"High Roller"by Steve Legomsky
You couldn't design a more fitting stereotype of a mid-level State Department functionary than Connor Kelly. Forty-one years old, just a bit on the paunchy side, physically nondescript, and with thinning grey hair and wire-rim glasses, he would barely have been noticeable on the sidewalks of Washington but for his pronounced limp, the result of a boot camp shooting accident that terminated his brief enlistment in the U.S. Army Reserves almost twenty years ago. The problem isn't that he is so exquisitely forgettable. The problem is how much that bothers him. He has neither expectation nor need of actual greatness, but he has a deep-rooted longing for others to perceive him as great, or at least as someone who is interesting and important - as someone who inspires notice.
It's not as if he has no life outside of work. He has been happily married to Lucy for the past fifteen years. She runs her own realty business out of their home, and their joint income has left them financially secure. They adore their two children, twelve-year-old Matilda and nine-year-old Scottie, both healthy and well-adjusted, except that extremely myopic Scotty is self-conscious about his thick eyeglasses. Connor and Lucy are perfectly content to spend quiet evenings at home with the kids and to take annual three-week family vacations at their lakeside cottage in West Virginia, just a three-hour drive from their home in suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland.
It bugged him no end when his mother told him a year or so ago that she so admired his willingness to accept who he is. "So many men your age," she had said, "spend years trying to achieve, achieve, achieve, when they really have no particular talent. You've always been perfectly happy in your own skin. You know your limitations. That's a sign of true maturity."
She was wrong, of course; nothing disturbs Connor more than being perceived by others as ordinary. "Ordinary" is just another word for "insignificant," he feels. And the fact that his own mother thinks of him in that way has been especially hurtful. Deep down, he knows that is also how his wife and children, as well as his friends and co-workers, perceive him. And the deepest hurt of all is that in his honest moments he fully understands that they're right. To be sure, they all like him; they just find him dull and unremarkable. Even though he accepts that he is who he is, he would at least like for other people to think there is something noteworthy about him.
He was always honest and transparent in his relationships with Lucy and the children – until the day he concocted the story that he had been promoted to an exciting State Department position that would require top-secret security clearance. His responsibilities will be so sensitive, he explained, that once he is cleared and has begun in his new position he will no longer be able to discuss his work externally, not even with his family. There will be times, he was sorry to say, that his work would require him to travel. On those occasions he will not be able to tell them where he is; he might be away for several days at a clip; and he will be incommunicado. There will be some danger, he acknowledged, but the risks are not extreme and this is something he feels obliged to do.
Except for a very small group, he said, even his State Department colleagues had no inkling of his new assignment. His wife and children were the only people outside the State Department and the White House who now knew about this, and they were never to reveal any of it to anyone. If a friend or neighbor were to raise the subject, the family was to insist that Connor is still in the same mid-level State Department position even though his work now requires occasional travel. And in case a State Department employee were ever to ask Lucy or the children, they were to claim that they know nothing about this, because, he said, he was under strict instructions to tell no one about this change -- not even his family. He was doing so anyway because he felt they had a right to know and to object if that was their wish. He will turn it down, he told them, if any of the three of them ask him to do so, though he conveyed how important this was to him personally and to our national security, and how strongly "the people at the top" believe he is the man for this job.
After much discussion about the impact this would have on his family life (most days he'll still be in DC and coming home at the usual time – it's just that there will be instances when that's not the case), they all consented, albeit reluctantly. Connor smiled appreciatively when Scottie told him that he was proud of him.
Connor knew that so grand a fabrication would require careful, elaborate precautions. He bought two new suits, explaining to Lucy that he would need them for those days when he meets with high-level U.S. or foreign government officials. He also conspicuously applied for and obtained a passport, even though he had never been out of the country except for a couple of childhood day trips to Canada with his family when they lived in Detroit and a single trip to Europe with his buddies shortly after college. His wife wondered why the government didn't issue him some kind of diplomatic passport. He explained that that would be the fastest way to blow his cover. When he travels overseas, he would need to pass as a tourist or business visitor, not a U.S. government agent.
Connor's intention was to periodically take short trips overseas, both for the thrill of seeing new places and to maintain the story he had told his family about his likely overseas missions. Money posed a hard problem to solve. The family income was clearly enough to finance occasional overseas travel, but access was an issue. He could not make sudden large withdrawals from his and Lucy's joint bank account without Lucy noticing.
