Summer 2004 • Vol. XXVI No. 3 Fiction |

The Building of Quality

The average citizen—who went to school in a building modeled on a shoe factory, who works in a suburban office park, who lives in a raised ranch house, who vacations in Las Vegas—would not recognize a building of quality if a tornado dropped it in his yard. —James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere The deadness in the air. The obscene smell of torn earth. In the Smiths' front yard the oak had heaved over, its roots, like hag's hair, scraggled across the sidewalk. The lamp post had been snapped in half, like a pencil. Glass sparkled on the asphalt of the driveway and a green tricycle had launched itself into what was left of the elm and the lid of —was that a washing machine? "Shit," John said. "Shit. Shit." He clenched shut his eyes, and when he opened them again he said, "Shit." His wife Jane clutched at her bathrobe. She felt sick—exactly the way she had that ghastly day, eleven years ago, when she was fired as the hostess at the Red Lobster out by

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C. M. Mayo is the author of Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, and Sky over El Nido, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

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