19 Slices
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Prologue

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Prologue

Keaton always said, I dont believe in God, but Im afraid of him. Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Big Bird.

Verbal Kint, in The Usual Suspects, 1995

Parishioners believed he could heal them with his hands. As a kid, I knew my father was different, and it had nothing to do with the fact that he was a preacher. His legs were shriveled down to bone and he walked funny, sometimes with a cane. His face beamed. He forgot to eat. He liked Maine, because the rocky terrain reminded him of home. He and my mother came to the U.S. from Korea after the war. At first, there were four of us, and then there were five: my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, and me in the middle. My older brother and I fought mean and hard, locked in a death match from the day I was born. Oblivious to the slugfest, my baby sister sat back and let the adults admire her. She was the pretty one, and could never figure out why I was so furious all the time. She was born with grace. Predictably, her Korean name, Young-Mi, means flower. Mine is Young-Nan. It means egg.

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11. Girls in the Man Cave

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Eleven

Girls in the Man Cave

A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.

Rudyard Kipling

Back in May 2008, to great rejoicing and fanfare, Cabelas opened a new branch in Scarborough, Maine. John was so excited he started dancing around.

Whats the big deal? I said. Its just another store.

Its Cabelas! John explained by energetically waving his hands over his head.

I still didnt understand what all the fuss was about, so he took me shopping. It was a revelation. Billed as the Worlds Foremost Outfitters of Outdoor Equipment, Cabelas turned out to be Disneyland for gun nuts. The dcor was vintage hunting lodge, with mounted trophy heads popping out from every wall. There was a shooting arcade, a Gun Library, and a freshwater aquarium, but the centerpiece of the store was an ersatz mountain where taxidermied animals frolicked. To discourage shoppers from attempting to climb it, Cabelas did not sell crampons or guide books for trekking through the Himalayas. The store only sold useful outdoor stuff such as turkey calls and camouflage bikinis, both of which I had to try even though I had no chance of succeeding.

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10. Coyote Mobile

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Ten

Coyote Mobile

The loudest duck gets shot.

Chinese proverb

Im going to kill the chicken, Don announces without preamble. You want to help?

Uh... sure, I reply uncertainly. I feel obliged to witness its death since Im responsible for pointing out its scabrous condition. A little while ago I went out to the henhouse to say hello to the chickens. Hello, chickens! I said. Right away they lined up, pressing forward to see if I brought food. They all came over to greet me except for one, the one with the weird walk and the bloated stomach. She looked really bad. Chunks of feathers on her back were gone, and her demeanor was sullen. Worse, she was huddled in the corner where the first bird had croaked. She couldnt smell death, because death smelled like her.

Shes eating, Don remarked, when I returned to the human house and tattled on her. Its probably not a disease. Dourly, he scratched his chin. He was not particularly interested in deciphering the clues.

The feathers on her back are funny, I insisted. Either shes picking them out, or the other birds are pecking her.

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Epilogue

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Epilogue

For the next two weeks, Im holing up on a writing fellowship in a summer house on a hefty tract of private land located on Shin Pond up north. Its Patten Pioneer Days this week, and the festivities are in full swing. The big event is the firemans barbecue on Friday, followed by fireworks, and a spaghetti supper at the Methodist church. There will be traffic this weekend because of it. The town only has a few hundred residents, but this weekend, everyone comes back, including me and my dad, who is bringing his new girlfriend, and they are both staying with me (in separate bedrooms, he repeats a hundred times, just to make sure Ive understood.) He and Barbara met at the Senior Center over slabs of meatloaf, and theyve been happily doddering away ever since. Strip away the externals, and the two of them are weirdly alike. On spindly legs they potter along, peeling oranges and marveling at the fresh air. They count their pills, worry about finding the bathroom at night, and theyre starting Spanish language classes together.

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4. Bite Me

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Four

Bite Me

Biologically speaking, if something bites you, it is more likely to be female.

biologist Desmond Morris

Johns father is shooting gray squirrels from the kitchen window, trying his best to scare me away. Now that John has started bringing me to Maine every weekend, the Big House isnt big enough for the both of us. It isnt personal. Its political. Ill always be a liberal, and its best if John realizes this sooner rather than later and moves along to a nice conservative girl who isnt so noisy when she eats. The three-month hunting season on squirrels lasts through the end of December, and theres no bag limit because theyre a pest species. Specifically, the little criminals have been nesting under the hood of his truck and stealing from the bird feeder. The gray squirrels are also bullying the red squirrels out of the neighborhood, even though grays and reds dont eat the same food or chase the same girls. The red squirrel is small and sleek, resembling a chipmunk without stripes. But he cant eat acorns. Instead, he mostly eats pine nuts. As a result, he tastes like pine tar, the stuff in turpentine.

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