When I come to, I am half sunk in ivy, the sun bright in my eyes. My right leg is tangled in my ten-speed. The handlebars dig into my side and the front wheel is bent like a potato chip.

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The three boys walked up to the fence and stopped. They looked around a little as they made it there. Each of the boys had a flashlight, and they scanned the little field with them, passing over half a dozen goats. After a short pause, the tallest boy said, “That one. The brown one.”

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I come to work at seven-thirty. I start and seven-thirty and finish at four. We get half an hour for lunch.

As you walk down the corridor it gets shabbier and shabbier: the carpet turns from light green to dark; the rooms get darker; the carpet ends and becomes tan and pink lino; the tan and pink lino ends. Our lino is two shades of grey. Our office is woodwork-teacher furniture, old typewriters and four time clocks. All the time clocks are wrong.

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The workday, truncated as it was, would be followed, soon enough, by yet another. The man fumbled with his keys as he stood outside his flat in the dim yellow light of the hall. Fatigue hampered the man’s fingers and threading the key into the lock required three attempts before the man met with success. Home smelled of two parts lemon drop, one part cinnamon, and a dash of pine scented floor cleaner. Breathing in the chilled air of the empty flat, the man dropped his keys on the marble-topped table in the foyer. The only other item on the table, a porcelain doll, lay face up with its eyes closed. He righted the doll to sitting and as he moved it the eyes clicked open. The man smiled.

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Riddle me this one: what the fuck is wrong with being a witch?  

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It’s been this way since 9/11. Too close to D.C., I guess; and, now, just as business is picking up again, the Beltway Sniper strikes. So, it’s mostly just the diehard Harlequin romance readers who come in these days. And the mallrats—when they run out of change for the arcade next door.

And Albert.

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"Are you eating your own shit again, Tubbs? What a worthless jackass!” Tank yells at a closed stall at the end of the locker room. Guys laugh & hoot, preparing to leave or to begin their 8-hour shift.

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This is it, then, the festivities, the high color, the bewildered spark of crowds. It's not what I've expected, but it'll do. I'm lucky to be here, I was invited, I didn't have to beg. That's one thing I'll never do, I'll never beg.

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The black hash was a lot stronger than the blonde stuff I was used to. One little chunk in my pipe and I was flat on my back in the woods by Van Allen's field, pine needles prickling through my t-shirt.

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