(Originally published in Thuglit.)
After a week, I went to see a doctor about my finger. I got the name of an MD who would play ball, a guy known to be loose with the Placidyl. The doc was one of those little guys who really looked after his beard. He sat me up on an examination table in my underpants, sanitary paper sticking to my thighs and looked at my finger with magnifiers clipped over his glasses. The ring finger on my left hand was swollen up twice its normal size. It throbbed like a mother and was starting to turn black around the knuckle. The doc made a clicking sound in his throat, pushed away from the table on his little rolling stool and marked something on a metal clipboard. He said: “There’s definitely a tooth in there.”
(Originally published in Camas.)
The governor had to call off his fishing trip in the middle of the holiday weekend to meet with the parents of the missing boy. It chapped him, but the Party insisted he go out to Wheatland County and settle things down. A five-year-old was missing two days and two nights after wandering off during a family camping trip in the Little Belt Mountains and the media had the whole state caught up in it. People were flooding the local 911 dispatch with crazy tips and false-alarm sightings. Do-gooders and ambulance chasers were coming from all over and getting in the way of things. It was a borderline hysteria situation. The governor had spent the last month tying up stoneflies and dreaming of cold, clear water rushing around his waders, maybe drinking a beer by a campfire. Now this.
(Original version published in Sou’Wester)
One day a crippled guy shows up on Charles Street wanting to fight Jamie Halsey.
Jamie has been working the same street corner downtown for almost two years, but he’s never seen this guy before. Usually his customers are business geeks looking to blow off some steam after work. They pay him five bucks for three minutes of his time. He puts their money in a cigar box while they strap on a pair of old sixteen-ounce boxing gloves. He sets an alarm clock and when he says ‘go’ they try to punch him in the face. They chase him around flailing like crazy. He ducks, he bobs and weaves. They turn purple and take off their jackets. They punch like girls. He doesn’t punch back.
(Originally published in the Beloit Fiction Journal.)
Janikowski stayed at the bar until close and then walked home through two feet of snow and found a six-point buck standing in his kitchen. From the alley, he saw his back door open in the cold, so he came into the house with a three-foot piece of broken-off drain pipe cocked behind his head like a baseball bat. There was no burglar, just the buck standing unsteadily on the slick linoleum, eating Granny Smith apples from a bowl on the table. When Janikowski saw the deer he slipped and whacked the back of his head on the doorframe. He dropped the drainpipe and it clattered on the floor. The deer turned to look and one of its antlers scraped a rack of pint glasses off a shelf. Janikowski covered his eyes against the flying glass and when he uncovered them the deer was staring at him. It chewed, and chunks of apple fell from its mouth. Janikowski dragged himself up and used the kitchen phone to call Georgie, a woman he wanted to sleep with.
“Can you bring your gun over?” he said. He listened and said: “Yes, right now.”
(Originally published the Sycamore Review.)
When Chester Purdy was twenty-seven he drove up to Charlo in his beat-down Chevy and robbed the Northfork Truck Stop with nothing but his hands. He had a gun with him, a little .22 pistol in the glove box, but left it in the car when he went inside. Chess only used the gun to shoot gophers and magpies, he didn’t have the meaness in him to turn it on a person. At first the buck-toothed cashier in the truck stop smiled at him and blinked like the whole thing was a joke. Chess hit the guy with a straight right, bloodied his nose, and told him to put the register money in a plastic sack. He drove east, and the Highway Patrol pulled him over before he even made Ovando. At his trial, the county attorney argued that because of boxing Chess’ hands should be considered deadly weapons. The judge wouldn’t allow it and Chess was charged with aggravated burglary instead of armed robbery. He was grateful, but the boxer in him didn’t take it as a compliment. He got five years at the state prison in Deer Lodge, served eighteen months.