Other Stories in this issue

The Youngstown Tuneup

by Tom Barlow

About the Author: Other stories of mine may be found in anthologies including Best American Mystery Stories 2013 and Best New Writing 2011 as well as numerous magazines including Heater, Needle, Plots with Guns, Plan B, Mysterical-E and Pulp Modern. I'm also the author of the short story collection Welcome to the Goat Rodeo and the adventure novel I'll Meet You Yesterday.


When Nimishillen Creek in Canton, Ohio overflowed its banks in the flood of 1959 it swamped Luke Wainwright’s crappy apartment. He couldn’t afford much of a new place, not after the divorce, not after he’d dropped a four-jawed chuck from a lathe on his foot at Timken Roller Bearing. The accident had cost him five toes and his job.

He ended up on the seedy side of town, but how seedy he didn’t realize until he stopped by Harry’s, a bar near his new apartment, on a Thursday in early September. He was scouting for a good place to do the serious drinking that was rapidly filling the vacuum left by the lack of a job.

The tavern felt like home, packed with white steelworkers. He took a seat at the bar, ordered and paid for a mug of Iron City and a shot of bar whiskey, dumped the shot in the beer and took a long swallow. The geezer next to him, slumped over the bar like he was praying to the Lucky Strike burning in his hand, turned his head and harrumphed when Luke burped.

“You’re new,” he said, lifted his draft and took a sip. “I’m Buddy.” He reached down the bar for a quick handshake. “Where you work?”

Luke introduced himself, explained about the accident that accounted for his severe limp and his poverty.

“Forty year with Republic Steel,” the old man replied, pointing a thumb at himself. “What do I have to show for it? A crappy room in a boarding house and enough money to drink nickel beer.”

Story Comments

Jan 31 - Dennis O'Malley

I love this old fashioned action. Surprise after surprise.

Feb 1 - Earl Staggs

An excellent story, well-written in a unique voice.

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