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Talk Talk 

New fiction by T.C. Boyle

Wednesday, May 31 2006

Page 5 of 5

Warrants? What warrants?

He was wearing a sport coat over a T-shirt with the name of a basketball team emblazoned across the breast. His hair had been sprayed or gelled, but not very successfully — it curled up like the fluff of the chicks they’d kept under a heat lamp in elementary school, so blond it was nearly translucent. She watched him lift the lapel of his jacket and extract a folded sheet of paper from the inside pocket. He seemed to consider it a moment, weighing it like a knife, before dropping it to his lap and signing, Failure to appear on a number of charges, different courts, different dates, over the past two years. Passing bad checks, auto theft, possession of a controlled substance, assault with a deadly weaponthe list goes on. He held her eyes. His mouth was drawn tight, no sympathy there. It came to her that he believed the charges, believed that she’d led a double life, that she’d violated every decent standard and let the deaf community down, one more hearing prejudice confirmed. Yes, his eyes said, the deaf live by their own rules, inferior rules, compromised rules, they live off of us and on us. It was a look she’d seen all her life.

He handed her the sheet and there it all was, dates, places, the police department codes and the charges brought. Incredibly, her name was there too, undeniably and indelibly, in caps, under Felony Complaint, Superior Court of this county or the other, and the warrant numbers marching down the margin of the page.

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She looked up and it was as if he’d slapped her across the face. I’ve never even been to Tulare CountyI don’t even know where it is. Or to Nevada either. It’s crazy. It’s wrong, a mistake, that’s all. Tell them it’s a mistake.

The coldest look, the smallest Sign. You get one phone call.

  • New fiction by T.C. Boyle

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