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Candy Floss Time

The free carnival pass dropped through Penny’s mail slot on Wednesday, exactly ten months after her mother died, three weeks after her son was born, and seven days before she planned to drive her car off Myrtle Pier. Penny had shoved the stack of letters behind the door, along with other bills piling up since […]

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Through Amber Eyes

I paint whiskers on my face with bath water. The water doesn’t stay, but the whiskers remain. I prowl around the house in my bathrobe. The cat is washing herself on the rug. I kneel down to show her my fresh whiskers. “Meow,” I say. She flicks her tail in disdain, as though I’m any […]

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No Show

Amy never relaxes until the third song, imagining everyone’s staring at her hands. But when she sings Styx and Stones, the music takes her places where, even if they are, she doesn’t care. So large as to be almost grotesque, her hands allow her to play a Martin Dreadnaught and to hold a man so […]

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Canine 401(k)

Ed listened to the six o’clock news on the booking officer’s small radio. The reporter described him as remorseless, a cold-hearted murderer. He slumped in the hard plastic chair, cuffs pinching his wrists. According to the reporter, Ed’s twenty acres was a killing field containing “massive piles of dog carcasses and bones clearly visible from […]

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Firing Squad

Lord knows I didn’t want to shoot Mendez. Hell, he was only a green kid, a frontline infantry replacement just up from boot camp. He acted gung-ho, but he’d never been exposed to live action before. I knew the stark terror he must have felt a few days ago when the enemy tanks rolled over […]

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Clock-In

First we’ll clock you in on the computer and then you can start following me around. Your clock-in number is always the last four digits of your Social Security number, but for tonight you’ll need my number to get to the tables on the screen. Ever use Aloha before? It’s a pretty straightforward system. Go […]

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The Whole of the Brush

I found Uncle Jim in his workshop at the end of his garden. “Hello, Paul,” he said, “what’s the problem this time?” I blushed at this but he was smiling so I sat on a three-legged stool next to his bench and said, “Julie wants a divorce.” “You’ll have to talk while I work,” he […]

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What Heroes Do

Christopher and Emily Kesley met the old-fashioned way. At least, that’s what Kesley told me. He told me a lot when we served together. About his childhood, his family, his wife. Dear Mrs. Kesley, I pause, examining what I had just written. The curve of the M. The sharpness of the K. It seems wrong; […]

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The Baseball Glove

They rolled in at one thirty-five in the morning and headed straight for the beer in the back. I checked the clock. My shift at the Quick-N-Go was ending at three A.M. But when cutoff time for selling booze is two o’clock, a little attention to detail is needed. I stashed the sports page and […]

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The Perfect Mark

The old lady was almost the perfect mark. Sasha held back an urge to smirk, and instead leaned forward to listen with polite interest. “Do you like cats, Miss… how do you pronounce that?” Sasha nearly grimaced, but caught herself. “Oh yes,” she said quickly, glancing around the condominium. Nothing in sight but good solid […]

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