You’ve Got Something Coming
Fiction by Jonathan Starke
Black Heron Press, April 2020
A title you may have missed at the start of the pandemic, You’ve Got Something Coming is worth a throwback look. This breakthrough debut novel is about a down-and-outer and his small daughter and his attempt to give them a better life. Trucks, an aging boxer with only thirty dollars, breaks his deaf daughter, Claudia, out of a children’s home in Wisconsin one night during the dead of winter. He gives her used hearing aids, and they begin hitchhiking to Nevada. Claudia is a winsome, feisty little girl who tries to hold her father to account, and Trucks loves her unconditionally. Claudia’s mother, an addict, has disappeared and is likely dead.
Their first ride takes them to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where Trucks teaches Claudia about “need borrowing,” or shoplifting. They meet a number of people on their journey, including June, a woman about Trucks’ age who was abandoned by her husband, and Gerald, an older rancher in Montana who offers them a place to stay, an offer Trucks refuses. While he does all he can to provide for Claudia and offer as normal of a life as possible, Trucks can’t let go of boxing, knowing no other way to live. Soon they’re utterly broke and living in a gazebo in a park. Trucks, unable to find work, returns to boxing, trapped in a vocation for which he’s no longer suited.
The damage to his mind and body worsens, fight after fight, and it changes Claudia seeing her father so broken. His mind no longer reliable, Trucks steals a car. Delusional and drifting in and out of consciousness, Trucks drives Claudia east with the final hope of reconnecting with June.