Remodeling, fiction by Sheldon Compton

A weak rain fell and set­tled across Route 6 like a worn out bed sheet so that oil and grease left from the occa­sion­al car and sev­er­al short-bed coal trucks rose back to the sur­face of the black­top. The road would stay slick with the reborn oil until the rain picked up and washed it away. Until then, most of the vehi­cles slowed down, tak­ing it easy through the horse­shoe curve that hugged past Peace­ful Murphy’s truck garage.

Most dri­vers, the ones lean­ing into the steer­ing wheels of their cars and mini-vans, slowed down to a crawl through the curve. They knew the old oil mixed with the first sprin­kles of new rain was worse than black ice. So they drove like it was mid­night in Decem­ber. The short-beds blew past Murphy’s loud and hard, spray­ing bits of coal the size of quar­ters from beneath loose tarps. Paid by the load, these dri­vers with call names like Spi­der, Grape Ape and Wild Bill didn’t care if the road ahead was coat­ed in napalm.

When a rogue chunk of coal bounced across Route 6 and skipped to land at the tip of Hank Clayton’s boot, he picked it up and tossed it at a stray dog hud­dled near the edge of the garage.

Hank! That any­way to treat a dog?”

It was his grand­dad­dy, Burl, cross­ing Route 6 from his house atop the hill on Beau­ty Street, a short walk to the truck garage and adja­cent build­ing, which he owned.

Hank threw his hand up, for­mal­ly, apolo­get­i­cal­ly, and Burl waved him over to where he stood like a totem pole of flan­nel and kha­ki in front of the brick-bro­ken building.

Check­ing the garage for Mur­phy or dri­vers and mechan­ics and find­ing it emp­ty, Hank crossed the bram­ble thick­ets that sep­a­rat­ed Murphy’s and his granddaddy’s build­ing by less than ten feet. When he made it over, Burl didn’t move his gaze from the sag­ging top of the building.

We’ll need to start on the roof first,” Burl said and then looked to Hank. He adjust­ed his sus­penders. “Gonna remod­el this build­ing. It’s about time, and I need your help. Par­tic­u­lar­ly on the roof.”

Hank shield­ed his eyes from the sun with the back of his hand and stud­ied the roof. The build­ing was two sto­ries and even from the ground he could see boards peek­ing up from the edge like drift­wood, split and black­ened, soft as sponge.

I’m work­ing over here for Mur­phy now, grand­dad­dy,” Hank said, and motioned to the garage.

What? With that bunch? That’s just tin­kerin. What’s Peace­ful got you doin?”

Spray­ing down trucks and doing some repairs and so forth,” Hank answered.

Doin some repairs, you say?” Burl went to the side of the build­ing and placed his hand there, like a ner­vous father check­ing to see if his new­born was still breath­ing. “I shoul­da taught you weldin,” he said after a time.

Well, all the same, I don’t mind to help, but it’ll have to be on my days off,” Hank said. “I’m just work­ing three days a week right now.”

That gives us three oth­er days to man­age with, then,” Burl said.

Four,” Hank corrected.

Three. We don’t work Sundays.”


Like always, the rum­bling crunch and hitch of his neighbor’s car grind­ing to start woke Hank at just after 7:00 a.m. Since rent­ing the place more than a year ago, he had yet to use an alarm clock. Just went back to sleep on days off and got out of bed with the sound of the gut­ted car engine for days when there was work. Today there was work. Sog­gy boards to be pulled up and replaced and God only knew what else.

He went to the kitchen in the bare­ly light of morn­ing and poured a cup of cof­fee from half a pot left from yes­ter­day. A microwave would be nice, he thought, gulp­ing down the cold cof­fee quick­ly and clean­ing out the cup at the sink. But then he should have just made a new pot, but grand­dad­dy would be wait­ing at the build­ing soon and he was a ten minute dri­ve away.

Skip­ping a show­er Hank dipped his head under the sink instead, wet­ting down the rat nests that had twirled into his hair dur­ing sleep. He tow­eled off with a dish rag and combed hur­ried­ly with his fin­gers, think­ing of the lad­der, dou­ble extend­ed to the roof, a dread set­tling into his stomach.

He’d nev­er said a word of it aloud, but the build­ing was pret­ty much a shit hole. At one time, there was a cou­ple nice apart­ments upstairs and one down­stairs, and a bar­ber shop beside that. But that had been years and his grand­dad­dy had bought it after all that was gone. What­ev­er plans he had, they were put on the shelf a long time ago. That was until yesterday.

