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Adobe Photoshop PDFThe Venice headquarters of advertising agency Nicaida & Knight occupies a campus of wood plank buildings that once served as a cooperative dairy. Now, the white barns from the 1910s have pegged maple floors, halogen lights, and conference rooms with Aeron chairs. But the sun still flashes through the barns’ clanking rooftop vents, like it did when Los Angeles was home to spotted cows.

Luke parks in his reserved space at Nicaida & Knight and heads for his office. Though the day has barely started, the pace inside is already rushed. Still, Luke comes to work with a sense of relief—his return to employment has been a difficult climb, and he is grateful for good luck.

Even better, he’s being given his due. And it looks like he’ll be able to promote his assistant into accounts. However, Stacy is out until mid-morning on a personal matter and won’t be around to hear the good news.

Taking a moment with his coffee, Luke reflects on his most recent work—storyboard mock-ups tacked to the wall. Luke mastered the campaigns and pleased difficult clients—a big win for all. Only, Luke’s thoughts turn dark and suddenly, he’s remembering the dreams that tricked him into The Bubble.

Brimming with ideas about Internet content, he had put his wife and son in jeopardy, hoping for a future as a captain of industry. Which didn’t happen, and soon enough, Luke was a single parent. Worse, entrepreneurship expanded his ego, and he swore he would never work for anyone again. So when the First Great Internet Age cratered for him for good, Luke founded his own advertising agency. Except expenses exceeded income, forcing him to shut the doors. Still, he had led by fair example, and his Gen-X employees were philosophical, having taken their shot at building something better. And they asked him not to be sorry, seeing his hard times.

Then, despite faltering industry revenues, his employees found new jobs. Each one except Luke. He went to all manner of headhunters, but agencies were retrenching, indifferent to older creatives. Using a cutting-edge option, Luke posted his resume online, but nothing worthwhile came back. Undeterred, Luke went back to the headhunters, offering to step down to a copywriter or a junior account executive. Except Luke was “overqualified,” meaning that he might be bitter if hired.

And just when Luke was out of money, one stale connection led to Nicaida & Knight, a thriving agency with outposts in London and Sydney. The partners looked at Luke’s past awards, took a risk, and eighteen months later, with profits up 20%, Luke was due to supervise multiple accounts, his standout work a pillar of the company’s success.

~

It’s almost 9 a.m. One of the managing directors’ assistants knocks on Luke’s door. “They’re ready.” Luke nods, setting his coffee aside.

~

Luke enters a glass-walled office with a polished concrete floor, where Tom Nicaida and Doug Knight rule behind industrial desks. Both imposing owners in their early thirties, they are remorseless bachelors, each wearing intentional stubble and Panerai watches—minimalist armor for bedding the daughters of Los Angeles.

Tom Nicaida says, “Close the door.”

Luke does, sinking into a ten-foot couch.

“We’re gonna cut to the chase. Doug and I aren’t offering you a contract.”

Luke takes it in, even-keeled. “No problem. No one really has a contract these days.”

“If we don’t have you under contract, we’re not looking at the long-term.”

There is silence, a slow-motion concussion.

Luke says, “I don’t get it. I created the Nissan campaign; it went great.” Now some fanfare toward the agency’s entrance reception area catches Luke’s eye. It’s Jay Goble and Jamie Hoch of Goble & Hoch carrying in file boxes to welcoming employees. “What are they doing here?”

Doug says, “Nissan likes their ideas too.”

Luke says, “They’re in their twenties. They can’t handle a $200 million account.”

Tom says, “That’s why they’re selling.”

Luke says, “I’ll manage them.”

“Too many bodies.”

“Wish it worked out differently.”

“Maybe if you had landed Mattel.”

“And don’t worry, we’re not gonna fuck you out of any money. We’ll pay you through the end of the month.”

Luke says, “Ten days severance. Might bankrupt you.”

Tom and Doug choose not to react.

Luke says, “Seriously, I’ve done amazing work for our clients. For which they’ve paid ungodly sums of money. And what about Stacy; what about her promotion?”

“We’re assigning her to Goble and Hoch’s desk.”

Tom and Doug have nothing more to give, and Luke rises as expected. Except that can’t be all. Luke stabs a finger. “You know, the only advice my dad ever gave me was: ‘Leave ‘em laughing.’ But I don’t think that’s practical in this case, because you guys suck shit.”

~

Luke is removing his campaigns from his office wall when Robin, the queen of human resources, comes to his door, saying, “I’m putting your exit paperwork together, and don’t worry about your stuff, we’ll messenger it.”

