Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Venus in Transit by Chick Lang

Venus in Transit” by Chick Lang, Hardluck Stories, Spring 2005

A young man meets a woman in a bar. They are total opposites, but he can’t get enough of her. Leah is the dominant one, leading him around by his dick. The night they meet she picks the pocket of practically every man in the place. When they wake up the next morning, he discovers that she has picked his pocket as well. She hands him his wallet with $2,000 in it. His share of the night’s proceeds, she says.

Even though the two of them constantly fight, he can’t bring himself to break away. They stayed together for months, robbing, conning, thieving every easy mark that came along, and some not so easy. He keeps thinking he should leave her, but she dominates him totally.

Suddenly she decides she wants to rob a bank. Even though he has grown increasingly uncomfortable with their way of life, he goes along as she knew he would. She has what sounds like a good plan. He bought a disposable car that they will use for the robbery and to get them back to a place to switch to their normal car. She leaves him an envelope just before he drops her off in front of the bank. She says it is her last will and testament, just in case something goes wrong. He isn’t supposed to open it unless she doesn’t show up at the appointed time and place.

As he waits for her he has to fend off anxiety, a couple of passing vagrants and the temptation to open the envelope. Finally the time comes, and she is nowhere to be seen. He follows the plan, and heads back to switch cars. What he finds there and in the envelope Leah left him make the end consistent with what has gone before.

To be honest I almost didn’t get past the first sentence, and the next three paragraphs were a real struggle. Much too “literary” for my taste. It felt like dressing in a paper tuxedo to attend a frat party.

Aside from that, it was a pretty good story. The main character, unnamed, was consistent throughout, as was Leah. The contents of her note struck exactly the right tone for her, and the viewpoint character’s reaction to that note was inevitable.

In short, if you can get through the first four paragraphs without throwing up, it’s a decent story.