Like Lovecraft In Brooklyn: Battering the Stem by Bob Freville
by Ash Lomen
Clayvon’s King Prawn Chicken N’ Biscuits is about to have one hell of a day. From the unspeakable horrors hidden within the owner’s office desk to the homicidal vagrant clenching his fists outside the bulletproof glass with fire in his eyes, the whole goddamn establishment is about to be clawed open, kicking and screaming, its insides exposed to the rest of Crown Heights in all their warty glory.
I’ll be honest, the soul food at Clayvon’s leaves something to be desired, the shrimp are gangly and undersized, the biscuits taste like sawdust, and the chicken is green and grey with age… but the people, now they are something to write home about: “Snow Flake” the acting manager whose Irish family might have some connection to the infamous Westies, Ritz the self-appointed hero still in the throes of detox, Edge the madman about to try and pry open Pandora’s box, and a supporting cast of one eyed clerks, cooks with something to prove, and cops who are every bit as obstinate and useless as their uniforms would suggest. These characters propel a chaotic story through a building tension of paranoia straight on into the orgasmic release of violence that is the climax. And you will miss them when they are gone.
After reading Battering The Stem I keep thinking about of some of the better works of filmmaker Harmony Korine . Spring Breakers and Gummo specifically pop to mind. As the reader, you are spared no ugly detail in this hyperrealistic world. You are given lingering close-ups of every ingrown hair, every bleeding pair of gums. You are reminded that people can be ugly. But just like with Korine, you are also reminded that people, even the ugly ones (inside and out) can still surprise you.
You are reminded with Battering the Stem that life is like a box of chicken from Clayvon’s King Prawn Chicken N’ Biscuits, I guarantee that what you are going to get is going to stink worse than a rotting ostrich, but you won’t be able to look away even if you want to.
Ash Lomen is a writer of short fiction from Southern Louisiana. He is the author of the collection “Swallowed By The Horizon” and co-wrote the horror novella “Blow Up the Outside World” with Jordan Krall. He has had other verse and prose published in Bizarro anthologies both online and off. He lives with a pig, a dog, and a cat.