Paul Byall

Winner of the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize

Yo no sé los salmos de las hojas secas
sino el sueño verde de la amarga tierra.
--Antonio Machado



Maggie can’t make up her mind, but Zach says the boy’s guilty, fry the son-of-a-bitch. Maggie finishes drawing on her lipstick, blots her lips on a tissue and says you can’t jump to conclusions like that, so much of the evidence is circumstantial. She glances at Zach in the mirror, who stands at the foot of the bed tugging on his pants. She drops the lipstick tube into her purse and appraises herself, turning her head from side to side and fluffing up her hair.
    Zach says the guy has guilt written all over him and he’d personally flip the switch himself, and she swivels on the vanity bench to face him. I wish you wouldn’t be that way, she says, we haven’t heard all the evidence yet. I like you better when you’re not so mean. Which is not exactly true, she kind of likes that brutish thing about him, that gruffness. Like the way he growls sometimes, not necessarily at her but sometimes at inanimate objects, such as an unruly room key or a menu that doesn’t have what he wants to order.
    He has moved to the bed where he sits in his undershirt and pants tugging on his socks. Watching him from the vanity bench, she notices this, the rough way he stabs his feet into his socks. Not the way Roger does, by first rolling them up then rolling them on, the way women used to put on their nylons. But that’s Roger, not exactly feminine, but finicky.

Selected Works

In 1992, as Barcelona prepares for the Summer Olympics, an elderly Catalan veteran of the Spanish Civil War tells the story of his youth.
A stranger drives a high-end Mercedes with California plates into a repair shop in a small Midwestern town and never returns for it,
Short Stories
December magazine, Spring 2016. Finalist for the Curt Johnson Fiction Award
An aging former baseball player living alone on a low country island in South Carolina encounters a young woman who claims to be his daughter from one of many one-night stands of his youth. Published as a Ploughshares Solo and available on Amazon.
Bellingham Review, Spring 2012 Winner 2011 Porter Fleming Short Story Award
Quarterly West, Spring 2018 Winner, Writers@Work Short Story Prize
Winner, 2008 New South Award
Finalist, 2008 David Nathan Meyerson Prize
Finalist, 2008 Willesden International Fiction Prize

Finalist,2009 Arthur Edelstein Short Story Award

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