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Outlast

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The alarm blares and plucks me out of dreamland. It’s mid-winter, still dark, and my feet are twin blocks of ice, hanging off my bed in the chilly apartment. I pick up my device and silence the alarm. The screen flashes a wash of electric color; I blink and roll onto my side, tucking my feet under the blanket. The room comes to me in shapes and bruised colors. Then I remember.

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Marvin Greene

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I think about my friend from back in the day, Marvin Greene. I first remember his smile, his overall body language, his strut and his distinctive voice. Then something else pops up and I get distracted. Last time that happened, I made a serious mental note to find a quiet time to reflect.

I’d always promise to take that time and sit down to remember Marvin Greene. To recall when we met and became unlikely friends. And how sadly, our friendship lasted less than a year.

I finally did.

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Homecoming

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Terry Belcher’s hands were wet with perspiration as he nervously thought about his high school’s homecoming dance, which was scheduled to take place in less than a week.  A senior at Cardinal Worthy High School in Scranton, PA, Belcher was determined to attend since this was the big fall event for his graduating class.  Terry had planned to ask his good friend Lisa Brooks to the dance but was taken by surprise when she told him that she had “other plans” for the weekend.  Other plans?  What the hell did that mean?

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Cat Tale

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Adoption counselor Jan Mulford studied the form before her.  A man named Mark Hazlett was applying to be a pet parent to the loving and playful calico named Miss Kitty.  Although she loved all of the pets in the Humane Society, Jan did occasionally find favorites, and Miss Kitty was one of them.  Jan had secretly been considering adopting Miss Kitty herself, even though she already had a cat.  Jan wondered why this Dr. Hazlett wanted a cat.  He was 35 years old, around her own age, and he had never owned a cat before, only dogs.

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The Dive

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It was a beautiful brisk Manhattan autumn evening in 1984. Jimmy and Frankie were getting back on patrol from their meal. They had enjoyed a late supper at a new French restaurant, the CAFE DU PARC. Their old pal Nicky now owned and managed this elegant cafe on East 19th Street. Last week he had invited them to tonight’s private opening. Nicky was welcoming his hand-picked list of guests.

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Out on a Ledge

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Justin, Jake, and Elan headed northeast towards the mountains where they hoped to find the great inland sea.   The northern end of the sea fed a river that descended to the Valley of the Black Dog, their home. As they climbed out of the dense forest and into the foothills, the vegetation changed.  There were fewer trees and more grasses and shrubs.  The giant red woods gave way to smaller pines and scrub oaks.  Streams were narrower and swifter.  On and on, the boys walked, up one hill and down another, all the while, gaining elevation.

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Small Town Horror

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Metro Meats was a slaughterhouse here in town that employed a lot of young people during the seventies. My aunty used to work there, but a number of young men, some still alive, but older now, did their best to ruin her time at the place.

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The Neighbour

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It is subtle, but then my nose hairs start to burn as the smell travels down my throat. I sit up, jump out of bed, quickly turn off the fan, and expect the little bastard to pass by my house and travel down the street, but unfortunately I hear his squeaky, annoying voice.

“It is me, the famous neighborhood skunk in search of food!” he shouts.

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I Thought I Knew Her

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I watched Karen walk away, the hem of her skirt flipping from side to side, just like the first time I'd encountered her on our way to the dining hall. She was a freshman then, I a junior. I commented on her dress, an enticingly short swirl of pastel colors. The conversation continued at dinner after we met up with her roommate. Now, exactly two years later, in the noonday sun, at the bench where we'd spent hours talking that first night, in front of a choir of my fraternity brothers--and other students crossing the university's quad--I got down on one knee and stuttered out a proposal. She said no.

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It's Your Turn

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I am writing this because I have no choice. I'd like to say it is a warning to others, but I have far more selfish reasons. Even if I did warn you, I doubt you would heed it, as I did not heed the warning left for me. I must not waste time, as time is wasting me, in a way that defies the medical science I once believed I knew. My joints ache as I write, and soon I know I will be unable to continue. Yet this must be told and so I write on.

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