NOVEMBER 35th by Gregory Pierce
THEY COME IN A HALLOWEEN tin, the letters. Four of them, bound with a rubber band that’s so chapped, it crumbles under my thumb. A Halloween tin from a decade ago, I’d say. It’s so scratched up, probably from the tin above it on the cellar shelf, I can barely make out the witch or the cat. The livid pumpkin is no problem. The letters are from my father, who’s dead now, to his lifelong best friend, Graham Novak, who’s dead now too, as of three weeks ago. Probably suicide, we don’t know for sure. Only his wife Elona knows and she won’t say a word unless it’s “complications.” I suppose we all die of “complications” if you want to put it that way.
Graham and my father grew up in some New Hampshire mud hole, spraining each other’s wrists and dating the same girls because there were only nine. They were, as they say, connected at the hip. Their hip glue was their unswerving love affair with painting—Graham with acrylic, my father with oil. They were determined to become Magritte and Dali at the very least. After high school, even before their graduation caps landed with a shlop on the muddy soccer field, they set off for Florence where they lived and painted and double-dated Italian girls for the next four years. My father told me he and Graham would stay up all night in front of a tub of Chianti and a sheet of canvas, both working on the same painting. Graham would paint the front end of a horse and my father would embellish it and then transform it into the middle of a carrot which Graham would embellish and then transform into the middle of a T-Bird and so on, either until the sun came up or an object was given an ass. It was a friendship that filled its bystanders with one part jealousy, two parts joy. After Florence, Graham went on to became a successful enough painter to build himself a cabin in northern California and spend his days painting and eating Elona’s artichokes. My father joined the sales team of McGibbins and did his best to sell un-nickable countertops in thirty-two colors. He sold enough to make VP, though I never heard him brag about it.
The letters come with a yellow Post-It note from Elona: Found these. Thought you might like to have them. E.
I read the first one. It’s a short letter; my father didn’t like to write because he thought his handwriting looked girly. In truth, his B’s are probably a little bustier than most men’s. It’s more of a sketchbook than a letter, really. The margins are full of coffee cups with googley eyes and skunks with hands on their hips. It’s written on ordinary white lined paper, though twenty years in California has given it a bit of a tan. It’s mostly questions for Graham. How’s Elona? How’s the cabin? How’s the kidney? My father always asked a lot of questions so he could avoid talking about himself. The rest of the letter is a list of places we stayed during our Maine vacation and updates on old Florentine friends. There are a couple of Italian words thrown in but they’re written illegibly, probably because he forgot how to spell them. It feels funny, reading letters that aren’t for me, but what choice do I have?
I start the second one. It’s dated November 35th. No year. I look carefully at the 5 to see if it could be a 0 and then at the 3 to see if it could be a 2 or a 1. No, it’s written very clearly: November 35th. I read the first line.
Having a child may have been the single biggest mistake of my life. I haven’t picked up a paintbrush since we got back from the hospital.
It knocks the wind out of me.
I read it again. I tell myself I won’t read any further but my eyes keep going, telling my brain if the next sentence stings, they’ll keep it to themselves. It’s How was Hawaii? Fine, Hawaii. I look at the date again. I wish he’d written the year. Was it a month after I was born? A year and a month? I skim the half-page of questions for Graham. Then:
We’re settling into the new house. It’s a little bigger than last house but I can already tell I hate neighborhoods.
We moved onto Morse Ave., our first “neighborhood,” a month after I turned seven. I fold up the letter and put it back in its envelope.
In the film that rolls in my head, my father and I are throwing around a neon pink triangular Frisbee that’s supposed to come back if you bend up the corners just right. Of course it doesn’t, and within minutes it’s nestled in the least accessible branches of our crab apple tree. We get out the ladder and fishing pole but that’s not enough so we duct tape the fishing pole to the mop and that’s enough. The whole time, my father’s grinning and chuckling and making dumb jokes like, “Sure it comes right back to you—by way of Nebraska,” and I wonder if, in his head, he’s saying, “I’d rather be painting.” Is it playing on a loop? Does it run all day and night? I imagine the phrase, wood-burned, dangling from our front door like those rednecky signs that say “I’d rather be fishing.”
