Cover

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pp. 1-9

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Miami

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pp. 1-13

My wife Marge is lying on the bed with her sweater pulled up around her neck and her pants rolled down to her ankles. Her belly rises, tight as a beach ball. ...

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It Could Happen

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pp. 14-39

Segal slumps at the table, eyes more than half closed, thinking he'd rather be home. His head feels like the inside of a soggy sandwich. Across from him Korda holds the deck almost hidden in one big hand, knuckles folded over the cards. ...

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Peacock Blue

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pp. 40-50

When I was twelve years old and a good deal more certain about the world than I am now, my father bought me a used three-speed Raleigh bicycle; I took it down to the basement we shared with the Schades and painted it peacock blue. ...

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Diehl: The Wandering Years

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pp. 51-66

In the end Diehl went back to Santa Barbara. He drove the Datsun up the coast highway from Oceanside, through Los Angeles, Ventura, and Oxnard; he listened to the radio and watched the surfers in their black suits, bobbing in the water, waiting for the wave. ...

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A Special Case

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pp. 67-78

Harry Caudill studied his naked self in the mirror. He had imperceptibly turned into a fat man. A fat man in a strange place, he thought; he felt Ohio all about him, surrounding the cottage he rented from Marvella, pressing on the walls. ...

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Home Is the Blue Moon Cafe

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pp. 79-91

Used to be I liked the Texas heat, but I don't anymore, so I stepped inside quick. The swamp cooler was making its same stupid whang-whang-whang noise it had been making two years ago, the day I left. Everything else hadn't changed either. ...

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The Amelia Barons

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pp. 92-104

In the picture I keep in my head my father wears his old blue windbreaker unzipped to the waist. On the back, between his shoulders, is printed a knight's helmet with a drooping plume; under the helmet, in Gothic capitals, is the name of the team my dad coached, the Amelia Barons. ...

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A Hunk of Burning Love

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pp. 105-114

Gene is already there when I come through the door of the New Deal Cafe and Bar. There's a sausage speared on the end of his fork and he's waving it in Rita's face. Gene's a fat man but a long way from jolly; he can in fact be mean as a snake if you give him half a chance. ...

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La Vida

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pp. 115-128

Lunchtime. Loveman comes down off his roof. He looks back up, sees the peak of the house he built, and past that the Oregon sky: woolly clouds that remind him of the state university sheep that graze endlessly in the field down the road. Dumb beasts with stenciled numbers on their backs. ...

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Cheerful Wisdom

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pp. 129-137

Listen now, honey. I am about to tell you the God's simple truth about all this, from the start to the finish. No lies." ...

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Sometimes the Wrong Thing Is the Right Thing

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pp. 138-150

The other six nights at the Joker belong to the semiprofessional eighteen-year-olds with too much breast, too little hip, and all the assurance in the world, flashy girls with hard little asses no bigger than volleyballs, who strut their stuff, roll their eyes at the men, and end up being about as sexy as Shirley Temple. ...