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Skels

 

 

 

This is one of the original mock-ups for the cover of Skels, by the artist and paramedic Lucy Winton.

 


 

When Orlie Breton shows up in June of 1979 to work as a paramedic in New York City’s 911 system, she finds herself plunged into a violent and magical world, populated by medics who are not terribly different from the homeless people—the “skels”—who comprise most of their patient population. On a call in an underground encampment one night, she meets an albino man, a street poet/musician, and the brother of a man whom she has just pronounced dead in one of the caves. She witnesses his encounter with a brutal, possibly psychotic cop, and, as she moves through her first summer as a medic, their paths cross again and again. She falls in love with the albino’s writing; the poems he leaves scrawled on walls and bridges, and begins to find her own voice as a writer. Then one night he leads the cop on a chase that ends in tragedy; the cop falls down an abandoned airshaft, and only Orlie performing an illegal medical procedure as he lies dying in a storm drain saves his life. He awakens bent on vengeance, and the albino becomes a wanted man. In her struggle to save him, Orlie uses everything she’s learned that summer, and finds that there is a magic around her that she never suspected; a river flowing from the great writers of the past directly into her world, a river she can use to ferry the albino to safety.

 

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