from Middle Men: Stories by Jim Gavin
S&S – 2/13

In the second story, “Bermuda”, we meet another down on his luck loser named Brian. He’s delivering meals on wheels, and paying $180 dollars in rent a month. It’s not that Brian is a loser in the biblical sense; just that he has no expectations for himself, and yet somehow we feel that he could be more than he is. Gavin’s writing here is clear and poignant, almost East of Eden-like in its sweeping majesty. I probably loved this story more than anything I’ve read in a long time.

Brian chases a girl he meets to Bermuda. When Brian departs he has twenty dollars in his pocket and a plane ticket that he got from selling a donated piano. I love the ends that he goes to, bottoms out, and goes a little further. Brian and his mashed potato sandwich friends are grinding towards the middle with a kind of ease that makes you wonder if they ever want to become more.

In a moment that is so inspired, a true and great scene, beyond great, Brian describes going to the beach with Karen, and when he asks to kiss her for the first time. They’ve been swimming in their underwear and Brian stares at her panties, she advises him that she doesn’t have a cock. I laughed and laughed. Then he asks for a kiss, and she grants it, and he thinks, “now is the time to kiss this cockless woman.” Again, I laughed and laughed. Brian is way more in love with Karen than she is with him, and it’s rather whimsical how he pines for her, and then lets it all go.

Gavin’s talents shine brightly in collection, and it’s hard to imagine a more magnetic bunch of characters than these regular guys, sometimes losers, and slippery women.