BY: GUINOTTE WISE
Wise’s first collection of short stories, the award-winning Night Train, Cold Beer, was blunt, honest, cinematic. This collection, Resume Speed, is also visually keen, and each story gives you the impression of having entered a town where, though the city limit sign welcomes you, something is amiss. As each story ends, you punch the accelerator to get to the next. From noir to ironic, flash fiction to longer form, Resume Speed is an odyssey of exceptional storytelling. “I’ll just give you a warning this time. Have a nice day,” as the cop behind the mirrored sunglasses might say.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Resume Speed by Guinotte Wise, we are treated to a number of short stories from the suspenseful and thought-provoking to the strange and unusual. The stories run the gambit from romance to mystery to time travel and the paranormal. A few of the stories even deal with the same characters as in Wise’s latest book Ruined Days, giving us more insight into the lives of Travis, Cobb, and Reno Pete.
The stories are all well written and immensely entertaining, the perfect book to take along on a trip or even just an appointment, or any place you may have a few spare minutes to indulge in a little fun.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Resume Speed by Guinotte Wise is a collection of short stories from the mind of the man who crafted Ruined Days. All I can say is he has quite an imagination. There are nineteen stories in all, ranging from thrillers, to humorous, to paranormal, to romance. In fact, a couple of the stories expound on the story in Ruined Days, telling us more about those characters and even referencing some of the events in the novel. I love it when authors do that, as it makes the novel seem so much more authentic. While the stories are all different, they are all thought-provoking and have the flavor of daily life for the average man or woman, struggling to survive in a hostile world and, occasionally, seeing the humor when the unexpected occurs.
The writing is superb, as usual, and the stories are so interesting that you’ll want to keep the book on your shelf to read selected ones over and over again, whenever you don’t have a lot of time and really need a smile, or an escape from reality.
ARGO AND THE SIRENS
In June of 1955, on a humid Thursday, Brad Eastwood walked over to Elmer Apple’s table at The Sportsman Cafe in Madill, Oklahoma, his hard hat in his hand.
“Elmer. Mr. Apple’s six foot under and good for him.”
“Elmer.” Brad introduced himself. “Me and my friend got shit-canned over at Worthington for not putting up with the foreman, Curry, anymore, and–”
“What form did this not putting up with him take?”
“Form. Oh. I knocked him asshole over teakettle off the bank and into Lake Texoma. Shallow enough where he landed but he was wet. Angry.”
“Why did you do that?”
“He come at me after he called my friend George a nigger and I told him to shut up or put up.”
Elmer wiped his mouth with a napkin and turned in his chair to face Brad. Elmer’s expression was earnest and he gave Brad his full attention. “Why did he call your friend a nigger?”
“Well–” Brad smiled slightly. “–he told George to hurry up and George says ‘I only got two speeds and if you don’t like this one, I know you ain’t gonna like the other one.’”
Elmer laughed. “What can I do for you?”
“I was wondering if you had any spots open on your core-drilling rig.”
“For George of the two speeds, and you of the ready fists.”
“I’ll try you both out. Be at the low cutbank on the Oklahoma side at 7:30. I’ll pick you up in the Lone Star then.”
Elmer ran Tulsa Testers, a core-drilling outfit, and technically, he worked for Worthington Construction, so Brad and George would, technically, be working for their previous employer.
The barge was fifty by forty with two rigs on it, each with Mission mud pumps, and they drilled into the basin of Lake Texoma from the barge, bringing up cylindrical sample after sample from various depths in the rock. The lake was about 100 feet deep in the middle. On the sides of the barge was stenciled, white paint mingling with the rust, ARGO. It was named for the ship that Jason sailed after the golden fleece in Greek mythology, Elmer told them, as he often drilled for black gold when not in testing mode. Elmer called those who worked on his barge, Argonauts. “When people ask what it means, you can tell them that, or the more common answer,” he said with a laugh.
The barge was moved every week and secured by thick cables at all corners to concrete “dead men.” The lake itself was a mile across where the bridge was being built from the Oklahoma side to Texas, and the core testing would last several months before they moved on. Maybe Brad and George would do well enough to move with Tulsa Testers. Elmer told them he’d make roughnecks of them if they were willing workers, that it was just like the oil patch, the testing work, and though it was a hard dollar it was a glorious dollar.
The next morning they were ready, with their thermoses and lunchboxes. Elmer waved from the ARGO far out in the lake, and they could see him starting the outboard on the little aluminum boat tied to the side of the barge, the sun flashing on his driller’s hard hat. The hat looked old fashioned compared to the short-billed hard hats George and Brad wore, like a WWI helmet, only aluminum. Brad thought maybe they’d get to wear driller’s hats if they did well enough, proved themselves.
They carried pipe from a neat pile and threaded sections in place, one after another, chain-wrench tightened it, then another. This went on until noon, at which time they broke for lunch under the shade of a canvas sheet on a box frame, open at the sides to the breeze. The barge was constantly moving, it seemed at first, but now they were used to it, their centers having picked up the nuances of the lake’s various moods.
“George,” said Elmer.
George looked up from his thick ham and egg on white, smiled.
“Your speed is fine.”
George and Brad laughed. Elmer made a fist at Brad, and they laughed again.
After lunch, they downed cups of water at the Igloo and Elmer pointed out the container of salt tablets. Elmer went to measure diesel fuel. Brad noticed the men on the Texas side moving toward the reinforcing steel they were tying, and used Elmer’s binoculars for a closer look. Curry was standing off from the men eying the barge, fists on his hips, legs spread.
“C’mere,” Brad said to George. He pointed out Curry, then started doing a tap dance, with his hand in a salute at his forehead. George joined him. Curry could see their crazy silhouettes dancing. He turned and strode off.
Elmer said, “Boys, I think there’s a no-shit storm brewing over west.”
They looked. A dirty gray curtain of clouds and rain was forming an anvil about a mile away. They rushed to chain down the loose pipe, tie down whatever would roll or be lost from the barge in rough water. By the time they finished, it was too late to get to shore in the Lone Star, the waves swamping it.
“Sorry, boys, we can only tie ourselves to the rigs, now. Hope for the best,” Elmer yelled above the rain.
© 2016 by Guinotte Wise