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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

Work Like Any Other

Virginia Reeves


The electrical transformers that would one day kill George Haskin sat high on a pole about ten yards off the northeast cor­ner of the farm where Roscoe T Martin lived with his family. There were three transformers in all, and they stepped down electricity that belonged to Alabama Power, stepped it down to run on new lines along a farm fence, then on through the woods, then straight to the farmhouse and the barn. Roscoe built the transformers him­self. He built the lines. He did not have permission.

The idea for running in power arrived nearly a year before the power itself. He should've been eating dinner with his family, but he'd hurt his son and made his wife cry, so he was walking the cursed land his wife had forced him to. He took the path through the north corn to bring him close to the new power lines along Old Hissup Road. The corn was to his hips, still young, and the giant grasses brushed his fingers, a sickly feeling that set him shaking out his hands as if to unseat an insect. Of all the crops on his wife's land, corn was Roscoe's least favorite, something obscene in its size and growth, in its stalks and blades and seeds—everything too big.

His wife and son had been reading together on the sofa, an oil lamp on the tall table behind them lighting the pages. When he'd first courted the boy's mother, Roscoe had read with her, but she shared books with their son now.

They hadn't looked up when Roscoe came into the room.