Author: Lex Grootelaar
Genre: Coming of Age
Short and entertaining, “Punk” pushes both the rules of writing and the dominant ideas and expectations of our society. Thrown into the world of punk rock in the early 1990s, this novel follows the intertwining lives of a wandering reject and the people he meets as he learns of his fathers’ unexpected death. It explores themes of social structure and religious indifference through the eyes of this disenfranchised man living from one high to the next. The story takes place over a few hot summer days in Edmonton, Alberta.
This coming-of-age story, although set in the 90’s, is still very relevant to today. It explores a quest for God without religion. Written with bursts of stream-of-consciousness and first-person narrative, “Punk” is simultaneously an urban existential fiction and a mystery novel.
I awoke cold on the shoulder of a highway. I had no idea how I got there. As the song goes, I found my mind in a brown paper bag—only this wasn’t the sixties, and the bag was clear, not brown. My life felt like a cliché as I found myself in this shoulder—this ditch. I slowly stood up. A semi-truck whirled by sending up a dirt cloud. I choked. To complete the cliché, I held out a thumb: the one that had been broken the year before when I fell out of a bar. The cars flew by and filled the air with exhaust. I smiled beside myself. Beside my life. I smiled at all the self-destruction, the missed opportunities, the lust, and the indulgences… All the indulgences. The thought carried as the wind blew. Finding my sunglasses in the high grass, I put them on hiding my bloodshot eyes and, hopefully, the haggard sketchiness that those eyes contained. As I looked at the empty eyes of drivers passing me on their way to work, my sympathy was with them. What day was this? What month? What year? When did the bender start? When would it finish? Finally, a car slowed as I gazed up at the sun just showing itself.
Running to the car on the shoulder, I attempted to piece together what happened the night before. Did my run-in with the Afeller boys go amiss? Their punk rock band was becoming so big—and with it, lots of new characters were on the scene. Did I offend some white-top? Something about his mother, I’m sure. The car put on its hazards as the driver opened his window and gestured me over. I ran my hands over my patched black jeans. I guess they didn’t offend; nor did my red and blond Mohawk that I never wore up.
I opened the door and peered in. The man was fortyish. He looked like a family man in his suit and tie. I smiled, knowing I was everything he wouldn’t want his children to become. And yet he offered me a ride.
“Hey there. You from the city, or some drifter?”
“Neither. I’m not from this city, nor a drifter. I’m a man of the land with nothing but my good sense to guide me through waters deep and quick.”
“Son, I’m not some girl at the bar, I’m the man driving you back to the city. So save the bullshit. Do you want some coffee? I have a thermos. You must drink coffee?” The man smiled as he passed over a thermos and a small brown disposable cup.
“Thanks. I know you’re not a girl at the bar, so I will put away my charm—and yes, I drink coffee, but only when I smoke. And I seem to be out,” I said as I lazily checked my black leather jacket and found nothing but an empty pack.
“You’re a drifter then; smoking’s a dying pastime. A losing battle.”
“Then you don’t partake?”
“Lucky for you, son, I’m also a dying breed.” He pulled out a silver case full of long cigarettes.
“Thanks,” I said as he passed me the case.
“You have a name? A real name? I offered you my smokes and my coffee; least you can do is give me a name.” I lit the cigarette and sipped the coffee.
“A real name, eh?” I took a long drag. “Clark. Clark Kent,” I smiled at him.
“Superman, eh? Fully able to fly, but stuck in an ‘85 Toyota, smoking my cigarettes, drinking my coffee and dressed in a fashion that I take it Lois Lane picked out?”
“Yeah, she’s a great dame.” I kept trying to remember what had happened last night.
“Humph. Where in the city are you going? Or should I just shoot for the downtown homeless shelter?”
“Mid-city would be good. I just need to get to my bike. It’s in a garage I rent with the money I make saving the world and all.”
“What were you doing on the side of the road? Good old Lex Luthor leave you high and dry?”
“If you must know, he attacked me with kryptonite and took my cape. I wouldn’t need the lift if I had the cape. You should know that.”
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About the Author:
I started writing at a very young age but soon was more consumed with women, drinking and smoking. It was only when I realized that vice doesn’t lead to virtue that I left childish things behind me and found myself back into the realm of writing, work, and love. It was in that aspect that the words started to flow. I have spent the past few years at study, spending my summers at work fueling aircraft for Alberta forestry, when I can break away I travel with my lovely and brilliant spouse.