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Anthologies are soon becoming my favorite type of reads, why? They are the perfect books to pick up and get lost in if ever you are having a busy day. I adore anthologies and short stories but only if they are written flawlessly with each story being supremely well developed with a wealth of information. Creek Bait is just this; a perfect anthology book that has flawlessly written stories written throughout it that will compel, intrigue and excite you from beginning to end! Richard Lutman, the talented author of Creek Bait, is an incredible writer whose work needs to be recognized and read by all readers so, please book lovers, if you adore anthologies and books with brilliant stories then you will love this! If you are not entirely convinced just yet then read the rest of my review to learn more about this exceptional book!

Creek Bait is a dramatic, thrilling and exciting novel that will keep readers entertained, captivated and engrossed from the very first page. Never before have I been so captivated by a collection of short stories and this is thanks to the exceptional author Richard Lutman and his talented literature and so if you are a reader who loves books that will compel as well as thrill you then Creek Bait is for you!

Creek Bait is a collection of fourteen stories, and each one is different from the last. The book consists of fourteen short stories, and they all fall under different genres so there really is something for everyone in the magnificent Creek Bait. Each story explores human nature and follows many different characters from all walks of life and I loved every one of them because they were so transfixing thanks to the author’s exceptional words!

 

Richard Lutman is an incredibly talented author; there is no doubt about this as he has proved this in his different short stories. I adored how he managed to set the scene up for the story quickly and make me able to invest in the characters in the matter of a few pages. Lutman’s stories may be short, but each tale is well-developed with an excellent plot, rich characterization and compelling components that will make you fall madly in love with Creek Bait!

 

Overall Creek Bait is an impressive collection of short stories, and so I have no choice but to award Creek Bait a dazzling five stars! It is a unique, compelling, exceptional book that will have you turning the pages with haste. The stunning literature courtesy of Richard Lutman will excite as well as enthrall you from the first page with his well-formed stories. So please book lovers, read this excellent book, you will not be disappointed!

RED HEADED BOOK LOVER *****

 
Intense and heartrending…
Lutman brings forth a collection of fourteen short stories that throws readers into the emotional lives of people escaping from life. Each story reveals the world of characters who have almost given up on life. Some of them succeed, others face heartbreak, and a few lucky ones find redemption. Frequently caught between hopeless despair and passing pragmatism, Lutman’s characters are as susceptible as they are intriguing. The stories vary in tone. In CREEK BAIT, the protagonist struggles to decide a life path. Corporal Miller fights delusions and despair as he meets his end in THE GREAT CAUSE. In A PRETTY HAND, Cass Franklin struggles to come to term with his newfound freedom and his wife’s death after his release from jail. IN CROSSING THE GREAT DIVIDE, a husband has given up on his marriage while the wife refuses to acknowledge the failure of their relationship. In THE CALF, the protagonist holds onto a dim hope and is unable to let go of the past. Colonel Hidalgo of the Ninth Regiment in THE BLUE LADYmeets a shocking end on a train journey. The Padre is unable to see a ray of hope despite being a believer in LAUGHTER FOR A PADRE. But it is Lutman’s characterization especially of beautiful, intense, and impossible female protagonists in stories that drive this book. Passionate and tragic, these stories chronicle the fragile characters’ inner agonised attempts to find a fraction of meaning in life. Despair, dejection, reminiscence, and a little hope run deep throughout the collection.

THE PRAIRIES REVIEW *****
 

I found "Creek Bait" to be exciting; the kind of book you read over a cup of coffee. Each story is well crafted with a powerful conflict, each fast paced, moving swiftly towards a satisfying climax. I enjoyed the way the author captures the worlds of the characters through dialogue and narrative.

READER’S FAVORITE *****

Fourteen stories in all, "Creek Bait" is everything a short story collection ought to be: it’s impressively varied; compulsively readable; and displays a natural writer’s talent for capturing plot, tone, and character quickly, as short fiction requires.

RED CITY REVIEW *****

Each story unfolds like a butterfly's wing: delicate, observational, and ultimately thought-provoking. Even those which are whimsical in nature contain a depth of experience that leads readers to reflect on accidental meetings, marriage and aging, journeys begun and concluded, and the nature of existence between life and death.

MID WEST REVIEW *****

Diane Donovan Editorial Services

THE CALF

 

Wes hoped the long drive through the cold December rain would be worth it. The decision to see Nancy again hadn't been an easy one. It had been over a year since he’d seen her. He missed her more than he thought and wondered if she felt the same. He remembered how her hair smelled of jasmine and how she liked to press against him like a frightened animal. He felt a heaviness no amount of liquor could erase. His first Christmas without her was something he didn’t want to face.

On the day of their one year anniversary she’d asked him if he truly loved her, he didn't know what to say. In bed that night she’d turned away from him. The next morning she no longer looked at him.

The day he’d left the rain was sharp and cold. He never was sure whether the tears were hers or the rain on her cheeks.

“How could you ask me such a question?” He stood by his car. His chest tight with desperation.

