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    Justin Taylor

    3. Estrellas y Rascacielos

    By Justin Taylor

    The anarchists were drinking victory shots and making toasts because even though they’d never met with success before they surely knew it when they saw it or it found them. Snapcase, his beard effulgent with spilled drink, was sure that school was out forever. He’d tossed Jessica’s survey of art history, his own Norton Shakespeare, and somebody’s copy of Derrida’s The Gift of Death into the fire pit they had dug in the backyard. The shallow hole was surrounded by salvaged chairs and shaded by a blue canvas canopy they’d stolen from some resort because property was always already theft anyway, and plus they had really wanted that canopy. The books were doused with whiskey from a bottle of Ancient Age. Snapcase lit a hand-rolled cigarette and then tossed his still-burning match into the shallow pit. It went out in the air, so he lit another and placed it gingerly in a little pool of whiskey. It snuffed there. Someone said something about lighting three matches in a row. Somebody else said no, the expression was no three on a match. And how that expression had come from World War I, because if you lit three cigarettes off one match in your foxhole or trench the enemy in his foxhole or trench had three pins of light to triangulate your location and then he blew up everything or maybe just shot you and your two buddies.

    Knock off the history book shit, Snapcase said. Where were the history books anyway? His fire was still unlit. . . . Read More.

    6. Tennessee

    By Justin Taylor

    Off to the land of club soda unbridled
    —David Berman, “Tennessee”

    *

    My little brother Rusty was on the back porch, lighting up.

    “Hey,” he said.

    “Rusty,” I said. “The smoking.”

    “This is what Mom and Dad made you come home for? To try some weird bonding shit against my smoking?”

    “They didn’t make me come home. It was a choice. I wanted to come.”

    “Ran out of money, you mean.”

    “What’s with the smoking?”

    “Do you know how many Jews there are at my high school?” Rusty said.

    What happened is the family moved because my father lost a job and my mother got one. They left Miami, where we had always lived, and came to this suburb of Nashville. I think they picked it because it had the good school system for my brother, who hates his full name, Russell, and so goes by Russ in all circles except the family, where he has always been and will always be Rusty. Everyone agrees the move was hardest on him—especially him. Me, I say what’s one suburb to another? We didn’t actually live in Miami. Not like South Beach, Calle Ocho, and everything. We lived in a middle-class suburb called North Miami Beach, in the shadow of a wealthier suburb called Aventura, with the real city somewhere maybe half an hour south. These places were all part of the “greater Miami area,” which was understood to be among the biggest Jewish communities in the country. Fourth biggest, people always said, though I don’t know where they came by that number or who was in the top three. I was ten years old before I made a non-Jewish friend. (Her name was Marie Hahna and I fell right in love.) . . . Read More.

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