In the House of Nice People
My nephew, Brian, had mysteriously developed an allergy after my brother died. It happened fast. Just a couple weeks after the funeral, when I was still vulnerable to questions like, What would Gabe have wanted? But the day after we buried him I changed my mind and made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that the bird was not to come live with me.
A Christmas Story
Big Mike liked to say, “If you don’t know why, you won’t know when.” The guy wouldn’t trust his own mother to love him if she wasn’t after something. If he knew what you wanted, he trusted you, but otherwise he figured you only kept your hands in your pockets because you didn’t want him to see the knife. Better to go up to him with your hand out, looking for a favor. He was the closest I had to a best friend.
Heart of the City
“This is going to be a little disturbing,” Tom said, smiling, and then his smile widened and he reached into his mouth and wiggled his teeth until the white veneers came free. He pulled a small plastic case from his pocket and slipped the veneers inside. James tried not to stare, but he’d never seen Tom’s teeth like this. They were little black things, small and awful looking, and seemed strangely dry, like day-old charcoal. Tom ran his tongue over them and bit his lips together. “You have no idea how much better that feels.”
Jackson’s hands will push the hooks through Mom’s skin, the same hands that moved the tattoo gun over her scarred chest. That’s how they met. She found him in a phone book, walked in without an appointment and asked him to brand her with the words Fuck Cancer. Tattooing scar tissue is supposed to be painful. Jackson says she didn’t flinch.