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[Fiction]

East Texas Lumber

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Back from lunch, I stood in the early June sun pulling two-by-sixes for somebody else’s load when Mike, the yard manager, came out of the office and yelled, “All right, Brian, I’ve got an easy one for you and Jimmy.”

It took me half a moment to register what he was saying. My mind had nestled itself against the secret, moon-pale skin between the buttons of this shirt Angela sometimes wore at The Hangout, the church club over in the strip mall where the Safeway used to be. But as soon as I did I dropped the two-by-six mid-pull and went up to him and said, “Let me kneel down before you. I swear I’ll get an idol with your face on it and give it flowers and pigeon blood every night.”

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’s first book, Byzantium: Stories, will be published next month by Graywolf. He teaches at the University of Toledo.
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