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two stories

ONE

It’s a shame, really.  I honestly don’t think your father or I have spoken to Steve since our wedding.  Last we heard he’d been pulling it together.  Dated a girl for a long time, sweet girl really, but just a lot of baggage.  Her family from Kansas used to harass him for turning her into an atheist.  Her brother banged on the door one night and started praying in tongues, really weird stuff.  She rang up something like ten grand of debt on a credit card they had together.  She grew up in pretty severe poverty.  Last we heard, they’d broken up and it seemed like things were on the upswing for him.  I mean, he still had a lot of “getting it together” to do, but he was working at a cute little store that sold, like, gourmet meat rubs and fancy olive oil, and they did deer processing for hunters and stuff.  Seemed like things were starting to turn around.

He and your dad worked together at boy scout camp once upon a time.  I took this picture when we were all in college, he was a couple years younger and ended up joining your father’s fraternity when he came to Madison his freshman year.  Probably not the best fit for him.  He ended up dropping out halfway through–too much weed and too many video games.  Really good kid, though, I think he needed better guidance.  He was always fighting with his dad about something.

I kind of can’t believe you haven’t met him, actually.  We were pretty great friends at a pretty big time.  Life’s funny that way, Sophie, these people who are so important to you can disappear so fast if you’re not careful and attentive.  I would send him a Christmas card, but I don’t know where to mail it.

story by Rebecca Karpinski

TWO

I met my friend Joey in the 3rd grade.  I remember our teacher, Mr. Howl, would always pick on him.  “Joey, could you read the next couple paragraphs?” he said during our class reading sessions.  “Sh…Sh…Sure M…M…ma…Missster Howl” Joey slowly mouthed.  He always got a tad nervous reading.  “Th…th…there once wa…wa….was a m…ma….ma…. man named Ta…ta….Terrance.  He lived on a ha…ha….hill.”

“Joey, you have to practice otherwise you will never get any better.  Do you want to read?  Everyone else in the room can!” Mr. Howl exclaimed.  Joey cowered and slowly sunk in his chair.  “Lisa, can you finish those paragraphs for Joey?”

Later that day I talked to Joey and asked him why he couldn’t read.  “I can read!  It’s just when I try to speak in front of people…I kind of…stumble over my words.  I already read the book at home.  I practice talking out loud but I can’t do it in class.  I don’t know why.  Sometimes if I talk real slow it comes out right.  Like I’m talking to you right now.  My mom says I think to fast for my sounds.”  I nodded.

“Joey.  We’re going to practice.  I’m gonna tell mom I’m headed to your house.  If you can talk normally now, I think we can get this strait in class!”

“Thanks Clifford.” Spoke Joey, “It would be great to get Mr. Howl off my butt!”

We got Joey to read those words pretty good that year.  About 11 years later this photo was taken.  Joey and me were in the middle of painting his wall a deep red.  This was right before we painted our band logo in the middle.  The Soggy Band-aids.  The sound was a mix of soulful blues with a slight metal edge.  Joey sang the lyrics and played rhythm guitar.  I played drums and his brother, Bobby Joe, played the banjo.

Story by Selena

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