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Michael’s face was red. “OK, then, gun to your head,” he demanded, “what’s the best Christmas movie?” Though his tone suggested he might actually have put something to my head, he hadn’t. Well, first, I told him, with a gun to my head I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on movies; second, the category’s too broad: Christmas comedy? Christmas love story? Is Die Hard a Christmas movie for taking place on Christmas? “Completely irrelevant,” he said. “Best is best. But anyway, it’s a trick question. They all suck because they all lie.” I knew better than to take the bait but I told him anyway that all movies lie. “Well, I know actors wear makeup and play make-believe,” he told me, “but they do that to tell a truth; Christmas movies lie to lie.” He put his mug down hard as if he wanted to tenderize the coaster. Glasses clinked down the bar. He’d been pounding me the same way since we sat down, which was common, but his red face was not. He cared about this. I watched his eyes and waited. A string of lights twinkled behind his head. “You think Santa Claus is universal,” he told me,“and that finding out he’s your parents is a primal disillusionment. That’s Hollywood bullshit. Kids have dads who bring out guns on Christmas Eve and put them to their children’s heads one by one,” he said. That can’t be right, I told him. “One by one and pulled the trigger,” he told me, “year in and year out, and made them wonder if one year there’d be bullets. Why have I never seen that in a movie?” I waited until he was finished. Why are you telling me this, Michael? I asked him. What the hell are you telling me?

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Before it grew too big to lift, the hospital could have moved to a better neighborhood or invested in its neighbors. Instead it pushed out handymen and cleaning ladies and street hawkers like my uncles Read the rest of this entry »

My dear wife, the gentlemen who detain me do not understand why you neglect to send what they ask for my release. Try to appreciate that when they saw us get out of your patron’s car at the embassy, they took us to be valuable. Read the rest of this entry »

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I might have chosen the needle and thread, thereby insuring myself a long if not necessarily happy life, or the bow and arrow, the significance of which seems obvious. My rich aunts had both grabbed rice cakes on their ceremonial turns around the table Read the rest of this entry »

Summer camp for boys had been a nightmare of fellowship and other itchy rashes. For weeks, he had tried to find somebody he could like or a hiding place, but they had pestered him with bows and arrows, canoes and climbing ropes. The ropes he liked. Read the rest of this entry »

He should only hang. He only survived his youth because he had his parents overmatched and lived by their protection. Their idea of punishing Butchie was to limit him to slightly less of something the rest of us couldn’t afford even a little of. Read the rest of this entry »

The box is richly padded and, for one who won’t be stirring, roomy. I should have lived as comfortably, in darkness as conducive to long remembering. This is no way to begin. I am paper and bone in a box under earth as blunt as a clod. My words should be simple as sand. Read the rest of this entry »

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The pen name David B Dale honors my parents Beatrice and Dale. David+B+Dale = davidbdale

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