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The Rented Bride

Marina has had nothing but problems with men. So when Jason comes to her temp agency to rent a wife, she is disgusted. But she learns things aren’t always what they seem.

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The Rented Bride

Marina has had nothing but problems with men. So when Jason comes to her temp agency to rent a wife, she is disgusted. But she learns things aren’t always what they appear.

Author:    Daris Howard


     The minute Marina’s husband found out she was pregnant, he left her. She ended up saddled with his credit card debt, and she struggled for years to pay it off. She has despised and distrusted men ever since. 

The Rented Bride

The Rented Bride


by Daris Howard
All Rights Reserved
CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that THE RENTED BRIDE is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union.  All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, and the rights of translation into foreign language are strictly reserved.
    The amateur live stage performance rights to THE RENTED BRIDE are controlled exclusively by Drama Source and royalty arrangements and licenses must be secured well in advance of presentation.  PLEASE NOTE that amateur royalty fees are set upon application in accordance with your producing circumstances.  When applying for a royalty quotation and license please give us the number of performances intended and dates of production.  Royalties are payable one week before the opening performance of the play to Drama Source Co., 1588 E. 361 N., St. Anthony, Idaho 83445, unless other arrangements are made.      
    Royalty of the required amount must be paid whether the play is presented for charity or gain, and whether or not admission is charged.  For all other rights than those stipulated above, apply to Drama Source Company, 1588 E. 361 N. St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.
    Copying from this book in whole or in part is strictly forbidden by law, and the right of performance is not transferable.
    Whenever the play is produced, the following notice must appear on all programs, printing and advertising for the play, “Produced by special arrangement with Drama Source Co.”
    Due authorship credit must be given on all programs, printing and advertising for the play.

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No one shall make changes in this play for the purpose of production without written permission.

Publication of this play does not imply availability for performance.    Both amateurs and professionals considering a production are strongly advised in their own interests to apply to Drama Source Company for written permission before starting rehearsals, advertising, or booking a theatre.

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Dramatist Personae

Marina – A nice looking, very businesslike lady of about 40.  Has started a temp agency, is working to get it going, but has very little money.

Mr. Dickson – A man of about 45 years.  Married, but flirty and unprofessional.

Lisa – Marina’s assistant.  Around 30 years old.  Man crazy.

Jason – Single dad with six children.  About 50 years old.

Sarah – Jason’s oldest daughter, 17 years old, and very serious and somewhat skeptical.

Amy – Jason’s second oldest, about 14.  She is quieter, gentle natured, and has an inner sense of people and situations.

Diane – Jason’s third oldest, about 12.

David – Jason’s fourth oldest, about 10.

Lucy – Jason’s youngest daughter.  She is 4, almost 5.  She is somewhat feisty.

Emily – Marina’s daughter.  She is 4, almost 5.

Judge Janey – An ornery lady of about 50.

Bailiff – Man or woman.

Daniel – Good looking guy about 30 years old.

Scene Synopsis
Act I Scene 1: In Marina’s business, Work Right Temp Agency.  Marina is annoyed at Mr. Dickson flirting with her and obviously hates men.  After Mr. Dickson leaves, Jason comes in and wants to hire a wife.  This infuriates Marina and she throws him out.

Act I Scene 2: Outside Marina’s business.  Jason, dejectedly sits on a bench.  Marina can’t get her car to start, and reluctantly asks Jason to give her a jump.  He tells her she needs more than that, she needs a new fan belt.  They discover they have daughters at the same preschool.

Act I Scene 3: In Jason’s home.  They have towed Marina’s car there for him to put on a new fan belt and Marina meets the rest of his children.  When Lucy asks if Marina is going to be her new mom, Marina explodes, thinking Jason has offered to help for ulterior motives.  She gradually realizes he is just kind, and that he needs a wife because the family court judge won’t let him adopt Lucy without one.  She starts to like him, but with her verbal assault, a lot of damage has been done to any relationship.

Possible Intermission

Act II Scene 1: Jason’s home.  Marina and her daughter Emily have joined Jason’s family for an outing to the movie theater.  Marina continues to show she likes Jason, but he is still sure she couldn’t like anyone like him.