Burl was there before Hank pulled in and work start­ed right away. It was just after 7:30 a.m. When a light driz­zle start­ed just as they had the lad­der posi­tioned along­side the build­ing, Hank secret­ly began to won­der if he might get a lit­tle mon­ey for help­ing. Some pay could go a long way in cov­er­ing the rent and util­i­ties and oth­er debts he thought about less specif­i­cal­ly, the ones that nagged him espe­cial­ly hard. Then the driz­zle lift­ed off, back into the clouds, which moved away in a slow bulk across the ridge and dis­si­pat­ed like a swarm of col­or­less wasps.

The build­ing was a ship­wreck raised to the sur­face just off Route 6 and left alone, no trea­sure to speak of, no fine dis­cov­er­ies. From the roof, Hank could see into to what was once the top floor bed­rooms, spy­glassed through holes that looked as if they might have been the result of boul­ders falling from the near­by heav­ens of John Attic Ridge. There were more than ten of these bust­ed out sec­tions, the roof an opened mouth­ful of wood­en cav­i­ties. And the rot inside was that much worse.

Hank low­ered him­self steadi­ly through one of the holes dur­ing a break, mind­ful of rusty nails and count­less oth­er objects left in dan­ger­ous shards from the con­stant, push­ing weight of weath­er and wind. Below was a bleached out dress­er and he test­ed it with first one foot then the oth­er until he was posi­tioned solid­ly. He did the same with the floor of the old apart­ment until he was stand­ing in a kalei­do­scope of light from the out­side world dis­tilled through thou­sands of hid­den cracks in the filmed over win­dows and plas­ter-curled walls.

Peo­ple had cer­tain­ly lived here. Fam­i­lies. In an area that served as a kitchen there were four chairs that seemed blown about the room. Two tilt­ed against a far wall and the oth­ers sat upright but on oppo­site sides of the room. There were dish­es in a can­cer­ous sink.

Every­where the floors were trap-door weak. Hank gazed up at the hole through which he had left the unfil­tered sun­light behind as he made his way down a hall­way run­ning the length of the apart­ment. Not more than five steps in, he moved with cau­tion through a door­way lead­ing to what was once a bed­room. Claus­tro­pho­bic in size, it was a child’s bed­room, he fig­ured. A rec­tan­gle of clean­er hard­wood sug­gest­ed a place where a bed might have once been. In the cor­ner he found odd toys, action fig­ures, arms twist­ed and gnawed from where rats had rushed through and test­ed the items for food.

Hank stood for too long exam­in­ing the toys. For a crazy moment he wished he might just stay in the room, sleep nights on the clean rec­tan­gle, the neg­a­tive expo­sure his place of rest. At dawn he would arrange the toys in the room and sit qui­et­ly in the kitchen while the morn­ing opened up the light show through the cracks in the walls.

Hank! Let’s get back at it!”

The sound of his granddaddy’s voice ring­ing out from above, the shuf­fle of his boots over­head, mut­ed but insis­tent, pulled him back­wards from the bed­room. He went up through the bro­ken sec­tion of roof and spent the next cou­ple of hours for­get­ting the toys and kitchen chairs.

At lunch, they drove to the IGA for hot dogs with chili made from fresh ham­burg­er and slop­py joe sauce. By din­ner, Hank thought his grand­dad­dy looked tired and fin­ished, and with about an hour of day­light left, he called it a day. The lad­der was retract­ed and tied to the back of the Dat­sun truck.

Of the thir­ty or so squares need­ed to repair the roof, they had stripped about four and replaced just two rot­ted boards. The work with his grand­dad­dy had been uncus­tom­ary in its slow­ness, easy-going and a sur­prise to Hank. With the extra time and a decent well of ener­gy left, he decid­ed to dri­ve straight to Jim­my Cole’s pok­er game on Thomp­son Fork Road.


He had stowed away twen­ty dol­lars for the buy-in and took the bill out of his shirt pock­et as soon as he walked in the door to Jimmy’s tool shop, a rick­ety struc­ture orig­i­nal­ly envi­sioned as a two-door garage which even­tu­al­ly became the pok­er room and gen­er­al hide­away. He was greet­ed by famil­iars when he placed his twen­ty on the table in the cen­ter of the room.

