I must confess Mark Fine is one of my favorite indie author’s. I further confess his short story contribution to Twisted Tales, Karmic Odds, is one of my favorite stories in the collection. With the same adept use of prose he shows in his full length novel, The Zebra Affaire, Fine weaves a tale that is both compelling and disturbing.
Beginning with an easy pace, relating the trials and tribulations of a rather unpleasant marriage, Fine sets the tone for the story. From Roxanne’s first vitriolic outburst at long suffering Gerhard I wanted to smack her in the head. Unlike the poor man’s cheerful mother, Roxanne makes dinner time an Olympic event in castration by words; a contest Gerhard is doomed to lose. Escaping from her viper’s tongue Gerhard travels back in time to a memory that begins pleasantly before turning to a more disturbing recollection.
This is where Mark Fine spins his best magic web. He has a knack for bringing the past to life, embracing the reader with vibrant historic events, making his reader comfortable in the membrane of notable occurrences. Gerhard may have had loving parents in post war Germany but his happy if simple life is turned upside down when he is forced to leave his family behind and travel across the sea to the United States. It is in the golden west, with its sunny beaches and fifties rock and roll that Gerhard meets his future bride, Roxanne.
Roxanne’s “chameleonesque” personality may have sent up warning flags but like many men who have succumbed to beauty and the attentiveness of a stunning woman, Gerhard pushed his reservations aside. He made the “beach-tinted” “breath of fresh air” his wife.
It would seem at this point the story would have a happily ever after conclusion but that is not to be. This is the story of a woman who is both superstitious and greedily demanding and her foreign born brow beaten spouse. It is the tale of lucky numbers and lottery tickets. It is the account of a man who sets a juicy trap for a conniving bitch. The conclusion of this story is as delicious and sweet as the Slurpee Gerhard consumes at the local 7-11.
Kudos to Mark Fine for not only driving the knife in to the hilt but twisting it skillfully and making me almost jump up and shout out “hurray”! Upon completion of reading this short story I was able to sit back and smile with the satisfying comment, “Karma is a bitch”.