Dagmar had been my own first hope and inspiration for a future beyond the ordinary. She had become the source of all my earliest discovery and flight and fame fantasies. But I let Dagmar and her famous big breasts slip through my fingers.
To be honest, until Cassie started calling, there were a lot of things that I hadn’t thought much about. I knew the basic facts, of course. I knew, for example, that my mother was thirty-two years old when she was sent to prison. She had given birth by that time to eight children...
In Pittsburgh, women carry large baskets of coins. They scatter the nickels, dimes, and quarters up and down the city streets, as if they’re sowing corn or oats or wildflower seeds. When they’ve finished, the women stoop and twist to gather the change back up again.
Miss Lejewski, our fifth grade teacher, had lopsided tits and a spitting problem. Even if we tilted our heads, her left breast dipped two inches lower than her right. Because of the spitting, none of us willingly sat in the front row except Benny Lanny. He was going to be president someday—everyone said so until he lost his arm—and by fifth grade he already understood the importance of pleasing authority figures.
Gerald used a razor to sever the cellophane wrapping around Megan’s body. He rolled her out of the box, then plucked the instructional manual from between her rubber lips. He stuffed the papers into his pocket, dragged her by the ankles to the living room, and deposited her on the floor.
Jesenia juts out her lips as she runs her tongue over her teeth. She probably tastes chalk—she wrinkles her face at the tang of it. She does not answer the nun, but stands and walks to the arched entrance of the church. She cups her hand and says, I’m so totally sorry but I’m freaking gonna die if I don’t. She leans down, drinks from the holy water.
In those Pony League days, just as in the days of American Legion, Skidmore played first because his father played first, and his father, Leonard Skidmore, was our coach. My father was a local doctor, and he played shortstop as a boy. He and Leonard Skidmore were good friends. Now my boy plays shortstop. So there you are. The infield has continuity through the ages.
His father was a disgraced steamboat pilot with a knack for grounding boats and destroying docks, his mother the thin-lipped illegitimate daughter of a beefy prostitute. When the midwife handed him over, she waited six hours in the parlor room to be paid, her queries up the decrepit stairs returned only by the newborn’s trembling squalls...