Cover

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Contents

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p. vii

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Caesar

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pp. 1-23

He leaned back and looked briefly at the Christmas lights on Kingshighway, then at the oddly shaped planetarium, which looked like an alien spaceship that had landed on the outskirts of Forest Park. Some piano pieces by Ravel were playing—not the usual thing you heard on the radio....

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The Dealer

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pp. 25-48

The dealer is a giant with a body like a bear’s. I’m a good-sized man but the dealer is taller and substantially heavier than me. Big as he is, his voice is even bigger and compels you to listen to it. There’s something else that’s special about his voice. When he talks you believe what he’s saying, at least initially, which gives ...

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Memorial Day

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pp. 49-72

There’s a lot to admire about Grandfather Pool. Even though he’s close to a hundred and moves very slowly, he walks by himself— doesn’t even use a walker. And even though his skin hangs on him like paper, you can see the outline of an excellent physique underneath. It’s as if his bones were playing hide-and-seek...

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Memo and Oblivion

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pp. 73-103

Although he was now taking Memo on a regular basis it was sometimes hard to remember the moment when he’d decided to become a member. He did remember how he’d first learned about it. It was through an ad in a literary quarterly, of all places, called The Galaxy Review. “Is Your Memory a Fiction?” the headline of...

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“Do You Like This Room?”

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pp. 105-124

She pulled back some of the hair that had fallen over her eyes, hair that she now realized was the same color brown as his. “Because there’re so many things here that are entertaining . . . like your giant TV and your stereo.”...

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Mission Beach

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pp. 125-143

It begins in the ocean with wave following wave, breaking over his head and sometimes over yours. You’re on vacation again with your twelve-year-old son, Andy, on crowded Mission Beach in San Diego and he’s jumping up and down in the water, laughing and squealing. You love the waves too, especially bodysurfing...

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The Dolphin

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pp. 145-158

It didn’t take much after that. In less than a minute they were walking together—money hadn’t even been discussed. Then he looked at her more closely and noticed that one of her front teeth was chipped, but she was still beautiful, he thought. They walked another block together, talking easily while he kept looking for a cab...

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The Justice Society

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pp. 159-185

It began when the air in his apartment changed. It grew heavier, becoming almost filmy, and had a faint but definite acrid smell. When he started to feel hotter and woke up in the night perspiring, he looked in his bathroom mirror. His hazel eyes looked watery and his hair seemed grayer—his whole face looked as if...

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The Interview

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pp. 187-207

The jeans were a disaster—a failure on every level. Not sexy enough, not classy enough, too preppy, like something from a different era. What was she thinking to even consider them for the interview? Her mind had been off lately, she knew that, as if it were taking delight in sabotaging her with one trap after...

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Single-Occupant House

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pp. 209-222

I would have stayed in the other place longer but the false teeth in the bathroom upset me. It was like walking along a beach looking for shells and suddenly seeing a dead lobster. A bad sign, a bad omen, so I knew I had to quit the house and go to the other I’d been considering on Silver Place. I couldn’t even...

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The Group

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pp. 223-240

It wasn’t until he’d finished coloring his hair that he realized he really was going to the group’s latest party. Throughout the afternoon, and for days before that, Summers had thought of various excuses he could make to Morton, who at this point hosted more parties per year than he wrote stories, yet he didn’t make the...

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The House

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pp. 241-266

He wouldn’t do that to himself again. He wouldn’t think of his dream last night where Melissa had been first a little girl and then a woman. Where he’d held her hand while they’d jumped the waves and she’d laughed a sound high and bell-like that he’d heard as clearly as if he’d seen her. Painful enough to have...

Acknowledgments

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p. 267