Front Cover, Front Matter

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. 8-11

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Bring Your Legs with You

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pp. 1-21

...My brain is not wired for chess, so the Tuesdays me and my dad Gus got together he punked me good, game after game. “One move at a time,” he told me. “Don’t be counting your chickens.” All that talk about calculating ten, fifteen plays ahead, Gus declared it crap. Be his guest, you’re such a pistol. You’re such a genius, you can calculate infinity? Because that’s the...

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The Sweet Science

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pp. 22-43

...Where we kicked back, you got to talking, the bunch of us sitting around, cooking up half-baked hypotheticals about everything under the sun, particularly about ladies and the wonder they are, our BS rising like flood water, swift and with weight and consequence to it, intent on damage, and if you wanted another beer, you interrupted the deluge and said...

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Death Care World Expo, Reno, Nevada

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pp. 44-60

...Here’s what I owned. The jaw I gave my boy Hector and the two professional weight-class belts I never lost. Boxing, middleweight division and light-heavy. Headed for the cruisers, I quit. Retired. Now I roofed houses for the clarity of the job. I owned the business. My gift? Calm in a storm of fists. You try to put something together in the boxing ring or out of it, and I don’t blink, not ever. I won’t let you manufacture a combination. I...

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How Would You Play This?

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pp. 61-77

...connection between shooting pool and living life that his Pluggonian logic wrenched from the old joke about the guy who has a choice between marrying a beautiful woman and a woman who sings beautifully. Groom wakes up the morning after the wedding, rolls over in bed and looks long and hard at his new bride. Sez, “Sing, woman. Sing.” Plugg set up a shot on the pool table, buttonholed...

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No One Is Going to Ask You to Sing

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pp. 78-98

...There you had Gus on me that I was damn fool enough to bet with him that that same football team and its big money Pac-Ten coach made a bowl game. The school was grandstanding was all. “Piss from honey,” Gus said to me. “Color, texture, flow, taste and touch. Not to mention smell. And you, Tommy, you’re mistaking the piss for the honey.” I raised our bet. Gus collected the cash and matched it. He stuck it in a drawer in the liquor cabinet behind him. Came...

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Five Times for Disorderly Conduct

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pp. 99-115

...Dinner, but not a dinner party. Tommy Rooke’s father, Gus, won’t grant it that status. Twelve guests is all. Interested folk is how Gus describes them. The get-together is at Gus’s place near Red Rock. Tommy invited and accounted for—summoned, requested, dragooned, eventually, he figures, to be ambushed in this box canyon. He’s the focus of a certain kind of calculated attention. Tommy is attired, tuxedoed, a red carnation...

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Until Liquor Is Made Legal

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pp. 116-137

...“It’s a wuss game,” Tommy’s buddy Pete Hitchcock said to him. Subject was the softball on the field below them. Tommy toasted Pete and the softballers—Jack Daniel’s, and he said, “To wusses and their offspring.” Plugg rejoined Tommy and Pete. He had survived a journey to the public john under the stands. Plugg had asked Tommy and Pete to escort him, and they declined, saying they would come running if he wasn’t back in ten minutes. Right under his nose, just to rag him, they synchronized their watches. The young needling...

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You Missed Something Good with Hats

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pp. 138-158

...Three a.m., and Tommy Rooke and Jane were up and waiting on the police. Rare, but now and then, serious rain hit Las Vegas, summer gullywashers, and if you didn’t unplug Jane’s cordless, the phone dialed 911 on its own. They woke half an hour ago to a flash of lightning, followed by thunder, and seconds later, a dispatcher called, a woman this time. Tommy...

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The Blues Is about Mans and Womans

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pp. 159-176

...Three a.m., and the blues, Vegas Vic wanted Tommy to understand, is about mans and womans. The blues is not boxing. No, sir. The blues is not prizefighting. Fighting is fighting is all it is. Tommy and the dog were walking the streets of Tommy’s gated community. February, and Las Vegas was cold enough for jackets. Hands in pockets. A cap, if you owned one. Not quite six hours ago, Tommy, in the ring, making a comeback, was throwing a right and stepped into that right we never see. It was the seventh round of a ten rounder, Tommy points up on...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 177-178

...I want to thank those who read these stories for me and offered kind and exacting suggestions—Kate Spencer, François Camoin, Rob Roberge, and Brady Udall. I also want to thank Ohio University, where I am a professor in the English department. The school’s generosity has provided me with support and time that I greatly appreciate. I am particularly indebted to three books I read...

Back Cover

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pp. 190-190