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Chapter Twenty-One

Gregory Schwipps Indiana University Press ePub

Frank first thought, after being awakened by the horn, that the appraiser or someone like him had returned, and his initial idea was to grab the shotgun from where he’d recently leaned it in the corner of the coat closet. But when he got to his feet and peered out toward the end of the driveway, he recognized the truck and the giant shape behind the wheel. He took the padlock key from where he’d hung it on a nail by the door and let Catfish outside.

It was a long way to walk, this driveway. When they’d gone somewhere this week, like when Ethel took the car to get groceries, he’d driven out to the chain in his truck. Today the sun was shining, although they were calling for more storms tonight, and he decided to take the long walk to let Chub in. Maybe Catfish wouldn’t pee in the house again if he had even more time to run around outside. As Frank walked the dog ran in widening circles across the yard. The truck waited for them, idling, front bumper near the chain and rear end still out on the gravel road.

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Chapter Twenty-Two

Gregory Schwipps Indiana University Press ePub

Seeing the face in the door’s window, Ollie involuntarily yelped and fell backwards, kicking over a toy. Some tall, freestanding thing, it clattered against itself, making a tremendously loud noise in the black house. He gained the corner and hid behind it, his arms shivering and his heartbeat shaking the wall he leaned against. It was impossible to think.

The lightning continued to illuminate the house in irregular intervals, throwing odd shadows and pale blue angles around the rooms. From where he stood, he could see into the kitchen, the back door, and down the hallway leading to the bedrooms. The darkness hid much of this and suddenly he thought there might be more of them already inside.

When Summer touched his arm he shouted again.

She jumped. “What’s wrong?” she asked, her voice hissing and tight. She pulled up against him along the wall.

“Someone’s out there!” He sounded scared, even to his own ears.

She tried to move around him, peering into the other room. He pulled her back.

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Chapter Two

Gregory Schwipps Indiana University Press ePub

Ollie drove to the hardware store in Logjam on Saturday morning because all but one lightbulb in the trailer had burned out. What were the odds of such a thing? Only the light in the hallway still worked. He could see into the bathroom with its glow, but the bedroom and kitchen were secured in darkness. He had to use the TV to illuminate the living room. Coming in late last night, still drunk and tired, he’d pretty much fallen over in every room as he made his way back to bed. He could no longer see what in the hell he was doing.

The bell hanging from the door jangled when he walked in and the air conditioning was already on. He walked across a concrete floor painted red and the entire store smelled pleasantly of metal tools and rubber tires. He felt pretty good this morning. His mouth stunk and he was thirsty, but really he felt pretty good. It was early enough that he could still do something with the day once he got this one errand run. Then he remembered that Coondog wanted him to come over in the afternoon to make final adjustments to the demo car before that night.

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Chapter Seven

Gregory Schwipps Indiana University Press ePub

Frank woke up and noticed the breeze lightly blowing the faded curtain that hung over the window by their bed. Ethel had sewn the curtains herself, and now the white fabric with its flowered border rose into the room and billowed up before being sucked back against the screen. He watched it do this for some time. It followed the same path but it didn’t. Not an exact pattern he could predict, anyway, lying on his back this Sunday morning in their bed where he’d slept regular nightly hours for the last forty-five years. The window frame had been painted white, but it was chipped in places where he’d hit it with his cane coming around the bed. Dead flies and other insects collected in the corner of the windowsill. The wind blew the curtain in, where it hung in the air for just a moment, before the undercurrent pulled it back to the window frame. Then the breeze would lift the curtain again with almost, but not quite, the same motions. He watched it and thought about how the river breathed the same rhythms.

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Chapter Four

Gregory Schwipps Indiana University Press ePub

Saturday afternoon came around, and the Shipley County Fair had been held in the outskirts of Green City, the county seat, since Sunday, so the week was about to reach its pinnacle. The 4-H’ers had held their “Breakfast of Champions” that morning, the animals were sold at the auction shortly thereafter, and tears were cried as the prize and prized animals were loaded into strange stock trailers bound for slaughterhouses. Kids from every town in the county were starting to wander down the muddy driveways and through puddled parking lots. Heavy bass beats emanated from their rusty but polished cars. Country music played from loudspeakers mounted on utility posts, and the smell of popcorn and fried batter wafted across the grounds. A few animals remained in the barns, those headed back home instead of the meat locker, and some people went in and gazed on them and reached over the fences to pat their noses. Most of the younger people passed on the barns and walked the pathways of wood chips, eyeballing kids from towns ten miles away.

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