Once inside, I quickly got a feel for my surroundings. It smelled awful. Like something had died and rotted in here. The floor was sticky and there was no way I was going to sit in that chair. I wanted to get his over with.

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It is evening all afternoon. Winter all spring and summer. There are nights when Mr. Mallard looks up from his desk and swears he sees the shadow of his missing wife brush to and fro before the panes.

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I remember my foreman at the mill coming around and handing out postcards for us to sign against the owl. They were all filled out ahead of time—you just signed ‘em. The yellow ribbons too. That was a big thing.

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Some would call my gaze a sacrilege, but I thought of those generous cheeks as a sacrament, a gift to get me through the eternity of Father Brayton’s droning explanations, his everlasting sermons on eternity.

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When they’d met Emily she’d wanted to hear all of the details of their shockingly sexual past and Sara relished in bragging about how Miriam had held her against that terrible kibbutznik mural and she’d compared Miriam’s own muscles to the ones on the wall and she’d felt safe and absolutely overcome by desire.

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I wander a bit closer. And that’s when I see the people. People everyone. Some on the boat, some in the water, some diving off the boat into the Aegean. Mainly men, but women and children are there too. And screaming.

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“Everyone!” I shouted. My hands were cupped around my mouth, but it hardly amplified my voice, especially since a crackling had taken over the air (the wildfires, I knew, were right around the corner). “The world is ending! Clutch your loved ones tight or whatever, but I’m telling you right now—the end is nigh!”

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He handed me a small piece of paper with a number on it. I took it and stared at it for what seemed a long time. Then, I stood up and tore it apart in front of the man's eyes. I moved right in front of him, so now his face was at the height of my genitals.

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My life had become terribly simple over this last year and a half. Common concerns for family and comfort and profitable activity no longer troubled my mind.

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But I am not insane. I simply hear the discordant music others cannot hear. And see events that others cannot see. And there’s nothing I can do to stop the circle of events or affect them—or even warn the players in them.

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Back then, if Holy Shit passed my lips, the nuns would whack me on the backs of my legs with their 18” wooden rulers. But for some reason, saying Holy Crap was okay.

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No one told you when you decided to become a parent, when you opened up your thighs and body and heart so you could create a tiny wrinkled newborn that tore her way out of you, that you would need to have this conversation.

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Am I really so disgusting to you that you don't answer me ... But it's okay ... Someday you and I will become legends, and time will judge us. Then it will be too late to change anything. And now times are not easy. 'Exit the thought from the cloud' ... Who said so?

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Holding my knapsack tight, the one I had packed with a few provisions for the inevitable chaos, I unzipped it and, from the fridge, filled it with the few pieces of fruit that had not gone moldy and a half-empty bottle of warm juice and some cookies.

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Barbara returned home from work to find “Die Bitch!” painted in blood-red letters next to her front door. She called the police. Barbara was stroking Cora when two officers, a man and a woman both clean cut and tired, arrived twenty minutes later.

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Everyone knew Jamie’s father was not just intelligent but kind, someone whose vast collection of former students made a daily practice of honoring him with their high moral standards and overall generosity. But something had happened to him:

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I did as he suggested and the doctor reassured me: the bangs were not real. My brain was intact. He took my pulse and my blood pressure and declared them to be within acceptable limits. He said I had what he called Exploding Head Syndrome. He said it wasn’t serious.

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He decided a molecule was the answer. He may have lived alone, but he was surrounded by molecules, molecules of all sorts, billions if not trillions, he assumed. Having an audience of one molecule, the right molecule, could surely help him focus his thoughts.

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That night I vividly dreamt that the soft skin of the Gorgeous was wrapped around me, cocooning me in a heaven made only for me. Then it unwrapped itself and showed me the true world, with its demons and degenerates wielding clubs and advancing on us.

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The governor was furious. Out of mind, out of temper furious. His law, though passed by the legislature, had been disobeyed. His orders, meant to be carried out to the letter, had failed of enforcement.