“I’ll take it now.”

But Robin lives for enforcing inconsequential rules. “The mock-ups stay here.”

Luke says, “They’re mine.”

“Not according to the company handbook.”

“You have triplicates.”

“C’mon, time to go.” It’s the burly security guard, called in from the parking lot.

“Can I take the photos of my son? Or is that a crime?”

The guard’s hand hovers over his pepper spray clip. Luke gathers up picture frames of Trevor. Robin and the guard follow Luke out, guarding the premises from theft. Luke drives away. He looks back once, only to see Robin trying to remove Luke’s nameplate from his parking space.

~

An unexpected Friday lunch at Venice beach. Benched, Luke eats doughy tourist pizza and drinks Hawaiian Punch. He shouldn’t be having the punch, given that it contains 90% sugar and that rumored Red Dye #4. But Trevor would want him to have it—to cheer him up. Only the overhead sun quickly warms the drink, and Luke’s uniform—dark jeans, black boots, and black linen shirt—heat him beyond comfort.

Tossing recyclables into a barrel, Luke sets out among the boardwalk entrepreneurs. For a while, he watches a sun-blistered artist, who makes a topless mermaid sand sculpture for coins. Luke donates two dollars, but the man—busy shaping the mermaid’s knockers—doesn’t thank him.

Luke walks on, remembering how, weeks after opening his own agency, he signed his first client—a small fresh juice company called Rainforest. Back then, the owners agreed to a one-year contract with Morrow Advertising, and Luke began positioning them for greater exposure, hoping to build a national brand.

And though there were other juice companies fighting for market share, Rainforest had the secret ingredient, acai—the chocolate-flavored berry from Brazil that is full of antioxidants. Revolutionary then but common now, acai would help Luke set Rainforest apart.

But as happens in advertising, annual contracts are swiftly over, and the juice company would not commit to renew, despite a 16% growth in sales. That’s why Luke was willing to attend a cocktail party of the largest fresh juice company in the nation—a brand most people have heard of, though Luke will not identify it, per his attorney’s advice.

All that happened was that Luke had a light beer with that company’s executives, who had heard that he was someone to meet. He couldn’t have known that one of them, the manager of marketing, would jump to the smaller juice company for a bigger title. And once that guy told how Luke met with the big company while still in Rainforest’s employ, Luke was in trouble.

This did not occur until a year after Luke closed his firm, long after Rainforest left for an ad agency in San Francisco. And not until the big juice company began blending acai too, diminishing Rainforest’s competitive edge.

Angered, Luke’s former client accused him of violating his contract, which forbid working with competitors. Specifically, Luke wasn’t working with a competitor; he never got the bigger account, and he did not tell the big company about acai.

He still got sued, with Rainforest demanding return of all fees paid to him on top of damages for sharing trade secrets. Except Morrow Advertising was history, with the corporation closed, sheltering Luke from harm. Moreover, according to Luke’s lawyer, after years of depositions, the arbiter will finally be ruling in Luke’s favor.

With renewed relief, Luke pauses at the boardwalk’s hermit crab broker. Only, the upsell is hermit crabs need company, and he must buy two if he has a conscience. Maybe Luke will get one of the biplanes the blind man fashions from soda can strips, but the planes look really sharp, and Trevor would just cut himself.

So there’s nothing to buy, and it washes over Luke that a few hours ago he had a job he enjoyed, and he looks to a Nissan billboard above and cannot make sense of anything anymore. Jay Goble and Jamie Hoch kings? What about his talent, his responsibility to succeed? Whatever, God, he thinks. On Monday, I’ll find a better job. And tonight, I will appreciate being a father to my boy.

~

The titanium Aston Martin whines into the circular drive of an apartment tower. Trevor climbs out of his seat to Luke. Luke shuts the car door behind him, and The Aston Martin growls away. Seeing a colorful box in Luke’s hands, Trevor says, “What is it?”

“It’s a whole collection of basketball cards.” Luke gives the box over to Trevor.

“When did you get it?”

“Stopped at the card store after lunch.”

“How many are in it?”

“I don’t know. Twenty-four packs times eight each. Can you figure it out?”

Trevor says, “If I have a piece of paper.”

Luke kneels down. “Listen, Trevor, you only get packs once in a while, when you help clean the fish tank and throw the trash away, right? But sometimes it’s okay for a dad to give his son an extra special present just because he loves him. But it can’t happen all the time.”

