You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on the characters in the story Cake Walk, the fourth short story in Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam. This book is coming to book stores in February of 2009, but if you’ve been following things around here, I’ve been giving a little taste of the each story. It’s important to look at the collection as a whole and each of the individual stories as chiseled pieces of stone, each their own work of art. So far we’ve been out in the wilderness of Australia, I’m guessing here, somewhere outside a huge city that has up to this point been folding in on itself. Now we now there has been a plague of some kind, and everyone is more or less sick, the mortality rate is like Russian Roulette, very high.
Margo and her trusty boyfriend are living off the grid and completey alone in the middle of some place. Every morning they take stock of what they don’t have and what little they have left and Margo goes out to find something, anything. This lovely tent bound couple met when they were both ripping off the same store in the city, and decided to share an apartment on the twentieth floor of a building in downtown. No elevators made their choice like a fortress. They’re thieves, making it in a world of the sick any way they can. One morning out in woods, in this story it all seems barren, like the moon with sunlight, a stranger comes to camp while Margo is out, and he is very sick.
As always, and like all the other stories, Amsterdam’s voice is tight and crisp, no fat on these stories, and no wasted thoughts. Margo is a strong woman making her way in a world where she might be the next meal. The longer you look for something the greater the chance that you’ll find it. Cake Walk means just that; like this one is easy for our main characters, but there just part of the bigger picture that sadly is falling out of focus. Permanently.