Excerpt from The Locals by Jonathan Dee, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Locals

by Jonathan Dee

The Locals by Jonathan Dee X
The Locals by Jonathan Dee
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2017, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2018, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley

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Print Excerpt

They were saying that all appointments were canceled, indefinitely, that it was the end of everything, but why would they assume that? The subway was running again, for example, parts of it. So people must have been going places, meeting other people. So there were still meetings. So maybe my meeting was still on. I found the lawyer's card and tried to call his office, but cell service was fucked, still, after like a day. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't even ask Yuri for advice, because the phones. What if this meeting was still happening and I wasn't there? What if everybody showed but me? The lawyer had stressed over and over how important it was that I not miss it. Nobody'd told me it was canceled, technically, according to the letter of the law or whatever. So I put on my shoes. It didn't start for a few hours yet, but I had nothing to do, and there was fuck-all on TV that day, that's for sure.

Broadway was frozen, like a screenshot. Nobody on the street. It was cool at first, actually, having it all to yourself like that, like one of those end-of-the-world movies. But then I saw an empty bus with its doors open just sitting in the middle of an intersection, and I started to feel a little creeped out, so I cut west into the park. Saw people there, at least, a few people out with their dogs, just standing there like drugged lunatics while the dogs chased each other around the grass. Then further on I could hear voices, loud voices.

There's this playground in that part of Riverside, at the bottom of a steep hill, all fenced in. And that's where everybody was, it looked like the whole West Side in this little enclosed playground. It was packed, people were up against the fences, it was like a detention center for kids or something. Parents were in there too, on the fringes, talking to each other, while the kids just ran around screaming like usual. Well, not quite like usual: it was a Wednesday at eleven in the morning, but nobody had school. That's probably why they were having so much fun. Technically I am still not supposed to be in playgrounds, I think, but it was so packed I figured who'd even notice, and I squeezed my way in.

I had the day off too. It didn't make a ton of sense to me, but I wasn't complaining. To make my meeting with the lawyer, I'd been deliberating between taking an unpaid personal day and calling in sick; the paid sick day was obviously the smart way to go, but one thing about me, I am actually a pretty bad liar. Even on the phone, Yuri tells me, my poker face sucks. I took up a position near some parents who were talking with their arms folded and with the look on their faces that everybody on TV had, which I would describe as sort of gray. "Someone in my building," this one dad was saying, "used to go out with someone who was a broker at Marsh and McClennan."

It was so loud in there, like mayhem. The kids were going nuts. I think they were really into having all the adults lined up, watching them.

"I was in the kitchen," this other mom says. She was super hot, actually, with a ponytail through the hole in the back of her baseball cap, and tights like for running, and this really toned milfy thing going on. Black hair. "Josh was home sick from school. He's watching Sesame Street, and I'm in the kitchen, and they break into Sesame Street with a live news feed, for God's sake. He starts yelling."

"Jesus," I said, just to get her to look at me.

"Right?" Her ponytail swung away from me in the sunlight. "It's just like, no sensitivity at all. I'm Julie, by the way. I feel like I've seen you here before. Are you Teresa's dad?"

My mouth opened and kind of stayed open, and she started to frown a little bit, and so I turned and squeezed myself through the crowd until I was outside the gate again. I went back up the path toward West End and on to Broadway and kept going downtown. It was probably about noon, and I was hungry, but nothing was open. Why?

Excerpted from The Locals by Jonathan Dee. Copyright © 2017 by Jonathan Dee. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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