Every couple of months, the seller arrived unannounced to pick up something he had left behind: a wall phone in the den, canoe mounts in the shed. The buyer allowed him to take what he wanted, then asked him for help with a difficult chore.Read More
A man told me once that there’s more nuclear waste roaming the highways than there is in underground storage. He said they can’t keep it in one spot for too long. (I did not ask who “they” were.) I merely nodded at this possible lie. I found the story too romantic to want to challenge it.Read More
I asked her death angel, whom I could barely see that day, why. Why the savagery. She had been, on balance, a good person. Selfish at times, deceptive even. But on balance, I mean. The indistinct angel might have shrugged, I couldn’t be sure.Read More
The fence won’t be a deterrent for Liam; even with his skateboard, he’s a climber, and he’s not one to fear consequence or retribution. He has grown up in a trailer with his dad and his sister, the trailer park a tiny communal netherworld separated from the Kansas college town’s outer ring of student housing by a block of untapped woods that will soon be purchased and plowed and built on. For now, big fighting dogs roam unchallenged.Read More
She’s started refusing furs. She turns up her nose at mink. She will not wear weasel. She won’t allow me the coonskin cap, either. It’s all about collegiate dress, she tells me, and one doesn’t wear furs to lecture.Read More
At first I thought it meant there is no escape from the spiral of life’s endless quest for entertainment, and I recited it, in my youngest adulthood, so young it could barely be called that, in a town called Villedieu—it means God’s town—of which, in France, there are too many to keep trackRead More
I have a friend who is nagged by this memory of a very indecent Garfield comic strip. He says it is actually quite sexy, but incredibly perverse, and not just because it involves an anthropomorphic cat and meatloaf.Read More
Gloria watches him intently, her perfect first child.
More swimmers arrive and go to the raft. Her son swims away from them and joins her on the shore.
“I knew you would come in when other people arrived. I know how you are,” she says. “You have always been a loner.”Read More
Shortly after her first period, Valentine begins finding traps around her house. At first they are small—snares made of shoelace that snake along the hallway, glue traps in her bedroom closet—and sporadic. In no time, though, she’s finding larger traps: nets that span the length of her driveway, fishing lures cast from panel vans, muscle cars, matte-black Mustangs measled with Bondo.Read More
He snaps off the radio and goes after the man, asking himself what kind of person would be contemptuous of another man’s tears—whipping himself towards righteousness, he thinks his rage is not with the man in particular but a condemnation of a prevalent attitude toward vulnerability: that our feelings are excremental, involuntary, a mere accident of our relationship with the world, motivating but unwilled, thus in some essential way not our own; an avalanche coming down upon the self.Read More
Across the desert, marines are touching themselves. This is happening. One is slouched against the rear wall of a guard post at the north-facing perimeter of a forward operating base unbuttoning his trousers to air out his barrel, to clear out his bore before his partner returns.Read More
—Mother won’t have him in the house. Malodorous little rodent, she calls him. Have to keep you here at the station, don’t I? You’re not a rodent, he said into the ferret’s fur. You munch on rodents for breakfast. We’ll never have rats in our jail, will we?Read More
Oh Mr. Roth—how to get old. How to come to terms with the inevitable. With our own short-sightedness. How not to feel regret? And where to find solace? In the moment, right? In the playing of each moment as if it were our last. Except that’s no way to live—though it might be a way to make art: and if you’re an artist, how to separate one from the other?Read More
I’ll be home shortly if this is only a kiss, a short kiss, a momentary lapse, the death of a star, not to be felt until much later.Read More
The idea crept into my mind, and festered, that maybe Shirley wasn’t even a child at all, that our “daughter” was actually an underdeveloped twenty-something escaping the barbed poverty that forces people to prey upon the good intentions of others in order to survive.Read More
“So,” Tad said, “Did you see the aliens?”
Constance and Bill looked startled. As if this was the question that made the evening strange.
Although I was grateful to Tad for raising the subject, I also resented him. I should have thought of it. I placed my clog directly atop his sneakered foot and pressed down gently.Read More
We wrote a novel together. Leaps of imagination—gender, age—opened up points of view. Prompts took us into authentic dialogue, imagined conversations, compression and expansion of time, significant details, descriptions, revision, and research.Read More
Some of us aren’t meant to survive, even if everyone is constantly telling us how. Even if we have the blueprints for everything we’ll ever need. We just keep buying the wrong pants for our blood types.Read More
We feared health inspectors. We feared someone with a clipboard and a badge coming in and asking to see the back rooms, the prep kitchen, the basement. At any time someone could shut us down because of the obvious rat infestation.Read More
1. Took the medicine, left the dog.