Greg Shemkovitz. Sunnyoutside Press, $16 paperback (272p) ISBN: 978-1-934513-49-1
There are few places worse than a waiting room. Whether you’re waiting to see a doctor or just waiting to get your car fixed, it’s a terrible process. Best case scenario, you spend a bunch of money and return to homeostasis. Worst case scenario, whatever you’re trying to fix is beyond repair. Either way, you remain in a state of anxious indeterminacy until someone more knowledgeable than you (and you hope, as trustworthy) gives you the news.
This sense of anxiety and the desire for something better infuse Lot Boy by Greg Shemkovitz. Set in the bleak winter landscape of Buffalo, Eddie Lanning, son of “Big Pat” Lanning, spends his days at his father’s Ford dealership as the resident lot boy. Emptying the oil drums, sweeping the floor, detailing the cars, going on parts runs—all of these are the menial tasks that occupy the narrator’s day. He stomps around, full of rebellion and a bad attitude, wanting nothing more than escape—to get away from his crass and ill-tempered father, to get away from the drudgery of the dealership, to get away from the endless snowy fields and strip malls of Buffalo.
Each night, he only makes it as far as a joy rides around town in one of his father’s cars, occasionally getting picked up by the police. The opportunity for a more permanent escape presents itself in one of Spanky’s schemes, a mechanic whose catch phrase is “Shit’s fucked up, dude, you know?” They will order extra parts and sell them to one of Spanky’s associates, a terse man with linebacker goons. From the outset, it is obvious what a terrible idea this is.