I take the letter out of its envelope again, covering the body with my hand so I can only see the date. What does that mean, November 35th? Maybe he was drunk. Yes, that’s it—maybe in a drunken moment he had a vision of himself as Magritte and in a drunken leap of logic, he concluded that I was blocking his path. I am relieved for about two seconds. Then I slide my hand down the letter to check the penmanship of the opening sentence. It’s precise, well-spaced, not the writing of a drunk man.
I read Elona’s note again. Found these. Thought you might like to have them. E.
Really? What might I like to have? No “Take care” or “Love” or even “Best,” not even a full name. Just E. Granted, she’s going through a lot with Graham’s death and it’s possible she had a house full of ugly tasks so she just threw the letters in a Halloween tin and sent them off. It doesn’t make sense though. When my father died, my mother and I went through every postcard, every gift, every “Get rid of your cancer soon” card anyone had ever sent him. We clung to those for a year before even thinking about giving them back. I can’t imagine Elona would just send something off without reading it. Plus, it’s the opening sentence of the letter, it’s not like it’s buried way down deep. Plus, wouldn’t she have read them just to see whether or not she’s in them—letters between her husband and his best friend?
I think it’s safe to assume Elona read the letters and chose to send them to me.
Thought you might like to have them.
I can only surmise, though it goes against my benefit-of-the-doubt policy, that Elona was trying to hurt me. Why?
I turn on the television. It’s a documentary about the atheist movement in America and how one of its leaders got murdered in Texas. That’s normally something that would interest me but it doesn’t now. I keep seeing the single biggest mistake of my life, though luckily I can’t attach my father’s voice to it. I wonder if I should change my name to Single Biggest Mistake. Then my tombstone could read “Here lies our beloved Single Biggest Mistake.” I think about the time my father and I put bacon, lettuce, and tomato in the blender in a failed attempt to make a delicious sandwich spread. I wonder if every memory I’ll have of him from now on will be tainted by these seven words.
I pick up the phone and call Elona. I don’t know why, exactly. I get her answering machine which is not her voice, it’s a robot’s. I say, “Hi Elona, it’s Ben Lowell. I just got my father’s letters in the mail…thank you…um, I know you’re probably really busy these days but I was wondering if you could give me a call back when you get a second? Hope you’re well. Bye.”
I curse myself for saying “thank you.” It just came out. I pick up an Iris Murdoch novel and stare at the first paragraph as though I could set myself aside long enough to get swept up in someone else’s story. I put it down.
My father never kept a diary. Maybe his letters to Graham were his diary. I keep one and mine’s full of “I hate so-and-so” but that doesn’t mean I actually do. This thought should make me feel better. Soon I should feel something lift.
I wait five days and then call again. I get the robot’s voice again on the machine. “Hi, Elona? It’s Ben Lowell again. Would you give me a call when you get a chance? I’ve just got something on my mind. Thanks. Bye.”
Another week goes by. Not a word from Elona, not even “complications.”
I’m sitting at my kitchen table eating Grape-Nuts with sliced banana when I decide I have to go see Elona. I pour the milk and wait about twenty seconds because if I start eating before that, they’re too crunchy and it makes me feel like a horse. It’s in those twenty seconds, while I’m waiting for the soak-in and looking out my window at grubby Cleveland, that I realize I have to go. I don’t know what I’m expecting from her. All I know is that she’s put a sawhorse in the slow lane that is my life and I need to know why. I realize I should be angrier at my father than I am at her but that’s not what’s happening. I consider calling her and telling her I’ll be in San Francisco on business and would love to come see her. Love to. But what’s the point? She won’t call me back. Plus why would I be in San Francisco on business? No, the only thing to do is show up at her front door and ask her why. I’ve never been there but the address is on the letters.
I send my boss an e-mail that says it’s an emergency and I have to have my tonsils out ASAP and if he needs to fire me, I totally understand. I’ll never hear from him again.