“Okay.”

Luke doesn’t flinch, sternly eyeing Trevor, who figures it out.

“Thank you.”

“Good boy.”

~

In his room, Trevor rips through the cellophane. “Shaq!”

“Odds of getting him are one in 288.”

“How do you know?”

“It’s a classic Laker jersey card. It’s got an actual piece of Shaq’s game jersey. The box says only one out of 288 will be like this, so it’s very rare.”

Trevor rubs the imbedded yellow swatch. “Is it very valuable?”

“Could be someday. Then you’ll give it to your son.”

“What if my son is a girl?”

“You’ll give it to her.”

Trevor tears open the remaining packs, a happy boy with riches. For Luke, watching his son revel in basketball cards is joy. Luke tells himself to imprint this memory forever. Then Luke says, “Have you ever had a lobster?”

“I think so.”

“Think so or know so?”

“Know so.”

“Do you think you liked it?”

Trevor says, “I only had a taste.”

“So not a meal?”

“The meal was pasta.”

“Where was the lobster?”

“In my mom’s salad. After it got out from the boat and into the avocado.”

“Now I’m understanding. But I must tell you that if a lobster isn’t served hot with drawn butter, it’s not official.”

“I want to be official.”

“That’s why I’m proposing Red Lobster for dinner. A whole pound and a quarter lobster is on special for only $19.95.”

“Is the butter drawn with a crayon?”

“You shall see.”

~

The waitress serves Luke and Trevor lobsters. Trevor says, “I can’t eat him all.”

Luke says, “Looks like a lot because of the shell. I’ll help you. First what you do is break a leg off and dip it in butter.” Trevor follows Luke’s lead, unsure about the pluming gray shreds. “I think that’s the gills but you eat it.”

Trevor samples the gills. “Tastes like sand.”

“Here, take the cracker and smash the big claw. That’s where the meat is the sweetest.”

Trevor takes the cracker.

“Squeeze as hard as you can.”

“I am.”

“Squeeze harder.”

Trevor does, popping through the claw, squirting a loping rope of spoo onto the back of a woman’s head. But the woman doesn’t feel it, letting it be, fueling the boys’ erupting glee.

~

“No pajamas in your pack.”

“I’ll wear this.” Trevor means his T-shirt and shorts.

“No, butter drips all over. How about these?” Luke is holding up long-sleeved pajamas from the dresser.

Trevor says, “They’re too small for a long time, and it’s a hot night.”

Luke takes scissors, cutting the arms and legs off the pajamas. “There, now they’re shorties.”

Trevor slips them on. “They feel good!”

~

Luke and Trevor lie in the bottom bunk. Trevor says, “Did your dad ever take you for a lobster when you were a boy?”

“He did, and that’s the important conversation for tonight; it’s about how we used to go to this place called My Favorite Inn for lobster, when lobsters were only $9.95—a lot of money in those days. But we stopped going.”

“Why?”

“My dad found out black or brown people could not eat there.”

“Why?”

Luke says, “The owner would not serve them.”

“Why?”

“He didn’t like black or brown people.”

“Why wouldn’t he like black or brown people?”

“He was prejudiced; I’ve told you about that before and it’s wrong.”

“Can black or brown people eat at The Favorite Inn now?”

“It closed down a long time ago.”

“Did you ever eat lobster again?”

“Actually, Grandma Blessing used to get it for me. I really shouldn’t tell you this story. I promised myself I would never tell anyone.”

“That was before you had me.”

“Yes, before I had a son who might understand.”

“Tell me the story.”

“Well, Grandma wanted me to have lobster for a treat, but Grandpa Phil—you know, my stepfather—he thought lobster wasn’t appropriate for children.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s expensive and he thought it was spoiling me. But on Wednesday nights, he always had a dinner meeting with his law partners—he was a lawyer just like your stepfather. Well, Blessing used to buy day-old lobsters and sneak them home, and we’d eat them cold with mayonnaise.”

“Were they very tiny?”

“Why would they be tiny?”

“If they were a day old.”

“No, they were grown, just not new, and live lobsters don’t keep forever. That’s why the fish store would boil them before they got too old to sell. But here’s the thing: we would have to eat them as quickly as possible, because if Grandpa Phil came home and found us eating them, he’d be furious. So I had to keep a lookout through the window to make sure Grandpa Phil’s car wasn’t coming, and I had to tape the empty shells in newspaper to stymie the raccoons. Do you remember the word ‘stymie’?”

