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The Sun Magazine

Fiction

CJ The Prince

You can’t breathe, yes, but it’s not because you feel punched in the gut. It’s the cold. The cold that sank in so fast and deep, your insides are freezing. All ice. And the radio in your brain is playing Rigo’s words from just a week ago: “CJ goes anywhere. It’s like he got a pass. He’ll hit the barbecue in the projects, hit another on Grape, stop and shoot dice with Swans on his way home. CJ’s dad is like royalty, and CJ the prince, man. CJ one guy they just let be.”

Days Of Human Sacrifice

Sundays were the worst for the smallest monkeys. The fathers who had the day off would get drunk and beat their boys, who would dash out their front doors to pass it on down. On Virgil’s second Sunday on Blue River Avenue, right after he told everyone how he’d once shot a cougar between the eyes, Wally flipped Virgil over his back, and Virgil’s head hit the pavement with a sickening thud.

Due To Vandalism

The copper is the easiest, isn’t it, vandal? You can clear the whole house with a hammer and a hacksaw. Start in the basement at the water heater. If the property has been properly winterized, the water will be shut off, and even if it hasn’t been, it takes hours for a basement to flood and days for someone to notice. (Just make sure the power is off, for real. In April they found a fried vandal in a cellar in Pontiac, Michigan, his body bobbing as high as the window well.)

Torpedoes D’Amour

While my contemporaries wailed in the throes of romantic and copulatory obsession, I suspected that every form of adult intimacy, sex especially, was less like the delivery of a vital and sophisticated pleasure than it was a sleek torpedo you never really saw coming until you were struck broadside and blown to smithereens.

A Friend Of The Devil

Between the ages of four and nine I lived in a California desert community called Anza, a gathering of burnouts, hermits, and rejects where I had come with my mom and little brother, Eli, after my parents’ divorce.

The Portal

The second portal to Mere had been two feet high and three feet across. Amber knew this because later she returned to that exact spot beside the woods and measured where the portal had been using her wooden school ruler. She did not know the size of the first portal because she had been much younger then — just six; she was seventeen now — and so she had overlooked many important details.

Plagiarism

It wasn’t even lunch yet, and Helen had a plagiarism situation on her hands. Becky Fairchild: chipper with lots of teeth, field-hockey captain, hair ribbons in Hadley Academy colors every Friday, scones and effusive thank-you notes for teachers at Christmas, clothes from the kind of catalogs that Helen sometimes flipped through wistfully on the toilet.

Don’t Call It Vino

A man in his kitchen must exhibit dexterity with a chef’s knife. That’s essential. He should also possess a devil-may-care nonchalance around the spice rack and a cunning knowledge of various cheeses. Good, you’ve sailor-knotted your apron. That’s important. You are also wearing oven mitts. A little excessive, but she might think it’s cute. She has a sloshing glass of vino in her hand and a grin on her face. Excellent!

The Uncircumcised

Three months after his aging daughter Rhonda gave him a one-year-old poodle-Lab-golden-retriever mix to keep as a pet, Felder came to believe that the dog — who looked at him mournfully whenever he went to the bathroom and waited for him by the door, as still as a statue, until he came out — was in fact none other than the reincarnation of his sister, Esther, may her name be a blessing.

The Inevitable

Lacey, my tall, blond, newly Christian thirteen-year-old, believes that anything that happens to me will end up on the Internet and will embarrass her in front of the entire planet. “It’s inevitable,” she says every time she uncovers a maternal infraction on the Web.