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**PRINT: KIND OF LIKE BIRDS, by Mairead Case. The rules for teaching writing in the local juvie? 1. Don't talk about sex. 2. Or drugs. 3. Or therapy or suicide. The latest in our new mini-broadsheets series, with new fiction from Lydia Ship as well. We encourage active participation in distribution from any interested parties. Follow the main link above for more.

**PRINT: LIFE ON THE FRONTIER, by Chicago resident and native Kate Duva, is THE2NDHAND’s 33rd broadsheet. Duva's been plying the brains of THE2NDHAND readers for several years now, and her characteristic stylistic mix of arch-weird and arch-real in story makes for an explosively brittle manifestation of reality in this the longest story she's published in these halls, about a young woman's sojourn at what she sees as the edges of American civilization, Albuquerque, N.M., where she works as a nurse in state group homes for aging mentally disabled people. Catch Duva Feb. 8, 2010, at Whistler in Chicago at the second installment of our new reading series, So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? This issue also features a short by THE2NDHAND coeditor C.T. Ballentine.

**WEB: CHARLIE's TRAIN, PART 7 Heather Palmer
INJURIES Jeremy P. Bushnell
WING & FLY: THE2NDHAND @ AWP, Steel, Brick, Whipsmill, Samurai | Todd Dills
IN THE AIRPORT Bradley Sands

from the novella by
Heather Palmer

The final installment in the saga of Charlie, with a toast to toast...

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6 |

Folly and Food
Dole asks if both men would join him for breakfast this time every Sunday. Charlie puts down his tea, picks up the coffee.


Graves looks to Charlie, who looks for the soft lines on Dole's face. --I'd love to.

Columbia College Fiction Writing Department

Dole sighs. --Good. I've been a hermit of a man. I see the toll it's taking. Just this morning... Dole looks to Graves, then an embarrassed flash to Charlie. --I was so... He stops. --Well, good. Sunday breakfasts.

He watches Charlie peel the crust off his bread. --You know, Franny used to pull the crusts off her bread. She'd eat them for breakfast. Then she'd do it again at lunch. I always wondered about that, but it's actually pretty good.

Dole looks at the inside of his spoon. He's got nothing to say about Franny's crusts, but he does remember Charlie's mentioned that before and thinks it must be very important. --I always prefer to cut my toast in triangles. Charlie grins, drops his crust. --You serve the most wonderful toast and I can't eat any other. I'd love toast every Sunday cut in triangles.

Dole chokes on an egg, the yolk sticks in his teeth and the whites lodge to the back of his throat.

--Well, I'll be.

Dole finishes, sees Charlie's body shift toward Graves, who swallows his orange juice. --And I love that juice.

Dole jumps from his seat. --So what about this bread?

--The baker gives me yesterday's baguettes for half the price.

Dole jumps again...

---But that's great for toast. Too soft and it ruins everything. You'll have to tell me where's the bakery.

Charlie takes his full cup of juice and lifts it to the table.

--Boys, I never thought I'd see this. And to think I came here wallowing. But just look... Dole grabs his glass and shouts. --To the toast!

Graves thrusts his head back, spurts between chuckles. ---You're both nuts, crazies.

Real-pretend life
His suitcase holds toothbrush, comb, two pairs of trousers, a bowtie and five shirts, a pocketknife, and of course an extra notepad. He gave back the typewriter yesterday, hadn't eaten lunch but full from breakfast, walked home with Graves. Graves says Charlie is a delightful guest, the best he could ask for, and if he needs to stay.... But Charlie cuts him off.

--No. I'm moving-out.

--But where will you go?

--I took a lease in an old hotel turned apartment. Marshall's, on Dearborn.

Graves laughs. --Funny. I'm going to do that exact thing with Maya's.

--Really, well, let me know. I'll be your first buyer.

Graves nods, walks hunched over. --Ann Marie will be so disappointed you're leaving.

-She already knows. Charlie takes a toothpick from his pocket, the blue cellophane on the end sparkles in the sun.

He had gotten it from Ann Marie the day before, knocked on her door with the typewriter in hand, she opened, a tray of cookies so hot she still wore the oven-mitt to hold the pan. She waves him in, he sets the machine on the messy counter and she hoots: --Not there! Charlie! Over here.

Charlie lugs the machine to a chair, sits in the one opposite and stands again.

He picks at the cookies on the counter.

She swats his hands. --Sit down and be patient.

Graves walks in, pulls the same trick Charlie tried. She swats him too but he's faster, grabs one, waves to Charlie as the front bell rings a guest's arrival.

Ann Marie pours Graves a glass of milk and hurries after, returns to the kitchen. Tell Charlie --You can have one now.

Charlie plucks the gooiest one, pops it back and forth in his fingers until it's cool and shoves it in his mouth. After a large gulp of milk he sighs.

Ann Marie hovers over the batch, leaves them to sit with Charlie. -Obviously, I've returned the typewriter.

Ann Marie looks to the chair, smirks. --I can see that.

--I'm leaving tomorrow.

Ann Marie lifts the wax paper from the counter and takes a spatula. --I figured it would be soon.

Charlie looks away, dazed. Ann Marie slaps her spatula on the counter. --Charlie! Focus. Sheesh!

--I have a new fridge. It'll be a bit smaller than that. They're leaving a bed for me. It's a converted hotel.

--Another hotel?

--I guess I got used to it.

--You've crossed over.

Charlie clicks the milk glass with his fingernail.

She pauses... --But what about the girls?

Charlie hadn't spoken to Louise. --I did call...

Ann Marie feels space, lets it linger until she's too far. She squeezes Charlie's hand. --I'll help with the house party once your all moved in.

Charlie nods. Suddenly tired, he excuses himself, kisses her cheek and takes a cookie to go. Ann Marie hands him a mug from the cupboard. --I don't suppose you have one.

He doesn't, presses it in his palm. She stops him at the door. --Charlie, when you leave tomorrow, don't say goodbye. Just go straight out.

Charlie looks around the room, wraps his fingers around the mug. It'll be the last thing packed in his suitcase.

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6 |

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