So he secretly opened a bank account in his own name, got a credit card in his own name, and arranged to pay his credit card balances via automatic monthly withdrawals from this new account. To access the money he would need, he began making larger and more frequent cash withdrawals from his and Lucy's joint savings account, being careful not to increase the amounts or the frequency so drastically as to attract notice. He would then spend as little as possible and deposit the remainder into his private account. When the savings became sufficient to pay for an overseas trip, he would travel on what he would tell his wife was secret government business. He arranged paperless transactions so that neither bank account nor credit card statements would be mailed to his home.
Physically receiving the credit card was tricky. He had to specify a home address that the card would be sent to – an address he would also need for credit card online transactions. But he could not risk Lucy seeing it when she opens the mail.
He mulled his options. He thought about using the street address of the State Department building in which he works, but that too seemed risky. The bank that issued the credit card might realize that this was a government office rather than a residence, and even if they didn't, the mailroom might well send it back rather than check the directory to see whether there was a Connor Kelly working somewhere in that massive building. He could reduce the latter risk by specifying "5th floor" in the address, but that would signal the bank that this was not a personal residence.
He settled on a better option. Knowing that Lucy would soon be visiting her parents in California, that she would be away for a week, and that it would take 10-14 days to receive the card, he timed his online credit card application so that the card would arrive during her absence. Luckily for him, it did.
One day, a few weeks after Lucy's return, he dressed for the first time in one of his new suits. Lucy told him he looked good. "So today's the day, huh?"
Connor's sole reply was a wry smile.
It took three months for Connor to accumulate enough money for his first overseas trip, a three-day jaunt to London. He told Lucy and the kids that he was about to embark on his first foreign "mission," but that it was a very safe project for which they had no cause to worry.
Matilda asked him where he was going.
"I can't tell you, sweetheart. I'm sorry. But I don't expect it to take more than 3 or 4 days at the most. And remember you can't tell a soul about what I'm doing. If anyone asks about me, just tell them I'm in New York for a few days for my job."
He allowed his wife to drive him to the airport for his overnight flight, and he began his new life with a mix of excitement and anxiety. Upon arrival at Heathrow the following morning, he took a taxi to his relatively modest hotel and was miffed when told that his room wasn't ready yet.
"Check-in time is 3:00, sir."
"It's only 9:30 a.m. What am I supposed to do in the meantime? I didn't sleep a wink on the plane and I really need a nap."
"I'm very sorry, sir, but you're welcome to sit in the lobby or visit our restaurant. I'll keep checking with the maids, and I'll try to get you into your room as soon as it's ready. There's very likely to be something available well before 3:00; I just can't guarantee it. I can take your mobile phone number if you'd like me to call you."
With that, Connor hung out in the restaurant, wondering whether this whole ruse was worth it. The plane ride was no fun, and neither was sitting alone in a restaurant, bored and exhausted. Happily, his room was ready just two hours later and he was able to take a much-needed nap. He woke up after 3 hours, feeling groggy and disoriented, but after a cup of coffee his spirits and his energy returned and he spent the rest of the afternoon on a joyous bus tour of London's most famous attractions. The next day he summoned the courage to start exploring London on his own. He even managed to figure out how to navigate the Tube. The adrenaline was flowing, and he was proud of himself for doing so well on his first-ever solo overseas trip.
When he returned home, tired but exhilarated, he was bursting at the seams with a desire to tell Lucy all about his trip and his independent exploration of a foreign city. Of course, he could not do so, and when she asked him how his trip was, all he could muster was that "it was very satisfactory. Things went quite well."
It took several months for Connor to save up enough money for a second trip. This time he wanted to try a non-English-speaking city, though his natural timidity confined his search to western Europe. He settled on Madrid, because he had taken Spanish in high school. Upon arrival at Madrid-Barajas Airport after a direct overnight flight, he repeated his London routine – a short nap, a bus tour of the highlights, and then two days of independent sightseeing that included several hours at the Prado. He was developing a growing confidence in his travel capabilities and a resolve to branch out next time to a more exotic place outside his comfort zone.