Two days later I’m on a plane to Denver, the first leg of my trip, and across the aisle from me is a man and his son, who looks about five. They’re watching an animated movie on a little fold-out DVD player—I guess the kids aren’t Etch A Sketching anymore. It takes place in Egypt and a pharaoh is running up and over pyramids, making crazy faces at his monkey who’s trying to keep up. Since the father and son are splitting ear phones, their heads can never be more than six inches apart. The kid’s giggling at every dumb gag and the father’s got this confused, this-is-all-happening-so-fast look on his face, though as soon as he hears his son’s laugh, he laughs too. They’ve both got this frizzy, directionless hair, the kind that looks like 1970 if you let it grow more than an inch. My ears pop. I yawn. If he’d wanted to paint, he could’ve painted. I never stopped him. I wasn’t tugging on his flannel shirt tails every five minutes, begging him to take me to McDonald’s. I put in my own earphones and listen to a static-y excerpt from Dvorak’s New World Symphony because that’s what’s on. I wonder what’s in letters three and four. They’re in my closet, under the pillowcase that holds my dirty laundry.
Another plane and a bus and a very expensive taxi later, I’m standing at the base of Graham and Elona’s driveway in Guerneville, California.
I can just barely see their cabin. Its logs are all cut to different lengths. The jagged corners make it look like whatever’s inside is worth defending. There are no other houses in sight, just trees. And me, Ben Lowell. I start walking. Though it didn’t rain on my taxi, it must’ve rained up here because my sneaker treads are useless on these slick leaves. In a flashback, Graham’s describing this place to me, a sliver of barbecue hanging from his chin. I respond with something like, “It must be so inspiring, painting in all that nature,” to which he responds, “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never painted outside.” He didn’t even want the blinds open in his studio. Just lightbulb light.
As I climb the hill, the front of the cabin reveals itself to me, log by log. It’s big. I wonder how big a wooden house has to get before “cabin” becomes the same kind of pretentious understatement as someone saying they went to school “in Cambridge.” I feel queasy. I haven’t rehearsed what I’m going to say to Elona and I wonder if I should have. I’ve found that if I rehearse something unpleasant, I’m more apt to not say it. I wonder if I should’ve had the taxi driver wait, just in case Elona’s not home. Isn’t that funny? I never considered the possibility that Elona might not be home. It seemed like she and Graham never left—except to go to Hawaii, apparently. I don’t know what I’ll do if she’s not home.
I step onto the front porch. There’s a stack of cardboard boxes that say “Back Clos.” in marker. Water’s seeping through the bottom of one box and making a line like a mountain range in a Japanese painting. There’s a light on inside. I knock. Nothing. I step back. There’s a decrepit jeep in the driveway but it was obviously for running errands in another era.
I knock again. Footsteps. I take a deep breath. I brought mints but it’s too late to get them out now. The door opens and there’s Elona’s face, freckled and confused.
“Hi, Elona,” I say. “It’s Ben Lowell.” She squints. We stand there.
“Ben…?” She says it as though she’s been in a coma until right now.
“Yeah, it’s me. Sorry to show up without calling—I was just in San Francisco on business and…” I shrug.
Over Elona’s shoulder, I see the face of a little boy. He’s not white—I can’t tell much more from here. He’s on his tippy-toes. I know because he keeps almost teetering over and then, with a thump, catching himself.
Suddenly Elona changes, as though a hospitality serum’s been injected into her face and she says, “Come in, come in! Forgive me, I was…” she makes a gesture like she’s tossing a salad with her hands, “somewhere else. How are you, Ben?” She gives me the kind of hug you give a person when you don’t want your belly, breasts, or penis to touch theirs. She goes inside. I follow.
I haven’t seen Elona since my father’s funeral three years ago. We barely said a word to each other then. I mostly remember her nibbling on celery and whispering to Graham that she wanted to get going. “Yes,” I remember thinking. “We all want to get going.”
The inside of the cabin is all dark wood, or maybe the wood just looks that way because there are barely any windows. There’s music on, if that’s what you call someone blowing at random on bottles of various sizes. Elona takes my coat and puts it over the back of a chair. Her brittle, gray hair is almost to her waist. The ends are as uneven as her cabin’s logs and I can’t help thinking how much better it’d look if someone just chopped off an inch off all the way around. I think my father told me she hasn’t had it cut since she was a teen, though I might have imagined him saying that. That happens sometimes, now that he’s dead.
“This is Tico,” she says. The boy’s standing in the middle of a sky blue tarp that’s spread out over the living room floor. He’s wearing a tee-shirt that could fit four of him.
“Hi, Tico,” I say.
“Say hi to Ben, Tico.” Tico stares at me as though I were covered in blood. His arms disappear into the sleeves of his tee-shirt and he runs off into the back. Elona smiles and rolls her eyes. “We’ve eaten already but there’s more—there’s always more. Here, sit.”
