Garasamo "Gary" Maccagnone opens his newest short fiction anthology, "My Dog Tim And Other Stories" with the very enjoyable and very real "St. John of the Midfield." It is, all at one, about soccer, family, the Mafia, loyalties and death.
It's the story of Bobo Stoikov, one of the world’s greatest soccer players, who escapes Communist Bulgaria for the American Dream.
But it's also about Mario Santini, half-Sicilian, half-Polish family man who manages to balance his own family between the illegitimate family business - drug running.
Some will say "St. John of the Midfield" is a sports story. But it's so much more. It's about honor, family, tenacity and perseverance.
It's an emotional read, one that keeps you turning the pages. And a rare treat that opens one damn fine anthology of short stories.
Other stories in the anthology include: “My Dog Tim,” an ode to the author’s beloved childhood pet; “White Fang,” a tale of revenge that has more do with orthodontia than Jack London’s infamous dog story; “The Note Giver,” the story of a mysterious old man who arrives at St. Isidore’s and turns the congregation upside down by handing out notes that sting the individuals with truth and insight on their own bad ways; “White Chocolate,” “Goalie Boy”, and three vignettes.
This anthology is worth picking up. Because once you open the first page, it's hard to put down.
Maccagnone has graciously agreed to share a short fiction piece with readers of The Tension. It's entitled "Every Woman's Dream."
But first, a little more about the author:
Garasamo Maccagnone studied creative writing and literature under noted American writers Sam Astrachan and Stuart Dybek at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.
A college baseball player as well, Maccagnone met his wife Vicki as a junior at WMU. The following year, after injuring his throwing arm, Maccagnone left school and his baseball ambitions to marry Vicki. After a two year stint at both W.B. Doner and BBDO advertising agencies, Maccagnone left the industry to apply his knowledge of marketing in a new venture in an up-and-coming industry. Maccagnone created a company called, “Crate and Fly,” and turned it from a store front in 1984 to a world-wide multi-million dollar shipping corporation by 1994.
In the mid 90’s Maccagnone decided to fulfill the promise of his writing career, by first penning the children’s book, "The Suburban Dragon" and then following up with a collection of short stories and poetry entitled, "The Affliction of Dreams." His literary novel, "St. John of the Midfield" was published in 2007, followed by his "For the Love of St. Nick," which was released in 2008.
Maccagnone expanded the original version of "For the Love of St. Nick" and had the book illustrated for a new release in June 2009.
"My Dog Tim and Other Stories" is a literary anthology of the author’s best work.
Garasamo “Gary” Maccagnone lives today in Shelby Township, Michigan, with his wife Vicki and three children. Currently, he is researching the location for his second novel, tentatively titled, "He Lay Low."
Visit Maccagnone online at www.garasamomaccagnone.com
"Every Woman's Dream"
By Garasamo Maccagnone
Last night around the news hour, our dog Shira, started using every method in her arsenal to get my attention. She moaned. She stared at me. She jumped up on her hind legs and put her front paws on my knees. Her tail wagged furiously.
I knew what she wanted. For the last couple of weeks, she's carried on a torrid summer romance that would put Romeo and Juliet, or any Hollywood couple, to shame. The problem is, and I'm not sure if this has something to do with her breed, that Shira has not the intelligence, nor the instinct, to realize she's a mammal, and that as a dog, if she were to pursue her love interests, she would need to hook up with another dog.
You see... the creature that Shira devotes her love to is a toad. Yes, a toad, which I believe is an amphibian, and of course as you know, is not the most handsome of creatures. Obviously, for Shira, looks do not matter. Her Prince has called on her for a couple of weeks, always appearing around the news hour, always sitting on the outside ledge of our door wall, staring into our dining area until we relent, and let his love interest come to him.
Too lazy to get off the couch, I heard my middle son Anthony charge down the stairs toward the kitchen. I yelled to him, "Put Shira on her leash, she wants to go outside."
"Ok, dad," he said in his distinctive, but abnormally low base voice. I knew Anthony was unaware of the romance, since he had been away awhile.
Anthony is twenty one and he stands about 5'11'' and weighs about 185. He likes to weight lift so his muscular body as a human should not be a match for a common toad. Still he jumped and yelped as soon as he saw the toad staring at him.
"What is that?" he shouted. I chuckled knowing what his reaction would be. (Why are those tiny creatures scare the mightiest of our men?)
"That's a toad," I blurted out, crossing my legs on the couch. "His name is Phillip the toad and he's in love with Shira. He shows up every night."
"What? Are you kidding me?"
"It's been going on for a couple of weeks. I have no idea how these things start."
"Won't she eat him?"
"If he were a rabbit, yes. For some reason, toads are off limits. Hook her on her leash and watch what happens."
As expected, with Anthony giving me play by play, Shira first pet Prince Phillip with her paw to let him know she was there. Then, she licked his entire back, bathing him in saliva.
"Wow," said Tony. "If that toad was a cat he'd be purring."
I'm not sure what type of sounds toads make when they're enraptured. I do know, that the times I watched the bathing, to me, it looked like Phillip's eyes opened more lazily than normal.
"Won't she get high from licking his back?" asked Tony.
I laughed. "Maybe," I retorted, "but I think that's an old wives tale."
When the two lovers finally had enough, Anthony took Shira out further in our yard and let her do her business. When he brought her in, he went on to explain why he thought Shira liked Phillip so much.
"Think about it pops," he said to me while I started to nod off. "He won't fight over food, he can't take advantage of her and he just sits there unable to talk back. It's a hassle free relationship."
"What are you saying to me, son?"
"He's every woman's dream guy."
Not capable of forcing my eyes open any longer, it was too late for me to fathom the wisdom of his words. It wasn't until the next morning, while sharing the story, and a cup of coffee with my wife Vicki, that she gave credence to his very words.
"Oh, what a woman could only dream of," she stated in an overly dramatic tone. Then she poured her coffee in the sink, winked at me, and fled upstairs. I turned to Shira, who was asleep, curled inside her oval bed.
You're all the same, I said to myself, still in the jovial spirit of the moment. Taking it even further, for the sake of my premise, I went on to tell myself that even Juliet, had she lived, would have longed for the same thing.