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In Which Brief Stories Are Told

Phillip Sterling

Publication Year: 2011

Brief encounters with the suffering and triumphs of characters living in northern Michigan by Phillip Sterling.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

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One Version of the Story

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pp. 1-10

The first time Richardson comes in, me and Bruce are backed against a red S-15, having coffee and shooting the breeze gabbing, when this buckskin ’76 Century Custom wheels in at a good clip, swings around, and lurches to a stop, smack in front of the double doors, as if it was meant for the showroom—if the Jimmy we were leaning on wasn’t in its place. A blast of frigid air ...

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pp. 11-13

Years after his father died at MeadowView Nursing Home, where the elder Parker was housed after Alzheimer’s turned his memory to a kind of store-brand tartar sauce, Robbie Parker Jr. could not navigate a shopping cart down the seafood aisle of a grocery store without thinking of the night his father had taken him smelting on Crystal Lake. ...

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What We Don’t Know

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pp. 13-24

The truck must have pulled in about a quarter to three. I say about because I didn’t notice exactly. I was flipping through the latest Cosmo, delivered the day before, my day off, and I was tickled as usual why so many women would fess up to their foolishness— even make light of it! It never ceases to amaze me how shallow and sex-driven some women actually are, and so I look ...

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The Small Bridge

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pp. 25-30

A young man in a red corduroy jacket stands near a small wooden bridge that he’d built himself and placed over a creek, or what he liked to call “the creek”—a rough, twig-lined didn’t actually require a bridge, given its meager proportions, and given that it barely filled with water but twice a year, spring and fall. Just now the creek was dry, unseasonably so for late Oc-...

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The Pleasure of Your Company

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pp. 31-42

Marla described the dinner as “our turn to entertain.” But I didn’t see a need to take a turn. Yes, we had been to John Foster’s twice, during our first year in North Bank. We had attended his Christmas gala in December and then the pig roast and beer bash in July. Yet neither time did I come away feeling some obligation to repay his hospitality. Instead, I’d already had ...

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First Response

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pp. 43-44

We’d been back from the warehouse fire about an hour— furniture, mostly, secondhand bedroom sets and so-called antiques, the kind that flash faster than scrub pine in a California drought, if you want to talk heat, or losses. The new kid, the one they call T.P., had already been cleared from the ER for the smoke he ate, and we were washing down the trucks for...

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A Real Deal

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pp. 45-54

Lynnette loves linoleum. The words tasted bittersweet, like lemonade. She said it again: Lynnette loves linoleum. She inhaled deeply. Lynnette loves the lovely smell of linoleum. Her swollen tongue teased the enamel of her front teeth: lovely, lemonade, linoleum. She tried to recall what it had been like when she lost her front teeth, how funny she must have sounded. But it was ...

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pp. 55-56

Our final tune was always a Sousa march, like the one that goes da da, da-da-da, da-da-da—which Mitch Miller, if you recall, used as a sign-off for his sing-along show: “Be kind to your fine feathered friends . . .” I think it was Sousa. Always something loud and upbeat and meant for people to start clapping or pumping their arms like they were drum majors, eventually ...

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An Account in Her Name

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pp. 57-74

The village hadn’t changed much since I’d last been there. The campground was still wedged between the old railroad and the beach, though it appeared to be more suitable for RVs now than campers or tents. And the village park and public swimming area looked much as it did in its heyday, when it attracted enough tourists from downstate to sustain three short blocks of ...

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pp. 75-78

Not many guests leave tips these days, which is why I’ll remember them. A five-spot every morning beside the TV. And cheerful in a meaningful way. Not Good morning! as some kind of obligation. Honestly old school. Though mostly it was the woman, her face full of smile and a bright chirp to her voice, like a cardinal’s on the first real spring day. No effort to it....

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pp. 79-92

If it wasn’t for the fact that I get turned on seeing Libby in her fancy clothes, I wouldn’t have so readily agreed to attend her boss’s affair. Left up to me, we would have RSVP’d Sorry and stayed home. ...

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Within an Inch of the Burnished Knob

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pp. 93-98

Within an inch of the burnished knob, the hand hesitates. An insignificant moment, a pause of the inevitable. And yet, in a pause, evitable and significant. Let us consider the circumstances. He has been gone twenty years, into the hills above the cemetery, or down the street to the tobacconist’s for a cherry blend, his favorite. He has seen the fantasies of years to come, ...

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The Good Life

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pp. 99-110

It began the year before, the morning he came in for breakfast and complained that he was having trouble hitching the sprayer to the tractor. “Gettin’ too old for this,” he said, slumping into the dinette chair closest to the door. He claimed to be losing strength in his arms, and half-humorously attributed it to age. He looked pale, even more so than usual above his hat line. ...

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Empty Nest

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pp. 111-112

Ellen kept two feeders on the deck—the clumsy wooden one Harry Jr. had made in eighth-grade shop class, many years before, and the newer, red plastic, barn-shaped one she’d bought on sale at Walmart. Three others were spaced in the yard: one in the shape of a gumball machine on a pole near the back fence, and two smaller tubes in the crab apple that, when filled, ...

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The Last Swim of the Season

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pp. 113-132

The gold-speckled Formica was now gray countertop. Stainless steel had replaced the hideous green enamel sink (dulled by a young girl’s angry scrubbing with a Brillo pad), and someone had painted the lower cabinets a dark red—surely the tenth or eleventh coat of cheery color on doors that never latched completely to begin with. Beyond that, the kitchen area was ...


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pp. 133-134

E-ISBN-13: 9780814335352
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814335079

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1
Volume Title: N/a