Comment and judge on this short story: Vacation

**The winner of WWBB’s short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**

Peter DeMarco

Henry tells the
twin girls he almost got hit by a bike.
They’re all over
the place, one says.
Like New York
City taxis, says Henry.
We’ve never been
to New York.
It’s being
cleaned up now.
The girls are in
Amsterdam on break from college in L.A. 
Henry asks if they’ve ever been on the Universal Studios tour.  That’s for tourists, they say.  But what if you like movies, he asks.  They tell him that when you’re from a place
that’s known for something, it doesn’t mean that much.
            I think I know what you mean, says
Henry.  I’ve never been to the Statue of
            That’s crazy, one of them says.
            See, we’re all tourists, Henry tells
            Outside, they smoke hash alongside a
            I haven’t ridden a bike since I had
an accident when I was a kid, says Henry. 
He points to his a scar on his forehead.
Someone told us
that there are a lot of bikes in the water.
Like a cemetery,
Henry says.
They smoke in
silence and stare at the water, as if the rippling current were a kind of
            What do you do back
home, they ask Henry.
            I go to the movies, he says.  So do you like movies, or am I asking another
stupid question.
            We like the old ones. 
            Like Charlie Chaplin, Henry asks.
            Whose that?
            He was a silent movie star.
            Not that old.  You know, from the eighties.
            Henry shakes his head. 
            The other twin asks him if he
travels a lot.  This is my first time
abroad, he says.
            Really.  You’re brave going by yourself.
            Not brave, just bored.
            The girls tell him that their
parents let them travel because it was their 21st birthday. 
            That’s sweet, Henry says.  Then he asks if they know how to say
goodnight in Dutch.  The girls shake
their heads.
            Henry waves goodbye and walks away.
            Henry visits a prostitute in the Red
Light District.         
            Once, I came home from school, he
tells her, and heard some weird chanting or something in the living room.  I peeked in and saw my mother and some
friends with the Pastor from our parish and they were talking, but it wasn’t
words, it was like mumbling.  My mother
was sick and they were trying to heal her. 
It scared me.
            I went back outside, Henry says, and
got my bicycle.  I pedaled really fast
and wasn’t paying attention, there were tears in my eyes, and I hit a tree.
            The prostitute strokes his hair as
if he were a prize mare.
            Later, Henry rents a bike and pedals
along the canals.  He thinks about the
abandoned bicycles the girls mentioned, sturdy new chrome that once sparkled in
the sun, now rusted and disfigured.  In
school, a teacher once told the class about the Pearl Harbor memorial, how you
could see the sunken ship just beneath the water.
            There is a resting place for
 Background Noise

Troubled young suburbanite Henry Walker is on a one-man mission to clean up his town, protect his property, and chase after fantasies of a better life ahead. From an alienated adolescent to a frustrated young adult, Henry encounters one disappointment after another. While suffering the loss of close family members and friends, desperately seeking companionship in the form of unconventional friendships, and becoming a victim of extreme bullying and violence, Henry ultimately becomes an outcast in the only town he knows. 

As Henry immerses himself in his past, memories become guilt, guilt becomes regret, and regret becomes obsession—until violence seems to be the only logical response.

Written as a collection of interwoven short stories, told in sparse, piercing prose, this haunting novel examines Henry Walker’s transformation from the misfit and the victim— to vengeful retaliator. But does the justice he metes out make him a popular hero or an enemy of the people? In razor-sharp prose reminiscent of Haruki Murakami, Peter DeMarco startles the mind while touching the heart.

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