Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Nevada Press
Title Page, Copyright
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I’m indebted to many people and organizations that have helped me along the way. Josh Benke, Don Lee, Robert Boswell, Julian Rubinstein, and Pauls Toutonghi read early drafts and of_fered sound advice. For their insights, humor, and friendship, big thanks to Willy Vlautin, Ralph Morgan, Nicole Tourtelot, Scott Benke, Dan Engber, Blake Nelson, Sam ...
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...thirty was dinner hour, the fever-rush to the dining commons. In the shimmery heat of the summer afternoon, everyone prepared for gossip and spoons. Elevators in the whitewashed towers opened with a pneumatic hiss, spilling groups of twos and threes onto the central brick quad, where men in oversized Hawaiian shirts mingled with elderly women who stood ...
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...“You did the same as a boy,” Nana said, gripping my hand tighter. “Always Questions I overheard at the surrounding dinner tables: Why was Saul Berger’s left eye so droopy? Anyone hear about Jane Munro ley Impersonation Show, to be performed by a man named Eli Presley?Nana nibbled down five buttered wheat crackers, threw her hands up at ...
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I was up early, shaved, fingernails clipped, socked-up, considering whether or not to wear, in this strangulating heat, my grandpa’s long-sleeve blue oxford. It had been one of my grandfather’s nicest. My first interview in over a year, and I was actually looking forward to the event. I hadn’t had a proper job in so long that the meager academic accomplishments on ...
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Outside, a saguaro threw a flexed shadow across the hood of my car. Behind me Danni’s footfalls raked the gravel sloppily and sounded to me like pouts. Two jets in formation streaked through the ashen sky, their contrails dividing the heavens into quadrants. One thing struck me as true: Danni had the view. Olive-green, chest-high brush rolled toward the hori-...
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...of Second Base, the proud warrior who punched through the defense with a line drive to that open spot of field. I remembered connecting bat to ball. I remembered the sweet taste of triumph followed soon after by the sting “Are you ever, pussy, going to take a swing, pussy?” Warsaw yelled. Off in the shadows Warsaw had a ball in one hand and a bottle in the other....
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...“Too bad,” I told him. “Let’s go,” I told Epstein. Epstein blinked huge I opened the glove compartment, slid the hidden door, and rummaged through the white bags. I stole a Xanax from Ms. Fesmire’s stash.Traffic heading into the States bottlenecked at the checkpoint. The northbound line was a long, slow-moving caterpillar. Dogs were sniffing ...
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...bar double-fisting two mojitos. Pulverized mint floated amid the ice. I watched her hips—hips squeezed into worn, tight-fitting blue jeans. Her biceps spoke of money spent on personal training. And I I’d tried buying the drinks, but Danni, being Danni, provided for oth-ers. She set the glasses on the table next to a wandering jew, its deep green ...
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The gentleman at the bar swiveled on his stool as I followed Danni Sunlight filtered through a cleft in the hotel drapes, strafing the sheets back, and there, in my quad, was a sewing needle. It was embedded a quarter of an inch. I blinked. It didn’t register. I touched the end and pain rippled down my leg. I couldn’t believe it. Black thread ...
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Mona was in frayed mauve sandals. A small buckle connected across the top. One of her toenails was chipped. She glanced at her watch. “Well, I have a work appointment,” she said. “Some people have real jobs. If you’ll excuse me.” She brushed past me, heading for a breach, close enough that I She looked at me strangely, kindly. “I never said you were,” she said....
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...in the middle. Someone fell. And of course, everyone wants to watch that A shadow broke apart the light from a distant lamp. Near the building at the end we saw Mr. Garland Bills walking on a path and dressed in a tux-edo. His hair was combed and as shiny as a black widow’s belly. It was the only time I’d seen him without a tracksuit. Garland Bills saw us and maneu-...
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...changes hands. Allegiances form and disintegrate. Appointments are missed and chaos ensues. This is what’s certain. If the man following you “He wore a ring with a black bull,” Danni said. “Sid told me about a belt “So you mentioned,” the man said. He squirmed, crossed his legs, and laid a hand on his knee. “That’s a problem. A bull means one thing. Los ...
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...the navy blue. I told you, come winter, the sunlight wouldn’t our arguments, but we had a life. We could still have one. I never wanted Juliet’s voice mail surprised me, made me miss her again. It made me feel plugged in to some distant electrical source. This was the first time she’d ever said she hadn’t wanted me to leave, that maybe she still wanted ...
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Each day bones strained, bodies accumulated moss, and blood, con-My nights had been plagued by dangerous, memorable, extravagant I sat in an air-conditioned office, sucking in my thirty-three-year-old gut and listening to Grady Masters, Paseo del Sol’s Housing Coordinator, who wore a name badge in the shape of a saguaro, like every employee in this ...
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...away from saving the world from itself, he visits. He’s the stronger man Rolling a rock under my tennie, I felt its sharp edge against the sole of “Well, be sure to keep up,” Mr. Bills said. “Pay attention, and listen. Hang around, even when it gets boring, especially when it gets boring. That’s the “And tell them they’re good,” I said. I kicked the rock into the lake and ...
