Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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p. ix

Thanks to the Massachusetts Cultural Council for a grant aiding in the completion of the stories in this collection. Thanks to my friends and family for their support: my parents Alfred and Marie Crouse, Perry Glasser, Jennifer Barber, Greg Moutafis, Jon Dembling, Kerstin Mueller, Brad and Kelly Mintz, Rusty Dolleman, Adam Spector, Dylan Hall, ...

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Kopy Kats

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pp. 1-18

This was not the kind of thing Anthony wanted to hear on a rainy Saturday morning before the requisite dose of caffeine had pumped its way through his system. It sounded like the opening sentence of an hour-long, barely coherent rant—and not even an interesting one. The fluorescent light above Anthony’s head had been ...

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Morte Infinita

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pp. 19-44

On the last Halloween Kristen spent with her father they dressed as vampires, and when he hefted the rock that would shatter the Eisensteins’ bay window and send their dog yelping into the woods, he smiled a sad vicious smile, and his face became the face of a vampire too. “There are two kinds of people in this world,” he said. Then ...

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Click

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pp. 45-114

A close-up of Stephanie’s face. The pockmarks in her cheeks, a slender scar on her temple, lips puckered like a model’s, but something dangerous in the eyes. Stephanie standing in front of a white drop cloth. Stephanie naked with her arms above her head so that she looks flat chested and boyish. Stephanie ...

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Crybaby

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pp. 115-138

Candy was lost and I hoped I might find him somewhere in the graffiti-scribbled buildings of our youth. Or it was me who was lost. So I left my wife and daughter and drove north through six states back to that ruined Victorian house on the hill where Cheryl was throwing her never ending party. I entered through the wide-open back door, walked into the ...

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Swimming in the Dark

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pp. 139-162

When I was young my mother sometimes woke in the middle of the night, the way people do in small houses where noise doesn’t have far to travel. She would pull her bathrobe tight around her, walk downstairs, and find my brother at the kitchen table hunched over a book. I don’t think they talked much, although she might have put some water on to boil, or turned ...

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Code

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pp. 163-188

My office did not look like my office. I had asked the department secretary to redecorate it while I was on vacation, and she had filled it with hanging plants—spidery things with long sharp leaves. All the green made me nervous. The increased feeling of responsibility depressed me. The plants would die ...

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The Ugliest Boy

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pp. 189-214

Justin was in love with a girl whose brother had been disfigured by fire. The kids called him Barbecue, but only behind his back, because he stood over six feet tall, with thick biceps, a stomach hard from a regimen of sit-ups, and crossed daggers tattooed on his throat just below the scars. The face itself ...

Retreat

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pp. 215-238