Act II Scene 2: Marina’s office at work.  She does not have her mind on her work.  Her partner, Lisa, sees this.  Lisa can’t believe Marina likes a man.  Jason brings Emily over from daycare and Lisa is shocked to meet him.

Act II Scene 3: Marina’s office at work.  She is preparing to go to a Halloween event with Jason’s family.  Their relationship continues to build.

Act II Scene 4: Jason’s home.  His family, Marina and Emily, and Lisa have just finished Thanksgiving dinner.  They all express thanks for what means the most to them, which is each other. Jason expresses his concern about the upcoming visit with the judge and Marina tells him she wants to come.

Act II Scene 5: Jason’s home.  They have just come in from their visit with the judge and Marina is livid about how the judge treated him.  She offers to marry him, but he turns her down.  She angrily leaves, and Amy pursues his reasons more and realizes it isn’t because her father doesn’t love Marina.

Act II Scene 6: At Marina’s home (in front of curtain).  Marina, angry, comes in with groceries.  Amy comes in, freezing, from riding bike.  She helps Marina realize that her father loves Marina, but doesn’t feel he is in her league and that she is only marrying him to save Lucy and in essence be a rented bride.

Act II Scene 7: Jason’s home.  Everyone is trying to find Amy.  Amy comes in, followed by Marina.  Marina strongly tells Jason she offered to marry him because she loves him.  He finally believes that she does and asks her to marry him.

Act II Scene 8: In the judge’s chamber: Judge Janey finds out that she has really misjudged Jason and she signs the paper not only for him to adopt Lucy, but for him and Marina to adopt each other’s children

Act II Scene 9: In Marina’s office.  Marina talks about her good life with Jason and how she hopes Lisa will find someone.  After Marina leaves, Daniel comes wanting to hire someone to teach him to dance.  Lisa gladly volunteers.

The Rented Bride

Act 1 Scene 1

{The scene is an office of the Work Right temp agency.  It can be as elaborate as desired or nothing more than a desk.  Marina is behind the desk, and her secretary, Lisa, is beside the desk.  Mr. Dickson is talking to Marina.}

Mr. Dickson: {Flirting} So, how about we have lunch sometime and discuss my employee needs.

Marina: {Very cold and businesslike} Aren’t you married, Mr. Dickson?

Mr. Dickson: Well, yes.  But what does that have to do with it?

Marina: I think it would be very inappropriate for me to have dinner with you, and I feel anything we could discuss there, we could discuss just fine here in my office.

Mr. Dickson: {Trying to act like he wasn’t flirting} Yes, of course.  Well, I will be on my way.

{As he leaves, he looks at Lisa and rolls his eyes as if indicating that Marina is a tough woman.  He exits.}

Marina: You know, Lisa, men are all a bunch of jerks.  They have one thing on their mind.  This world would be a better place without them.

Lisa: I don’t know.  I kind of like men.

Marina: As far as I am concerned, you can have all of them.  I want nothing to do with them ever again.

Lisa: I don’t think we have any other customers coming, so do you mind if I leave a little early tonight?  

Marina: No, I don’t mind.  I will finish up and be on my way, too.  I can’t wait to get home and snuggle up in a blanket with a good book.  I’ve never seen it this cold in the end of September.

Lisa: Jack is taking me to a movie, so I’ll just snuggle up close to him.

Marina: Whatever.

{Lisa leaves, and Marina is reading a paper when Jason comes in.  She doesn’t notice him, so he talks to get her attention.}

Jason: Excuse me.

Marina: {Looking up} May I help you?

Jason: I was wondering how a person goes about possibly hiring a temp.

Marina: {Pushing a paper across the desk} Here, fill out this form.

{Jason works on it for a moment, then pushes it back across to her.}

Jason: Okay, I have it done.

Marina: {Taking the paper and looking at it} Let’s see.  You want a . . . {She pauses} You want a wife? {Getting annoyed} This is not a dating agency!  This is a temp service.

Jason: I know.  I just wanted to hire someone to be my wife.

Marina: {Angry} What kind of a place do you think we are?  You men are all the same.  You only have one thing on your mind.

Jason: {Not catching what she is saying} What do you mean?

Marina: What do you think I mean?

