Coming Off The Line


In stock

Coming Off the Line: The Car in American Culture

An Anthology edited by
Stephen Taylor & Matt Taylor

ISBN: 978-1-59948-532-4, $14.95

Release date: September 2015



The story of cars is the story of America. They are central to our rites of passage and represent the best and worst in our culture–style, industry, and innovation, but also our threatened environment and psychic isolation from one another. The poets, fiction writers, and essayists published in Coming Off the Line: the Car in American Culture explore these themes from a multitude of perspectives both objective and personal. From examinations of faith and family such as the poems by Pushcart Prize winning poet Patty Seyburn to the car as a compelling metaphor for tattered but enduring hope in stories such as Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award winner Pete Fromm’s “Shooting Stars,” the works collected here incisively demonstrate how the automobile has embodied our history, how, as Marshall McCluhan. remarked, “The car has become an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete…”

J.S. Absher, Raleigh, NC

John Atzberger

John Azrak, Douglaston, NY

John Azrak is the former chair of the English Department of Walt Whitman H.S. on Long Island. He has published stories and poems widely in literary magazines and anthologies, including Main Street Rag’s Aftermath. Work has recently appeared in Paddlefish, Still Point Arts Quarterly and is forthcoming in Nimrod and an anthology published by White Pine Press. He lives in Douglaston NY.

Joseph Bathanti, Boone, NC

Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14). He is the author of eight books of poetry, including Restoring Sacred Art, winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year; and Concertina, winner of the 2014 Roanoke Chowan Prize. His new novel, The Life of the World to Come, was released from University of South Carolina Press in late 2014. Bathanti is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University.

Tamara Baxter

Tamara Baxter’s collection of fiction, Rock Big and Sing Loud, won the Jesse Stuart Foundation’s First Author’s Award. In the introduction, Robert Morgan says that Baxter, “…has given us the stories of some of the most afflicted and addicted, the most failed and failing, individuals on the planet, and also some of the strongest and most enduring people we are ever likely to meet.”  Baxter is currently editing a novel, River Boy, and her third collection of short fiction.

Becky Boncal, Richmond, VA

Becky Bikowski is a graduate from the MFA program at George Mason University. She teaches writing and literature courses at John Tyler Community College in Richmond, VA. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous publications (under her married name, Becky Boncal) including The Adirondack Review, The Copperfield Review, Everyday Genius, and HOOT.

Tony Brown, Greenville, NC

USAF veteran Tony Wayne Brown, who holds a BA in Communications from East Carolina University and is working towards an MA, has won contests by Art Forum and Union Writers and has had his fiction published more than fifty times in the past three years, including by The Huffington Post, The Main Street Rag, Birmingham Arts Journal, Vestal Review, The Dying Goose, Foliate Oak (University of Arkansas), Bartleby Snopes, O Dark Thirty (Veterans Writing Project), cahoodaloodaling, and Black Mirror Magazine. Southern Strategy, including twelve of his published works, is soon to be released by Tiger Town Publications.

Chris Bullard, Collinswood, NJ

Mark Burgh, Fort Smith, AR

Ann Cefola, Scarsdale, NY

Ann Cefola is author of Face Painting in the Dark (Dos Madres Press, 2014), St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped (Kattywompus Press, 2011), Sugaring (Dancing Girl Press, 2007), and the translation Hence this cradle (Seismicity Editions, 2007). A Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Residency recipient, she also received the Robert Penn Warren Award judged by John Ashbery. Her work appears in journals such as Feminist Studies and Natural Bridge, and translations in Eleven-Eleven, Exchanges, and Inventory among others. For more about Ann, see and

Douglas Cole, Seattle, WA

Douglas Cole has had work in Red Rock Review, Two Thirds North. and Midwest Quarterly. More of his work is available online in The Adirondack Review, Salt River Review, and Avatar Review, as well as a recorded story in Bound Off. He has published two poetry collections, Interstate, with Night Ballet Press, and Western Dream, with Finishing Line Press, as well as a novella called Ghost with Blue Cubicle Press.