Sure Shot Clay­ton,” Jim­my said as Hank pulled up a chair. Hank’s dad had shot a man in the kneecap dur­ing a pok­er game once when the deed to somebody’s house was fold­ed into a large pot in a no-lim­it hand. Since all these men had known his dad, Hank had inher­it­ed the name Sure Shot right off, the first night he played in the game.

Who’s win­ning?” Hank said, count­ing chips out in four denom­i­na­tions of green, black, red and blue from a sil­ver case on what would have been a fine, met­al work­bench. He had noticed Peace­ful Mur­phy sit­ting in, but left it alone in his thoughts. This was pok­er. Not work.

Thing’s already start­ed,” Jim­my said.

Okay if I take a hit on how­ev­er many blinds and jump in?” Hank asked.

Jim­my looked at the oth­ers and they agreed by offer­ing a silent dis­re­gard to the ques­tion. Mur­phy snort­ed light­ly into the air.

The game usu­al­ly went far into the morn­ing with a tour­na­ment style Jim­my imple­ment­ed after becom­ing a huge fan of the World Series of Pok­er on tele­vi­sion a few months back. Before that it was straight mon­ey games and dealer’s choice. Now it was tour­na­ments with timed blind increas­es and pay­outs to first and sec­ond place. And always no-lim­it hold ’em.

This game’s the Cadil­lac of pok­er, boys,” Jim­my said, a cig­a­rette hang­ing from his lip like some enor­mous­ly long tooth bust­ed loose but hang­ing on. He had just pulled in his third straight pot.

Lucky tonight, Jim.”

Still stack­ing his chips even, Hank could tell it was Murphy’s voice offer­ing Jim­my com­ment. Jim­my was one of Murphy’s dri­vers. The tone, sar­cas­tic and accusato­ry, irked Hank, and he found him­self wish­ing he would have went on home. This might not be work, but it was Mur­phy, and he couldn’t afford to toss away twen­ty dol­lars just for get­ting rat­tled at the table.

When Hank turned to the table with his chips bal­anced in both hands he saw Jim­my had already fold­ed his buy-in with the rest, a wound tight roll of bills on a unvar­nished table inch­es, always inch­es, from his elbow. He was in the game now whether he want­ed to be or not.

Drove by today and saw you and Burl on that old roof,” Mur­phy said as soon as Hank was in his seat.

Hank didn’t say much, just agreed, and the game went on in a ruf­fling of worn out cards and the clack­ing of clay chips. Jim­my was get­ting the best of it, but Hank had built a small stack, pick­ing his spots and lay­ing low.

When Mur­phy spoke to him again, it wasn’t about the game, no attempt to rat­tle him from his con­ser­v­a­tive, grind-it-out approach. But what Mur­phy said rat­tled him all the same.

Tell Burl I’ll give him ten thou­sand for that buildin,” Mur­phy said in a bored voice, the voice he used when doing busi­ness. “As is. Not ten or twen­ty months from now after you all fin­ish pid­dlin with it.”

It was Murphy’s deal and when Hank didn’t answer he stopped the rain­bow move­ment of cards, placed the deck in his left hand and looked direct­ly at Hank.

Hank had hoped to let the com­ment go, just idle talk he had no real stake in. Murphy’s con­tin­ued stare told him that was not to be the case.

It’s not mine to nego­ti­ate,” Hank said.

Mur­phy snort­ed again, resumed shuf­fling. “Who can talk to Burl about any­thing these days?”

Four hands lat­er, Hank bust­ed out and drove home think­ing of how he should have checked kings on the riv­er instead of push­ing against a pos­si­ble flush, think­ing of how to men­tion ten thou­sand dol­lars to his granddaddy.


Alzheimer’s. Or Old Timer’s, as the old timers called it. Ear­ly onset, in his granddaddy’s case, but get­ting worse. And fast.

On the roof the next morn­ing, Hank worked and thought of what it must feel like to lose mem­o­ries. He imag­ined it would be bet­ter in some ways. But with his grand­dad­dy, it only seemed to be recent mem­o­ries that were gone. He remem­bered every­thing about his dis­tant past, his days weld­ing to build tip­ples or fix­ing machin­ery on con­tract at this mine or that mine. It was the dai­ly things that were slip­ping. Men­tion­ing Murphy’s offer was a dai­ly thing, and Hank won­dered how it would be han­dled. He decid­ed to men­tion Murphy’s pro­pos­al as they loaded into the Dat­sun, eat­ing their hot­dogs as they went.

