I’m tired this morning.
Yeah, I know. Same old same old for one now officially fifty-seven year old Gregalicious. Bouchercon looms on the horizon and I still need to read two more books to be up to speed on my Best Paperback Original Anthony panel; and I have a lot of writing and editing to do before I leave so I can go with a clear conscience and not do a fucking thing while I am in St. Petersburg.
I really can’t wait for that week off…
A mild cold front passed through overnight, so today is hot and sunny but not humid. Which is lovely, and has helped my mood. I had a bit of a sinus headache this morning, actually, because of the dramatic shift in the barometric pressure, and wound up having to take a Claritin, which I haven’t had to do as much this summer.
Heavy heaving sigh.
The next story in Florida Happens is Brendan DuBois’ “Breakdown.”
BIO: Award winning mystery/suspense author Brendan DuBois is a former newspaper reporter and a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife Mona, their hell-raising cat Bailey, and one happy English Springer Spaniel named Spencer. He is also a one-time “Jeopardy!” game show champion, and is also a winner of the game show “The Chase.” He has published over twenty novels, and has had more than 120 short stories published in such magazines as Playboy, Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, as well as in numerous original short fiction anthologies. In 1995, one of his short stories — “The Necessary Brother” — won the Shamus Award for Best Short Story of the Year from the Private Eye Writers of America, and the PWA also awarded him the Shamus in 2001 for his short story, “The Road’s End.” He has also been nominated three times — most recently in 1997 — for an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his short fiction. One of his short stories in 1997 was also nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year. In 2010, the readers of Deadly Pleasures and Mystery News awarded him the Barry Award, for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year, for his story “The High House Writer,” which was published in the July/August 2009 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He also won the Barry Award in 2007 for for his story “The Right Call,” which appeared in the September/October 2006 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. In 2005, he received the Al Blanchard Crime Fiction Award for Best Short Crime Fiction Story at the fourth annual New England Crime Bake, a mystery convention organized by the New England Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. This short story, “The Road’s End,” appeared in the Windchill crime anthology, published by Level Best Books.
His short stories have also been extensively anthologized, including the 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1995 editions of The Year’s Best Mystery & Suspense Stories, published by Walker Books, as well as the 1995 and 1997 editions of Year’s 25 Best Mystery Short Stories and the 1997, 1999, 2001 and the 2003 editions of Best American Mystery Stories, published by Houghton Mifflin. In addition, his short fiction has also been reprinted in the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 editions of The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, published by Forge.
An anthology of his short fiction, The Dark Snow and other Mysteries, was published in 2001 by Crippen & Landru press of Virginia. This was followed by a second anthology, Tales from the Dark Woods, published by Five Star.
His stories have also appeared in two short story anthologies published in Germany as well as in South Africa and Japan.
“Breakdown” by Brendan DuBois
It had been a long, long time since Ruth Callaghan had suffered a flat tire while driving, so it came as a bit of a surprise when it happened. She wasn’t familiar with the Toyota Rav 4 she was driving, and so when the tire let loose, instantly there was a heavy vibration in the steering wheel and the car, which had been driving smooth and fair, was now lurching to the right.
She slowed and pulled the Toyota over to the side of the road. She checked her watch, and also checked the Rav’s dashboard clock.
Both said the same thing. She had about forty-five minutes to go before she had to make her appointment.
Not forty-four. Not forty-six.
Ruth got out of the car and went to the rear. The right rear tire certainly was flat.
“Damn.” She wiped at the back of her neck. It was hot. It was incredibly hot.
She looked around at her surroundings. She was outside of Miami, in a wooded and flat area that had seen better times, just like the old industrial sections she had earlier driven through. Decades ago those factories had made comfortable livings for hundreds of families. Now, they were broken, shattered, making comfortable homes only for the homeless or rogue animals living out in the wild Florida landscape.
Like one of her instructors had said, years back, systems break down if they aren’t carefully cherished and maintained.
The thing I love about Brendan’s stories is you never are quite sure where they are going; he is a master of misdirection and always manages to lead the reader down the wrong path and BAM! There’s a surprise twist–but they are never out of place, and once you’ve arrived at the twist, when you look back you can see exactly how the twist was foreshadowed all along. “Breakdown” is a terrific story, about a woman on her way to an appointment who blows a tire in front of a strange house and has to change it so she can make it on time. As she works on the tire, she observes some strange behavior at the house by its inhabitants–she’s even snapped at by one of them in an incredibly rude way–and then the story changes direction and delivers a terrific pay-off.
And now back to the spice mines.