C.G. Cummings, Toledo OH

A former military journalist and computer magazine columnist, Cummings is now a .Net programmer specializing in web support for retail and distributor book sales, e-book sales, and e-services. Personal passions include fiction writing, especially hard sci-fi, and long road trips in agile, comfortable, tech-laden cars, inhaling heroic scenery and the scars of humanity as plots and characters effervesce in his mind. He hopes to don a wearable rocket from Tesla someday. Pass the amps, please.

Bart Edelman, Pasadena, CA

Bart Edelman teaches in the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles. His poetry has appeared in anthologies and textbooks published by Cengage, City Lights Books, Etruscan Press, Harcourt Brace, Heinle, McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, Thomson, the University of Iowa Press, and Wadsworth. His poetry collections include Crossing the Hackensack (1993), Under Damaris’ Dress (1996), The Alphabet of Love (1999), The Gentle Man (2001), The Last Mojito (2005) and The Geographer’s Wife (2012).

Teresa Rose Ezell, St. Louis, MI

Teressa Rose Ezell’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Mulberry Fork Review, Apeiron Review, 99 Pine Street Literary Journal, and the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. She has also published nonfiction articles on a wide variety of topics. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University. Teressa shares a whimsical house near Tower Grove Park in St. Louis with her husband, three of her six children, one grandchild, a wolfish dog, and an owl-faced cat.

Mike Falcon, Los Angeles, CA

Former Max Muscle Magazine Editor-in-Chief Mike Falcon is an adjunct English instructor at Glendale Community College and Pasadena City College. He has been a columnist for Easyriders, Iron Horse, and Open City; writer for Record World, CashBox, and USAToday’s Spotlight Health column; and freelanced for various magazines, including Men’s Fitness and Yoga Journal. His writing teachers at Immaculate Heart College included Mark Harris, Theodore Sturgeon, and Gerry Huckaby. He received an MFA, Performance, Professional Writing, from USC under mentor Stephen Longstreet.

Lou Fisher, Hopewell Junction, NY

Lou Fisher lives with his wife in downstate New York, from where he teaches fiction and nonfiction for the Long Ridge Writers Group. He received the 2000 New Letters Literary Award for Fiction and his stories have appeared in a wide array of other journals and magazines, including Confrontation, The Mississippi Review, and Other Voices. This is his fourth story in an MSR Fiction Anthology (following Coming Home, The Book of Villains, and Altered States). As for favored cars, he continually leases a red or white Honda Accord.

Maureen Tolman Flannery, Evanston, IL

Maureen Tolman Flannery is the author of eight books of poetry, including Tunnel into Morning, Destiny Whispers to the Beloved, and Ancestors in the Landscape. Her latest book, Navigating by Expectant Stars, is a poetic response to the discovery of her parents’ wartime love letters. Maureen’s actor husband Dan is reviving his 1969 AMX while her heart was lost to her long-gone Pinto. More than five hundred of her poems have been published in anthologies and journals, among them: North American Review, Winning Writers, BorderSenses, Birmingham Poetry Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Calyx, Pedestal, Poetry East and Atlanta Review.

Pete Fromm, Missoula, MT

John Hearn

John Hearn’s work has appeared in a number of publications, including Social Science Quarterly, Religion and Politics, Epoch, River Styx, Tulane Review, The Washington Post and The Buffalo News. A 2013 piece was awarded honorable mention status in a “best emerging writers” contest by Glimmer Train. In 2011 he published, with a student, Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq (Casemate). That book was Miami University’s 2012 Summer Reading program selection.

Kelley Reynolds Jaquez

Kelley Jacquez is the author of 14 short stories published in literary journals and anthologies. Her book of interwoven stories titled, Holding Woman and Other Stories of Acceptable Madness, was acclaimed as one of the Great Books of 2013 by author and New York Times reviewer Madison Smartt Bell, and chosen as one of the Southwest Books of the Year 2014. Her poem, “Crazy People Rock”, was a winner of the Women Poets of the Western States 2012 poetry contest. Several stories have been recorded and aired on Valley Public Radio in California.

Carol Kanter, Evanston, IL

Carol Kanter has poems in numerous literary journals and anthologies. FinishingLine Press published her two chapbooks—Out of Southern Africa (2005) and Chronicle of Dog (2006). Two coffee-table books marry her poetry with her husband’s photography—No Secret Where Elephants Walk (2010) on Africa, and Where the Sacred Dwells, Namaste (2012) on India, Nepal and Bhutan. Check these out at Kanter is a psychotherapist in Evanston, IL, and sometimes uses poetry as a prompt in her work.

