They're Calling You Home
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Northern Illinois University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This novel was written at strange times and in weird places. I’d like to thank the interior of my car where large sections of this book were hammered out. Also, airports, especially Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, deserve some thanking. But maybe the most unconventional of all is the chicken coop. ...
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The manila envelope lies on the desk, that damn clasp as gold as a capped incisor. I’ve picked it up over and over, sometimes shaking the contents, using my fingers to feel the stack of photos inside. I’ve smelled the envelope, touched it, stared at it, and even prayed over it, although I didn’t know what to say, ...
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The drive to the Pleasant Hills group home is short but filled with flora. My headlights cut dirty ocher swaths down the country road, illuminating the edges of the long-leaf pine forests, reflecting little beady eyes of raccoons and possums clinging to the bases of massive cypress trunks; ...
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I wake up often at night, and it’s relatively the same each time. I sit straight up in my bed and stare at the wall, a kind of staticy drone inside my head. Now, a day after talking with Michael, I sit in the same position on my bed, legs out before me, and all I can see is my father’s face, ...
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It’s late afternoon, sunlight dappling the pavement, as I amble with Pascal along the sidewalk, the new green leaves fluttering in the breeze. All around me, it’s as if spring will last forever, the white dogwood flowers bursting open, their petals as white as copy paper. ...
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Two days pass, and all I do is buy beer and wine and listen to classic rock stations. Tomorrow, I’m due back at the group home, but for now I crank up the stereo and smoke. The truth is I’m stuck. There were lots of nights like this one when I was working on Leaving Smallwood, nights when Kate was out late after her nursing classes. ...
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Almost three years had passed since that day at the Calhouns’ house, where Dad had pocketed something private and clean, tucked it in his coat. We’d probably been back to the Calhoun house at least fifty times since he’d stolen from Rebecca, and with each visit, I could feel myself incrementally understanding what he’d done. ...
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I think of my dad, the last time I saw him. He was behind a wall of bulletproof glass, sitting in the lone chair, pressing the phone against his ear. We’d visited like this for months, and he was always glad to see me. His hair had turned almost completely white, and he’d put on some pounds, but other than that he looked more alert than I could remember. ...
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Back at my apartment, the answering machine is blinking, and I think of all the bad news that comes from such a device: the arraignment and court-ordered psychotherapy, the bond and Mom putting up the house as collateral and the violation just four days after his release, the sound of Ike’s voice as he tried to explain that Dad would be on the news, ...
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It’s hard to pack for the trip. I can’t get the image out of my head of the cops arresting my father during our family Thanksgiving meal in Smallwood. Ike was there with Susana and their firstborn, who was just a baby. Wendy was in diapers, too, but toddling around the house. ...
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The interstate stretches out before us like a foreign land, elongated and crammed, littered with rubber, our fellow citizens erect or slouched in their vehicles, SUVs thumping rap, pumping pollution, and hybrids decaled with self-important pledges and mottoes. ...
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We’ve been in the hotel room for almost two hours, and Browder is totally engrossed in a movie called Gomorrah, an Italian film about the mob in the south of Italy. The description on the Internet said the writer of the novel the movie was based on had to leave the country for his own protection, afraid of an assassination plot from the Neapolitan branch of the Mafia. ...
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Forty-five miles outside of Smallwood my intestines begin to rumble. The potholes on the Indiana state highway don’t help, and I’m regretting having a big breakfast buffet at the hotel. It’s almost 1 p.m., and we’ll be in Smallwood in less than an hour, but a burp makes me slow down. ...
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It’s very early morning, just after 3 a.m., and I can’t sleep. The attic is so nicely furnished, I feel guilty about Ike putting so much effort into preparing us a place to stay. When we dragged in from the icy April night, Susana fixed all three of us decaf. ...
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Later that afternoon, I ring my mother’s doorbell and can’t believe my eyes when a tall, white-bellied man in a towel ducks from the kitchen area into the laundry room. For a moment, I assume she’s being assaulted, that I’ll have to break down the door and will find her bloody and sobbing, ...
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In the morning, while Browder snores, the rich coffee brewing downstairs wafting up into the attic, I sit at the desk and open my laptop. It’s strange to be writing again, or rather thinking about writing again. I find Ike’s Wi-Fi signal and log on, check my e-mail. ...
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I slip out during the night and sneak away in my truck, first putting it into neutral, then pushing the junker down the street so I don’t wake anyone. If Ike looked out the window and saw me, I know he’d think I was running away again, ditching Browder and heading off into the cool, dark spring night, ...
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Two days pass, and Browder leaves me again for Susana. At night, in my brother’s home, we review the photos Susana and Browder have taken. There’s the old Kranston Mill Brewery, the Shanty Falls, and the faces of old people at Thompson’s Merry Manor Home. ...
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Up in the attic I help Browder knot his necktie. Susana brought up one of Ike’s old suits; why, I’m not sure. Getting dressed up for the dinner doesn’t make much sense, but I’ve pressed a shirt, too, and tucked it in, put on some boat shoes. I’ve shaved and splashed on some cologne; ...
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Pascal and Browder look out the truck’s windshield with blank expressions. There’s a dense fog, the lights of other cars coming at us like alien orbs, growing nearer and nearer, then rushing past, illuminated cannons of energy, as if the cars themselves were empty, powered by forces unknown. ...
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The hotel is called The Singing Sands because of the sound the dunes make in and around Michigan City; they creak and groan, slip and moan. The tourist brochure states that there has to be a great deal of silica in the sand to produce the dull whining sound. ...
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I hate it, but Pascal will have to stay at a kennel while we visit with Rodney Finch. Death row doesn’t allow pets. As I try to follow the MapQuest directions under the aid of the truck’s dome light, Browder fidgets and looks around as if he thinks we’re about to run into the killer as we drive. ...
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We return to the same hotel, The Singing Sands. Browder is asleep now, but the entire drive back to the hotel, he couldn’t stop talking about how cool the muscled guard, Richard Ribbons, was. Browder had commented on the photos that were on the man’s desk. ...
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Dr. Shelpenfry’s office building is off Thirty-Eighth Street, in an outdated and nearly empty industrial park from the 1990s. The love seat is mauve, and the glass tables with their gold trim seem to hover over the Wedgwood blue carpet, giving the waiting area the feel of a small ship out to sea. ...
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The meeting room is cold, air-conditioning blowing down on us all as we sit nervously in a semicircle, the moms and dads, daughters and sons, the siblings, and frightened friends, the loose singles. Some look like movie extras, too hip, eyebrows raised, thinking of a million other places they’d rather be than here. ...
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As the spring turns warmer, edging into full summer, I spend my days at detox and my nights writing the newspaper feature. The story will be timely, says the editor at the Indianapolis Star. Along with new DNA evidence exonerating people on death row, the courts and the public alike are interested in microanalysis, ...
Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2012