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'Michigan, Ten Cents' by Doctor Gaines

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'Michigan, Ten Cents' by Doctor Gaines

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Most of us have been poor at one point or another. Maybe you were flat broke in college, or immediately post graduation, or that fateful day six months after graduation when you had to begin repaying your student loans. Maybe you could make rent, but couldn’t eat. Or maybe you had to take up residence in the library for the free internet and books. The point is, it wasn’t that bad. In hindsight. On that note, here are the five best things about being broke.

5. That diet you’ve been meaning to go on…? Done. Also, the idea of extra food is rather astounding. You might even learn 30 different ways to cook ramen.

4. You started thrift shopping before it was cool. Now you’re a hipster. Win?

3. You’re rarely hung over because drinking requires money. And maybe, someday (soon, hopefully) wine will no longer come in a box.

2. You never have to be stuck in traffic as you can only afford to take the bus and train. It’s quite possible the bus is never on time, but you’ll get plenty of extra reading time in.

1. No matter what you have to do to scrape by, and I’ve had quite a few questionable (though not morally so) jobs, you’ll never have to stoop to renting a moving truck, filling it up with empty glass beer bottles, and driving from Texas to Michigan to deposit the bottles at a recycling plant for ten cents apiece. If you haven’t done that, you’re doing okay.

Number one is the plot of the short story Michigan, Ten Cents by Doctor Gaines. Leon wants to be rich. The problem is he doesn’t want to work any harder than he already is – which isn’t that hard to begin with. He develops an unconventional scheme to make it happen. He begins by collecting empty beer bottles from behind dive bars. Leon encounters various issues on the road to realizing his dream, mostly involving guns, beer, and breaking glass.

Michigan, Ten Cents is an absurd, mildly disturbing short story about the desire to make a little extra money. It very much follows the old adage in for a penny, in for a pound. Because what’s one dead body when you can have two? And all for the price of ten cents…(or .99 cents if you choose to buy the story.)

Gaines has crafted an intriguing story. He has taken what could be a ridiculous storyline and made it work. Leon is a good ol’ boy who likes beer, guns, and money, not necessarily in that order. His priorities solidify when he starts reading the initials on the side of his beer can – his brilliant idea is born. He’s gonna be rich. The dialogue is sharp, the music selection is excellent, and the drinks flow freely on this blood soaked road trip. It’s a good time. 3.5/5. If you think you’d like a less violent Frank Bill and a cheerier Donald Ray Pollock, I’d suggest giving this one a try.

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