As in the lives of people we all know, this story presents a dozen fictional Santa Feans trying to love, yet mistreating, each other the week before US forces invade Iraq. “The aggression that dominates American life today,” says author Michael Scofield, “goads them into brandishing their dark sides.” Married realtor Maxine Morgan, for instance, coaxes conservative mortgage broker Ron Kirkpatrick (and others) into bed. Ron’s not-quite-yet-psychotic wife Lila tries to seduce handyman Victor Valdez. High-tech writer Manny Barnes falsely promises his fiancée to give up in-your-face activism. CPA Chuck Ridley leaves his family for Silicon Valley CEO Bret, who changes his mind about war. In an ambiance of black humor and misfiring sex, readers will find themselves embracing Maxine’s attempt to escape from nymphomania after meeting a retired war correspondent, Victor’s desperate scheme to care for his mother while returning to carving Santos, Lila’s plan to destroy Maxine, Manny’s longing to give Joyce a baby, and Chuck’s joy in discovering he’s gay. You’ll laugh a lot--but you’ll also weep to see how our increasing turmoil at home in the United States mirrors our ongoing behavior overseas. Yale University graduate MICHAEL SCOFIELD received his MFA in Writing from Vermont College in 2002. Currently he teaches creative-writing skills to half a dozen students one-on-one. The author of two books of poems, “Silicon Valley Escapee” (2000) and “Whirling Backward into the World” (2006), he also has published books on bird-watching and do-it-yourself upholstering. Before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1995, his wife and he ran a high-tech marketing-communications business from their home in Palo Alto, California.