Kyle Laws, Pueblo, CO

Kyle Laws’ collections include So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press); Wildwood (Lummox Press); George Sand’s Haiti (co-winner of Poetry West’s 2012 award); My Visions Are As Real As Your Movies, Joan of Arc Says to Rudolph Valentino (dancing girl press); Storm Inside the Walls (little books press); Going into Exile (Abbey Chapbooks); and Tango (Kings Estate Press). She is editor of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press and publications director for the Pueblo Poetry Project.

Erica Plouffe Lazure

Erica Plouffe Lazure’s forthcoming flash fiction collection, Heard Around Town, won the 2014 Arcadia Fiction Chapbook Prize. Another chapbook, Dry Dock, was published by Red Bird Press in Spring 2015. Her fiction has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the Greensboro Review, Meridian, American Short Fiction, The Journal of Micro Literature, Fiction Southeast, Flash: the International Short-Short Story Magazine (UK), and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in Exeter, NH and can be found online at

Lyn Lifshin, Vienna, VA

Lyn Lifshin new books include Knife Edge & Absinthe: the Tango poems; For the Roses, poems for Joni Mitchell, All The Poets Who Touched Me; A Girl goes Into The Woods; Malala, Tangled as the Alphabet: The Istanbul Poems. : Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle; Malala and Femina Eterna: Enheduanna, Scheherazade and Nefertiti. web

Mary Makofske, Warwick, NY

Mary Makofske’s book Traction (Ashland, 2011) won the Richard Snyder Award. Her other books are The Disappearance of Gargoyles and Eating Nasturtiums, winner of a Flume Press Chapbook Award. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, Poetry East, Paterson Literary Review, Calyx, and 11 anthologies, including Main Street Rag’s Crossing Lines. She shared second place in the 2015 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards. She is a retired English professor living in Warwick, NY.

Mary E. Martin, Rock Hill, SC

Mary E. Martin drives cars until they say “No more!” She lives in Rock Hill, SC, teaches at Winthrop, and has published many poems in many journals. Her book is titled The Luminous Disarray.

Lou Mathews

Lou Mathews’ novel, L.A. Breakdown was selected as a Best Book by the L.A. Times when it was published in 1999.  Since then it has become a cult classic in the Gearhead world and the only book about street-racing ever cited in the New Yorker.  Mathews has received a Pushcart Prize, a Katherine Ann Porter Prize and California Arts Commission and N.E.A. fellowships in fiction.  He teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

Mariana McDonald, Decatur, GA

mariana mcdonald’s poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Anthology of Southern Poets: Georgia, and Lunch Ticket. Her fiction has appeared in UpDo: Flash Fiction by Women Writers and Cobalt, where she was a finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston Fiction Prize. Her short story collection Green Jacket is forthcoming from Benu Press. She became a Fellow of Georgia’s Hambidge Arts Center in 2012. mcdonald lives in Atlanta, where she is a public health scientist.

Martin Mitchell, New York, NY

Martin Mitchell was raised in Southern California, where he became enamored with its car culture at a young age. His father took him many weekend mornings to car meets in parking lots, fairgrounds, and airport hangars all over the greater Los Angeles area. He believes an understanding of cars to be essential to understanding the American Century, and, more deeply, to understanding America itself. He makes his living in the business world, and is currently restoring a 1962 Mercury Comet. This is his first published work.

William Mohr, Long Beach, CA

Bill Mohr’s collections of his poetry include Hidden Proofs (1982), Bittersweet Kaleidoscope (2006), and a bilingual selection of poems from both of those books, Pruebas Ocultas (Bonobos Editores, Mexico, 2015). In 1993, New Alliance Records released his spoken word collection, Vehemence. His account of West Coast poetry, Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992, was published in 2011. Mohr teaches courses in 20th century American literature and creative writing at California State University, Long Beach.

Janice Townley Moore, Claremont, NC

Janice Townley Moore has published poems in a variety of journals including Georgia Review, Main Street Rag, JAMA, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, and in a number of anthologies such as The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Her chapbook, Teaching the Robins, was published by Finishing Line Press. She is professor emeritus of English at Young Harris College, and she lives in Hayesville, North Carolina.

