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excerpt from Complain
reading by Jared Sanford
with Pat Morley

Now moist and raw, Rollie again stretched his fingers deep into his shoe and scratched at that ankle. At the end of every Friday, the sunset off the Santa Monica pier reminded him of a new disappointment, another unfulfilled work week, a new hedge in his indecision. Rollie slumped in the driver's seat, his chin pressed into the steering wheel. He pulled up his socks and scratched at his legs, closed his eyes and knew just how easy it was to engage the clutch and drive himself forward, ever forward, to the edge of the pier, over and finally in.

He reflected: Brian, May 23, 1998; Penny Peters on her birthday, July 5, 95; Cheryl, the girl he kissed in the first grade-- did it right after high school in 89; Bud Gross, sometime in the summer of Junior High, oh yeah, and Garcia the kid next door, three weeks ago. It wouldn't be like Brian's suicide, he thought, ugly and a downright embarrassment to his family. No, if it was up to him, his parents would never have to offer an excuse-- it would be just plain obvious.

As the sun dipped into the ocean, Rollie got out of the car and sat on the hood. Couples langoured, and skinny shouting children ran towards the ferris wheel. Peanuts and popcorn disguised the stench of the populated beach. Palm trees swayed, brushing the sky-- that brilliant mess and erased what was left of the day. "If I were a cowboy, I'd walk into the sunset," he sighed, "at the very least, a cowboy..." and he let his thoughts meander back to Brian.

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