Eight Mile High

Eight Mile High

JIM RAY DANIELS
Copyright Date: 2014
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/j.ctt7zt8r3
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  • Book Info
    Eight Mile High
    Book Description:

    In these linked stories, the constants are the places-from Eight Mile High, the local high school, to Eight Miles High, the local bar; from The Clock, a restaurant that never closes, to Stan's, a store that sells misfit clothes. Daniels's characters wander Detroit, a world of concrete, where even a small strip of greenery becomes a hideout for mystery and mayhem. Even when they leave town-to Scout camp, or Washington, DC, or the mythical Up North, they take with them their hardscrabble working-class sensibilities and their determination to do what they must do to get by. With a survival instinct that includes a healthy dose of humor, Daniels's characters navigate work and love, change and loss, the best they can. These characters don't have the luxury of feeling sorry for themselves, even when they stumble. They dust themselves off and head back into the ring with another rope-a-dope wisecrack. These stories seem to suggest that we are always coming of age, becoming, trying to figure out what it means to be an adult in this world, attempting to figure out a way to forgive ourselves for not measuring up to our own expectations of what it means to lead a successful, happy life.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-428-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. SOUL SACRIFICE
    (pp. 1-2)

    Mike Klonoski, the hippie who sat across from me in Earth Science, did the school’s morning announcements once a week, choosing the song that played in the hallways while we changed classes. I’d asked him to play “Soul Sacrifice” by Santana and loaned him myWoodstockalbum. That ecstatic guitar spoke in tongues down the long echoing halls of Eight Mile High where all 1,256 of us bopped a little, jiggled a little, shook our thangs a little, quicker in spite of wanting to move slower because “Soul Sacrifice,” for crying out loud! Earth Science, for crying out loud—science...

  4. SURVIVOR’S GUILT
    (pp. 3-12)

    Mr. Buck, the scout leader, shuffled and dealt cards to the other fathers at the picnic table across the large common room from where Al sat. He could hear the suction of their mouths off beer bottles and the click of flipped cards. Through the thin wall of the bunkroom behind him, the other scouts breathed the deep, uncomplicated breaths of the young and exhausted.

    “Alvin, get some sleep,” Mr. Masch sighed. His own son, already built like the football lineman he was to become, snored loudly behind them. “We’ll wake you if your parents make it.” He paused. “I...

  5. ET TU
    (pp. 13-24)

    In the way of teenagers worldwide, I both hated my parents and loved my parents. I strode my capital I self-important/conscious/absorbed ass down the gritty rubble of Rome like the star of my own music video when I had yet to write the song.

    We just called it Rome—no street or avenue or road. Its own empire, tucked away behind the zoom and boom of Eight Mile. The acrid stench from the colorless assortment of factories large and small stung in our noses, a daily tattoo that spelled home, and whenever we went somewhere that smelled otherwise, we stopped...

  6. 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT MY FATHER IN HIS BATHING SUIT (TIMES 2)
    (pp. 25-28)

    1. A shock the first time and every rare, rarer time after. Shy, shyer, gray, grayer. Unafraid of the cold, cold water. He could not save us, but he did.

    2. Never shirtless at home. Yellow stains spread under his arms as he painted white walls in summer heat and called it vacation. We weren’t allowed to climb his magic ladder.

    3. He held my hand as we waded in Burt Lake. I squinted up, afraid of pale skin exposed. He who never hugged, who shook our hands because his father could not swim and did not love him:Squeeze. Squeeze harder.

    4....

  7. PEARL DIVING
    (pp. 29-52)

    No one who lived on Pearl went to summer camp. Who had the money to send their kids away? Nobody. If anyone had the money, they’d have sent us far away for as long as possible. The street was our summer camp, and we drove our mothers mad. Someone who didn’t grow up on Planet Pearl would perhaps think I was exaggerating. Someone who wasn’t there that late summer night in the parking lot of Minski’s Funeral Home when Mrs. Wakowski slapped me.

    Summers weren’t for sissies, though winters were only slightly more accommodating. We broke things, we set things...

  8. OUR LADY OF NO MERCY
    (pp. 53-64)

    Artie pocketed the change from his church envelope and tossed it to the ground on the narrow alleyway behind the Eight Mile High auto shop. We’d be going to school there in the fall—they’d closed Childress, the junior high, to save money, so they were packing us all in at the high school, and we were nervous about proximity to the big boys.

    “Hey, that envelope has your number on it,” I said. “Someone could pick it up and take it to the rectory. They could trace it.”