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...at the amount due, stunned, insulted. Prior to pegging the bill to the fridge, I dropped it on the kitchen floor and scuffed it on the tiles.Hours later Danni Zepeda showed up at my door. She was right on time. We got in my car. It was beginning to get dark. Danni wanted to show me her special spot. As I drove, she rubbed lotion into her bulging fore-...
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...“You have to eat more than waffles and peanut butter,” the woman’s “Yes, dear,” Epstein responded. I detected a low, depressed modulation “Fine, dear. Okay, dear. I heard you, dear. Whatever you say, dear.”Standing in the kitchenette, surrounded by flung-open cabinets, the woman set her hands on her hips when I walked in. “And who are you?” she ...
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I met her at the city zoo before opening hours. I hadn’t been to the zoo since I’d been a teen, and my date was early, stand-with two tickets. Mona’s toenails looked newly polished, sunlight glinting “You have a neck rash,” Mona said and reached out to touch beneath “There was an extra razor on the counter. I thought, why not?”...
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...morning she was still with me. I walked around the casita halfway dazed. I spilled coffee on my toes. I looked down and I was wearing only one sock. It was more than the sex. The sex was good, but it was her touch, her smell, her voice, smile, opinions, questions, demands. I was invigorated by the Around noon I began on the backyard. The pale sky was a day galaxy of ...
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...into an undistinguishable heap. I spent time on the casita, caulking the leak under the bathroom sink, installing blinds in the spare room, and checking the fuse box. The days were long and cauterizing, the air dusty and stirless. Each was difficult to move through and easy to forget.I visited the nursing home almost every day while I waited for things to ...
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...sitting in the dark, staring at this photo, warmed only by his wife’s smile. It saddened me to see love demolished by death, and I thought about Mona and the future, growing old, growing infirm, both of us clutching to each I opened the drapes. Below, two men were playing horseshoes in the “That Mexican at game night was nice,” Epstein said. “Very polite, ...
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...directions. She didn’t appear to suspect subterfuge. I gave her my best led my eyelashes. I opened my eyes and saw her heart going in her neck. I reached for her hair and grabbed with my teeth. She eased down with a tug. “You grind your molars when you sleep,” she said. “It’s like sharing my “I know something that helps,” she said. I felt her tongue on my earlobe ...
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...approached the corner of my eye. I watched my friend dip a hand in the fountain and cup some water. Mist settled on our cheeks. My friend was slowly pulling the vanishing act, and I didn’t know what, if anything, to do. Was there anything anyone could do? I touched Warsaw’s arm. He tried shrugging it off. I didn’t let him. I stood with him, touching his arm. Some-...
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I fiddled with my watch. As I explained to her the break in the fence, the open lane across the border, the lines beside her eyes hardened. I gave her Danni’s reasoning. People crossed every day. As human beings, people were meant to move from one place to another. I would just be helping people out. It was really nothing, I assured her. I watched Mona assume ...
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...was quiet. A clock ticked. A floorboard creaked. Something was blooming I drove south out of Tucson and passed through the twin border-kissing Nogaleses, and into Mexican sun. Shape-shifting figures skipped across my car’s hood as the red morning sky cooled into icy blue. I followed the dusty I slowed when I saw the motel in the distance. Bulbs were shot out of ...
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...cassette tape had melted inside the stereo. A lone cloud floated in the sky, so close I could have taken it out with a rock. I heard distant popping noises—firecrackers, gunshots? I wanted to be with Mona in some far-off place, her feet touching mine, her breath at my neck. Instead Danni lis-tened on the phone as I reviewed the fleabag motel outside of town, the ...
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...“I know you disagree with my decision,” I said with famine in my voice. “I know you think I’m some sort of criminal. But I need to make this one run. I need you to understand. And I don’t want it to affect us. I want to Mona stood on the side of her foot, towel draped in her arms. She drove her forearm into a towel, halving it. “You sound like you want to be res-...
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In the sideview mirror I watched the cell phone break into three solid I’d parked front-and-center in the yard. A cheap electric fan blew on my Warsaw had spread the newspaper across the counter, and the front page showed yet another snapshot, from a different angle, of agents lead-ing the giraffe onto a trailer. Our spectacular strikeout had made head-...
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...“Listen. I’m only giving you another chance because you smell right,” dow in a yellow, ghostly glow, knowing the only thing left of any value, I gently turned back the covers and Mona’s eyes opened. She batted her lashes against my shoulder and disappeared under the sheets, and I felt her warm breasts against my ribs. She nuzzled against me, half-awake, musky ...
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...fix the car stereo but couldn’t find any interesting tapes at Goodwill. There was no reason, anyway, to drive long distances. Mona and I fell into rou-tines: her apartment one night, the casita the next. Nana surprised every-one with her speech therapy progress. Now, when she talked, it sounded like she had only one marble in her mouth. The fall brought cooler weather, ...
Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: West Word Fiction