A Brief Excerpt From Chris Benjamin’s Boy With A Problem

By Atlantic Books Today
Publish date: January 19, 2021
Photo of Chris Benjamin

Pro: Allan is stealthy like a le Carré character. That’s hot. 

Mom affects him too though. He’s quieter about it, sure, but he grinds his teeth and shortens his syllables, blunting the consonants for maximum impact. But for her presence he wouldn’t be shushing Kenny, who wants to listen to the baseball broadcast. Allan barks at our seven-year-old boy and Kenny barks back, and Muffler actually barks and the three of them glare at one another like drunks in a bar while Mom looks on approvingly because Allan is being strict and she thinks that is good parenting. Whatever they’re barking it’s monosyllabic and of the three, Muffer’s voice is the clearest, least slurred.  

“Enough!” I stare them down, daring them to defy me. From the top of my sightline I catch a glimpse of the red-faced woman in the car behind. Is she still yelling at me? I think she must have seen me yelling at the boys and assumed it was for her and yelled back. She’s opening her car door. “Fuck me.” 


“Sorry, Mom.” 

“Apologize to your children.” 

“Jacob’s not here,” Kenny reminds her.  

“We should call George,” Allan says. 

“His phone is off, Allan. By the way that woman is coming here to punch my face.”  

“He must have turned it on when he realized we were stuck behind the train. What woman?” 

“He doesn’t even know how to turn his phone on. Also, the woman behind us – beside us – is going to punch me.” 

–Excerpted from Boy With A Problem, “Stay Loose,” by Chris Benjamin. © by Chris Benjamin. Published by Pottersfield Press.


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