American Boy by Larry Watson

By Larry Watson

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Since I had volunteered Johnny for duty, I expected that he might speak up. ” the doctor said. Then, to my surprise, he added, “All right then. ” The creases that appeared between Mrs. Dunbar’s eyes led me to believe that she didn’t agree, but she said nothing. “I know you fellows are hungry,” Dr. Dunbar said, taking in the meal spread before us, “but if you want to join the search party out at Frenchman’s Forest, you’ll have to head out right away. ” Julia, often willing to allow her more vocal sister to speak for her, eagerly nodded her interest as well.

She subscribed to the laissez-faire school of parenting, a philosophy that reflected her own upbringing. She was the seventh of eleven children, and growing up on a dusty little family farm during the Depression fostered in her the belief that we all had to look out for ourselves in this world. Accordingly, she felt she was fulfilling her parental duties by providing food and shelter for her only child. As long as I stayed in school and out of jail, she’d stay out of my life. No, my mother’s dislike of the doctor didn’t have its source in jealousy, not least because she believed it was a sin to be impressed by another human being.

He made it sound like she was going to die. ” “That’s what Dad asked him. The deputy kept saying it was part of his interrogation. ” “He was pissed, all right. ” Before that day I would have had a hard time imagining Dr. Dunbar angry. But now I had seen his expression when I touched Louisa Lindahl’s stomach. ” “Dad didn’t want her spending the night in the clinic. There aren’t any real beds in there, and it would have been too far away if she needed something during the night. ” “It was okay to move her?

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