Posts by John Brantingham

The Murder of Toads, 1958

On Tuesday, Henry has an algebra test that he’s going to fail so he skips class and since he’s probably going to catch it anyway, he swipes his father’s .38 from the back of the closet where his pop thinks it’s hidden. His pop’s got a box of bullets there too, and he’s never noticed before that some of the rounds are missing. His dad is drunk most of the time anyway, so he probably wouldn’t suspect Henry if Henry just flat out stole the pistol and sold it. The old man would probably just think he’d misplaced it.

Continue reading… "The Murder of Toads, 1958"

Twilight Loons

You and your wife are driving across Canada, along a lake you don’t know the name of with the windows down just as the sky is twilighting in the warm early autumn when you hear a bird crying. Your wife says “Pull over,” and you do. From here, you can see the wind setting up a rippling across the water, and you start to speak, but she places a palm on your chest and says, “Wait, I’ve heard this before.”

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Watch Me/ Say My Name

Cali is out of work for three weeks before it looks grim enough that she talks her sister into designing a website where for a price men can message her to do anything that they want her to do. In four days, the sisters understand that “anything they want” is predictable enough that they can have a menu with set prices. What keeps the guys coming back, and they do, is that she always says their name while she’s doing what she does, with a little lilt at the end, the way

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You’re lying on the couch, pains shooting through you. Cyndi’s in the next room making tea and cutting up a pear. You figure you have two months more to live if the doctors are right, and you’re guessing they are.

This, it seems, is probably a moment for contemplation, and when you think back to childhood, you realize your best memory is that pear you had one day when

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By the time Eddie and Shonda have gotten out of the car and gone around the back for the picnic basket, the blanket and some extra jackets, their son Billy has made friends with some other kids in the park who are throwing pine cones at each other. One yells, “Die you mother” in a squeaky preteen scream and falls on Billy who is laughing and chases after him.

Continue reading… "Allen"