Robert C. Moore

W.P. Osborn, Grand Rapids, MI

W.P. Osborn’s Seven Tales and Seven Stories won the 2013 Unboxed Books Fiction Prize, judged by Francine Prose. He has short fiction in journals such as Mississippi Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Cream City Review, and Gettysburg Review and poetry in Hotel Amerika and Pinyon Review. He is a professor of English at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, where he teaches Shakespeare and other classes in literature. His poem in this volume came out of the want ad reproduced verbatim in the title.

Robert Perchan, South Korea

David Plumb, Tamarac, FL

The author of ten books, David Plumb has been a guest writer on National Public Radio’s The Public Story Teller. Writing is published in Voices from the Porch Anthology 2014, Crossing Anthology, 2015, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, Beyond the Pleasure Dome, Sheffield Academic Press, UK, Gargoyle, Outlaw Poetry, Misfit and Main Street Rag. He has worked as a paramedic, cab driver, cook, tour guide, and adjunct professor. He volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project and is past director for a homeless shelter and former Director of The Intersection Poetry Series in San Francisco.

Wanda S. Praisner, Bedminster, NJ

Wanda S. Praisner, a recipient of fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts, Dodge Foundation, The Provincetown Fine Arts Center, and VCCA, has won the Egan Award, Princemere Prize, Kudzu Competition, First Prize in Poetry at the College of NJ Writers’ Conference. She’s read at the Dodge Festival and the Governor’s Conference on the Arts. She appears in Atlanta Review, Lullwater Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her latest books are: Where the Dead Are (CavanKerry Press, 2013), and Sometimes When Something Is Singing (Antrim House, 2014). She is a resident poet for the state.

Joshua Prichard

Originally from Cincinnati, Joshua J. Prichard was granted his M.F.A. on a fellowship from Chapman University. He currently writes and teaches in Southern California.

Karen Robiscoe

Karen Robiscoe’s short stories, essays, & poetry have appeared in literary journals: Spectrum at UCSB, Postscripts to Darkness, KY Story, Bohemia Journal, Steamticket Journal, Peachfuzz Magazine, Dark Light 3, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Sand Canyon Review, & Meat for Tea—a Valley Review. Online, find her work at Handful of Dust E-Zine, Whistling Fire E-Zine, and Art4theHomeless Web-zine. Additionally, Ms. Robiscoe’s recipes are regularly featured at Hub Pages, and Fowlpox Press released her brain-bending, idiom-twisting chapbook: Word Mosaics early in 2014. You can keep up with the author at her dynamic & popular blog: Charron’s Chatter.

Ada Jill Schneider, Somerset, MA

Ada Jill Schneider is the author of This Once-Only World, Behind the Pictures I Hang, The Museum of My Mother, Fine Lines and Other Wrinkles, and several chapbooks. She reviews poetry for Midstream Magazine and directs “The Pleasure of Poetry” at the Somerset Public Library in Massachusetts. Winner of the National Galway Kinnell Poetry Prize, she has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. Ada started writing poetry at the age of fifty-three, when she thought she was old.

Patty Seyburn

Patty Seyburn has published four books of poems: Perfecta (What Books Press, 2014), Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). She won a Pushcart Prize for her poem, “The Case for Free Will,” published in Arroyo Literary Journal. She is an Associate Professor at California State University, Long Beach and co-editor of POOL: A Journal of Poetry ( She grew up in Detroit.

Gregg Shapiro

Gregg Shapiro is the author of Lincoln Avenue (Squares and Rebels Press, 2014), GREGG SHAPIRO: 77 (Souvenir Spoon Press, 2012) and Protection (Gival Press, 2008). His forthcoming short story collection, How To Whistle, will be published in 2016 by Lethe Press. An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick Karlin and their dog k.d.

Myra Shapiro, New York, NY

Myra Shapiro’s poems have appeared in many periodicals and anthologies including the 1999 and 2003 editions of The Best American Poetry. Her books of poems are I’ll See You Thursday and 12 Floors Above the Earth, and she is the author of a memoir, Four Sublets: Becoming a Poet in New York. She serves on the Board of Directors of Poets House and teaches poetry workshops for the International Women’s Writing Guild. She no longer owns a car.

Matthew J. Spireng, Kingston, NY

Matthew J. Spireng’s most recent book of poems is What Focus Is (2011, Word Press). His book Out of Body won the 2004 Bluestem Poetry Award and was published in 2006 by Bluestem Press at Emporia State University. He is also the author of five chapbooks including Inspiration Point, which won the 2000 Bright Hill Press Poetry Chapbook Competition.

Jacqueline Walker, Batesville, MS

Jacqueline Walker spent part of her early years riding around in her Mom’s orange Ford Pinto. She received her M.F.A. from George Mason University. Her work has appeared in Scarlet Letters, Del Sol Review, and Get on the Bus: An Anthology of Short and True Stories of Bus Travel. She is working on a collection of short stories. She chauffeurs her basketball playing son Daniel and senior plus Mom around in a well-worn Honda Civic.

Janet Lee Warman, Burlington, NC

Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Janet Lee Warman now lives in Burlington, North Carolina, where she is a professor of English and Education at Elon University. She has graduate degrees in special education/emotional disturbance, writing with a concentration in poetry, and literature. Her poems have been published in the journals Spillway, Slipstream, The Rappahannock Review, Ars Medica, and Earth’s Daughters, among others. She is a raging anglophile and is beginning a study of Italian in order to accompany students to Florence in 2019.

Thomas Weller, Greencastle, IN

Tom Weller is a former factory worker, Peace Corps volunteer, and Planned Parenthood sexuality educator. He currently lives in Greencastle, Indiana, and serves as the Student Support Services writing specialist at Indiana State University. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies including Silk Road, Midwestern Gothic, Pilgrimage, Epiphany, Litro, Booth, Phantom Drift, Paper Darts, Shooter Literary Magazine, Bite: An Anthology of Flash Fiction, and One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo: Fifty Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories.

Mechanical Cluster

Patty Seyburn

how far I have come
how fast traveled
slow to anger long to burn
what will protect me from
my mortal inattention
an amber state
of emptiness signal fibrillates
never enough
even when ferrying
passenger Caution and passenger Pleasure
in the back seat

a heartbeat ticks at my dictate
makes my course predictable
provisions for light
in isolation, provisos
against will and speed
chimes and gauges needling
all decisions horizontal,
revved discordant sage
of –ometered trips
notch-numbered face
orderly as the sidereal belt
not that random model of shaken die
flung at chance on astral felt

when all goes well, we don’t
look back, we heed the warnings,
make amends, we must be more
than pulse and impulse, yes?
short-circuits nerve-interpreted
pain-relayed fuel-driven
progress we confess
to mere machinery by day’s
disinfectant light but in
dark we wonder, what of
the spark? what of the spark?

Racing the Melt

Tony Wayne Brown, Greenville, NC

In a raging storm I am, even though I hate driving in rain. I love my wife, however, and that’s why I’m plowing through standing water in my beat-up old S-10 pickup, headed to the only supermarket nearby that’s open at midnight.

Heather’s pregnant, you see, and when Heather’s pregnant, you’d better get her what she wants when she wants it, or spend a truly miserable night wishing you had. Even if she weren’t more ornery at these times than a blue-claw crab chasing my toes in the Roanoke Sound, I’d be out here. After all, I do want to please the woman I love.

Chocolate crunch ice cream it is this time. Half a mile I’ve gone, and the engine coughs, then stops. Knew I forgot something on the way home today. I always forget something. Pulling to the side of the road, my pickup sloshes to a stop. Gas can in back is full, thank goodness. Chugs empty quickly, but not fast enough to keep me from being soaked by the sky’s deluge. Engine mercifully restarts right away, and I’m off again.
But not exactly.

Drive tire just spinning in place. I’m going nowhere fast. No panic. Small truck. Get out, push it past the rut before creating a larger one. So wet I just slip down and fall on my face in mud.

Proceeding to Plan B.

Back inside the cab, I slowly accelerate, then alternate reverse and drive. After a couple of tries, the tires slowly continue past the rut, and I’m really off again.

