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The Uninnocent by Bradford Morrow (Excerpt)

The Uninnocent by Bradford Morrow (Excerpt)

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
Morrow creates beautifully dark and soulfully intimate stories in his first collection, featuring characters who, though hardly citizens of virtue, reveal their true colors with little remorse.
Morrow creates beautifully dark and soulfully intimate stories in his first collection, featuring characters who, though hardly citizens of virtue, reveal their true colors with little remorse.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Mar 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/29/2013

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THE UNINNOCENT 
By Bradford MorrowTHE HOARDER 
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN a hoarder. When I was young, our familylived on the Outer Banks, where I swept up and down the shore filling mywindbreaker pockets with seashells of every shape and size. Back in the privacy of my room I loved nothing better than to lay them out on my bed,arranging them by color or form—whelks and cockles here, clams andscallops there—a beautiful mosaic of dead calcium. The complete skeletonof a horseshoe crab was my finest prize, as I remember. After we movedinland from the Atlantic, my obsession didn’t change but the objects of mydesire did. Having no money, I was restricted to things I found, so one year developed an extensive collection of Kentucky bird nests, and during thenext, an array of bright Missouri butterflies preserved in several homemadedisplay cases. Another year, my father’s itinerant work having taken us tothe desert, I cultivated old pottery shards from the hot potreros. Sometimesmy younger sister offered to assist with my quests, but I preferred shamblingaround on my own. Once in a while I did allow her to shadow me, if only because it was one more thing that annoyed our big brother, who never missed an opportunity to cut me down to size. Weird little bastard, Tom likedcalling me. I didn’t mind him saying so. I was a weird little bastard.When first learning to read, I hoarded words just as I would shells,nests, butterflies. Like many an introvert, I went through a phase during
 
which every waking hour was spent inside a library book. These I naturallycollected, too, never paying my late dues, writing in a ragged notebook words that were used against Tom at opportune moments. He was seldomimpressed when I told him he was a
 pachyderm anus
or 
 festering pustule
, but that might have been because he didn’t understand some of what cameout of my mouth. Many times I hardly knew what I was saying. Still, thedesired results were now and then achieved. When I called him some namethat sounded nasty enough— 
eunuch’s tit 
 —he would run after me with fistsflying and pin me down, demanding a definition, and I’d refuse. Be it black eye or bloody nose, I always came away feeling I’d gotten the upper hand.Father wasn’t a migrant laborer, as such, and all our moving hadnothing to do with a field-worker following seasons or harvests. He lived byhis wits, so he told us and so we kids believed. But wits or not, every year  brought the ritual pulling up of stakes and clearing out. His explanationswere always curt, brief like our residencies. He never failed to apologize,and I think he meant it when he told us that the next stop would be more permanent, that he was having a streak of bad luck bound to change for the better. Tom took these uprootings harder than I or my sister. He expressedhis anger about being jerked around like circus animals, and complained thatthis was the old man’s fault and we should band together in revolt. It wasnever clear just how we were supposed to mutiny, and of course we never did. Molly and I wondered privately, whispering together at night, if our family wouldn’t be more settled had our mother still been around. But thatroad was a dead end even more than the one we seemed to be on already.She’d deserted our father and the rest of us and there was no bringing her 

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