Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Northern Illinois University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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...alone. I am not one of them. My gratitude and thanks to the fol-...
The phone rang at 6 a.m.
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...it more. He lit a cigarette, already his fourth of the day. Across around the room, blown by the kitchen’s competing drafts. Grub worked best for constellations because of their flat bottoms. Alumi-num beer cans were more abundant and easier to get a nail through, clared them off-limits for other reasons, in particular because they ...
Eric and Cammy listened
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...from the car, less concerned with the walk to the road than with the color rising in their father’s face. “Piece of shit,” he finally said ment he stared straight ahead, and Eric watched the red fall down the back of his father’s neck and into his shirt, like a thermometer “This one is,” Roy said. “Come on. I need to loosen up this leg ...
Roy declined a drag
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...“All fucked up. Permit problem. That’s why we’re off today. You should’ve seen Gordon. That big ol’ vein in his forehead popped out two inches this time. I hope I’m not standing in front of that “Grass is less messy,” Dombey said. “So this thing I mentioned.”“He steered us to another guy. The Judge. That’s what everyone ...
On Friday mornings
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...brary, leaving Miss Birch to chat with Mrs. Krakus, the head li-Julie Garland playing with the library’s fern. At her touch the plant closed its spines around her little finger. White-blond hair sprouted from elastic bands on either side of her head. She had to “What books are you checking out?” she asked and she cocked ...
By late morning Roy had
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...rah, she said, her teeth grinding over the name, as if it tested the deepest reserves of Southern graciousness. Roy said nothing. Ten years of marriage to Jean had taught him to stay out of the way his lunches for the next week. Six weeks off had meant six weeks favorites, and often the sustenance of his married years amidst ...
When Eric entered the kitchen
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...next to the sink, holding Grub against her hip and talking about her drive. Five gallons of bottled water sat on the table. After suffering a ferences were clearer. Aunt Deb’s curly black hair, cut above the ears in a style Dad called “the Garfunkel,” was nothing like the showed up dressed in a suit or at least a skirt and blouse, never in ...
Phyl outdid herself
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...ted quilt covered the pullout bed in the tiny upstairs room Jean with Jean’s old textbooks, relics of the college degree she had Jean never finished? Deb failed to recall her own conclusion from the time. At any rate it had been hard to parse out the truth with and nonflowering plants, Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, a battered ...
Eric signed up for baseball
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Playing the previous season had whittled his daydreams from being Reggie Jackson to escaping right field. In twelve games he had four balls hit in his direction, and two of those over his head. Worse, his with style. His flip-up sunglasses were the envy of the league. Un-fortunately, he paid more attention to the shades than to fly balls, ...
“I’ll have to clear it with Fergus,”
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Roy’s voice barely registered. “I already owe Phyl money.”“I don’t anticipate a problem,” Deb said. Just the opposite, she suade her husband from helping. He already contributed to an ex-panding legion of Girl Scouts, undergrads, acid casualties, down-and-out vets, and Hare Krishnas. “Before you go,” she added, “I ...
Roy thought that
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...than Jail—smelled like all of Eric’s other schools. Maybe all textbooks, floor wax, finger paint, and cafeteria emissions that inevitably overpowered the array of things students stepped in, of the parent-teacher conference, Roy was surprised to see that Miss Birch—he knew her only as Eric knew her—stood close to six feet ...
Phyl had a pot of ham
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...him of her visit, she said. Roy grunted. Before he could get to the week. Weeks. He’d completely forgotten. Water had warped a sec-tion of the floor as big around as the dining room table. Kneeling, he ran a thumb over the black stains in the cracks, pushed down “I should’ve checked it,” Roy said. “Going back to work—I forgot.”...
With Roy back at work
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Phyl’s house after school. Few of Eric’s friends lived in town so he usually passed the time enjoying Phyl’s superior TV reception or talking to her in her garden. Eric admired the flair for decoration that led Aunt Phyl to encourage her tomato vines to infiltrate a pair of old lattice shutters Uncle Cowell had bought for a quarter ...
Once, when he was eleven
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...cousins steal several cases of Coca-Cola from a parked delivery truck. More cases than they could carry very far, in fact. When it was that a fortune could fit inside a jangling plastic bag that “The deal’s halfway closed already. We wouldn’t have touched the shit otherwise. What would we do with it? I don’t have exten-...
The cabbie turned
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...guard held the door for her. No sooner had she spotted the front fashionable brown blouse with black slacks that failed to slim a pair of so-called child-bearing hips. Deb hated that term, but all second smile, that always appeared above her lip. Maria gestured As they broke, Deb said, “Well, you marry a younger man . . .”...
