Excerpt from Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Too Shattered for Mending

by Peter Brown Hoffmeister

Too Shattered for Mending by Peter Brown Hoffmeister
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  • Published:
    Sep 2017, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag

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Print Excerpt

wanderer

Rowan smells like water. I told her that once. I said, "You smell like an eddy." I was thinking of the North Fork of the Clearwater. The backcountry runs, rocks and pools, clean enough to see the trout cut to shadow.

Rowan was drinking a Monster in front of the Mini- Mart. She said, "A what?"

She'd sliced the knees out of her jeans, scissored them way back to the side, and I kept looking at all that exposed skin.

I said, "Like an eddy on the river, when you wade in. You know?"

"When I wade in?"

"To fish," I said.

She tilted her head, and the hair she'd pulled up bobbed to the left. "So I smell like a fish?"

"No," I said, "not like a fish. You smell like an eddy."She smiled, already shaking her head, laughing at me.

I said, "Messing with me, huh?"

It was last school year. I was a freshman then, a year younger than her. I'd gotten more work in the cemetery and I imagined that I'd take her out, do something nice for her. Rowan was with JT but I tried to ignore that.

Rowan finished her Monster and threw the empty down on the cement. "I'll see you around?" she said, and made a fish motion with her hand.

the running kind

Sheriff's deputy pulls off the asphalt of the Idaho 11. Drops his Clearwater County cruiser into the flats next to the trampoline. Willa stops jumping and watches. Exposes her teeth, sticking her tongue through her front gap.

The deputy gets out. Walks over to me where I'm search-ing for chicken eggs in the overgrowth. He says, "Are you the kid they call Little?"

I stand up straight. Say, "Yep." Let him see my full height: six foot five and still growing.

"All right." He nods. Looks up at me. Taps his badge. "I'm Deputy White. Sheriff's Department."

I know who he is. Know where he lives, up Walker Road toward the National Guard school. Know his mustache and his cruiser.

Deputy says, "Have you seen your grandfather lately?"

I shake my head.

"Not at all?" he asks.

"Not at all."

Deputy White stares off to the northeast, the cemetery rows, the plots and headstones like teeth bucking up out of the ground. He says, "For how long?"

I have the chicken eggs in my left hand. Pick the stuck grass between them with my right, look in the same direction as the deputy, across the graveyard. Say, "Weeks maybe? I don't know."

Deputy White hooks his thumbs in his utility belt. "You think he's gone down the Grade?" He means to Orofino, along the Clearwater River. A meth run.

I shake my head again. The deputy says, "You don't know or you won't say?"

"Can't," I say, " 'cause I haven't seen him." I shift the eggs in my hand like a pitcher choosing a baseball.

The deputy has his hands on his hips. He's looking past the cemetery now, staring into the hills, the lodgepole pines beyond the Baptist church, the first trees after a slash fire, all the same shade of high green, low gray.

He says, "So that's how it's gonna be, then?"

I don't say anything. There's nothing to say to that.

Deputy White points at the big house. Derlene's out on that porch now. Uncle Lucky too. "Okay," the deputy says. "If y'all do see him, you tell him I'm looking for him and we need to talk. He's slipped up, and I'm following. You got that?"

"Okay," I say. Derlene and Uncle Lucky don't say anything at all. Their faces are sacks of Quikrete. Cigarettes smoking between their fingers.

"Now y'all don't forget it. I want him talking to me real soon, you hear?" The deputy nods at us like he's being friendly but he unsnaps his holster with his thumb while he smiles, and when he walks to his driver's-side door, he circles around the back of his cruiser so he can keep us in front of him. This is the angle the law takes here. Keep your back to the wall. A man could catch a potshot easy.

three days after

Big, I thought I saw you walk up from the shallows to the ballfield, Highway 11 around the turn to Main Street, your head down the way you always walked as if there was some-thing important on the ground in front of you that needed focus. But you didn't have your bucket with you, and I knew it was only my head bothering me. There was no one in the grass along the road. I blinked, and there was no one next to the ballfield either. The night became the morning, all in one moment, and the dew on the early- fall grass was like metal shavings sprinkled by God.

Excerpt copyright © 2017 by Peter Brown Hoffmeister. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

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