I consider saying, “It’s OK, I’m not hungry,” but the fact is, I am. She motions for me to sit down at the long oak table. A clock with an extraordinarily loud hand appears in my head and starts ticking away the seconds until I have to tell her why I’m actually here. I try and think of a sentence that’ll lead us into that conversation. Nothing comes to mind. I wonder if I’m capable of coming all the way to Guerneville, California and not bringing it up. I hope not.
Tico runs back in and plunks down in the middle of the tarp as though I weren’t there. There’s a giant roll of paper in front of him and maybe fifty tubes of acrylic paint spread out around his knees like Halloween candy. I watch him squeeze green directly onto the paper, slap it, and smear it as though it were a lightning bug. I wonder if acrylic on bare hands is a good idea for a kid. I guess since it’s water-based, it’s probably fine. My father would never have let me do that.
Elona sets down an artichoke in front of me, and an empty jar for my leaves, I guess. Then she hands me a teacup filled with a yellowish mayonnaise sauce and a jar of water. The artichoke, green-gray, is slumped to one side like it had a rough night. I won’t be able to do this.
She sits down next to me and watches Tico work.
“He’s my new friend,” she says. Tico’s technique becomes more ferocious, obviously because we’re watching. “He’s staying with me for a while.”
“Oh,” I say. I don’t get it but I can’t think of a polite way to ask a follow-up question.
“‘Tico’ means ‘Costa Rican man,’ but it’s not derogatory. It’s what they call themselves.”
“So Tico was born in Costa Rica?”
“No, I don’t think so. He’s Mexican. I’m not sure how the nickname came about. Maybe his family spent time there? I don’t know. His mother explained it all to me but she doesn’t speak English very well and I don’t speak much Spanish, but Tico’s teaching me, right, Tico?”
Nothing from Tico.
“So his mother’s a friend of yours?”
“She cleans a number of houses in the area—not ours, I do that myself. Tico’s staying with me for the time being until his mother finds a better way to make ends meet.”
I still don’t get it but I let it go.
“Does the music bother you?”
“Good. It’s from Java.”
I tear out an artichoke leaf and slide it across my teeth. It’s cold. The spicy mayo-mustard sauce is gritty, as though we were at a beach picnic and someone kicked sand in it.
“Delicious,” I say.
She looks pleased. “Thank you for your card, Ben. That was lovely.”
After Graham died, I sent Elona a sunset card with a note that said something about how we should all be lucky enough to have a friend like Graham.
“Sure. How are you holding up?”
“Oh, fine. You know, we saw it coming for some time so I was able to prepare. There were so many complications.”
Seven. I was probably a pain-in-the-ass at seven. You’re not an actual person at seven; you’re cocky and whiney and clingy—the sort of person that keeps a person from doing what they love. You don’t learn to give people space until you’re at least ten. Maybe eleven. Seven is the mistake year.
I scrape the meat off another artichoke leaf and put the carcass in the jar. Now I’m done, partly because I feel like she wouldn’t have offered it to me if she’d known what I’m about to say. We stare at imperfections in the oak, listening to bottle noises and the occasional slap of tiny hands on paint. It’s time.
“So I got my father’s letters.”
“Oh good. I was hoping they’d make it to you. You know, you throw something like that in the mail and you just say a prayer.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t call you back. There have been so many things to do around here.”
“It’s no problem.” I take a sip of water. I am getting a fever. “I was just wondering, did you get a chance to read the letters before you sent them?”
The bottle CD ends the instant I finish the question and now the room’s quiet. I can almost hear Elona gathering her defenses.
“I glanced at them, yes of course. They were Graham’s, weren’t they? I mean, I went through everything…”
“No, I don’t mean—of course you did. I assumed you read them. Anyone would’ve.”
Her eyebrows say, “Then your point is?”
“I wonder if you read the first line of the second letter, where my father wrote that the single biggest mistake of his life may have been having me?”
All traces of expression leave Elona’s face. She leans back and with a voice as cold as winter says, “Yes, I read that line.”
I nod. “That line had quite an impact on me as you can imagine and I was just wondering…” Something sticks in my throat and I can’t finish.
“Why I sent it?”
I nod. I wish I’d asked the question myself since it sounds absurd coming from her.