Why would I want to do that? No sale,” Burl said, and point­ed to a drop of chili on the seat between Hank’s knees. “Looks like that hot­dog run straight through you.”

Hank wiped away the chili with the back of his sleeve. “That’s a good amount of mon­ey for a build­ing that’s in bad shape,” he said. “You’ll spend more fix­ing it than Murphy’s offer­ing to give.”

I weld­ed the gas line all across this ridge, all the way into Fis­ch­er Coun­ty,” was the only response. “I even stayed in Fis­ch­er Coun­ty, a town called Viper, through the week for more than a month. Came home on the weekends.”

The moment had passed. Until they arrived back at the build­ing, the present moment was for his grand­dad­dy what Hank imag­ined must have been a light sand­storm across a mem­o­rized land­scape, like a room stirred in dust. A kalei­do­scope where objects once sacred were left behind to be fought over by vermin.


The phone rang before he made it to the couch that evening. It was Ang­ie. Her voice seemed dis­tant and thick in the receiv­er. In the back­ground, the muf­fled sound of drum­ming music told him she was some­where with a live band. It was Sat­ur­day night and she was ask­ing about child support.

I’m behind. I know that,” Hank said tired­ly, reclin­ing onto the couch and clos­ing his eyes. “Tomorrow’s Sun­day. Mur­phy pays Mon­day. I’ll send it to you then.”

Behind closed eye­lids Pearl played in the front yard, washed out images almost gone in his mind except her smile and the way she held onto the han­dle­bars so tight her knuck­les were white as clean chips of porce­lain. Her smile was his hap­pi­ness, her fear the knot in his stom­ach. Behind closed eye­lids he held gen­tly to the small of her back, the tiny mus­cles tight­ened there, mov­ing across the bumpy ter­rain of the over­grown yard, all brav­ery and joy. And then her laugh­ter, soak­ing the out­side world in beau­ty and pur­pose. Life in fad­ing images, a scrap­book in his mind sharp at the edges with the shrap­nel of his slow-beat­ing heart, images fad­ing not from over­ex­po­sure to light, but from a dark so deep it glowed in places like the trans­par­ent skin of crea­tures that would nev­er see a morn­ing unfold, nev­er feel a breeze across a sum­mer yard, the clenched embrace of anoth­er liv­ing thing more impor­tant than their own buried existence.

You there, Hank?” Ang­ie asked, the drum­ming beat loud­er as he fig­ured she was mak­ing her way back to the entrance of the bar.

I’m here,” he said.

Just send the mon­ey to Mom’s address.”

He opened his eyes in the dark. “When can I see Pearl again?”

When you get some gro­ceries,” she said, and pushed a dial tone through his ear.


Mur­phy didn’t speak of his offer the next day at work. He was gone for most of the day. In and then out, but most­ly out. Hank went about his busi­ness as usu­al, but noticed his granddaddy’s build­ing more than before. No longer was it some­thing his eye passed over. It loomed against the valley’s ridge line as jagged, still, as the bushy tree­tops in the back­drop. His grand­dad­dy nev­er won­dered down from Beau­ty Street and so the build­ing sat undis­turbed and mute.

Hank let his thoughts wan­der dur­ing work about the build­ing. He rekin­dled the image of the kitchen in his mind, remod­el­ing it there with the Formi­ca table top and only two chairs near the mid­dle of the room just off from the sink, now a fine, shiny white with a sil­ver-fin­ished faucet and knobs . One for him­self and one for Pearl. As met­al clanked in first one tone then anoth­er, as air pres­sure released and the sharp bark­ing of the met­al and high hiss­ing of the air mixed with oth­er sounds emit­ting from the truck garage, Hank moved on to the bedroom.

Pink would burst loose here, onto the walls and then, a shade dark­er, along the crown­ing and trim. The clean rec­tan­gle was cov­ered again with Pearl’s canopied day bed and pic­tures and designs adorned the walls, flow­ers and but­ter­flies, clowns and kit­tens. But most of all Hank placed toys through­out the room. Stuffed ani­mals and porce­lain tea sets, dolls of all sizes, a van­i­ty with a tiny chair for pre­tend preen­ing, stacks of sto­ry books and more stacks of col­or­ing books, an entire cor­ner of the room devot­ed to these books, com­plete with a dan­de­lion-col­ored book­shelf. The room would always smell of fresh­ly washed hair, the aro­ma of a bub­ble bath per­pet­u­al­ly lin­ger­ing, an unseen mist­ing of newness.

