The Girl Next Door PDF By Jack Ketchum

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The Girl Next Door

You think you know about pain?

Talk to my second wife. She does. Or she thinks she does.

She says that once when she was nineteen or twenty she got between a couple of cats fighting-her own cat and a neighbor’s-and one of them went at her,

climbed her like a tree, tore gashes out of her thighs and breasts and belly that you still can see today,

scared her so badly she fell back against her mother’s turn-of-the-century Hoosier,

breaking her best ceramic pie plate and scraping six inches of skin off her ribs while the cat made its way back down her again, all tooth and claw and spitting fury.

Thirty-six stitches I think she said she got. And a fever that lasted days. My second wife says that’s pain. She doesn’t know shit, that woman.

Evelyn, my first wife, has maybe gotten closer There’s an image that haunts her.

She is driving down a rain-slick highway on a hot summer morning in a rented Volvo, her lover by her side,

driving slowly and carefully because she knows how treacherous new rain on hot streets can be, when a Volkswagen passes her and fishtails into her lane.

Its rear bumper with the “Live Free or Die” plates slides over and kisses her grille. Almost gently. The rain does the rest.

The Volvo reels, swerves, glides over an embankment and suddenly she and her lover are tumbling through space,

they are weightless and turning, and up is down and then up and then down again. At some point the steering wheel breaks her shoulder. The rearview mirror cracks her wrist.

Then the rolling stops and she’s staring up at the gas pedal overhead She looks for her lover but he isn’t there anymore; he’s disappeared, it’s magic.

She finds the door on the driver’s side and opens it, crawls out onto wet grass, stands and peers through the rain.

And this is the image that haunts her-a man like a sack of blood, flayed, skinned alive, lying in front of the car in a spray of glass spackled red. This sack is her lover.

I remember feeling shy about it, a little awkward, and that was pretty unusual because nothing could have been more natural than to see what was going on over there.

It was morning. It was summer. And that was what you did. You got up, ate breakfast and then you went outside and looked around to see who was where.

The Chandler house was the usual place to start.

Laurel Avenue was a dead end street back then—it isn’t anymore—a single shallow cut into the half-circle of woodland that bordered the south side of West Maple and ran back for maybe a mile behind it.

When the road was first cut during the early 1800s, the woods were so thick with tall first-growth timber they called it Dark Lane.

That timber was all gone by now but it was still a quiet, pretty street. Shade trees everywhere, each house different from the one beside it and not too close together like some you saw.

There were still only thirteen homes on the block. Ruth’s, ours, five others going up the hill on our side of the street and six on the opposite.

Every family but the Zorns had kids. And every kid knew every other kid like he knew his own brother.

So if you wanted company you could always find some back by the brook or the crabapple grove or up in somebody’s yard— whoever had the biggest plastic pool that year or the target for bow and arrow.

If you wanted to get lost that was easy too. The woods were deep.

The Dead End Kids, we called ourselves.

It had always been a closed circle.

We had our own set of rules, our own mysteries, our own secrets. We had a pecking order and we applied it with a vengeance. We were used to it that way.

But now there was somebody new on the block. Somebody new over at Ruth’s place.

It felt funny.
Especially because it was that somebody.
Especially because it was that place.
It felt pretty damn funny indeed.
Ralphie was squatting out by the rock garden. It was maybe eight o’clock and already he was dirty.

AuthorJack Ketchum
PDF Size1.3 MB
CategoryFiction & Novel


The Girl Next Door PDF Free Download

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