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Literary Fiction, Noir, Pulp Fiction, Short Stories


Excerpt from

The Finest Minds
By
Sean Craven

The hard, clear light of Southern California made the colors of Los Angeles pop in Dave's eyes. Mitchell drove. Dave had never driven. From LAX on, Mitchell pointed out famous stores and restaurants, then said, "So when you get your license, what kind of car do you want?"

Dave said, "A Dodge Dart. Primer and Bondo all the way."

Mitchell said, "I'm serious. I'm going to make you learn how to drive. If you want to keep Cheryl, you have to start acting like a white man."

Christ, Dave thought.

Mitchell and Dave lived in a communal house after high school, spent a lot of time together, had some real adventures. Mitchell got his undergrad degree while Dave dropped out. Fifteen years later, Dave, a red-faced white man with a former athlete's bulky body and a bad back, was working on a memoir of mental illness he'd placed with a small press publisher. Mitchell, gray hair groomed to cast silver, had become a lawyer. He'd run across Dave's name in a literary journal while researching a case. In visits and phone calls Mitchell spoke for hours, shared his excitement about his travels, his possessions, his sex life.

Finally Mitchell flew Dave down for a visit. Cruising through the landscaped hills, Mitchell said, "Get this. My neighbor's a sexual terrorist. Want to hear what he did to his daughter?"

"No, it's not my business."

Mitchell said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. So this girl runs away from home when she’s fifteen. Daddy’s been fucking her since she was a kid. Ten years later she gets married. The groom’s mother puts pictures on the Internet. Papa comes for his little girl. His girlfriend holds a knife to his daughter’s throat and he rapes her a few more times. Girlfriend claims he made her do it, testifies against him. He does three years, then gets back together with the crazy bitch.” When Mitchell pulled into his driveway, he pointed at the house next door, pink stucco and a Spanish tile roof. “Right there. That’s where they live.”

Dave didn’t like the way Mitchell talked about the story, trivialized it. Why did he have to put that shit in Dave’s head?

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