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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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Christopher Chambers

The black inked lines snaking around my arm are sharp and clear, unlike the details of that day. There was a party on Thunder Road in Knoxville. We almost died several times that weekend, always behind the wheel. A crawfish boil, the big kettle in the back yard refilled again and again from a bathtub full of the live mudbugs, each spicy hot batch dumped onto a newspaper-covered picnic table, cob corn, baby potatoes and the brilliant red boiled crawfish. We stood around the picnic table and ate with our hands. We drank cold beer from iced galvanized tubs. People wandered in and out of the house, and the darkened corners of the yard. A humid moon hung heavily over us. At one point I recall we were lounging in a car parked on the lawn, two girls and I, the doors flung open to the night air, shouts and laughter, listening to a rockabilly soundtrack on a dashboard radio. The talk turned to ink, show and tell. Gigi knew of a place outside of town, showed off her blossoming collarbone. Ariana batted her dark girl eyes in encouragement. The keys dangled in the ignition. A train whistle called in the distance. It seems the sun came up hot and hazy over foothills and through a dirty windshield. Outside the world was the same, and yet, a gravel parking lot, a neon sign, a faded Chevy up on blocks, and in the sky above us, a towering woman, painted, a strip club billboard goddess looking down on us with something like desire, and amusement.

Christopher Chambers drifted down to New Orleans. He has work online at Pindeldyboz, Brevity, Exquisite Corpse, and Diagram, and in print in the anthologies French Quarter Fiction and Best American Mystery Stories 2003.