This week, I review two short stories from different magazines with similar themes revolving around unrequited love.
First up is a story from Mystery Weekly Magazine. Polly, by Antony Mann, is a creepy little tale. Just how far will Allan go to get a date with a coworker? I enjoy unreliable narrator stories, and I would place Allan firmly in that category. There is a lot more going on, while he presents himself to the reader as a determined suitor. Questions remain at the end of the story which will keep you wondering about the eventual fate of Polly and Allan.
The second story is in the May/June Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Hatcheck, by Steve Lindley, has two threads going simultaneously. The story opens with a lengthy discussion of the annoying habits of "seasoned citizens," as a geezer takes a seat at the bar. I was laughing out loud at Lindley's descriptions, while also catching the poignancy of aging in a fast-paced world.
One annoyance is the old man's hat, sitting on the bar, in the way. Brad the bartender offers to take it to the hatcheck. Trudy is the ancient hatcheck girl in the neighborhood bar. The old man opens up to Brad a bit, engaging him in the kind of conversation Brad typically avoids. As this old man's tale unfolds, it is obvious Brad has a crush on a cocktail server - the second thread in the story.
Brad's dim view of old people makes him blind to their potentially passionate pasts. The ending of the story takes him by surprise. Weaving two plot threads in the space of a short story is difficult. Lindley pulls it off, and gives the reader a shocker of an ending.
Two different stories, two different magazines, both well worth reading.
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