By John Brantingham

Shawn’s flown 3,000 miles and driven 500. He’s made 28 sales calls, which isn’t a record but feels like one. Finally home, he finds that Wendy packed up the kids and almost everything except for his computer left on the futon couch and a note taped to the bathroom mirror: “That’s what I meant by consequences.” So he’s down at the liquor store when the earthquake starts, people ducking for cover, bottles falling around him. He stays put because today God is fucking with him, but if Shawn doesn’t blink, that’s him winning. So he stands at the counter holding his bottle of bourbon, and when the shaking’s done and the clerk gets up, he slaps a $20 on the counter even though the bottle’s $17, and he strides out of there back to the only house in town that’s not going to be a mess.


John Brantingham is the first poet laureate of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines and in Writer’s Almanac and The Best Small Fictions 2016. He has published eight books of poetry and fiction including “The Green of Sunset” from Moon Tide Press. He teaches at Mt. San Antonio College.

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