When I feel the telltale tickle in my throat, I want to cry. I thought this was over. All I ask is to make it through fifth-period calculus without causing any incident whatsoever. I’m sitting at my desk in the center of the classroom, surrounded (trapped) on all sides by my fellow classmates, who must surely be watching my every move. This is the worst possible thing that could happen. Instead of tossing and turning from dreams of showing up to class without pants on, I suffer from the absolute nightmare of coughing not once (which is bad enough), but twice during class. I’d rather implode from my un-coughed cough than face the humiliation.
To cough once is embarrassing. To cough twice is social suicide. I will be forever scarred by the traumatic memory of when I coughed for the first time five minutes ago. I’m sure everyone in class still remembers the very moment I opened my mouth and expelled a cough louder than a volcanic eruption, when I tried to cover my mouth with my elbow to muffle the sound, but it was no use, I could feel everyone’s gaze swivel to me for the briefest microsecond, the longest microsecond of my life.…
Naomi was holed up with Scooter and his beautiful baggie of Oxy in The Cutler Corner Motel—Room 13—when the tornado touched down and set the whole place to shaking. She had barely partaken of the powder when the walls of the motel room began to rumble like a train was passing just outside the window. Naomi gripped the threadbare comforter, wondering if a mine had collapsed or the world was ending.
“Oh shit! Oh shit!” yelled Scooter, trying to pull his jeans up over his greying underwear but kept getting tangled up until he tipped into the veneer dresser, knocking his stash onto the red shag carpeting.…
In my head, a mental timer ticked – eleven hours fifty-two minutes
A half dozen times over the past two weeks I begged, “Nothing special, please.” And today was no different.
“Why so sad?” she asked, dancing across the kitchen floor, a light hum spilling from her lips. After sixteen years of marriage, she was still stunning, and the tactic of using the hum to drown out my pleas. Well, I’m familiar with that ploy. But unbeknownst to her, I spotted the iconic yellow Post-it notes. And when she wasn’t looking I dug them from the trash. Written in her familiar handwriting, were names, numbers, and a recurrent date. That date was today. So, I knew she was up to something. And who could blame her, it was a special day. It was a day for celebration. “See you tonight,” she said, pushing me out the front door with honey-do-list and a soft peck on the cheek.…
The nurse squeezes a rubber ball that makes the strap around Raymond’s arm tighten more and more. It really hurts. Raymond pushes his lips together so he won’t complain, because complaining is bad heredity. Mother told him that this morning when he complained about the Brilliantine she put in his hair. The gel still smells awful, like dead flowers and Father’s breath during good-night kiss. Mother is determined to win this Fitter Family contest, which is why she made Raymond wear the hair gel and why Raymond must not complain. Mother thinks they lost the competition last year because of Aunt Julie, who is what Mother calls a broad, although she won’t tell Raymond what that means. …
“We need more guns,” Teddy Koala said, standing back from the array before them.
Teddy was the more aggressive of the pair while Rudolph, a year older, was the planner and dreamer. He was the one who insisted he’d once read an article that had identified the brothers as the most feared killing machine in Australia’s notorious Northwest Territory in the last hundred years.
Teddy liked the idea that they were men to be feared. His only concern was that, if the newspapers were so determined to help run them down that they might use an old photo that cast the damaged right side of his face in a poor light, making him look less like a predator and more like a victim.
Rudolph knew Teddy was right. “What exactly are we missing?”…