Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Rewards by Steve Weddle

What can I say about Steve Weddle? Steve is this all-around good guy that seems to have a knack for helping people. He's kind and witty, yet serious enough when he's kidding around to not know if he's really kidding around or not. Intimidatingly kind? Anyway, he's also one hell of a writer.  If I had to describe his writing in one word I'd probably use the word... *thinks super hard* musically hypnotic? Okay, that's two words. But you get the idea. There is music in the words he's writing... or at least you can feel the emotional pulls and pushes of his characters in each story that he tells (and if I had a musical degree I'd compare this to a symphony or something, but I don't so... I won't).  I'm talking about the emotional pull you get when you're reading about the hard-core mobster that tugs at your heart one minute while he's professing his duty to protect children, and then holding your chest and squeezing your eyes shut the next minute as said mobster takes a baseball bat to a child predator with such realism that you find yourself wiping away blood spatter from your face. And, yes, I'm assuming this has happened to all of us... you know, read something so real that you just knew you were actually there witnessing it?

Steve writes like that.

All the time.  

And this "musically hypnotic" writing can be found in the story he was kind enough to contribute to the Feeding Kate anthology. The Rewards is an incredibly realistic and hypnotic tale of a family gathering with one too many awkward moments. Moments I think we can all relate to... cringe-worthy even.   In fact, it's almost like he's pulled a memory from my brain and shared it with the world.  So weird.

Steve pulling memories from my brain...

The Rewards

When my wife said we’d been invited to meet some family and visit the DC zoo, I had no idea how costly a night it would become.

We live close enough to DC that we can toodle in for a day trip to the zoo or the Smithsonians and then toodle our way back home after dark.

Her family connections were staying over in Bethesda, so they thought we all might want to stay in the same hotel, enjoy the pool the night before, have dinner close by. Sounded great.

The hotel has an indoor pool, which is kinda fancy. When I was a kid, we went to a family reunion (some distant family relations) in a Holidome. It was a Holiday Inn, but in a dome. They had indoor pools. And shuffleboard. At which, I must say, I showed considerable sports prowess, as you might expect.

In Bethesda, my wife’s cousin had made reservations for us at the restaurant in the hotel. Which is fine. I didn’t know whether it was Denny’s, as this wasn’t the LaQuinta, but I figured it would be fine.

I’d never eaten at a Morton’s Steakhouse before. I’m more a Western Sizzler kind of guy. Actually, I’m more of a Bonzana fan, but I haven’t seen one of those in a while. Big baked potato and an iceberg salad. Jello cubes in a too-small bowl. An overcooked piece of beef I’d misordered. Ah, Bonanza.

We got to Morton’s and headed for our table. Only, it wasn’t a table. It was a room. The room I describe in the FEEDING KATE story I wrote, “The Rewards.” While much of the story – the in-laws, the psychic assaults, the baby problem – was fictionalized, the setting was pulled from our Morton’s visit fairly whole cloth, as it were. Even the desertion of the women as the check arrived was real-ish.

That setting helped me find the story for “The Rewards,” that terrible awkwardness in the face of family stress, that subterranean conflict cracking through.

I have never paid so much money for future poo-poo in my life. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll never have to again. But I could, without the difficulty faced by the poor guy in my story. If I were a better man, I could tell that the next day I dedicated myself to funding a food bank for the hungry. I didn’t. Instead, the positive that followed is that I spent the entire day at the zoo and never once complained about how expensive their $7 hamburgers were.

Steve Weddle grew up on the Louisiana/Arkansas line, holds an MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University, and currently works for a newspaper group. He lives with his family in Virginia. His novel COUNTRY HARDBALL will be published by Tyrus Books in November 2013. The book is set for simultaneous release as hardback, paperback, ebook, and audio book.

Feeding Kate: A Crime Fiction Anthology is available from Amazon. All proceeds from Feeding Kate benefit the Lupus Foundation of America.


Sabrina E. Ogden said...

I love this story in Feeding Kate, Steve. Thanks so much for being my guest today. I'm looking forward to reading Country Hardball... it's gonna be awesome!

Steve Weddle said...

Thanks for hosting this. FEEDING KATE is a fantastic collection of talent and I'm thrilled as hell to be in there.

Anonymous said...

I was trying to describe Steve this morning, actually. "Literary, with the lyricism and big words and quiet personal drama, but hangs out with too many gunslingers and bank robbers to get housed with Hemingway."

I think you did it better, Sabrina.

printman said...

Looking forward to the book.