His third overseas venture came only after six more months because this far more expensive trip required more time to build up his secret travel fund. He booked a whirlwind one-week Southeast Asia tour that took him to Bangkok, Vientiane, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hanoi. He decided to forgo the included boat tour on Halong Bay for fear of getting a sunburn that would betray his secret when he returned. Staying behind in Hanoi, and while sipping a cup of tea at an outdoor café, Connor was approached by an attractive young woman who asked to join him. He was delighted, especially so when, after just a few minutes, the woman made clear that she would enjoy sleeping with him. His ego deflated quickly, though, when it developed that she was a prostitute and that her price was 500 U.S. dollars. He declined.
On one cold January evening, a few days after returning home, Connor sat in his living room still buzzing from the excitement of his Southeast Asian adventure and mentally re-living the titillating experience of being solicited by a prostitute for the first time in his life. It was quiet, the kids were in bed for the night, and Connor began daydreaming about his next trip. He could not have been more content.
That is until Lucy walked over and handed him two unopened envelopes addressed to him. "These came for you today." One envelope bore the words "Important Tax Information" and, for the return address, the name of the bank where Connor had his secret account. The other envelope displayed the name of the bank that had issued his secret credit card.
Lucy was curious; Connor was furious. His very purpose in opting for paperless transactions for both the credit card and the bank account had been to prevent exactly this scenario – information arriving at his house. Speaking in a dismissive tone, he told Lucy how much he hates these annoying solicitations from banks that want his business, and he conspicuously tossed both envelopes, unopened, into the recycling bin.
The moment Lucy left the room, Connor retrieved both envelopes and took them to the bathroom, where he opened them. The one for his bank account was a 1099 form. Fortunately, the annual interest earned had been minimal enough that he would not be required to include the 1099 in his upcoming tax return. The other envelope contained a detailed listing of all his credit card transactions for the just-concluded calendar year. He tucked both envelopes and their contents into his pockets, flushed the toilet, ran the water in the sink for a few seconds, waited a few more seconds, and stepped out of the bathroom.
At work the next day Connor fed both envelopes and their contents to his office shredder. He knew how lucky he had been that Lucy hadn't opened them, because she often does. He had dodged a lethal bullet. Still, he would have to figure out how to avoid the same problem next year. He couldn't count on her never opening these letters in the future. During his lunch hour, he found a private spot outdoors and called both banks to complain about their sending written letters when he had specifically requested, and until then had been receiving, only wireless communications. But both banks insisted that these annual notices were the one thing that they needed to send by mail, even to customers who had otherwise elected paperless transactions. And they wouldn't budge. "Our computers are programmed that way," one agent explained. "That's our policy," she added.
A second-year went by. There were more exotic overseas trips, more subterfuge. Connor was meticulous about storing his passport, with its telltale entry visas and other stamps, in his office desk rather than at home.
It was bound to happen. Connor's big mistake was that he completely forgot about, and thus never got around to solving, the problem of the banks sending their annual mailings to the house. After two years of clever, intricate subterfuge the next year's annual list of credit card transactions arrived in the mail. They were grouped by type of expense – airfare, hotels, restaurants, etc.
This time, Lucy happened to open the envelope. She was surprised to discover that Connor had his own personal credit card and especially puzzled by the multiple charges for his overseas travel expenses. She wondered why he would have had to pay for these expenses out of his own personal account when they were supposedly for government travel. Maybe the arrangement was that he would lay out the money and that the government would later reimburse him, but if that's the case, where did those reimbursements go? Not to any of their joint bank accounts, because she would have seen them when she received the monthly statements for those accounts. She always inspected those statements or at least glanced at the individual items, so government reimbursement deposits this large would have stood out. Nor did this private bank account statement contain any mention of large deposits into that account – just a long series of small cash deposits that sure didn't look anything like government reimbursements.
She wondered whether Connor was having an affair, but she could see that the airfare charges were on different airlines that served different parts of the world. It seemed unlikely that his trips would take him to different world regions if there were one woman somewhere whom he was seeing on a repeat basis. Then again, perhaps that woman was flying out to meet him in these various locations. Or perhaps there were multiple women. She had never before suspected him of infidelity, but these transactions were suspicious.
When Connor returned home from work, she showed him the statement. "What's going on?"
As she stood next to him waiting for her answer, Connor was thinking "I am fucked. I mean, I am like totally fucked."
