Nobody’s Looking

At the heart of “Nobody’s Looking,” is the tragedy of suburbia—characters in relationships that are not as close or memorable as once thought, characters pulling it all together and breaking out only to never escape…

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Red Pop and Ritalin

I want to say it was Scott who—back in the seventh grade—stole his mom’s Valium, his father’s coke, his older brother’s weed, and his younger brother’s Ritalin. I want to say it was Scott who once, before Woodshop, put a dot in his eye and slipped into his own world for the afternoon.

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Gone Dark

Listen close. You can hear it—the rip of skin as the needle rides the line—the first slow swipe, then the second, the third. You hear it inside your head. It drowns out the voices around you—the voices behind the plastic shower curtains that separate each station.

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Under Control

I met Tyler in the waning weeks of 11th grade. He walked into Health class after the bell, wearing his oversized leather jacket and a Misfits t-shirt. He looked around the colonized room with the preppy girls up front by the jocks—with the grease monkeys and the stoners in the back. He sat next to me…

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Afraid of the Question

I don’t remember a lot of things about us. About you. From back then, all those years ago. You were the pastor’s boy. That’s what the adults called you, “the pastor’s boy,” not Todd. I always found this strange.

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When To Lie

The cars and trucks faded in, passed, faded out. A bus wheezed and coughed a black cloud of burnt diesel. On the corner of Main and Fourth, men in ties and women in long dresses and heeled shoes held the hands of toddlers wearing little collared shirts and Nikes and waited for their turn to cross the street.

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On the Verge of Saying Something

My son asks for a fishing pole for his 5th birthday. He says to me, “I never fished before.”
I know.
“Can we go fishing?”
I tell him, “Sure, we can go.”
“When?”
I tell him, “When you get bigger.”

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Firebug

Arson.
Refers to any fire of an incendiary or suspicious origin.
Burn.
“Burn, motherfucker, burn.”

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Kryptonite

Here’s your dream. You’re floating. In the middle of a small lake, surrounded by Depression-era shanties, an occasional light flickers in an occasional window. The sky celebrates dusk in a brilliant explosion of deep reds and deeper purples.

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Rx

Tyler woke at 1:21 a.m. for the 116th straight night, and he knew he would not sleep again until 4:07 a.m.—not a minute before. Grief is what the good doctor called it on his first visit to the strip-mall shrink.

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Johnny and Jimmy

They used to call us twins. Johnny’s mom and dad used to say it. Sarah, Johnny’s teenaged sister, used to say it. My grandma used to say it. Even David’s dad, the guy who visited my grandma, used to say, “Those boys are two peas from the same pod.”

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A Little Off

The difference between goldfish and feeder fish, as far as I can tell, is real estate. Goldfish were given the royal treatment at Louie’s Pet Center, twenty or so in a tank, gravel, a piece of driftwood and a green plastic tree. Feeder fish, on the other hand, not so nice.

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Book of Puzzles

“She refuses to be called Ms. anything. She rejects that she is a teach- er. “I’m your guide,” she says. Dipped in black, she walks into the classroom, sits on top of the desk, criss-crosses her legs, and says…

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Sidewalk

“Back then we didn’t buy buckets of fat chalk. We used the thin chalk swiped from our classrooms to draw on the sidewalk. We were 6, 7, 8 years old. The girls used the chalk to draw out their hopscotch; us boys used it to mark the battle line for our plastic army guy wars. “

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Coach

It was worth the gut-punch I received from your ten-year-old son, Jeff, that time when I struck out and lost the game…

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