Randy R. Potts: I waited in my car for 20 minutes. No last name, precise instructions: “Meet me at the truck stop at the corner of 259 and 144 and I’ll take you on from there. You should write it down because you won’t have cell service.” I found a truck stop but there wasn’t a sign for Highway 144; a man pulled up in a black pickup with a Pomeranian in his lap; you could see the Choctaw in the man’s kind face. I climbed into his passenger seat and he drove the rest of the way, talking, laughing like a school kid, like a 53-year-old man, like a grown man who’d never told any of these adult stories to anyone. “Few years ago, well, I was blowin’ this guy and I felt like I’d been kicked in the back of the head. Well, I had to stop, of course, and I looked at the feller and I said, ‘Something’s wrong, I dunno what, but you’ve got to take me to the hospital.’ So we go to the emergency room and finally I go up to the counter and I say ‘Ma’am, I need somebody to see me quick, I think I had a stroke.’ Well, they jumped up and they was lookin’ at me soon after, said there was a blood clot ’cause I’d had an aneurysm. So that was what happened the first time I ever give head.”
Here is the dirty secret of longform: most people, even those who urge its consumption, don’t actually read it. Longform may win awards and it may bring prestige, but it remains at least as subject to Sturgeon’s law—90 percent of everything is crap—as any other format. (Guest post by Raja)
Naomi Martin and Dave Tarrant: Had they met under different circumstances, the two 20-year-olds could have easily been friends.
Sara Mutschlechner loved Quentin Tarantino films and Japanese anime. She played the drums, earned a black belt in karate and cried at Disney movies. She wrote scripts, made funny videos of her cat and dreamed of directing movies.
Eric Johnson was artistic, too. He was passionate about photography, painting and wrote his own hip-hop songs under a persona that was wilder, more rebellious than his current life as a Marine corporal. He sewed his own clothes and dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. He was into Japanese video games.
On New Year’s Eve, Sara and Eric showed up at the same house party in Denton but didn’t meet.
After leaving the party, they pulled up next to each other at a stoplight a few blocks from the University of North Texas, each of their cars full of friends.
Some of the men in Eric’s SUV hollered at Sara and her friends, asking where they were going. They pivoted quickly to yelling that they wanted to have sex with the women. A man in the back seat of Sara’s car shouted back.
As the confrontation escalated, the light changed. The drivers sped forward, with Eric allegedly reaching for his gun.