But he had an inspiration. He said "I can see why that looks strange, but it's nothing, trust me," while raising his finger to his lips and motioning to her to step outside with him. Once outside, he whispered "I don't think the house is bugged, but I can't be sure. OK, here's the thing. There's a limit to what I can tell you, I'm sorry. Let me just say this. This account is all part of my cover. There are some dangerous people who are capable of accessing government records and who absolutely must not know where I've been. So my travel has to appear to be for tourism or personal business. Remember, I told you right at the beginning that this would be my cover, which is why I had to get a personal passport rather than a diplomatic passport. Do you remember that conversation?"
"All right. I shouldn't even have revealed that much to you, but now that I have, please promise me you won't breathe a word of this to anyone. I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but your safety and possibly even that of the kids depend on secrecy. To say nothing of what would happen to me personally if those above me at the agency were ever to find out that I've been sharing these secrets with you." As he mouthed these words, Connor was feeling his oats. The line between reality and fantasy was beginning to fade ever so slightly. He found himself momentarily forgetting that he was not really a spy. The delusion lasted only a few seconds, but even as he was returning to Earth he found himself thinking "Huh! I really am cut out to be a spy."
Now, though, Lucy was alarmed. "You said 'the agency'. Are you with the CIA?"
"I can't answer that. I'm sorry."
"Do I need to worry? Should the kids and I be looking for another place to stay?"
"No, no, it's nothing like that. Really. As long as you don't share any of this with anyone, there's no problem. You know I would never put any of you in danger."
"What about your own safety?"
"I won't lie to you. There are risks. But I'm taking all the essential precautions. I'm not doing anything reckless. I know I have responsibilities as a father and as a husband. It's just that sometimes we can be called upon for a higher purpose. Sometimes a man must do what a man must do." He grimaced semi-dramatically as he said this, mimicking what he imagined would be the mannerisms of a macho spy.
"This is scaring me, Connor. I won't share any of this and I won't ask you any other questions about your work. But there's also the money part. We don't have huge savings. Where are all the reimbursements for your travel? Are they all in this secret account of yours? Will we be able to access those funds when we need them?"
"Of course. They're perfectly safe. The secret account is a private account in my name. I can't make large sudden withdrawals from it without the risk of calling personal attention to myself, but one day when this is all over, we'll have this nice retirement fund to draw from. In the meantime, I'm expecting to receive a 1099 form for the bank account that pays for these credit card charges. When it arrives, do not open it! We can't afford to have your fingerprints on the 1099 form in case someone from the agency decides to investigate. That's very important. OK?"
At this point, Lucy's suspicions were returning, but she didn't want to challenge him as to whether he's having an affair. So she just nodded.
Connor began to think the crisis was over. "OK, should we go back in?"
Lucy said nothing. She just nodded again.
Connor could see now that she had some doubts about his story. That made him nervous because, of course, no such reimbursements existed. They never did. The money he had spent on his travels was gone. Moreover, now that her suspicions were heightened, the excessive amount of cash he had been taking from their joint account for what he had been pretending were just his normal daily expenses were suddenly far less likely to escape notice.
He decided he would have to begin drawing less cash than before, but still enough to permit regular deposits into his private account. Eventually, he assured himself, he would be able to build up his balance to a point where it might plausibly resemble the fictional accumulated reimbursements that they could one day withdraw. Realistically, this would also require deferring overseas travel, at least for the short term.
For several months he continued taking as much cash out of their joint account as he thought would not arouse suspicion, spending as little of it as possible and pouring the rest of it into his private account. But it was building up far too slowly.
What to do? He thought about investing his newly accumulated savings in high-risk, high-reward stock instead of leaving them in his low-interest bank account. If the investments paid off, he figured, he might soon be able to restore his balance to something that looks credible. And if the investment failed, he figured, he could confess to his wife that he had invested their money in what looked like a solid stock that very unexpectedly went bust. He would be embarrassed, and she would be furious that he had effectively gambled away their savings, but at least he would be spared having to reveal his double life and the fact that for two years he had been lying to her about it. Plus, she would still be impressed with his seeming to be a secret government agent.
But when it came time to transfer the money into a high-risk stock, Connor lost his nerve. Better and safer, he thought, would be to continue building up his bank account, albeit slowly, and hope Lucy forgets about the whole thing. If she questions him again at some point, and he doesn't have the money, he would lie and tell her then that he had taken a chance on a high-risk investment and had lost everything. As would have been the case had he actually made that investment and lost everything, she would be angry and he would be humiliated, but it would not be as bad as admitting to her that for two years his total existence had been one giant fraud.
