Excerpt from Wyoming by JP Gritton, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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by JP Gritton

Wyoming by JP Gritton X
Wyoming by JP Gritton
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    Nov 2019, 246 pages


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Ian Muehlenhaus
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"That right?"

"That's right," said Mike. "It's destiny. We're talking destiny here. It's just like you and Syrena. You're meant to be."

I didn't answer him. But I guess what Mike said must've worked on my mind some, maybe without me knowing it.  What I'm telling you is, after a while I'd almost forgot it wasn't my idea at all.


It surprised May when I asked her. Truth is, it surprised me.

"What do you mean, the four of us? What do you mean, double-dutch?"

"You and Mike. Me and Syrena."

"You and Syrena?"

"Why not?"

"For one thing, 'cause you act like she's invisible when she come around. Like you don't even see her."

"I see her."

"I wonder if you do," said May. "It sure doesn't seem like it."

"Well I do. I like her."

"What about her?"

When I didn't say anything, May said: "You know what I think? I think Mike put you up to this."

She didn't even smile, saying it. Just looked at me. I knew probably there wasn't any point in lying to her.

"I don't know," I said. "I guess he had the idea."

"He had the idea and he wanted you to do the dirty work and you've done it for him. You want to be somebody's sidekick your whole life, Shelley?"

Well it was a strange question. What I was thinking: there are worse things to be than somebody's sidekick. When you are somebody's sidekick, you are something. I guess I still think so, things were a lot simpler back then.

I said, "Mike's been a good friend to me."

"I don't trust him," she said. "I don't trust Mike at all."

She chewed her lip, which is what May does when she's nervous, or afraid, or trying not to smile. I didn't know which one it was just then.

"Let him grow on you," I said. "He'll grow on you."


By the time the four of us—me and Mike, May and Syrena—had our date, it was coming up on fall. Hotter than hell, still, but the green in the trees was cracked yellow in places, and at night you thought sometimes you'd rather have a coat.  Friday of that week, me and Mike pulled up in what we'd worked in: blue jeans and holey tee shirts. I remember how he kept fussing with that blue bandana on the way over, wiping the sweat off his forehead and setting it down on the dash and then taking it up again, wiping his forehead, setting it on the dash.

"Leave that thing alone," I told him. "You're making me nervous."

May and Syrena were pulling in just as we did, and it was strange seeing my sister step out of Syrena's car, all gussied up from work. She looked an awful lot like Momma, and very beautiful all the sudden, and she looked old—hell, she was old, she'd have been twenty-four that year. Syrena didn't look awful, either. She had a prettyish face the makeup did favors to, very dark hair and very blue eyes.

But when the girls made their way over to where we were standing, Mike didn't so much as nod in May's direction. He kept his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans, and his face had went pale as paper. All that big talk, I thought, smiling to myself.

I dug around in my head for something to tell them, and what I come up with was: "How are you ladies doing?"

May just give me a look: "I'm not a lady, Shelley. I'm May."

Which is by way of saying, I knew all this was a bad idea, right off the bat. For one thing, I've never much liked bars. If I drink, I like to do it in my own house, or an automobile. The Go-Go was this ramshackle kind of a joint. Pool tables with the felt coming off, concrete floors, hardly enough light to drink by. I won't tell you about the toilets in that place, 'cause buddy you don't want to know.

Excerpted from Wyoming by JP Gritton. Copyright © 2019 by JP Gritton. Excerpted by permission of Tin House Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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