    What thefuckare you talking about?” We’d graduated from sixth...

  9. BEND IN THE ROAD
    (pp. 65-82)

    We sat in my old, dilapidated woody station wagon at the bend in Pearl, the odd, luscious curve in that strict, boxed neighborhood grid—no reason for it except to mimic the curves of Marsha Johansen’s body, though technically it was a mistake by the builders—the Bermuda Curve of Warren. Rome and Pearl were supposed to continue past Bruce, the cross street, and dead end at Warner, but they got twisted up because the construction crews started building at each end until they discovered the streets weren’t going to meet in the middle. Thus, the Pearl bend at Bruce....

  10. AWOL
    (pp. 83-96)

    This is my second start. The first had too many lies in it. Going blind, so I’m trying harder to tell the truth. Get it down for my kids for when I’m gone. I don’t want them stuck with their mothers’ versions of me as someone who couldn’t keep a job, who thought he was too good for everything and everybody—though still kept in touch with his high school teachers, which seemed a little creepy to both my exes.

    I’ve been living with my parents for two years, since I started losing my sight and lost my job in...

  11. TARGET PRACTICE
    (pp. 97-132)

    I just wanted to shoot somebody, and I did.

    Is that true? I didn’t know that’s what I wanted, but what else could I have wanted?

    Thrill kill. It’s not that simple. At least nobody in this part of prison thinks so. It was a mercy killing, I said once. They all laughed like I was joking, but I’m not sure I was.

    Whodunit? I done it. And I didn’t so much as get caught as wave my bloody handkerchief at the police so they wouldn’t drive on past and miss me.

    Those of you hoping for some suspense can...

  12. 13-PART STORY WITH MIME
    (pp. 133-142)

    She was an artist, and hadn’t I always wanted to fall in love with an artist?

    No, not always. But recently, yes. Since I signed on for the college thing to avoid joining my father on the alki shift at Ford.

    At Black Swamp U, I quickly noticed the women in their tight, faded, paint-stained jeans, their breasts free and loose beneath their blouses because it was 1977

    But she was a mime. Back home in Toledo, I’d walked the extra block to avoid the mimes outside the art museum until the city council passed Municipal Code Ordinance 757, which...

  13. MY REPUBLICAN LOVE AFFAIR
    (pp. 143-164)

    Katy and I sat across from each other proofreading the transcript of a roundtable discussion on economic policy to be published by our employer, American Political Enterprise, or ape. Katy’s white bra made brief appearances whenever she leaned forward to turn a crisp page, her silky red blouse loosening forward from her shoulders. The distraction had me reading right over typos. With any luck, the booklet would be published long after I was safely back at Alba College with an A for my summer internship.

    Six weeks down, four to go. When I’d started in June, Katy had been wearing...

  14. DREAM HOUSE
    (pp. 165-186)

    “You coming, Dave,” Paul asked—more of a statement than a question. “Help with the packing, moral support, all that. You and Edwin can carry the light stuff.”

    I managed to miss almost all family gatherings of any emotional consequence. I ducked, and they passed over my head while I was “out of town” or “ill” or “privately bereaved.” But now my parents were moving out of the family home in Warren after forty-four years, and it looked like I had to be there, though I didn’t want them moving in the first place. My siblings, Paul and Ruth, were...

  15. RACCOON HEAVEN
    (pp. 187-202)

    The sky pushed down on us with the ache of a bruise, a deep blue-purple with a wispy, orange tint, as if a child had gotten out the wrong crayon to try and create a color that didn’t exist, or had combined crayons in an explosive mixture that scientists warned about, or had not read the small print on the side of the box, or all of the above. It hadn’t rained in weeks, and Meg and I were hoping it lurked in those thick, alien clouds, ready to break loose and let us have it.

    An anticipatory stillness filled...

  16. THE TALL TALE OF THE COWBOY MATTRESS
    (pp. 203-204)

    The single mattress decorated with laconic cowboys twirling graceful lassos on gallant horses under puffy clouds lasted through a lot of stains. The grizzled cowboys with their hands atremble spilled their cowboy coffee. The gray plains were layered with the dust of early grief and random explosions. Sometimes sheets glowed or someone saw stars in big sky country. One sharp spring, exposed beneath a tear, could give a person a rude poke during sexual wandering—sometimes, me. I was twenty-five when the cowboys went out on a cattle drive and never returned. Today I lie on my son’s mattress—he’s...

  17. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 205-205)