New Stories from the Midwest 2012

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

Thirteen
The Five Points of Performance

Christopher Mohar


ONE: PROPER EXIT

Hempel and I leave the funeral home in his new Trans Am. This is his dream car, a ’74 Super Duty with a 455 HO V-8, Olympic white with the powder blue phoenix decal on the hood. Sitting in the parking lot, he asks if I want to drive. I do, just not right now, so I ride shotgun. The upholstery is black, but not dark enough to keep me from seeing a brackish stain across the seatbelt.

We take Pierce Street to Shady Lane and get on County PD. Hempel has it up to 105 when we hit the railroad crossing by the Sawyer Feed Mill. This is a new type of airborne, but the feeling is similar—like I’ve swallowed a live snake, tongue flicking my tonsils, tail rattling my guts. When Willy was alive he told me it hit him like a premonition the instant before his boots left the steel. For me, it’s not real until I hear the sound of wind snapping into rip-stop nylon, thuk, thuk, thuk, thuk. In the car, the feeling doesn’t last. Just enough hang-time to freeze the world for a second, for one glance up to the billboard on the feed mill’s steeple: a collage of advertisements papered over and peeled off again a thousand times—tatters of Goodyear Tires, a shred of a McCormick-Deering.

The rear wheels touch down first and the chassis bottoms out with a sound like a .38 on a steel plate. The tires don’t blow like I think they might, but the

-156-

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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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