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So I said it straight: I’m a felon. And son of gun, she didn’t hesitate, didn’t even blink, just kept on that smile, looked me straight in the eye, and told me as long as I hadn’t committed murder or a sex crime I was good to vote.

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would he rise from the comfort of his couch, throw open the flap of his tent and start his day, his sword at the ready but with no pretext to wield it, what if it happened

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Deep underground in a cave on the outskirts of Sanford Florida filled with the most high quality crime fighting equipment, a slurpee machine and an X-Box hooked to a massive television dedicated to playing nothing but Call of Duty

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When he grabbed my arm, I was halfway across the lot, that girl watching through the windows, like reality television was unfolding in front of her on the graveyard shift. Above the pumps, bugs hit the security lights, the swamp stretching away into darkness, interstate hum.

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It wasn’t murder. The Book of Exodus, the same book that says, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ also says, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’

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He came home from school on the rez one day and found his parents dead. There had been a gun battle and there was a blood trail heading back to the oil rigs. He followed the trail and found three men wounded on the side of the road.

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So a council was organized. And organizing the council took much time, much arguing and deliberation. So many personalities and ancient slights to consider. But eventually, through mediation and to be honest, a few bribes, the council assembled.

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A drunk might go to sleep on a railway track. A gambler might be found floating in the river and rumors spread of unpaid debts to criminals. A man’s gun might accidentally go off while he was cleaning it.

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I’d want to say, “Would you do me a favor, dad?” Then as a serious joke, follow with, “Would you shut the mother fuck up?” But whenever I’d ask if he’d do me a favor, he’d seemingly meltdown, then he’d say, “Anyting for you, my bacheh joon!”

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Occasionally, as now, she considered strangling Horace, suspecting it’d be easy to do by virtue of his scrawny neck. Truly, he was on the Social Security same as her, and truth be  told with her pension she did better than him anyway.

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What if they knew about the lie?
What if they were
in on the lie? Them. Mr. King. Ms. Shelley. Dr. Deaver. Daddy. The doctor.
And when she thought she couldn't lose another beat:
What if mommy lied to me?

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And now for my demands. For beginners, I want a national holiday named after someone whose name begins with Z. And you’re going to build a monument in Washington just like George’s and Abraham’s and Thomas’ for that soon to be infamous Mr. Z.

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Magic didn’t take orders. If someone pushed him for a show or a sermon, he’d say, “Lost it.” He sometimes acted like he was bored by the idea, but this was all part of Mag’s technique.

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"We were a team of five.  We were laying explosives.  Around an enemy safe house.  At night.  In the dark in the middle of the night.  We had all finished our tasks.  Had retreated back to the edge of the woods.  Except your grandfather.  He wasn't quite done.  Almost done."

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Elon ransacked a closet and then reordered it. Elon disassembled a cupboard and then rebuilt it. Elon removed from the floor of his crowded garage every single shiny Jaguar and Lambo he could find, and many de mode fitness contraptions.

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Why had we followed it? Instinct, I suppose. It sounded beautiful. There were very few beautiful things around in those days.

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Maybe 25 years ago, Georgina escapes Mexico. She hires coyotes, people to smuggle her and a cousin out. The smugglers leave them in a desert. They have no water, no food. They tell them to walk towards the light, but it is entirely dark, with no light.

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I know I don’t have to tell you this, but when somebody you love dies, you don’t get new memories of them. You’re stuck with the ones you’ve got, unless somebody comes around and gives you a new one.

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“We have to go.” Clinton puts a hand on my shoulder. “We have to remember Peri. We have to remember everyone who’s died because of this godforsaken city.” When I don’t move, he squeezes my shoulder, hard.

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There is no such thing in contemporary high art as a slut or whore, no ethnic slurs, no sexual identity or sexual proclivity putdowns, no judgment with respect to your life choices, at least not in public.

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