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“Travis,” a voice moaned from beside me as we turned toward the stairs. A clock glowed in the darkness. I could make out the faintest silhoue!e of a doorframe. “Yeah, gramma,” Travis said. “Is that you?” I didn’t know whether or not she could see me. “It’s just me and a few buds,” Travis said. “Who?” she asked. “Just Nate and Brian. Buds from high school.” “OK,” she said. “Goodnight.” It felt like she was right beside me, talking in my ear. We climbed the stairs and pushed aside a bed sheet. We walked into Travis’s room, where he was to be quarantined for another ten months. He had go!en permission to go out with us for coffee. Normally he had a nine o’clock curfew. There was a double bed in the middle of the room. There was a glowing tank on the floor containing a small lizard. There was a set of free weights. There were the first two Hunger Games novels and a copy of Ishmael, a book we had read in high school about a philosopher gorilla. There was a TV/VCR combo perpendicular to the bed. Travis took out and inspected his harmonica collection. Brian tuned his acoustic guitar. I inspected the piles of VHS tapes—Total Recall, Se7en, the second tape of the third season of Frasier, Boondock Saints, Aladdin. I didn’t want to again disturb Travis’s grandmother, but I had to pee. I tried to ignore it. “Have you been watching all of these?” I asked Travis. Travis hooted quietly into one of his harmonicas and then looked up. He had a serious expression on his face. “Which ones?” he asked. “I guess, like, Aladdin,” I said. “Yeah,” he said. “Aladdin’s baller.” I felt everything so much that it couldn’t be real. I depended on my body to mediate my sensations. But the off-key notes sliding from that guitar, and the bluesy snarl from the harmonica slid across my bare nerve endings. N AT H A N S C OT T M c N A M A R A

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CQ 64.1: Summer 2014  
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