restricted access A Sort of Miracle
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1 1 Baroque wished he and Marlboro were back at the house watching the medical shows with their sister, Lisa. Instead, they were in a truck with Denton, their brother-in-law. Baroque wasn’t used to Denton being this nearby. Denton was an accountant, and Monday through Friday he was at work all day. Weekday evenings he usually disappeared into the back bedroom after dinner. Of course Saturdays and Sundays Denton was around more, and more often in the front of the house, and it was starting to take just a little thing like opening the refrigerator door for their brother-in-law to give him and Marlboro a look, a long unblinking look. One night Denton had called him and Marlboro lard-asses and claimed they lacked ambition and would never amount to anything if that didn’t change. He’d said it just the one time, but Baroque could tell Denton had thought it more than that one time. He and Marlboro had even sat on the porch for a few minutes yesterday, just to get somewhere Denton wasn’t. But they were with him now and you sure couldn’t get away from him in a truck cab, and the three of them were riding up a bumpy dirt road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, doing something that Baroque was pretty sure wasn’t just a little illegal, like smoking pot or running a stop sign, but a lot illegal, like getting sent to prison, regardless of Denton saying it was a public service. a sort of miracle Ron Rash fiction 2 ecotone The dirt road came to a sudden dead end. Cinder blocks marked the parking lot, and there was a trail on the other side. Denton told them again everything they were supposed to do and handed Baroque the cell phone, then left with the pistol and knife strapped around his waist. Up the trail a few yards and suddenly gone, like the woods had just swallowed him up. That made Baroque feel spooky, Denton disappearing like that, but everything about this bear business had been spooky. Like the way two weeks ago Denton had brought a big carton home after work and opened it in the living room in front of Baroque and Marlboro. Denton took out a steel trap and then pulled out a pistol and a yellow box of bullets and then the knife. A big knife, the kind Baroque had seen only in movies where maniacs hacked people to death, and they were maniacs who always had some mask or hood covering everything except their eyes, which made it worse, because it could be anybody who was the maniac, even the person in the movie who seemed most normal. To kill bears, that’s what Denton said when he took the trap and pistol and knife out of the box. Like Marlboro, Baroque was wearing only a regular shirt and a sweatshirt and he was getting real cold. The warmth from the heater seemed to have whooshed right out the moment Denton opened the door. Baroque and Marlboro hadn’t been with Denton when he set the bear trap, but Baroque wished now that Denton had made them come then, because it had to have been a lot warmer that day. His breath clouded the windshield and Baroque felt his body start to shiver. He looked at the trail, then cranked the engine and put the heater on high. “Denton said we shouldn’t do that unless we got real cold,” Marlboro said. “Well, I am real cold,” Baroque said, “aren’t you?” Marlboro nodded and clapped his hands together once and rubbed them. “How cold do you think it is?” “Eight degrees,” Baroque said. “That was the number on the bank sign.” “I don’t think we’ve ever been in weather like this,” Marlboro said. “No,” Baroque agreed. “It’s probably never been this cold in Florida , except maybe during the Ice Age.” “I wish Lisa could have come down to Florida to help us get a job there instead of up here.” 3 ron rash “That would have been better,” Baroque said, “but there’s...

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