New Stories from the Midwest 2012

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

Twelve
The State Bird of Minnesota

Charles McLeod

LUDD LIVED WAY OUT ON THE NORTH SIDE of the lake. No one really ever went over there. His cabin was built up right to his dock, and in the summer Ludd would often go swimming. He was bearded and awkward, an oaf of a man, but in the water he was something to look at. Ludd could hold his breath longer than anyone I’ve known. You could watch him dive in, go take your meds, and when you came back Ludd would still be down there.

His dock’s pilings were dressed with what he’d found while submerged: fishing lures, the handlebars from a children’s bicycle. There too was a raft Ludd had fashioned from logs and the tanned hides of animals—badger and deer and foxes. Late afternoons, as the light bowed and stretched, Ludd would untie and drift until sunset. He lay perfectly still, his arms at his sides, legs brought tightly together, and when the light hit the lake at just the right angle, and turned the water golden and orange, Ludd and his vessel looked set ablaze, his raft transformed to a pyre.

Winter our cabins were the only inhabited. The whiteouts were constant, the lake like a field. On warm days the temperature reached up to zero. Icicles as long as stalactites hung from the rain gutters. A service road was cleared each month by a bulldozer, though neither of us had any use for it. By Thanksgiving I’d taken out the battery from my pickup. Ludd didn’t even have a driver’s license.

-146-

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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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