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    April 2010

    17. Pig Helmet and the Wall of Life

    By Pinckney Benedict

    Pig Helmet needed to see the Wall of Life.

    I call him Pig Helmet because he’s the sort of fellow that, in olden times, you’d have been one of the Civilized People trying like hell, with fire and boiling oil and molten lead and such, to keep him and his kind out, and he’d have been one of the dreaded barbarians, he’d have been the lead barbarian in fact, climbing over your city walls by means of an improvised ladder, with his snarling face painted a furious blue, and something large and heavy and sharp-edged clutched in his massive fist, and wearing a pig for a hat. The head and hide of a boar, thick and knobby and naturally tough, hardened further by curing and the cunning attachment of metal plates and studs and rings, with the great toothy maw of the feral hog sloping down over his heavy brow, its tusks like upthrust sabers and its dead piggy eyes glinting dully above his own. Pig Helmet.

    Pig Helmet is a cop. He’s employed by the county sheriff’s department, and he lives down at the end of my road with his diminutive, pretty wife. Before that he was a “contractor” in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the money was good and the action was better, but his wife worried too much with him away. We tried to look after her as much as possible, my own wife and I, but we were no substitute for the ministrations of Pig Helmet, as you can imagine. He’s a dutiful and attentive husband. Before that work, he was a bail bondsman, a bounty hunter (he hates that term, silly movie bullshit he calls it), and one time a guy that had jumped bail threw acid in his face, trying to blind him, to avoid capture.

    The acid missed his eyes but crisped him pretty good otherwise, and the left side of his head is kind of a nightmare. The teeth show through permanently on that side, and the flesh is rippled and brown like old melted candlewax. He keeps pretty much to himself, does Pig Helmet, has some acreage and a few animals like we all do around here, following his hobbies in his off-hours, hand-loading cartridges and felling trees on his place and then turning the stumps into sawdust with his stump grinder. . . . Read More.

    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.

    15. Skinny Dipping

    By Austin Kleon

    . . . Read More.

    14. Therese Says

    By Teddy Wayne

    Therese says, “I wonder how long it would take to swim to the moon in a spacesuit.”
    Therese says, “Between you and me, I’ve never really liked my younger sister.”
    Therese says, “I once fucked five men in a twenty-four-hour period.”
    Therese says, “Sometimes I cry at diamond commercials.”
    Therese says, “I once thought I’d be a softball player, until I got cut from my varsity team, and I never played again.”
    Therese says, “So I joined the cheerleader squad and quit after four months.”
    Therese says, “I’d trust him as far as I could throw him.”
    Therese says, “One score and seven years ago I was born unto this sorrowful world.”
    Therese says, “Once in a while I miss my father, but not too often.”
    Therese says, “I’m not the type of girl to ask if this makes me look fat, but does it?”
    Therese says, “The majority of my dreams revolve around death by asphyxiation.” . . . Read More.

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