My short stories exist mostly to introduce the reader to the two main characters of The Rufino Factor, and, of course, to my style of writing. Bagel on a Stick is Rufino's introductory story, set three years before the events of Leap of Faith. A cook in his previous life, Rufino has something of a passion for junk food, and one of his ongoing missions is to sink his fangs into a fresh cinnamon-and-apple bagel just one more time. Though written primarily for fun, there is another purpose to Bagel on a Stick, and that's to paint my protagonist as a being with feelings not unlike yours or mine. Some would say that I'm personifying a monster, and they're right. I am. I also make no apologies for doing so, because my "monster" is a symbol of the outcast, and the primary message of The Rufino Factor is that outcasts are people, too.
Green-haired halfling Rufino Endicott has been a vampire for three years in a world that hates undead. He’s adjusted, for the most part—he’s learned how to dodge the undead-hunters and how to make a comfortable coffin out of an old merchant’s trade cart. What he hasn’t adjusted to is life without bagels. Sure, he can find stale leftovers just about anywhere, but his is a most unforgiving palette and stale leftovers fail to satisfy.
In the throes of withdrawal, intrepid Rufino overcomes the excessive security of an artisan bakery at midnight, intending to gorge himself during the next business day. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s going to find more than just pastry inside that bakery.