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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At first I made like I hadn't saw them, but then Jarvis stood up off his stool and come alongside of me.

"You here with that pissant?"

His breath stunk, and the words kind of slid out his mouth.

"Which pissant, Jarvis."

"Which pissant."

"I'm here with Mike, if that's what you mean."

"Figured you were," he said. He looked like he had more to tell me about that, but just then the barman come and I held up four fingers for four Budweiser beers and handed him the money. When he'd went to fetch the drinks I turned away from the bar and looked out at the room, hoping Jarvis would take a hint. But he never did.

"Jesus Christ," he said instead. "That isn't ever May."

My sister and Syrena were still visiting at the table together. Mike was standing alone, over by the pool game. Everybody was pretending everybody wasn't there.

"Boy, she look a little like your momma, don't she."

I didn't say anything. It still didn't feel right that I'd brought her.

And then it was like he read my mind: "Keep her away from that little pissant cocksucker, hear?"

I was quiet. Then I said, "Mike isn't so bad."

"Bad?" Jarvis laughed. "Who said he's bad. He's just a pissant cocksucker. You know what I seen him do th'other day? Smoking right there on the site and dropping his butts where the deck's supposed to go. I tell him, You better pick that up, Mike. And he says, What for? This deck goes up, isn't anybody going to see it."

By now, Jarvis had cut his eyes over to where Mike was standing.

"It's the little things, is what I'm saying."

Now the bartender come with the bottles of Bud and I nodded quick at Jarvis, like, Take it easy. But Jarvis took hold my arm: "Hold on, bud. Mr. Starbuck wants to talk to you."

So I went over to Laughton Starbuck with them four bottles of beer notched into my knuckles so I had to set two of them down just to take his hand.

"I'm always glad to see you, Shelley," he said.

I thanked him. I tried to sound like I meant it.

Jarvis had trailed me back over to where Starbuck was sitting, and now the boss nodded his way: "You've got a long future in this work, Shelley," he said. "That's what I was just saying to Jarvis. You've got a good mind for the work, and you work hard. I could see you— young as you are, still—I could see you making a decent enough crew foreman one of these days."

And being honest, I was a little proud to hear him speak that way. Proud, even if something in Starbuck's smile didn't feel right.

He said, "You come here with that Michael."

He wasn't asking.

"That's right," he said. "Y'all two are thick as thieves."

I said yeah we were pretty good friends.

He said, "You know him pretty well, I guess. You know what the fellow'll get up to."

Well I took my time answering him. 'Cause by now I figured Starbuck was trying to get me to say something I didn't mean—or else, something I didn't want to say.

"I guess I know him pretty well."

"You tell me something about Michael Corliss."

"All right."

"He got any hobbies?"

That smile had went a little sharky. I was nervous, I wanted to get back to the table.

"Hobbies?" I said.

Starbuck nodded his head: "Hobbies. Does he have any hobbies. Like for example. Is Mike a bowler?"

"A bowler?"

"Does he bowl?" He looked at me, knew everything. "Ten pins. Strike. Spare. Gutter. A big old thirteen-pound ball."

He was watching my face real close now. Shark-grinning.

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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