The girl works nights. In the middle of nowhere. She drives an hour to get to her job, an hour back. She can stand through her entire shift in silence, the way she is standing now. Dim white light spills down over her. The dessert freezer builds up ice. She is allowed to help herself to some chips, or beef jerky, or a cold drink. She likes how quiet it is, how dark it is. It is the quiet that brought her here.

From Maryse Meijer’s hard, dreamlike, “Fugue” on Joyland Midwest. Preorder Heartbreaker, her debut collection from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

The call display on my cell phone reads Holy Trinity. Francis. My brother is probably the only one I can bear this morning. So I put a finger in one ear and the phone up to the other.
“Hello Maggie, it’s Father Michael, the ah, the rector over at Holy Trinity. I’m calling about Luke.” Luke is the religious name my brother took when he was ordained.
“What happened?”
There is a long pause and my stomach lurches.
“He’s fine,” the rector finally says. “I mean he’s not hurt or anything, but we’ve had another situation. He was arrested night before last. Another DUI.”

Excerpted from Billie Livingston’s novel The Crooked Heart of Mercy, available now from Penguin Random Canada and in March from William Morrow.

My mother is getting riled up and people are starting to notice. We’re in line at the Pink’s on La Brea, same as every Thursday afternoon, not much of a line, not much traffic on the sidewalk. The woman who approached us doesn’t want anything to do with us. She’s collecting for a sting operation. I don’t know what kind of sting operation, that’s the problem, she wants our money, our donation, but she’s mumbling, I can’t understand her. Or not so much mumbling as not speaking up enough to make herself heard above the street. She approaches my mother first as if she knows that my mother is my mother. The woman mumbles something to my mother and my mother doesn’t answer. My mother has lost the power of speech.

From Fortunato Salazar’s “Deimos and Phobos” on Joyland Los Angeles.

We’d been warned not to ride the ATVs straight up the hill, but we did, and one of us, I think it was Joel, toppled backwards and his ATV fell on top of him. The night before we’d gone into the creek behind the cabin and come out with leeches on our calves. We pried them off with spoon handles and tossed them on the coals of the grill. They were still alive and their bodies sizzled and popped as they burned and I wondered if anyone else felt bad about that.

A bachelor party turns nightmarish in Kate Folk’s “Tahoe” on Joyland San Francisco.