Joyce Carol Oates has a new story, “Pumpkin Head,” in the January 12, 2009 issue of The New Yorker.
This October evening, before the sun had entirely set, a pair of headlights turned in to the driveway, some distance away by the road. She was startled into alertness—at first not sure where she was. Then she remembered: Anton Kruppev was dropping by to see her.
Dropping by, he’d said. Or maybe she’d said, Why don’t you drop by?
She couldn’t make out his face. He was driving a pickup truck with white lettering on one side. He climbed down from the driver’s seat in the high cab and lurched toward her on the shadowy path—a tall male scarecrow figure with a misshapen Halloween pumpkin for a head.