A Cerberus Jaw by Lee A. Jackson is a 13-page (7,460 words) Fantasy short story. Jackson introduces the reader to Clay, a man who lives his life via order and routine. He must walk the same path each day to meet Elsa (his wife) at Mrs. Quinn’s Tea Room and perform a shaving ritual each day. Along that path, he encounters a dog that he has named Cerberus who quickly becomes Clay’s nemesis. A fear of this beast grows, but because of his need for order and routine, Clay forces himself to pass the corner house where this dog is fenced in instead of crossing the street to avoid it. Everything changes after the Coffee Bang. Instead of order, Clay’s grief causes his life to spiral into chaos. During his shaving ritual one morning after the Coffee Bang, Clay discovers a black strip along his jaw – a black, sucking hole that confuses, fascinates and consumes him.
Jackson tells this story in the present with flashbacks to the moment of the Coffee Bang. This weaving of the past and the present allows the reader to witness the breakdown of reality in Clay’s life. It also creates suspense. Just what is this Coffee Bang and what does it have to do with the black hole in Clay’s jaw?
Jackson is a clever storyteller, one who slowly builds upon the story by dropping small hints along the way that entices and encourages the reader to keep reading to the very end. His characters are well-developed, the settings are masterfully descriptive, and the scenes of the Coffee Bang are rich in details. What I enjoy most about this story is the way Jackson uses Cerberus as a metaphor for fear, loss and grief throughout the entire story.
Rating: 5 Stars
To Purchase: Smashwords