How did an extra, extra clever mongoose change the Civil Service?

Joseph Smit

When one begins by publicly calling someone “off his head” and bar him from advancement in his career (if not demanding that he lose it entirely), one should not be surprised when a slander suit follows. Yes, even if it involves the accused’s possible belief in a talking mongoose. If one cannot be free to believe ridiculous things, what would be the fate of capitalism?

Richard Stanton “Rex” Lambert, then the founding editor of the magazine The Listener and employee of the B.B.C., had taken an interest in our…

Don’t include a dead toddler in your murder conspiracy

© Thomm Quackenbush

The internet would have you believe this case is a conspiracy to silence a family. The truth of it is a tragedy, as the truth often is when the nucleus is a dead toddler.

Sergeant Ridley found Clive Mangnoson, aged almost two, a superphosphate sack next to his father on Largs Bay’s shores. Ridley had been called by N.W. McRae, a neighbor and friend to the family, who had a dream of the location. Keith Waldemar Mangnoson and his son had been missing for four days after Keith left with his…

In the wake of an attempted coup — a term used without hyperbole — some of Trump’s cabinet members have decried him and resigned. Despite the few full-throated cries of “Yass Kween” and “Welcome to the Resistance” from the left, we cannot unreservedly give these people sympathy or forgiveness. Well before he ran this time, there was no mistaking who and what Donald Trump is. From the moment he showed himself to be the Republican forerunner — which the Democrats encouraged because he should have been the easiest to beat and the Republicans establishment allowed because they expected that they…

He should feel for lumps

While cuddled against me, my wife brought about my latest bout with death.

“You have a bump,” she said, prodding my chest.

“How do I have a bump?”

“Does it hurt?” she asked.

“Because you jabbed at it. Otherwise, no.”

She poked it again. “Well, it’s there.”

“About how big is it, would you say?” I asked, trying to keep my voice even in the face of this plainly terminal diagnosis.

She directed my fingers to it, inches below and three-quarters of an inch to the left of my left nipple. I feel a slight difference between the surrounding tissue…

I finished my adolescence to the books of Richard Bach, homespun spirituality meant for those who were not yet ready for books as heady as The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series. Finding a copy of Illusions for a dollar in the back of a Goodwill was a revelation at fourteen. (I cannot imagine why I picked a book subtitled “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah,” as I was not and am not Christian.) It might have been telling that every time I went to a thrift store, there were multiple copies of that book. According to Parrish, “Our books…

How can you run a cult when your messiah won’t stop tweeting?

(Jeff Swensen/Getty)

If we were all asked to describe a prophet, few of us would sketch out a conduit for God that materially resembled L. Ron Hubbard or Donald Trump. Yet both men sit atop a pyramid scheme of devotees that would make the most successful conman salivate. They are (or were, in Hubbard’s case) self-centered, image-obsessed, money-hungry, conspicuously mendacious sex pests who have enjoyed a lifetime of getting away with it despite all the safeguards society naively believes are sufficient to rein in men of this sort. It is almost enough to make one proud to be American. …

Photo by Maurício Mascaro

Three of my students have been tried for murder. Kyle Rittenhouse, from all I’ve seen, would have fit in well in my English classroom.

My kids had committed crimes before being adjudicated to my facility, though murderers are placed in higher security facilities. All my students who went on to commit murder believed that they were doing nothing wrong. This was a war and casualties were necessary. They were raised to see their actions as proper or expected. That does not make them an iota less guilty, nor do they — or Rittenhouse — deserve leniency in their sentencing.


The sheep had borne the better part of the winter in the barn, though I cannot say they bore it with equanimity. Never had we cared for stock that made their annoyance for the cold any plainer. At all hours they would baa and meh as though protesting remaining in the barn when the bipedal of us dwelt in the house, in close proximity to a wood stove.

The family and I dealt with this eccentricity of the flock in quiet, wee hours grumbling at the caterwauling. Bridgid, though, downright glared at the barn whenever we let her out. …

The secret is that there is no secret, though you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who believes anything so ridiculous as years of tireless work. If there were a secret, you could give them a leg up without the blisters and back aches, without the torn ligaments and bone bruises. If there were a secret, someone might have shown mercy and told it to you sooner.

No one else could want the secrets you had earned. You knew how early gyms opened so that it seemed impossible they ever closed. You knew how long you could hide under the…

Melissa brought a stool to the edge of the hive, wooden and warm. Bees always kept their hives at the right temperature, beating their wings to circulate air or make heat. If the hive knew you, you could just about cuddle against it, but never quite. Bees were smart, were loving as a whole. As an individual, a bee knew only to protect no matter the cost.

She slid a ceramic plate beside a hole in the hive. In a moment, bees covered the plate and the generous slice of cake she had cut for them. That was the etiquette…

Thomm Quackenbush

The author of the Night’s Dream series and teacher of adjudicated minors. Open to representation. @thommq

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