SmokeLong Quarterly
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by Chad Simpson

My brother calls and says to get to the bar as fast as I can, he thinks he just died.

Later, he will show me the bruise—a tire-wide swath of mottled purple and pale green—streaked up the inside of his thigh and the middle of his chest, where his own car ran him over. He will be high on something, and half-feral, and he will call it a miracle: how the tire track stops just below his neck; how the car didn't crush him.

And I will imagine him standing next to his car as it began to roll downhill. I will imagine him catching up to the car and getting behind it, putting up his hands like he's Superman stopping a train. And I will imagine the car running straight over him.

I will laugh because that's what I'm conditioned to do. I won't tell him how many times I have woken in the middle of the night—my heart beating like a wild thing in my chest—having dreamed him dead.


When I pull up to the stoplight across from the bar, my brother is lying on his back where it happened, and his friends are making an outline of his body on the street with masking tape. Before I decide to just keep going, I watch him lie there, perfectly still, his hands splayed at his sides. His friends try to work the tape around one of my brother's boots, but the tape keeps getting twisted, folding over on and sticking to itself. His friends laugh, ecstatic, and tear at the tape with their teeth.

I wish I could join them. Instead, I train my eyes on my brother's chest.

He still thinks he may be dead, and his heart. Beneath his shirt, where the bruises have not yet begun to form, his heart is racing. His breath, I can tell from where I'm sitting, it can hardly keep up.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.

Chad Simpson lives in Galesburg, Illinois, where he teaches fiction writing at Knox College, and his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in McSweeney's, Sycamore Review, Gulf Stream, Georgetown Review, and Versal, and online in elimae and Opium Magazine.

Read the interview.
Issue Thirteen (June 15, 2006): A Foreign Woman by Roberta Allen «» Fetichismo by Christopher Battle «» How the Broken Lead the Blind Until They Both Become Something Else Entirely by Matt Bell «» See Odi Naked by Lisa K. Buchanan «» Memory of Sky by Jai Clare «» The Captain by Ron Currie, Jr. «» Bingham by Steve Cushman «» The Table by David Erlewine «» Daffodil by Kathy Fish «» Fishing by Mike Hagemann «» Real Estate by Jennifer A. Howard «» Emily Avenue by Jeff Landon «» Tough Act by Steven J. McDermott «» Cheering by Srdan Papic «» Something Blew by Ellen Parker «» Euclid's Elements by Mary Lynn Reed «» Miracle by Chad Simpson «» Her Lips by Claudia Smith «» Man and Dog by Girija Tropp «» Randomization by Joseph Young «» Interviews: Roberta Allen «» Matt Bell «» Lisa K. Buchanan «» Jai Clare «» Ron Currie, Jr. «» Steve Cushman «» Katrina Denza «» David Erlewine «» Kathy Fish «» Mike Hagemann «» Jennifer A. Howard «» Jeff Landon «» Steven J. McDermott «» Srdan Papic «» Ellen Parker «» Mary Lynn Reed «» Chad Simpson «» Claudia Smith «» Girija Tropp «» Joseph Young «» Cover Art "Despair" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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