As he feared, Lucy brought up the subject again one evening after the children were in bed. And as planned, he told her he had blown the entire sum in a foolish high-risk investment. She was aghast. That much he had expected. What he hadn't expected was that she just plain didn't believe him.
"I want to know the details of this stock transaction. And I don't mean from your mouth. I want to see the actual documents. That's our money, not yours alone, and I have the right to see this in writing. And since these are your own private financial dealings, there's no way that my seeing these documents will somehow threaten our national security, which is the excuse you usually give me."
Connor feigned indignation. "So you think I'm lying to you, yes?"
"Connor, this affects our future lives together. It affects our entire family. I want to see them so that I can better understand this."
"Bullshit! You don't believe me, do you? You think I'm lying. Why don't you just say so?"
"OK, Connor. No, I don't believe you. I believe you've been having an affair. I believe it's been going on now for two years, ever since you were promoted to this secret new job. You're not a good liar. Who the fuck is she, and how serious is it?"
"Oh, my God, no! No, no, no, no, no! I promise you I'm not having an affair. I've never once been unfaithful to you. Never. Not once. I swear."
"I want to see the stock documents."
"I don't have them."
Lucy was a petite woman, 5 feet 1 inch at the most, and thin. But when she senses evasion, she becomes a bulldog who projects intimidating strength, power, and focus. Normally Connor liked seeing her razor-sharp mind and tenacity in action, but not when he was the target of her interrogations. In those settings, his admiration turned into fear, especially when, as was the case here, he knew his shaky story could easily crumble under her questioning.
"How can you not have them?"
Connor sighed, as if in resignation. "OK, the truth. After going behind your back to make this stupid high-risk investment, and then finding out that I had blown practically our entire life savings …." He paused.
"I was too afraid to tell you. I was also too humiliated to tell you. I shredded the documents. I didn't ever want to see them again, and I certainly didn't want you or anyone else ever to see them either. I'm so sorry."
"You're telling me that you destroyed the papers you knew you would need to document a huge capital loss that would save us thousands of dollars when it comes time to file our tax returns? I'm expected to believe that?"
"I don't blame you. I did a really stupid thing. It was insane. Here I am, at the center of high-level national security crises that people in high places are entrusting me to be responsible for, and I make a horrific rookie mistake on my own family finances. And I did this without consulting you. I know I acted badly. But I promise you I'm not having an affair. And never have. Please forgive me. That's all I can ask."
She was relentless. "OK, you say you've destroyed the stock documents. Surely your broker keeps a copy."
"I didn't use a broker. I did all this myself."
"There must at least be a digital record. You must have an online account, right?"
"No, it was purely a paper transaction."
"Then tell me the name of the company. I'm going to look them up online and call them."
Connor paused a long time. He knew his story would not hold up. She would find it implausible that there was literally no available record of the transaction anywhere. The company would have to have kept records for tax purposes if nothing else, and of course its stock history would be a matter of public record in any case. So he shifted gears.
"There is no company. I lied to you – again -- about investing in stock."
"I knew that. What I still want to know is what happened to the money?"
"I'm out of excuses, Lucy. I'll just come right out and tell you. I have a gambling addiction. The government reimbursed my travel expenses, just like I've been telling you. They deposited them directly into my private account. Whenever I traveled overseas, as soon as I finished my day's work, the first thing I would do is go to the casinos. I would play blackjack and the roulette wheel, sometimes craps. Some days I would do really well, but my addiction kept pushing me to bet more and more, and of course in the end you're not going to beat the casinos. I couldn't help myself. The dealers could see I was out of control, and they kept taking my money. What kind of bastards would do that? But I can't put all the blame on them. I'm accountable for my own actions, and the fault lies mainly with me. You have to understand, addiction makes you do desperate things, even lying to your wife. I'm going to enroll in a program for gambling addicts. I want to get better, and I will. I'll just need your forgiveness and your support."
Connor thought he'd put on a pretty good act. He'd even managed to tear up a little as he was confessing this.
Lucy still wasn't buying it. "You say the government was depositing the reimbursements into your private account?"
"I want to see the monthly statements for this account."
"God, she's good," Connor was thinking. But he wasn't ready to give up just yet. "I don't have any. They're all online."
