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The Summer Boy

29 pages28 minutes



Now the road north steamed beneath the headlights, illuming a path through a lush growth of small trees and bushes lining both sides. Eventually he turned one last time east, crossing a stream, before heading northward again. By the time he reached the outskirts of Dudley he was ready to stop. And he needed gas anyway. He pulled into the Quick-Fill and stood for a moment in the artificial light holding the palm of one hand to his lower back before lifting the nozzle away from the pump with the other. He let his back go to turn the selector to regular grade and raise the safety switch, after which the pump clicked to life and the gas flowed, cooling the handle.
As he held the grip trigger he looked around, noting the empty lot across the road where the Mobil garage had stood before burning. He remembered the red winged horse set in the front gable and reproduced on the white globes atop the gas pumps. Not so long ago he had hung out there with his friends on weekends—washing and polishing cars, changing oil or the occasional tire. But except for the missing garage and the new Quick-Fill everything else in Dudley seemed the same. Adopting a philosophical attitude, he supposed change was either good or bad, depending on how you defined progress.

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