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‘From Within an Abyss of Despair’
John Howard and The Fall of the Champ, and The Sword Came Down by Samuel Finlay
8/27/20
At 5,418 words The Fall of the Champ is about the fate of John Howard’s mentor, Mister Frank, a Baltimore boxing coach based on my own mentor who passed two years ago. In this leg of John’s geriatric adventuring his coach faces a law suit from a woman over his refusal to train females and loses all heart even as John wearies finally of Baltimore and heads west. While at the station awaiting his westbound bus, John is approached by a man of reflective menace, as if John himself had been used as the template for a fleshly mirror devoted to his final defeat.
“John had prided himself on his capacity to size up abilities and potential within men and the power they had it in them to bring to bear for good or ill, but he realized at some visceral, instinctual level, this stranger – this Malevolence – was something he could not begin to fathom.
“The stranger seemed to read his mind and winced in pain. “Now, now,” he broke in. “Let’s not be this way.”
Sam’s presentation of the corrosive villain was chilling, as if White Christ were mocking Odin while in the body and attire of a British music agent. Sam’s handling of the supernatural is his best hook for the turning of the page and leaves the reader identifying with John a little more deeply after every supernatural encounter.
The Sword Came Down at 655 words is a redemptive trainings session in a dream, in which John fences with Captain Richard Francis Burton as dwarves and giants regard his attempt at improvement from looming mountains that whisper madness.
Thanks, Sam, what a good read.
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