“Mostly. But why did raccoons want those shells?”

“Raccoons love shellfish, and what if they got into the garbage at night? The shells would be scattered all over the driveway in the morning, and Grandpa Phil would see them when he left for work. Then there’d be hell to pay.”

“What would happen?”

“I never wanted to find out, so I taped the shells in fifty sheets of newspaper, to make sure the raccoons could not bite through it.”

“Did Grandpa Phil ever find a shell?”

“He did not. But sometimes I still have nightmares that just when he’s opening his car door, a red lobster claw comes rising out of the snow where he can see it. I wake up screaming.”

“That’s weird.”

“I added the part about screaming.”

“Are you the Creative Director of North America now?”

“Not yet.”

“I thought it was today.”

“Well, it was supposed to be, but things never happen at the office like you think. And the thing is, it can be a double-edged sword for a dad to be too super-successful—a kid might worry about having to be bigger and better than his dad someday. And that could lead to self-esteem issues.”

Trevor thinks about his dad hefting a double-edged sword against a tiger. “Who’s the Creative Director of India?”

“They don’t have one.” Luke gently sings to Trevor, “I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words, how wonderful life is ‘cause Trevor’s in the world.” Trevor closes his eyes. Luke says, “Okay, I’m going to leave you now. And I’ll just be ten feet away in the big bed. You know if you need me for anything in the night, you just call ‘Dad! Dad!’ and I’ll be there.”

~

In the living room, Luke opens a brown mailer, removing a class book for his 20-year college reunion—a big waste of time since he will not go. Luke should put the book down, only he can’t. He turns pages and sees: “Steve Barron (with wife Julie and daughter Brianna, 9), now a partner at Goldman Sachs,” and “Fran Grant, home raising Chellie (10) and Andrew (8). A former attorney at Gerhard Simmons, she’s married to Bill Thorpe, President of Thorpe Construction, an international builder of airports.”

Good for them, Luke thinks, earning their American dream. He supposes that if he had just made the right choices, his family would be whole. Luke lowers the book to the floor and drifts into sleep. But the bad dream follows hard.

Lisa says, “You didn’t take care of me.”

“We take care of each other.”

“You gambled your career, and your ship didn’t come in. It was all on me.”

“It wasn’t all on you.”

“I wanted to take my hands off the wheel.”

Luke says, “We build a life together that demands two careers, but you get to let go? At eighty on the freeway?”

“Stop talking.”

“That’s why I took the chance, to find a way to buy your freedom.”

Lisa says, “I can’t hear you anymore. My body is floating away.”

~

Nick, nick. Trevor is on the couch’s arm, switching off the lamp from the night before. Luke opens his eyes in the grainy light. “What time is it?”

Trevor checks his orange rubber sport watch. “Six o’ four. Might be fast.”

“Can’t you sleep late like Archer and Ben?”

“No.”

“They sleep till ten on Saturday.”

“No they don’t.” Trevor is at the window screen, finger-painting fog droplets together. “I don’t think it’s going to be a sunny day.” He takes a seat at the table, jarring Luke with cartoons.

~

Trevor pours Froot Loops into a bowl. He adds too much milk, floating the cereal toward overflow. But this is how it goes every day, and he knows how to gingerly bring the bowl to the table, spilling milk and loops only after reaching the placemat. Then he says, “Why don’t cartoons change their clothes?”

Luke is buried in the morning paper. “Time and money.”

“For real or sarcastic?”

“Sarcastic.”

“Tell me how Grandma Blessing wouldn’t let you have Froot Loops.”

“She wouldn’t let me have Froot Loops.”

“You could have Apple Jacks.”

“Anytime.”

“Why?”

Luke says, “She believed Apple Jacks to be apple, Froot Loops artificial.”

“Why do you say my favorite food group is sugar?”

“Statement of fact.”

“Why do you tell people in the elevator?”

“Making conversation.”

“Could you have Lucky Charms?”

“No.”

“You had a sad childhood.”

~

Trevor loads the dishwasher, placing cups on the bottom rack, ensuring that there will be no room for Luke’s plates later in the week. Returning to the table, Trevor says, “What are we gonna do today?”

Luke draws his boy into an ebullient hug. “What are we gonna do today? We’re gonna plant our own garden!”

“Why are we planting?”

“Because I’ve had it with our tree.”

Trevor says, “Do you think there are more lemons?”

