American Boy by Larry Watson

By Larry Watson

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Not surprisingly, most of the people who felt this way had farming in their background; they might have been town dwellers by this point, but not for more than a generation or two, and they likely had a relative or two who still lived out in the country. Before leaving the kitchen, my mother said, “Phil asked if you want to bus tables during your Christmas vacation. ” Phil Palmer was my mother’s employer, and I knew she would have asked him for this favor. ” My mother walked out of the kitchen, but then returned almost immediately to retrieve her Pall Malls.

I’d expect there to be some delling. You know what that is, don’t you? It’s a little depression, like a dimple. And then sometimes the body does too good a job, so to speak. She could develop a keloid, a scar that doesn’t know when to stop. I know you’ve seen those—the flesh mounds up, the skin acquires a sheen. ” Louisa Lindahl stirred beneath the sheet, her body twitching and rippling as if an electric current were coursing through it. Dr. Dunbar was suddenly alert, watching for a sign that would probably be meaningless or invisible to Johnny or me.

For a moment, I wondered if Dr. Dunbar had invited us into the clinic not to give us a lesson about bullet wounds, but rather to teach us about death. The young woman’s flesh was beyond pale. It was marmoreal, and I couldn’t help but think that I was looking at a corpse. And then I recognized her. For while the name Louisa Lindahl was unknown to me, the face was not. Burke’s Pharmacy was a popular after-school spot in town, and this young woman worked at its soda fountain, scooping ice cream, mixing phosphates, pouring Cokes, and dodging the straw wrappers frequently blown her way.

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