Three stories about the dark side of young love… In “Counterflow,” young love blossoms in the trash-strewn shadow of an old bridge. Then, a boy is “On the Road to Find Out” where he belongs — on a journey filled with violence and longing. In “The Thunderhead and the Beast,” every boy’s dream comes knocking at the door, but this time it turns out to be a nightmare.

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Counterflow

Love lives and dies in an eddy under a bridge.

He would always remember the air under the bridge as ten degrees cooler than the air above—cool as her skin on that day they met, hands brushing as both reached for a handout during third period language arts. The creek there ran mostly shallow, water flowing over round stones like fossilized teeth, though an eddy had gouged a deep pool around the center pier. The counterflow trapped branches, beer cans, and plastic bags, all tangled in a slick of yellow foam. A bank of damp gravel and sand sloped below the span, too wet to sit on but open and flat: a fresh canvas.

On the Road to Find Out

Motion, moving, he was always moving.

I’d like to be from somewhere. Technically, I’m from Cincinnati, but that only means I was born there. We left, my mother and I, before I was old enough to know what a place was. Growing up, I never had the same bedroom for more than a year. My mother would meet “the nicest fellow” and we’d pack up and head for his hometown. From Ohio to Alabama to Kentucky to Georgia to Rhode Island back to Ohio, I took a round trip with layovers at 19 addresses in 17 years. For the longest time we owned this beat-up, tan ’63 Oldsmobile, same age as me. We might be just going to the grocery but it seemed strange to look out the back and not see a U-Haul…

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The Thunderhead and the Beast

Every boy’s dream comes knocking at the door, and turns out to be a nightmare.

I recall the summer Jodi introduced me to the beast as a dry, thundery time. The smell of ozone filled the air and each day threatened to be the one when rain might come at last, yet didn’t. A thunderhead loomed over the Coast Range to the west like a sentinel, yet the atmosphere felt as still as stone. Grey-white day followed grey-white day, an unending march of expectation and anxiety. I lived in an apartment complex called Shiloh Glen, a yellow brick and plywood compound with little to offer but a kidney-shaped swimming pool and a pair of netless basketball hoops. Beyond Shiloh’s dusty boundaries, grass seed and hay fields stretched to infinity, or at least to the range of a boy’s bicycle.