Up ahead the five men stood still. They were shoulder to shoulder, but not quite touching. They looked like a singing group, about to start up with a tune. Like a barbershop quartet, plus one. Maybe an alto, two tenors, a baritone, and a bass. In which case the bass would be the guy in the center.
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The knee was any heavy guy’s weak spot. A knee was a knee. A humble joint. It was what it was. It didn’t get bigger and stronger just because a guy chose to spend a whole semester lifting weights. It just got more and more stressed.
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“It’s not actually a firebreak. Mark’s grandfather cleared it for a different purpose. To keep the inner forest primeval. It’s a seed break, really, not a firebreak. It runs all the way around. Doesn’t matter which way the wind is blowing. Invasive species can’t make it across. ”
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“ He said he couldn’t remember because birthdays weren’t important to him . He didn’t see why he should be congratulated for getting another year closer to death . ”

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