From his collection, Between Cloud and Horizon (Texas Review Press, 2013), Colin Fleming writes of relationships. "Terry from the Cape" gets the collection rolling and it's a story about the relationship between a father, Jackson (Jax) and his son, Rory. It begins the summer after the woman in their lives passed away from a brain tumor, rather suddenly. Things are a little stilted between them as they're both trying to hold everything together for the other ("My son Rory and I held each other wordlessly in the post-op waiting room.") They head from Connecticut to the Cape for the summer while Jackson waits for a new position (he's a doctor himself) to begin. It is there, at the Cape, that they meet the Terry from the title of the story.
Fleming gets all of the little things right in this story--the fact that Terry is the kind of guy that has earned Hall-of-Fame status as a late-night caller to a Sports Talk Station is not simply slid into the work as a means to move it forward. It's handled with strength getting every single aspect of that portion of the story as accurate as possible--the on-air talent, the producer, the regular caller--they're all depicted perfectly. As are the little bits included about Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who came from the Boston area. Also, the bits of gossiping done in a small town setting--this and the dialogue at the town diner all feel very real--not stilted, or forced, but read aloud sound like real conversations.
To me, it's important that these little aspects are done right, as it means that Fleming most likely got the clamming details right--something I know NOTHING about. He probably got details about the Cape correct as well. And everything else that I'm not overly familiar with, as a reader I feel confident that he nailed because those aspects of his story that I am familiar with outside the pages...dead on accurate.
And the story goes beyond its details. It's heartwarming without being saccharine. It captures loss and the struggle to get over such in a way that draws the reader into feeling that loss. It's a great opening to this collection.