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Corey Croft
Scumbag Rehab
Corey Croft, author
You hear all kinds of stories in a bar. All kinds of characters with all kinds of experiences. Booze is a mighty fuel. It brings out the best in some and the worst in every one else. If you post up on a barstool long enough, you might hear someone’s entire life story, whether you asked for it or not. If that barstool happens to be plugged into the wood at the Knowlton Tavern, then the story you would be hearing might belong to James ‘Feb’ February. Only at a dive bar full of the most desperate, strange societal castaways could an individual such as him share a story like his. Feb is a hired goon and a self-described scumbag, though one who is trying to better his standing and become a functioning member of society once again. While his tactics may seem counter-productive, and oftentimes illegal, he’s trying to make the right choices for the right reasons. As a former cop, convict, drug dealer, drug addict, an army veteran, a once loving father and husband, and recently homeless, Feb has a lot of stories. Upon the insistence of the bartender, Sofia, he revisits his earliest memories: A latchkey kid with a prostitute mother in a destitute neighbourhood. Seeing little future in education and wanting better, Feb becomes an errand boy for the D’Antonio crime family. Though young and an outsider, he is able to climb the ranks with the help of his friend Mario, until a botched train robbery changes everything. The mob holds him responsible and his punishment is swift. Mario and his mother are murdered. Feb is allowed to live, but is sent to war with a false identity in the place of a made-man’s son. Feb meets Juice, a victim of similar fate. The two teenagers form a bond under the wing of their squad leader Lt. Perry and his ‘Bastard Platoon.’ The troops are stationed at a tranquil outpost in the South Pacific and pass their days in the shade of palm trees using beer bottles for target practice. However, a bloody guerilla attack leads to the death of nearly every soldier. Feb survives. He has faced the horrors of grisly warfare and must then contend with the equally brutal reality of coming home with nothing, with no one, barely a name. At 17 years old, he is consumed by one thought: revenge. It does not go away. It does not subside. While recounting his tale, decades later, the first moment for vengeance presents itself. A chance to right one of the countless wrongs in his life and cross out one of the many names on his list. Is it possible to feel closure in a life that one has never felt in control of, ever? Feb is interrupted from his story and approached by an elderly man who enters the bar and inquires about his services. The old man has heard of ‘a man who will do anything’ and wishes for Feb to use whatever means he can to save his grandson from falling in with the wrong crowd. A chance to do good. The old man is Mario’s father, the wrong crowd is Don D’Antonio’s grandson, Joey. A chance to do bad. A delicate and clever plan, interwoven with the tale of his past and action in the present, gives Feb the chance to lock eyes with the man he holds responsible for the trajectory of his miserable life. A gamble pays off and Feb has the Don bring him to the place where his mother is buried, gun in hand. In trying to be better, what does Feb do? Has he evolved from the man he used to be? Can he? Is a rehabbing scumbag allowed to relapse? Can he recover if he slips just one time or will it open the floodgates?