“Perhaps it was time.”

“What is it that you want from me?” he asked.

“Don’t you know?” She’d turned away when he tried to kiss her goodbye.

 

                                             ****

He stopped his car in front of her farmhouse, shut the motor off and listened to the rain drum on the roof. Even with his thick coat, the night still felt cold. He reached across the seat, found the whiskey bottle he kept for such occasions, finished what was in it, then got out. She stood silhouetted in the doorway.

 

“Who is it?  Who's there?  Is that you, Doctor?”

 

She came down the steps toward him. The sharp beam of her flashlight caught his eyes and he turned his head away. The light snapped off.

“Merry Christmas,” he said.

“You've been drinking,” she gave him a disgusted look.

“I was cold.”

“What do you want?”  Her voice was beyond icy.

“I missed you.”

He looked past her to the ground steaming with rain smoke.

For a moment he felt like leaving and stared down at the puddles of rain which formed around his feet.

“What do you want me to say?”

He turned up the collar of his coat, a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“I thought you were the vet. A cow’s about to calf.”

The white rain smoke obscured her expression.

“Since you’re here, we better see how the cow's doing,” she said. “She's the one who chased you.”

“I was pretty scared, but you and your father thought it was funny.”

“Someday she'll have a healthy calf, a prize bull. You wait and see.”

He followed her to the barn and slid open the door. A splinter scratched his palm. The black and white cow stood over the inert calf, licking the body with her tongue. He knew the calf was dead. In the dark, the cow's eyes watched warily.The small brown body was nothing but legs; its pink tongue, caught between its lips, pointed upward as if ready for suckling.

She gave him a pair of rubber gloves. Without waiting, she grabbed the calf's feet. The cow butted her and then moved away. She dragged the body toward the open door. She stopped, dropped the calf, took a small pitchfork from the stall and turned the placenta over into the hay, then went outside and backed her pickup to the barn door. Wes lifted the calf into it. The night was icy black. He climbed into the truck. The cab was cold, and his breath clouded the window.

She put the truck in gear and started down the road to the highway. Country music from the radio faded in and out. The scattered lights of other farmhouses glittered through the rain. They turned into a rutted road, bounced past an abandoned building and stopped in some weeds by a broken down well. She got out and opened the tailgate and watched while he slid the calf into the hole where it landed with a thump. Nancy looked away, and he felt his stomach lurch.

 

Windy puffs of rain slanted over the dirt road. The harsh lights of the truck silvered the building. She grabbed his hand and held it tightly. He suddenly felt like holding her--to touch her body and hear her heart race.

“How about something to eat?” she said. “You must be hungry. I have eggs, but I can still only scramble them.”

“Your scrambled eggs were always pretty good.”

“Bullshit,” she said.

 

                                            ****

Wes poked at the wood in the fireplace with a pair of tongs. The fire squeezed up between the logs with a fierce light.She broke the eggs into a glass bowl, stirred them quickly with a wooden spoon and poured the mixture into a pan.

A crack of blood had dried across his palm where he’d scratched it. On a farm, blood was a sign of work—a sign that something had been accomplished, finished and talked about later over steaming coffee in a kitchen like Nancy’s.

Nancy scooped the eggs onto a plate, put them in front of him, and sat down.

“I'm afraid as usual I've burned them a bit.”

“That's all right. I don't mind.”

Outside the rain fell over the dark still fields. He took a bite of the eggs, eating with a gusto that surprised him. He finished and felt Nancy look at him. Not raising his eyes, he studied the contours and lifelines on his hands. They seemed to go nowhere.

She rose and took the empty plate to the sink, then came back and kissed him on the top of his head. He stiffened.

“To cheer me up the night after you left my father took me with him to Howard Johnson's. Every Saturday, when my mother was alive, the two of them went out. They saw a movie in town, then had a drink and ended up at the Howard Johnson's on Route 5 for something to eat, a turkey club for her and a tuna for him. They smelled of potato chips when they each kissed me good night. I thought there was more to life than ending up at Howard Johnson's. But I guess I was afraid to admit what I knew. It was as if they had been on their first date again and nothing else mattered.”

He didn’t want to hear any more. It made him feel uncomfortable. “It's stopped raining,” he said.

“The streets in town will be like mirrors,” she said. “You never know what's real and what isn't. By the time you figure it all out, it's too late.”

“Remember our first date.” He grasped at the memory. “We’d been caught in the rain. I’d seen rain before, but that day it had a different smell—your smell, fresh and sweet. And you were shivering like a frightened fawn.”

“Don’t,” she said. “Don’t.”

“Aren’t you lonely living here?”

“I was lonelier when I was with you. I know that now.”

A fringe of the moon showed behind the clouds that hovered above them.

“It's going to clear,” she said. “The moon is out. It will be a good day tomorrow.”

 

A good day for what? He imagined himself sliding like that calf had, through a cold black dark. Tears spilled down his cheeks, tears he hoped would wipe away his memories.                

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