Dave Riggler's stories are about Dave, a handicapped man. He uses a wheelchair, but the stories don't focus on his disability. For the most part they are about how Dave deals with the same types of things we all do. I like this approach because the author is not trying to make us feel sorry for his character. The short stories are tightly written, with straightforward plots. Dave's character develops seamlessly over the stories. Since the stories are in chronological order you can see how Dave changes and matures over time. The pacing is appropriate for a relaxed read.
The gem of the book is Last Call. Dave and a lady friend are celebrating his birthday at a local bar. They have a few drinks, do some dancing, and just talk. Dave uses the bathroom, and as he returns he notices a despondent woman at the bar. He wheels over and asks her what is wrong. It seems her life has fallen apart. Her kids hate her, and everyone else does too. Nothing is working. Dave tells her it can't be all that bad. But then she drops the bombshell. This really is her “last call.” She is going to kill herself tomorrow. Of course Dave tries to talk her out of it. But as he goes home that night the self-doubts hit. Should he have given her the number for a suicide hotline? Called the police? What if she actually does it?
I also really liked Penned. Dave has been Internet dating a lady for a few months. They agree to meet for the first time at Penn Station. They have dinner, and talk, and everything looks to be going very well. But slowly Dave starts to learn that her real interest is very different than the love he expected. Also included in the volume is Learning to Crawl, a story of his brother trying to teach Dave to walk about age 5 or 6. Next, First Steps concerns Dave at 13, when his school was trying to get him to use a walker so he'd look “less disabled.” But Dave likes his wheelchair, and a walker is too exhausting for him to use so he fights it. Going Under is a story about Dave having surgery. He's had the same surgery 13 times before. But he is nervous because he is not sure how different death and anesthesia really are. Also included is Tuesday, Dave's recollection of how he learned of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. All of us can identify with that, as we all remember how we found out and where we were. Taken together the stories present a nice cross-section of Dave's life.
This is a collection of six short stories concerning David Riggler, a handicapped person who uses a wheelchair. The stories follow him through his early childhood to middle age as he comes to terms with himself and deals with the challenges that come with not only his situation, but with the human condition in general.
The stories in this volume are: Learning To Crawl, First Steps, Last Call, Going Under, Tuesday, Penned