S. A. Cosby is a writer from Southeastern Virginia. He won the 2019 Anthony Award for Best Short Story for “The Grass Beneath My Feet”, and his previous books include Brotherhood of the Blade and My Darkest Prayer. He resides in Gloucester, Virginia. When not writing, he is an avid hiker and chess player.
Read Chapter 1 of Blacktop Wasteland Below
Please note, the following contains mature language.
Beauregard thought the night sky looked like a painting.
Laughter filled the air only to be drowned out by a cacophony of revving engines as the moon slid from behind the clouds. The bass from the sound system in a nearby Chevelle was hitting him in his chest so hard, it felt like someone was performing CPR on him. There were about a dozen other late-model cars parked haphazardly in front of the old convenience store. In addition to the Chevelle, there was a Maverick, two Impalas, a few Camaros and five or six more examples of the heyday of American muscle. The air was cool and filled with the scent of gas and oil. The rich, acrid smell of exhaust fumes and burnt rubber. A choir of crickets and whippoorwills tried in vain to be heard. Beauregard closed his eyes and strained his ears. He could hear them but just barely. They were screaming for love. He thought a lot of people spent a large part of their life doing the same thing.
The wind caught the sign hanging above his head from the arm of a pole that extended twenty feet into the air. It creaked as the breeze moved it back and forth.
CARTER SPEEDE MART the sign proclaimed in big black letters set against a white background. The sign was beginning to yellow with age. The letters were worn and chipped. The cheap paint flaking away like dried skin. The second “E” had disappeared from the word “SPEEDEE.” Beauregard wondered what had happened to Carter. He wondered if he had disappeared too.
“Ain’t none of y’all motherfuckers ready for the legendary Olds! Y’all might as well go on back home to your ugly wives and try and get some Tuesday night pussy. For real though, y’all ain’t got nothing for the legendary Olds! She does 60 in second. Five hundred dollars line to line. Huh? Y’all mighty quiet. Come on, the Olds done sent many a boy home with his pockets lighter. I done outrun more cops than the Duke boys in the Olds! You ain’t just beating the Olds, homeboy!” a guy named Warren Crocker crowed. He was strutting around his ’76 Oldsmobile Cutlass. It was a beautiful car. A dark green body with chrome Mag rims and chrome trim that ran across its surface like liquid lightning. Smoked-out glass and LED lights emitted an ethereal bluish glow like some bioluminescent sea creature.
Beauregard leaned against his Duster as Warren pontificated about the invincibility of the Oldsmobile. Beauregard let him talk. Talk didn’t mean anything. Talk didn’t drive the car. Talk was just noise. He had $1,000 in his pocket. It was all the profits from the last two weeks at the garage after most of the bills had been paid. He was $800 short on the rent for the building that housed his business. It had come down to a choice between the rent or glasses for his youngest. Which wasn’t really a choice at all. So, he had reached out to his cousin Kelvin and asked him to find out where the nearest street race was being held. Kelvin still knew some guys who knew some guys who knew where the money races could be found.
Click the links below to read reviews about Blacktop Wasteland
Take A Dangerous Ride Through ‘Blacktop Wasteland’ (NPR)
A Roaring, Full-Throttle Thriller, Crackling With Tension and Charm (New York Times)
In a groundbreaking crime novel, Black lives matter in the rural South (LA Times)
‘Blacktop Wasteland’ one of the best of the year (The Detroit News)
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|Please joinW. Paul Coates and S.A. Cosbyfor a Zoom book discussion on Blacktop Wasteland|
Sunday, August 306 PM Eastern Time
Only registered guests will be able to join