New Stories from the Midwest 2012

By John McNally; Jason Lee Brown et al. | Go to book overview

One
Mr. Scary

Charles Baxter

for Richard Bausch

THERE WAS SOME SORT OF commotion at the end of the check-out line. Words had been exchanged, and now two men, one tall and wide-shouldered, the other squat and beefy, were squaring off against each other and raising their voices. Their shoes squeaked on the linoleum. The short one, who had hair from his back sprouting up underneath his shirt collar, was saying a four-letter word. The other man, the tall one, shook his head angrily and raised his fist. An elderly security guard was rushing toward them. He didn’t seem up to the task, Estelle thought. He was just a minimum-wage retiree they had hired for show.

“Good God,” Estelle said to her grandson. “There’s going to be a fistfight.” The boy didn’t glance up from his phone gadget. He held it in his palm and was rapidly clicking the letters. “They’re just zombies,” the boy said quietly and dismissively after a glance.

“Well, how do you know that?” the grandmother asked, trying for conversation. “I’ve never met a zombie.” The men seemed to have calmed down a bit. They were just rumbling at each other now.

“Zombies like discount stores,” the boy, whose name was Frederick, said patiently, as if he had to explain everything. He still wasn’t looking at the two men. “They eat plastic when they can’t get brains.” The boy glanced up, showing his grandmother his bright blue eyes. “Just look around if you don’t believe me,” he

-6-

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New Stories from the Midwest 2012
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Editors’ Note xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • One - Mr. Scary 6
  • Two - To Psychic Underworld 22
  • Three - Townie 32
  • Four - The Amnesiac in the Maze 47
  • Five - The Deep 56
  • Six - Circling in the Air 72
  • Seven - Down to Bone 83
  • Eight - Starry Night 94
  • Nine - Peter Torrelli, Falling Apart 104
  • Ten - In Which a Coffin Is a Bed but an Ox Is Not a Coffin 117
  • Eleven - Drunk Girl in Stilettos 131
  • Twelve - The State Bird of Minnesota 146
  • Thirteen - The Five Points of Performance 156
  • Fourteen - The Baby Glows 170
  • Fifteen - Splendid, Silent Sun 172
  • Sixteen - Miscarriages 185
  • Seventeen - American Bulldog 198
  • Eighteen - Twelve- + Twelve 206
  • Nineteen - A Dry Season 221
  • Twenty - Schnecks 234
  • Thirty- Other Distinguished Stories 243
  • Contributors 245
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