Jason: I don’t know.

Marina: You men are all so disgusting.

Jason: If you feel I’m disgusting, you could just work out the arrangements, and she wouldn’t even have to meet me.

Marina: {Confused} Be your wife and not meet you?

Jason: Not if she doesn’t want to.

Marina: {Calming slightly} So you just need a maid or someone to help around your house?  We can do that.

Jason: No.  Actually, I just need to be able to say I have a wife.  I just thought maybe you knew a lady that really didn’t want to ever marry, and she could just claim she was my wife, and I could pay her a wage each month.

Marina: {Sarcastically} Oh, is this like one of those stupid Christmas shows where you have to be married to get an inheritance from a rich uncle?

Jason: No, it’s . . .

Marina: Oh, you’re a foreigner and you need a wife so you don’t get deported.

Jason: No.  It’s kind of a personal thing and a long story.

Marina: {Getting up from her desk and coming around and taking Jason by the arm and pulling him to the door} Personal, huh?  Well, you can just take your personal thing and your long story and leave.  Thinking you can come to a temp agency and hire a wife is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard of.

Jason: But I . . .

Lisa: {Coming in, at the sound of Marina’s angry voice, with a coat on ready to leave} Is there a problem?

Marina: No.  This gentleman, and I use the word gentleman very loosely, was just leaving.  Isn’t that right?

Jason: {Nodding, dejectedly} Yes.

Marina:  {Taking him by the arm and leading him forcefully to the door}   Goodnight, and goodbye, sir.

Jason: {Resigned} Goodnight.

{Jason leaves.  Marina just shakes her head.}

Lisa: Did I hear right what that man wanted?

Marina: Yes.  He wanted to rent a wife.  And I thought I had heard everything.  Hire a wife.  What an idiot!  

Lisa: I know.  I know.  You think men are all big jerks.

Marina: And idiots.

{The lights fade.}

Act I Scene 2

{This scene can be played in front of the curtain or even in front of the stage.  There is a bench, and maybe a lamp post by it.  Jason flops on the bench, dejected, looking at the ground.  Marina comes on and passes behind him to the opposite side of the stage and goes off.  A moment later she comes back on, just barely onto the stage and kicks behind the curtain like she is kicking her car, which is as if it is behind the curtain, unseen to the audience.}

Marina: Stupid car! {She looks around and sees Jason sitting on the bench.  She walks toward him.} Hey, you.  Would you have a car that you could give me a jump?  My car battery seems to be . . . {As Jason turns to her, she stops, her voice betraying disappointment.} Oh.  It’s you.

Jason: Sorry to disappoint you. {Slight pause}  Are you having trouble with your car?

Marina: I think the battery is dead.  When I tried to start it, it just clicked and then died.

Jason: It could be the battery is dead, but it also sounds like you might not be getting a good connection.  I could look at if you would like.

Marina: {Reluctant, but resigned to the fact she needs some help} I hate to be any trouble.

Jason: I know.  It’s such a long walk over to your car. {He laughs, but she doesn’t even smile, so he gets more serious.} It’s no trouble.  I mean, I’m already here. Anyway, let’s look at it.

{She leads him to the side of the stage.}

Marina: {Pointing just off stage} This is it.

Jason: Would you pop the hood?

{She goes off stage, and then Jason acts like he is lifting the hood just off stage.  Jason acts like he is looking into the engine as she returns to his side.}

Marina: Do you know a lot about cars?

Jason: Only enough to get me into trouble.  I took some mechanic classes in high school, but cars have changed a lot since then.

Marina: {Sarcastically} They had cars way back then?

Jason: {Joking} Yeah.  They weren’t that complicated, though. {Pantomiming with his hands and feet} We just stuck our feet through holes in the floor and started pushing ourselves along past the dinosaurs.

{He laughs, and she smiles, then she tries to hide it by acting disgusted.}

Marina: Can you see anything?

Jason: Yes, actually, it is fairly obvious what is wrong.  Your battery is dead, but it is because your alternator isn’t charging it.  You have no fan belt.  It must have broken the last time you drove it.

Marina: What do you mean?