Luke and Trevor go to their living room balcony—an empty slab save for a spindly tree. Hanging from the tree is one tiny lemon. Luke says, “Everyone in California has a lemon tree. It’s part of the dream, and everyone gets so many lemons they don’t know what to do with them. You and me, all we get is this runt.”

Trevor says, “It’s a runt, alright.”

“Shouldn’t even be called a lemon. Maybe just ‘lemonette.’”

“Yeah: lemonette.”

“That, my good man, is why we’re going to plant our own garden.”

~

Luke and Trevor are at the hardware store seed packet kiosk, which Trevor spins into a blur. Luke says, “What kind of vegetables shall we grow?”

“How should I know? I don’t like them.”

Luke halts the spin. “What about Sugar Baby tomatoes?”

Trevor says, “I’m allergic to tomatoes when they’re stewed.”

“How about Little John squash?”

“I don’t think so.”

“What do you think so?”

“Peas. Pinocchio Eyes.”

“You like peas?”

Trevor says, “What about it?”

“Most kids don’t like peas.”

Trevor selects three other packets. Luke eyes them. “Lima beans, Brussels sprouts, and rapini. Your favorite food group is becoming vegetables.”

Trevor says, “No—not a statement of fact.”

~

Luke and Trevor arrive at Santa Monica Community Gardens, where Luke has rented them sixty square feet for $60 a month.

Luke says, “Here we are, plot number twenty-three.” Luke studies a seed packet. “Says here you plant each Brussels sprout eight to ten inches apart.”

Trevor says, “What if you plant a Brussels sprout seven inches apart?”

“Could come up carrots.”

Luke is about to break ground with a hoe when a one-legged homeless man in a wheelchair rolls up. He shouts, “Danger, black man approaching!” only he is a grizzled white guy in his early sixties with a satchel in his lap. Luke draws Trevor in, unsure what weapon the satchel might contain. “C’mon, man, acknowledge me! I’m a human being too!” Luke holds his ground, ready for child-saving evasive action. “Fuckin’ motherfuckin’ cocksucker!” The man wheels off.

Trevor says, “Did you see his stump?”

Luke did.

“He used the F-word.”

Luke heard.

“What’s a cocksucker?”

“Not sure. Might be French.”

“Is he a Vietnam guy?”

“Probably.”

“Was he a submariner?”

“Probably not. Listen Trevor, after we finish watering, what do you say we call Keri and see if they want to go to the dunes?”

“Okay. Can we get cardboard from the dumpster?”

“Yes.”

“Can I climb all the way into the dumpster?”

“Yes. But why would you want to do that?”

“Because I’m eight years old?”

“Good boy.”

~

For kids, the Manhattan Beach Dunes are a wonder, except they’re really just one steep dune, and it’s not even on the beach, since it rises far from the water in a suburban neighborhood. Perhaps in the past, this grade was under an ancient sea, but now it’s above a playground with a red slash sign warning that boogie boards are verboten on the sand. However, by some bureaucratic quirk, kids are still allowed to slide down the dune on flattened cardboard boxes. Plenty of fun.

Ditching sneakers, Luke, Trevor, Keri, and her sons trudge up the dune dragging cardboard sleds. But the uphill hike under punishing sun is worth the effort, considering the downhill slide is freedom of the highest order.

Once the boys reach the dune’s crest, Luke says, “Stagger yourselves, so you don’t plow each other over.” But the boys all go at once, sliding safely to the bottom. Luke and Keri take their turns, only she cuts him off, sending him face-first into the sand.

Breezing downward, she says, “So sorry!”

~

Luke and Keri drink Mountain Dews in the shade, while the boys play the dune. Luke says, “What’s up for tonight?”

She says, “You guys are joining us for Spring Harvest at the club.”

“Thanks, but you feed us way too much as it is, and it’s not my night. Trevor is going to his mom’s club, only they call it Spring Festival.”

“Still no Jews allowed?”

“Unofficially.”

“I hear they’re making their hoods into napkins.”

“Baby steps.”

“Hey, I totally forgot—what happened with your promotion?”

Luke says, “Nissan wanted to go with this younger agency, but the founders didn’t have experience, so we ended up buying their company for the account. Then I got fired to make room.”

Keri doesn’t believe him.

“True.”

“That’s unbelievable.”

“I still have my health. But I can’t pay you back the $5,000, at least for now.”

“It’s okay, don’t worry about it.”

“I pay too much living at the beach.”

“It’s great for him there.”

“He doesn’t know what happened.”

“When you have to tell him, you will.”

“He’ll be disappointed in me.”

