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The Short Form

“Susan White and the Summer of the Game Show”

Mike Young

Excerpt

Even way out in the almond groves, we got distracted, dropped a handful. In the Pioneer Museum, which no one ever visited, we didn’t answer the phone. We watched van after van pull up to the hotel, unload cameras and tile, floodlights and ladders. Sweat began to camp in our brains. Had they really just driven an antique Bentley into the lobby? Did that van really say LIMITED EDITION DINOSAUR BONES?

Then one day, like rice field smoke, the words spread: “First of August.” And then: “Email. If you signed up, check your email.”

Hell in a handbasket, was it ever on! We got the most expensive haircuts of our lives. We tap-danced in the tool shed. Blue Dave filled his sink with aftershave and dunked his face. Avery yanked out all his heirloom tomatoes and polished them with a rag and a bottle of olive oil. Mr. Diaz dabbed hair gel on the corners of his mustache and rolled his R’s. Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL: hundreds of technical supporters sighed when they heard our zip-code. “It’s working,” they said. “All the servers are working. Yes. If you had a message, you’d see it.” If you dropped our hearts from the bridge that month, they would convulse to shore of their own volition. If you asked us something urgent, you might be asked to come again.

We read it in Look! Look! Feathers.

Originally published in Atticus Review.