Homes for Heroes and Hot Girls
by Alain Kerfs
Issue #28 • March 18, 2015•Buy Now!
I figured out what I wanted that summer, really what most any guy wants: a place of my own, a hot girlfriend, a chance to be a hero. For a while, I had one out of three, a batting average that would get you paid millions in the major leagues. But it wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough.
I was fourteen, out of middle school in San Francisco, when my divorced parents—engrossed in lawyers and custody hearings—were able to agree on one thing: sending me to spend the summer with my mom’s folks in Ohio. My parents felt it was best if neither had me at home for the summer, each afraid that time spent with the other might lead to brainwashing and bribe-taking. I was not consulted.
I arrived in Ohio in late June, and on my first night in my grandparent’s trailer, my body on California time, I had trouble sleeping. I awoke to a rhythmic clicking. I walked down the hallway to peer into the living room. With the lights off, my grandfather sat in a rocking chair, staring at a powered-off television. Outside, wind rattled branches, a distant dog barked, katydids called to one another. My grandfather rocked. I wondered if he was a sleepwalker. His chair clicked with a precise cadence. I returned to bed and tried to sleep to the steady creak of his chair.
Alain Kerfs’s fiction has appeared in Foliate Oak, Red Wheelbarrow, Reed and elsewhere. He won the Jack London Writers’ Conference and California Writers’ Conference Fiction contests and was nominated for the 2009 Million Writers Award. He attended the MA Creative Writing program at San Francisco State. Born in Brussels, Belgium, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, three kids, and one devoted and slightly irrational Black Lab. He is finishing a novel.
Patrick Ryan on Homes for Heroes and Hot Girls
It’s bad enough to feel like an outsider in a familiar setting. That’s what much of the teen experience is, right? Feeling like a loner—if not an outright freak—as you move through your days. But what happens when you’re plucked out of the life you’ve come to know and dropped into an entirely new existence? Just as you’re starting to get used to your parents’ divorce, no less. And just as your summer is getting under way.
The new issue of One Teen Story is called “Homes for Heroes and Hot Girls.” It’s about a teen who lives in California but whose parents have sent him away for the summer—to a small town in Ohio where he knows no one other than his grandparents (and he doesn’t even know them that well). Why do his parents want him out of the picture for a little while? So they can argue about him—about who gets custody of him—without his getting in the way. Which is kind of jacked up.
Now imagine yourself suddenly relocated from the hills of San Francisco to a trailer park in the Midwest. Imagine how foreign everything would seem, and how guarded you would be. Then add to that a pack of local kids who aren’t exactly welcoming. Alain Kerfs has brought all of these elements together in this wonderful story. I was hooked from the first page—both by the narrator’s voice and by his preoccupation with the texture of his new surroundings—and I’m excited to be presenting it to you as the next One Teen Story. Whether or not it contains a home and a “hot girl” is up to the narrator; whether or not it contains a hero is up to you to decide.
Q&A by Patrick Ryan