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Terry would really like to go to his room, but Aunt Val’s holding an icepack to his face. “I’ve always said!” Uncle Walter smacks a newspaper into one hand. “They underestimate your potential!”

Terry’s lied, said the coaches sent him home after a practice accident. He doesn’t want to say Sorry, Uncle, I got deadbeat Dad’s short thick body, sorry I actually ran into a doorknob. Sorry everyone calls me Squat (what’s a bear do in the woods?).

“What they call football!” raves Uncle Walter. “In my day they’d let you dust off, slap a steak on that shiner and roll!”


All roadies are assholes. Jake knows this, so he’s armed with lines for when he needs them, as when Squat catches him coiling cable the wrong way. Halfway through the instant tirade, another roadie cheerfully shouts over “You just made his anus clench!”

“You mean there’s room?” asks Jake. “Around the stick?”

Squat is still mad later, hauling himself recklessly up the light tower. It jangles and chatters under his rough hands, and Jake watches his tight red face. His own arms are twitchy and scared just thinking about climbing like that, and he wonders what Squat’s still trying to prove.