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So Jacob had come to know Perry, respected him, and even drank a beer or two with him some nights at the American Legion. ” “She’s going to be all right,” Perry said, and if Jacob had been the crying type, he might have started right then. She called me, but the dog was gone by the time I got out there.” “What should I do? “I’m supposed to get the dog warden out to your place, have her put down. And the family could press charges against you.” “Shit,” Jacob said. “They’re good folks, though, and the little girl’s gonna be all right, like I said. Tommy was gone, of course; he worked fifteen to twenty hours a week for a construction company down in Springfield, Tennessee, spent the rest of his time either messing around with that girl he was seeing—Leela, who was twenty-six and had three kids already and a loose fold of stretch-marked skin that hung over the top of her low-slung jeans, but at least had her tubes tied—or getting wasted with his work buddies, pot or beer, whatever they could get cheaper that day.Two womanless men: Jacob, a widower, and Perry, just plain unlucky. He knew the girl by sight: she was a frail, wild little thing, ranging the neighborhood in her bare feet when the weather was warm enough, so filthy that she wore a ring of dirt round her neck like a piece of jewelry. He knew the dog, too: when they played, and Jacob teased her with a thick hank of rope with a knot tied at the end of it, she just about ripped his arm out of the socket trying to yank it free. You give them some money for their bills and a little bit extra, they’ll let it go. Pen her up, send her to your cousin’s in Timbuktu, whatever. Jacob was lucky to get a meal in with the kid once a week, and even then he often had to tempt him with something nice, like dinner out at Ponderosa.A year before Jacob’s son, Tommy, was arrested for raping a fifteen-year-old girl, the police chief came to his shop about the dog. Tommy had brought her home the week he graduated from high school, a pup in an old Nike shoe box, eyes just opened.And Jacob had said, “You’re not bringing that dog here,” but he soon gave in, letting his son keep her on a blanket in the toolshed; weeks later he said, “You’re not bringing that dog in the house,” but he gave in on that, too, and the dog started sleeping on the living room couch, the same spot where his wife, Nora, had liked sitting when she was alive. Flora: Loves getting naked in the great outdoors.48. Freya: Bewitchingly beautiful, but more trouble than she’s worth.52. Olivia: Works hard and protects other people, but gets crazy when she lets her hair down.112. Paige: Gorgeous, but thinks she’s funnier than she really is.114. Quinn: Very beautiful, but superficial and obsessed with fashion.127. Ramona: The dream girl who is so cool and beautiful that guys will do anything for her.129. Roxy: A cute surfer chick who loves spending time at the beach and flirting with cute boys.138. Vera: She might seem reserved, but this beautiful girl is a tiger in the sack.171. Yolanda: So smart that it puts some guys off, but she doesn’t care.186. Zada: Swings both ways, but most people don’t know it.189. Fleur: As beautiful as an orchid, but can be mean.47. Octavia: Loves to travel and have flings with exotic people.111. Piper: Stunning, but is sick of her boyfriends flirting with her equally beautiful mum.121. Primrose: Amazingly sexy but not aware of her effect on people.124. Queenie: Thinks she’s more important than she is, but people still like her.126. Rosemary: A little bit creepy, but hot enough that guys dig her anyway.137. Venus: Understands love and has men falling at her feet.170. Yelena: Talks too much, but so beautiful that no one cares.185. Yvonne: Never wears makeup but is naturally stunning.188. Zelda: Loves adventures, but often ends up getting in sticky situations.194. Zeva: Likes to be naughty in and out of the bedroom.196. Zula: Loves nothing better than curling up with a good book.200. Though he never said so to Tommy, he felt a bittersweet certainty that Nora would have loved her, too—good as she’d always been with rough beasts, himself at one time no exception.
Angel: Looks angelic, but is devilish on the inside. Harriet: Seems very reserved, but wild in the sack.62. India: Likes people to think she’s well-traveled, but has never left the country.70. Jade: Shines just a bit brighter than everyone around her.74. Laila: Always tries to do the right thing, but often fails.88. Laurie: Believes in true love and fairy tale endings.90. Malory: Nobody’s quite sure whether she’s nice or two-faced, but she’s definitely hot.100. Samantha: A real damsel in distress, with guys lining up around the block to rescue her.143. Scarlett: Unbelievably beautiful, but it really doesn’t matter to her.146. Always looking for the next party or fun thing to do.150. Star: A dreamer, but always manages to get what she dreams of.153. Tabitha: Could have any guy, but is saving herself for The One.155. Tia: Tries to be good, but always ends up in trouble, somehow.162. Trixy: Pretty and well-intentioned, but not the smartest person out there.165. Imogen: Models lingerie and tries to go to bed with rockstars.69. Like, totally talks like a valley girl, but has never been to California.87. Lenore: Adored by guys everywhere, who love to write her poetry.92. Maddie: Usually sensible, but easily lead astray by a hot boy.99. Makes a lot of effort with her appearance, but doesn’t really need to.145. Taylor: Pretty but can be silly and superficial.159. Tessa: Likes to be different and never conforms.161. Trinity: Fun and attractive, but can be indecisive.164.From the moment I read “Good Girl,” from Holly Goddard Jones’s new collection Girl Trouble, it has been one of my favorite stories of the year—so it was doubly happy news when she suggested it for Fifty-Two Stories.
Jones’s characters are confronting crossroads in their lives, and truths in themselves—and the moments she finds them in are ragged, tense, and real.
Evelyn: The most beautiful girls anyone has ever seen, plus fun and smart to boot.43. Payton: Means well, but always ends up doing the wrong thing.116. Veronica: Smart and naturally inquisitive, yet also fun and pretty.173. Doesn’t have many friends, but loyal to the ones she does have.176.