20th Century Ghosts
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From the New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Horns comes this award-winning collection of short fiction.
Imogene is young, beautiful . . . and dead, waiting in the Rosebud Theater one afternoon in 1945. . . .
Francis was human once, but now he's an eight-foot-tall locust, and everyone in Calliphora will tremble when they hear him sing. . . .
John is locked in a basement stained with the blood of half a dozen murdered children, and an antique telephone, long since disconnected, rings at night with calls from the dead. . . .
Nolan knows but can never tell what really happened in the summer of '77, when his idiot savant younger brother built a vast cardboard fort with secret doors leading into other worlds. . . .
The past isn't dead. It isn't even past. . . .
spoke again, and a flash of light-headed disorientation passed over me, left me weak in the knees. Now his voice seemed to come impossibly from the left, as if he had traveled a hundred feet in the space of a breath. “Dead fucking end,” he said, and a tunnel off to the left shook as he scrambled through it. Then I wasn’t sure where he was. Most of a minute ticked by, and I noticed that my hands were clenched in sweaty fists, and that I was almost holding my breath. “Hey,” Eddie said from
hardly seem to move my lips. I was sure Carnahan would notice and find this peculiar, but he never did. Finally he told me to stay off drugs, and then looked down at some papers in front of him and went completely silent. For almost a whole minute I continued to sit across from him, not knowing what to do with myself. Then he glanced up, surprised to find me still hanging around. He made a shooing gesture with one hand, said I could go, and would I ask the next person to come in. As I stood up,
“Hey,” Billy hollered. “Chuck him down here!” I had, up until that moment, never been face-to-face with Art. Although we shared classes, and even sat side-by-side in Mrs. Gannon’s homeroom, we had not had a single exchange. He looked at me with his enormous plastic eyes and sad blank face, and I looked right back. He found the pad around his neck, scribbled a note in spring green, ripped it off and held it up at me. I don’t care what they do, but could you go away? I hate to get the crap
rabbit’s foot key chain—and leave my father behind, but the conversation came back to me later on and is kind of stuck in my head so that I think about it all the time and sometimes I wonder if that was one of those moments you aren’t supposed to forget when you think your father is saying one thing, but actually he’s saying another, when there’s meaning buried in some comments that seemed really ordinary. I like to think that. It’s a nice memory of my father sitting with his hands cupped behind
perhaps a size too big. A zipper ran up the inside of each boot. The leather was black and clean and only a little scuffed at the tips. They looked as if they had hardly been worn. “How do they fit you?” “Good. I can’t have them, though. These are just new.” “Well. They aren’t doing me any good and my husband doesn’t need them. He died in July.” “I’m sorry.” “So am I,” she said with no change in her face. “Would you like some coffee? I didn’t offer you coffee.” He did not answer so she