Denis Underwood
Denis Underwood

Denis J. Underwood, 36, lives in Chicago and works for a technology company he co-founded. He has written short stories, a screenplay and has started a novel. His full-length feature film project Grave Matters has been in post-production for a few years too many. When he and his childhood friends reunited to make the film, they didn't realize how difficult it would be to actually complete it. Whenever possible, Denis enjoys fly-fishing and experiencing the natural beauty of the places it takes him to. The product of a father born in Southern Ohio and a mother hailing from French-Algeria, he grew up spending summers in the wilds of Ohio as well as abroad. Some of his earliest memories are of long dinners by candlelight in France with master storytellers delivering family chronicles of North Africa. The stories they told lodged themselves in him, taking on a mythic stature.
      His fiction chapbook, Carolina, was published by Wind River Press in 2004.

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Cafe Deluca

Can you fall in love with a reflection? She sits at a table facing me, obscured by the large head and thick neck of a man who sits between us. At times, her pale face swims in the window that runs alongside our tables; mine's in there, too. The pane of glass vaguely holds us together. The fat man shifts and I see that her hair falls over her shoulders in bold waves. At times, she twists a bunch of strands tightly—so tightly that the finger she wraps her hair around turns red. Then she reverses her finger allowing the hair to unravel and gathers it all up, holding it on top of her head. In a fluid motion, she uses a rubber band to constrain it all into a ponytail. After a while, she unleashes the hair and it falls back down, perfectly framing her face.

Carolina: Order onlineA young man approaches her table. The greetings seem awkward, possibly a past acquaintance of some sort. The envy courses through as he sits down and discusses the inane details of a party he is throwing. I wonder at his luck. How did he meet her? Did he live next door to her somewhere, simple fate allowing for an introduction? Does a friend of his know her? Are there women I know that others are jealous of me knowing? I study her reflection and she seems annoyed by the conversation, but not annoyed enough for my liking. I look directly at her and she stares back at me. I look away, as if uninterested.