Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Epigraph

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Contents

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pp. vii-x

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In the days of butchers

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pp. 1-8

Happened just the once, over the hedgerows, at night, the puny rich kid found out the address down by the university and we chugged Carlos’s dad’s tequila on the ride in the truckbed and someone even puked it up right out the tailgate. Shh, shh, there he is, we all said, and it was true, Coach Wagner inside his...

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Aliens

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pp. 9-40

This spring break it was decided that Hazel was old enough to stay home alone. She had tons of homework, she assured her parents on the drive to the airport. And of course track practice in the mornings. It’ll be uneventful, she promised. I’ll call every night. Bore you...

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Water

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pp. 41-57

The girl at the temp agency laughed every time I returned. I’d gone through six jobs in a year. Janitorial. Data entry. Shelf-stocking. The previous winter I was a bank courier. Endless hours escorting double-locked canvas bags across barren southwest highways. Once I dozed off and nearly drove right...

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Hike

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pp. 58-69

The blinds rattled with breeze and a mourning dove coo-loo-looed outside the bedroom window and Wanda crinkled her nose and yawned. The air stank musty, overnight rain. What time was it? Painfully-early-o’clock, she thought, blinking with pain; her eyes felt like they’d been set in rosin. Beside...

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Vacation

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pp. 70-83

On the first day of his week-long vacation, Daniel rests naked on a tan leather couch, halved watermelon between his legs. A spoon juts from the paling red flesh and a fan moans behind him. His right hand, laid gentle on his knee, flexes intermittently. Across the room, Josephine stands before a long mirror. The mirror reflects...

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bearing down

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pp. 84-95

At ten a.m., R slipped forty bucks into Walnut Creek’s downtown ARCO cash kiosk. Pump 6. Six hundred miles to go fill he thought fill faster faster fill faster faster faster.
At eleven a.m., in Tucson, Arizona, S shoved his screaming alarm to the ground. Oh my head thought hungover S oh my head...

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Pistoleros

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pp. 96-113

Our stepfather, I suddenly remember—he’d owned a gun, too. I’m not sure how this comes to my mind—it isn’t in the flow of our conversation, I mean.
He kept it, a handgun, in a shoebox in his study. We lived in a mild suburban tract community, more than you might expect in a place like Tucson. Silverbanks of mail...

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Anniversary

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pp. 114-128

A year later, the killer’s high school was inundated: how-to-cope-with-depression seminars, private counseling sessions, and gun violence panels all week long. The students were dazed, faculty, too. The principal granted an All Things Considered reporter access and she jammed her recorder in blank faces, asking, “What...

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After the shootings

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pp. 129-136

Carter was morose, too. I called, said, Hey, Carter, let’s get drunk at the end of Prince Road (where the cops didn’t bother us). I said, Carter, let’s go mock stoners behind Circle K. Carter wasn’t having it. The violence had shaken him. He was disturbed about the...

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Rattle

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pp. 137-172

The boy flinches once as his father speeds over a cattle-guard, flinches again as his father punches him in the arm. “Cowboy game, son, be ready next time.” The boy blushes and lowers his head, careful not to rub the pain. Instead, he spreads the topographical map on his rattling knees and tries to find...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 173-177

Prior versions of several stories first appeared in these journals: “In the days of butchers,” Eleven Eleven; “Water,” CutBank; “Aliens,” Copper Nickel; “Hike,” Natural Bridge; “Vacation,” Pinyon; “After the shootings” (as “We Will Live as Men”) in Gigantic; and “Rattle” in EPOCH.

The author thanks the many places, people, and institutions who...

Back Cover

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