The Hardest Thing

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The last time I saw my father, he was weak but not in severe pain. It was a wealthy form of hospice; he was sitting up in one of his fancy, overstuffed, silk-upholstered armchairs. He told me that the hardest thing about dying was that he couldn’t sleep at night, and I remember feeling surprised—wouldn’tMore

Swim, Swam, Swum

Swim, Swam, Swum

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Max didn’t even have to ring the doorbell. I came out as the van pulled up. I suppose I shouldn’t have been so eager for the visit but it didn’t occur to me hang back, to be cool, not yet at least. It was late summer, just before the start of eighth grade. I wasMore

Man to Man

Man to Man

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In the voice of this charismatic stranger, basketball is a mystical game you can control before the ball is even in your hands. There’s a way of feeling out the court, of knowing where to stand. He generously shares his knowledge with me, as though, like the sun and the stars, it belongs to everyone.More

Betrayal

Betrayal

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   …bookishness and cultivation, so treasured by those who possess them, are no guarantee of human value…. Nobody is a more worth-while person for having read Yeats.  – Anthony Lane   I scratch notes for a piece to describe a social divide I experienced as a child in a factory town in Rhode Island. IMore

Pandemic Plummets

Pandemic Plummets

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Everyone has their own tolerance and focus with how to stay connected during the last two years, or as we say Post Pandemic (are we ever, truly?) With masks and vaccines or not, and travel dribbling away, parties and gatherings somehow obsolete, many of us, myself included spent more time, not less, on social media,More

Four Fights

Four Fights

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Fight #1 My first fight was with this guy on our block who didn’t have any friends his own age. He was always hanging around the younger kids, teaching us to smoke, swear and vandalize. He liked to talk about sex, too. One time he asked me what the nastiest thing I ever saw was.More

Loving and Forgetting

Loving and Forgetting

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LOVE Friday in the Student Union basement bar meant ‘70’s night: soul, rock, disco, funk, reggae. ‘They should do one each week, or two. It’s too much of a mix.’ Billy leant on one of the sofas that lined the dark, graffitied walls. Between his middle fingers he held the rim of his empty plasticMore

Three Stories

Three Stories

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ONE NIGHT ONLY The only time I ever saw James Brown perform live was through the Lone Star Café plate glass windows on 13th Street in light snow at midnight. It was the week before Christmas, 1981. I was single, in my late twenties, and had made the mistake of asking out the woman whoMore

Two Stories

Two Stories

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I’m sorry about the things I said when I thought the world was ending The morning after the end was supposed to happen, I woke up in the bunker I made for us. On the surface cameras there was still nothing. Just the woods and the wind and everything going along as it always had.More

Three Things

Three Things

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This morning, after the Sheriff and two state investigators left his office carrying sealed boxes, the man did not return home—instead, he drove to a neighboring town and bought three things: Dancing shoes. A hamburger. A shotgun. The dancing shoes he delivered to his daughter whom he would never see again. The hamburger he ateMore

Cats and Dogs

Cats and Dogs

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I saw a cat give birth today at my buddy Anthony’s apartment in Logan Square. Her name is Nezumi. Anthony named her. I found her and gave her to him. It was the dead of winter and me and my girlfriend, Rosa, were walking home from the semi-truck mechanic shop our bands practice in, downMore

Black Licorice Memory

Black Licorice Memory

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Because my regular toothpaste tastes like black licorice, brushing my teeth every night brings back childhood memories of me sitting with my grandfather in his den, he in the La-Z-Boy, I on the couch with a handful of black licorice jellybeans. The reason I can have this recall of memory, that is, the reason myMore

When Things Break

When Things Break

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They woke up to a puddle on the kitchen floor. The seal on the freezer door broke. Since they weren’t allowing people in the house, they couldn’t call a professional. But he assured her he could fix it on his own. It was a matter of pride. First, he emptied the contents of the freezer.More

Cowboy Rooster, Rooster Cowboy

Cowboy Rooster, Rooster Cowboy

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Rooster tipped back his slouch hat and chomped down on the American Spirit between his beak. It was a hot one down in San Miguel, a lot like the year he slummed in the cockfighting dens of Pamplona. It ruffled his feathers, gave him some character. Not like now. Some birds won’t scratch around untilMore

The Afterlife

The Afterlife

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Gary stands by the side of the road that killed his wife. At least, he can imagine this is the road. Rickety tuk-tuks leave contrails of greasy exhaust. Mopeds bear down, brushing close, deliberate acts of disregard. Students. They ride in sandals or even bare feet, helmetless, alongside cars, trucks, and tuk-tuks, all competing toMore

Batting Practice Apocalypse

Batting Practice Apocalypse

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As the sun rises, the rays brush Mickey’s neck and reveal a raw impression left by the belt. A premature scar, fighting for life. The skin has the texture of used chewing gum stretched to the point of tearing. Bronson hopes it will fade soon, so he can stop looking at it, so Mickey willMore