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In my mouth lay a piece of thawed frozen pie. Sitting in the dining room around three big windows on the west wall, and three big windows on the north, out there—somewhere—he was. There in the night across the long backyard leading to an alley. There in the air of a weather that’d just broke real good—winter thus gone for a moment, replaced by a temperateness the consistency of an animal’s breath: moist, instinct-tied, spreadable . . . 

Moments ago, French silk in my teeth, my wife began to talk, reading from a runner at the bottom of a show where TV doctors pleasure-sought or cried depending on how they caused their patients to affect them, saying: “Great . . . manhunt . . . six people just shot in Cleveland the TV is saying . . . five dead . . . be on the lookout . . . 6’1”, male . . . Great, it’s on the West Side . . . Oh shit, what the fuck, it says 89th and Detroit . . .”

We lived a few blocks over. And by now I felt uneasy. So I stood up, soon putting my half-eaten pie into the sink before calling the dog in. And then locking everything I could lock while wishing my house for the night could be a horn of metal and fire.


Inside the quiet of the really black house my sleep was bad. One of those nights where you got one foot in the even-want of a dream, and the rest of the body in a place all still and wired. I kept thinking about the doors and how I should’ve gotten better deadbolts, or thicker screens with bars the size of thin thighs. And when not ruminating I was stirred constantly by the anticipation of the sound of pounding. On the doors. The smashing in of their weak and shit production. Paranoid I was. But for good reason. A killer was on the loose. That rot-fuck ruining the innocence of the first warm by replacing kids on bikes with the complete opposite of playing.

Hours later I rose early ugly because she had a doctor’s appointment at 7:30 across town. Yet I rose to the actual fucking sound of the front door smashing, the sound of a pound slamming in and out like the grind of a machine made upwards from whatever’s thrown down. And so I rose ugly early to the wish of a gun, and to the scream of my bedside wife whose voice took on the waver of some broken princess wish, saying: “See what it is. What is that!? See—please, what…” So like a clawless dog I hit the dark running, soon standing in my boxers at the foot of the stairs planning to do god knows what. Planning nothing really. Escapes out of smashed upstairs windows, perhaps. In truth praying that the pound stayed down while thinking: that fuck. Fearing that fuck.

But it was only the wind.  It caught the shitty light screen door and flew its shit-lightness against the porch railing. Still, for days I felt the imprint of a heart-pound. Just as a long tide stains the beach well after it left back toward the sea.


I place needles into her stomach gently. Aiming for places of soft flesh that are still-white, penetrable. There are bruises I miss because I am choiceless because of the soreness she has.

I give her shots on the couch as the breeze of the city floats in from outside areas. Also arriving, the sound of child’s play a few yards over that is carried by the voice of a child playing. And then a few blocks after that: a ton of cops still hunting one man missing. And I hope that no one gets hurt until they find him. Kids will get hurt again, I know. I just want a missing patch of unhurt people to blossom while he’s on the run, that’s all. And I feel that is not too much to ask for, considering.

Earlier that day we got to the doctors across the graying light sky. Soon after arrival, then, I saw my wife get an instrument put inside her which expressed the great news of the inactivity. Inactivity. The missing of being active. Not dead, or not playing. Not empty or full or alive or undone but inactive as per the black and white monitor of the ultrasound showing me nothing: a prehistoric video game, blotches, a dead organicless Mars. But to the imaging tech the appropriate level of inactivity so we can proceed to the next round of medication which, consequently, is meant to juice activity up. The follitropin, then: a lightning strike from a book god, a thunderbolt god—one punishing and eating cattle for appetizers and whole cities for lunch.

After the doctor’s appointment my wife smiled while sipping coffee. “There is no activity,” she said. And her lips widened in the growing warm of the day’s increasing.


An hour later I got to work and checked obsessively to see if the fuck was dead or dying. The fuck was not dead or dying but uncaught, on the run, a whole city fighting the throat of a god by hunting the man somewhere in their own need for a god with a throat.


The shots I give her are now two: one to suppress hormone production and one to ramp hormonal levels up. I don’t ask. Some questions are just larger than their response. So I just give them, and don’t ask, and when done the kid still plays and the breeze still blows and the man still runs from what can’t be ran from. And as I plop on the couch next to her I feel that there’s just too much going on. Too many questions that are canyon-sized and made of whatever clouds are made of when they break to show the sun gash through. 

And I am confused and I have hope. While the love in me is split by the fear in me as the want of both of us is split by some love. And whether or not we ever get something similar than to what he took seems to me not ever an answer to a question that was purposively never meant to be answered one way. All the time. For everyone. 

[Forever after at]


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Here are our nominations for the 2008 StorySouth Million Writers thing
(for stories over 1000 words posted online in 2008):

Fuckbuddy by Roderic Crooks

Beach by Roberto Bolano (Translated by Riley Hanick)

On Ways of Dealing With Tripping in Public by Crispin Best

This story by Randa Jarrar won the first Million Writers thing in 2004.
We didn't nominate stories the last few years, thinking the whole thing
sort of silly, but this year we decided it's definitely a good thing for the
writers who win it, so why not try to make Roderic, Crispin, or Riley's day.
(Roberto is dead -- despite now being basically immortal.)