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Wolf in a White Van

by John Darnielle

Sean, terribly disfigured from a teenage ‘accident’, writes role-playing fantasy games. Now grown-up, Sean reflects on the choices in his own life and how they have led him to his present. His acceptance of his dwindled life is desperately sad but it seems wrong to pity a character who doesn’t pity himself. The prose is as clear as a mountain stream but the story it tells is a heart-breaker.

Extract

Conan the Barbarian has no parents, as far as I know, but in my mind he was my model: trying to stand strong and brave, sword in hand, black hair flowing. In truth I have very little hair on my head now, and the hair I do have tends to clump in stringy clusters, but if my eyes are closed and my concentration is strong, I can form a different picture of myself in my mind, so this was what I did, standing by the waist-high desk where the phone was. I closed my eyes and I concentrated. Dad was getting ready to tell me about the funeral plans, I knew. I could make it easier for him if I tried hard enough. It isn’t really much of a mystery, this occasional need I have to comfort my father. I did something terrible to his son once.

Parallels

Catcher in the Rye by J R Salinger
The Elephant Man by Christine Sparks
Mask - the film
 

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