You Could Do Worse?

Vernon Stagg Bumper Stickers stateSure, he’s fictional, and sure, he’s a frequent target of the Tennessee State Bar Association. And sure, the Bar is on his case typically because he did it. Done in the great and glorious quest of justice, Vernon Stagg would remind us. The eternal fight for your legal right.


In “The Cumberland Package,” published earlier this year in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine,  it’s no accident Vernon thinks about tie colors and his “gubernatorial-grade smile.” The Vernon Stagg smile. He’s got aspirations as big as Continue reading You Could Do Worse?

Fairly at the Middlin’

Fair to MiddlinThere’s a somewhat-green land in a somewhat somewhat-green valley, where the wine and honey somewhat flow and the keen is somewhat peachy and a sometimes-golden sun shines on somewhat-grassy fields an equal somewhat-green from all perspectives. This is the land of fair-to-middlin’, and it’s my halfway self-grade for 2016.

Ah, the fair-to-midlands. Nothing to brag about except old-fashioned, one-step-at-a-time progress. Nothing to regret except regret itself. Not a bad score, really. Really? Yes, really. Mostly.

I arrived at the grade after literally minutes somewhat thinking about it. At the beginning of 2016 I set stretch story-production goals for myself. Now those, I think about all the damn time. Ah, stretch-ish goals, that less somewhat-serene zone between Continue reading Fairly at the Middlin’

A Play in One Scene: “The Big Press Conference”


COACH, head coach of the Washington Generals professional basketball team

 various REPORTERS

The Scene:

[open to crowded press conference. COACH sits behind table with microphone].

COACH: [hubbub] We’ll start here in the front. Teddy?

REPORTER 1: Thanks, Coach. Another tough loss to the Trotters tonight. Thoughts?

COACH: Yeah, you know, I thought we moved the ball well, were patient and defended well in stretches, but you really have to hand it to the Trotters. They found ways to dribble-drive, spin, flip, pass, fake-pass, fake-pass-then-really-pass, bring out the spectators and break us down. [hubbub] There, in the back.

REPORTER 2: Coach, it did look like your problem was defense. At times your guys looked a little lost out there. Can you talk us through what adjustments you made?

COACH: I’d like to say there was a good answer, Freddie. Everybody knows they are a great passing, fake-passing, and fake-passing-then-really passing team. You have to close that down. But every time I thought we had a stop, Cheesie, Buckets, all their little guys got us chasing them all over the floor, after those whoop-de-whoops and spin dribbles. I don’t know how many dunks Big Easy got off that play, but we Continue reading A Play in One Scene: “The Big Press Conference”

The Case of the Conjuror’s Trick

800px-A_Study_in_Scarlet_from_Beeton's_Christmas_Annual_1887Sherlock Holmes. Just that name conjures up a lean man in cape and deerstalker tracking through the moors or pacing 221B Baker Street over a multi-pipe problem. Holmes long ago achieved literary escape velocity, transcending Victorian London, crime fiction and even Conan Doyle. First sleuthing upon the page in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet, these days scads of pastiches and reinterpretations are published every year. Holmes movies, television series, theatre productions. Holmes societies across the world. The game has never been more afoot.

What about him has such lasting magic?

Last year I found myself immersed in that question, tasked at Continue reading The Case of the Conjuror’s Trick

Humor: In Which Vernon Stagg Self-Lawyers Up

March 24, 2016

By Certified Mail


Mr. Robert Mangeot, Author of Shameless and Baseless Works of Fiction

Dear Mr. Mangeot:

The venerated and venerable law firm Vernon Stagg and Associates represents the selfsame Vernon Stagg, Esq., a noted figure of legal and civic stature in the greater metropolitan Nashville area. We mean none other than the capitol of the great state of Tennessee. Music City.

As you must surely know, having authored such a mistaken and misguided mischaracterization as “The Cumberland Package,” published in the May 2016 edition of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, you present to Nashville’s reading and voting public a grievously and grotesquely false depiction of Vernon Stagg. For the legal record and for all other records of important nature, now and in perpetuity, in his representation of Mr. Chit “Big Kick” Bowling, Vernon Stagg at no time and in no way engaged in any of the following: conspiracy to commit murder; bribery and fraudulent practices concerning the Tri-Star Bison Show and Sale; inappropriate promiscuous and/or intimate behaviors; unethical billing practices and breaches of client confidentiality; and habitual listening to Artie Shaw’s music. While Vernon Stagg does enjoy a fine swing orchestra, he has no love for the tuneless timbre of a clarinet. This is well-known to his friends and associates and to entire sub-portions of the Nashville community at large. That the Tennessee Bar Association (“The Bar”) may have pursued similar such outrageous claims against Vernon Stagg is both inconsequent and irrelevant. The Bar’s long and lamentable smear campaign against Vernon Stagg is well-documented and understood for the petty display that it is. Vernon Stagg’s good name remains unbesmirched. Given said unbesmirchitude, any portrayal to the contrary represents an assassination of Vernon Stagg’s considerable character and his income, electoral and romantic prospects.

And yet your pernicious portrayal Continue reading Humor: In Which Vernon Stagg Self-Lawyers Up