José made his way into the kitchen and emptied the powder from one of Smitty’s goof balls into Brisket’s dinner bowl. He poured a little beer into the dog food and mixed it around hoping for the best.

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Then one day, a miracle. Erasmus found an ancient Steinway Concert Grand in a curio shop. It emptied my account of all the credits I had earned, plus some. It came to the house on one of the few days people went out without respirators.

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I found my dear friend Aif today. He was sitting in a coal mine shaft, outside of the Arctic, whispering something frozen and long dead, into the air. His body was so badly broken, and malformed,  I hardly recognized him.

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He detailed the frame’s ornamental grooves and the corners of the glass with the rag and his talons. Afterward, Lacy Dawn looked as good as new.  Skinner re-hung the picture.  For an hour, he watched her and she watched him from different angles as the planet’s suns set. 

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To improve upon bathroom habits of those who had little concern about decorum or reputation and ignored all portable loos, the ministry voted to infuse them with 24-hour streaming videos of yesterday’s news. It figured that encouraging natural, daily bowel movements among the masses rather than only the privileged, would go a long way towards cultivating positive attitudes regarding human hygiene.

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Each morning, he dresses the way a cowboy would dress if he were a peer of Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey in the Saturday Westerns of his childhood. He wears newish-looking cowboy boots, of course, and spurs that never fail to jingle, jangle, and jingle once more.

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* SureMed Home will vigorously pursue civil and legal action against any party making accusations alleging resident neglect or abuse.

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From inside the Mercury I watched a bunch of pigs running and squealing all over the road and scurrying off into the woods. My dad motioned to me. The woman in the car that pulled over on the other side of the road started yelling at us as she was on her cellphone with what I assume was 911.

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You said that I am fire to you
just when the candle went off.
You said that you burn when we make love,
that your body of water cannot
extinguish the fire that I light in you.

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His hands had so many bumps and wrinkles that I was reminded of the roots of an ancient tree. But life! The left one flashed up and down the neck of the guitar. Scales. I recognized the pattern his fingers made: e-sharp minor. A theoretical key. One two three four; theoretically.

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And so the monster rose up like some cataclysmic amalgamation of wild animals real and mythical with every serrated and razored and fire-bearing and pus-oozing body part imaginable and now my eyes were not having trouble staying open at all as I stared in disbelief and panic at the conglomerate monster which kept rising and rising until...

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After a few more days it felt like we were the ones sheltering Max. She became frail and sickly, her skin paling more every day. We only really saw Max during meals, and conversation always felt perfunctory and wooden.

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The girls on his campus were not the ones who made fun of the way he walked, the way he rolled his eyes, of his pathetic attempts to climb ropes in the gymnasium, a task required for some reason of all students in the Education Faculty even those who, like him, expect to teach secondary history and certainly not primary school physical education.

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“Is the complaint you are making simply your own account of events or are you taking into consideration the possible extenuating circumstances of the alleged abuser – who of course might view this whole thing rather differently. I mean, is it possible that your own behaviour may have precipitated this extraordinary reaction?”

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I’d probably end up as one of those sad-assed ghosts that never accepts death and wanders back and forth on this stupid boulevard full of nail & beauty shops, convenience and dollar stores, black barber shops, fast food, chicken eateries, drive-thrus, bars and bistros, the Middle Eastern Market—

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And there are some hard truths. Most Buffalo elders notch their winters with salt, Vicks, and canned trout. They grouse about snowbirds and higher taxes. You can get mugged with ease on Clinton and Sycamore Street. Some folks still wonder why there’s plenty of coloreds around.

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The year was 1965, and while the relocation programs had kind of become used up—that is, officially unpopular with program developers—the push now was to somehow develop the existing reservations and keep Indians at home.

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Every night the people of the city gather to receive my work. Ardently they pick up the scattered, dog-eared pages from gutters and windshields, studying every note.

