|Author: M. Lori Motley
Author web: M. Lori Motley
Setting: anywhere, in the present day
Availability: In the anthology Elements of the Soul
Story: Wayne lives a life of squalor and of supporting himself by aiding with crimes. Although he is probably not bright enough to be the mastermind, he helps his friend, Frank, strip cars for hot parts. He bums money off his sister, Debbie, who keeps a filthy dog kennel. Debbie doesn't have many scruples about who buys her puppies.
Nothing disrupts this system until the night Frank brings in a Cadillac Escalade that belongs to a local bad boy known as Mad Dog, who is clearly higher up the food chain than either Frank or Wayne. Wayne is fearful and insists that Frank get rid of the car without demolishing it.
Although Frank is apparently successful, Wayne is sure that Mad Dog Hatcher knows they are connected with the temporary disappearance of the vehicle.
Commentary: "Summer Heat" successfully places us squarely in the middle of a hot summer in one of the backwaters of life. When she describes the crisp, dust-covered leaves around the junkyard, we can picture the scene. The people, their speech and actions fit smoothly into this setting.
The story explores the themes of guilt and personal responsibility. Although Wayne manages to stay one step removed from actually participating in the most serious crimes or bad decisions, he's right there in the center of the story. Is his attempt to escape it all effective? Is it even a valid means of escape?
Although I thought the ending was a little weak, "Summer Heat" certainly would lend itself to a discussion of appropriate behavior with teens. A lot of young people on the edges of making bad choices would probably identify with these characters.
Author info: M. Lori Motley's most prolific writing genres are sword & sorcery, contemporary and urban fantasy, horror, dark fantasy, comedic fantasy, and paranormal & fantasy romance.
Learn more about Lori at M. Lori Motley.
Language skills 6
Depth of meaning 6