Jason: {Acting as though he is pointing} Well, you see these wheels here?  This one goes to the fan, this one is the engine, and this one is the alternator.  A belt goes around all three, and as the engine turns, it turns the other two.  The alternator, in turn, supplies the charge to the battery that provides the voltage you need to start your car and keep it running.

Marina: So if you gave me a jump would it run?

Jason: For a short time, but as soon as your battery ran out of power, it would die, probably leaving you stranded somewhere.

Marina: How hard is it to fix?

Jason: It isn’t that hard if you get a fan belt and have the right tools.  A person just has to undo some bolts to loosen it, wrap the fan belt around, and tighten it back up.

Marina: I don’t have money to take it to a mechanic.  How much would you charge me to do it?

Jason: I wouldn’t charge anything, but I’d have to get it home where I had my tools,

Marina: I don’t take charity.  I would insist on paying you.

Jason: Then I guess you will need to get someone else.  Going through life taking pay for everything I do to help others isn’t me.

Marina: Let me get this straight, you will do it for free, but if I try to pay you, you won’t do it?

Jason: That’s what I mean.

Marina: Well, then, I will get someone else to do it.  I don’t want to owe a favor to anyone, especially someone who thinks he can rent a wife.

Jason: As you wish. {Looking at his watch.} Well, I must be going.  I need to pick up my little daughter at Sunshine Day Care.

Marina: {Grabbing his arm} What did you say?

Jason: I said I need to pick up my little daughter at Sunshine Day Care.

Marina:  Wait a minute.  You have a daughter there?

Jason: Yes.

Marina: So do I.

Jason: Maybe that’s why you look familiar.  Maybe I have seen you drop her off or pick her up or something.

Marina: {Pulling back just a little} Hold on.  You have a little daughter?  I thought you came in to rent a wife.

Jason: I did.

Marina: But if you have children, why do you need a wife?

Jason: Now you are the one not making sense.  Why would I need a wife if I didn’t have children?

Marina: So you are wanting someone to watch your kids?

Jason: No.  Actually, I can take care of them myself.  She wouldn’t have to do anything, other than to say she’s my wife.

Marina: That makes no sense.  And what happened to the children’s mother?

Jason: {Pauses briefly, then continues with emotion} She passed away from cancer a couple of years ago.

Marina: {Feeling like she’s over stepped her bounds} Oh . . . I’m sorry.

{Jason seems to be trying to hold back his emotions.  Finally he speaks after looking at his watch again, seeming to have already said more than he wanted to.}

Jason: Anyway, I better go get my daughter.

Marina: What’s her name?

Jason: My daughter or my wife?

Marina: Your daughter?

Jason: Lucy.

Marina: Lucy?  Is she the little red haired {this could be changed to fit the child} girl?

Jason: Yes.

Marina: Oh my heavens!  My daughter Emily talks about her all the time.  Lucy and Emily are, like, best friends.

Jason: Your daughter is Emily?

Marina: Yes.

Jason: Wow!  It is a small world.

Marina: Wait a minute.  Is she your daughter or your granddaughter?

Jason: {A little bit annoyed.}  She’s my daughter.

Marina: I didn’t mean to imply that you’re old; it’s just that she’s young and you’re . . .

Jason: {Laughs and speaks like an old person} Speak up Dearie, I can’t hear you.

{Marina smiles, but then once again acts disgusted to cover it.}

Marina: Well, you’ve got to admit that most people with a five-year-old are a bit younger.

Jason: Yeah.  I suppose in some ways that is my problem.

Marina: What is?

Jason: {Quieter and more serious.}  Oh, nothing.   {Looking again at his watch and getting nervous about the time} Well, I better be going, Lucy will be waiting for me.  

Marina: Hey!  I really need to get over and pick Emily up.  Is there any way you’d give me a ride?  I’d be glad to pay you.

Jason: I’d be glad to, but forget the pay stuff.  

Marina: But I don’t want to owe anyone.

Jason: You wouldn’t owe me anything.

Marina: But surely if I can’t pay you there is something I can do in return.

Jason: Okay, how about . . . I don’t know.  How about brownies?  I like brownies.

Marina: {Laughing and for the first time being somewhat friendly} Sounds like a deal.

