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dog barking

The virtual offspring of paperplates books and paperplates magazine, our imprint paperbytes is devoted to the regular publication of electronic chapbooks in Adobe's portable document format. [Designed to be read on screen, they're free. Simply click on the nameplate to download the file.]

Below, you'll find the second series of paperbytes. If you're catching up, the first series is still available, just around the corner.

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In my work, I am so orderly and attentive to detail that sometimes I like to ramble, jump around, rattle off lyrics I make up as I go:

Marcy wrote it on my skin.
Marcy wrote the words in pen.
Marcy sang the Marcy song.
And I'm loving loving Marcy.

No one where I work – and more importantly none of my neighbours, because I work mostly at home – likes music. Not like I do. I program to it, cook to it, shower to it, do it to it, as Marcy says, making fun of me and how crass she thinks I find her. I don't. And besides, she found me. She worked for a client. I think she was intrigued by me, by my big, disheveled presence, by all the wrinkling thought crowding my eyes and I think she wanted me to chase her. She's younger, in fact, she's young, and one of the things this means is that at night alone now I try to get to sleep on time. It's just that there are too many things to do now before bed: my back exercises, my teeth, with all the tools, my shower. I am a night shower person. And the nightly routine wakes me, so I read; the reading lulls me, so I nod; the catnap revives me, so I read again, until at last I'm ready for bed. When Marcy's over, I skip it all, skip it all, let it go, dont want to miss a minute. Maybe we will marry. The point is, the point is ... sharp. Thats what the point is.

– From the opening of "After the Party"

Tree branches scraped the sides of the trailer. Connie tightened her grip around the seat. It would take Dennis a while to get used to hauling it and parking it in tight spots.

Linda jumped up from a chaise longue set in the sun in the site next door, came running over, paperback in hand, and directed them. Her arms made wide sweeps through the air.

"I see you, I see you," Dennis said. Linda wouldn't hear with the windows rolled up.

Connie hadn't seen her sister-in-law in almost five years, but watching her motion wildly and dart back and forth to check for clearance on either side made her remember how Connie's family had always called her a take-charge type. Connie rolled down the window and smiled, her fingers fluttering in a wave.

"Keith, they're here," Linda shouted over to her site, to Connie's oldest brother, then called out to Dennis, "You're too close to those trees. Stop." She thrust both palms into the air. "You're cutting it too close. Back up. Approach again."

Dennis inched the trailer straight ahead, tilted his head from one side to the other to check the mirrors mounted on both sides of the van. "Those branches won't hurt anything," he said. The branches screamed against the sides of the trailer.

Dennis stopped, turned off the motor, and Connie slid from the seat into Linda's embrace. "We expected you earlier. We've been watching since noon." Linda released Connie and stepped back. "Hope the branches didn't leave scratches."

– From the opening of "In Progress"

On the morning of Epiphany, La Fête des Rois, Plessi Toussaint and I had breakfast across the street at Le Gorille. Everyone else from the seminar was in Monte Carlo, gambling or sightseeing. We started off indoors, then took rum grogs out to a table in the sun. It was cool, but enjoyable, talking, smoking, sipping our drinks. The waterfront was quiet till noon, with only church bells breaking the silence. Townspeople with hangovers straggled in for coffee, and Marius, the waiter, mixed vodka, beer and Tabasco into a cure-all for the jitters.

A group of children walked by, mostly boys, carrying fishing poles. They went out on the crumbling Customs pier, displacing the cormorants, and cast baited lines across the water. From time to time they pulled in wriggling silver fish, not much bigger than sardines. What struck me was how serious they were, how intent. This was no child's game they were playing. This was no juvenile diversion. It may have been a contest of sorts, a demonstration of ability, but they applauded each other's success, gave credit where credit was due. If there was anything comical about their antics, it was that most of them were puffing cigarettes, trying to look mature as they baited their hooks and dropped their catches into plastic pails. Soon, they were surrounded by gulls and girls, all clamouring for attention.

– From the opening of "At St-Tropez with the late Plessi Toussaint"

Skip was alarmed he had put on so much weight during the Christmas holiday. Three, maybe even four pounds too many. He didn't understand how something like that could happen to him. He didn't drink; he didn't eat a single potato chip, cashew nut or bit of cheese, of which there was plenty available. He politely refused the cup of egg nog, waved his hand at the candied yams, skipped out on the mashed potatoes and corn bread and the thick and spicy sausage dressing, as well as the home-made bacon and cheddar perogies with fresh sour cream and the sweet relishes his grandma brought over. He wouldn't touch a single chocolate, apple strudel or piece of mincemeat pie. Instead his plate was covered with a pile of salad, some cooked carrots and peas without any butter added, and of the turkey he sampled, no skin, only white meat and not a drop of gravy.

"It's winter weight," Skip's mom said in a singsong voice when he complained what was happening to him. "Happens to everybody. Nothing to worry about, dear."

– From the opening of "Mrs Johnson"

During the Korean war, I thought it might be better for my career if I worked as a photojournalist at the front; it would be easier than being a combat soldier. Thinking along these lines – and with no small degree of naivety – I hoped to evade the war completely. That I did this purposely, I say with a great amount of shame and regret, feeling as much a coward now as I felt then. I was motivated by selfishness: if I took my fate into my own hands, I'd assure myself of a position with a reputable newspaper Stateside when I got back. I'd like to believe I went into the job with my eyes wide open, but I know I didn't, because I still found myself confronting my own demons and hidden fears, witnessing horrors I'm sure everyone else faced under those more than strange circumstances.

– From the opening of "Saint Freda"

The old lettering, COOK'S FINE CHOCOLATE, has faded, but the new sign on the expansion, WORLD'S FINEST, still tells the truth, says The Herald. "Aye, no doubt about it," says Jacob's dad, "that factory's world friggin' famous in Ontario," its prize-winning products, thick bars, and chocolate-coated almonds, sold by school bands and Lions Clubs across Canada, even in New York and Australia now. Filling Jacob's bedroom window in the new duplex near the edge of town, the factory is the first thing he sees in the morning. And at night, its blinking lights and shadowy stacks like a demon king's castle, it's the last thing Jacob looks at before he lies in bed and can hear his name within the factory's pulsating hum.

– From the opening of "First"

"First" and "Two" are excerpted from the novel "Boy of Uncertain Years", part of Adrian Kelly's creative writing dissertation at the University of Calgary.

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