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then follow the link at the bottom of each chapter.

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use the list of chapter titles in the panel on the right side of every page.

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40 Girly gun

Space Command Midwest. Sounds like something I would have written for Tales to Confound. Being the way I am, I would have used Karin's name.

Looked in that drawer in my room, the tiny one with the city guide map in it. So many scraps of paper, looseleaf, loose leaves, greensleeves

I realize at time I think with commas, like I'm not getting enough oxygen, which I'm not. I know that's methane in the next room. euhh.

bus ticket, coat check, bottle cap, casino chip, money clip, bit-o-honey, hope they'll be making these when I get older, if I keep my teeth.

Too many people running my lives these days, giving me tokens of gravitude. What do they want expect detect fret collecting debts I can't--

Just thinking out loud as I think of which paper to recycle, a word I invented for my latest story, "Spanky Flakes." Wrote it on the bus.

Driver said Karin was reading something over my shoulder, coulda been that. I was too busy watching the driver's finger cuff reflections.

I think better at night, the turbines only run 9-5, my bus stub to East St. Louis. Karin's sweet Nazi-Supergirl scent. Am I my dad finally?

Cold out, yet I hear music from Tourette's when I stick my head out the door for some air. Could be Dick Overtones, too. He was a crooner.

Do I kill her, do I cross her seduce her despise her? Concentrate on Mantell, he should be next. Grissom AFB, Indiana. Named for Gus. RIP.

Dead in the Apollo 1 fire, follow Apollo. Was he the Gemini 7 guy who snuck the sandwich in the capsule? Bones crisped 1967, Gus's dead, man

I'm still looking out my door when the neighbor opens his, spaceman helmet guy, outline for a swirly face. Waves, guess he smiles. Freaks me

He stands in the doorframe, heavy spaceboots anchoring him to the orange carpet in his room. Large red tank beside him, hose to his mask.

Behind him, his room is chockablock with at least thirty more methane cylinders, stacked and leaning, scarred and damaged, redmetal forest.

His voice echoes from inside his helmet. Ventvoice that penetrates my room, verbiage blaster from my master, tinpot despot space commander.

Mantell is allergic to pecans, he says. He is left handed. He carries a .25 caliber handgun inside his right jacket pocket, no extra clip.

Spaceman knows Mantell? Details of his life? Duly noted. Pecan man is next on my list. The paint is peeling above the doorframe. Melting.

Methane, if that's what my spaceman breathes, is leaking from the coupling that attaches the hose to his mask. Hot enough to curl old paint.

He steps back, elbows his door shut. Flare of light in his peephole. Sound of a small explosion, then music. I Can't Get No Satisfaction.

Three minutes later I'm on the bus to Grissom AFB. Time collapses. Ten seconds later I'm watching Mantell eat an ice cream cone. No pecans.

He looks up, unsurprised to see me. He was told I was coming. Karin. He gets up and goes into the men's toilet. Empty diner. Tired ketchup.

I pick up a bottle of Heinz. Crack the door to the john and Mantell reaches into his right jacket pocket and pulls out his .25. Girly gun.

He starts jacking it and bullets plink into the wall beside me as I walk in. Nervous shooter, lightweight piece, no accuracy. But I'm hit.

Not really. I blobbed ketchup on my shirt before I went in. Mantell sees it and thinks he nailed me and his adrenaline spikes and he's mine.

I bend him backward over the sink, rip open a 95 cent bag of pecans and jam a dozen nuts into his maw. He's still firing into the ceiling.

After he dies, allergy liturgy. I peel off his shirt, put it on. Purple paisley. Now he's wearing mine, redketchupstainbloody. Confuse cops.

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