Hank rubbed grease across the knees of his pants and nod­ded to Spi­der as the truck­er crossed the garage on his way to the front office, a shuf­fle and stomp of girth, his buzz cut hair slic­ing through the air before him like thou­sands of tiny razors. He returned quick­ly, swing­ing the con­nect­ing office door just hard enough for the hinges to stretch and give simul­ta­ne­ous pops before relax­ing back into place.

Where’s Mur­phy?”

Not sure,” Hank answered. He pushed a truck tire upright and start­ed wob­ble walk­ing it to a short-bed parked side­ways at the entrance.

God­damit,” Spi­der mut­tered. “Owes me mon­ey. I’ve held off on pay­day like this enough. He’ll have to ask some­body else next time. Just cause I ain’t got kids don’t mean I can always be the one he asks to hold off when things get tight. You tell him if you see him he owes me money.”

When things get tight? The com­ment sur­prised Hank. He eased the wheel to a stop and propped it against his side and turned to Spider.

Mur­phy has mon­ey prob­lems?” Hank asked.

Spi­der laughed at this and rubbed the top of his head. “It’s not exact­ly that kind of sit­u­a­tion, even though I guess it might’ve sound­ed that way. Just tell him. He’ll know just what it is by exact­ly the way it sounds.”

Laugh­ing again, this time more to him­self than out loud, Spi­der start­ed to the back of the truck where he had wedge-parked his own.

What kind of sit­u­a­tion is it, then?” Hank called to Spi­der, but the truck­er was already climb­ing into his cab, cut­ting off an oncom­ing sub­ur­ban as he pulled onto Route 6 and slow-geared away.

Hank rolled the wheel, stand­ing about four feet high between his clutched hands, and leaned it against the parked short-bed. The dri­ver was a man by name of Caudill, but every­body, like every­body else in turn, used their call names instead. Caudill’s call name was Torch. When Hank start­ed on the wheel, Torch appeared from behind a stack of fuel bar­rels and called across the lot.

Let Mack­ey do that, boy,” Torch said. He was wav­ing his hand. “Mur­phy ain’t pay­ing you no mechan­ic wages. Why in hell would you offer em up?” And then to some indis­tinct dis­tance behind him he called out, “Mack­ey! Wheel’s ready!”

Mack­ey, a thin man with a patchy beard who had worked for Mur­phy for more than twen­ty years, in turn appeared from a cor­ner of the garage. Hank saw Mack­ey throw a half-smoked joint into a pile of dis­card­ed met­al fix­ings, rub his eyes and quick­en his pace until it was just him and Hank stand­ing beside the truck.

Mur­phy gone for the day?” It was the first words Mack­ey had spo­ken to him in the three weeks Hank had worked at the garage. Usu­al­ly he just fin­ished his work, motioned his hand for anoth­er part, which Hank was always expect­ed to intu­itive­ly know, and then returned behind the garage. He smoked joints the entire shift and was the only garage employ­ee who could get by with such a thing. The dri­vers, it seemed to Hank, did what­ev­er the hell they want­ed on the road. Bet­ter for track­ing along that napalm and get­ting anoth­er load. “Mur­phy gone for the day?” Mack­ey asked again, this time loud­er, upset at hav­ing to repeat himself.

I don’t know,” Hank replied. He didn’t like Mackey’s tone. “How am I sup­posed to know?”

Mack­ey stared at him hard for four or five uncom­fort­able sec­onds and then laughed hard and start­ed on the wheel, motion­ing with his hand when this or that was need­ed and Hank com­plied with­out com­ment until Mack­ey final­ly set­tled back and, peer­ing about the lot, took a joint from his shirt pock­et and held it lov­ing­ly beneath the orange flame of an age­less Zip­po lighter.

Hank set­tled beside him, sit­ting direct­ly on the ground even though Mack­ey had made the changed and bust­ed tire his own per­son­al recliner.

