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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: INJURIES Jeremy P. Bushnell
CHARLIE's TRAIN, PART 6 Heather Palmer
WING & FLY: THE2NDHAND @ AWP, Steel, Brick, Whipsmill, Samurai | Todd Dills
IN THE AIRPORT Bradley Sands

Jeremy P. Bushnell

Massachusetts-based writer Bushnell is the man behind the Imaginary Year project, a sort of fictional blog documenting the lives of several Chicago characters in real time. Find out more about him at imaginaryyear.com.

A clearing in the center of a circle of pines. On the second day of the retreat they gather there, sitting on logs. Virgil reaches into his woven bag and produces several spools of red ribbon, distributes one to each of the dozen men assembled there. Someone makes a crack about whether they are going to have to tie one another up now. Don doesn't laugh because he doesn't want to laugh only to later find out that that is exactly where this is going to go.

Columbia College Fiction Writing Department

They have pocketknives. Or multitools. That had been one of the prerequisites, they were to arrive with such a thing. You should think of a multitool as being as important to you as your wallet, Virgil had said on Day One. As important as your keys. That's what a multitool is, he continued, a set of keys, only instead of unlocking doors it unlocks possibilities in the world. Some poor sucker had pointed out that the same thing was true of a wallet and Virgil had darkened and his great beard had appeared to increase in size somehow and he paced around the ring and spoke at some length about how the possibilities unlocked by a wallet were modern possibilities and that to rely solely on modern possibilities was to turn your back on the things that connected you to your father and to your father's father and to an unbroken lineage of fathers that would provide you with a body of useful knowledge that you could access if only you were willing to revitalize your relationship to the range of timeless possibilities embodied in the multitool. It was convincing. One guy who'd forgotten to bring his had a brand-new one Fed-Ex'd in.

So they take their multitools and they cut lengths of red ribbon. Virgil is explaining that they all had warrior nature. Don is hearing it with capital letters: Warrior Nature. Part of why you are unhappy, Virgil is saying, is because this society in which we live denies us our Warrior Nature. We have all dealt wounds and received wounds, and yet we are taught that these things have no importance. We mark these things with no ceremony. Part of why you feel lost is because you have never been given a way to celebrate your injuries.

The basic gist of it is that you are supposed to take these ribbons and tie them to your body to mark the places where you had been injured. Don sat there for a minute. He hadn't cut off his first length yet. All around him the others were getting busy, wrapping up their arms and their legs and their abdomens. Really? Don thought. One guy was already crying.

Don tries to think. He'd never had stitches or broken a bone. He'd never been in a fight. He had one scar. It was from the first and last time he'd ever gone fishing -- his buddy Glen had been casting back and the hook had found the meat of Don's upper arm. Tore out a tidy triangular gobbet. Was that the kind of thing Virgil was looking for? It seemed kind of stupid to think of that as representative of Don's Warrior Nature. More of Don's status as a failed fisherman.

The funny thing was that Don probably looked more Warriorlike than any of the other guys there, maybe including Virgil. Don was big, about 6'4", 280 pounds. Some of his mass was flab, a consequence of having arrived at his early thirties, but there was still a lot of solid muscle underneath. Plus he was bald. It was a combination that made a lot of people behave deferentially around him. At this retreat especially -- everyone seemed to give him a certain weird degree of respect automatically, as though they had already mentally simulated a variety of ways in which Don was prepared to violently subdue them.

This kind of thing was not new to Don. But it always made him feel a little bit weird. He didn't feel tough or strong. He felt frightened, frightened of the world. It was a dangerous place. A kid in his high school had gotten killed by other kids; they beat him to death with aluminum baseball bats. Don's mom was a guidance counselor at the school; after the event she spent a lot of time working with kids who were there when it happened; Don began to worry that if she said the wrong thing to the wrong person she might end up dead, too. He would beg her not to go in to work. Age 16, lying at his mother's feet, crying: not too cool. But he could imagine the scenario of her death so vividly. Someone bringing a gun into her office, shooting her in the face, a bullet ripping her mouth apart. It would be that easy to take her from him. And she was all he had. His dad was already gone; he'd been killed in a motorcycle accident when Don was eight.

You have to be strong, is what his mom said to him.

That was when Don had started working out. He did it to get stronger. He had no plans to ever apply the force that he was designing into his body. He did not do it to become a warrior. It was a defensive measure. The bigger he was the more likely it was that people would leave him alone.

They're not going to leave him alone here. He knows that. He can already tell that Virgil is going to make them tell stories about the wounds that they're commemorating with these ribbons. He cuts an experimental length of ribbon with his Leatherman. Holds it in his hand. He thinks for a moment about approaching the moment with honesty, marking no spot on his body. What it would mean to say I am the one of us who has never been wounded. Of course, that isn't true, either.

There is noise in his skull. He winds the length twice around his temple. When it gets to be his turn to speak he'll tell them that he once put his head through a plate glass window. Or that he leaned into a circular saw. Or took a punch from someone with barbed wire wrapped around his fist. He will lie. He will come up with something better. He will tell them something. Anything.

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