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Bin Laden's Bald Spot

& Other Stories

Brian Doyle

Publication Year: 2011

Welcome to the peculiar and headlong world of Brian Doyle's fiction, where the odd is happening all the time, reported upon by characters of every sort and stripe. Swirling voices and skeins of story, laughter and rage, ferocious attention to detail and sweeping nuttiness, tears and chortling—these stories will remind readers of the late giant David Foster Wallace, in their straightforward accounts of anything-but-straightforward events; of modern short story pioneer Raymond Carver, a bit, in their blunt, unadorned dialogue; and of Julia Whitty, a bit, in their willingness to believe what is happening, even if it absolutely shouldn't be. Funny, piercing, unique, memorable, this is a collection of stories readers will find nearly impossible to forget.

Published by: Red Hen Press

Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgment, Dedication

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Bin Laden's Bald Spot

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pp. 1-3

Only two men in this sweet bruised world know that Osama bin Laden, son of Alia Ghanem and Muhammad bin Laden, has under his turban a sprightly crewcut modeled on Van Johnson in the 1954 movie The Last Time I Saw Paris, which, as only a few other men know, is his favorite movie, ...

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King of the Losers

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pp. 4-12

My sister and her boyfriend have two kids, girls, ages four and one. The kids are total sweethearts and the big one is wicked smart and can read already. My sister is wicked smart too but she has major mental thunderstorms and the social service has come three times to check on the kids. ...

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AAA Plus

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pp. 13-16

One night my car broke down and died not a mile from the shop where I had just spent more than eight hundred dollars on a new starter and timing mechanism and assorted other holy mysteries, and after I coasted it choking and lurching to the side of the road, and sat there silently banging the steering wheel so hard ...

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The Boyfriends Bus

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pp. 17-21

My wife had, by her count, eleven boyfriends before she married me twenty years ago. The way she tells the story it starts with a hockey player in high school who groped her at the prom, and it ends with the guy she lived with for five years before me, and includes such guys as the guy who she was dating who made a pass ...

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Do You Think We Should Pull Over?

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pp. 22-32

Which famously was the question my friend Pete asked me as we were driving in New Hampshire and his car, this was the Datsun, BURST INTO FLAMES! FLAMES WERE SHOOTING FROM THE ENGINE RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR EYES! and Pete asks hesitantly do you think we should pull over? ...

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pp. 33-37

She’s maybe sixteen, this kid, as sweet and gentle a girl as you’d ever want to meet. Quiet but quick and diligent around the house and yard. Smart as a whip. Takes classes at the community college already. A great kid. Not averse to helping me carry grocery bags or prune the fruit trees and such when she sees I am having trouble doing stuff now that I am old. ...

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The Cuckold 10K

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pp. 38-43

I came home early from work one day and found my wife Shari in bed with a guy. All I saw was a tangle of pink bodies in the bed. I recognized Shari’s feet. Our son Donnie was in his playpen in the living room. I don’t know who the guy was. Donnie just turned a year old and is just starting to walk ...

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Three Basketball Stories

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pp. 44-50

I played in a basketball league once in Boston that was so tough that when guys drove to the hole they lost fingers. One time a guy drove to the hole and got hit so hard his right arm fell off, but he was a lefty and hit both free throws before going to the bench. I heard later that he was furious he got taken out ...

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Stay Flush

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pp. 51-57

In December of 1961 I was a bartender at a golf club in Palm Beach. One day a guy comes in and orders a whiskey. This was at noon. He was an older guy, maybe seventy. His tee time was at four but he said he was having a bad day and wanted to settle his nerves before he went out on the course. ...

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pp. 58-61

Blue was the regiment drunk. He looked just like W.C. Fields with the big red nose and everything. He was useless but he was the sweetest guy, not a mean bone in his body. He was just a drunk, is all. Drunk morning noon and night. Drunk from the minute he opened his eyes until the minute he shut them. ...

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pp. 62-65

My dad was in the Hurtgen Forest during the war. The Hurtgen Forest is a dense woods on the border of Belgium and Germany. In the winter of 1944 the Americans fought the Germans there and some people say it was the worst killing field there ever was between two armies. ...

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Welcome Home Dick Queen!

