Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Short Con Week 2 - The Hour When the Ship Comes In


The Hour When the Ship Comes In
by Robert Ferrigno

"One good deed...one good deed is all it takes to get a man killed."

The Low Down
This is the story of Yancy, the last remaining bastard from a job gone completely wrong, talking Reservoir Dogs wrong.  He's wandering down the beach, making his way to the Queen Mary, a tourist trap in Long Beach.  He has never stepped foot on it, and figures today just might be the day to do it.

Over the course of a few pages we learn who Yancy is, what the score was, and most importantly, what killed him.

The Prosecution
The story works because Ferrigno really has a strong grip on structure.  Much like Tarantino, whom he name checks, he balances between the past and present, bouncing seemlessly between them. Yancy's train of thought allows the past to be told, triggered by current events.  Granted, the past was only an hour  previously, but for him it seems like a lifetime. 

Which brings me to the pacing.  Fantastic.  The story zips right along, which it should in only nine pages, but after you've read it there seems to be pages worth of story.

And that's because of the details.  Ferrigno doesn't waste any words.  Much like Raymond Carver, it's what he's not telling you that creates the tension.  Details such as his one red sock allow the reader to make his or her own conclusions.  Not once does Yancy state "I'm going to die," but as the story progresses, you realize that he's not much longer for the world. 

The Defence
I can't find anything wrong with this story.  There is a reason it was included in the 2008 Best American Mystery Stories.

The Sentence
This story was so good I want to read the previous exploits of Yancy, or at the very least, a novel by Mr. Ferrigno.


This story originally appeared in

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