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coming of age

What Blood

Mr. Chuck Stonehill walked over from next door and told me he found a tackle-box, a bullet, and a rubber by the picnic table in the backyard under the palm tree between our rusting beach trailers.

Schnozzle

I was so innocent that my first thought was he didn’t know he was exposed. But the way he was staring at me so fixedly soon made me realize it was on purpose.

Jesus Christ Super Scar

Joanna slowly collapsed. I caught her and lowered her to the floor, stood back up and watched her writhe, sob, and frantically babble words I didn’t understand.

Homecoming

Peanut leaned on a fence, panting, watching Ransom walk away under the staggered streetlights. The pain in his head was crystallizing, it shimmered and glinted. White facets strobed behind his eyes. He slipped between the bars of the gated construction area and meandered along a row of new homes.

Man of the House

Just before leaving forever, little Jack Morton’s father bought a small red bicycle with removable training wheels and told Jack that the man of the house needed his wheels. His father said this with tears in his eyes and pressed hard whiskers against Jack’s cheek. For this reason, the bicycle was Jack’s favorite possession even before his feet could reach the pedals. Anne, Jack’s mother, thought it was a dumb idea to give a boy an oversized bike...

Quality of Light

We stood on the corner of Jackoff and Asshole under a buzzing, flickering streetlight—I wanted to put it out of its misery, but I had no gun and could not reach the sky. Greg leaned into Rita, her back arched against the rough, splintered wood of the light pole while I mostly looked the other way, toward the ramshackle street of weedy, rubbled, vacant lots, with the occasional house, and its murky windows filled with the dim light of security lamps on timers. Midnight was long gone, but its ache echoed in my gut where misery and company were duking it out...

Layers

My parents began snapping pictures, and then a few neighbors joined in with their own cameras. I stood by the car, smiling, posing, “Look this way!” one would say. “Now over here, Brian!” Cement and suburbia were my red carpet.

Static

I don’t think he gets enough sleep. I get up in the middle of the night to pee, and I can hear the white noise of the off-air channel as the static strobes blue and the speaker hisses behind his door. This is what growing old in Lansing is. The television takes you to bed.