"Hero for Hire" Reviewed

Forget about Ebert and Roeper and their thumbs.

Fellow writer/blogger Jeff Chapman leaves them all in the dust reviewing novels and short stories in the speculative fiction genre, and his own writing is simply superb.

This week, I'm honored to share his review of my tale, "Hero for Hire."

"Hero for Hire" does not belong in the fantasy or science fiction genres. It's set firmly in the present world as we know it. But it addresses fantasy in a comical way and suggests what might happen if someone tries to turn their fantasy into reality. Darrell, the protagonist, is what most people would call a loser. He's twenty-seven, lives in a cottage in his parent's backyard, works the graveyard shift at Target, and still relies on his mother to do his laundry, which he also neglects to retrieve in a timely manner. His most prized possession is a samurai sword that he bought on eBay. He routinely dresses in a gi purchased at Party City and acts out mock battles with imaginary Ninjas in his living room. He always prevails. Not a bad way to get some physical exercise, but he decides that mock battles or attacking watermelons and pumpkins are becoming boring. He needs some real enemies. He needs to use his skills for good. So far, his only nemeses are a cat that leaves dead birds on his doorstep and his angry mother, who nags him about his laundry. He puts an add in the paper: "Hero for Hire" along with his phone number. For two weeks, nothing much happens. He gets some prank calls, but then, someone requests a hero. An old lady claims that someone has stolen her laptop. Darrell accepts the job. I won't spoil it by recording what happens. It's funny and sad with some interesting twists. No one gets hurt, except for Darrell's ego, which takes a beating, and his feet, which are scorched on the hot sidewalk. Fowler handles his subject matter with wit and compassion. We feel sympathy for Darrell even as we laugh at him. "Hero for Hire" reminds me of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," only in Fowler's story, the protagonist attempts to turn his fantasies into reality.

This is a first for me, and it came as a complete surprise. Thanks, Jeff. After four rejection letters in two days, this is just the boost I needed!
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