The Iowa Review - - NEWS - Brett puryear

he guy who’d owned this house was a den­tist,” Blake said, “and he went nuts and gave his cows root canals.” We’d left our fire burn­ing and walked be­neath the wal­nut trees lin­ing the ten­nis court. “I heard there was a town up Mon­tea­gle Moun­tain,” Danny Price said. “But ev­ery­one left. Some of them died. There’s a kind of post of­fice, still. Lot of the­o­ries about what hap­pened and none of them good.” Danny Price—he was the old­est acolyte, and just loaded with knowl­edge. “In Mcdon­ald,” Mccall said, “a rich col­lege boy and a cheer­leader from Notre Dame High School lay to­gether on the train tracks, mid­dle of the night, hug­ging, and got run over. Lot of peo­ple thought it was an act of love.” This is so much fun, I thought. Last La­bor Day there’d been a hayride. Last La­bor Day I’d seen Mccall get hot and peel her­self down to a sports bra, and then I got hot too. Last La­bor Day I’d stuffed my­self full of hot dogs with chili, and Danny Price told Blake and me ghost sto­ries be­neath the gnarled oak tree. But the ghost sto­ries then were not true. Back in the spring, Allen and Su­sanne Wha­ley’s six-year-old grand­daugh­ter en­gaged her­self with a loaded ri­fle and the thing went off. The adults this La­bor Day drank more now, seemed to stay quite sep­a­rate from their chil­dren. This La­bor Day, we cooked our own hot dogs, even built our own fire. Tonight you could feel au­tumn gain­ing early. Step out­side and feel like you’d emerged from a good bath and dried your­self off, threw on a set of new clothes. Dark poured in from the eastern moun­tains, and a burst of crows flung out of the pine for­est, shot sky­ward, curled and nosedived and van­ished into the for­est again. The last sun­light threw it­self over the ten­nis court. I was pay­ing at­ten­tion tonight. My senses were loaded in me like a bag of nee­dles.

This rental house—the den­tist’s old house—was a sprawl­ing, one-story ranch-style sit­ting on thirty-some acres. The adults stayed fixed to the veranda, danc­ing. The veranda was a hor­ren­dous brown thing canopied by a ’70s-style vinyl ceil­ing.

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