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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 |

Columbia College Fiction Writing Department

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The Name Is Dalton

The Name Is Dalton is a punk rock bass player with too many beers in his fridge and too many Bukowski books on his shelves.

He sits on a recliner. The afternoon fades away and Don Henley has not been able to quit smoking. Unanswered letters addressed to Joe Walsh fill the room. Each of the envelopes is marked Return to Sender. It has not been a good week. "Why can't I be funny and as well liked as Joe? Why am I the 'poet of despair?'" He wonders. Cocaine and bits of hair that have fallen from his head cover the coffee table in front of the television set. Don Henley is going bald worrying about his image.

The other day I caught an episode of the television program named "Live by Request" and Mr. Henley happened to be the guest. I hoped that the next caller would be some fat ass housewife from somewhere in America who has only one dream, to hear "Boys of Summer." The next call comes in and -- oh the luck! "Boys of Summer" it is! The song starts, Henley warbles and I dance about the place. Joe Walsh and the rest of the Eagles might be dancing in their living rooms somewhere. Wouldn't that be grand? A whole flock of Eagles out there spreading their wings and jumping out of windows.

The stacks of used Eagles albums in the second hand store begin to warp. The clerk -- it happens to be his first day -- is caught by surprise as hundreds of these discs contort, ripping the covers, and finally SNAP! The Eagles' fans cover their faces. The shards of broken Eagles' vinyl fly about as if set off by a bomb. Flesh meets plastic and the winner is...

Yet, Don Henley still hasn't quit smoking. I don't think he is planning too. He may do all those anti-tobacco ads but I will bet he lights up when the director yells, "Cut!" He probably smokes Virginia Slims because he is such a pussy. There are two periods in the career of Don Henley -- no, make that three. There are the Afro years, when he was in the Eagles, the ponytail years, when he first went out on his own, albums like "End of the Innocence" and "Fart Hammer," then finally the post-ponytail years in which all of us are living right now. These are the hallowed cold and unforgiving post-ponytail Don Henley years we inhabit. Gone are the tales of how all she wants to do is dance, dance. Don Henley cries silently in the corner. I wonder what his tears taste like. Do they taste like fear? Does Don Henley stand up to wipe his ass or does he sit down when he pees? When he cut his ponytail, did he save it? Does he rub it on his asshole and then smell it? Is there a section on the auction block for a piece of his ponytail? What if he signed it?

The television station announces that it has finished its broadcast day. The Star Spangled Banner plays loudly with flags flying; soldiers are shown marching off to war and mothers hold babies in the sun. Don Henley grows angry, he feels inspired to write another hit. He cannot find a pen. Meanwhile, "The Boys of Summer" are on my television. I try to find the exact moment when the innocence ended. I cannot find a pen. For a nanosecond, both Don Henley and I are brothers.