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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Jennifer Gomoll

"I can never remember 'who' and 'whom,'" Vi says.

"What I don't get is, 'I feel badly.' Isn't it, 'I feel bad?'"

Vi considers Dick's question. "I don't think so. 'To feel' is a verb, right? So it should take an adverb. 'Bad' is an adjective. So it's 'I feel badly.'"

"Can't be." Dick takes a sip of his lukewarm coffee. "What about the song, 'I Feel Good?' It's not, 'I Feel Goodly.'"

"Um. It should be, 'I Feel Well.'"

Dick pulls a face.

"Hey," Vi says, "James Brown wasn't the godfather of grammar."

They laugh.

Vi is down to the dregs. She swishes them around her cup. She leans in. "How long do you think this place has?" she whispers.

Dick looks around at the empty, brand-new tables. "Cafes on this side of town last about as long as bookstores," he says.

"So what you're saying is, a month from now, this will be a place where I can buy beer or lottery tickets."

"I feel badly," Dick sings, softly.



"Let's take a walk."

"Did you have to buy your school uniforms over here?" Dick nods at a department store window as they pass. The child mannequins are all chipped.

"No. I did public school. But I bought sketch paper and a science fair kit and stuff from that hobby shop." Vi points at a boarded-up property across the street.

"But not anymore, huh?" Dick notices something new. "That a new dollar store?" He squints.

"Yeah. Used to be the record store where I bought cassettes before I got old enough to take the bus to the mall."

"Yeah. I remember. My friends used to get bikini-girl posters there before Internet porn came around."

"So it was 'your friends' keeping that crap in business?" Vi smirks.

Dick does not confirm or deny. "Let's cut through the park." Dick nudges Vi. "Lookit those fat kids sitting next to their bikes, eating ice cream."

"I think you're trying to make me forget your posters. Next you'll probably say, 'Lookit that dad showing his son how to whip rocks at birds.'"

"You guys got any rolling papers?" one of the two teenagers says.

"No." Dick looks truly sorry.

The other one, who is wearing a hairnet pulled down low over his forehead, makes a "tch" noise through his teeth. They walk away.

"Would you have sex with a guy who wears a hairnet?" Dick says after a moment of silence.

"Is he wearing anything else?" Vi squeezes Dick's hand.

Dick cocks an eyebrow. "A rolling paper."

Vi drops his hand. "I would just say no."


"Hey, where's that big thing they used to have here, with the million slides sticking out of it?"

"Lawsuit central? I'm sure they took that down."

"Dang." Vi remembers climbing ladders, sliding down: tube slides, curly slides, steep slides. Gone.

"You liked it, eh?" Dick takes her fingers again.

"I remember getting out of the car when my dad would take me. I'd run on the grass, run to get to it. It felt like it was so far away and took forever."

"I remember gangbangers hanging around and peeing on it."

Vi frowns. "I don't remember that."

"Once," Dick says.

"Why did we feel safer then?" Vi wonders.

"There were knives then. None of this shooting," Dick suggests.

"Guess so." Vi looks up at the field house. "I like the designs. Around the windows there."

"Yeah." Dick looks at the reliefs. "I don't know. It's all leafy to me."

"You like concrete boxes."

"Nuh-uh. I just like clean lines is all."

"Well they're not crazy fancy."

"No, but."

"I like it. It's a hundred years old. Can you imagine people here in hats and white dresses a hundred years ago?"

Dick looks around. "No. Maybe." He tips an imaginary hat and twirls an imaginary cane. "My dear, I do indeed feel most goodly today."

"Idiot," Vi laughs.

They walk to the lagoon. The city has put in a nature trail of wood chips.

"Nice," Vi says. They watch geese swim across the surface of the water.

"I hear seagulls by my house," Dick announces.

"Me too! What's up with that?"

"Search me. Nowhere to go? Some reason." Dick grows quiet.

"That's how I feel," Vi says.

"Like a seagull in the city?"

"Yes. Like a seagull in the city. Eating junk food off the ground."

"That would make a good song," Dick says.

"Don't get me started on music," says Vi.

A moment passes.

"This is a nice Sunday afternoon," Dick says. "I like the sun, orange against the blue sky."

"You're not supposed to look right at it!" Vi scolds. She softens after a moment. "Yes. Yes, I agree," she says, and smiles.

Jennifer Gomoll lives in Chicago, where she writes filler, comedy, poetry, web content, and fiction (i.e. that's right, she doesn't have a real job.)