{They walk off together as the lights go dark.}

Act I Scene 3
This is the living room/dining room of Jason’s home.  There is a dining room table on stage left.  Center stage has a couch and one or more easy chairs around it.  Jason, Marina, Lucy, and Emily come in together from stage right.

Marina: Thanks for paying for the tow rope and the fan belt.  I’m sorry it’s been so hard to find the right things.  

Jason: After not finding the right belt at the first two parts stores, I was afraid we might be out of luck.  I’m glad that third store was still open and had the inventory from the Stone Age.

Marina: Is my car really that old?

Jason: It’s pretty old, but that’s not horrible. {Laughing}  Just keep it a few more years and you can sell it as an antique for a premium.

Marina: I’m sorry I didn’t have the money to pay for the stuff.  I don’t carry much cash and I got rid of my credit cards after my ex ran ours up and then left me with the debt in the divorce.  I promise I’ll pay you back.

Jason: That’s a lot of brownies. {He laughs} Seriously, don’t worry about it.  I’ve been wanting to have a tow rope, and the fan belt wasn’t that much.

Marina: It was nice of you to let me drive your nice, warm van while you drove my cold car.

Jason: I figured it would be better for you and the girls to be warm, and besides, it is a bit easier to have you drive the lead car when you haven’t ever done towing before.

Marina: Sorry about those jerky starts.

Jason: Not a problem.  Why, when Katherine and I were first married, she hadn’t had any experience in things like that, but she quickly learned. {He is suddenly quiet} Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days, even though we were so poor and had so little.  At least we had each other.

Marina: You miss her?

{Jason sadly nods, then there is a commotion off stage as the other children arrive, and Jason tries to change the subject to something happier.}

Jason: So, are you ready to meet the rest of my family?

Marina: There are more?

Jason: Yes.  I have five children.  My oldest, Sarah, was picking the others up after an after school play practice today because I had an appointment I had to be to. {The other children all come in.  Jason signals to each as he introduces them.} So, Marina, these are my other children.  Sarah is 17, Amy is 15, Diane is 12, and David is 10. {Pointing to Marina} Children, this is Marina Patterson, and her daughter, Emily.

Marina: Nice to meet all of you.

Jason: {Turning to Marina} You must be hungry.  You will eat with us won’t you?

{Emily is hungry and is nodding her head vigorously.  Marina notices, but is somewhat unsure.}

Marina: I really don’t want to be any trouble.

Jason: It’s not trouble.  {Laughs}   We’ll just add a little more water to the stew. {Turning to the children} Come on, children, let’s get dinner on.

Sarah: What are we eating?

Jason: There is a stew in the crockpot, and we have rolls.  Amy, it would be nice if you would mix up some grape juice.

{Jason and all of his children, except Lucy, exit.}

Lucy: {Turning to Emily and speaking loud enough that Marina hears} Is your mom going to marry my dad?

Marina: Marry your dad?  Why would I marry your dad?

Lucy: So you could be my mom.

{Jason comes on carrying a crockpot as others bring the rolls, cups, and other things, setting them all on the table.}
Lucy: {Tugging on her father’s sleeve} Daddy, can Emily stay overnight at our house?

Jason: {Turning to Marina} You’d be very welcome.  It may take me quite a while to fix your car.

{The other children come in during the next lines, shocked at Marina’s insinuation and anger.}

Marina: {Instantly angry} Oh, that’s how it is, is it?

Jason: {Confused} What is?

Marina: You promise to help me fix my car so you can trap me here for the night.

Jason: Why would I trap you here?

Marina:  Why would any man try to trick a woman into coming to his house.

Jason: {Defensive}  Now, wait just a minute.  If you are thinking what I think you are thinking that I think I was thinking about, then you are wrong, Marina.

Marina: I don’t like you being so familiar.  You should call me Miz Patterson.  And as for what I think, I think that all men are the same, and you are nothing but a stupid old, conniving jerk.  You better understand that I want nothing to do with you, and, in fact, I feel uncomfortable being around you because you’re too. . .

{Marina suddenly stops as she sees that her words are cutting Jason hard and that the children are all in shock at her outburst.}

Jason: {Quietly, smarting from the hurt} Yes, I know.  I’m too old, too fat, too ugly, and have too many children.  I’ve heard it all before.  In fact, you wouldn’t be the first to say it just today.