“Jesus, Luke, he’s your son. Children aren’t disappointed in you—unless you don’t love them.”

Trevor approaches, his hairline braised with sweat. Surprised he hasn’t been told about the chance for a soda, he says, “Hey, I like Mountain Dew.”

Luke says, “When have you had it?”

“I don’t know, but I like it.”

Keri says, “It’s got caffeine. Keeps you up at night.” Luke hands the remaining Dew to Trevor, who drinks it down.

Luke says, “We gotta go, Monkey Boy.”

Trevor says, “I need to wear a sport coat.”

“There will be one waiting for you when you arrive.”

Keri says, “Trevor Morrow in a sport coat? How handsome!”

~

Luke turns his Jeep into the entrance of Trevor’s country club. Trevor is quiet in the back seat, dressed fancy in new sneakers, ironed khakis, and a starched white shirt. As the car curves to a stop, Luke reaches back with an open palm and Trevor reaches forward with his, the man and the boy touching goodbye.

In an instant, the valet is opening Trevor’s door. Through the side mirror, Luke watches stepfather Mark slip a blue blazer over Trevor. As Luke pulls away, Mark hooks a lacquered wood bow tie around Trevor’s neck, matching Mark’s own. Luke turns into traffic, warding off utter desolation.

~

Dusk at Rigo’s Taco stand: where bloggers and other undateable souls meet picnic tables for cheap dinner on Saturday night. Luke knows Rigo’s is not the place to impress a girl, for this dive is sunk beneath a freeway underpass on a dreary stretch of Culver City. But then again, if a girl gets the Rigo’s thing, Luke will never let her go.

Luke flogs this romantic thought while waiting in line for tacos and a sloppy tamale. That and how to beat the system at Rigo’s, where cheddar cheese on a taco is an extra charge. Does he get one taco with cheese and apportion that cheese over two additional tacos, saving money, or should he graft cheese from the top of the tamale onto all tacos, saving even more, given that the tamale has enough cheddar to block a pipe?

More importantly, when he asks for one taco with cheese and two without, does the Latina taking his order get his ploy? Surely if he tips her for putting his order together, she won’t take the time to ridicule him with her co-workers? Or will she?

Luke reaches the order window. “May I please have one taco with cheese, two plain tacos, and a small diet Coke?”

“Rice and beans?”

“No thanks, but can you please add a half-side of guacamole.” Luke can justify the splurge, as Saturday night is for treating oneself. After a few minutes, Luke receives his food in a cardboard box. He gives a 20% tip, then squeezes onto the end of a picnic bench, joining Central Americans who understand the value of a homemade Mexican meal.

Luke looks forward to being among these people, because when he’s without his son on a Saturday night, there’s always an abiding sense of family at Rigo’s graffiti-scratched tables. Gringo or amigo, Luke feels right at home, for he cherishes the little ones who cry for chips and spill their sodas: the night isn’t so lonely when they do.

But then hatred invades Luke, for his boy lives most of his life in the home of another man who is not his father, and there is not a damn thing Luke can do about it, given that a custody battle in court would cost him thousands he doesn’t have.

Luke looks into the kind glances of his dinner companions. Soon he takes comfort in their easy laughter, thinking again about his fortune. Because the story of immigrants is mostly about hardship; there are millions of parents who have left small children behind in distant lands, hoping to give their kids a better future. And many of those parents never get to see their children growing up, if they ever see them again, and that’s unthinkable to Luke.

So as headlights above guide Westsiders to fine dining in town, Luke eats a taco under the freeway, nourished from a day spent sliding in the sand.

__________________________

Todd Baker photo print_BWTODD R. BAKER grew up on the North Shore of Chicago and somehow ended up on the shoal of Los Angeles. During Todd’s film industry career, he produced and developed movies for 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Disney, Miramax, and Universal Pictures, starring Kevin Costner, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Robert Downey, Jr., Adam Sandler, Elijah Wood, Robert Duvall, Anjelica Huston, Whoopi Goldberg, Raul Julia, Daryl Hannah, Chris Farley, Steve Buscemi, Brendan Fraser, Christopher Lloyd, and Kenneth Branagh. He licenses two of his U.S. patents for one of his inventions and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University. Todd lives in Playa Vista/Silicon Beach, California. Visit his website for more information. 

Adapted from Secrets of Men in a Lifeboat, by Todd R. Baker, Copyright © 2016 by Todd R. Baker. With the permission of the publisher, Aqueous Books.

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