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pp. 66-68

The greatest party ever was the Welcome Home Dick Queen party, at the height of summer, a long time ago now, two weeks after Dick Queen, who was all of twenty-eight years old at the time, was released by the wild-eyed Iranians who had kidnapped him and sixty-five other Americans in November 1979. ...

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Waking the Bishop

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pp. 69-78

The late bishop was an enormous man and it took ten men to carry his coffin. Among the men were two nephews, big strapping fellows like their uncle, and a Buddhist monk the bishop had befriended in the latter years of his career. ...

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The Train

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pp. 77-83

He’d walked to the station, and bought a paper, and found a corner seat on the train—about midway, so he could get out closest to the stairs when the train arrived in the city. Matters were auspicious— the weather fine, the news surprisingly positive about the machinations of his fellow creatures, the train car clean and uncrowded. ...

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Chino's Story

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pp. 84-86

Yeh, I shot the guy, everyone knows that, what with the play and the movie and all, and the thing is still in rotation at every earnest flyblown threadbare theater company in America, so no matter where I go, there I am, Mister Plot Device, shooting Tony so he can die in Maria’s arms so everyone can weep and wallow in the Romeo and Juliet analogy ...

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pp. 87-89

To get to him you had to go up through three checkpoints in the old house, each manned by two guards with guns, and then at the door of his room a guard put a gun to your head and stared into your eyes looking for a false spirit. ...

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A Confession

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pp. 90-98

Well, I’m sincerely sorry for him. He’s got the depression thing too, you know. The black dog. And he’s got a bad back. Jesus, a bad back is an awful thing. No matter what you do, there it is, like a knife in your spine. ...

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pp. 99-102

To drag the prisoner properly behind a horse you had to have a horse, and there were no horses in the village square, so Peter was sent to find a horse. The rest of the men waited with the prisoner, who sat quietly. ...

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The Fox

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pp. 103-105

It had long been his dream to travel in remote alpine areas, a dream that became pressing emotionally after his wife died, but he loved their children dearly and did not wish to be separated from them for even a day while they were of an age that an attendant and attentive father was, in his eyes and theirs, more crucial than before. ...

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The Man Who Wanted to Live in the Library

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pp. 106-110

He was sixty years old, slight, without the spectacles you would expect of the librarian. Amused, amusing. Gentle but intent. Married, generally happily, children grown. Fit no easy category. Employed by a large concern where he was generally admired. No particular obsessions or neuroses. Moderate drinker. ...

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Ramon Martinez Tells What Happened That Day

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pp. 111-112

My name is Ramon. I am fifteen. One thing people don’t know about me is I saved one of the airplanes on September the eleven from hitting one of the towers. South tower. No one knows this because I used my power to make everyone forget. There will be people say I say it now to get credit for this paper due in school ...

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22. The Greyhound Bus is Your Mother & Father

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pp. 113-127

My friend Denny was born in 1954 on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, so he was, as he liked to say, born mobile & destined to be restless, which was true, as he never paid rent or mortgage, never had a mailing address, & was, as he liked to say, a verbacious man, transitory & travelacious, a man whom, ...

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pp. 128-132

What with his back the way it was he couldn’t even bend down or kneel down or squat to examine the body. Nor could he lift it off to the side of the road. A stick maybe, to push it off the pavement? But he couldn’t bend to pick one up, nor was there anything of that sort in the car. ...

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Pinching Bernie

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pp. 133-143

You want a story? I’ll tell you a story. Check this out: Bernard Francis Cardinal Law, archbishop of Boston for almost twenty years, during which probably a thousand kids were raped by priests and Law knew about it but kept shuffling the rapists around from job to job and denying everything and writing letters that were total bullshit ...

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Bin Laden's Blind Spot

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pp. 144-147

Once before I told you a story about being the barber in the cave of Osama bin Laden, son of Alia Ghanem and Muhammad bin Laden, and about the bald spot the size of a baby’s fist on the back of his head, shaped exactly like Iceland, complete with the Vestfjarda Peninsula to the west, which he does not like to speak of, ...

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About the Author

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Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon, and the author of ten books of essays, nonfiction, “proems,” and the sprawling novel Mink River. His work has appeared in the annual Best American Essays, Best Science & Nature Writing, and Best Spiritual Writing anthologies. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781597091794
E-ISBN-10: 1597091790
Print-ISBN-13: 9781597099158
Print-ISBN-10: 1597099155

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: First