Marina: I’m sorry, I just. . .

Jason: {Turning to his children} Will you children please go ahead and eat and make sure that Miz Patterson and Emily are taken care of?  I need to go work on her car.  As soon as you are done eating get right to your homework.  I will come in later so we can do our family time before bed.

Amy: But, Daddy, you haven’t eaten.

Jason: I’m not feeling all that hungry right now.

{Jason exits stage left, and a moment later he comes in with his coat on, a tool box in his hand, and a head lamp on his head, and heads off stage right.  Everyone stares at Marina.  Finally, Amy breaks the silence.}

Amy: Daddy said for us to eat.  We should eat.

{The children start to sit down.}

Lucy: Here, Emily, you come sit by me.

Sarah: {Harshly} Here, Miz Patterson.  You can sit by Emily.

Marina: {Unable to look anyone in the eye} I’m sorry.  

Sarah: {Harsh and sarcastic}  Yeah, right.  You and all of the other women who treat Daddy like dirt.

Amy: Sarah, that’s not very nice.

Sarah: And she wasn’t very nice to Daddy.  

Amy: And she apologized.

Sarah: Not really.  Not to Daddy.

Marina: I’m sorry about how I treated him.  Your father seems like a nice man, but all of the men in my life have been no good, and our first meeting still leaves some lingering questions.

Sarah: {Still defiant} Not only is Daddy a good man, he is the best man in the world, better even than any woman I’ve ever met.

Amy: She said she’s sorry, Sarah.  Let it go and let’s eat before the food gets cold.

Marina: Maybe everyone would be more comfortable if I went out to see if your dad could use some help.

Amy: No.  Please.  Daddy wouldn’t want you to be hungry.

Marina: But he’s going hungry.

Sarah: {Slightly more forgiving}  Amy’s right.  I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have gotten so mad.  Please eat with us.

{Marina slowly nods, and they all sit down.  Sarah and Amy dish up the stew for everyone.  They pass around the rolls and pour drinks and all.  It’s still a little tense, but everyone loosens up as they eat.  Marina tries to get a conversation going to help.}

Marina: This stew is really good.

Amy: Daddy made it.  He often gets up early and puts something in the crockpot or something so dinner will be ready when we get home.

Marina: And these rolls are great.

Sarah: Daddy made them, too.  They are homemade.  We had hot bread and rolls last night.

Diane: Daddy’s hot bread and rolls are the best.

David: His scones are even better.

Marina: I don’t think I’ve ever had scones.  What are they?

David: Fried bread dough.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had that.

Lucy: I like it better when Daddy makes lasagna.

Amy: Or homemade pizza.

Sarah: With extra cheese.

Marina: Your father sounds like a talented guy.  Is there anything he can’t do?

Amy: He can’t find a wife.

Sarah: You know Daddy doesn’t like you talking about that.

Amy: Well, it’s true.

Sarah: Maybe it’s because Daddy is strange.

David: Daddy isn’t strange.

Sarah: He likes math, doesn’t he?

Diane: He teaches math.

Sarah: See?  That makes him strange.

Amy: Says the math-anxiety drama queen.

Marina: I have never been fond of math either.

Diane: Daddy’s constant tutoring is the only reason Sarah passes her class.

Marina:  So where does he teach?

The Rented Bride

Author: Daris Howard
     Daris Howard is an author and playwright who grew up on a farm in rural Idaho. He associated with many colorful characters including cowboys, farmers, lumberjacks and others.
     Daris and his wife, Donna, have ten children and were foster parents for several years. He has also worked in scouting and cub scouts, at one time having 18 boys in his scout troop.
     His plays, musicals, and books build on the characters of those he has associated with, along with his many experiences, to bring his work to life.
    He and his family have enjoyed running a summer community theatre where he gets a chance to premiere his theatrical works and rework them to make them better. His published plays and books can be seen at He has plays translated into German and French and his work has been done in many countries around the world.
     In the last few years, Daris has started writing books and short stories. He writes a popular news column called Life’s Outtakes, that consists of weekly short stories and is published in various newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Canada and has won many awards for his writing.

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