Thursday, January 20, 2005

Club Dead

"Club Dead" by Rhys Bowen, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 2005.

Jorge is a waiter in an exclusive resort on the Mexican coast. A poor man with a family, he must subject himself each day to the indignities heaped upon him by ill-mannered ricos. One in particular has lately aroused his wrath, a rude woman with a propensity for stuffing too much body into too little swimming attire.

Every day Jorge works surrounded by wealth and an abundance of food, much of which gets thrown away. Each night he returns home to his poor house where his two sons subsist on a diet of tortillas and beans. One night he can stand it no more. He takes an almost untouched chicken that had been discarded and hides it in his clothes. On the walk from the clubhouse to the compound gate (it's a long way) he loses his nerve. Sometimes the guards search the employees as they leave. Stealing food means instant dismissal. He decides the risk isn't worth the gain and throws the chicken into the lagoon.

As soon as the chicken hits the water a huge crocodile lunges out of the water and swallows the chicken. Jorge is shocked. He thought all the crocs had been cleared out during the resort's construction. This incident gives him an idea about how he can exact his revenge without anything tracing back to him. He puts the plan into action, and everything progresses as expected. Until the final scene.

The story is well written and easy to read. Ms. Bowen made the setting feel authentic and the main character sympathetic. My only quibble is that I think the ending is too abrupt. I feel it could have been milked a little more, just a couple of sentences, to give it more impact.

In short, an enjoyable read.