Finished Sean Beaudoin's first collection of 12 short stories for adults in 'Welcome Thieves' at the hair salon. I didn't know what to expect. Picked it up based on reviews that these are dark adult stories instead of erm his usual YA stuff.
The collection makes for a pretty good read. They spin tales of humans flawed and real. Some are disjointed, some are strange and all are dark stories of how not everyone has a happily-ever-after. Common themes tell of destruction of property and lives, missed opportunities and grime. (Reviews here, here and here.)
The first story 'Nick in Nine (9) Movements' totally hooked me in. It isn't quite the story of my life, but the struggle of teenagers in hardcore bands trying to get a music career going, young adults hitting the long road as traveling musicians, shitty band names Lewinsky Rescue and Torrentials, struggling with bills and adulthood. In the end, at thirty years old, Nick (then became Nikki) and Duffy's lives are still screwed over by luck and destiny before fortune finally smiles on Duffy, but not Nikki. Perhaps bad decisions. Oh well. That's life. I feel them.
Duff says that Nikki has to move to Brooklyn. Has to bring his killer bass tone. "The plan is to slay New York first, then hit Japan, and eventually own all of music itself."There are whiffs of steps 4 through 7. There is the unmistakable resonance of true belief. Tara listens to Nikki's half of the conversation, rolls her eyes. Tara leans over his back, says, No way. Tara says, Thanks for nada. Tara says, Don't let him do this to you again.Nikki says thanks for nada."Wait, for real?" Duff says, preclick."I'm so proud of you," Tara says, pulls Nikki onto the bed. Later they go to Blockbuster and rent Juno, split a bottle of cabernet, open a second one but leave it on the counter. Eight months later Nikki sees Duff windmilling power chords next to Paul Shaffer, getting the band nod from Letterman.Give it up, ladies and gentlemen, for the Torrentials!
'Base Omega Has Twelve Dictates' tells us about how survivors band together as a little 'town' in a fenced-in parking lot after the apocalypse wrought by presumably radiation. That parking lot is named 'Base Omega'. It talks about how Nick Drake and protagonist Krua try to escape the compound but failed. They are caught and punished. Nick is turned into stew (yup, mild cannibalism exists) and Krua has one hand chopped off. Krua then resigns herself to life in Base Omega, as a Keeper of the Dictates, i.e the 12 sacrosanct rules of the compound. Of which Number 12 states "No one leaves Base Omega. Ever."
It turns out the best possible weapon in the future is a sharpened length of galvanized pipe. Preferably about five feet long. The key to dystopia combat is not Korean assault rifles or suppressing fire or slow-motion kicks, it's a Medium-Deep Puncture.
In the end, we are the thinnest of balloons filled with organy pudding, just waiting to be popped. Get stuck with a sharpened length of galvanized pipe and you might not die right away, but you will soon after. Sepsis sets in almost immediately. There's no surgery, no fighting off infection, no antibiotics, no wrapping of strips of dirty sheet around the wound and somehow it's fine the next day. It's infected the next day. It's gangrene the day after that.
Get poked = you die.
The final story in the collection is the eponymously titled 'Welcome Thieves'. A tension between a contraband electronics deal gone wrong and a blossoming relationship. The protagonists are probably college students hilariously named Adam and Eve. We see the development of their relationship that began in a pool hall. At the same time, Adam has somehow pissed off a stolen goods dealer Bruce Parsley 'BParse69', and ends up on his hitlist. Adam tries to keep his romance and relationship going, accompanies Eve to her estranged sister's wedding in Vegas, and not breathing a word of what happens. We see the happenings through his 'Dear Gabriel' letters, of which he signs off as 'Uncle Adam'. Gabriel exists, and is the son of his half-sister Beth. He did promise to email the kid who's been a bit of a firestarter at school. The rain at the wedding seemed to be metaphorical for his entire life being washed away as Parsley cleaned out his apartment.
Well, I got nothing to go home to now. I'm a man without a campus or country. Which would be a good title for a book but a bad line for a headstone. Anyway, I guess I'll try somewhere new. Here? There? Who cares? All you really need in life is one friend. I have one friend. Her name is Eve. Go ahead and make your jokes, get them out of the way. Adam and Eve. Lucy and Ricky. Kanye and tits. Sometimes perfect symmetry p0rtends unearned privilege and random birth defects, but in our case, perfect, uncut kismet.