Note: I can’t jam out novels nearly as fast as I’d like, so in between the longer books, I’ll post these little short story reviews.
“‘Scuse Me, While I Kiss the Sky” is a short story by longtime dark fantasy/macabre writer David Niall Wilson. It’s included in his short story collection Defining Moments (nominated for the Bram Stoker award), and it’s also for sale solo in multiple formats at the Macabre Ink Publishing store here.
Old Mill, North Carolina is a rural, low-income town that could actually exist anywhere in America. If you don’t go away to college, there’s really nothing to do except find a job that can keep food in your mouth and a roof over your head. Some readers might not know what I mean when I say there’s really nothing to do, but that is exactly what I mean. No mall, probably no movie theater, definitely no ice-skating rink, paintball range, or Build-a-Bear workshop. In the case of Old Mill, the military base that was probably the biggest employer in the county closed down and, at the opening of the story, is overgrown and falling apart.
Every town like this has a few people who want to move on to bigger, if not always better, things, and Jess is one of them. He makes plans to leave, but grudgingly agrees to attend one last party with his friends because he hears there is going to be some awesome marijuana available there. He plans to acquire some, then leave town and sell it for some income while he’s on the road. I smiled when I read the description of “The Swamp” – a barn in the woods, whose owner nobody seems to know, in and around which youths congregate to break the law in various ways. If, in your own youth, you’ve frequented such a place (like I have), you’ll especially appreciate the small details the author includes.
I’m not sure if this was the intent, but I thought the ultimate ending of “Kiss the Sky” was a happy one. Jess is forced to make a decision about the direction of his life and what he really wants, and he steps up smoothly. Leonard, Jess, and Mabel all have complicated personalities that jump off the page (or screen!).
The bottom line: Not everyone will consider the subject matter of this story their cup of tea, so if you’re sensitive you might want to skip it. If you don’t mind a raw story with both guts and soul, please don’t miss this one.