So it comes as no surprise that along with “The Scabrous Exploits…”, the dozen other stories which make up Merrigan’s recently released collection, Moondog Over the Mekong (Snubnose Press), are equally as creative and inspired. And though I’d love to talk about every one of them, I do want to leave you some things to discover completely anew for yourself, so I’ll just highlight a few of my favorites.
“The Cloud Factory” kicks the collection off, and quickly sets the tone for what’s to come. Seemingly a straightforward story of a guy driving his meth maker/dealer buddy to the bus station for his “last ride” out of town having finally quit the business, things take a hard left about a third of the way in and the story morphs into something very different. It’s a quick, neat study in how a lifetime of spinning your wheels can explode when that futile spinning suddenly finds unexpected traction.
“The Last Ladder” takes the old adage age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill and plays that out in the wonderfully wicked story of cocky young drug dealer Jeff and his unlikely delivery “boy,” the nearly 70-year-old Roy. Broke, a widower, and with a bad back in desperate need of surgery, Roy seems like the perfect candidate to accept whatever he’s given and do Jeff’s bidding without question. Oh, man, does Jeff have another thing coming.