The Cortland Review brings a new short story, "G.O.D. Live in Concert", from Robert Kerbeck. It's another author I've not had the pleasure of reading before whose first effort I now have is one that I enjoyed. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for future work from him.
Taking his thirteen-year-old son to see G.O.D. hadn't been Tom's idea. His soon-to-be ex had roped him into it. Natalia said she wanted him to stay connected to Peter, despite their acrimonious divorce, complete with dueling restraining orders. A series of texts and two loud phone calls (she hung up on him once) were required to synchronize a neutral pickup spot, and then drop-off and pickup times spread far enough apart to ensure there weren't any violations.
opens the story and it's a nice, straightforward entry--Kerbeck gives the reader what is needed to get into the story. The next paragraph opens:
Tracey had made it too, herding a gaggle of thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls. Her daughter, Daisy, kept inviting more friends to see the boy band, and Tracey kept saying yes. The girls, all four of them, were a welcome distraction of unbundled energy and fresh-smelling hair. They reminded her of the first days of summer, carefree and almost, but not yet, hot. The audience was made up of similar-aged girls accompanied by their mothers. There were only a handful of boys and no men, except for one.
Which brings into play a woman to sit in front of Tom and set up a bit more about the concert itself. What happens from there is Kerbeck allowing the reader into both Tom and Tracey's heads as they notice each other, wonder about each other, consider their own situations while judging the other, range from attempted flirting right on up to actual flirting. Oh yes, there's also a monstrous amount of female rear-end being flashed in Tom's face as Tracey's new skinny jeans don't seem to quite hold up at the hipline.
I thought for about 95% or more of this story that Kerbeck simply nailed things. Great internal thoughts, just enough for the reader to know where things were going and guess how they might end up, etc.
There are great thoughts expressed--Tracey noticing Tom's leathery skin and wondering about his inability to use sunscreen; Tracey's internal complaints about the youth of today's poor manners; Tom's awareness of the young girls interest in his son, but not of Tracey's interest in him.
There were a couple of times I thought he added a bit more than was necessary--"(and into bed)" for instance--sort of nudging the reader after they've laughed and asking if they know what he's saying? But again, that happened maybe one or two times and it's something that I'm probably an overly picky reader for. I much prefer to concentrate on the rest of the story where again, I think Kerbeck really hit strong. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more of his work.