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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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Brian Welch

Young man with a fresh haircut and new coat sits on the metal seat of a boat. The bottom is full of rusty water and dead flies.

"Brother, when does love not conquer all?"

Brother, having never left the family land, spits a long brown one into the shallow water of the bay. It is eleven minutes past twelve, afternoon. He squints into the white, shimmering reflection and fingers his hook.

"When you fear it leaving. The emptiness of not having it. The hope of it coming to you."

The young man starts. The young man thinks that only dirt and rotting autumn vegetation can enter the brain back on the home fields. He writes in his notebook that he slips into his smooth blue oxford pocket: "Love is disemboweled when it is near but not inside, like two screaming noon crows."

He takes this back to college and broods over it in bars and up skirts with tight brown thighs.

When he comes home for the winter the brother is walled into the upper loft of the hay barn, a long extension cord running through the snow into the basement of the stone house. He has his phonograph and records up there. Also, a brutish rooster and a crippled, beaten hen. The young man comes into the barn and is hit in the ear with a cold white one come down from the loft.


"When it's pulled out of your body and used weaponlike," says older and starved brother. His eyes look like a thunderstorm has come into his skull.

He is playing the shit out of some record.

Father, stiff and brave from liquor, comes into the lower squares of the window behind brother's head, on the scaffolding. He rights his big piece and lets him have it in the rear of the hair. Lurch forward and a fast face down. Father comes into where his only son is standing and wipes the stick from his ear and cheek.

He doesn't say anything but climbs the ladder and pulls a tarp over the body.

The young man takes the phonograph and goes back to college and gets drunk and is sly with women. The first night he meets his wife he puts on a swing number from some dead black songstress who fell over in a bathroom with cemented veins from all the pokes. He looks at her warmly and pets her neck. "Groovy," he whispers, nodding at the spinning record. "Groovy."