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By Robert Devereaux

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Calvin had been close to Ward in elementary school, once belonged to the Shy Friends Club in fact, not because he himself had an invisible companion but because he tagged after Len Frome, like now he mostly tagged after the kids in his big brother’s inner circle at school. Scootling an acorn with his foot, he said, “Mike and Patti Singer are . . they’re off somewheres. ” Timothy tried to dissuade him, but Ward put Calvin’s nervousness down to embarrassment about his home life. He had heard that Calvin’s father, a guidance counselor at school, could, for all his dressing up in smart clothes, let slip some fairly crude remarks—more whispering at this stage than anything the kids let the teachers in on.

You think I like being the son of the town drunk? ” “They can go to hell,” he shot back. There was too much Fay in his son. Carver didn’t so much mind being berated, it didn’t matter worth shit. But the rhythms—it wasn’t just a trick of the whiskey—brought back that day last April when Fay had dropped her pretended love and blasted him with loathing. She had scooped him out, left no skin on his bones, no guts worth preserving. “Sure, let ‘em all go to hell. Easy for you to say. ” Tom looked around as if Auroville were about to leap on him.

Ward’s alien flesh was blood-stiff and disgusting. Not alien, seeds of life, flame and fuel, hear it, listen to me, the flame needs the candle. Patti drew the pink bubble back into her mouth, blew another. Timothy shrank in at chin level. Pinching himself off at the neck, he squeezed up into Timothy-as-flame, down into Ward-as-candle, a naked Ward, all beautiful, even the penis—stiff and bowed above its new-tufted hair—part of the whole, all fodder for the flame. And the flame, though it sat on top, whickering at the dark wick, sank roots deep into the candle straight to its base, making it glow brighter and warmer than pumpkin light.

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A Flight of Storks and Angels by Robert Devereaux


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