“Well, in one of the other letters he talks about how tall you’re getting and how much you like water slides.”
I have no response. I doubt even the most warped mind could give equal weight to biggest mistake and water slides.
She crosses her arms. “I’ve always thought if you love a person, you want to get to know the whole person, not just the parts of them that make you feel good about yourself. Maybe I’m wrong.”
I drink some water. It tastes vaguely like deviled eggs.
“So you’re saying I shouldn’t have sent them to you?” she says.
“I didn’t say that.”
“Well, I’m sorry you feel that way.” She gets up from the table, marches past Tico and heads upstairs. Tico stands up as though he’s been trained to follow her and then he turns to me, as though I’m supposed to know if that’s the right move. I shrug. He shrugs. He sits back down and inspects his work. Upstairs, I hear footsteps and then wood sliding against wood. I picture Elona taking her rifle off the top shelf of her closet and dusting it off. I wonder if I should just leave. The wind picks up and the tips of the branches click against the shutters like fingernails on un-nickable countertops.
After a few minutes of Tico and I making eye contact and then looking away, I hear Elona’s footsteps again on the stairs. She comes back in, wearing a bulky brown sweater that makes her look like a feed bag. She doesn’t acknowledge me. She puts six vanilla wafers on a cracked plate and sets it down between us, closer to her. Then she sits, plants her elbows on the table, and rests her cheeks in her hands.
“So you came all this way because you wanted me to apologize for sending you your father’s letters?”
“I just wanted to discuss it.”
She runs two fingers along her eyebrow. “I don’t see what there is to discuss.”
We watch Tico. He’s gotten some red paint in his bangs and it’s making them clump up into a unicorn horn. It’s cute, I guess. I have a feeling if I hadn’t been here, Elona would be diving for the camera. She gets up and puts tea water on. She washes dishes until the kettle whistles and then she makes peach tea and sets a mug down in front of me. She sits back down.
“Graham never wanted to have children,” she says suddenly. She dabs at her tea, retrieves a leaf, flicks it away. “He didn’t tell me until the very end because he thought I wouldn’t marry him if I knew.”
Tico makes a red smear that looks like an eagle wing.
“He was right, I wouldn’t have. I wanted a boy and a girl. Of course, I would’ve been happy with two girls or two boys. Even one boy or one girl.” She takes a sip. “Right after we got married, he said he wanted to see the world with me before we had children. Then he wanted to wait until we had enough money to send them to private schools. Then he needed peace and quiet to finish the series he was working on. By then it was too late for me to have children so we agreed to adopt, but he kept saying, ‘What’s the rush?’ And then he died.” She takes another sip. “I guess that was the rush.”
I eat a vanilla wafer. It’s stale.
“Do you think you’ll stay the night, at least?” she says. “You’re welcome to.”
“Thanks. I have to be at work in San Francisco in the morning so I should probably go back tonight.”
She nods once. Her nod tells me she knows I’m lying and she’s not offended. “Well, at least let me show you Graham’s studio before you go.”
The studio is the smallest room in the cabin, and the one with the poorest air circulation. I find myself breathing through my mouth before I can even identify what I’m avoiding. I wonder if Graham died in here. Elona pulls a string on a hanging lightbulb and we’re surrounded by paintings—so many, you can barely tell that the wall behind them is mint green. Towards the end, Graham had almost completely abandoned surrealism for pure abstraction. Occasionally, through smears and splatters, you could still make out part of a sofa or hammer. I start looking for suicide portents but I feel silly. The paintings, mostly primary colors, are full of life. My mother and I thought it might be suicide because his kidneys were in such bad shape and because he’d told my father years ago that if they ever got too bad, he’d end things rather than take someone else’s.
In the corner of Graham’s studio is his writing desk. At shoe level, there’s a pedal, which makes me think at some point it was a sewing machine. It seems like it’d be annoying if you wanted to write a letter, not sew. The only thing on top of the desk is a framed cartoon, drawn by my father, of him and Graham with their arms over each others’ shoulders. The men are looking straight ahead, no smiles. When their arms reappear on the far side of the other’s neck, they morph into the front and back end of a rattlesnake. The snake’s got a salacious grin and a tiny Italian flag dangling from it’s fanged mouth. It’s a black and white cartoon so I guess the flag could be France, though I’m sure it’s Italy. Elona snatches it off the desk and presses it into my chest.
