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Three Witches

The Three Witches, she used to call them. When they weren't much more than kids themselves. Girls. Photo taken early on an Easter Sunday Morning. Easter Bonnets and sun bright against their cheeks, the three of them sitting on the front porch steps of the house in Irvine. Husbands off to war.Before this one's husband died in Anzio. Before this one's marriage fell apart. Before this one started drinking
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Hospice (In Progress)

Green haired waitress with GRL POWR tattoo on her lower inside arm brings plates of eggs and grits and sausages and toast and biscuits and bacon and pancakes to the table across from me. Six or seven suntanned ropy Georgia farmers and their soft faced sons in baseball caps. Huge black women in hospital scrubs standing closer to the register waiting for their breakfasts to-go. Solitary soldier
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Spin out of Orbit

Something wasn't right. He knew that much. The old tricks weren't working and he hadn't even realized it until it was too late. He was abandoned, he had abandoned himself. He felt he was entirely to blame, if blame was the point, but he didn't think that it was anymore.This air. This November air.He brushed his teeth. He got dressed. He went to work. All outward signs of normalcy, of an ordinary day
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Fishamble Street

He walked. He walked for hours, the city wasn't big enough for the streets he needed to walk. He looked for faces, familiar faces, her face. Her face in a crowd of faces, but he never did find it, and not seeing it he walked until he found a face he did know. He walked until he couldn't recognize his own face anymore, staring back at him in the reflection of the plate-glass windows. Butcher shop, book
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You'll know...

How will you know?You'll know because you won't care anymore.How will you know?You'll know because all your food will taste the same.How will you know?You'll know from the looks they give you.How will you know?You'll know from the dreams that wake you up at 4:00.How will you know?You'll know because they'll let you know.How will you know?You'll know because of the smell.How will you know?You'll know
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Always in Love

He stared at her, not comprehending the enormity of what she had said. Still trying to figure out what just happened. She sat at an angle to him, smiling but a little wary, poised over her cinnamon bagel and strawberry jam. Black coffee and orange peel. Behind her rain against the window. The radio in French. He stared at her and suddenly he was gone. Just gone. Fallen back into a place he thought
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Whose Face?

He sits across from me, a real-life mid-life crisis sitting in the bar where I once sat and wrote a story about a mid-life crisis, strangely enough. Back before I knew the city well enough to be prescient. Back when I was too young to know what I was talking about. The fingernail-red walls haven't changed. The unforgiving afternoon sunlight reflecting off the shop windows across the street. He stares
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A Car I Could Drive

Here's what I want. I want a car that I could drive West to the ocean, a blue Nova would be ideal. I want a Rand McNally Road Atlas and a shoe-box full of tapes. I want to drive from Chicago to Seattle, 80 to 25 to 90, I want five days where nobody knows where I am and nobody cares where I am. I want back that wind-storm in Wyoming one more time, which scared and thrilled me so much in the summer
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Gestures and Lies

How did this happen?How did I go to sleep one man and wake up another?How did I earn this suspicion in my wife’s eyes, when I swore I never would? How did I manage that? Who is this guy my kids are talking to like he knows anything? I wouldn’t trust that guy. I’m not sure they trust that guy either, and good. I'm glad. Look at him. That guy with his face falling apart day by day, working its
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Bellevue, WA. 1979

Strange as it is, woke up with this really strong longing for days back in Washington State, circa 1979 or so. Dirt bikes, goose-down jackets and torn up Wranglers, long tangled hair, BB guns and comic book collections and parents either stoned or straight behind the wheels of their Hondas and Datsuns. John Lord's brother out in the swamps, shooting up ducks with his Sear's-bought over and under and
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Fever Dream

He had been working on a house, he kind of entered into the deal before he really knew he was sick but he suspected something. Anyway, he was working on it, old hippie artistry combined with old hippie craft, and pretty soon they had something going. Some kids from UK heard about it, made a little half-hour film of this house that his wife got shown at the UK film department. We brought some champagne,
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Suicide to Try

It was the smiling that got to him most, big white toothful smiles completely undone by the look in the eyes above them. He knew that look, that unmistakable anxious hostility. It was a look he grew up around, first as a kid then as an adult. Usually accompanied by soothing messages meant to reassure. Big promises, bright futures, contentment beyond imagining. He saw it used against his family when
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Cars, Then Airports...

New York City, 1967. Parents just kids themselves, Brooklyn Department of Welfare, Groovy Murders around the corner, Newark Riots across the river, it was the Summer of Love. Lexington, Kentucky, 1969. Long dead family faces. The first man on the moon, long southern vowels, Pasadena Drive, my grandmother's sewing room, the smell of gasoline and WD40 and the Ranchero parked out in the grass, led astray
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Powder Blue Buick

They used to travel all around Central Kentucky, by the time I left. Used to pack up that one powder-blue Buick they had, head out along the highways from Lexington to the latest funeral, white haired Pastor on the hillside and the sliced ham on the table. They spent the last twenty years burying almost everyone they knew. Family, then friends, then the sons and daughter of friends. They outlasted
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Charlie and Wade

“You’re a real stand-up guy, you know it?”“Cut it out.”“I’m serious, you are. I tell everybody I know. Old Fatty’s a real hero. A prince among men. I’m damn proud to know you.”Wade said nothing. Counting to ten, letting it pass. He had the Serenity Prayer wrapped so tight around his cerebral cortex this past week it would have taken dynamite to get it off. Would have taken more
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Like a Train

Last time I saw him alive he was wired, he was flying. Last time I saw him alive we were sitting across from each other back at The Cattleman's. He had just come through a real rough time with some girl I'd never met. The kind of rough time that guts you from the inside out, rips all your directions right off the map. At least that's how he described it. He was reeling. He sat in the red naugahyde
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Serious Girl, Pt. 1

They met only briefly, when they were both on their way somewhere else. He was lost, he'd be the first to admit it. Trying to make the best out of a bad situation. He didn't speak the language, which to him sounded like someone dragging a stick across an old picket fence. It had this strange chopping rhythm he couldn't begin to attach any real meaning to. On top of that, the maps were a mystery to
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Coeur d'Alene

He climbed out of the Chevy with a gun in his hand I recognized the weapon immediately it was the one his Dad brought back from the war. Climbed out of the car with this dazed look in his eyes and kinda stood there staring up at the house for a while he knew she was in there and he looked insane. Looked like an old dog, to tell you the truth, like some old dog been kicked in the ribs one time too
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Good Job So Far

How did this happen? What's going on here? One minute you're sitting behind the wheel in an Albertsons parking lot and the next minute you're on your knees in a hotel corridor pleading like a child? Is that the idea? One minute you're pledging your love like Johnny Ace and the next everything's zooming away real fast in the rear view mirror? What's the matter with you, anyway? How old are you? What're
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From "The Tourists"

By five o’clock Howard was blasted and Bill wasn’t far behind. Not so blasted they couldn’t talk, couldn’t make sense, but blasted enough. The two Canadian girls were whispering to each other and one of them, the darker one, laughed. They were young. Kids really, younger than Bill’s own daughters. They would have laughed, too. “Another pint?” Howard leaned into the girls. “Can
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