The Two Lances

By Scott Nadelson

Featured art: Disturbed by Henry Keller

The summer I should have hit puberty but didn’t, I went to a Jewish sleep-away camp in the Poconos. It was an uncomfortable summer for me, full of insecurities, and not only because of my slow physical development. Most of the kids in camp came from Westchester and Long Island, and even if their families weren’t much wealthier than mine—we were solidly upper-middle-class—they showed off their wealth in ways that mine never did. Their parents dropped them off in Mercedes, BMWs, even the occasional Ferrari. Around their necks they wore 24-karat gold Chais and Stars of David. They were obsessed with brand-name clothing—Guess, Polo, Benetton. They talked about vacation homes on Nantucket, Cape Cod, Hilton Head. They had rolls of cash to spend at the camp store, which sold shampoo, toothpaste, soda, and candy.

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Any Time Soon

By Joshua McKinney

Featured art: Maine Landscape by Preston Dickinson

Folks said it was about the worst thing anyone in our town had ever done. Afterward, friends stopped calling and wouldn’t answer their phones. Coworkers avoided me. My accounts folded and the VP asked for my resignation. I moved out, rented an apartment on the bad side of town. Had my food delivered. Only went out at night. That was months ago. Lately, I’ve taken to going out days. But in disguise: dark glasses, Raiders cap, knee-length trench coat. I sit on a bench in the park and feed popcorn to the pigeons and squirrels. I never have to wait long. Somebody will amble by and make small talk. Ask if I’ve heard about it. An old man tells me my wife cried so hard a vessel burst in her eye. A girl in a tracksuit says a neighbor chased me down the street with a tire iron. A red-haired woman, who looks vaguely familiar, says she heard that after it happened we had to put our German shepherd to sleep. That the crepe myrtle by our front gate blighted and died in the span of a week. I’m not sure how much is true. “One thing’s for sure,” she says, “folks around here aren’t going to forget any time soon.” I tell her I probably don’t want them to forget. I say that I probably feel more alive than I did before, and some people will do anything to feel alive. A pigeon flutters to rest at the end of my bench. I tell her I’ve heard I lost my job but still live in town. I say I’ve heard I have taken to venturing out during the day. That I might be wearing a disguise.

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Soul Patch

By Tom Noyes

Featured art: Two Nudes in a Room by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Fresno, Fargo, Toledo. Albany, Tallahassee, Boise. I hit every town in a tux. When the crew and I crash the wedding—I try to time it so I’m rushing the aisle just as the bride and groom lean in for their kiss—the church erupts in confused gasps and worried whispers. Eugene, my best friend and agent, himself a three-time groom, holds the opinion that, in terms of nerves and anxiety, weddings are worse than funerals. With a funeral, what’s done is done. With a wedding, futures are at stake.

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