"OK, we're going to go to the computer right now and look up your account."
"Fine. You can see every statement."
As they walked toward the computer, Connor suddenly stopped. "Oh, shit, I don't remember my password. I hardly ever bother to check my account."
"There will be a 'forgot my password' link. No more bullshit. Let's go. Now."
If it wasn't evident before, it was evident now. The game was up.
Connor took a deep breath and said "The government didn't reimburse my travel expenses. I made that up."
"You're lying to me. Again. Obviously the government would reimburse you for your government travel expenses. What did you do with that money? I want a truthful answer once and for all."
Connor felt like a witness who had been lying on the stand and was being cross-examined by a brilliant pitbull of a lawyer. He remembered his high school English teacher reciting "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." There was a long pause, as the reality that it was over sank in.
"Believe it or not, that last thing I said was actually true. The government didn't reimburse me."
"Because this was personal travel. I wasn't on government business."
"What was the purpose of this 'personal' travel?"
"Tourism. Plain and simple. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to wander aimlessly around city centers and rural villages, hear the different languages spoken, stay at hotels, go to restaurants and cafes, the whole thing."
"And you didn't want me to come along? Even though you were spending our joint funds?"
"Lucy, I would have loved to have you there with me. But I couldn't."
"Because you were having an affair, weren't you?"
"No, I keep telling you I wasn't having an affair. I've never had an affair. I never would. I never will."
"Then why did you say I wouldn't have been able to join you?"
"You know, because of the kids. Who would have stayed home with them?"
"What's the real reason?"
"You couldn't come because that would have blown my whole story."
"What are you talking about?"
He just sat there, feeling utterly defeated.
"Connor, what are you talking about? What do you mean my being there would have blown your whole story? Answer me!"
Connor paused again. "My story was that I'd been promoted to a super-important government position that required top-secret clearance and overseas intrigue. I made all that up. There was no promotion. I'm still just a mid-level bureaucrat with no special talents. That's who I am. And that's what I'll always be. I'm not proud of the person I am, so I wanted you to think I'm someone who I'm not. Nor am I proud of what I've done. I just can't sustain the lie any longer."
At that, Connor felt a surge of relief and burst into tears, the real ones this time. Lucy was stunned. For the first time in the conversation, she believed him. After a few seconds, she took his head in her hands and held it against her chest as he continued to sob.
He suddenly sat up and asked her "Are you going to leave me?"
"Are you going to tell the kids?"
"Not right away, but I suppose we'll have to at some point. They're going to be disappointed in you, and I don't know how they're going to react, but eventually, it will all come out, and the longer we deceive them, the harder it will be. In time they'll forgive you for lying to them and love you for who you are, not the person you want to be or the person you want others to think you are. What I can't understand is why you would feel such a desperate need to pass yourself off as someone you're not. I didn't marry you because I thought you were James Bond. I loved the person you were. I still do. If that's enough for me, why wasn't it enough for you?"
"I don't know, Lucy. I really don't."
"There must be something. Why on earth would you want to pose as someone you're not?"
"Don't we all? Maybe not to the extremes that I took this, but doesn't every single one of us create a veneer specifically designed to project an external image of ourselves that we know isn't real? Be honest now. Can you truly say that you are exactly the person you present yourself as?"
There was a long pause.
He repeated the question. "Come on. Can you truly say that you are exactly the person you present yourself as?"
Lucy gazed off to the side of the room and remained silent.
After another pause, she turned to face him again and said "My name is Teresa."
"Hah, hah, very funny."
"It's not a joke."
"What are you talking about?"
She smiled. "Let's get ready for bed, Connor. Tomorrow's a work day for you."
"Wait, you can't just drop a comment like that and not tell me what you mean."
Lucy's expression had suddenly turned cold. She said "We'll talk about this some other time."
Steve Legomsky is a former mathematician, Washington University law professor specializing in immigration and refugees, and Obama Administration official. He has held visiting positions at universities in twelve countries and has published three nonfiction books (Oxford University Press and West Academic); numerous academic articles (full list here; a novel, “The Picobe Dilemma” (Booklocker.com, 2017); and short stories in The Ravens Perch, Fewer than 500, Idle Ink, 50-Word Stories, MORIA (forthcoming April 2021), Scribble (forthcoming May 2021), and Offcourse.