Why would Spi­der think Mur­phy is hav­ing mon­ey prob­lems?” Hank final­ly asked. He wait­ed patient­ly, watch­ing Mack­ey take a long drag on the joint, hold it for so long when he exhaled there was noth­ing in the air but air.

The hell you talkin bout?” Mack­ey said breathlessly.

Spi­der said he was tired of wait­ing on his pay­check. Said Mur­phy shouldn’t always stick him short when the mon­ey was tight,” Hank said.

Mack­ey laughed hard again, rais­ing his legs into the air and wig­gling his filthy boots, the tongues flap­ping with­out the ben­e­fit of laces.


What, shit,” Mack­ey said. “I for­get you’re green, what a month into the job? I guess I for­get because of your Papaw and all. Burl could weld and do elec­tric like nobody.” He stopped and took anoth­er long drag and then said again, “Like. Nobody.”

Just as he was expect­ed to know instinc­tive­ly what tool or part Mack­ey might need next, Hank felt that some­thing was com­ing, a fur­ther expla­na­tion. He wait­ed for the harm­less old burnout to fin­ish. But there was a long silence and Hank stared even­ly at Mack­ey, watched him take a last draw from the joint and crush it care­ful­ly under­foot. The old mechan­ic looked first at Hank and then around the lot again. Still nobody around.

This might be some infor­ma­tion use­ful to you, now that I think of it,” Mack­ey said after the long pause. “Old Spidey’s woman, Char­lene, she’s a whore. You might get in a lick or two for the right price. I’ve had a shot or two when times were, you know, rough, like you got.”

Hank stood up, dust­ing off the back of his pants, feel­ing met­al shav­ings peel into the palms of his hands. The met­al shav­ings might have slipped beneath his very skin and made him invis­i­ble. The thought of pulling good tim­ing Mack­ey off his rub­ber reclin­er and knock­ing him around some passed through his mind, a fleet­ing fan­ta­sy, a day­dream, the place he’d been most of the day any­way. Instead he lazi­ly shook his head and start­ed back to the face of the garage.

Bull­shit,” he said, rest­ing him­self now in the dank­ness of the garage.

Mack­ey smiled and grabbed a vari­ety of tools, turn­ing back to the wheel for a beat or two and then turned back to Hank.

Don’t believe me? Call her up then, green­horn. Number’s in the book under Michael and Char­lene Hall. That’s Spider’s real name. Michael.”


Dusk set­tled across the house slow­ly and Hank watched it fall across the kitchen and then the couch and then the liv­ing room floor until he sat in near total dark­ness. He was sat­is­fied to see the dark­ness over­take the room. The room, the dor­mant items with­in the room, brought pain like he’d nev­er felt. A blue and pink trimmed toy playpen for dolls, Pearl’s dolls, in the cor­ner, now obscured by the dying dusk, was an open nerve in the day­light. In the day­light he watched over and over again Pearl lean­ing care­ful­ly over the edge and plac­ing her dolls in, tuck­ing them so gen­tly and then pulling them out again to feed and fuss over them, rock them in her skin­ny, moth­er­ly arms, smil­ing at her gen­tle­ness and care.

Ten thou­sand dol­lars would bring Pearl back.

Ang­ie would take the mon­ey and let him have Pearl. She didn’t want her any­way, and her par­ents were tired and old and couldn’t care for a child. They’d be hap­py to see either of par­ents take her in. Ang­ie would go for it. Ten thou­sand dol­lars would be the shin­ing light of God across this dying room of dusk and pain. Ten thou­sand dol­lars would be his salvation.

Draped across the couch, Hank rubbed his fore­head, hop­ing it wasn’t the pain and hurt mak­ing him think crazy. He looked again, squint­ing now through the full dark­ness to make out the toy playpen across the room. All of Pearl’s toys were still in their place since the last time she came, more than a month ago. A stuffed ani­mal, a dog she had named Spot­ty, a toy purse and a pair of princess slip­pers, a pur­ple plas­tic micro­phone left dead across the cof­fee table. He picked up the phone and, instead of turn­ing on a light, flicked his lighter, brought a cig­a­rette to life and then flipped open the phone book. He found Murphy’s num­ber and dialed quick­ly. He focused on the open nerves, dri­ving him for­ward in the dark.

Shel­don Lee Comp­ton sur­vives in Ken­tucky.  His work has appeared in Emprise Review, >kill author, Fried Chick­en and Cof­fee, Metazen and elsewhere.

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