll go to the cops.”

“What about the cops,” Christopher asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I mean, aren’t you afraid of being caught with her tied up in your basement?

“Not really, no one knows she’s here.”

“But mightn’t someone suspect you?

“I don’t think so,” she shrugged. “Do you want some more peas?”

“No thanks,” he said with a sly smile. “Why don’t I make us some more drinks?”


‘She has an interesting strategy,’ he thought as he mixed the drinks. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do here, she was clearly into S and M and this was some sort of seduction strategy. He returned to the dining room with the drinks, but she was gone. He followed the noise of her voice down to the basement.

He stood on the stairs shocked to see Abigail standing over a small blonde woman with a whip.

“What did you mean when you said I didn’t know what the word ‘team’ meant,” Abigail asked.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said.

“I didn’t ask you for an apology, I asked you for an answer, you condescending cunt.”

Abigail smacked the woman several times with the whip.

Christopher backed up the stairs. He sat in the living room wondering what to do. He wanted to sleep with Abigail, but he was afraid she might kill him.

Abigail returned to the dining room, sweating heavily.

She gulped down a glass of water and then the drink that Christopher had made for her.

“So, I just bought, LA LA Land, do you want to watch it?”

They sat together on the sofa and watched as the happy cast members danced their way through traffic.

When Mia and Sebastian kissed, Abigail inched closer to him. Christopher and Abigail followed the films lead and began kissing. She lead him into the bedroom. When they were finished Abigail fell asleep and Christopher snuck down to the basement. The blond woman was crying hysterically.

He went outside and sat in his car for a long moment wondering if he should call the police. He decided it was best not to get in the middle of a catfight and he drove away, checking his Tinder app as he headed for the highway.

Charlie Manson’s Greatest Hits Part I




Oscar Tubington was a bastard: at least that was the general consensus. When he was 35 he impregnated his secretary Abigail and she had insisted that he leave his wife for her. He didn’t want to get a divorce, but Abigail threatened to go to the authorities about the cocaine that he often romanced his clients with.

His wife had been furious and attempted to sue him for fifty percent of his talent agency.  He hired a team of lawyers and she got a modest bungalow and child support until their ten-year-old daughter turned eighteen.

He and Abigail got married right after their baby was born and they had stayed married for some twenty years and had two more children together. Their marriage ended when Oscar’s car stalled out on the train track and he was killed by an oncoming Amtrak. He went to the afterlife and was sitting in the waiting room to see exactly what came next.

A woman’s voice called his name and he was lead to a small office that contained a woman who was so fat she resembled a lounge chair with a head sticking out of it.  She was sitting on a reinforced loveseat. There was a beanbag chair directly across from her and she motioned for Oscar to sit down. He fell gracelessly into the beanbag chair and introduced himself.

“I know who you are, Mr. Tubington. I’m your judge.”

“My judge? What do you mean exactly, my judge?”

“I get to decide if you go to Heaven or Hell.”

“What, are you fucking kidding me? You’re God?

“I didn’t say that. I said I get to decide where you go.”

“And who might you be?”

“I’m Karen Kraft. We went to Jr. High together. You called me fat and made fun of me because I had a learning disability. I was like ten pounds overweight at the time. As you can see, I developed a horrible eating disorder.”

“This is my fault?”

“You and your friends.”

“I was like twelve.”

“Yes, I know, but so was I. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but you were a complete schmuck. You cheated on both of your wives. You emotionally abused your children and you ran a dishonest business.

“I gave to charity.”

“For a tax shelter.”

“I patronized the arts. I owned a gallery.”

“In Portland. You opened it there because you knew you could get artist and buyers to come from California and buy and sell art in Portland, because there is no state tax there.”

“So obviously. I’m going to Hell.”

“Not necessarily, you may be able to redeem yourself.”


“Well, were running a little social experiment up here. You may be able to assist us.”

“What kind of social experiment?”

“Well, we’ve been doing a little study of history’s greatest monsters. We’re trying to find a common thread. We are particularly interested in the cases of Hitler and Charles Manson. “

“Why them?”

“They were both failed artist.”

“Oh yeah, I remember hearing that Charles Manson tried to get into the Monkees.”

“Well, that’s an urban legend, he was in jail at the time. But he did try to make it as a singer and songwriter! If fact that has to do with your assignment. In the world you were a talent agent, yes?

“”Yes! And a good one.”

“Well, we believe that if Charles Manson had been a successful artist, the whole Manson Family Murders may never have happened.”

“So what do you want me to do?

“We want you to travel back in time and make sure that Charles Manson gets signed to a record deal.

“And if I am successful.”

“You’ll jump through that hole and right into the delivery room where you will be reborn,” She said pointing to a hole in the corner of the office.

“And if I fail?”


Oscar sighed. He signed the paperwork and agreed to go back in to me and see what he could do. He was dressed in an enormous aluminum suit. He leaped off what appeared to be a cliff.

Oscar awoke to the sound of an old fashion alarm clock. The room he was in was pitch black. He turned on the light to find himself in a cheap motel room. He took a shower and dressed in a wide lapel suit that had been laid out for him.

A delivery boy knocked on the door and handed him a San Francisco Chronical, coffee and a bagel. He looked at the date on the newspaper, it was March 22, 1967. He thumbed through the paper and saw that there had been a coup in Sierra Leone and that there had been an oil spill in Europe. He finally landed on the want ads and saw that an ad had been circled for a talent scout in the music industry.

Oscar picked up the rotary phone and dialed the number.