Monday, January 31, 2005

A Man's Gotta Do by Patricia Harrington

"A Man's Gotta Do" by Patricia Harrington, Hardluck Stories, Winter 2005

This story takes place during the Depression and follow a man and his family when they make the move from Kansas to California. The family moves into a run-down motel on the outskirts of Hollywood run by a man named Petrilleo who is, in turn, run by his shrew of a wife..

The man from Kansas (known from here on out as The Man since he is never named) is a man of some skill as a handyman. He offers to fix the motel up in exchange for the room he and his family occupy. It is an arrangement that seems to suit both parties.

Time goes on and the motel gets into better and better shape thanks to The Man. Then one day Mr. Petrilleo decides that he needs to put in a swimming pool. He asks if The Man can do it himself. The Man, being a poor Kansas farmer, has never even seen a swimming pool, but he figures he can do it. So Mr. Petrilleo gets a loan from the bank, and The Man builds his pool. Of course there are some nefarious motives involved, and The Man sees opportunities. As he says himself, "I may have been raised on a farm, but I wasn't raised a fool."

Ms. Harrington does a bang-up job evoking the atmosphere of the Depression. Her characterizations of The Man and Mr. and Mrs. Petrilleo are equally skillful. I particularly liked the ending.

In short, well written and easy to read.