Those great people at Rainy City Stories chose to publish a story I submitted months ago, In-Car Valeting. It’s a short, direct piece redolent of Raymond Carver’s active, surreal story Viewfinder.
Carver contrasts social and physical deformity, whereas In-Car Valeting contrasts physical and social mobility in a world that grows rapidly more divided. A man who has military habits, shiny shoes, slicked hair and a sharp salute is literally left behind. You feel the “tear-arsing Audis” are going to win the race south if the narrator hangs around any longer, not that he’s in any position to keep up himself.
The hitch-hiker / in-car valetor is a disabled former soldier trying to make a living with a ludicrous ill-thought out business start-up. He has a specially-adapted briefcase containing the tools of his trade. He’s similar to those brave and defiant former prisoners who visit door-to-door suburban estates with brief cases full of cleaning products.
The narrator feels he could do with a cleaned-up vehicle, but his haste to help the man get out of the car once he realises he possesses false hands reflects his own impatience, his own lack of social mobility. It’s a rat race, and there are winners and there are losers.
PS I’m spreading the word about the Veterans in Prison association, VIPA. Their website is http://www.events21.com/ and they’re also on Facebook.