Compiled by The Bedford Citizen
This month’s short story by Bedford resident Stuart Liss, “Lamentation for Mr. Charlie”, packs a punch more consistent with a boxing match than the basketball game that serves as its backdrop. Billy Zmuda is a determined kid from a poor family whose extraordinary athletic talent is positioning him for a possible NBA slot.
For Billy, this is more than a career opportunity – it’s a life-changer, a way to overcome the bleak prospect of limited education and common toil which otherwise seems to be his lot. His teammate, “Mathis” Reese, agrees, and offers to share with Billy his own strategy for a better life. The gatekeeper for both their aspirations is Coach “Bumblebee” Wax, a dark figure with his own particular playbook that exploits their dreams and their youth. The author poses a provocative moral dilemma for Billy, and in the process asks readers to consider the conflicting dimensions of courage when the stakes are high.
“Lamentation for Mr. Charlie” was originally published in the Packinghouse Review and is part of a collection that was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, sponsored by the University of Georgia Press.
In case you missed Liss’s previously posted short stories: