Grief and Guilt

Cod Beck by Glenn McGoldrick is a collection of three short stories that McGoldrick labeled “dark.” Readers should watch out for time shifts in each of these stories. Perhaps due to Kindle formatting, I got confused in the first story when the time would jump forward by a few days or weeks. As I continued to read, I knew what to look for but sometimes the paragraph breaks were almost hidden.

Cod Beck, the first story, starts out dark. Ken is standing at the grave of his recently deceased wife listening to a priest. From that point, the rest of the story takes place in three months of “real” time. There is extended grieving, remarked on by his friends. After three months Ken decides to visit his boyhood home from half a century before. It was the place he began and might as well be the place where he ends. The reader expects that he might kill himself after visits to places familiar to him from his boyhood. He might kill himself due to grief following his wife’s death.

Nope, that’s not it.

Just Keep Walking is a story about doing the right thing even when you don’t know whether what you are doing is the right thing or not. I think Derek will do the right thing. Harry doesn’t think Derek will do anything. Derek cannot prove anything. It all comes down to whether you believe what you read in the papers.

Nightmare Waiting is the darkest story of this collection. There are two realities in play for Mark. In one of them, maybe the present-day reality, Mark lives with guilt over a past event that haunts his thinking all the time. But at night, when sleep comes, the past event becomes reality. Mark knows he must pay for what he has done. Must he pay Dave, or should he pay one of several others who show up in his dreams acting as an agent for Dave? No payment is asked of Mark when he is awake; no agent and certainly not Dave bother him.

The trick is not to go to sleep … ever.

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