Fall 2009 • Vol. XXXI No. 4 Fiction |

Tour de France

A knucklehead fell out of a tree. The judge had promised us, the twelve of us, a trial lasting no more than two days. It was not until the fifth day that the plaintiff (a flat-voiced teenaged boy) took the stand to explain why he had climbed a tree in Golden Gate Park in the first place—how he ended up on the ground with a broken arm. Just foolin' around. The boy's parents' lawyer claimed the park maintenance crew of the City and County of San Francisco should have cut the dead wood out of the tree. Personal injury. The phrase summons scars more recently sustained, and another summer, when I was lying on a bed in Saint Mary's Hospital in San Francisco, thinking about Aix-en-Provence. My thorax had been unpacked and repacked like one of those fire-hose boxes you see in old buildings. A foot or so of O-gauge track burned down my belly whenever I raised myself, whenever I twisted to the side to answer the phone. On a television set hanging from the ceiling, La

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A knucklehead fell out of a tree. The judge had promised us, the twelve of us, a trial lasting no more than two days. It was not until the fifth […]

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