But though he wanted desperately to kick the crap out of the crazy fucker, he wasn't sure he really wanted to escape.
I wonder if Little considered, and then rejected, variations like "He really wanted to kick the poop out of the fat crazy person" and "He sure wanted to kick the stool out of that portly loony toon" before picking the two versions you see above. Also, Brian wants to escape...or does he??
No, he, he doesn't. In the end, although the tubby person with a severe mental disorder does some pretty creepy things in the course of their time together, Brian decides that he's never felt more alive, however wrong or dangerous his newly chosen path might be. Because, you see, he believes that his co-workers have probably not even noticed that he's gone missing:
They'd be temporarily inconvenienced by his absence, would curse him for not being there to perform his regular duties, but they would not miss him.
They would not care enough to call and see if he was all right.
Yeah, because apparently you're a sociopathic loner! They're probably relieved you didn't show up with a gun!
The next story is called "The Show", and it's about a teenager whose parents are always fighting and drinking, and he just can't take it anymore, so when his friend invites him to come with him to this weird club where you can pay to witness a live murder, he says okay. Later on, though, he feels bad about it, and then something else bad happens.
That's your story, folks, and I wish I was kidding. Now, I'll admit, viewed as an outline, something good could easily come from that idea, but Little is content to simply go through the motions. I'm not quite sure what his first mistake is, but I think it might be the revelation that both our narrator and his friend witnessed a grotesque traffic accident when they were young, and each has been drawn towards violence ever since. As psychological insight, this is so rinky-dink that the story would have been better off without it -- at least then there would have been a hint of mystery. Little's biggest mistake, however, can be found in his attempts to depict the narrator's feelings about having paid to witness a murder. Here's what we get:
I felt filthy, unclean, covered with blood although none of the flying blood had touched me.
Merely seeing [Jimmy] again made me feel unclean...and my stomach started churning.
I could not imagine anyone wanting to sit through that butchery more than once.
I wondered how he slept at night. I wondered if he had nightmares.
Outside of a brief description of a nightmare the narrator has, that's literally it. That's the kind of creative power Bentley Little is willing to bring to the table here. It's as though he simply wrote down what he wanted to describe, rather than actually describing it. And that's his prose style, as best I've been able to tell.
Each story in The Collection is preceded by a brief introductory note from Little. Neither of the notes for the stories discussed here are worth mentioning, but there's another story in the book called "Blood", and here's what Little has to say about it:
Before I moved in with my wife, I lived on macaroni and cheese. I spent so much time standing in front of my stove, stirring pots of boiling macaroni, that I used to stare down into the swirling, roiling water and imagine that I could see shapes in the foam the way some people see shapes in clouds.
I decided to write a story about it.
How could you possibly resist the urge to keep reading after that? I didn't read the story he's selling so aggressively here -- and clearly I should have -- but I think that little introduction highlights a couple of things that somebody (an editor, maybe?) should try to impress upon Bentley Little. One is that not everything is a story idea, and the other, more importantly, is that a story idea does not count as a story. And stretching out a description of that idea to ten pages is not writing. You'd think someone would have thought to mention this to him at some point over the last nineteen years, but I guess not.