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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 479 Response

“No Secrets Now”

with Johanna Miklós

No Secrets Now” appears in issue 479.

Great story. Loved it!

Is Kevin a repressed romantic or is he a stalker?

Kevin is lonely. Kevin is an honorable son stuck with a controlling mother. Kevin is so insecure that instead of checking the name and address in the contents of the box and returning them to the girl — and taking the opportunity to meet her — he does what he does. I don’t think of him as either a romantic or a stalker.

At the end, Kevin notices that his mother’s fingernails are dirty. What has she done with Kevin’s purloined memorabilia? How could she have retrieved it in the first place? What does her taking it imply about the true nature of her purported disability?

Hah! Not all that long ago I was in charge of a friend’s elderly relative. She allegedly couldn’t walk more than a few steps. In reality she was as swift as a weasel and as sly as a fox. She would creep around in the middle of the night, take things and hide them.

What kind of relationship does Kevin’s mother propose to have with Kevin? Does he have any hope of escaping the trap his mother has set for him?

Yes, Kevin can escape. He will find the mound of freshly dug dirt in the yard, dig the stuff up and either dispose of it or mail it to Julia or actually take it to her house with a fib about when he found it.

Once his mother has nothing to blackmail him with, he can get his own place. It is rather obvious that his mother doesn’t need a carer — yet.

Thank you for the lively and colorful response, Johanna! The old lady you were taking care of must have been quite a handful. Talk about a “second childhood,” she really seems to have been enjoying one.

Interpreting “No Secrets Now” depends on what the reader considers normal. I think all readers would say that Kevin might have done things differently. But then he wouldn’t be Kevin, would he?

I think everyone will agree he’s repressed. Is he a romantic? Yes, to the extent that a real person becomes a figment of his imagination. Is he a stalker? He does act like one, but he means the girl no harm, and he does not make too big a nuisance of himself. I think the police can’t hold him as long as they do without laying charges. Rather, I’d expect they’d let him go with a stern warning.

The other two questions imply that Kevin’s mother is not who she seems to be. In fact she’s a liar and dissembles her true physical condition. And her condition is somewhat confusing. There is a reference to an “accident,” but Kevin seems to assume that his mother has a progressively debilitating ailment of some kind. Which is it?

Even worse, Kevin’s mother is more than bossy and controlling; she’s pathological. She tells Kevin, in effect, that he can forget about having a girlfriend, because she is going to play that role with him from now on. That’s just plain creepy.

Can Kevin escape? Only if he finds the front door and runs screaming down the street. But Kevin can’t do that; he is — emotionally — the true invalid in the story.

Copyright © 2012 by Johanna Miklós
and Bewildering Stories

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