Bent, Not Broken

Dwayne suffers from OCD. I think that after finishing the story that some of my own compulsive tendencies have flared, but I’m not Dwayne. Dwayne must live in a world of odd numbers preferring 3s, 5s, and 7s. One of the more touching moments is when Dwayne is out on a date and he needed an extra chair and place setting at the table in order to feel comfortable, and I think that I’m hard to live with.

Dwayne is excellent at his job. He calls people that he refers to as “marks” and asks them about their preferences, surveys them about food, TV, etc, and rewards those who answer them with valuable coupon books. He holds the record for the most completed surveys in one shift. He is loved by his boss; hated by his co-workers. To Dwayne, his co-workers are the terrible trio. They play games with this desk, putting an extra pen in his up so that they number 4 or 6 or 8. These games make it impossible for Dwayne to focus.

The one thing that Dwayne has going for him is a mysterious woman that he calls Black-Coat Girl who is at the bus stop everyday at the same time he drives by on his way to work. Dwayne has made up several stories about Black-Coat Girl, who she is, what she does, why she takes the bus.

What is really nice about this story is that it has a very Punch-Drunk Love romantic twist that takes a seven car pileup on a snowy day to kick off. Dwayne has to take the bus, the very same bus that Black-Coat Girl takes. And on that day, Black-Coat Girl sits down beside him and admits that she thinks of him as her 20-Second Boyfriend.

The writing is really well done. The descriptions of Dwayne’s inner experience are strange and wildly detailed. They have a bumpy start to things, but their story ends well, not the happily ever after kind of ending, but an ending that suits the characters and left me wanting for more. by Aaron M. Wilson

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