Excerpt from Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Heart of Junk

by Luke Geddes

Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes X
Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 256 pages

    Jan 2021, 256 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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Print Excerpt

"Her old booth, yes. Lee and Seymour. Nice guys."

Of course, she didn't have anything against gays in general. She enjoyed many reality television shows they hosted and appreciated their zest for life and eye for color. She especially liked decorating and remodeling programs and used to watch them together with Patricia as they talked on the phone, her TV across town tuned to the same channel, her laughter blowing through the receiver like a soft breeze in Margaret's ear.

"Perfectly friendly gentlemen whom I have no personal feeling toward one way or the other. However"—Margaret's eyes drifted to the television screen behind Keith, a commercial for a racy movie thriller that alternated images of bare flesh, guns, and explosions—"a doll they are selling and putting on prominent display in their booth is in violation of policy guidelines."

"Do we have to do this right now? Maybe we should save this for the meeting. Veronica wants these booklets ready before—"

"I would love to talk about it at the meeting, Keith, but I think it's crucial you get the whole story beforehand so you know I'm right. Now, as you and I and most dealers are aware, there are different policies for different areas of the building. What works for one hall may not work for—may in fact actively work against—the aims of another hall. Over in Hall One, the logical starting point for most customers and thus the hall with the heaviest foot traffic, we have a rule—a very generous rule, I think—that all items displayed must be made before the year 1989."

"And you think this doll is from after that time."

"I am almost certain."

Keith shifted in his seat. He had thumbprint smudges on the oversized lenses of his glasses. Margaret sensed he was going to tell her something she didn't want to hear. He was positively radiating meekness. He was the abstract concept of ineffectuality made concrete. "Look," he said, "it's just one doll. Let it go. I've got more important things to—"

"It's not just one doll. There's more. Computer game apparatuses, I think. A My Secret Princess play set that looked suspiciously contemporary." She clenched her fists. She should have known not to bother with him. It was his wife, Stacey, who sported the figurative pants when it came to antiques—Keith didn't know cameo from cloisonné—but she and Margaret, through no fault of Margaret's own, had a somewhat strained relationship. "The doll's name is McHammer," she said.

"A McDonald's thing?" Keith fiddled with the stapler. "Oh!" he said. "MC Hammer."

"You of all people should be aware that this is no time to be upsetting the equilibrium of Hall One, what with Mark and Grant coming on Monday. Unless you want to look like some dirty old flea market on national TV." The past couple of years had not been kind to the Heart of America, and stalwart Hall One, itself larger than many entire antique malls, was their only shot at making a good impression on the "Peddlin' Pair" (as the promos called them). If Keith and Stacey knew what was good for them, they'd direct the camera crews to Hall One and Hall One only, as it was the only of the mall's six sections at anything close to capacity; some of the others—Hall Five in particular—were frankly in shambles.

Keith pushed back his chair and stood. "If it matters so much to you, all right. We'll look it up."

Margaret followed him down Fancy Street to the lobby, noting but not in any way appreciating or even meaning to look at the yellow-white strip of ripped underwear briefs his sagging pants revealed. On the bulletin board a neon flyer adorned with the missing girl's image was pinned so it overlapped with the laminated announcement of her own booth having been voted "customer's choice" at last month's sales event. At the register, Keith's teenage daughter, Ellie, paged idly through a textbook, ignoring the customer who stood before her and cleared his throat for attention.

Excerpted from Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes. Copyright © 2020 by Luke Geddes. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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