Uncle Ray called me from the ninth hole at Canyon Crest.
"Listen, Sean," he said. "I want to do you a favor. Me and Fig, we've been talking. We've got a story for you."
It was ten o'clock on Friday morning. I got out of bed and looked out the window. The sky was still gray. I usually tried to sleep late enough for the morning fog to burn off along the coast. Sometimes this meant sleeping past noon, but I was willing to do it. I hadn't talked to Ray in over a year.
"Your mom says the studio is giving you the runaround," he said.
"You two are talking?"
"I called her yesterday to wish her happy birthday."
"Her birthday was six months ago."
"Come meet me and Fig for lunch."
"We're getting steaks at the Mission."
"Sean," he said. "Get cleaned up. We're going to tell you this story. You can put it in a movie."
"You're buying, right?"
"Yeah, me and Fig."
Eventually I found some long pants and got ready for the drive out to Riverside. When I stepped onto the second-floor landing, I spotted Mr. Nishihara, the landlord, down below in the courtyard, trying to fix the pump on the fountain. The stone cherubs were parched. I waited for him to take a break, but he just kept at it, so I popped the screen out of my bathroom window and jumped down onto a dumpster.
Minty was down in the alley, taking a shortcut back from the beach. With his board under his arm, he walked barefoot on the jagged asphalt, expertly sidestepping broken glass. "It's a toilet out there today," he said, looking up at me. His wetsuit was peeled halfway down. I could see a rash spreading across his chest.
"I'm having steak for lunch."
"Nice!" he said, raising his fist in solidarity. He kept walking and for a while I stood there on the dumpster, watching him until he disappeared around the corner.
There were two empty cans of Tecate in my passenger seat. I swept them down to the floor. Then I started my car. Then I kind of spaced out and forgot that I had started it, and started it again. That's the worst sound in the world. A dead bottomless shriek, like a knife in a blender. For the first time in months I felt awake.
Excerpted from Middle Men by Jim Galvin. Copyright © 2013 by Jim Galvin. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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