Rain’s pouring so hard even the fastest wiper setting can’t keep up. Hunching forward to make out the center line and steering to the right of oncoming headlights, I somehow make it to the first stoplight. The car ahead has its right-turn signal on. No traffic is coming, yet, it doesn’t turn right on red. After giving the driver at least five seconds to proceed, I blast him with my Dukes of Hazzard bugle call, then raise my hand, questioning his sanity. He starts turning as the light changes. Shaking my head, I turn behind him and see he’s on his cell phone. I swerve into the left lane and speed to the next light.

Naturally, it’s red.

I can already hear Heather saying she’d thought she’d have to resurrect Daniel Boone to find me, I’d been gone so long. The farther along her pregnancies are, the more I hear her favorite phrase.

The traffic light is mercifully short. I speed ahead, whip into the parking lot and into the space nearest the store. No time to waste. I race to the door, but a man with a Kroger badge blocks me.

“Closed. Inventory ’til one,” he has the nerve to say.

Obviously, he doesn’t know Heather.

To read the rest of the story, order a copy of Coming Off The Line today.

Before Filing the Report

Wanda S. Praisner, Bedminster, NJ

I was no longer the only witness
to the stricken deer, my vigil
over–my high beams an invading
spotlight on agate eyes,

the struggling body–
fur flagged from my damaged door.

Before we converged in milky fog,
the deer and I moved along 202
as though we were immortal.

I drove off, parked, sat another
twenty minutes in the dark
listening for the officer’s shot,
imagining the end,

the act of reliving the scene
scripting us together:

scrims of viscid blood
from the upraised open mouth
loosed into arcs above the head

as it flung itself up,
only to flap back down.

Its hindquarters crushed,
again and again the front legs
stretched out to drag itself away.

Shooting Stars

Pete Fromm, Missoula, MT

The surviving headlight cut a narrow path through the blackness while Sally and the baby slept, and, though it was far from quiet, it seemed as silent as any time Frank had ever known. The radio’s muted static blended with the constant hum of motor and road that filled the car like cotton. He shut the radio off. It was impossible to find anything in the corner of the states here, even at night, and Frank wondered what the Indians lived by. It was a hell of a place for people, even for a reservation.

A moment later Frank turned the radio back on, not far enough for sound, but just for its glow. He hated being alone more than anything in the world. But the tires’ hiss and the noise of the wind and the glow of the radio were all the company he cared for now. By morning they would be at Crow Agency and he would need Sally then, when the pale winter light glared on every detail of the desolation surrounding them.

Frank watched the patch of lighted road, curving with it. No guardrails, no reflectors showing the shoulder, not even a line painted down the middle. How in the world was a person supposed to even see this goddamned road, let alone stay on it? And with only one headlight? Frank wondered what the Indians had done to deserve this piece of nowhere. The only thing to do if you were born here was to leave. But the road made even that harrowing. Dakota, Wyoming, Montana. They would all be bad jokes if they weren’t true.

He remembered her reading the road map early the day before, discovering that Custer had been massacred at Crow Agency. He barely remembered the history, but now he felt sorry for Custer. And for the Indians. It was understandable why they’d want to stay here, at the site of their only victory, but it was pathetic. You had to move on. Victories came far enough apart it was best to not even remember them.

The road was ridiculous. It was impossible to miss all the potholes. At each jarring he flinched, fearing the baby would wake. If it cried once more he could just about roll down the window and throw it into the void they were drifting through.

That wasn’t true. It was awful to even think of it. Yet, even though he would die before doing something like that, it would be doing something. Something that would mean being in control of his own future for an instant anyway.

The baby was a hell of a mess. He loved it, he guessed. It was a good thing to be a father. There was a feeling to it he hadn’t expected. But he thought he’d have liked it just for being. How did other people do it? How did they love something so much that only made everything that much harder?

He almost glanced at them sleeping together against the far door, but the pitch of the constant hum surrounding him changed suddenly. Frank tensed and checked the dashboard. There were no gauges though, nothing to tell him if the old wreck was failing. Only idiot lights. They’d turn red, if they worked at all, long after the trouble turned hopeless. Cars this old didn’t take long to disintegrate. Frank was no mechanic, but he knew that.

To read the rest of the story, order a copy of Coming Off The Line today.

SKU: 978-1-59948-532-4 Categories: , Tags: ,