Home > True Letters from a Fictional Life

True Letters from a Fictional Life
Author: Kenneth Logan



For my mom and dad







Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25


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Tim Hawken’s arm draped around my shoulders meant nothing to anyone but me. I could see our reflection in the window as we leaned against the kitchen counter. Our pal Kevin’s parents had split town again, so ten scruffy kids from Vermont and New Hampshire were sliding around the O’Dea house in woolen socks and stuffing too much wood in the stove. An army of empty beer bottles gathered in ranks next to the sink. Four or five of them were mine.

My sort-of girlfriend, Theresa, and her parents were driving through a blizzard to visit tiny colleges in western New York. She’d been gone almost the entire spring break. She kept sending me text message updates like We just fishtailed!! I abbreviated wow drive safely to wds. We spend enough time together that a lot of people assume we’re dating. Sometimes Theresa thinks we’re still a couple, too. She’s made a big effort to make things work out between us. One afternoon last June, she showed up at my house on her bike with a bouquet of flowers and a canvas bag full of Matchbox cars for my little brother. “My mom made me clean out my closet,” she explained. “I don’t want them, and you know how much I love my little Rexy.”

“And you know how much he loves being called Little Rexy,” I said, eyeing the flowers. I was a little embarrassed to receive them, but sort of pleased, too. “You know he doesn’t even play with the cars. He just hoards them.”

“Whatever makes him happy. I also brought your mom flowers from our field. She loves irises.”

Hands in my pockets, I peered into the bag. “You got anything to eat in there?” She kissed me on the cheek, and my mom sang Theresa’s name from the open front door. She loves Theresa. I think she loves me more when I’m with her.

I ducked out from under Hawken’s arm and got another beer from the porch. The snow swirled in whistling gusts outside. “It made sense for the school to cut cross-country and track,” Mark was explaining as I came back in. “There’s no money for it, and running’s not even a sport.” Mark has many opinions, and he shares them generously. No one outside our circle of friends challenges anything he says, though, because he looks and acts like a boxer about to enter the ring. He’s shorter than me, but he’s ripped, and he won’t let anyone forget it. There’s a photo of a bunch of us at a party last winter, standing on a snowy porch. We’re all wearing down jackets and woolen hats—except for Mark, who’s shirtless. He lives and drinks with his father up the road from the Hawkens, and he stays with them whenever his father kicks him out. “For real,” his rant continued, “I’m glad our school’s done with running. And with runners. Bunch of faggot homos.”

Hawken winced and said, “I know you’re trying to be thorough, Markus, but that’s redundant. And don’t say that kind of crap. It makes you sound stupid.”

“Fine,” Mark said. He defers to Hawken as though Hawken is his older brother. “But it’s true. Those guys are ridiculous. All they can do is run? How is that a sport? They don’t have to do anything other than move their legs and breathe. No catching. No throwing. There’s no contact, no danger, no—”

“Dude,” Derek interrupted. “You play a sport where most of the team just stands around in a field.” I was impressed that Derek was staying so calm. He’s super fast and was one of our star track runners, although everyone was always telling him that he should play basketball instead. That drives him crazy. “I’m not that tall, and no one’s seen me dribble or shoot,” he’d gripe to me. “They’re like, ‘We have one black guy around here, and he’s not even any good at being a black guy.’”

I joined Derek’s assault on baseball. “Seriously, you don’t have to be an athlete to be a good baseball player. Some of those guys can barely jog around the bases.”

“But they can crush the ball out of the park,” Mark snapped. “You ever hit a 95-mile-per-hour fastball out of the park in front of 600 gazillion people?”

“600 gazillion people?” I asked quietly. “No, never in front of that many people. Half that many, maybe.”

Next to me, Derek snickered.

“That takes some serious strength and coordination,” Mark went on, looking furious. “Serious strength and, you know, like, calmness.”

“Composure.” Hawken helped him out.

“Yeah,” Mark said angrily. “Composure.”

“But is composure a sign of athleticism?” asked Derek. “If I’m a world-class chess player, am I considered an athlete of great skill, too? Or if I’m a superb actor, must my athleticism be thought outstanding as well?”

“Or if I’m a brain surgeon?” I began, but I stopped there because I was going to crack up.

Mark stood and went to the porch for another beer. “Why are you ganging up on me?”

“Pediatric rheumatologist?” Derek continued, deadpan.

I suddenly felt sorry for Mark. It was too easy to get him going. “We’re not ganging up on you, dude. We’re just defending the cross-country team. Have you ever run a 5K over a bunch of crazy hills before? It’s really hard.”

“I could totally do it,” Mark said.

“I’m sure you could finish.” I shrugged. “Eventually.”

“Ooooh,” Hawken lowed. “Do I hear a challenge? Is there going to be a little race between you two?”

“What?” I yelped, alarmed. “I didn’t say anything about racing anyone!” This was Hawken’s way of evening the score for Mark. He always came to Mark’s defense in sneaky ways.

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