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    Willy Vlautin

    16. Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before

    By Willy Vlautin

    For years I just floated along. I wasn’t much. I’m not saying I’m anything today, but back then it bothered me more than it does now. Now I’m all right with where I am. Now I know that just getting along is okay, that it’s better than a lot of things.

    I grew up in the same house that I was born in. My mom and me lived there. My dad left us when I was eight. He moved out of state with a woman nobody knew or even knew existed.

    Growing up I wasn’t much of a student or an athlete. I barely got through high school, and I tried at it. I stayed up a lot of nights studying, toiling over it. So when I got out I didn’t even think about college.

    I’m not extraordinarily gifted in any particular way, and I’m not saying that for any reason except that it’s true. I have never been obsessed with working on cars or slaving over a computer or trying to make a trunk full of cash. Plus I’ve always had trouble speaking in front of people, a lot of times I can barely eat in front of them. And I can get lazy. I can watch TV for days. I can let dishes stack in the sink for a week. I feel bad about all of it. About everything I just mentioned.

    I guess when I was younger, deep down I wanted to amount to something, have some sorta normal life like everyone else. Own a house. Have a kid that likes me and a girl that stays with me.

    For six years after high school I worked at a chemical warehouse and loaded trucks and answered phones. The chemicals we sold were to mines located all over the northern part of the state. I’d load 48-foot trailers with chemicals used for leaching gold out of the mountains. I couldn’t smell, my sense of smell was ruined because of the chemicals, and my hands were scarred. But it was a job and, for a guy like me, with my education and experience, I guess that I felt like I was lucky I had it and I worked pretty hard at keeping it.

    So the story starts here. It starts out of the blue. It starts after a year-long dry streak. I met a girl at a bar called the Swiss Chalet. . . . Read More.

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