“Yours,” she says.
She lifts her hand to her ear as though my protest will make it ache.
I look more closely at the cartoon. At the bottom are my father’s initials and May 33rd, 1985. I point out the date to Elona and scrunch up my eyebrows. She laughs. It’s the first time I’ve heard her laugh, maybe ever. It’s a weak breathy laugh, like a teen girl’s at a table of adults.
“You don’t know?” she says. “Graham and Billy used to say since they never got enough time to spend with each other, if they made plans to get together on a date like May 33rd, we wives couldn’t possibly tell them they already had family plans.”
We hear a shriek from down in the living room and then pounding and wailing all the way up the stairs. Tico charges into Elona’s hip, his hands pressed against his face.
“What happened, corazón?” Elona kneels down and puts her hands on Tico’s wrists. He won’t take his hands from his eyes. “Show me, Tico. Did you get a little paint in there? Yes, you did.” She picks him up and hurries into the bathroom, setting him down by the tub. I follow. Green paint from his tee-shirt rubs off on her sweater. She turns on the water and flicks her hand under the stream. She holds onto Tico’s waist as he climbs halfway into the tub. Clearly he’s done this before. He shudders as water cascades over the top half of his face. Elona keeps her hand between his forehead and the faucet so he doesn’t bang himself. “Keep your eyes open, corazón. Breathe through your mouth. It’ll be OK.” I try and be helpful but the only thing I can think of to do is to take an already paint-stained towel off the rack and hold it close-by. After about two minute of eye-flushing, she lifts Tico out of the tub. His tee-shirt’s drenched and his eyes are still shut tight. He’s whimpering.
“Open them for me, Tico. I know it stings. Try.”
He tries. His eyelashes flutter. Elona holds his eyelids open and makes him look all around the room. His eyes are so bloodshot, I don’t see how she could tell if there’s red paint in them.
“You’re OK,” she says. Tico collapses against her shoulder, turns his head away from me, and sobs. “It’s good to cry—it’ll help wash everything out.” She rocks Tico back and forth on her shoulder. She winks at me. “He’s got a masterful technique but sometimes it makes the paint jump out at him. I got him goggles but he doesn’t like to wear them because he thinks they make him look like a dork.” She rolls her eyes and rubs Tico’s back. He stands up. I wrap the towel around his upper-body and head and Elona rubs him dry, scrubbing hard at his red bangs. She yanks at the bottom of his tee-shirt twice, which, apparently, is their sign language for “go change your clothes.” He blinks a few times and grins. He can open his eyes all the way now. He seems to have forgotten what just happened. He tears off down the hall. Elona scrubs paint out of the towel and holds it under the faucet.
“Yes, I imagine it was very difficult to read that line,” she says. She wipes her hands on her jeans. “Your father thought the world of you.”
The expression hangs there in the air amidst the soap and acrylic. The longer it hangs, the stranger it sounds. What does “thought the world of” mean? He thought of me when he thought of the world? He saw all the good things in the world reflected in me? I was his whole world? I have no idea. Still, something in it rings true and I believe Elona, if only because I don’t want to leave Guerneville without believing her.
Tico reappears in a baggy aquamarine sweatshirt with a palm tree on the front. His right hand is cupped, as though he’s holding something he wants us to see. Then I realize he’s making a “come here” gesture. We’re only a few feet from him so I don’t know where he wants us to go. There’s a glimmer in his eye—you can just barely see it through the puffiness.
“Tico wants to show us his work,” Elona says.
He giggles and looks down at the bathroom tiles. I have a feeling Tico understands much more English than he lets on. When he raises his head, he’s looking right at me, still making that “come here” gesture. It’s like he’s holding a ball of dough and trying to kneed it with only one hand. He’s waiting for me to give him the go-ahead. I pretend I don’t understand for a few seconds because his wanting me to like what he’s done feels so good I don’t want it to end. The tips of the branches type secret sentences on the bathroom shutters. I give Tico a nod.
GREGORY PIERCE writes plays and fiction. His stories have appeared in Berkeley Fiction Review, Conjunctions.com, and Confrontation. His multimedia stage adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle will be Off-Broadway in January 2010. He has received fellowships from the Edward F. Albee Foundation, The Djerassi Institute, and The New York Public Library. He lives in New York City. www.piercegreg.com