Short Stories by James Strauss

The Fish Doesn’t Have To Be Real

A Collection of Short Stories

Celebrating the Wisdom of Children

The minds of children do not work the same way as the minds of the adults around them. The minds of children function quite actively without the soothing and demanding layers of duplicity children are going to need to survive in the adult world. Adults, for the most part, give a pass to young children when it comes to the realities and truths these younger members of the species occasionally spew forth. Children are generally forgiven for the truths they tell and actively work out.

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By James Strauss

“I write about the human condition. The interaction that occurs throughout social systems, among elemental forces of leadership, religion and science. I write about the individual’s attempted integration into such social systems and attempt to define honor, integrity and duty, while I develop my stories.  ~~ James Strauss


The water beating on the shore was incessant. Tom lay between the two dumpsters in the alley half a block from the lake, the water lapping along the shore probably intended by God to be comforting, but it was not. The water seemed to pound instead of move gently...

Searching for Paradise, a Short Story by James Strauss

Searching for Paradise The fire was over but not long gone. The California Santa Ana kind of winds had blown through the town of Paradise with a blowtorch intensity, turning most homes to little more than cinder foundations and ash. I wasn’t coming home to Paradise in...

ELEANOR…A Short Story

Eleanor, A Short Story No politics. No crime. Just a good story. Probably not believable. I call the story 'Eleanor.' One day three years ago I was at my office when a hundred dollar bill turned up in an unmarked envelope. My people at the Geneva Shore Report are so...

Best Friend, 1993

This is a good story. No politics. No crime. Just a good story. Probably not believable. I call the story "Best Friend." It was around 1993 when my career with the CIA played out and I had nothing to do except lay around to see what kind of reward-labeled punishment...


THE OLD MAN’S CHRISTMAS TREE, PART IV Short Story by James Strauss   Christmas had come and gone, and then New Years, too. There was nothing to New Years, not even on the television, except for the fact that the ball in New York came down a blessed one hour before...


The damned kitten was more than a handful. It was up at all hours, would not sleep in its bed, would not get used to using the cat little box and would only eat one kind of Fancy Feast cat food, that cost almost a dollar each. Oly ate two cans a day. The old man sat...


The old man sat, enjoying the heat radiating out from the half-burned wood in his fireplace. It played hell to find real dry stuff in the summer because people in Wisconsin who sell it don’t even cover it. Pond-dried, the old man knew, but he’d finally found an out of...


The Old Man's Christmas Tree A Short Story by James Strauss   The time passed slowly since he’d lost the ability to drive. His daughters had come a month earlier to take the keys and the old car. It had been a classic automobile his eldest daughter said was ‘just...


The news came in waves that day and did not stop as night fell. Their parents were gone. The police had come and the drugs been found and the cuffs put on. Christine knew her parents would not be coming back for some time. They hadn’t been bad parents except when they...

Holy Moly, A Harvey Adventure, Short Story by James Strauss

HOLY MOLY Short Story by James Strauss   The forest abided. The spring fed the stream that gushed downhill toward the lake with the gurgling sounds of coming warmth penetrating everything on both sides of it. The stream was the winding arterial graft that wrapped...

Night Flight, an Arch Patton Adventure

NIGHT FLIGHT Short Story By James Strauss   The air above Africa is rarified. Volcanoes spew up from below to be reported for the first time by overflying airliners. Storms with horizontal lightening that will take any passengers breath away wedge in from all...

The Present, a Short Story

The child who was not a child, crouched with his back to the warm window. It was below zero in Wisconsin, but not in the deep window well. A mouse looked up at him, it’s puzzled stare demonstrating no understanding, but also no willingness to back down. The child smiled. ……..

Christmas Pueblo, Arch Patton Adventure

Christmas Pueblo  An Arch Patton Adventure by James Strauss Arch Patton found himself inside the confines of the Pueblo of Santa Fe County jail, Christmas Eve, on some vague trumped-up barroom brawl charge. He was in the “drunk tank,” which is what they call the cells...