After Saturday practices
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...around to talk with parents and coaches. That left Eric with time to fill before he was taken home. He crossed the street to Nathan Jail and bounced a baseball against the wall to practice catching a team tradition, plowed over all of the smaller players manning second base during the stolen-base drill. Eric, holding his glove ...
Roy and Dombey pulled
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...the edge of the parking lot while the rest of the crew gathered for lunch. Fraser popped the trunk and turned on the radio. Tiny, the foreman, arrived from the other direction bearing a plate covered with a checkered towel. He pulled it off with the flair of a Vegas “Double strawberry ripple cake,” he said. “Courtesy of a ca-...
After, Lori eased off of him
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...pile of tumbled sheets. Sweat had turned the hair at her temples a dark brown. Roy peeled his back off the sheet and sat on the edge “Be right back,” Lori said. While she was gone Roy rearranged the candy bars on the night table and, as the delay stretched fur-ther, paged through Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book. Lori vaulted ...
Miss Birch had assigned
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...the Tuesday presentations fell to Eric. The afternoon before, he arrived home and, after a snack, began to select which of the cans he looked for something to carry them in. The box wouldn’t work. People on the bus would grab stuff from inside it and, anyway, the room, the guest room, or the basement except, maybe, a red suit-...
Every spring, Aunt Phyl piled
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...ents and a pair of suitcases into the station wagon and drove to Missouri to see their older sister, who lived on a farm halfway rerouted the Mississippi River. Roy had forgotten about her trip until Thursday evening when Phyl, cutting up chicken for dinner, “Your sister-in-law’s willing to pitch in,” Phyl said, still sawing ...
On alternate Saturdays
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...a flea market in the parking lot. Cowell always set up a table of treasures bought at estate sales and through the classifieds. Once baseball game to the church lot, she found most of the sellers—Cowell called them merchants—sprawled in lawn chairs, defeated too expensive. Worst of all, one of the younger men set up near ...
Clouds rolled in
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...the weather disappointed Eric. Of all his relatives—of everyone bug skidded to a stop in front of the house. Strange music blasted from the car. As usual. According to Eric’s father, Fergus listened ing an Apollo capsule. It took him longer than it took Aunt Deb. “Raw-boned,” Cowell called him. “Doesn’t that woman feed ...
Already Roy was
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On the way downstairs Eric glanced at Fergus writing in a spiral the rabbits, scattering mothers and kittens in all directions. Deb line. The sheets billowed like sails, and Eric wished he could head was too big, even when he choked up. Instead he pulled weeds by hand, though indifferently, only bothering with the biggest. The ...
Fergus had been
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...ing peaked around 6 a.m. and steadily fell to nil around nine in the evening. As the promise of steady lovemaking was one of the reasons he married, Fergus felt he should play the percentages. Second, early morning offered the opportunity to write in quiet. up. In a burst of wishful thinking he went to the study’s single ...
Dombey returned to
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...look he exchanged with Roy said they would talk. At lunch he an-nounced a run to the convenience store. Roy told Tiny he had an errand. Ten minutes later he met Dombey in the store’s parking lot.“We can’t stay long,” Dombey said as they went inside. “It’d Dombey led him around a candy rack to the freezers. “It’s pos-...
The cemetery was nestled
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...turn in the highway. A few dozen bleached slats stood at the edge of a cornfield, the resting place of founders and farmers and the children of each taken young by pneumonia or scarlet fever. Two leading to the historic section stood a marker explaining how the cemetery site had been chosen, how an early town father used his ...
He looked like a monster now
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...the rash, and with help from Eric’s scratching hands it had spread covered half his forehead, hooked around his left eye across his cheek and down to the corner of his mouth. Aunt Deb had already finally fell away. Scabs also covered his nostrils, meaning that in addition to the constant itching all over his body he always had to ...
Deb had never acquired
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...awake at 10:30 p.m. on a weeknight, she was working. Rather than try to compete with the monologue, she waited for the roar of ap-plause that announced the first commercial break. When she heard it she plodded downstairs. Roy was on the couch, flipping through “I’m tired,” Deb said, “so we can talk about Eric tomorrow.”...
The team milled around
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...the more dedicated already paired up to play catch, the rest bent the case beyond the allergic reaction his father suffered when he impressive patches across his lower back and ribs. This was by far covered by Eric’s underwear, Nevin and Shraeder, the left fielder of poison ivy and poison oak, ranged then into bee stings and had ...
Roy didn’t waste his energy
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Saturdays saved it for his wife or friends, because his coworkers chords to “Homeward Bound” made him perk up his ears. In his teens, God knew, he had sat in a few railroad stations, the ticket for his destination sharing space in a jacket pocket with a sand-was left. He bought the 45 of “Homeward Bound” after hearing ...