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Perhaps Gottlieb's body had never been found and is awaiting one of those nostalgic youngsters who join an annual search for the remains that, if found, are reburied with Soviet-era pomp, usually without a name, because only the lucky few are found with their papers, still legible, on them.

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“There was a boombox and dancing and guns going off. It got real crazy. I must have blacked out. Next thing I know, it’s the cold light of dawn, and I’m waking up woozy and almost naked and freezing, and Todd is beside me, naked too and passed out.”

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“My kids aint gonna be looking at traitor shit out the kitchen window everyday for eight years.” Her voice was hoarse but tough. “Flip your flag back around right, or we’ll find a way to make you, Lithuanian.”

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“PRO-T-EN Industries guarantees a place for everyone. We offer vocational conditioning, career planning, health and wellness services. And, we are proven to be the top Corporation when it comes to helping its employees pay off their birth-debt in a timely manner...

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last night I saw you plunge from the top of the cliff into the ocean. you were wearing your blond wig, when you emerged from the water not a hair was out of place.

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A fairy godmother gives you wishes, you ask for a dress.  A fish prince gives you wishes, you ask for a sausage.  When someone offers us infinity we can’t imagine what we’d do with it.  All we would ask – a walk in the dark.

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The other day a woman was pulled from the canal unconscious and not breathing. That’s when I realized I should have done something sooner – hanged myself from a ceiling hook or bitten down on the muzzle of a gun.

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Flora choked on her coffee and set the cup back down. “You mean these files we’re going over are about people who haven’t had an accident…yet?”

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I set candles for points and poured out a pentagram. There was usually a sacrifice. I had some leftover Popeye’s chicken, so I set the box in the center. In movies, the teenagers who inadvertently summon demons are usually drunk. I hadn’t taken my meds yet. That was the best I could do.

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Thomas glared at his wife as she wiped the ketchup from TR’s face. She had been something to look at when Thomas was finishing his MBA, but she had let herself become frumpy and soft since the kids were born. She wore jeans and an oversized sweatshirt while Thomas’ appearance remained immaculate.

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A vacant lot was packed with trucks. A sign nearby said: Slow down: Excessive speed could lead to the use of excessive force.

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Despondent about the Earth’s ecological state, Arthur Quisling, a fifty-two-year-old scientist with an Einstein-like appearance and a green spacesuit, entered his six-by-eight, pyramid-shaped Dimensional Flier. His solar-powered yellow ship, which was capable of elongating and navigating through celestial holes, was preparing for its launch.

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As head cheerleader, Felicity chose and sculpted her people with the meticulous care of a diamond cutter. The Squad represented Norman High’s crème-de-la-crème, gorgeous and stylish, yet loyal and obedient. And Felicity’s boyfriend was a high school demigod – the preternaturally handsome captain of the football team.

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Without warning, the truck sped up and drove intentionally a few feet to the right, into the deepest puddles, and the massive tires sent waves crashing over him, pounding him like surf, forcing water into his mouth, eyes, ears, and nose.

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I knew you’d never go to the pub with the rest of them when the grave diggers started shovel the earth back over him. Murmuring voices withdrew slowly, shadow like, their work was done, a grey black fluid mass that moved towards the pub. That’s why I went to your house. I wanted to see you broken, undone, alone.

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This is daylight robbery, I thought grimly. I hated bullying of any kind, and threw the door open: “How dare you kick my door like that? You’ll break it.”

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Nora heard Larissa as from a distance. “We are never alone,” she mumbled. “But Larissa, we are. It’s the nature of life, this loneliness. Kurt Cobain, David Foster Wallace, Primo Levi, suicides. All the suicides.”

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And now there’s a blur on the sidewalk in front of Robby, peripheral movement that he doesn’t even have time to think of as car door opening, though he knows exactly how much it will hurt if he runs into it. He veers away from the swinging door. His body tenses. The board tilts.

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We laugh and we laugh and we laugh. It’s the only way we can breathe anymore.

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