I first read Kyle Minor in 2013, when I enjoyed his collection of stories “In the Devil’s Territory,” and was immediately taken with his style and black humor in the story “The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Party.” Then later I wrote a brief review of the other stories in the book. So, after purchasing the 2014 anthology, The New Black, I was happy to see that it included a story by him and added it to my roster for Deal Me In.
Its turn came up in week 25, when I drew the Jack of Spades – a dark card for a very dark story.
Jack of spades pic found at: http://www.world-wide-art.com/Trevor_Mezak/Jack_of_Spades/vaid34034.html
If you’d like to see my entire story roster for 2015 – with links to my posts on stories I’ve read – it is here. if you’re curious about the Deal Me In challenge, there is a passable explanation of it here.
The Truth and All Its Ugly is the story of Danny’s father/Penny’s ex-husband, who also happens to be our unnamed first person narrator. It seems he and Penny and Danny were briefly a happy little family unit, but by the time we join the story, Penny is gone (“Penny kept saying she was going to leave and stay with her sister in town. She said it enough that we stopped believing her, but the last time she said it, she did it.”) and our narrator has drifted into a life of prescription drug abuse where “the days and nights go by fast” with “little cause to tell one from another.” Their home has become ripe for a visit by Child Protective Services and was “eighteen kinds of mess, some we’d made, and some that had just kind of grown while we weren’t paying attention.”
For their situation, they conveniently blame Penny. She is, after all, absent and thus not able to defend herself. The narrator’s bitterness about Penny’s departure infects Danny as well, and when he hears that a friend knows where Penny really is, he comes up with a plot to hurt her. En route to the execution of his plans, however, he thinks of an even better way…
Based on the illustration on the story’s first page, and a couple other foreshadowing events (my favorite being when Danny & the father haul Penny’s mother’s pink-painted upright piano out into the lawn and take axes to it) made me suspect that Penny would meet a gruesome end in this story, but things got a lot more complex than that – AND I wouldn’t want to spoil things any further for anyone who wishes to read it.
Speaking of which, if you’d like to invest in the Richard Thomas-edited anthology, “The New Black,” an e-version of it may be purchased at Amazon for a bargain price of $4.99
I still have two more stories from this anthology remaining to be drawn from my 2015 deck too. Michaela Morissette’s “The Familiars” and Craig Wallwork’s “Dollhouse.” The other stories that I’ve already covered in 2015’s Deal Me In challenge are Roxane Gay’s “How” and Benjamin Percys “Dial Tone.”
While reading, I was reminded of the infamous late-19th century American ax-murder of the Bordens allegedly by their daughter Lizzie (who WAS acquitted of the crime, by the way), which became immortal due to the following rope-skipping(!) rhyme:
“Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.”
The piano smashing passage called to mind a favorite scene in the cult comedy classic film, “Office Space,” where Peter and crew take an offending printer out into the field and smash it to bits. “PC Load Letter?!?!”