Every time Phyl returned
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...was full of predictions about the next earthquake. Her source of behavior, pessimism, and various personal, not to say scientific, theories about geology. “Within ten years,” she told Roy and Cowell, before she denounced her Missouri brother-in-law’s for-mula, a combination of “ground electron emissions” and biblical ...
Roy stepped off the ladder
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...and slung it over his shoulder. He felt like he’d lost ten pounds the members of the crew went at it mostly without speaking. All had silently acknowledged Dombey’s absence. It happened, in his case more often than average, and no one thought twice about it except Tiny, who had to get the crew to make up his part of the ...
The apartment door was open
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...of the party-goers greeted Fergus as he made his way through the in the air, maniacal eyes spinning in opposite directions behind a pair of granny glasses. Centuries of graduate and post-graduate gus with a bellow of laughter, and while the massive vodka-and- lemonade sloshed against the sides of his glass, it never spilled, ...
Aunt Deb’s apartment
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...shelves crowded the living room, and the spines of the books and dark wood of the shelves drank up light. Shelves and dish racks crowded the small counter space of the kitchen; the hanging pots and pans and baskets of fruit seemed to lower the ceiling to an inch above Fergus’s head. Files, stacks of loose paper, and library ...
The interview took place
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...classrooms. There were two rows of high black tables, each with a sink in the middle and three stools behind it. A Periodic Table of the Elements chart covered much of the back wall. The windows looked out onto the roof of a movie theater. Deb, at Maria Spinoza’s nod, took a seat at one of the lab tables. To her dismay the wind ...
The next morning dawned
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...trays, or—in one case—a candle that dripped wax in seven dif-“You put it in your case so you wouldn’t forget to take it to the office,” she said. “Try to get Eric back here by four. If I don’t beat the worst of the traffic it’ll be midnight before I get to Cypress.”“If you want my advice, wait until you hear he’s in before you ...
Deb tried to time her arrival
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...abbreviated report of the interview. While she praised Eric more than she reported on the school, Phyl’s expression did not soften. Deb called in Fergus and they left, twenty minutes after arriving.school and the city—Phyl had particular worries about the dan-gers of the latter. As they rested from the feast Eric passed with ...
On Saturday, the sixth
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...over 94.5 million miles from the sun. Fergus was reading a note “Rob?” Fergus said, raising his voice to be heard. “You sound “The dark side of it, man,” Rob exclaimed. “Los Angeles. I haven’t slept since Denver. Listen. No dice on Carole King. Con-“It’s me,” Deb said. “I’m through with Maria. They’re offering ...
When Roy got home
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Grub staggered nearby amidst the hung linen, swatting at it until it knocked her down then struggling to her feet to try again. Roy scooped her up for a kiss and called a hello to Eric. Eric waved without looking up and bent to examine the first green tomatoes “There isn’t much time.” She spoke softly, but Roy felt her in-...
Roy sat staring ahead
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...point Cammy stormed in and asked if the fighting was over. Instead of answering, Roy sent her off to watch TV, which was her reason her car seat. Eric had opened the windows and, following a piece of advice from Cowell, spread a blanket across the windshield to “Why is your sister sleeping in the car in this heat?” Roy asked....
It was before 8 a.m.,
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...with a gut trudged up the path and told them nothing was biting.Cowell turned. “Fish have to bite on the first day of vacation, “I can’t stay too long—I have to drive up to Rockford to get the time Cowell arrived at the new can’t-miss fishing spot, Roy “Like walking through water,” Roy replied. “Chicken livers ...
Deb managed to get
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...a lot of wrestling bought new shoes for both of the girls. When the kids had been sated by ice-cream cones, Deb bought herself a second root beer float for the road, much to the delight of Eric and Cammy, who cheered as she put it away on the way to Phyl’s house.As she pulled into Phyl’s driveway she regretted making a doc-...
The bag of cans
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...garbage pit. With a gesture Roy pointed Eric to an old railroad tie and they sat down side by side. Eric folded up into himself, “When I was fifteen,” Roy said, “I left home. It was scary. Part of me didn’t want to go. I’d never been on my own like that and at home,” Roy said. “What happened to me, son—you see, my ...
The buildings and church steeples
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...stern-looking man dressed in black, thoughtfully strolling down cleaning ladies rolling their eyes and waving their arms as they The train’s headlights came into view. With much clattering it whipped onto the track alongside the platform. Eric flinched and Crowding in with the rest, he took special pleasure in stepping ...
Page Count: 180
Publication Year: 2012