Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Lapses", by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

From: The Second Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction, ed. Ed Gorman.
Black Lizard Books, 1988

Ruth Donahue was on her way through the San Joaquin Valley when the pickup ahead of her wiped out, launching a dog into her windshield. Though the dog was killed, Ruth herself seemed to be okay. Maybe just a little... off.

After a trip to the hospital and a night in a motel, she feels ready to return to her home in San Luis Obispo. So she climbs into her rented Ford Escort and gets on the road. A little while later she glances at a road sign - and realizes she's driven two hundred miles out of her way. There's a gas station receipt on the seat beside her. She doesn't remember stopping.

She stops at a roadside church, welcoming a few minutes of peace with the friendly pastor. She sips the coffee he brings. And when she looks up...

Yarbro does a good job bringing Ruth's confusion and panic to the page. As the situations she finds herself in become increasingly bizarre, Ruth wonders Where have I been? What have I been doing? Though it takes a while to get going, "Lapses" is a fine, disturbing short story.


Anonymous said...

Review understates the impact of this story, which is the most frightening and disorienting piece of short fiction I have ever read.

Anonymous said...

After reading this I went to look the story up in my copy of The Second Black Lizard Anthology Of Crime Fiction edited by Ed Gorman.
To my surprise I didn't own a copy.
I immediately ordered it from an on-line dealer.
It arrived this afternoon and I intend to read "Lapses" later tonight.
Thanks for the review!