Read 420 Characters Online

Authors: Lou Beach

420 Characters

BOOK: 420 Characters
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Table of Contents
 

Title Page

Table of Contents

Dedication

Copyright

Author's Note

THE STORM

THE TRAIN

ZUMA PEDLEY

I AM EXPLORING

SHE TRUSTED

WHILE I WAS AWAY

THE GUNNYSACK

MOUSE AND I

HE CALLED AGAIN

TODAY I'M JIMI HENDRIX

LORD MUMFORD

THERE IS A KNOCK AT THE DOOR

HUMANITY SERVICES

THE MUSEUM GUARD

CLIFF KNODES

I HAD NEVER

"ARE YOU MY MOMMY?"

NOT FAR FROM HUNTSVILLE

THE BOOK SITS IN MY LAP

HE DIDN'T

I BRING

THE WANKER IN THE WARDROBE

OPEN THE GODDAM DOOR, RONNIE!

THE OAK TABLE

HE FISHED

THE FLOOR MANAGER

THE PRISONER OF NOISE

MY LIFE IS NOT

THERE WAS A MOUSE

TURNS OUT

"GERONIMO!"

I SAW YOU

THE LOOK ON THE NURSE'S FACE

FREEDOM

THE ASPEN SHIMMERED

THE SCHOOLGIRLS

I DON'T KNOW HOW

THE ROWBOAT

NOT MUCH TO DO

THE HOUSE

I'M ALONE ON DECK

HUEY "PUDGE" WILSON

MUD

FROM THE RIDGE

THOUSANDS OF STARLINGS

FOR-EV-UH

I DON'T CARE MUCH FOR PLUCKY HEROINES

HOOVES

I SECURE THE HOUSE

I LOOKED

HE SPLASHED

I KISS

HE FOLLOWED HER

DON'T

DANNY AND I

THE BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN

THE DOG

I'VE NEVER SEEN

CHEAP AND GAUDY

I KEEP MY FRIENDS IN A BOX

THEY ARE CLOSING THE MINE

SHOT BY A MONKEY

THE NORWOOD

HIS CHUTE FAILED TO OPEN

I CORK HER NAVEL

HE WAS HANDCUFFED

I READ

THE SERVANTS SEEM PECULIAR

STUMBLE

I QUIT

MICK JAGGER BLEW HIS NOSE

WANT A SANDWICH?

I'M THE ONLY DADDY

SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL

THERE IS A DEEP HOLE

WE ARE ON A RIDGE

KISS ME A QUESTION

THE HOTEL WAS ON FIRE

I HAD AN IDEA

I HAD NEVER

THE ROAD CLUTCHES

ANN O'DYNE

I LIVE IN THE POCKET

IN

THERE WAS A MAN

I RISE

THE NURSE LEFT

THERE IS A PLACE I

SHE LOVED SECRETS

THE RHUBARB

THERE'S A GLASS

SHINBONE AND NUSBAUM

THE TRAIN

DON'T DRINK

I CAN'T HEAR YOU

CRAWFOOT

THE OTHERS

THE ELEVATOR IS BROKEN

A BIRD LIVES ON MY HEAD

WE WERE

HER MOUTH

I SIT IN THIS ROOM

I WAKE

THE FIRE AND SMOKE

THE SKY

HIS HANDS

HE SAID

THE NEW

WHAT'CHA WANNA

I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH THE KING

SHE WAS INDISCRIMINATE

THE LONG CARGO SHIP

I STOLE

LITTLE FLUFF

HER FEROCITY

JESSE PAINTED

SHE SHOWED HIM THE TIES

"SHUT UP,"

RAY WAS THIS TENOR PLAYER

THE SKY

SHE WAS FROM TRINIDAD

I OPEN THE CAN

DO YOU

SHE SAT

I WAKE UP

OH

AFTER

THE LIGHTS

IRIS BEDLICK

A PORCH

SHE LOVED HIM

RONNIE

I LAY THE BOOK

EDDIE FORMED

THE POND

VERA "WOOLY" LAMB

THE BODY IN THE BACK SEAT

IN THE GRAY

AFTER SHE FLED

JOE PRINGLE

I FLAY

IT WAS A LARGE SHIP

HE WAITED

"LET ME IN!"

GEORGE

HER SUMMER DRESS

THE CITY BELOW

THEY BOUGHT

I DROP IT INTO

ARDELLE PHELPS JR

HE SITS IN THE SUN

I REMOVE MY HEADGEAR

THEY'VE TAGGED

I WAS NEW

WHEN I WAS TWELVE

I WET

THERE IS A TURD

THEY PUT ME IN A CHAIR

THE BLOODLETTING

THE BRIDGE

THERE IS A TERRIBLE ROCK

WHEN I DIE

YEARNING

HE DISMOUNTED

THE SEA

HOT IN THE BAIT SHOP

THE RAVEN SWAYS

YEARS BACK

THE ORCHARD

Acknowledgments

List of Audio
 

Rust, Jeff Bridges (0:29)

Mumford, Ian McShane (0:21)

Path, Ian McShane (0:26)

Cigarette, Dave Alvin (0:28)

Reno, Dave Alvin (0:24)

Postcard, Jeff Bridges (0:32)

Blood, Jeff Bridges (0:25)

Idea, Dave Alvin (0:16)

Finch, Jeff Bridges (0:36)

IKEA, Ian McShane (0:26)

Kitty, Dave Alvin (0:24)

Hen, Jeff Bridges (0:31)

Surprise, Ian McShane (0:31)

Dusting, Dave Alvin (0:29)

Grounded, Ian McShane (0:28)

For my mother, Emily Lubicz

Copyright © 2011 by Lou Beach

All rights reserved

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Dave Alvin, Jeff Bridges, and Ian McShane for their recordings of the following stories: "Rust," "Mumford," "Path," "Cigarette," "Reno," "Postcard," "Blood," "Idea," "Finch," "Ikea," "Kitty," "Hen," "Surprise," "Dusting," and "Grounded."

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book,
write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company,
215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.

www.hmhbooks.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Beach, Lou.
420 characters : stories / Lou Beach.
p. cm.
Summary: "The debut fiction project of an acclaimed artist and illus-
trator, 420 CHARACTERS is a collection of sharp and evocative min-
iature stories first presented as Facebook status updates"—Provided by
publisher.
ISBN
978-0-547-61793-0
I. Title. II. Title: Four hundred twenty characters.
PS
3602.
E
226
A
15 2011
813'.6—dc22 2011009143

Book design by Melissa Lotfy

Printed in China

SCP
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Author's Note
 

The stories you are about to encounter were written as status updates on a large social networking site. These updates were limited to 420 characters, including letters, spaces, and punctuation. The author hopes you enjoy them.

 

 

THE STORM came over the ridge, a rocket, dropped rain like bees, filled the corral with water and noise. I watched lightning hit the apple tree and thought: "Fritters!" as we packed sandbags against the flood. There was nowhere to go that wasn't wet, the squall had punched a hole in the cabin roof and the barn was knee-high in mud. We'll bury Jess later, when the river recedes, before the ground turns hard again.

 

THE TRAIN pulled into the station. I hesitated before stepping down to the platform, then made my way to the shoeshine stand. I sat, put my foot up on the metal rest. The old man looked up before tending to my shoe. "You new in town?" I told him that indeed I was. "OK then," he said and began cleaning my loafer. There was a local paper on the chair next to mine. The headline read:
FIRE IN HOSPITAL MELTS IRON LUNG.

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