The train rattled on and they sometimes looked out of their windows. And sometimes they would see themselves and sometimes they would see themselves looking at themselves at themselves.

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Thomas Bulfinch, whose collections of ancient myths remained the popular standard in the United States for more than a century until the 1942 publication of Edith Hamilton’s Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, was an anti-homosexual activist as well as a lifelong bachelor. Was he in fact a closeted gay man who sought to hide behind a door of homophobic zeal?

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He sat and he watched the news, its vulpine vulgarity and shouting enough to make anyone feel that inward anger, the kind housed sometimes in the arms, sometimes the head, sometimes both.

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So here I was in a grubby med-center with at least a season ending injury, probably a career sign off, with no ideas for the future. I didn’t have a nest egg. I never managed to save, despite a meager life style. I was an ancient journeyman in a young profession, without name or fame that could be traded in for civilian security.

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“In that silent spooky-looky sort of way you have. You’re going to write about my affair with that film producer, aren’t you? And all those actresses. You’re going to plunder the stories I’ve told you about my life to turn into fiction.”

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Almost all the birds dreaded leaving Canada to fly across America this year.  The cold-loving northern cardinals and the blue jays hovered near the suet, relieved they wouldn’t be making the long journey.

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When Adam comes into the office no one talks to him, even though he's the boss.  They watch him, surreptitiously from the corners of their eyes as if expecting to see him unzip his pants and urinate on the carpet.

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The priest receives them (over) heartily and offers them food and warmth. When they get inside the high-arched candle-lit room, the priest turns into a witch and nails the little girl to the wall.

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Stratemeyer hired generations of hacks.  They wrote under pseudonyms known to millions of children.  The kids pictured these authors’ handsome faces, imagined their happy, fulfilled lives.  The pseudonyms weren’t pen-names.  Those are for individuals.  What Stratemeyer pioneered was the house name.

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You are not even an insect evading a predator. Instead, you sit on the floor breathing, because really there is no choice in this life but to allow air in and out of your lungs thousands of times an hour.

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I am a ghost in your world. I have no memory, no definable past. All my potential futures will become manifest.

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I hesitated, these guys had reputations, and I'd almost gone to jail with them before behind some failed purse snatching caper, and, there was Skillet, one of his eyes glared straight at me, the other one gazed above my head.

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The noise. It was louder here. No comparison. The rattling, the crashing, the overwhelming dissonant vibration that was nothing like white noise, no, nothing like a relaxing sound one would put on to study, to sleep to…

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With a rifle in his hands, he calmly surveyed the horizon. Squinting in the appropriate manner, he was aware of how he looked. Last night’s bug bites were long forgotten. The time was not long after noon, and he was on the track of his kill. 

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There was no opportunity to have a black friend in my home town. Now, I noticed African-Americans at the university. Or I noticed them in order to stay away from them. They were different from me. That’s what I thought.

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As the guards pry his fingers from Van’s arm, the Giggler begins hooting more intensely. By the time they’ve dragged him through the doorway it’s just screaming.

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“Pull a few of your buddies out of the drink with a fish gaff, and the gung-ho stuff is never the same... Smell the beaches the day after a landing,” he added, his speech slow, seemingly labored, “before the burial details go to work.”

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I can forgive myself for ordering the remote, faceless killing of the enemy. But I will never, repeat, never forgive myself for turning these kids, math geeks and gear heads, into killers. Not for this war, anyway.

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Like – I didn’t know that the “sensible” degrees weren’t much better for being “marketable”….that since the Wall Street crash, most companies got wise to the fact that they could underpay everybody, hire part-time, withhold benefits.

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The scab-beggar steps to me on the street and asks for some dry wounds. He can see that my arm is full of crusty layers and he's already eying a big wound on my elbow, the one I wanted to buy a pack of smokes with.

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Why couldn’t people see the country growing? See the unemployed disappearing along with the refugees. There was less crime, no abortion, prayers in schools and the wall around America was one of the wonders of the modern world, it outshone China´s wall.

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Beginning with appeals to authority, we tend to believe we were born because we exist, we’re be(ing) here now and also, everyone knows you can’t have a chicken without an egg. But for some reason, being born is not always enough. You need more proof than that.

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He had been laughing it up with cronies about a cross burning on a young Black woman’s family farm, when we overheard him say: “I want to split that dark oak.”

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 Ideas have no groove. You don’t dance to them, you hustle. When someone says you shall have no more than your share (or less) and they put that in place, you are forced to get up and go.

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And what difference does it make if a man gets drunk and takes his pet goat for a walk anyway? This is America, the Land of the Free, and you would think a man should be able to drink a little and fall in a ditch without some busybody calling the cops on him.

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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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