Frankie’s review of “A Slice of the Adirondacks.”
Story 4 from A Slice of the Adirondacks and Other Capers.
Everyone knows the scenario. You make a new friend, or you have an old friend you want to hold onto, but how to keep in touch? What happens when someone drops the ball? Is it your turn to make contact, or theirs? Who’s the bad person?
Friendship is one of the greatest loves, Platonic. It’s free of the often volatility of romantic love, whose intensity that can breed suspicion. Friendship is known as a calmer, more rewarding, often more long-term affair. Your best friends can be with you for life, longer than many relationships, even longer than your family. The demands are few, the support long-term; plus you picked your friends, so presumably you enjoy their personality, their humor, their giving emotional support. They’re just fun to be around.
But throw in a little business, a little competitive spirit, and what have you got? Yup, a mixed metaphor, a ticking time bomb and recipe for absolute disaster. Such is it in the third story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes.
In “The Last Page of Friendship,” Judy and Soo are successful middle-aged women living the American Dream (big homes, families, money to spare). They live on the beautiful Bainbridge Island near Seattle. But they have reached a level where dissatisfaction creeps in, with only coffee mornings to complain how drab and predictable their lives have become. To gain attention, meaning, maybe a little fame, why not become writers?
Aside from the incredible difficulty of this pursuit, of making the world sit up and care, they don’t dwell too long on how it might affect their being pals. But it does…and badly. Check out my website to read the first page of “The Last Page of Friendship,” a horror story to put you off being a writer for life (and that’s a good thing).
Judy and Soo made the mistake of picking the same dream. That’s what makes friendship a combat sport — it works best when your circles intersect, but don’t completely overlap. Instead, their friendship turns inward, self-consuming, nasty. Toxic, as the Americans say. Who will get the upper hand? Write the best story? Resist not plagiarizing her friend’s story? Try and be the one to stay above ground a little longer? BFNs: best friends for never.
Who needs friends when you have best friends?
What is it about getting the last word? Sometimes people don’t care if they are right or wrong, or how much they hurt each other or themselves. Ending a conversation, or hurtful action, on a dismissive note is all they need. That’s why getting the last word is so important: it reinforces who you are, that you matter, and that your vision of the world is the true one. (To hell with someone else!)
Such is the case with the two characters, young professionals Danny and Meredith, in the second story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes. As the title suggests, who do you believe? It’s a ‘he said, she said’ situation. But doesn’t the person with the last word often get to re-write what happened? Isn’t history written by the victors, and the quieter, smaller voice, gets erased?
Danny and Meredith, old school fiends who lost touch during ‘the university years,’ meet up for a drink in a London pub. They were never romantically linked, but outside of the friendship circles of their younger days, dressed formally and working, and with a little alcohol in their bellies, perhaps now is good as time as ever. But do sparks fly, or signals get misread? Are they being friendly, too friendly, or just plain abusive?
And who do you trust? Who encourages whom? Who gets seduced, and who goes along for the ride? Everything looks so much worse in the morning, when explanations are needed, and self-justifications. Social shame can be a powerful force, not to mention having to text with the same person the morning after about the night before. Who wants that?
To see how far Danny and Meredith go in the battle of the sexes (and of whose story is to be believed), my website has the first page of “(He) Said, (She) Said.”
More importantly, will they talk again after the fact?
What is it about a man in a gray tie? The blandness, the dullness, the downright boring person behind the clothing item? Well, yes, but also the mystery, the possibility that they are not who they seem.
Such is it with the title story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes. The man in question is Dr. Sidney Holton, a chiropractor with a peculiar hobby behind his demure dress sense…he likes to provoke people. But not directly. He likes to visit auction houses and push up the prices, for fun, to make people buy things at elevated prices. It gives him a devious thrill.
There are consequences, of course, and escalation. First he meets a mysterious woman, Valerie Eden. She chats to him at the drinks table during a break in the bidding. She’s seductive, middle-aged like him, and very soon she’s sitting near to him as the auction restarts. Except she’s a distraction. What will happen to his hobby? Will he buy her something he can’t afford? Will he get stung by the auction house? Will she seduce him? To check out how deep Sidney gets into hot water, the first page of “The Man in the Gray Tie” is available on my website.
I see Sidney as one of life’s daredevils who has no conception that there are professional fraudsters and conmen out there, hiding in plain sight. He thinks he can roll up to any business or individual and have his fun, a selfish thrill that actually causes a little harm: that’s how he gets his pleasure.
But when the tables are turned, it’s not quite so much fun, is it?
Check out what happens to Sidney when he gets ‘backroomed.’ The boss of an auction house can be worse than the boss of a casino!
Matt Fullerty’s ‘Trio 1’ of criminally-minded short stories is publishing on Bonfire Night!
THE MAN IN THE GRAY TIE AND OTHER CRIMES
BY MATT FULLERTY
The Brits and Americans are as crazy as each other!
In three stories about fraud, sexual indecency and, of all things, plagiarism, Matt Fullerty has crafted three modern tales of danger, duplicity and escalating violence.
Will Doctor Sidney Holton escape a criminal gang running a secluded auction house in the English countryside? Will young city professionals Danny and Meredith agree to disagree about what happened on a fateful London night after drinking too many in the pub? Will middle-aged Seattle best buds Judy and Soo help each other get into print with the Great American Short Story—or will they just rip their typing nails into each other’s throats?
You guessed it. Sometimes, in British lives too, there are no second acts.
Matt Fullerty’s story collection The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (144 pp, $5.95/£3.95/€4.95) is released on November 5, 2015 by Parkgate Press / Dionysus Books. It forms Trio 1 of his nine story collection, Rising Apes, Falling Angels.
Patrick Willers, University of Michigan and Maxwell School, Syracuse University, says:
“‘The Man in the Gray Tie’ captures the anxiety of losing everything for a thrill. The whole premise is discomforting: the doctor despises his wife and gets his sensual thrills from bidding-up at random auctions, but just can’t curb his cunning fun. Story two, ‘(He) Said, (She) Said,’ conveys the awkwardly optimistic anticipation between two friends who meet for a drink—that game of Red-Light/Green-Light, that discomfort of ‘not knowing’ and being trapped in the ‘friend-zone.’ Finally, in a nod to Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Rope, ‘The Last Page of Friendship’ explores betrayal between best ‘frenemies,’ wannabe writers who try to control each other’s story, with horrific consequences.”
Dr. Dean Lawson, East Carolina University and the University of Alabama, says:
“The title story is reminiscent of an O. Henry story with the unexpected twists, also of the Roger Moore Bond movie Octopussy where Bond bumped up the price of a bogus Fabergé egg. The second story is a human sexual roller-coaster exploring the paradoxes of missed social cues, the characters hitting all the wrong notes in a story of guilt and shame. The third is my favorite, setting up a poisonous literary rivalry between old West Coast friends, and should be read with the lights off.”
Matt Fullerty lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and expanding family. The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes is Trio 1 of the criminally-minded short story collection Rising Apes, Falling Angels. Matt’s novels include The Knight of New Orleans about American chess prodigy Paul Morphy and The Murderess and the Hangman about hard-drinking Kate Webster who murdered her London landlady. His website is mattfullerty.com.
The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes is available to purchase at Buy Books.
To place orders for The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes, contact:
To arrange a book signing or interview, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The videos for Stories 1-3 are now live on YouTube. All three are viewable here on the Parkgate Press YouTube Channel. They are narrated by my slightly mad brother, Frankie. He’s even created his own corner for reviewing my stories, and called it, well, Frankie’s Corner.
Each video corresponds to the story from The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes, with a tag line that reflects that story’s theme. For example, Video 1 is titled “Have You Ever Gambled and Won Something You Couldn’t Afford?” since Story 1, “The Man in Gray Tie,” is about a man who fraudulently pushes the prices up at auctions. He gets what he deserves, but not before he wins something he couldn’t pay for….
Video 2 is titled “Have You Ever Crossed a Line of Decency You Shouldn’t Have?” and reflects the theme of consent in Story 2, “(He) Said, (She) Said.” It’s a story about consent, set on a London college campus close to Tottenham Court Road. Do you believe what he said, or she said? Who drank too much, but who slipped away in the morning?
Finally, Video 3 is titled “Would You Go Into Business With Your Best Friend?” and reflects the theme of plagiarism in “The Last Page of Friendship.” Two Seattle women want to write the Great American Short Story. Have they got what it takes? Who is prepared to go further than her best frenemy?
At last, I have revamped my website. It’s officially relaunching today, with all new bells and whistles.
The most exciting new development is the videos section. Currently there are four videos available, with five to follow. Together they will make the nine videos to accompany the nine stories in Rising Apes, Falling Angels, my first collection of stories. The videos are narrated by my brother Frankie from London.
There’s now a section where you can contact me. Often people don’t want to switch over to their email: hence the message form. I get the message delivered directly to my email. As they say in America, write me.
Otherwise, the website has lots more information about my two novels, The Knight of New Orleans and The Murderess and the Hangman. There’s also a section (under Future Works) about my upcoming new novel, American Con Artist, about the painter, forger and illegal immigrant on the run, Elmyr de Hory. Go track him down.
Thanks for visiting www.mattfullerty.com.
Meet my brother Frankie! He’s done me some really big favors in my life, not least agreeing to read my stories (after much cajoling on my part, and the agreement I’d buy him an all-expenses paid trip to America). Watch this space, Frankie!
Frankie is a video commentator on my stories, which he delivers with astute honesty, sometimes a little too much honesty. I value his opinion, even if it’s negative and cynical. The boy speaks from the heart. If he doesn’t like a story he doesn’t just say so, he tells you why. Now that’s feedback.
Voila Frankie’s videos and links to the associated stories: