Short Story #66: Greasy Lake by T. C. Boyle

Title:  Greasy Lake

Author:  T. C. Boyle


The narrator and his two friends are driving out late at night trying to find ways to cause trouble and be tough.  They're just back from their first year of college and are joyriding in the narrator's mother's car.  When driving by the nicknamed Greasy Lake, they see a car that they think is their friend's so they drive up on it with lights flashing and horn honking.  A rather angry man steps out and proceeds to beat the daylights out of them until the narrator finds a crowbar and whacks him with it.  The man is down and out and the young men are wondering if they killed him.  Suddenly, a girl pops out of the car and starts attacking them.  They turn on the woman and move forward to rape her but another car shows up and they run towards the lake to hide.  As the narrator runs, he eventually goes into the lake, thinking he's going to swim across but while wading out, he comes across a dead body.  The corpses scares the hell out of him and he makes his way back to land to watch what's going on with the people he assaulted.  By this point, they discover they man that was assaulted is alive but angry.  The narrator and his friends continue to hide while the assault man and the others that show up yell and scream for them.  Finally, they decide to leave but not without demolishing the car.  After they leave, the young men come back to the car and clear it off enough to drive off.  Just as they are leaving, two young women show up trying to find their friend, Al.  They stumble over asking if the young men have seen them.  They say no and then the women inquiry if they want to party (they have drugs).  The young men drive off.


This story hits the reader like a brick.  There are such palpable moments that linger with the reader.  The underlining commentary on the ways we act and are willing to act when with others is right on target in many ways--particular for young men in my experience.  Their tough veneer is rendered tissue thin when the narrator finds that body and is scared out of his wits.  I haven't read any of T.C. Boyle prior to this but I can understand why he is a big favorite among people.  

Short Story #66 out of 365
Rating: 5 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  3/6/2014
Source:  I found this story on this website (PDF).

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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