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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Code Redhead: Day Of The Dead is a dark horror short story written by J.R. Wirth. Sham Jones found himself out in the rain consoling Cali's BFF, a scrawny girl named Linda McNally, who generally made his skin crawl. They were both bereft, bereft and overwhelmed with dread over Cali's likely fate. Sham had tried to discourage Cali from getting into Red's car, even to the point of physically placing himself between them, but she seemed drawn to the older, charismatic young man with the teal blue Trans Am. Sham couldn't wrap his mind around the fact of her rejection, her careless giving in to impulse on this rainy Halloween late afternoon. She seemed complicit with her seducer who glibly pronounced that the next day was el dio de los muertos in tones that carried directly to Sham. His need to protect her battled with Sham’s fear of the larger, menacing Red, who tossed him a bottle of vodka, promising it would bring illumination and insight. Sham ended up sleeping the night in the school's gymnasium, shivering in the damp chill, waiting for Cali to return.
Halloween and its companion holiday, el dio de los muertos, are days steeped in mystery and the unknown, and J.R. Wirth beautifully exploits that ambiance in his dark short story, Code Redhead: Day Of The Dead. I loved the way even the elements conspire in the dark goings-on as the doomed Cali blithely follows Red down the road to Never-Ever land, the large tracts of wilderness beyond the logging camps, also known to the locals as the land of lost innocence...and lives. Code Redhead is a powerful and moving tale as Sham finds himself unwittingly carried along with the increasingly strange Lin, who is alternately appealing and repulsive, and causes him to think in terms of mingled violence and lust. This is a tense and neat little thriller of a short story that snatches the reader out of his easy chair and propels him into the rain-damp scene from the first paragraph, and then drags him along for a nightmarish rescue ride into hell. It's dark, taut and a perfect read for a dark Halloween evening. Code Redhead: Day Of The Dead is most highly recommended.