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The Hat and Gravel This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I sat in the parking lot, another stupid day. I saw him. Strolling over sidewalks and ant hills like he was invincible. His hat matched his shirt, both were so alive they could have been targets. The hat leaped from the sidewalk and began to stride aloft the gravel that hunted him. STTRRRRRRR-K. Those breaks laughed their awful laugh as I saw the hat stretch fleetingly to heaven, almost high enough to reach it. I streaked above thousands of bared teeth drooling tar and dirt, the gravel wanted a bite of my blue too. I bound across that devil's stream with a few good strokes, and I found a hat sprawled across the very pavement it had owned, limbs spread beneath the dome like a bouquet. I called the police, and they asked SO MANY questions. Like they had time to talk. Hats struck the curb in minutes, sirens striving out their bills, they loaded me aside and shoved a bright blue hat splattered in its own material, but still breathing, into a box made of steel. Steel. As if steel had not just tried to take him. As if steel could be both a savior and a murderer, as if they would allow him to die there. In steel.





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