Alone in the Forest, a Short Story by James Strauss

The hike was not a real challenge. Though it would’ve been impossible without his mom’s last gift; the special aluminum snowshoes. Thomas floated across the top of the pure white surface, even though his backpack weighed more than half as much as his own ninety pounds…….

Christmas Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

It was late December, and the Santa Fe River was little more than a half-frozen stream. Darby sat down between the water and a large lump of rumpled brown cloth that contained his friend Albert.

Cotopaxi, Adventures of Arch Patton

The road from downtown Quito out and around to Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s highest peak, takes about an hour and a half to negotiate. Actually there are several dirt roads…..

Ralph, a Vietnam War Story

The game was five-card stud. One card dealt face down, then four more, one at a time, face up. Betting between each deal of the cards. Military Pay Currency, not real money from home…..

The Treasure Pool

The sun is perfect, as I stretch back on my chaise lounge and take in the colors generated by its fall toward the Hawaiian horizon.

Daisy, Daisy, Vietnam Veteran and PTSD

I came back from Vietnam on a hard white gurney, flown in by one of those planes they called Starlifters at the time. Those wounded of us in that fuselage had all been pinned up in plastic sacks……….

This Itsy Bitsy Spider Spews Venom

They had left two days before.  Lynn’s job was to care for the house while everyone was gone.  It was an easy task, or series of tasks, unless something went wrong. That happened often after the Big Freeze The generator ran all by itself, fueled by two huge tanks of...

Morning Calm, an Arch Patton Adventure

Acid-laced coffee. Tawdry imitation 60’s décor. Indian music drifting down from worn out ceiling speakers. The Route Sixty-Six diner, ironically located on 56th St., New York.

Rabies, a Short Story by James Strauss

The brothers crouched under their queen-sized bed. They slept together because they were kids and they’d been in the house only a couple of months. Grandma had “passed on”……..

Sunday, Boy and Dolphin

SUNDAY Short Story By J. Strauss The boy sat on the sand atop the low rocks, staring down into clear lapping water. He carefully lowered his small hand down until it was just beneath the surface. He waited. There it was again. A solid thrumming vibration. It lasted...

Beat the Drum Slowly, Arch Patton’s Generosity?

BEAT THE DRUM SLOWLY Short Story By J. Strauss.   Zurich, part of the social igloo called Schweiz (the Germanic third of Switzerland), lay spread before him. Arch Patton stood on the roof of the Hotel St. Gotthard, the only hotel less than half a kilometer from the...

Herschel, a Short Story by James Strauss

HERSCHEL Short Story By J. Strauss The ground didn't seem wet at all from six feet higher up.  But Tom wasn't that high up from it anymore.  Instead, he was on it, moving slowly through the forest in short scrabbling bursts.  He rested the right side of his face...

Tagged in Sierra Leone, Arch Patton Arrives in Africa

TAGGED IN SIERRA LEONE Arch Patton arrives in Africa By J. Strauss The Internet termed the place to be Lungi International Airport, Sierra Leone, but no description was given, nor would it have served, not even for the seasoned African traveler. Those of life...

FULLY FUNCTIONAL, Short Story by James Strauss

FULLY FUNCTIONAL Short Story By J. Strauss   Lieutenant Howard never ran with lightning speed. He was more controlled, as befitting his rank of lieutenant and position of shift commander. He moved with a glow across the spectrum of his small town fiefdom out on...

Zack, a Short Story by James Strauss

ZACK Short Story By J. Strauss   Zack prepared himself for the confrontation. Winter had been hard.  So very hard. He hadn't really been ready for that kind of cold. He’d thought he was ready, but it was the wind off that lake that nearly did him in.  He’d been saved...

Roughy, Arch Patton Adventure

ROUGHY Short Story By J. Strauss Holder didn’t engage the man because he had a kid with him, not that the son-of-a-bitch didn’t deserve to be properly encountered in spite of the child.  Coffee shops suck in Boston.  They aren’t the warm fuzzy places that dot...

Matchless, a Short Story

MATCHLESS Short Story By J. Strauss   The old bike wasn’t much, certainly nothing that any islander would buy.  Kam counseled with his dad about getting a new Harley, but the old man was no help.  “Sell the damn thing to one of those dumb Haole’s down at the...