New Stories from the Midwest 2012

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

Seven
Down to Bone

Roxane Gay

WHEN I AM FIFTEEN, MY FATHER rapes my best friend Shelby while she is sleeping over. She tells me the next morning when I find her in my bathtub. I find him downstairs, sitting in a chair, leaning back on two legs while he drinks his morning coffee. He looks up, raises his mug, and says, “Be glad it wasn’t you this time.”

Every morning, I write a list of everything I know to be true. Some days this list is short. Other days it is longer. Jesus turned water into wine and for that he was a hell of a guy. My father loves to sing this fact loudly while cradling a paperwrapped bottle of wine, dancing like a fool on the living room couch. Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash are the only men who make any music worth a damn. There is no such place as Iowa. My father told me the name was made up for the aptitude test they give to kids in grade school—to weed out the dummies and send them where they belong, he said. When we drove across the country to see the Grand Canyon, he gave me sleeping pills at the Illinois border and told me they were vitamins. I didn’t wake up until we had nearly crossed into Wyoming. When I asked if we had found Iowa, he got angry. “How many times do I have to fucking tell you?” he said. He pulled onto the shoulder and slammed on the brakes, his tires leaving a long snake of rubber on the pavement. It was

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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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